Monday, October 26, 2009


Has anyone seen a 3-foot long foam roll in their gym and wonder what the heck it's for? Have you witnessed other men or women rolling around, grimacing and wincing in pain as they heave their bodies up and down the thing? It sometimes just doesn't look right, you know what I mean? I'm here to tell you that the 3-foot long foam roll (usually blue or white and 6 inches in diameter) can actually be your best friend if you exercise frequently or deal with a lot of injuries or stiffness in your joints and muscles.

The foam roller is part of a very useful fitness and exercise routine and is clinically called "Self-Myofascial Release (SMR)". Think of it like you're kneading bread: you put your flour in, your eggs, your milk, whatever, and at first it's clumpy and lumpy; you get it all mixed together and begin kneading to smooth it out and get ready for baking. Well, your muscles can get lumpy, too, particularly if you are active or have joint issues. Typically, muscles will knot up around tendon insertion points where stress hits hardest. These areas are typically the most tender when you first begin foam-rolling but, over time, should become less sensitive. If you don't properly stretch or relieve these stress-points your tissues and joints can break down over time (if they haven't already).

The foam roller, or SMR, can be used to reduce inflammation and injuries, increase flexibility and function, as well as simply stretch out strained and tired muscle fibers. I had one client recently tell me that she had experienced numbness and irritation in her left hip but through proper SMR and stretching she alleviated these issues and is now symptom-free. Other clients I've worked with and introduced the foam roller to have reported decreased back and shoulder pain as well as knee and ankle pain/swelling. Personally, I've utilized the foam roller for patellar tendonitis and it has helped tremendously with pain and performance. If you don't believe me than I recommend you go to your Chiropractor, Doctor or Physical Therapist and ask about SMR...or if you're at home you can simply type in Self-Myofascial Release into Google and you'll get a million+ hits. Also, check out this link to see a specific example or just go to for more ideas.

The foam roller can come in many shapes and sizes but typically you'll find 3-footers in your gym (I recommend that the firmer you can get the better). If you'd like to learn more about this training technique and how to use the foam roller please don't hesitate to e-mail me at or ask me in person.


Friday, October 16, 2009

6-Week Challenge Final Results

We are at the end of the RBS 6-Week Challenge and we have final results. Again, I want to re-iterate how proud I am of the hardest working group of people in the gym. We had a total of 32 participants in the challenge (those folks that weighed in more than once) and, as a group, lost a total of 42% BODY FAT and a cumulative 84 POUNDS OF FAT!!! That is a remarkable accomplishment in only 6 weeks. We have proven that a combination of diet, exercise, determination, and goal-setting truly can create change.

Finally, in reverse order, here are the top 5 finishers in the challenge, with lost body fat % next to their names:

Fifth-Place: Deeann Fackrell 2.8%

Fourth-Place: Deanne Sharp 2.9%

Third-Place: Julie Robertson 3.2%

Second-Place: Janice Van Horne 3.8%

First-Place: Alison Pazourek 4.3%

Again, remarkable transformations for everyone both physically and mentally. All-in-all I'd label the 6-Week Challenge as a monumental success. Look for similar challenges (maybe an 8-week contest??) in the future.
Thank you and take care!


Thursday, October 8, 2009

The BENEFITS of Self-Monitoring, Planning, and Logs

“How noble and good everyone could be if, at the end of each day, they were to review their own behavior and weigh up their rights and wrongs. They would automatically try to do better at the start of each new day and, after a while, would certainly accomplish a great deal.” — Anne Frank

Anne Frank wasn’t the only famous person to recognize the benefits of recording elements of her daily behavior. Benjamin Franklin set 13 personal goals for himself, and used detailed grids to measure his progress toward each (yes, that’s why the popular organizer is called a Franklin Planner). His conclusion: “I was surprised to find myself so much fuller of faults than I had imagined, but I had the satisfaction of seeing them diminish…” Ernest Hemingway recorded how many words he wrote each day on a piece of cardboard mounted under a stuffed gazelle head. He said it helped him to “not kid himself.” Elite athletes routinely keep logs of their performance and the factors that seem to contribute to peak performance.

Research confirms the insights of these famous figures. Regularly recording aspects of your behavior and progress toward your goals—a process psychologists call self-monitoring—enhances success in making a variety of life changes. The National Weight Control Registry, which tracks those rare people who have kept off 30 pounds for at least a year, reports that one of the few predictors of lasting weight loss is keeping records of eating and exercise habits. Similarly, students who keep records of their studying perform better than those who don’t. In clinical situations, self-monitoring has been shown to be an effective tool that can aid in reducing alcohol consumption, smoking, disruptive classroom behavior, nail biting and even hallucinations! Of course, simply recording behavior itself tends to have modest effects that diminish over time. But it can be a powerful, performance-enhancing tool when combined with a clear sense of one’s ultimate ambitions, motivating near-term goals, and the other techniques for change that we’ve covered in this series of articles.


The first step to self-monitoring is to identify your goals. Your goals should be attainable and should be broken up in to Short, Intermediate, and Long Term. Simply stating "I want to lose weight" or "I want to get in shape" isn't sufficient--your goals should be easily identifiable, describable, and specific ("I want to lose 5 lbs. of fat in 2 months", for example).

The second step to self-monitoring would be to keep a log, or collect data. Keep it simple! Write down how much time you spend doing cardiovascular exercise, lifting weights, sets/reps/amount of weight lifted, stretching/flexibility, etc. Utilizing the workout lists I provide in my class is a great starting point. Check off what you did and how much weight, for example. I would also recommend keeping track of the progress you make utilizing a 1-10 scale, with 0 being no progress and 10 being outstanding progress. Each day, after doing a workout, write down how you felt about the workout and/or specific exercises.

You might also want to track such health-related measures such as weight, body-fat, hydration, medication needs, blood-pressure, measurements (such as hips/thighs), etc.


More powerful than the actual data is the analysis of the data. That is what I try to focus on. I am more concerned with overall trends than simple one-time data. I've worked with a lot of folks who become sad/angry when they weight themselves and have lost no weight from one time to the next; but, what is the trend? Is it downward? Is what you're doing overall working? Do changes need to be made?

Remember that self-monitoring is self-reward. Recording progress and seeing changes for the better encourages folks to celebrate success. On the flip-side, seeing results that aren't ideal can provide thought-provoking rebukes to current strategies. Self-Monitoring also will keep your eyes on the ultimate prize--those goals that you wrote down earlier. Most importantly, though, self-monitoring will provide accountability.

Having a trainer is one form of accountability. The most powerful form of accountability is, no doubt, self-accountability. You need to be honest with yourself. Even if you have a bad day or bad week it is better to address that, make corrections, and move on, no matter the short-term outcome. Keep your eyes on the prize!



* The Science of Self-Monitoring, Dr. Stephen Kraus, Ph.D.,
* Garfield C. Peak Performers: The New Heroes of American Business, New York, NY: Avon: 1986
* Watson DL, Tharp RG. Self-Directed Behavior: Self-Modification for Personal Adjustment. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole