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Total Results Blog

Common Obstacles to Sustained Exercise Progress, by Matthew Romans

If you ask your friends, family, and coworkers whether they want to be stronger, fitter, and more resistant to injury and chronic disease, they will undoubtedly say yes. The question is whether they are willing to take the actions necessary to achieve these goals. Some are, but many are not. I have written before about the so-called "six week syndrome" that is prevalent in the mainstream fitness industry after the start of each calendar year. Total Results has been very successful at maintaining a loyal and long-term client base; we have many clients that have been with us for over a decade, several that have been with us for over fifteen years, and our longest tenured client has been with us for nearly eighteen years. However, not everyone who comes through our door sustains their initial level of success over the long term. I would like to discuss the most common obstacles to long term participation and sustained progress.

Attitude. There are a lot of things in life that are outside of your control, but your attitude is not one of them. In the book "Man's Search for Meaning", Viktor Frankl (a survivor of four Nazi concentration camps) says that, "Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way." Having the right attitude about exercise means having the mindset of a learner, since the Total Results protocol is something that is new and unfamiliar to most people. This needs to be something that is important to you, so that you will give your best effort in each workout and be accountable to yourself and to your instructor. It also means that you want to set high but reasonable goals, as unreasonable expectations can set you up for disappointment. Attitude is everything.

Excessive physical activity. There is a reason why our clients perform no more than two sessions per week. It is because the body has finite recovery resources, and exercise has a narrow therapeutic window. This means that there is a fine line between getting enough exercise (to stimulate physical improvements) and overtraining. Just like with medication, there is a dose-response relationship in exercise; not enough exercise provides minimal stimulus, and too much exercise can have a toxic effect. We want the minimum dosage of exercise necessary to stimulate improvements without causing harm along the way. If you are performing excessive amounts of physical activity between Total Results workouts, you are setting yourself up for a compromised immune system, a slowdown or reversal of progress, or an overuse injury. We keep detailed records on each client's workout spreadsheet, and if we see that progress is stagnating or going backward, we often will reduce a client's training frequency to one session per week. While there are many benefits to some forms of physical activity (such as getting up and moving, getting outside to get adequate Vitamin D, recreational activities, etc.), no other activity comes close to providing the physical benefits that Total Results does.

Inadequate sleep. According to Matthew Walker, PhD., author of the book "Why We Sleep", most people require between seven and nine hours of sleep per night for optimal function. Common sleep mistakes include not setting consistent sleep and wake up times, excessive exposure to artificial light, eating too late, and sleeping in too warm a room temperature. As far as exercise is concerned, adequate sleep is required to allow the body to repair the muscle tissue that has been broken down during the workout. You cannot perform at your best if you are in a sleep debt, and this leaves you more susceptible to low level infections (colds, flu).

Poor Nutrition. You need to eat primarily whole, single-ingredient foods, eat plenty of protein and saturated fat, and drink plenty of water (stay away from sugary drinks and moderate alcohol consumption). If you are eating too many sugars and processed foods, or if you never take a small break from eating (ex. Intermittent fasting) you will have more glycogen (stored form of carbohydrate) to burn off and a harder time maintaining insulin sensitivity. This can lead to obesity and Diabetes.

Inconsistent schedule. We realize that there are a lot of different things competing for your time (work, travel, family, etc.), but regular workouts need to be a priority as well. If you want to maximize your exercise progress, then this needs to become a part of your routine. We generally recommend that new clients start exercising twice per week. Part of the reason for this is that we want to maximize skill as far as form and speed of movement are concerned, so that we can achieve a maximum exercise stimulus. The other reason is that we want to create good habits; research shows that it takes 66 days to create a habit. In order to maintain that habit and achieve maximum benefit, your workouts should occur at least once per week. We are happy to reschedule your workouts when things come up, but if it happens consistently it may be time to reexamine your schedule and find a better solution.

