Wednesday, February 29

Kick that back pain! {2 tips that may help}

I work a full-time job in communications in addition to my new ventures, personal training and blogging. The first week I started in January 2011, the transition to sitting for 6-8 hours per day was rough. Within the first couple of days, although I was consciously trying to keep my posture while sitting at my desk, the lower back pain started to creep in.

So here comes Tip #1: Engage your core more!

I remembered back to when my sister worked at the gym when we were living in Kansas. She always used to sit on an exercise ball when she was at her desk. That night I grabbed my ball from home and brought it to work to try out. I was fearful that people would think I was weirdo (which they still may), but I decided it was a necessary change. A strong core has been shown to help counteract lower back pain. Sitting on an exercise ball as opposed to a regular desk chair encourages you to become more conscious and aware of your posture throughout the day. Since and exercise ball does not have a back to lean on your core works over time while sitting on it. Who wouldn't want that, eh?

I haven't had back pain since and I'm so grateful that my sis opened my eyes to this concept. Not to mention... the bug is spreading! There are now 3 of us in my building that traded in their traditional desk chairs for exercise balls. So cool! Meet my friends/co-workers Sarah and Josh, and then there's me! :)

To give you an idea of sizing, I have a 75cm ball and I'm 5' 8" with pretty long legs. Josh and Sarah's are a bit smaller at 65cm. It's important to make sure that you're still sitting high enough at your desk for your arms to be comfortable as well.

If you're not feeling the exercise ball for your work environment, try your best to sit on the edge of your chair at work to ensure good posture and an active core. Also, strengthen your core outside of work to fight off that creeping pain.

Tip #2: Stretch those hammys!

Something that is super easy to fix that can account for your lower back pain is tight hamstrings.When I decided to write this post and started researching a bit more, I realized that there is VERY little information on this. Everything I read says that tight hamstrings can no doubt lead to pain in the lower back; however, none of them do a good job explaining exactly why that is. I've already decided that I will be doing another more in-depth post on this down the road, but for now I'll tell you what I've learned and what has worked for me.

I know from my studies (according to ACE) that flexibility in your hamstrings (which consist of 3 muscles, Beceps Femoris, Semitendinosis and Semimembranousous) along with flexible hip flexors, can attribute to less stress on the lumbar spine, or lower back. I also know that from my own experience and from advising friends and my new client, that stretching the hamstrings and hips frequently can significantly reduced lower back pain.  

Remember: protect your lower back when stretching your hamstrings. Don't round through your lumbar spine and bend the knees as much as needed when stretching the hamstrings while standing. Don't focus on touching the ground if you can't. Just feel the stretch, it's not a competition, (save that competitiveness for your workouts). It shouldn't be painful in the lower back while stretching your hamstrings, either. I was taught the proper way to stretch in my Yoga practice, so naturally, I feel that integrating Yoga into your routine can benefit anyone and everyone. The pictures below are from I think they're a good illustration on the right and wrong way to stretch your hamstrings while standing (yoga term: Forward Fold). Always practice safe stretching!

**Disclaimer: If you have severe back pain please consult your physician.

Hopefully these tips will help if you're suffering from minor lower back pain, or even if you're not. Let me know if you try either of them out. I'd love to hear your experiences.

On a side note, I have my first YogaFit certification (level 1) this weekend. I'm super excited to learn more about Yoga!

Hope everyone has a great Thursday!

Be Strong. Be Healthy. Be Balanced.


Sunday, February 26


I've been talking about starting a blog now for years, so I finally decided to do it! I'm inspired daily by blogs that I read and my hope is that this blog will inspire you in some way too. I'll be including some of my favorite things in my posts, including anything to do with fitness, nutrition, confidence boosting and improving self-image. Plus you may see the occasional off-the-wall post here and there. Just for fun! Please feel free to leave comments with suggestions or questions you may have. I will do my best to accommodate! This blog is still a work in progress so bear with me, please!

Read the post below to learn more!

Be Strong. Be Healthy. Be Balanced.

