The Benefits of Having A Personal Trainer


Having a personal trainer to guide you through your fitness routine will help make sure you are spending time on the proper types of exercise.  If you only have a limited amount of time to work out, a personal trainer will make sure you get the best results possible for the amount of time that you put it.


Most people have multiple goals when working out, the most common being fat loss and muscle gain.  It’s often hard to find the right balance between these two, and a personal trainer can help you find the right exercises to achieve all of your goals.


A personal trainer will teach you the proper form and technique to use during your workout so you can stay safe and injury-free.


A personal trainer can help you find ways to make healthy living and exercise a priority in your life.  They can help you overcome obstacles that might prevent you from exercising, and help you set many small, achievable goals.


When you hit a plateau in your exercise routine, it can be hard to push through and stay motivated.  A personal trainer can help you understand why you hit a plateau and find ways for you to work through it and see more results.                                                   www.http://johnstonhealth.org/

Eating Healthy on a Budget

Eating healthy is great in concept, but is always much more challenging to put into practice. There's the whole will power thing -- how many times can we be expected to resist the call of pizza? There's the fact that it just takes a little more time and effort than walking over to the vending machine. And then there's the real snag, money. Eating healthy can so easily cost a fortune -- have you seen the price of chia seeds these days? -- but there is an affordable way to do it. Promise. You just have to know the tricks. And we're going to share them with you. Follow these 11 tips, and you'll be eating healthy AND saving money in no time.

1. Buy seasonally. There are many reasons people tout the benefits of seasonal eating, but one of them is because food is more affordable when it's in season. (If you've ever tried to buy cherries in the winter, you'll see what we mean.) It came from nearby, which means the shipping costs aren't hiking up the price of your food. So buy seasonally, and when possible stock up and freeze. This will save you lots in the long run.

2. Plan your meals. We know no one wants to go through the chore of planning out their meals for the week. But it really does work. Not only does it curb the urge to just order pizza one night when you don't know what to cook, but it also makes sure that everything you buy will be used.

3. Double up your recipes. Leftovers are everything when you're trying to eat healthy and save money. They make a quick packed lunch. Or they can mean dinner without the trouble of cooking. It's double the reward for half the work.

4. Buy whole foods. A brick of cheese is a better deal than the pre-grated stuff. Same goes for fruit and veggies -- don't buy them pre-cut. Ever.

5. Cook at home. Seriously, just do it -- and watch your bank account grow over time.

6. Skip the drinks. Water, water, water. That's what you should be drinking for optimal health, and the best part is that it's free.

7. Shop at ethnic markets. Not only will this help make your home cooking more interesting, but the spices and ingredients are so much more affordable than what you can find in the international section of your grocery store.

8. Embrace cheaper cuts of meat. Think chicken thigh over chicken breast. Not only is it cheaper, but it has more flavor too. Win, win.

9. Pack your lunch. We hate to be the ones to tell you this, but the days of packed lunches will never be behind you -- not unless you want to throw away all your hard earned money on a $10 subpar salad at the place next to your office. On the flip side, you can console yourself with the fact that you'll save big bucks, eat healthier, and enjoy the taste of your lunch more, too.

10. Give dried beans a try. It's not as scary as it sounds, and they are so cheap, so filling, plus full of protein. (And, so much tastier).

11. Keep your fridge and pantry organized. That's the only way to make sure nothing is going to waste and that you don't double down on ingredients you already have. 


How to Stay Motivated? 

Sustaining motivation can be tough under the best of circumstances. So how can you stay motivated when your to-do list runs to four pages, you just got another rejection letter, your adult child announced his plans to move back home, the car and washing machine went on the fritz at the same time and you can’t find time in the day to work on your own personal projects?

Motivation is not magic. It does not come in a bottle. There is no little blue pill for it. But it’s something you can tap into by design then harness. Every inspirational author, speaker and life coach has his own tips (and DVDs and seminars), but over my decades of observing super-successful, high-achieving people, I’ve come up with a list of seven things that are fundamental to sustaining motivation, whether you’re trying to finish a 10,000-piece jigsaw puzzle or climb a mountain. 

