Meet Isabel Serrano, Phd. a new type of coach at The Arsenal

Isabel Serrano, Phd.

I do my best to get out of The Arsenal to learn from the best in the business when it comes to health, wellness and fitness to ensure that we are becoming the best resource we can be for our member community.  Recently, I’ve had the honor of spending time with Dr. Jane Ellery, Coordinator of Wellness Management and Assistant Professor of Wellness Management, at Ball State University.  She was able to provide me a view of the world of wellness from a broader perspective.  We discussed the importance of ‘place making’, psychological health, emotional health, financial health and an assortment of other vital areas that we often do not attribute to the term ‘wellness.’  After learning from Dr. Ellery and sharing my work, she invited me to visit with her Critical Issues masters class.  During my visit a talented young lady approached me, after I had shared what we are working to build at The Arsenal, put out her hand and said: “I want to work with you.”

That was how I met Isabel Serrano, Phd.  As of this month she has joined our team as our Engagement Manager and Certified Holistic Health Coach.  Her role will be to provide deeper knowledge, insight and action in areas that our current coaching staff does not focus.  Here are a sample of areas Isabel will be leading for us:  

  • Food & nutrition
  • Lifestyle
  • Weight loss
  • Self image/Self esteem
  • Stress management
  • Mindfulness practice

She will be engaging our community with these critical elements of health, wellness and fitness through 1:1 coaching, group training/seminar, writing (blog) and in managing events.  If you see her at the box, please take a few moments to introduce yourself and share a bit of your story.  You’ll find quickly that she brings a different vibe than our current coaching staff, one that the staff agrees we can use more of.

To learn what you can gain from Isabel, best to start with her first official blog post for The Arsenal: Food for Thought.

Then, keep your eye out for her first official class (hint: it will be on food and energy).

We are honored to have Isabel on our staff and hope you will soon experience the value of her insight as I have.  Isabel, Welcome to The A Team!

Healthcare costs, CrossFit and YOU

What jumps out at you from the following infographic from the Harvard Business Review discussing the sentiment about future costs and quality of healthcare in the United States?

Harvard Biz healthcare graphic

What is obvious is that we are not optimistic, and we are all at risk.  The question remains, what can I do about it?  The answer maybe a little more straightforward than many of us are prepared to accept.

1. Diet:  We decide each day what we put into our bodies.  We decide the quality and volume of the foods we consume.  The vast majority of American’s diets are overrun with sugars and an abundance of carbohydrates that lead to morbidity and mortality.  (IE: the length and quality of your life diminish rapidly).  This is a quote from Ali Mokdad, a scientist working on a team studying the state of U.S. health:

Scientists were expecting tobacco and high blood pressure to continue to be the usual suspects, Mokdad said. Instead, tobacco ranked second, followed by obesity, high blood pressure, high fasting plasma glucose level and physical inactivity or low activity.

“What we eat, what we put in our mouth is the major cause of morbidity and mortality,” Mokdad said. “It makes sense. For us to be able to document it and to go back in (the) past and show how this has been changing over the past two decades is very powerful.”

2. Activity: Our ancestors would be embarrassed by our lack of functional activity day-to-day, and by ancestors I’m speaking of the pre-modern civilization variety.  Our activity level does not include even the bare minimum of variety, intensity and functional movement our bodies were designed for and NEED to maintain fitness and overall health.  We have lowered the bar to vigorous walking, jogging or even taking the stairs at work as a substitute for the type of rigor we were created for.  Now add this quote from Dr. Mike Ray, a practicing physician in Arizona, has been the medical director of the CrossFit Games since 2008:

“That’s the biggest thing: I think maybe some
of this is because one of the biggest issues we need to
address in medicine is there’s so much of a focus on
treating sickness as opposed to actively promoting health.”

We were made for rigor and work, and sitting at a desk and driving is not rigor.  We simply were not built to be still and latent day-to-day.  We were built to move, a lot!

3. Lifestyle:  This is the catch all that we have control over, but neglect as products of our environment.  In America we celebrate a culture of consumerism and abundance, and we (the collective we) despise rising healthcare costs and the lack of innovation in drugs and surgical interventions to heal our wrecked bodies.  In most cases, we should look in the mirror to find the culprit for our high blood pressure, obesity, physical inactivity and respiratory problems to name only a few.  We can take control of our own healthcare costs, by simply taking control of our maintenance at home and in our typical day.

Sounds simple, but I’m really busy and I have to work tons of hours and I have 4 kids, and, and, and….  OK, I get it, but remember your excuses when your doctor shares the “not so good” news with you about your health and you’re now on diabetes meds for the rest of your life.  Here is a simple guide to follow that will work, if you do it!

Diet:  From the same study above by Ali Mokdad,

“The most important dietary risks in the United States are
diets low in fruits, low in nuts and seeds, high in sodium,
high in processed meats, low in vegetables, and high in
trans fats,”

So, eat meats, vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruits, little starch and no sugar.  There, simple.  Or, just try to shop on the outside perimeter of the grocery store, this is where all of those food items are located.