- Lauren

Saturday, February 25

My First Client! + {A little about me}

A few months ago I found myself searching for more in life. I'm 24, I have a college degree, a "big girl" job, an amazing husband, 2 rescue dogs and a cat that I adore and no health problems. I've checked the boxes up until this point; however, with each passing day I felt this weight on my shoulders, as if I'm wasting away the precious younger years of my life.

(Be sure to read my {Me} page for more background info.)

So here I am.... making a decision to pursue my dream of impacting others' lives through fitness, nutrition and confidence/self image boosting. I'm finally going to put my personal training certification to use! If you want to learn a little more about how I stumbled upon this new venture then read on!

Here's my story...

I, like a lot of college students, gained the freshmen 15 and then some. I graduated high school (2005) weighing roughly 135 lbs. at 5'8" tall and I was in great shape. Up until graduation, I had been playing 2-3, 90-minute soccer games each week plus practices, and I was regularly weight training.

I struggled to find my place in college and desperately missed the team camaraderie I clung to and fed off of in high school. I quickly fell in to a bad routine that included drinking 4-5 nights per week, absolutely zero exercise and even social smoking. 2 years later I was weighing 165 lbs. with little muscle left on my body.

In August 2007, I decided to make a change. I made the choice to remove myself from the current situation that had sucked me into such an unhealthy lifestyle, and trade the beautiful Florida beaches for the endless fields of wheat in Kansas... Yes, Kansas, to attend Kansas State University (Go Cats).

One of my truest inspirations to this day is my sister, Katie. At the time, she lived in Kansas and I knew she was just what I needed for inspiration at that point in my life. A personal trainer and avid runner herself, I knew that surrounding myself with her positive energy and healthy lifestyle would start me in the right direction to a healthy life.

I very quickly learned something about myself. I still hadn't faced the music, and I surely was not putting in the effort that we all know is needed to see change. I wanted quick results, but was doing very little to make those results a reality.

New Year's Eve 2007 on vacation home to Florida, my life took a turn that I never expected. I met my husband, Cory. We actually graduated from the same high school the same year, so we knew each other already but were nothing more than acquaintances. He went off to join the Air Force after high school to become a Pararescueman and was home for Christmas break. We had (and still have) a chemistry that I never knew existed. Next thing I know, we're both diving head first in to the pool of LOVE.

I moved to Albuquerque, where Cory was stationed at the time, after a six month long-distance relationship and two months later we were married. I still get butterflies reliving those memories. In an effort to keep up with my very in shape, high-speed husband, I began to run and workout again. I realized that although my husband married me at my heaviest weight and loved me no matter what, I was very unhappy with myself.

I lost 20 pounds in about 4 months and was feeling so great again! I could see the definition in my arms coming back and my size 11 pants were, finally too big for me. We moved back to Florida on military orders in September 2009 and I finished my degree at The University of West Florida,where I originally started college in 2005. At the same time I was also studying for my personal training certification. I graduated in December 2010 with a Bachelor's in Communication Arts specializing in public relations, and just a few weeks prior I found out that I had passed the ACE (American Council on Exercise) personal trainer exam. Yippee!!

I had big ideas of doing personal training on the side once I got a full time job, but life happened and I was content in my situation after graduation. Its now been more than a year, and it's time for me to do more!

One day, I got an interesting email titled, "Someone is interested in your fitness services." I was instantly filled with excitement... that type of excitement where you want to tell the whole world about it. A potential client contacted me through the ACE database, so I really started thinking. Could I do this and work a full time job?

Well, again with the diving in head first thing, I sent her a client questionnaire and met her for an initial consult. She was super excited to get started and she's put faith in me to get her to her goals. In a sense, she gave me the confidence I needed to start this thing up. That's right... I attribute my first client to making me realize that this is something I truly want to do.

I started training her Feb. 13, so I'll keep you posted on her progress  and mine, as I will also be working on getting myself in the best shape of my life. We're only two weeks down and she's already feeling stronger and healthier. Progress is a wonderful feeling! Here's to new beginnings for not only me, but my first client! I'll leave you with a few inspirational words....

Be Strong. Be Healthy. Be Balanced.

- Lauren

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