Seven Steps to Staying Motivated

1. Set a goal and visualize it down to the most minute detail. See it, feel it, hear the sounds that accompany the end result (wind rushing through your hair, applause). Elite athletes visualize their performance ahead of time — right down to the smell of the sweat dripping down their face as they cross the finish line.

2. Make a list of the reasons you want to accomplish the goal. In our busy, distracting world, it’s easy to get blown off course. This is why you need to ground yourself in your goal. For extra “success insurance,” write your list with a pen. Studies show that when we write by hand and connect the letters manually, we engage the brain more actively in the process. Because typing is an automatic function that involves merely selecting letters, there’s less of a mental connection.

3. Break the goal down into smaller pieces and set intermediary targets — and rewards. I’ve called this “chunking” long before there was a Wikipedia to explain that there are eight variations of the concept. To me it’s the best non-pharmaceutical antidote to ADHD. Tony Robbins, arguably the foremost motivational speaker and personal development coach, says: “A major source of stress in our lives comes from the feeling that we have an impossible number of things to do. If you take on a project and try to do the whole thing all at once, you’re going to be overwhelmed.”

Enter chunking. My system involves chipping away at a project. Break it down into the smallest realistic steps and only do one at a time. Neuroscience tells us that each small success triggers the brain’s reward center, releasing feel-good chemical dopamine. This helps focus our concentration and inspires us to take another similar step. Try this with your bête noire, whether organizing your papers and bills or setting out to find a new job.

4. Have a strategy, but be prepared to change course. Let Thomas Edison inspire you in this department: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up.” “The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”

5. Get the help you need. It doesn’t necessarily take a village, but even if you could theoretically accomplish your objective alone, there’s inherent value in sharing your plan. It’s why people get married in front of witnesses. Announcing your intentions sends a strong message to the world and, more important, to your unconscious mind, which can sometimes sabotage our best efforts. Also, we often overestimate our abilities. The flip side is being highly selective about whom you tell and ask for help. It’s akin to the builder’s rule to always get “the right tool for the right job.”

6. Pre-determine how you will deal with flagging motivation. This is not defeatist thinking. On the contrary! It’s (almost) inevitable that at some point along the way, whether because of temporary setbacks or sheer exhaustion, you will need a little boost. When that happens, I think of what others have endured to reach their targets and to quash even the beginning of a pity party, I invoke the most hard-core endurance models I can think of: friends fighting serious diseases and Holocaust survivors. Winston Churchill is particularly inspirational on this front. After London endured 57 consecutive bombings by the Germans during World War II (the Blitzkrieg), he was invited to address a group of students. In that speech, he uttered his immortal line “Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, give up.”

7. Continually check in with your reasons for carrying on. Despite his all-too-human flaws, Steve Jobs embodied this brilliantly. He once told an interviewer: “I think most people that are able to make a sustained contribution over time — rather than just a peak — are very internally driven. You have to be. Because, in the ebb and tide of people’s opinions and of fads, there are going to be times when you are criticized, and criticism’s very difficult. And so when you’re criticized, you learn to pull back a little and listen to your own drummer. And to some extent, that isolates you from the praise, if you eventually get it, too. The praise becomes a little less important to you and the criticism becomes a little less important to you, in the same measure. And you become more internally driven.”

There’s also a more meta, “Why are we here?” way to think about motivation. The great Jewish Rabbi Hillel, famously said, “If not you, then who?
If not now, when?” If you truly let those words sink in, it’s hard to be slacker.                                                                                       

Get More Out Of Your Workout

1. Commit. Yoda said it best: “Do or do not, there is no try.” Don’t straddle the line between wanting to get fit and actually doing something about it. Take the first step towards healthier habits and commit to a 30-day fitness challenge . Go for a walk or run on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Then perform a circuit of at least five bodyweight exercises on Tuesday and Thursday. Keep it up for a month to make the exercise habit really stick.

