How to do a Perfect Lunge – Guaranteed!

Perfect Form Lunges – “The Paper Plate Technique”

Lunges. We hate them. We love them. We do them wrong the vast majority of the time.

To really nail that lunge, there are three things you’ll have to check-off the “lunge perfection” list. If you can do all three actions when in the down phase of the lunge (not while you’re standing with legs straight- that’s cheating!), I’d bet my bottom dollar that your form is simply fantastic.

  1. You can lift up your toes.
    1. All of your weight should be in the heel of your front foot, not your toes or back foot. You get the most out of the exercise because it really targets your hamstring (back of the leg) and glute (the booty) muscles. If you’re going to do the exercise, make sure you are truly working those muscles! So, if all the weight is in the front heel, you should be able to lift your front toes. Test it. If you can’t, push your hips towards the back of the room, causing more weight to be transferred into the heel. This takes some practice to really get a feel for it, but you WILL be able to do it.
  2. You can see the tip of your shoe.
    1. When doing a lunge, the knee should not extend beyond your front foot. Too much weight is being pushed forwards instead of transferred evenly and then targeted in the front heel. Ideally, if you have a mirror, look and make sure the knee is over the ankle. This protects your joint by alleviating pressure. Your knee shouldn’t be doing all of the work. That’s what causes injuries. Now, there is a lot of debate about whether you should be able to see your shoelaces or the tip of your shoe. I personally have found that if I can see my shoelaces, I’m leaning my torso forward too far, which puts pressure on my back. But, for those people who are very tall or have a long torso, looking for those shoelaces could be the way to go. My best advice is to do what feels comfortable for you and look at the side view of your lunge in the mirror to make sure the knee isn’t our over your toes.
  3. You can see both feet in the mirror.
    1. Don’t want one foot directly behind the other. You want a stable base so that you can lift your toes and see your shoelaces. Without a stable base, these can be compromised because you are putting too much weight into the front foot to try and balance/prevent from tipping. I tell people to pretend they are standing on railroad tracks with one foot on each side of the track.

Special secret tip: The Paper Plate Technique

Watch my video below where I explain each of the three key components of a perfect lunge and how to effectively use the paper plate technique!

A great way to practice perfect lunges is by using a paper plate. I know it sounds odd; but let me explain. Take a paper plate and put 2 pieces of duct tape, gorilla tape, or athletic tape right in the middle to make a “+” sign. With one leg, step onto the plate with the ball of your foot. The heel should be off the plate. From a standing position, push the plate back. It’s just as if you were stepping back into a lunge, except you’re sliding instead of stepping. Feet are still on railroad tracks. Keep pushing the plate back until you can see the tip of your forward shoe (or shoelaces if you’re tall), but making sure you’re not leaning over and throwing weight into your back. All of your weight is in the forward HEEL. Keep your core tight! If you’ve pushed the plate far enough back, can see the tip of your shoe, and feel that all of your weight is in your forward heel, lift up your toes. Can you lift them off the floor without losing balance? If you can, then you know your weight is distributed correctly and that your knee is over your ankle at a 90 degree angle. Using the plate technique is so great for practicing form, but it also optimizes your workout by targeting those key muscle groups, the glutes and hamstrings. These muscles really work hard because the plate forces them to!

Click on the video to watch me demonstrate and teach all three key components of a perfect lunge and how to do the paper plate technique TODAY, right in your family room! Get to workin’ it!

Yours in health & resiliency,

~Dana

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You Throw #LikeAGirl

#LikeAGirl  —-> click for video on YouTube

When I saw this video my eyes welled up and tears rolled down my cheeks. I don’t have a little girl. But, if I did, I would do everything in my power to instill in her self-confidence, strength, self-respect, the meaning of true beauty, and how to love herself enough to stand up for herself and her beliefs. I remember as a kid not wanting to be a girl. In fact, I even begged my dad to let me play football. Being a girl, to me, meant you were weak, feeble, and could never measure-up to the boys. You’d never be good at math and you’d definitely never be able to play sports with the boys. Girls just didn’t possess those skills. I was almost afraid that if I did anything “like a girl”- throw a ball, shoot a basketball, run, etc., that I would be thought of as a lesser being. I realize now that I do swing a bat like a girl, run like a girl, kick like a girl, and throw like a girl… with power, speed, and strength. That’s it. I don’t do those things “like a boy.” I do them like me.

