Friday, June 30, 2006

Abbye "Pudgy" Stockton: Thank You

"Pudgy" Stockton was the first woman accepted by the popular press in the US as a weightlifter and female strength athlete. She was a regular with her husband on Muscle Beach in the 1940's and contributed to Strength and Health with her "Barbelles" column.

She died at the age of 88, from complications related to Alzheimer's.

At 5'1" and 115 lbs, she amazed audiences with her feats of acrobatic strength. She was also the first female owner of a gym and organized the first AAU-sanctioned weightlifting meet for women in 1947. At this meet, I believe she pressed 100 lbs, snatched 105 lbs and clean & jerked 135 lbs.

Thank you Pudgy for making a muscular physique, weight training, weightlifting and strength acceptable for women.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Awareness, Alignment & Mobility

My logo contains the “tag” phrase: Awareness, Alignment, Mobility (changed from Movement), Strength. In my mind and experience, these are the building blocks of physical health and performance.

Today I spent about 75 minutes with a client working specifically in lower extremity mobility and teaching him some static postures (stretches) that will help him gain mobility. We began with discussion of some functional anatomy—which muscle are two-joint muscles and why it is important to address each joint when working on the extensibility of a particular muscle/muscle group. We then worked on proper alignment for optimal execution of the posture—foot position, pelvic position, lumbar spine position, etc. This type of detail, along with body awareness to perceive it, is imperative to development of functional mobility.

If you aren’t cognitively aware of what you are trying to accomplish (education) and you cannot self-correct through proprioceptive awareness, then you cannot achieve the proper postural alignment necessary for good mobility. Many “stretching” routines fail to accomplish anything because the foundation awareness and alignment are missing.

Most people are not adequately educated regarding the development of functional mobility. Online and written instructions on “stretching” do not teach and train anyone how to perceive what their body is doing; nor do they usually explain why a particular position is being used. This typically requires some hands-on instruction, something most physical therapists do not have time to do and something most personal trainers/strength coaches don’t know how to do. These positions need to be practiced and occasionally tweaked with manual cues and feedback.

Last, but not least, mobility is best gained by using gravity-based postures that mimic functional movements and/or address negative postures/mobility deficits. For the lower extremities, this means keeping the feet on the ground, keeping the torso upright and monitoring the pelvis/lumbar spine at all times.

Monday, June 26, 2006

A New Primer on Protein: Myths and Facts

Check out this post on on protein Joel Fuhrman, MD. Dr. Fuhrman gives a great overview of the many protein myths in the popular press and in general. He also lists peer reviewed citations for those looking for more indepth information.

And yes, you can achieve better health as well as improve performance with plant protein as your only source. Stop sweating the macronutirents (fats, carbs, protein) and focus on foods high in micronutrients and you'll be just fine.

Garr and Guy: Great Presentation & Business Ideas

Here's a great post by Garr Reynolds of the Presentation Zen blog. He does a nice job of summarizing Guy Kawasaki's "Art of the Start" presentation and gives links to the video. For anyone thinking about putting new ideas out in into the world, these guys have some great advice.

The link to the Dilbert Mission Statement Generator is terrific too.

Thanks Vern, for the inital link to Guy Kawasaki. It's helping me keep the Bozo factor low these days!

Sunday, June 18, 2006

VeggieSaurus: One Year on a Plant-Based Diet

Well, I'm celebrating my one year anniversary as a vegan! The journey has been fabulous. Once a big steak-eatin' and milk-drinkin' person, I have completely revamped my eating behaviors. I'd like to share a few thoughts and answer some of the typical questions people ask me:

1. What do you eat? The better question might be "What don't I eat?" I don't eat any meat or dairy, and I also eat a bascially gluten-free diet; that means little to no wheat and very few grains. I steer clear of high fructose corn syrup, trans fats, processed anything--especially grains--and no artificial sweeteners. I no longer drink any sports drinks either.

Okay, so I eat a ton of fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. I have rice, brown or white, occasionally and I'll partake of rice noodles too. Still have my coffee in the am and will have a glass of wine or beer ocassionally.

I don't eat bagels or cereal.

These dietary changes have freed me from seasonal allergies and skin issues. Yes, I am one of the few people in the St. Louis area who DOES NOT take any allergy medication. And I've suffered nary a sinus infection this past year.

2. Do you eat alot of tofu? No, not really. I'll eat some--especially when it is prepared well at an Asian restaurant. And I'll eat an occasional Boca burger, but I stick to less processed soy as a rule. I do use soy sauce and Liquid Aminos. Fruits and veggies.

3. Where do you get your calcium? From my fruits and veggies! The whole dairy thing is a big myth--a very profitable one for the US dairy industry. Countries that consume the most dairy have the highest rates of osteoporosis in the world. There are millions of people who've come and gone on this earth without drinking a glass of cow's milk and their bone density has been just fine. Calcium can be obtained just fine with a dairy-free diet. Other variables such as Vit D, Vit K and weight-bearing exercise also impact bone density. A plant-based diet and a good exercise program will keep your bones strong.

4. Where do you get your protein? Again, from all of the foods in my diet. Animal protein is way overrated. And the more animal protein you include in your diet, the higher the incidence of immune-related disease (diabetes, MS) and cancer. My dad has MS; my grandma has diabetes and has had cancer. I stick to plant protein and keep it to about .8 g/kg. Does it look like I need more protein?????

Just to be clear: I do no bodybuilding exercises. All of my workouts are based on multi-joint bodyweight/barbell/dumbbell movements. I train to move and be powerful; not to be buff. A lean, athletic build is the byproduct of proper nutrition and training.