2. Make a plan. Without a good game plan, a trip to the gym can quickly become a complete waste of time. To avoid wandering aimlessly from one piece of equipment to the next, map out your workouts ahead of time and set clear training goals . When workouts have a purpose, we’re more able to balance sweating with socializing.

3. Stay on schedule. Habits don’t just happen, they’re formed. Figure out when there’s time for exercise—first thing in the morning, at lunch, or after work. But don’t stress; there is no right time to work out. Consistency is the real game-changer. Prioritize exercise, and form a healthy habit by sticking to the schedule every day. 

4. Track your progress. Performing the same exact workout day after day will likely lead to a training plateau—the place where progress comes to a screeching halt. One way to avoid potential roadblocks is by keeping a workout journal (pretty much a dear diary for grown-ups). But instead of juicy gossip, record the exercises, sets, reps, and the amount of weight used during each training session . Then, use these notes to create new workouts that are more challenging than previous sessions.

5. Ask for help. Don’t risk injuries by playing follow-the-leader with the biggest guy in the gym. Learn the dos and don’ts from the get-go. Talk to a trainer, get a fitness assessment, or consider investing a few training sessions to learn the ropes. Coaches have been shown to boost motivation, performance, and adherence to training routines.

6. Warm up. A proper warm-up should be part of every workout. But don’t waste time and energy with outdated warm-up routines—side bends and toe touches went out with headbands and short-shorts. Whether or not you’re still sweating to the oldies, stick to warm-ups that match the workout at hand. When in doubt, adynamic warm-up to get a sweat going and prime the body for the real work that lies ahead .

7. Use perfect form. Who wants to keep making the same misstep when you can master the perfect form from day one? For a fundamental movement like the squat, be sure to stand tall with the chest up, shoulders back and down, and the core engaged. And below the belt, keep a soft bend in the knees while shifting your weight into the heels. Keeping up good form all workout-long is the best way to protect against injury and make workouts more effective to boot.

8. Show and tell. At some point willpower can run out and send those healthy intentions off the rails. Don’t go it alone. Call in the reinforcements to boost motivation and encourage accountability . Try opening up to family and friends about your setbacks and successes. Or, consider starting a blog to get others involved in your get-fit journey. The more people enlisted in the support of the goal, the less likely you are to fail.

9. Compete. When workouts are a competition, winning means losing—weight that is. Whether it’s going head-to-head against an opponent or against our own personal best, research suggests we perform better when we compete . Go all out against the clock, perform as many push-ups as possible, or try to set a new one-rep max. Even if we set our sights too high, it never hurts to have a bigger goal in mind.

10. Do you. Keep in mind, when it comes to exercise, pursuing perfection can be a slippery slope. Sure, it would be nice to have a six-pack or the perfect backside, but it’s better to aim for fit, not flawless . Be wary of fitness products that seem too good to be true. Put your trust in science instead—regular exercise, promote health and happiness.

11. Partner up. Everyone needs a little alone time. But flying solo at the gym is like bar hopping with no wingman—a lot of work and nothing to show for it. To get better results and enjoyment out of a workout, enlist the help of a training partner . With a trusty workout buddy in tow there will never be a need to ask a random for a spot—unless you’re also asking for their number.

12. Mobilize. Believe it or not, there’s more to that smartphone than Angry Birds. Use your mobile device to connect with a social network of like-minded fitness friends. Fitness-focused apps are also great communities helping people to stay motivated, move more, and eat well with a little help from their (virtual) friends.

13. Multitask your movements. Total-body compound movements like the squat or deadlift utilize multiple muscle groups, joints, and energy systems. The result: A serious boost to heart rate and metabolism in a short amount of time .

14. Don’t multitask your time. It might be tempting to fire off emails in between sets, but a trip to the gym should include more work than rest. Try upping the intensity by using a stopwatch to monitor rest between sets . For those with fitness and fat loss goals, keep breaks under 60 seconds and cap workouts at 45 minutes (full steam ahead!).

15. Run faster. Cardio-loving distance runners may prioritize pacing and mileage, but for those of us who are not so high on running (despite the runner’s high) consider sprinting as your new holy grail. Sprinting all-out for 10 sets of 30-60 seconds can torch more fat in less time than a long run. Add some intensity and variety to workouts by performing shuttle runs, hill sprints, or 100-meter repeats with short recovery periods in between.

