stress

Addicted to Fitness Show Notes – A Review of the Headspace Meditation App

Another week and another awesome episode of the Addicted to Fitness podcast!

This week, Shannon and I investigate the scientific-based benefits of mediation and give a review of the Headspace smartphone mediation app. But before we jump into those topics, we give our training recaps.

I’ve been trying to do a better job of shooting videos for the @ettampa Instagram feed, especially boxing/kickboxing videos. Striking instruction is my bread & butter and I want to share that with my online audience.

I’ve also been adding more steel mace (see pic below) exercises into client workouts. I love using the steel mace because its highly uneven weight distribution can make any common exercise, like a lunge, much more challenging. Plus, they make you look BADASS!

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Shannon has been slowly, but surely, adding workouts back into her routine. She’s been able to do a small amount of yoga and HIIT sessions, but a reoccurring vertigo condition has somewhat slowed her progress. We asked if listeners have any suggestions on herbal supplements that can help with vertigo, maybe even an essential oil, which we plan on investigating more in a future episode.

After we wrap up our respective training recaps, we dive into the topic of mediation. Thanks to one of our favorite sources of evidence supported health information, healthline.com, we list the 12 science-based benefits of mediation:

  1. Reduces stress
  2. Controls anxiety
  3. Promotes emotional health
  4. Enhances self-awareness
  5. Lengthens attention span
  6. May reduce age-related memory loss
  7. Can generate kindness
  8. May help fight addictions
  9. Improves sleep
  10. Helps control pain
  11. Can decrease blood pressure
  12. You can meditate anywhere

The last benefit from that list was really made a possibility thanks to smartphone apps like Headspace.  I learned about Headspace while listening to the Tim Ferriss podcast. I took advantage of their free 10 day subscription several times. Then I finally upgraded to the full subscription version, which cost about $95 annually.

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The app was created/founded in 2010 by marketing & brand developer Rich Pierson and Andy Puddicombe. Andy is a former Buddhist monk and the voice of the guided meditations. Rich and Andy’s mission is to remove the mysticism attached to meditation and make it more attractive to a broader audience.

Once I upgraded to the full version, I had to complete 90 foundational sessions in order to unlock any of the other packages contained in the app. Those foundation sessions walk you through the best methods to achieve a meditative state – focus on breathing, be present, acknowledge outside distractions (sounds, smells, etc) but always return to the breath.

One of the first packages I used after my foundation sessions was the “pregnancy” package. As you can imagine, I listened to it while Shannon was pregnant with Ella, and it help teach me how my character/mood could affect the development of the baby. The app is full of packages that introduce an intention for a subject area that you want to improve on (e.g. anxiety, motivation, sleep, etc.).

Headspace also has guided mediations that you can listen to while performing a specific task (e.g. cooking, walking, commuting, etc.), mini 1-3 minute mediations you can use if you need to refresh or focus and animations that help explain the different aspects of mediation.

I’m a big fan of the new “everyday headspace” feature which provides a new intentions daily and allows you to change the length of time you want to mediate. Shannon has been a fan of mediation for a long time due to her years in yoga. After she started using the app, she realized how many of the same methods she’s already been using. She believes headspace is great for introducing people to the foundations of mediation, but from what she’s seen so far, it may be more geared towards beginners than experienced mediators.

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If you’re a user of the Headspace app, please let us know what you think of it by leaving us a comment/message on the Addicted to Fitness Podcast Facebook page. As you heard in this episode, if you leave us a comment or message, we will read it in a new segment Shannon dubbed Listeners Talk Back.

Don’t forget to take advantage of the awesome 20% off promo code (“ATF”) from our sponsors, The Hemp Coffee Exchange, so you can stock up on some tasty, and nutritious, coffee – the perfect follow-up to a good mediation session.

Links to this week’s episode

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/addicted-to-fitness-podcast/id1121420986?mt=2&i=1000402046714

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/nick-burch-702220833/a-review-of-the-headspace

Website: http://addictedtofitness.libsyn.com/a-review-of-the-headspace-mediation-app

Addicted to Fitness Show Notes – Heart Rate Training & Fit Bit Breakdown

The first month of 2017 is nearly complete and some may be welcoming new habits after weeks of hard work setting new routines. On this week’s podcast, Nick and I kick-off by sharing the things we’ve added to our own fitness/health routines so far.

