Dieting, for most, is often the most challenging part of any health journey. Food is delicious, especially foods that aren’t great for you. I, myself, am a huge doughnut aficionado and will gladly die on that hill. For a lot of folks, dialing in on food is the last step towards longevity, and that step is often more of a leap over jagged rocks. Remember, the whole point of longevity is sustainability, and following plans that are going to get you the greatest result long-term.
Dieting is not an ‘all or nothing’ approach. In fact, I would say that most successful diets are not like that at all. You don’t need to survive on skinless chicken breast, spinach, and egg whites. Trust me, I’ve done it, and it’s just as terrible as it sounds. Most successful diets work on the approach of portion control, and understanding which macronutrients make you the fullest. These diets usually work within the principle of adherence, which is allowing flexibility within the diet to avoid burnout and eventual departure from the diet itself. Furthermore, these plans avoid using nomenclature such as “good” or “bad” to describe foods, and use principles like energy balance (calories in, calories out) to tangibly target weight loss.
In this article we’ll outline LYMBR’s five laws of sustainable dieting for longevity. This may not be the advice you get from a nutritionist or the shredded guy at your gym. Our belief in these principles are rooted in the philosophy of health and sustainable dieting practices, not “bro-science” or elimination diets.
Rule number 1: The key to a successful diet is adherence.
One of my long-time personal training clients hit a snag in his weight loss. He had gotten as far as exercise was going to take him on its own, and he needed to dial in on his eating. He asked me what the best diet was, and if cutting out booze would help him shed a few extra pounds. I get these questions a lot, and I always respond the same way. “The best diet is the one you’re going to stick to, and if cutting out booze makes you double fist pints of ice cream, then please for the love of god, keep drinking.” Dieting is a lot of trial and error and picking the lesser of two evils. This is, in a nutshell, the essence of adherence. It doesn’t mean you’re a regular at Carl’s Jr., but it also doesn’t mean you beat yourself up for breaking your diet in a moment of weakness. Adherence is also a lot of introspection. Make sure to ask yourself if you can stick to a diet before you start. If you love pasta and bread and the diet has you on 0 grams of carbs, then that’s probably going to blow up in your face. The best diet that I have found is a “no diet” diet. Eating less of the foods you already love is a great way to start reducing the overall calories you’re consuming. Calorie surplus is why you gain weight. Simply halving your portions, you are creating a deficit which will result in weight loss.
Rule number 2: There is no such thing as a “good” food or a “bad” food.
Is a piece of cake a bad food? No. Is spinach a good food? Also, no. It’s just food. It doesn’t donate to charity and build schools. It also doesn’t rob the elderly or vandalize churches. They are inanimate objects devoid of feeling. They are not good, nor bad, they just are what they are. Despite this glaringly obvious idea, many apps, companies, and people assign negative or positive attributes to different foods. I’m sure you’ve seen zealots on either side of the aisle spouting “carbs are bad” or “trans fats are bad” which is as untrue as it is unhelpful. There are some really great studies that show this line of thinking is actually very harmful to a person’s mental health, and can result in the formation of an eating disorder. I would encourage you not to look at food as bad or good, but rather to understand the calorie breakdown of those foods. Once you understand the calorie breakdown it’s a matter of deciding whether eating that food is going to push you over your calorie threshold, or if that even matters to you. This is a more objective and cerebral approach to eating, rather than subjective and emotional.
Rule number 3: Start by eating less.
As we’ve covered throughout this article, calories make you gain weight, not carbs or fats but the overall accumulation of eating those carbs, fats, proteins, etc. I would always encourage people to eat more whole fruits and vegetables, but even by eating less volume of the foods you already love, you’re inching towards a calorie deficit. Remember, the whole idea of this article is to show you sustainable diet practices. If you jump into a weight loss journey eating a bunch of foods you hate then it probably won’t last very long. Dieting is hard enough; dieting with food you don’t even like is next to impossible. This may not address the nutritional deficiencies in your diet, but it does address the calories. Once you’ve lost some weight and you’re keeping it off eating things you enjoy, your confidence goes up, and you can start to add in extra things like exercise, fruits and veggies, and more protein.
Rule number 4: Eat a boat load of protein
The best way to diet is to eat foods that make you full. The less hungry you are, the less likely you’ll binge. The less likely you binge, the less likely you regain the weight. Protein has something called “the highest thermic effect of food” which means it helps raise your metabolic rate by 15-30% thereby helping you burn calories at a higher threshold. Protein is also typically the most “satiating”, meaning it makes you feel fuller, longer. Between these two reasons, hiking up your protein intake can be an invaluable strategy for weight loss, more specifically sustainable weight loss.