5. What was the hardest thing? Getting used to soy milk in my coffee.

6. Do you take supplements? No. I eat well and get my calories from natural food. I take no vitamins either. For B12, I drink fortified rice milk and sprinkle nutritional yeast on food. I sprinkly flax seed meal on my salads. Occasionally, I will add a scoop of hemp/pea/spirulina superfood to my giant post-workout rice milk/fruit smoothies. This has only 17 g of plant protein and give me probably a 7-5:1 ratio of carb:protein recovery meal.

At 37 years old, I am in the best physical condition of my life. Down 20 lbs and probably 10% body fat, I can out jump, squat, push up, pull up, power clean, push press circles around the 18 y.o. me that graduated from high school as the Female Athlete of the Year with All-Conference/All-District honors in 3 sports (volleyball, basketball and track). Imagine the athlete I might have been if I knew how to eat properly?

But now is the time to seize the day and make the most of me now. My goal is to be a walking billboard for physical health through proper exercise and nutritional excellence. And maybe along the way, others will choose the same.

And besides, who else is going to demonstrate front squats (> bodyweight), lunges or overhead squats or pull ups to the high school weightroom? It certainly isn't the male sport coaches. Mrs. Fober can. (But don't let her see you doing bicep curls....)

Sunday, June 11, 2006

The Wisdom of Mr. Lee

"Training for strength and flexibility is a must. You must use it to support your techniques. Techniques alone are no good if you don't support them with strength and flexibility."

-Bruce Lee
from Bruce Lee: The Art of Expressing The Human Body by John Little

Just picked this gem up last night, along with Bruce Lee: Artist of Life, also edited by John Little. Both books are compilations of Lee's personal writings and letters. The Art of Expressing The Human Body specifically addresses the evolution of Lee's complimentary strength training for jeet kune do.

"Yee Mo Faat Wai Yao Faat/Yee Mo Haan Wai Yao Haan"

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Have you been "forthcoming" with credit to others?

In that never-never land of almost awake and listening to the early radio alarm, I heard a great commentary by a local St. Louis businessman, Bob Vecchiotti. Read it here.

This ditty hits home with me because over the last year, it has come to my attention (with much angst), that a former colleague and partner has been using materials (video, photos, even ideas) in written work and presentations without acknowledging me. In a little over a month, this individual will speak in front of a national audience; and I will be there in the audience to see if he uses any of my materials and truly is "forthcoming" with credit. We'll see what happens.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The 1996 Tour De France: Brilliant!

In preparation for this year's Tour, my friend Sandy lent me her video of the 1996 Tour. The winner is Bjarne Riis--current Director Sportiv of the CSC team. It is fantastic. For all of you cycling geeks, here are some of my favorite highlights of this video so far:

1. The Big Mig, Miguel Indurain, pops in his attempt to win a 6th Tour. He is a very large cyclist, compared to many. Very interesting to see him next to the smaller cyclists.

2. Bjarne Riis is the team leader for Telekom. This 1996 version of Deutsche Telekom has one very fast Erik Zabel in the green jersey and in his first Tour, a very young Jan Ullrich.

3. Johan Bruyneel, the current mastermind of the Postal/Lance/Discovery juggernaut, rides off the side of a mountain and reappears to be no worse for the wear. He is, however, about 40 pounds lighter than he is now as DS of Discovery--skinnier than heck!

4. "Big" Lance Armstrong (yes, Phil refers to him as big in this race) quits early in the first week of the race. He is riding, pre-cancer, at a weight of 170-something. Unbeknownst to anyone, he is riding riddled with tumors in his lungs. His whole persona is so different at this time. Very brash and arrogant, he is shown fighting--throwing punches--at another rider whom he believes caused a crash.

5. Georgie Hincapie crashes out. Laurent Jalabert, a personal favorite of mine, retires early as well.

6. The bikes look ancient. And in France, no helmets are required. Boo!

7. Cipollini wins ONE flat stage and then withdraws, in order to prepare for the '96 Olympic Games.

8. And last but not least, we see one of the best names in sport compete: The very handsome sprinter, Djamolidine Abdoujaparov. Great legs on the former Soviet racer.

Freshman Weight Training

Made it through the first day of weight training camp. There are over 50 guys in this session--that's way too many for actually learning much, but I'll do the best I can. I am thankful the varsity football coach invites me to help. I doubt there are very few women who teach weight training camps at boys' schools. And it establishes respect for me from day one with these student athletes; they know when Mrs.-Coach Fober is in the house, they'd better do it right.

This picture is from a few years ago. I use it to show exactly what is "wrong" about trying to teach weightlifting related movements in big group settings--to kids who need lots and lots of remedial work. The room is a bit more organized now, but you can see the platforms stink; they are built from the BFS model. The bars are not optimal, but like many high schools, the kids make do with what they have. Sometimes it kills me that I cannot have more of an impact. Give me a couple thousand bucks and I'd make the place over right. Safe, functional and kick-ass.

My job is to teach them "something" about that mysterious exercise called the "hang power clean." I hate that term. And I cannot stand coaches who teach from the hang. Most kids have horrible positions using the hang and they have no idea what they are doing. It is the "let's fling the bar up to my shoulders using a reverse curl / hip extension only" momentum lift.

Most of these kids simply need to learn to bodyweight squat, front squat, lunge, etc. Their body awareness and mobility (shoulder /hip / ankle) is lacking for this type of work. But because they will be allowed access to the weight room, it behooves me to give them as much good information as I can; at least they will be a little more knowledgeable.

Yesterday many said "thank you" and were quite attentive and polite. By the time we get to Friday, they'll be a bit more rambunctious. I'll have to work on my calm, assertive energy over the week.