Nick started the year by doing a series of monthly challenges. For January, he’s given up an overindulgence – alcohol. In addition, he’s incorporating daily morning workouts to try and lose the pesky holiday pounds that almost all of us pack on.

I, on the other hand, finally started exploring a quest into a new topic of my health, which is also the topic of our podcast today – Heart Rate Monitoring and Training.

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Nick shares the formula for how to calculate your Zone 2 (fat burning zone):

180 – your age = your zone 2 beats per minute (BPM) OR being able to hold a conversation while exercising (e.g. if you’re 30 years old, you subtract that from 180 and your Zone 2 heart rate is 150 bpm, give or take a few beats)

In order to better understand my own heart rate efficiencies (or otherwise) I invested in the best monitor for the money I was looking to spend and bought the Fitbit Charge 2.

My motivations for wanting to better understand this element of fitness and how it contributes to my health comes after long battles with stress and poor sleep, two things many people are likely grappling with as well. The Peloton classes introduced me to how heart rate training can improve your fitness and I had read countless articles about how it benefits your overall health.

The Mayo Clinic states that a normal resting heart rate (RHR) for adults is 60 to 100 beats per minute. Fitbit compiled their substantial user data and estimated 50-90 BPM is average for an adult.

So what affects your resting heart rate? Well, as it turns out, quite a lot:

  • Activity level
  • Fitness level
  • Air temperature
  • Body position
  • Emotions
  • Body Mass Index (BMI)
  • Medications

You can impact your own heart rate in a number of ways:

  • Physical exercise (15-20 min/day will lower RHR)
  • Reduce body fat/increase muscle mass
  • Mindfulness

In terms of exercise, Zone 2 training is how many athletes build endurance. It’s all about low intensity for long periods of time – staying in that fat burning zone.

I’ve been experimenting with some of the Zone 2 training on the Peloton so far and have already seen some impact on my RHR.

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Much of what I’ve learned in the last few weeks is due to my Fitbit Charge 2. Costing a fairly reasonable $130 (to start) the Fitbit Charge 2 was highly rated by CNET, even more so since Fitbit launched a software upgrade late last year.

In the last part of the podcast I get into the details of my own review of the fitness monitor, including the ups and downs (because nothing is perfect, right?).

Pros:

  • Not bulky
  • Changeable bands
  • Useful mobile app/interface
  • Battery life is good (4-5 days before needing a charge)

Cons:

  • Absolutely can’t get wet
  • Charger is awkward

Some of the features I like most include a cardio fitness rating. It gives a rating based on its estimated VO2 Max and indicates your overall performance in endurance-based activities. Currently, mine is sitting around 38-42, which is “good – very good” for a female of my age (positive sign!).

The app is a whole other side of this product, which we’ll get into in a future episode, but as of now, I would recommend the Fitbit Charge 2. It holds me to new levels of accountability, further helping me stick to a healthy lifestyle.

Now all I need to work on is adding some friends to my Fitbit circle!

We’d love hear what goals you set or accomplished so far this year. Please feel free to share them with us in the comment section, on Facebook or email us at elementaltampa@gmail.com. Your feedback and support has helped us grow into a 5 star rated podcast and we are extremely grateful. Keep rating, reviewing and sharing the podcast and let’s stay healthy year.

Links for this week’s episode

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/addicted-to-fitness-podcast/id1121420986?mt=2

Android: http://subscribeonandroid.com/addictedtofitness.libsyn.com/rss

Website: http://addictedtofitness.libsyn.com/a-breakdown-of-heart-rate-training-the-fit-bit-charge-20

 

Addicted to Fitness Show Notes – First Floatation Therapy Experience

It’s Shannon and I’d like to welcome you to my inaugural Addicted to Fitness Show Notes post. Seeing as Nick went on a little excursion for the latest podcast episode without me (how dare he?!), I’m taking on the recap without his input. Hope you enjoy!

If you’ve made it through the eight episodes of Netflix’s Stranger Thingsyou’ll recall a specific scene where a giant pool was filled with salt and water in the middle of an abandoned gym to create a makeshift sensory deprivation tank that allows El to fall deep into her thoughts to track down the Demogorgon.

This may sound a bit on the sci-fi side. You might even think I’m pulling your leg.

Does such a thing exist outside of top-secret labs?