Rule number 5: Understand the difference between low calorie, and nutritious.
Do you remember that whole avocado phase? It seemed like every influencer and their grandmother was shouting from the rooftops about how good avocados were for you. Don’t get me wrong, avocados are great! Having said that, they’re extremely high in calories. Nutritious? Absolutely, unequivocally healthy. What if I’m trying to lose weight? Not so much. An avocado is 200-300 calories, which may not seem like much, but after you mix it with olive oil, throw it onto a giant piece of sourdough with butter or ricotta, and an egg, that’s an 800-900 calorie breakfast. You can have 4 eggs and 4 pieces of bacon and that won’t even touch 500 calories. So it’s extremely important to understand the difference between low calorie and nutritious. If you’re trying to eat more nutritious foods, then eating things like bananas and avocados is a great way to go. However, if you’re trying to lose weight then you need to be focusing on low calorie. Low calorie foods aren’t always nutritious, but nutritious foods aren’t always low calorie. Understanding that distinction will help you avoid what I call “The avocado toast trap”.
The last piece of advice that I would give you is to enjoy this process. Many people view dieting as restrictive and a chore. Reframe your mindset and perspective about what you’re doing. You’re not restricting yourself; you love yourself enough to create balance in your life. You’re not doing a chore; you’re taking accountability of your health so that you can be the best version of yourself for you and your loved ones. Finally, and I can’t stress this enough, pick something you’re going to stick to, and ignore the white noise around dieting. Unless you’re an elite level athlete, you don’t need a complicated, over-managed program. Eat less volume, eat more protein, and don’t keep the leash too tight. I have used this quote many times in many different articles, but it bears repeating, and I think it’s a wonderful quote to end on: “If it makes your training five percent better, but it makes you hate your life ten percent more, that’s a terrible trade off, and don’t do it.”
Written by Conner Fritchley, LYMBR Master Trainer, Darien Stretch Therapist.
It seems like all too often we hear on the news about older individuals taking nasty falls causing severe damage and trauma. Falls among the elderly population is the leading cause of injury and fatality in the US. In fact, according to the CDC, one in four individuals aged 65 and older report at least one fall per year.
Loss of Muscle Mass
There are a variety of factors that contribute to the increased likelihood of elderly falls such as medication side effects, impaired vision, or chronic diseases such as Parkinson’s Disease or Alzheimer’s. However, one of the main reasons is increased frailty due to loss of muscle mass. The progressive loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength, known as sarcopenia, is strongly correlated with falls as an older adult. Sarcopenia is often due to the slowed regeneration of muscle fibers and the loss of motor neurons with age.
What is Resistance Training?
Although the elderly population is at risk for falls due to muscle atrophy, it can be prevented and maintained. Resistance training is a form of exercise that increases muscular strength and endurance. Resistance training causes muscles to contract, creating an increased number of cross-bridges within the muscle fibers. This ultimately leads to muscle cell enlargement, or hypertrophy.
Benefits for the Older Population
There are many benefits of resistance training for the aging population. Increasing muscle mass improves the stability of joints and balance, which is key for carrying out activities of daily life such as carrying groceries, walking up the stairs, and standing up from a chair. Increased muscle mass by resistance training can also improve flexibility and joint range of motion. Increased range of motion is important because it allows the muscles to stretch to their full potential.
This makes simple tasks such as reaching for a glass on the top shelf much easier for older individuals, allowing them to be more independent. Resistance training can also improve the psychological well-being of older adults by increasing serotonin levels in the brain.
Clearly resistance training is just as important for the elderly population as aerobic training, so how frequently should older adults engage in resistance training? According to the American College of Sports Medicine, lower to moderate intensity resistance training of 65% – 75% of maximum exercise capacity is recommended for adults 65 and older to increase muscle mass. On two to four days per week, three sets of 10 -15 repetitions with lower weight is ideal for older adults to build strength. Resistance training sessions of about 30 minutes per session has been shown to deliver the best results for older adults to increase muscle mass.
Resistance training is critical for older adults to improve their functional abilities to prevent serious injuries and potentially fatal falls. Don’t know where to start? Ask your stretch therapist for advice. We are all certified personal trainers who have either worked as, or worked with strength coaches, yoga teachers, Pilates teachers, powerlifting instructors, boxing/kickboxing instructors, and bodybuilding coaches. We love the health industry, and are more than happy to help, or at the very least point you in the right direction.