Society puts so much pressure on girls to dress, talk, act, sit, eat, play, and behave a certain way. Then, we confuse them by saying not to do something “like a girl” as if it were an insult. It has become so incredibly difficult to instill confidence, self-esteem, and self-worth in girls, especially with all of the social media, magazines, and television shows constantly berating girls with images of how they “should” be. However, it takes one video, one force, one voice to open people’s eyes and change their perspectives. If this message can make just one person stop and  really think about the impact their words truly have, it can change the lives of so many girls. This video needs to be shared again, and again, and again…. Kindle like this can turn a spark into an inferno and transform the thinking patterns and perspectives of an entire generation. Now is the time. Our girls need us more than ever…

Self-Myofascial Release: Get Rolling!

Self-Myofascial Release (SMR) is a self-massage technique that aids in the recovery of soft muscle tissue and has been shown to improve overall health and fitness. Think of it as though you’re giving your body a deep-tissue massage. Research has shown that SMR augments joint range of motion, enhances athletic performance, increases muscle resiliency, and prevents injury. SMR also corrects muscle imbalance, aids in muscle relaxation, and decreases muscle inflammation and soreness. I use foam rollers, but it can also be done with tennis balls (many with plantar fasciitis roll their feet over a tennis ball), hand-held devices, or medicine balls. Interestingly, the body reacts to foam rolling as if the muscles have been injured, immediately sending receptors to aid in repair. By confusing your own body, SMR can increase rapid muscle recovery. Foam rolling also improves vascular endothelial functioning, the organ system that regulates blood flow based on muscle movement. One study showed that subjects who used SMR with a foam roller before doing vertical jumps had significantly less fatigue than those who didn’t use a foam roller prior to the drill.

 foam rollers

If you’ve had a great back/neck massage, or given one, you may recall the “pop” when rolling over a muscle knot. It continues to pop if pressure is applied back and forth across the muscle. Pressing directly on the muscle helps release the knot; but it can be uncomfortable. As tight muscles turn over the foam roller, the same “pop” will occur. I’m not going to lie, it won’t feel great. But, you’ll become accustomed to the sensation. The key is to roll slowly and stop for about 30-60 seconds when you hit a tender spot. Allow your muscles to relax. Just give into it. Continue breathing while the muscles release. It’s important to maintain core stability by pulling the navel towards the spine (without rounding the back) while rolling. Using the proper technique will take practice. *It should be noted that those with congestive heart failure, kidney (or any organ) failure, or any organ failure, bleeding disorders, or contagious skin conditions should not participate in SMR without medical clearance.

Although, during the action of SMR, rolling over knotted muscles may be a little painful, the benefits far outweigh any discomfort. The discomfort is not bad! You are giving your body an amazing gift. I have a love/hate relationship with my foam rollers; but I can definitely say it’s more love. Rollers come in many different styles and lengths. Pick the one that’s right for you! The roller in the picture has some added pressure points; but I also have a solid foam roller. I can feel a huge difference in my muscle strength and flexibility when I use the roller on a regular basis. Breathe and remember that your muscles will thank you later. Now, get to rolling!

References:

Penney, S., Foam Rolling- Applying the Technique of Self-Myofascial Release, National Association of Sports Medicine, August 2013.

Keller, J. The Benefits of Self-Myofascial Release, IDEA Fitness Journal; 2013: 96.

What does “perfect” look like? Unfortunately, there’s an app for that~

I came across an advertisement for “beauty apps” that can drastically change a photo to how a person “should” look. One of these apps is called “Selfie Photo Editor.” Taking a picture from your phone, you use the app to make at least 15 different changes to the photo to make the person look pretty and perfect. Without these changes, we would obviously just be plain ugly, right? It enlarges eyes, plumps lips, adds eyelashes and eyeliner, thins your face and cheeks, and will even apply a tanning filter… Seriously? Another app, “Beauty Plus” shows the photo of a young girl and different options for photo editing such as face lifts, eye enhancement, fixing “imperfect” skin, adding “beauty filters,” and a “magic brush” to finish up. Face lifts for 13 year-olds? Wow…stunned. An app called “Hot Girls Salon” is a game to “take girls who are waiting for a night on the town and make them hot-looking.” (Literally, that’s what it says.) Getting ready involves heavy makeup, perfect hair, certain “hot” clothes, and completely distorted cartoon versions of how a girl’s body is built.