Inadequate intensity. The body is fairly resistant to change, and requires a very good reason to make physical improvements. Pushing to and beyond momentary muscular failure on each exercise is critically important. This is the stimulus point that sets the table for the body to start making physical changes, such as building muscle and bone, strengthening connective tissue, improving cardiovascular and metabolic conditioning, and maintaining insulin sensitivity. All of these changes require tremendous effort from the body, but they will only be achieved if there is a significant stimulus and adequate rest, nutrition, and hydration. There are only two accurate measurements of muscular effort: zero and 100 percent. While we still do not know what the ideal percentage of muscular effort is to stimulate muscular growth, we do know that zero effort will not accomplish anything of value. Pushing to and beyond momentary muscular failure ensures that we have used up all of the muscles' momentary effort for that particular exercise. That is the stimulus that is required. While going to muscular failure is demanding and uncomfortable, the workouts are brief and infrequent. You are capable of extraordinary things if you have the right mindset.

At Total Results, our goal is to help you to achieve maximum sustainable physical improvements, safely and efficiently, for the long term. Our exercise protocol is the one that is most consistent with the classic sciences, and we continue to improve our knowledge to give you the best exercise experience possible. We want you to realize that you are capable of achieving extraordinary things with the right dedication and mindset. If you can avoid the common obstacles to success, sustained progress is within your reach! Let us help you get there.

Posted February 13, 2020 by Tim Rankin

Lifespan - a book review by Matthew Romans

An interesting book came out in 2019 called Lifespan: Why We Age - and Why We Don't Have To. The co-authors are David A. Sinclair, PhD, and Matthew D. LaPlante. Sinclair is a tenured professor of genetics at the Blavatnik Institute at Harvard Medical School, and is also the co-director of the Paul F. Glenn Center for the Biology of Aging Research at Harvard. LaPlante is an associate professor of journalistic writing at Utah State University. Dr. Sinclair is best known for his research on genes and small molecules that delay the aging process such as sirtuins ( a class of proteins that influence cellular processes), as well as touting the benefits of supplemental NAD+ (which is a coenzyme that affects hundreds of metabolic processes).

Dr. Sinclair's thesis is that most of us simply accept the fact that aging is inevitable, as is the physical decline that goes along with it. He believes that a great failure of the medical system is that it too often takes a myopic viewpoint, rather than seeing the big picture. At this point aging is still not considered a disease, even though it fits all of the criteria. The medical establishment tends to treat one disease at a time, rather than treating aging as a whole. If measures are taken to treat aging, the rates of individual disease should decrease. The authors believe there is no documented evidence supporting the accepted wisdom that aging and a loss of function are inevitable.

The book is divided into three sections: What We Know (The Past), What We're Learning (The Present), and Where We're Going (The Future). In section one, Dr. Sinclair says that there are two types of information in biology: digital and analog. DNA is digital; it's a reliable way to store and copy information. Your epigenome is analog. These are traits that are heritable, can turn genes on or off, and control the production of proteins in particular cells. According to Dr. Sinclair, "Aging, quite simply, is a loss of information." He also says "Unlike digital, analog information degrades over time....worse still, information is lost as it's copied." This contributes greatly to our quality of life, as well as our lifespan.

In section two, Dr. Sinclair discusses the benefits of doing things that cause a little bit of adversity for our bodies and the importance of cellular stress. He says, "A bit of adversity or cellular stress is good for our epigenome because it stimulates our longevity genes." Specifically mentioned are intermittent fasting, periodic exposure to both heat and cold (such as sitting in a sauna or taking a brisk outdoor walk in the winter), avoiding processed foods and sugars, and exercise. According to Dr. Sinclair, "Exercise, by definition, is the application of stress to our bodies. It raises NAD levels, which in turn activates the survival network, which turns up energy production and forces muscles to grow extra oxygen-carrying capillaries." While he wasn't specifically referencing our exercise protocol, this is what we have been saying at Total Results for years. The authors also make reference to some of the lifestyle practices of people in the so-called Blue Zones, where a significant part of the population lives into their 90s and beyond 100.

In the third section of the book, Dr. Sinclair discusses what may come in the future. While the average life expectancy in the developed world is around 80 years, he believes that reaching the age of 100, 120, or beyond is not out of the realm of possibility in the near future. One reason for this, Dr. Sinclair says, is that "...every day the odds increase that even more effective molecule or gene therapy will be discovered&" Later in this section, questions are asked about where the planet is headed and how large a population the earth can reasonably sustain. There are reasons for optimism as well as reasons for concern, and he does an excellent job of mentioning some potential unintended consequences of a longer lifespan, certainly from an economic and ethical point of view.

I agree with the book's sentiment that we as individuals have the power to improve our quality of life and increase our lifespan. We need to take control and not wait for someone else to do it for us. While it may seem crazy to think that 100 or 120 can be the new 80, as Dr. Sinclair points out, people thought the Wright Brothers were nuts before they actually took flight. All the things that can improve our quality of life and maintain our functional independence are within our grasp. To illustrate this point, I will end with a quote from Dr. Sinclair himself: "Spend a day in a nursing home every few days like my wife does. Go feed people who can't chew. Wipe their bottoms. Bathe them with a sponge. Watch as they struggle to remember where they are and who they are. When you are done, I think you will agree that it would be negligent and cruel for you not to do what you can to combat your own age-related deterioration."

Posted February 07, 2020 by Tim Rankin

Is your Exercise Program Safe? by Matthew Romans

There are a lot of things to take into account when deciding to start an exercise program. Most people place a great deal of importance on location, time investment, expectation of results, and financial cost. Some will also seek the advice of their doctor before starting a regimen. In my opinion, the most important question to ask before starting a workout program is this: is it safe? Based on the number of people I see that are still doing CrossFit, jogging, or riding a Peloton bike for several hours per week, I would venture to say that many people are either unaware of the dangers of these activities, or safety is not a high priority for them. There is a much better way.

It's important to understand how injuries primarily occur. Excessive force, sufficient to exceed the structural integrity of a muscle, tendon or ligament is what causes injury. Force is equal to mass times acceleration (f=ma); the greater the force involved with an activity, the greater the risk of injury. Every step that you take when jogging can result in a force equal to three times your body weight applied to your feet. This doesn't even take into account what it does to your knees, hips and back. The high forces and repetitive motion of running make it a question not if you're going to get injured, but rather when. Group exercise classes (such as aerobic dance or boot camps) are just as dangerous for the same reason. Explosive weightlifting (which exponentially increases force), such as that done in competitive powerlifting, Olympic-style weightlifting, and CrossFit, has resulted in countless injuries to the shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, back, and knees. In this instance, the amount of weight that is lifted is really inconsequential; it is how you lift a weight that determines if what you are doing is safe or unsafe. The question to be asked is: is there a safe exercise protocol that has a minimal time investment, is reasonably priced, can help improve health and vitality, and is safe? The answer is a resounding yes.

Total Results is the exercise program that satisfies all of these criteria. The safety of our clients is our foremost concern, and our attention to detail is unmatched. Our exercise protocol involves high intensity weight training at an extremely slow speed of movement (ten seconds in each direction), and we regulate the variables of exercise volume and frequency to ensure that the client does not overtrain. It all begins with the initial consultation, during which we go over the client's medical history, discuss the ins and outs of our exercise philosophy, and have the client go through a sample workout. We also go over preliminary considerations, which are rules of the road as far as what they can expect from us, what is expected of them, and most importantly, safety. We explain to them, among other things, the importance of proper speed of movement, proper breathing, proper head position, and why we don't allow clients to exercise with gum or anything else in their mouths. The first few workouts are not very intense, as we are more concerned with helping the client get a feel for proper speed, getting their exercise settings correct, and making sure they understand the importance of moving efficiently between exercises. Only when this has been established will exercise intensity become a point of emphasis.