16. Just do it. Those who think they can and those who think they can’t are both right. Use visualization, a positive affirmation, or winning mantra to boost motivation and get the most out of those workouts .

17. Make combos. No, not the delectable pizza-flavored pretzels. Combo, as in combining strength and cardio exercise into circuit-based workouts . To get strong and lean, perform an up-tempo workout by alternating between a strength move, like dumbbell curl and press, with a cardio move like burpees. Link up to eight exercises and perform each without rest before moving on to the next.

18. Rest. Regular exercise is a healthy habit. But with respect to exercise, too much of a good thing is called overtraining (or the point of diminishing returns where the body, immune system, and progress break down) . Avoid a disaster by adhering to this equation: Results = Work + Recovery. Stretching, swimming, or yoga can all be part of an active recovery protocol. And never underestimate the importance of sleep!

19. Celebrate progress. Forming a new habit is challenging, so set manageable goals and take small, actionable steps towards those healthy workout habits. Remember, change doesn’t happen overnight. So when you run your first 5K celebrate with a healthier homemade treat. Or, take a break from all this healthy habits business and allow yourself an epic cheat day. It’s actually good for you—once in a while.  www.greatist.com/fitness

Want a Better Night's Sleep? 

Sleep is one of the great mysteries of life. Like gravity or the quantum field, we still don't understand exactly why we sleep—although we are learning more about it every day.

We do know, however, that good sleep is one of the cornerstones of health.

Six to eight hours per night seems to be the optimal amount of sleep for most adults, and too much or too little can have adverse effects on your health.

Sleep deprivation is such a chronic condition these days that you might not even realize you suffer from it. Science has now established that a sleep deficit can have serious, far reaching effects on your health.

For example, interrupted or impaired sleep can:

-Dramatically weaken your immune system

-Accelerate tumor growth—tumors grow two to three times faster in laboratory animals 

-Cause a pre-diabetic state, making you feel hungry even if you've already eaten

-Seriously impair your memory; even a single night of poor sleep—meaning sleeping only 4 to 6 hours—can impact your ability to think

-Impair your performance on physical or mental tasks, and decrease your problem solving ability.

-When your circadian rhythms are disrupted, your body produces less melatonin and has less ability to fight cancer, since melatonin helps suppress free radicals that can lead to cancer. This is why tumors grow faster when you sleep poorly.    

-Lost sleep is lost forever, and persistent lack of sleep has a cumulative effect when it comes to disrupting your health. Poor sleep can         make your life miserable, as most of you probably know. The good news is, there are many natural techniques you can learn to restore       your "sleep health." Whether you have difficulty falling asleep, waking up too often, or feeling inadequately rested when you wake up in the morning, you are bound to find some relief from my tips and tricks below.              

Optimizing Your Sleep Sanctuary

-Sleep in complete darkness, or as close to it as possible. Even the tiniest bit of light in the room can disrupt your internal clock and your pineal gland's production of melatonin and serotonin. Even the tiniest glow from your clock radio could be interfering with your sleep. 

-All life evolved in response to predictable patterns of light and darkness, called circadian rhythms. Modern day electrical lighting has significantly betrayed your inner clock by disrupting your natural rhythms. Little bits of light pass directly through your optic nerve to your hypothalamus, which controls your biological clock. Light signals your brain that it's time to wake up.

-Keep the temperature in your bedroom no higher than 70 degrees F. Many people keep their homes and particularly their upstairs bedrooms too warm. Studies show that the optimal room temperature for sleep is quite cool, between 60 to 68 degrees.

-Move alarm clocks and other electrical devices away from your bed. If these devices must be used, keep them as far away from your bed as possible, preferably at least 3 feet. Remove the clock from view. 

-Avoid using loud alarm clocks. It is very stressful on your body to be suddenly jolted awake. If you are regularly getting enough sleep, an alarm may even be unnecessary.                 

