It's here, February 14th. And that means you're pretty much required to show your lover some serious love. But perhaps you have a resistance to this holiday because you feel it's not a real holiday, just some made-up thing by the greeting card industry. Or maybe previous Valentine's Days have been let-downs or screw-ups, so you're pretending you don't care and telling yourself that your beloved doesn't really care either. Or maybe you do love candy hearts, red roses, and love poems from Shakespeare, but somehow, here you are completely empty-handed. Whatever your reason, you've waited until the last minute to think of a way to celebrate, yet you want it to be something amazing and absolutely perfect that shows you really put a lot of thought into it. No problem. We have you covered.
Done the wrong way, Valentine's Day can seem like an expensive, corporate chore. But if you follow a tip or two above, it doesn't have to be. Even if you wait until the last minute, a little thought and planning can make you a romantic champ in no time, without contributing to Hallmark's lonely hearts club coffers.
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And if you'd like to know more about Beachbody Director of Results Steve's views on fitness, nutrition, and outdoor sports, read his blog, The Straight Dope, named one of the Top 50 blogs covering the sports industry by the Masters in Sports Administration. You can also read a more scientific (not to mention snarky) take on many of the topics we discuss here at The Real Fitness Nerd blog.
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The knee bone's connected to the . . .
In this first of a three-part series on knee pain, I'm going to give you a quick overview of how the knee works in relation to the rest of the body when it comes to exercise and optimal functionality.
When starting a new workout, it's almost inevitable that there's some sort of legwork involved. Lots of lunges, lots of squats, and lots of other movements (such as kicks, running, and climbing) get piled on top of a body that might not have had to accelerate at that rate or perform some of those movements "since high school." While the ego certainly remembers having the ability to do those movements, the body's memory of proper execution might not be as clear.
Lots and lots of reps, and possibly lots more load than the body's been used to handling, can combine to push a musculoskeletal system past the point of safety and into compensation. Many of us have heard the term "compensation" before, but let's define it now for this human performance context.
Compensation is the act of using sub-optimal body mechanics to get more movement out of joints that can no longer be powered or stabilized by the appropriate muscles. So think of it like this . . . in rather simplistic terms. There are two teams of muscles that are playing on the field that your joints provide—stabilizers and prime movers. The stabilizing muscles have the job to provide reflexive stability for the joint. The prime movers are the bigger muscles whose job it is to generate some serious force through the joint and create motion and move a load. Generally speaking, the stabilizers, or intrinsics as they're also known, are smaller, deeper muscles that lie closer to the joints, whereas the prime movers are larger, thicker muscles that often span multiple joints.
With that picture in mind, it stands to reason that the intrinsic muscles wouldn't do such a hot job as prime movers. You wouldn't want to hand the heavy lifting jobs to the scrawny little kid. Nor would you want to tire out the big brawny guy in a wasteful fashion by having him holding a light screen door open. This is exactly what happens in situations where compensation occurs. The wrong muscles try to do the right jobs. And as a result, some joints become hypermobile and some joints become too rigid.
Now, with the geek-speak taken care of and marinating in your brain, which of these two qualities do you think the knee joint should have more of when climbing up stairs, for example—stability or mobility?
According to world-famous movement expert, highly sought-after physical therapist, and founder of the Functional Movement Screen, Gray Cook, the knee would choose stability over mobility if it had to pick one attribute over the other. Note that I said "stability" and not "stiffness."
The knee is a hinge joint that essentially moves well in a plane of motion. So more than anything else, it needs lateral or side-to-side stability. If a knee buckles drastically towards one side or the other under load, bad things happen, usually with a not-so-pleasant soundtrack of crunching, popping, and screaming or expletives accompanying it.
The two major joints neighboring the knee are the ankle and the hip. These two joints, according to Cook, should be primarily mobile, and this is where lots of the problems lie. Lots of societal, lifestyle, and exercise factors play into the epidemic of immobile hips. The problem is so great that some human biomechanics experts have gone so far as to call it "de-evolution right before our eyes."
About the author: Dr. Mark Cheng holds a Ph.D. in Chinese medicine and acupuncture and is a California-licensed acupuncturist (L.Ac.). He blends ancient medical knowledge with modern sports rehabilitation science in his private practice. With an extensive background in martial arts, Dr. Cheng is also a Senior RKC kettlebell instructor, a faculty member for Functional Movement Systems, and a TRX Suspension Training Sports Medicine certified instructor. He has taught, lectured, and demonstrated around the world to fitness professionals, physicians, professional fighters, and military personnel. No other Beachbody® instructor has ever brought the depth of credentials to the table like Dr. Cheng does. Look out for his upcoming program—Tai Cheng™—by going to http://www.facebook.com/taichengworkout
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To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.
Valentine's Day can be so depressing for singles. There's nothing more obnoxious than a whole day set aside to celebrate lovers when you're riding it solo. For years, I rued February 14th for this very reason—until I realized all I needed was a change of perspective. I now celebrate the holiday my way whether I have a partner or not. After all, we're modern folks with no interest in waiting around for Cupid to shoot his silly little arrow just so that we can be happy—so let's get the party started without him!
It is so, like, incredibly awesome! Instead of sulking around all lonely, we're celebrating our goofy selves. I even have couples who push their Valentine's Day dinner plans so they can join in the fun.
Gratitude Journal. Set some time aside to account for all your loved ones. In your journal, write down all the reasons you think they're amazing. How do they make your life better or easier? How are they unique? What are their positive aspects? Research shows that focusing on positive aspects of life can increase a person's level of happiness and sense of satisfaction.
Desire Journal. Imagine, if you will, that you could have the "perfect" mate. What internal qualities would they possess? Would he/she be intelligent, attractive, athletic, creative, kind, funny, and sweet? Years ago, I started to do this activity and I found that it allowed me to attract really amazing people in my life. I also found myself trying to build similar characteristics in myself. Birds of a feather flock together. So once you write down all that you want in a partner, build those characteristics in yourself.
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Vanessa M. got sexy abs in just 60 days of INSANITY—Shaun T's intense total-body conditioning program.
Makes 10 servings, 2 strawberries each.
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 3 minutes
Total Time: 23 minutes
Nutritional Information (per serving):
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Nutritional Information: (per serving)
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