One important thing that is usually ignored by most fitness programs is the avoidance of unilateral loading. This entails one particular limb or side of the body at a time. We avoid unilateral loading at all costs, because it places an uneven load on the pelvis and spine, thus exponentially increasing the risk of injury. It is why we place a great emphasis on proper entry and exit of each machine and we typically avoid performing exercises with independent movement arms. While it is possible to both safely and unsafely use exercise machines (based on one's behavior), our machines do provide a greater amount of safety than do free weights, simply because you do not have to worry about dropping the machine's movement arms on yourself. In addition to that, our machines are engineered specifically for our exercise protocol, and they track muscle and joint function properly. We also have extensive experience in working around and rehabilitating joint injuries, particularly to the lower back, rotator cuff, knees, and neck. The best way to restore functionality is to improve strength.

There is no good reason that a person should get injured because of their exercise program. This is a failure on the part of the instructor, or due to inappropriate client behavior. Our most important task is to keep the client safe. If an exercise program causes you injury, it's time to stop that program. The Total Results exercise protocol is safer than stepping off a curb. Come learn about what our clients have been raving about for nearly twenty years. Exercise smarter with Total Results.

Posted January 29, 2020 by Tim Rankin

The Price of Optimal Health, by Matthew Romans

"There ain't no such thing as a free lunch. "

This is a popular phrase that has existed for decades, but where it originated is unknown. I first heard the phrase attributed to former Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz when he was on the lecture circuit, but I later learned it was a central theme in Robert Heinlein's classic 1966 science fiction novel "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress." While we may not be able to give proper credit to the person who coined this phrase, we do know that the meaning and sentiment of the phrase are still viable today. You cannot get something for nothing; there is always a price to be paid and choices need to be made in order to gain something of value. In the field of exercise, tangible physical benefits and optimal health are what all of us desire. There is a price to be paid for these benefits, but it is probably less than you think.

Regular strength training is the most effective means of stimulating positive physical changes in your body. In fact, as Arthur Jones (founder of Nautilus) once said, "Nothing else is even a close second." Almost all of the so-called diseases of modern civilization (heart disease, autoimmune conditions, diabetes, osteoporosis, etc.) seem to have a corresponding loss of muscle associated with them. The only way to slow down or reverse this loss of muscle is to, as health and fitness author Mark Sisson says, "Lift heavy things once in a while." The Total Results exercise philosophy encapsulates this perfectly. Our methodology involves brief, infrequent, and intense workouts (no more than 20 minutes) with a great emphasis on safety and attention to detail. Strict form and a slow (10 seconds lifting and lowering the weight) speed of movement are paramount. The intensity of effort and focus required in each workout makes brief and infrequent workouts not just something we can get away with, but a necessity for continued progress. It's challenging, it's uncomfortable and often unpleasant, but it's also a biological requirement. You will accomplish more in one or two 20-minute sessions with us than you could possibly hope to achieve with traditional forms of activity.

Certainly, the physical benefits that one can achieve working with us are what the majority of people most readily notice (increased strength, improved body shape, increased energy, etc.), but I believe that the unseen benefits of Total Results exercise may outweigh those that are seen. These unseen benefits can include decreased blood pressure, lower resting heart rate, greater physical independence, less reliance on medication, and increased quality of life. As a result, this can mean lowering the costs of medical care and insurance, as well as staying largely outside of the chaotic medical system.

Part of our job as instructors is to motivate our clients, instill accountability in them, and keep them on track, but I find that the best motivation comes from within One must ask themselves how important an active life and optimal health are to them. If a person wants these things badly enough, they will do what is necessary to achieve them. This means making the sacrifices that will pay off in the long run: consistently getting to bed at a decent hour to ensure adequate sleep, making sound food choices, not cancelling workouts, not making excuses, and consistently giving their best effort in each workout. The blueprint is there; all that is required is the desire to follow through and execute it.

Twenty to forty minutes of exercise per week is a small time commitment, and the monetary cost is an investment in yourself. You can pay a little now, or you can pay a lot down the road; it's all within your control. How badly do you want optimal health and an active life in which the possibilities are limitless? Remember, there ain't no such thing as a free lunch. Get started with Total Results today.

Posted January 20, 2020 by Tim Rankin

Top 10 Actions (with some twists) to dramatically improve your health and fitness!

Most of these are well known recommendations for being healthy and strong; however, by tweaking these just a little you can accelerate your progress to being your best self!