selfie

**From the “Selfie Photo Editor”- https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/selfie-photo-editor-cosmetic/id781409730?mt=8 by OMJ Holdings Pty Ltd (same as below)

Through my years as a school psychologist, I’ve seen the pressure girls, even elementary school girls, feel to look like women in magazines, on the internet, on TV, etc. who they see as “perfect.” Honestly, it is just heartbreaking. Our girls are just pushing to grow up too fast, wearing clothing they believe will attract boys, putting on heavy makeup, and even talking about plastic surgery. Teens are still kids! The crazy thing is that teenage girls have full access to download these apps. So, they are constantly being exposed to the underlying message that who they are isn’t good enough. Do you know what teenage girls need? They need to feel empowered, strong, and confident in who they are, just as they are. It is up to us as adults to teach and give them what they need. Without that, where do our young girls turn to for advice? Exactly~ social media, apps, magazines, etc. Yet, adults are the ones creating these apps. Something is wrong with this cycle; and it is our responsibility to stop it.

You are perfect exactly the way you are. I don’t know why the world is always telling us we have to change ourselves. Whether it’s how we dress, do our hair, or put on makeup, we’re never “good enough.” Who determines the standards for how we “should” be? Decide for yourself. Now, I believe in being classy and having self-respect in appearance and actions. Before alarms start going off in your head; I don’t mean people need expensive clothes nor need to act “prim, proper, and perfect.” Be yourself. Be you. It doesn’t matter if you make your own clothes, buy them from thrift shops, get them at the mall, or go to expensive boutiques. I think, as women, we all know how to dress to demand respect. What I’m trying to say is; cover it up ladies.

In regards to actions, I don’t think there is a “right” and “wrong” way to act (to a certain extent). You don’t need to change who you are, EVER. Who cares if someone doesn’t like you? It’s not your responsibility to make the rest of the world happy. However, I don’t think actions should be cruel or offensive to other people or in public. Ladies, when you’re out, sing out loud to your favorite song, dance, and be yourself. But, when you start swearing like a sailor and saying “F” this and “F” that, people take notice. Not in a good way. You could have the perfect makeup, the most expensive clothes, the “best” body, but when you lower the standards for yourself, the rest of the world lowers them too.

selfie 2

Have fun. Laugh and smile. Get mad. Cry. Forgive. Apologize and admit when you are wrong. Make mistakes. Fix mistakes. However, this concept society has created about “being a lady” dictates a certain way women need to be- quiet, reserved, dainty, etc. I don’t think we need to change who we are to be “a lady.” Honestly, I know I wouldn’t fall into this stereotype; and I’m fine with that. I laugh as loudly as I want, love football, playing sports, trip and fall (or get distracted rollerblading, hit a curb, and wipe out into the grass!), and will listen to whatever music I want. True, I like to dress in a way that makes me feel good, do my hair, and wear makeup. But, that’s just me! You may be completely different and just as happy! Why would we all want to be the same? We are not definitions; we are people. That’s why the constant pursuit of skinniness and dieting is so frustrating to me. It’s another definition of how a woman “should” be.

It’s ridiculous that the world holds us to certain standards. But, it’s more ridiculous society tells us that if we don’t follow these rules, serious repercussions will result. Have you ever told yourself or have someone tell you: “Well, if you’re not (fill in the blank… skinny)” or “If you don’t have (fill in the blank… perfect makeup); you’ll never find a guy, get that job, or be loved. Unfortunately, I’m sure we have all done this, including myself. What I’ve realized throughout my journey is that I needed to stop fighting, trying to change, or living to meet someone else’s standards. You are amazing, and the most important people in your life will see that. If they don’t, they aren’t worth having in your life.