Preparing for Bed

-Get to bed as early as possible. Your body (particularly your adrenal system) does a majority of its recharging between the hours of 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. In addition, your gallbladder dumps toxins during this same period. If you are awake, the toxins back up into your liver, which can further disrupt your health. 

-Don't change your bedtime. You should go to bed and wake up at the same times each day, even on the weekends. This will help your body to get into a sleep rhythm and make it easier to fall asleep and get up in the morning.

-Establish a bedtime routine. This could include meditation, deep breathing, using aromatherapy or essential oils or indulging in a massage from your partner. The key is to find something that makes you feel relaxed, then repeat it each night to help you release the tensions of the day.

-Don't drink any fluids within 2 hours of going to bed. This will reduce the likelihood of needing to get up and go to the bathroom, or at least minimize the frequency.

-Eat a high-protein snack several hours before bed. This can provide the L-tryptophan needed for your melatonin and serotonin production. Also eat a small piece of fruit. This can help the tryptophan cross your blood-brain barrier.

-Put your work away at least one hour before bed (preferably two hours or more). This will give your mind a chance to unwind so you can go to sleep feeling calm, not hyped up or anxious about tomorrow's deadlines.

-Read something spiritual or uplifting. This may help you relax. Don't read anything stimulating, such as a mystery or suspense novel, which has the opposite effect. In addition, if you are really enjoying a suspenseful book, you might be tempted to go on reading for hours, instead of going to sleep.

-Journaling. If you often lay in bed with your mind racing, it might be helpful to keep a journal and write down your thoughts before bed.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       www.mercola.com/article                                                                                                                                                                                                     

Why is drinking water important? How much water should you drink?
Many people may take drinking water for granted, but keeping hydrated can have a huge impact on overall health. Despite how crucial it is that people drink enough water, a significant amount of people may be failing to drink recommended levels of fluids each day. The Institute of Medicine recommend that men achieve a daily fluid intake of around 3 liters that women take in 2.2 liters. Around of 70% of the body is comprised of water, and around of 71% of the planet's surface is covered by water. Perhaps it is the ubiquitous nature of water that means that drinking enough of it each day is not at the top of many people's lists of healthy priorities.

Water is needed by all the cells and organs in the body in order for them to function properly. It is also used to lubricate the joints, protect the spinal cord and other sensitive tissues, regulate body temperature and assist the passage of food through the intestines. Although some of the water required by the body is obtained through foods with a high water content - soups, tomatoes, oranges - the majority is gained through drinking water and other beverages. During normal everyday functioning, water is lost by the body, and this needs to be replaced. It is noticeable that we lose water through activities such as sweating and urination, but water is even lost when breathing. Drinking water, be it from the tap or a bottle, is the best source of fluid for the body. Beverages such as milk and juices are also decent sources of water, but beverages containing alcohol and caffeine, such as soft drinks, coffee and beer, are less than ideal due to having diuretic properties, meaning that they cause the body to release water.

The recommended amount of water that should be drunk per day varies from person to person depending on factors such as how active they are and how much they sweat. There is no universally agreed upon threshold of water consumption that must be reached, but there is a general level of consensus as to what a healthy amount is. According to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), an adequate intake for men is approximately 13 cups (3 liters) a day. For women, an adequate intake is around 9 cups (2.2 liters).

When we eat and drink, nutrients and minerals enter the bloodstream in order to be transported around the body and used for energy, growth, maintenance or repair. The blood also passes through the kidneys where it is filtered, and any waste products and excess nutrients and water are removed and sent to the bladder for expulsion.

There are a considerable number of health problems that can occur simply through not drinking enough water, and yet researchers have found that a significant number of Americans may be failing to obtain the recommended levels of fluid intake every day. 

A recent study conducted by the CDC suggested that many people in the US may not be drinking enough water.

Out of a sample of 3,397 adults, the researchers found the following:

  • 7% of adults reported no daily consumption of drinking water
  • 36% of adults reported drinking 1-3 cups of drinking water a day
  • 35% of adults reported drinking 4-7 cups of drinking water a day
  • 22% of adults reported drinking 8 cups or more a day.

People were more likely to drink less than 4 cups of drinking water daily if they consumed 1 cup or less of fruits or vegetables a day. The study indicates that among this sample, a large number of people may well have not been drinking the suggested 8 cups of fluid a day.

The CDC make a number of suggestions that could help people increase the amount of water they normally drink:

  • Carrying a water bottle with you means that fluid can be accessed when out and about, at work or running errands
  • This water can be frozen in freezer-safe water bottles to provide a supply of ice-cold water all day long, which can be more satisfying than other beverages in certain situations
  • Adding a wedge of lime or lemon to water can give it a different edge that may improve its taste without affecting its nutritional value.

Drinking enough should be an easily achievable health goal. "Under normal conditions, most people can drink enough fluids to meet their water needs," state the CDC. Although it is a relatively simple step to take, it can easily get overlooked as part of increasingly hectic lifestyles.


What's more important: Diet or Exercise? 

A proper diet and regular exercise are the two pillars of a healthy lifestyle. But that doesn't mean they're equally important when it comes to your weight, your disease risk, or how long you'll live. In a head-to-head battle, research shows what you eat trumps how much you move. "Even if you don't exercise, if you ate really well you could probably look like an athlete and be fairly healthy," says Todd Astorino, PhD, an exercise scientist at the University of California, San Marcos. But if your diet is poor, no amount of exercise will make up for that, Astorino adds.

A new editorial appearing in the journal BMJ doubles down on Astorino's comments. The belief that exercise can offset a crummy diet is one of the biggest mistakes people make when it comes to their health and disease risk, the editorial's authors say. "The idea that you can eat what you like as long as you exercise is misleading and unscientific," says Aseem Malhotra, MD, a London-based cardiologist and coauthor of the editorial. "You cannot outrun a bad diet."

Malhotra's editorial points out that, during the past 30 years, physical activity rates haven't changed even as obesity and diabetes rates have skyrocketed. Sugar and refined carbs, not
too little exercise, are the biggest drivers of poor health and obesity, he says. 

Ironically, many athletes suck down sports drinks and other sugary, carb-heavy snacks because they believe their bodies need these energy sources in order to perform. This kind of "carbohydrate loading" can put athletes—even marathon runners and triathletes—at risk for insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, the editorial argues.

More evidence in favor of diet's importance: A recent report in the journal Obesity Reviews found regular exercise by itself, that is, not in combination with diet changes, rarely leads to significant weight loss, and sometimes results in weight gain. On the other hand, numerous studies have linked diet improvements toweight loss and lower rates of death and disease—regardless of the participants' exercise habits.

All that said, regular exercise is extremely important if you want to live a long, healthy life. Many studies have shown physical activity safeguards your heart and brain from disease, including Alzheimer's. Exercise also protects your joints from arthritis and pain. More research shows you're more likely to stick with diet changes if you're also working out regularly. So ideally, your health goals will include eating a proper diet and partaking in regular physical activity. "To optimize health, some aspect of exercise training must be included," Astorino says.

If you're wondering which is more essential, or you just don't have the willpower to tackle healthier diet and exercise goals at the same time, focus first on improving your diet, Malhotra says.                                                                                                                              www.prevention.com/weight-loss

Can you eat too much protein after a workout? 

New research suggests that not only does excess post-workout protein not really do you any extra good, it might actually be bad for you.

In the study “Myofibrillar muscle protein synthesis rates subsequent to a meal in response to increasing doses of whey protein at rest and after resistance exercise,” researchers looked at the effects of ingesting 0, 10, 20, or 40 grams of whey protein isolate immediately after a weight training workout.

It was found that when it comes to muscle building and muscle recovery, 20g of protein post-workout seems to be the sweet spot. And 40g simply results in increased ammonia production due to higher protein breakdown rates – and all this extra ammonia has to be cleaned up and filtered by your kidneys, putting undue stress on these precious organs.

Approximately 20g of protein can be had from a couple of large eggs, or a 6-8oz portion
of beef, chicken or fish, or a couple of scoops of whey protein, or a handful of seeds and nuts combined with a bowl of an amino acid rich grain such as quinoa. So don't overdo it!
More isn't always better.                                

Why You Can't Do a Pull-Up
Pull-ups are one of those ubiquitous tests of strength, but a move that can humble even the toughest of people. Most who are unable to do this particular feat think the answer lies in more weights. And while your lats, biceps, and traps are doing work during this move, the real answer lies in your serratus anterior (SA), the muscle that holds your shoulder blade against your rib cage. If your SA isn’t working correctly, you are setting up the other 17 muscles that attach to your scapula to fail. When the scapula is out of position, you are putting yourself at a mechanical disadvantage. In other words, it’s not strength, it’s positioning. Put the scapula in the right position, and your lower trap, biceps, and lats will work much better. With the scapula out of position, you are asking your teres major and minor (which are tiny muscles) and only a portion of your lat to lift your entire body. No wonder you can’t get your chin up to the bar.

You need to start releasing muscles that attach to your shoulder. Modern life is about texting, working on the computer, and stuffing yourself into airplane seats built for 12 year old kids. The result is a forward head and rounded shoulders and ultimately, a shoulder blade that is constantly drifting forward and up. Gravity exacerbates the situation, pulling you down and further out of position.

Here's what you need to do. Get a lacrosse ball and then get to work. First release your pec muscles, then the teres (those little guys on the outside of your scapula that are working so hard to get you over that bar), and finally the upper trap. For the pec and teres, place the lacrosse ball on a tender spot and lean up against a wall. Lean a tolerable amount of weight onto the ball, then move your arm back and forth. For the trap, you want to find a bar bell, get underneath it so your upper trap is, well, trapped underneath it, shrug up and depress your shoulder. For each release, you will know it is working when your body starts to melt into the lacrosse ball or barbell.

A few strengthening exercises

Downward Dog Push-Up: In a push-up position, lift hips toward the ceiling forming an upside down V shape. Be sure the back is straight and both legs are straight with the heels touching the floor. Both hands should be splayed and facing outward. With both arms straight, push into the ground so as to open up the armpits. Bend at the elbows, lowering your head to the ground, then push back to starting position.

Scapular Stabilization Push-ups: Place dumbbells on floor, about three inches outside shoulders, turned outward at 45-degree angles. Start in a raised position, abs and glutes engaged, back flat, and head at a neutral position. Punch forward with shoulders to engage serratus anterior.

Slowly lower toward floor, stopping when elbows reach a 90-degree angle. Raise to starting position. Repeat. 

Serratus Anterior Stabilization Push-ups: Place dumbbells on floor, about three inches outside shoulders, perpendicular to the body. Start in a raised position, abs and glutes engaged, back flat, and head at a neutral position. Punch forward with shoulders to engage serratus anterior.

Slowly lower toward floor, stopping when elbows reach a 90-degree angle. Raise to starting position. Repeat. 


The Importance of Core Work

Core exercises are an important part of a well-rounded fitness program. It pays to get your core muscles — the muscles around your trunk and pelvis — in better shape. Core exercises improve your balance and stability and train the muscles in your pelvis, lower back, hips and abdomen to work in harmony. This leads to better balance and stability, whether on the playing field or in daily activities. In fact, most sports and other physical activities depend on stable core muscles. 

Want more-defined abdominal muscles? Core exercises are important. Although it takes aerobic activity to burn abdominal fat, core exercises can strengthen and tone the underlying muscles. Strong core muscles make it easier to do everything from swinging a golf club to getting a glass from the top shelf or bending down to tie your shoes. Weak core muscles leave you susceptible to poor posture, lower back pain and muscle injuries.Core exercises can help you reach your fitness goals Aerobic exercise and muscular fitness are the primary elements of most fitness programs. But to have a well-rounded fitness program, consider including core exercises in the mix as well. Whether you're a novice taking the first steps toward fitness or a committed fitness fanatic hoping to optimize your results, a well-rounded fitness program is the best way to reach your fitness goals.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       (www.mayclinic.com/fitness)