Anyone who plays a racquet sport knows the importance of having healthy shoulders. Any type of muscle soreness or injury can make serving and hitting ground strokes very painful, taking the joy out of playing. There are four muscles that make up the rotator cuff, the infraspinatus, subscapularis, supraspinatus and teres minor, each of which have a different function, yet they work in conjunction to allow the arm to move in a 360-degree plane. Due to poor posture, an increase in sitting, and a lack of general emphasis on mobility, these muscles are unable to effectively move and stabilize the shoulder.
Being a tennis, paddle, or squash player with lots of power does not necessarily come from strength. In fact, it has a lot to do with flexibility and how well you use all parts of your body in unison, something we refer to as the kinetic chain.
Novak Djokovic is the best example of power through flexibility. When you look at him, he is slender and isn’t somebody you would classify as “strong” in the traditional sense. However, one of the things that makes him such a force on the tennis court is his flexibility. His body’s elasticity allows him to create so much racquet-head speed that it doesn’t benefit him to be bulky. He transfers a lot of his power by using his legs, hips, core and shoulder together. He utilizes every part of his body to create his power, and if one part of that kinetic chain is off due to either injury or lack of range of motion, a lot of his skill, coordination and strength would be lost.
When we think about serving in racquet sports, a lot of the generated power comes from the range of motion in our shoulder, rather than just strength. One way to demonstrate this point is a simple exercise to try while reading this.
Take your arm and bring it up to a 90-degree angle like in the starting position picture above, while keeping your elbow in the same position, bring it up to the 45-degree angle in the second photo and snap it back to the starting position with maximal force. Now try doing the same thing but this time, bring your arm back as far as possible to your maximum external rotation and snap back to the starting position from here. Which of these two created the most force? Maximum rotation of course. This is one of the keys to serving with power. Now if you look at my maximum rotation (which is not great by the way at only 95 degrees or so), if I could get my arm back another 20-30 degrees, wouldn’t I be able to create more force? Absolutely.
Our shoulder creates torque when we serve and the more range of motion we have, the greater our angular momentum. Now I’m not trying to turn this into a physics lecture, however the key principle behind serving power is in the simple demonstration above. When in the LYMBR studio, we put a large emphasis with all of our racquet sport players on the importance of rotator cuff flexibility. The combination of stretching and our strengthening protocol will help you get your serve as strong as ever.
Below are a series of rotator cuff stretches that you can do at home, as a warm up or cool down. Since these rotator cuff muscles all work together to allow the shoulder to move in a 360-degree plane. It is important to find a routine that helps you, it will not be the same for everyone. Try one set of each stretch, take a rest and go through the series again, be aware of your body and how each stretch changes how you feel. Always stay engaged mentally while you are stretching. This creates more mind to muscle connection, will ensure you are moving safely, and will give you the greatest chance of doing the exercise correctly. All of these factors will help take your racquet game to the next game.
Subscapularis – This muscle is largely responsible for the internal rotation of the shoulder, therefore to stretch the muscle, we must do the opposite. In order to stretch the muscle on your own, grab a long object (a broomstick, wooden dowel, or rake handle works). Standing straight, bring your arm out to the side and bend it to 90 degrees with the object on the back side of your arm. From here, you want to bring your arm forward 5 degrees, drop the arm down by 5 degrees, and extend the arm out by 5 degrees. These tiny movements will isolate the subscapularis muscle and put the shoulder into a healthier position for stretching. Turn your palm so it’s facing forward, and grab the object behind you. With your opposite hand, pull the object forward to externally rotate the shoulder. Move through the stretch for about 3-5 repetitions and make sure not to hold the stretch. Do anywhere from 1-3 sets on each arm depending on how much time you have.
Infraspinatus – This muscle will externally rotate the shoulder, therefore to lengthen the muscle we have to put the shoulder into internal rotation. Stretching this muscle does not require an object as we can use the ground as an anchor. Lying on your side, bring the arm that is closest to the ground out to 90 degrees. We want to position our shoulder similarly to how we did in the last stretch. Bring the arm forward by 5 degrees and extend the arm out 5 degrees. You also want to make sure that your shoulder is in line with your head, if it comes out to the side or is to far behind you then you’ll lose the precision of the stretch. Gently rotate your arm down to the ground whilst keeping your elbow still. Use your top hand to gently assist the arm further. Don’t use a lot of pressure on your wrist as you can hurt the joint or irritate the shoulder. Move through the stretch for 2-3 seconds without holding the stretch. Do 3-5 reps on one side and repeat on the other side. Perform 1-3 sets on each side or as many as you can with the time you have.