Activity/Lifestyle:  Go today to your nearest CrossFit box (CrossFit gym/facility) and sign up for a free trial, they all have these.  Describe your current situation to the CrossFit trainer at the session.  Then, sign up for one full year committing to 3+ CrossFit WOD’s (workouts of the day) per week.  Most boxes have times as early as 6 AM and as late as 7 PM or later.  Most boxes have some form of childcare should you need it.  Most boxes can even accommodate those with irregular work schedules.  CrossFit is a program prescribes constantly varied, high-intensity, functional movement.  These are universal motor recruitment patterns, or using multi-joint movements, we are built for.  The programming, coaching, and community provide a level of consistency, safety and accountability that will not only impress you, but will change your life.

These behavior changes are not impossible or out of your reach, however the medicine and surgical interventions you may need in the future without the proper diet, activity level and lifestyle may be well outside of your means.  Think about how the decisions you make today are going to impact tomorrow, and think about your quality of life now and what you wish it to be.  We at The Arsenal are built, staffed, educated and fully equipped to be your guides, coaches and accountability partners on this journey.  Wherever you are in terms of sickness, wellness or fitness we can accelerate your results and empower you.  Come by today to learn more about all the above and if joining at The Arsenal is right for you.

Where Should I Begin?

Confusing Sign

Starting a new training regimen or returning to training can be a scary thought, but as we said before, fear is a liar.

After a long break from training or when starting to train for the first time, many athletes have a hard time knowing how to start while avoiding injury or excessive soreness.  Breaks from training greater than six months can lead to significant detraining and muscle loss as well as weight-gain due to accumulation of fat.  Many times athletes try to regain their lost muscle mass and shed their gained fat tissue by diving back into the training regimen they had just before their break.  Most often this leads to injury; physical, psychological and metabolic.

You can’t rush perfection

Drastic changes in physical activity and diet tend to be temporary or very difficult to maintain for more than a couple of weeks.  After that, most people will either take a break and then try again with the same methods (yo-yo effect,) fall off the wagon completely or become injured and end up worse off than they were when they started their new program.  As if that weren’t enough, during a long break most people fall into a daily routine that doesn’t include training or thoughtful food preparation, making it difficult to re-establish an effective training and diet regimen.  Many of the small things that make a rigorous training program effective such as adequate sleep, nutritious diet, consistent training and deliberate recovery are overlooked in favor of overtraining and starvation diets in order to see results quickly and regain the physique, strength, stamina, and overall good health and fitness of their previous diet and training program.

The process of change

As with any lifestyle change, including long breaks in training, the effects of the change take place gradually.  Generally, when training is concerned, it takes about six months for new or replacement behaviors to become habits.  This means that it will take about that long before you can really call a new behavior or state (i.e. training, nutrition, sleep patterns, and metabolic homeostasis) integrated into your lifestyle.  This has less to do with physical adaptations, and more to do with psychological ones.   Enter – The Transtheoretical Model.

The Transtheoretical Model of Behavioral Change (TTM,) better known as the Stages of Change, provides five benchmarks or “stages,” by which we achieve sustainable behavior change.  I will discuss the TTM in greater detail in a later article, but for now it is important to know that changing your lifestyle, (i.e. the collection of behaviors and beliefs that make up your daily living experience,) is a process and not an event.  Therefore, the most effective approach to change is a procedural one.  Gradually introducing or reintroducing behaviors that are consistent with your desired lifestyle will increase adherence, decrease change-related anxiety, allow for the behaviors to be adequately reinforced, and ultimately lead to a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle of fitness.

Here are a few tips to get you started.

1. Set Goals.

Setting realistic, challenging, and achievable goals is undoubtedly the most effective strategy for any change.  It is hard to figure out how to go from here to there without knowing where “there” is, or how to get “there.”  Effective goal setting takes some time and deliberate thought but is well worth the effort.  People who set goals are nearly twice as effective at achieving them, and nearly three times as likely to maintain the changes made as a result of their goal achievements!  That’s a figure too significant to ignore!

2. Write it down.

Awareness of your behavior is the first step toward changing it.  Documenting your food and drink intake, bedtime and hours of sleep, training activities, and any other aspect of your lifestyle is vital to identifying the patterns that already exist in your daily routine.  For instance, on days when I go to bed before 11pm, I generally eat 250-350 fewer calories because I am asleep when I would otherwise be eating a late-night snack.  Over the course of a week, that adds up to 1750-2450 calories.  After a month of going to bed at 10:30pm, I may save myself from consuming up to 10,500 calories, that’s the amount of energy in 3 pounds of fat!

3. Reinforce.

Giving yourself a reward for consistently adhering to your goals and tracking your progress will help motivate you to keep going.  Pick some activity or item you want or like to do and make it a reward for consistency.  However, in order for you to get your reward your behavior must be consistent with your goals, otherwise it will lose its effectiveness.  Take as many opportunities to reinforce your good behavior as possible.  For example, use a reinforcement statement like this; “For every meal I meet my dietary goals, I will read a chapter in my favorite book.”  Or this statement that adds the element of accountability; “Every week I don’t miss a workout or cut any of my workouts short, I will go to a movie with my spouse.”

At the heart of the matter of change is a gradual and consistently progressive approach through goal setting, documentation and reinforcement.  Whether you are just starting out as a beginner, or getting back into training after a long break, with these tools you will be back in the training saddle in no time.