1. Lift weights - intensely, but slowly and just once or twice per week.

Strength training is THE number one thing you can do to increase your functional ability to move about in the world and reverse the degeneration that comes with aging. Proper Strength training also increases your resistance to injury, improves resting heart rate and blood pressure, increases insulin sensitivity and much more. In order to acheive all these benefits, you do not need to workout every day or for hours at a time. On the contrary, a brief 20 minute workout, just once or twice per week is all that is recommended. However, you do have to move the weights in a slow and controlled manner to rob yourself of momentum and you must perform each exercise to momentary muscular fatigue.

2. Walk at least 3 miles every day.

The human body did not evolve to sit 16 hours per day! We evolved to move, and you must move about at a low intensity all day, every day in order to optimize your health. This movement can include yard work, house cleaning, bike rides, hikes, etc. If you are at a desk all day, walk before work, during lunch, after work and every half hour or so during the day.

3. Go to sleep as early as you can.

There are many reason the body needs adequate sleep. If you cannot get to sleep or have trouble staying asleep, you probably have an issue in another aspect of your life (ex. poor nutrition, vitamin deficiency, dehydration, excessive stress). Sleep is necessary to reset hormone levels and rejuvenate your body. The more sleep you can get (up to about 9 hours), the more you reduce your chances of stroke, heart disease, and dementia. Since most of us either have to wake up early in the morning or simply cannot sleep late, we need to back up our bedtime. I recommend 10:00pm at the latest for most people.

4. Practice intermittent fasting.

Fasting does not mean starving. By simply extending the time between your last meal of the day and your first meal fo the next day to 14-18 hours or more (ex. 6pm dinner and then a 12pm first meal the next day) you will encourage ketosis, which allows your body to burn fat, increase your body's HGH (human growth hormone) and stimulates cellular repair. Calorie consumption will likely decrease when practicing intermittent fasting. Also, by working out intensely in a fasted state, your muscles will release glycogen, hence improving your insulin sensitivity.

5. Eat red meat every week.

Grass fed beef is incredibly nutritious in terms of amino acids (bioavailable protein), and has a significantly better Omega-3/Omega-6 ratio than Chicken or other protein sources. Just a 1/4 pound of grass fed beef has over 90% of your daily b-12 requirements, 50% Zinc, lots of b-6, Selenium, Phosphorus, and other important vitamins and minerals. All this is packed into just a few hundred calories of food.

6. Eat Vegetables at every meal.

I am admittedly a bit picky about my vegetables; however copious amounts of fresh and lightly steamed veggies like broccoli, peppers, spinach, and even brussel sprouts are amazingly nutritious and super low in calories. Whether you eat them in a salad, in your morning egg scramble, or as a large side to your beef or fish at dinner, the more you eat the better off you will be.

7. Get sunshine every day.

Vitamin D Deficiency is a big problem in this country today. So many of us are scared of skin cancer, that we don't get nearly enough sunlight. If everyone got 15-45 minutes per day of sunlight (depending on the season), the collective health would improve dramatically. Sunlight allows our body to produce the prohormone vitamin D, which benefits our bone health, our ability to regulate calcium and phosphorus, as well as possibly reducing heart disease, infections and more.

8. Hydrate first thing in the morning.

Overnight, you naturally dehydrate. By drinking 6-12 ounces of water within 30 minutes of waking up, you rehydrate the body and it can improve energy levels, increase your mental focus, and keep your GI system regular.

9. Increase your protein intake way more than you think.

Adequate protein is essential to maintain your health and body composition. Estimates vary, but active adults should get between 0.6-1.0 grams of protein per pound of body weight. for a 150 pound person this equates to 90-150 grams of protein per day. For reference, three eggs have 18-21 grams of protein, and a 1/3 pound of beef (15% fat) is about 28 grams of protein.

10. Peform yoga stretches first thing in the morning

Stretching upon waking helps work out any stiffness you have accumulated over the previous night, as well as gain some initial focus on your body and your breathing. Just a couple minutes before or after your shower can do wonders for your mental and physical state.

Posted January 09, 2020 by Tim Rankin