Teres minor – Whilst standing or sitting upright, put your hand behind your head, and reach for your opposite side shoulder blade. Take your opposite hand and grab the outside of your elbow, gently pulling your elbow and hand behind the head. This is an advanced stretch and in order to get the isolation, keeping your shoulder blade in the same place throughout the movement is the key. For most people, this will just feel like a triceps stretch, and that is okay. Put an emphasis on not leaning to one side as that will definitely cause you to lose the isolation of the stretch. Perform 3-5 reps with 2-3 seconds per rep without holding the stretch, repeat on the other side and perform 1-3 sets on each arm.
This is a general routine that works for most people in keeping their shoulders healthy for racquet sports. However, the shoulder joint consists of about 8 muscles that attach to the shoulder blade, upper arm, and collar bone not to mention the various other muscles responsible for stabilizing and mobilizing the shoulder. If you are experiencing shoulder discomfort, or have trouble performing these exercises, we suggest getting in front of a LYMBR practitioner to ensure you are performing them correctly, furthermore to ensure the pain is not being caused by another muscle along the chain.
Written by Koby Jansen of LYMBR Darien. Koby is a former D1 college tennis player at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Former #1 in the state of Queensland and #7 in Australia for his age group.
We already know that what we eat affects everything from our weight to our ability to fight viruses, and our digestion. However, if you spend some time exercising during the day, but spend the rest of it in front of the television, chances are your digestion may slow down with you. Adding in short walks, playing with your kids, and stretching throughout your day can help keep things moving! Keep in mind, getting enough quality sleep can also help with digestion and help mitigate constipation.
If you are feeling constipated, bloated, or are experiencing other digestive issues, it is important to make changes to your eating plan gradually. Try keeping a list (or a mental list!) of the changes that help you feel better and what makes you feel worse. Spreading out your meals throughout the day and leaving about 3-4 hours between meals will allow for optimal digestion. A low fat diet is often better tolerated and you may feel better if you avoid fried/greasy foods and foods prepared with added fat.
BE MINDFUL OF SUGAR ALCOHOLS
Sugar alcohols are found in many sugar free products. Look out for certain alcohols like maltitol, xylitol, erythritol, and sorbitol which can increase bloating, gas, and diarrhea. Sweeteners like Sweet-N-Low, Splenda, Equal, Truvia, and most stevia products contain maltodextrin which can cause bloating in some people. Moderation is key.
Anywhere between 25-38 g of fiber daily for adequate digestion and promotion of bowel movements. Incorporate a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes as a way to meet the requirements the body needs. Micronutrients (i.e. vitamin C) are as important as macronutrients (i.e. carbohydrates)! High fiber foods feed the healthy bacteria in your gut therefore reducing inflammation and chronic disease. Fiber also increases short chain fatty acids which has been shown to improve immune and intestine function.
PREBIOTICS AND PROBIOTICS
Keeping the gut healthy has many benefits, one of which is keeping the digestive system functioning as it should. The gut can be supported by prebiotic and probiotic foods and supplements. Incorporating prebiotic and probiotic food sources will help support gut function and improve overall health. Prebiotic foods include artichokes, bananas, beans, and oats. Probiotic foods are live bacteria found in fermented foods including sauerkraut, miso, tempeh, kimchi, and water kefir. If you have a diet high in animal products try reducing your portion size or swapping a red meat burger for a veggie burger every once in a while. Red meat, high fat dairy products, and fried foods have been linked to a reduction in the growth of healthy bacteria.
At the end of the day, listen to your body and remove your unique intolerances and inflammatory foods. We can truly live a healthier quality of life through physical activity and nutrition.
Written by Jenny Candela, LYMBR Stretch Therapist, ATC and studying to be a Registered Dietician.
Tomova A, Bukovsky I, Rembert E, et al. The effects of vegeterian and vegan diets on gut microbitia. Front Nutr. Published online April 17, 2019.
There aren’t too many racquet sport athletes that don’t know about tennis elbow (particularly if you are reading this), but let’s take this opportunity to learn exactly what it is. Tennis elbow is simply an overuse injury that occurs when too many repetitive movements of the elbow and wrist are performed. Tennis players are not the only people that are susceptible to this injury, however it is most common in racquet sport athletes due to the strain that it puts on the lateral aspect of the elbow. The medical term for tennis elbow is lateral epicondylitis. When tennis elbow occurs, the inflammation causing pain is localized to the tendon on the outside of the elbow (the lateral epicondyle). Tendons are responsible for attaching muscle to bone and are susceptible to overuse injuries, one of the most common forms of inflammation found in tennis players is of the lateral epicondylitis in the elbow, otherwise known as tennis elbow. There are many ways to treat tennis elbow if you wind up with it, yet it is important to be proactive and take the proper steps to help prevent this from happening.