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The Biggest Loser~ The Secret Behind The Weekly Weigh-In

Each time I watched the Biggest Loser, I remember thinking to myself: How is it possible for someone to lose 15 pounds in one week? Well, I was recently given an article that answered my question: “They aren’t.”  Recently, one of the contestants, Andrew “Cosi” Costello came forward with some shocking truths about the secrets behind this astonishing weight-loss. He said the “weekly weigh-in” was never filmed after just one week. In reality, there was up to a 25 day gap between weigh-ins. There’s a big difference between 1 week and 3 1/2.  He said exactly what I was thinking: People get inspired to get off the couch, get moving, and eat healthy, But, in the real world, when people work all week and don’t lose that kind of weight, some people feel like they’ve failed and give up. That, right there, is the problem. This misconception isn’t just caused by The Biggest Loser, but by society as a whole. I want to change that.

The reason I’m sharing this has nothing to do with creating drama or whistle-blowing. I am sharing this because of the effect I think it has on people who are trying to lose weight and get into shape in real-life. I can sense the frustration of those watching this show, witnessing people lose 10-20 pounds, while they may have lost 1 after working out and eating healthy all week. If it was me, I’d be wondering what I was doing wrong, why I wasn’t losing weight that quickly. I’d become discouraged too. That’s when the frustration leads to setbacks and eventually, giving up. It makes me really upset because it gives the world a completely distorted perception of what is possible and not possible when trying to lose weight and become more healthy. Everyone is different and everyone will lose weight at a different pace. However, for people to think that they should be able to lose 10 pounds per week or they “aren’t doing enough” just isn’t right. So, I need you to understand the implications of this so that you aren’t so incredibly hard on yourself over something that isn’t even comparable. There’s a big difference between the progress someone is able to make in 7 days vs. 25 days. Plus, the people on the show workout for an unreasonable amount of hours per day and, as it said in the article, were also extremely dehydrated before the weigh-in.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I think this show is great because it motivates and inspires others to live a healthy and happy lifestyle. It shows people that everyone can get out there, workout, and lose weight. Just keep it realistic when comparing it to your own life. You do you! Work hard, eat healthy, love life. That’s what you need to do to change your life. The inches will come off, so please, please don’t quit. You can do this…. keep it in perspective, and don’t be defined by the scale.

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Gain Muscle to Lose Fat~ Become a Leaner You!

You need to gain if you want to lose…. Talk about an oxymoron!  When someone asks me, “What is the most effective way to lose weight and get into shape?” My answer is not what you might be thinking. It’s not by doing three hours of intense cardio everyday, but by lifting weights and strength training. That lovely yellow mass in the picture above is fat. It’s 5 pounds of fat, to be exact, and is about the same size as 2 footballs! Think about this, if a person is 50 pounds overweight, multiply that fat mass by 10. 20 footballs! In the battle of muscle vs. fat, it’s the density, not the weight that matters. 5 pounds is 5 pounds. BUT, because muscle is so much more dense, about 18% more, than fat, it takes up less space in your body. The more muscle, the smaller/leaner the person! I’m not talking about lifting light weights, but weights that will challenge your muscles. That is how you BUILD muscle. So, despite hesitation and hype and rumors, if you can lift heavier weight, go for it! You’ll be stronger, less prone to injury, and have a leaner body by dropping inches!

A woman who weighs 160 pounds and has 35% body fat will be larger (in inches measured) than a person who weighs exactly the same, but only has 20% body fat. How crazy amazing is that? So, those two women may wear different sized clothing, yet weigh the same! This is why STRENGTH training is so incredibly important. I can’t say it enough. The more muscle, the leaner you become (with proper nutrition and exercise). This is exactly why lifting weights will NOT make you bulkier or bigger. In fact, it will not only cut inches, it will help your body burn more fat. Muscles use/need more energy and burn more calories, even when you’re not working out. Talk about boosting your metabolism! That is something a 3-digit number on the scale won’t tell you. Throw the scale away and go lift some weights. 😉

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Working It Out on “Live on Lakeside”

On the set of “Live On Lakeside” this afternoon with Jaime Brenkus, Hollie Strano, and Michael Cardamone! I demonstrated the “Fit Fab Four” exercises to shed those couple of winter pounds and get ready for summer! ☀️What an amazing first live show with such great people. Click the link below to see these fun and effective exercises you can do right at home:

http://www.wkyc.com/local/live-on-lakeside.com

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