If you are a racquet sport athlete, we can modify our sessions in order to keep you at your best based on what your individual goals are. If tennis elbow is something that you are conscious about preventing, let us know and we can add our wrist and forearm stretching protocols into our sessions. Below are some stretches that you can do on your own before and after you play. It is important to target as many aspects of the lower arm as possible. Since the muscles and tendons are all very close together, just doing one stretch will not give the desired result. The fingers play a big part in a tennis swing as they are the body part that actually grips the racquet. Since we grip the racquet so hard, they are constantly in a flexed position, therefore adding these simple finger extension movements will greatly aid your tennis game.
Wrist extensors pronated (left image) – While standing, extend one arm out in front of you at a 90-degree angle with your palm pointing down and your elbow crease angled toward your body. With your fingers out straight, gently point them down to the floor along with your wrist and use your opposite hand to assist. Make sure the pressure of your assisting hand is closer to your wrist than your fingers as it will be less sensitive and target the forearm muscles more specifically. Move through the stretch for 2-3 seconds and relax. Do 3-5 reps on one side and repeat on the other side. Perform 1-3 sets on each side. Note: This stretch will target the belly of the forearm extensor muscles.
Wrist extensors supinated (right image) – While standing, extend one arm out in front of you at a 90-degree angle with your palm pointing up and your elbow crease angled straight up. With your fingers out straight, gently point them up to the ceiling with your wrist and use your opposite hand to assist. Make sure the pressure of your assisting hand is closer to your wrist than your fingers as it will be less sensitive and target the forearm muscles more specifically. Move through the stretch for 2-3 seconds and relax. Do 3-5 reps on one side and repeat on the other side. Perform 1-3 sets on each side. Note: This stretch will target the distal forearm extensor muscles.
Wrist flexors pronated (left image) – While standing, extend one arm out in front of you at a 90-degree angle with your palm pointing down and your elbow crease angled toward your body. With your fingers out straight, gently point them up to the ceiling along with your wrist and use your opposite hand to assist. Make sure the pressure of your assisting hand is closer to your wrist than your fingers as it will be less sensitive and target the forearm muscles more specifically. Move through the stretch for 2-3 seconds and relax. Do 3-5 reps on one side and repeat on the other side. Perform 1-3 sets on each side. Note: This stretch will target the belly of the wrist flexor muscles.
Wrist flexors supinated (image right) – While standing, extend one arm out in front of you at a 90-degree angle with your palm pointing up and your elbow crease angled straight up. With your fingers out straight, gently point them down to the floor with your wrist and use your opposite hand to assist. Make sure the pressure of your assisting hand is closer to your wrist than your fingers as it will be less sensitive and target the forearm muscles more specifically. Move through the stretch for 2-3 seconds and relax. Do 3-5 reps on one side and repeat on the other side. Perform 1-3 sets on each side. Note: This stretch will target the distal wrist flexor muscles.
Wrist pronators – Starting with your arm bent at 90 degrees by your side and wrist in a fully pronated position (palm down), turn your wrist away from you so that your palm is pointing directly up. Use your other hand to assist. Do not move your shoulder to help get further, isolating the forearm movement is critical to the effectiveness of the stretch. Move through the stretch for 2-3 seconds and relax. Do 3-5 reps on one side and repeat on the other side. Perform 1-3 sets on each side.
Wrist supinators – Starting with your arm bent at 90 degrees by your side and wrist in a fully supinated position (palm up), turn your wrist toward you so that the back of your hand is pointing directly up. Use your other hand to assist. Do not move your shoulder to help get further, isolating the forearm movement is critical to the effectiveness of the stretch. Move through the stretch for 2-3 seconds and relax. Do 3-5 reps on one side and repeat on the other side. Perform 1-3 sets on each side.
Finger flexors – this stretch is simple, but a few tips and tricks go a long way. Rest your hand on your thigh with your arm bent at 90 degrees. Gently starting with your index finger lift it up and use your other hand to assist very softly. The muscle fibers in the fingers are very sensitive so you do not need to feel this stretch to much in order to get results. Move through the stretch for 2-3 seconds and relax. Do 3-5 reps on one side and repeat on each finger. Perform 1-3 sets on each hand.
BEING PROACTIVE IS KEY
These stretches on your own will not be as effective without the help of a LYMBR therapist. But the more you do these on your own, the more progress we will be able to make in the studio. It is important to be proactive about the health of your body, particularly as a tennis player, since overuse injuries are so common. Always take control of your body and do everything you can to prevent injuries before they occur, rather than reacting to injuries that have already happened.