In fact, it does! Floatation therapy has been popping up in cities with more scientific credibility offering promises of improved calm, supple skin and clear creative consciousness. Convenient enough to tack onto the end of a long workday or even during a long lunch, fitness centers, spas and health clinics are adding floatation tanks and offering 60-90 minute sessions.

One such location, Sacred Floats & Gems Company in Seminole Heights (Tampa), hosted Nick for his first experience at getting tanked. The manager, Memi, and her colleague Grant guided him through the experience expertly, answering his many questions.

One of those questions, you might be thinking as well – Is it true that the point is to block out all outside stimuli?

Believe it! Each tank (for one) is filled with water (usually only about 11 inches) and 1000 pounds of Epsom salts (which are actually skin nourishing magnesium sulfate) to ensure anyone will float. Seriously, anyone.

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As the floater, you strip down to your birthday suit and lay in the water – a lovely 93.5 degrees – and immediately feel like as though you’re floating in outer space, a sensation helped along by the fact the inside of the tank is pitch black. You let your body go, drop your ears beneath the surface of the water and enjoy the total lack of light or sound.

It’s just you, the sounds of your breath, and whatever voices and thoughts you need to quiet down in your head. After an hour to an hour and a half, your mind quiets and you may even find yourself drifting off to sleep.

Nick dives in and shares the details of his experience, along with an interview with Memi, in episode #26 of our podcast. Float on over and check it out!

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After listening to this episode, we’d love to hear what you think. You can always leave comments below, email us at elementaltampa@gmail.com or better yet, give us a rating and review in the iTunes store. We strive to give you interesting and helpful health & fitness information each week. We enjoy producing the podcast and we hope you enjoy listening. Thanks again for all your support and have a healthy & happy holiday week.

Links to this week’s episode

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/our-first-floatation-therapy/id1121420986?i=1000378089494&mt=2

Android: http://subscribeonandroid.com/addictedtofitness.libsyn.com/rss

Website: http://addictedtofitness.libsyn.com/our-first-floatation-therapy-experience

 

ETT Wrap Show Ep.15

Sorry for the delay of this episode but as you will hear, I’ve been a little busy as of late. Tune into this week’s ETT Wrap Show to hear a very special pre-wedding episode. I sit down with my longtime friend & groomsmen Steve Carlton and we discuss our wedding day workout, stress associated with the big day and how married couples help each other stay in shape. Please rate, review and leave your own marriage advice or questions for us to answer on a future episode. All feedback is welcome and appreciated.

The new anxiety medicine: Exercise

Last year, my father made the decision to retire from his job after 37 years of service. I was very happy to hear he was retiring because I had a good idea of how physically and mentally demanding his job was. My happiness quickly turned to surprise when I heard that he was updating his resume shortly after his last day at work . As demanding as his job was, I wondered why he wanted to continue to work. Did performing manual labor for at least 8 hours a day bring him some degree of pleasure? As odd as that question may sound to people of my generation, science suggests that the answer is yes.

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The benefits of engaging in physical activity on a regular basis include:

  • Reduced risk of developing a chronic disease (diabetes, hypertension, etc.)
  • The release of endorphins, which block pain signals to the brain and produce happy feelings
  • Lower tension levels
  • Elevated and stabilized mood
  • Better sleep
  • Better self-esteem

Exercise has even been shown to have comparable results to that of prescription medication in the treatment of individuals diagnosed with depression. Even with all this data, less than half of American adults perform 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity physical activity (i.e. walking) per week. I believe the lack of physical activity is a major contributing factor to the 40 million American adults who have been diagnosed with anxiety related disorders. Personally, the period of my life that was filled with the most anxiety coincided with a lack of physical activity.

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As I mentioned in the initial post on Elementaltampa.com when I completed my undergraduate program and entered the workforce, being physically active was not high on my priority list. I had earned a degree, I had obtained a job, but beyond that my life consisted of sitting on the couch watching TV or playing video games. I quickly became overweight and my self esteem rapidly deteriorated. I do not remember what specific event compelled me to attend my first martial arts class, but I know since then I have become much more proficient at dealing with anxiety. I truly believe developing a daily routine that includes a portion dedicated to physical activity has allowed me to excel both professionally and personally.

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This post is meant to highlight the benefits being physically active can have on individuals dealing with anxiety and stress. It is NOT a post disparaging the use of prescription medication by individuals suffering from anxiety related disorders. I certainly understand and appreciate the need for these types of prescription medication. I am someone who at a young age received professional help to learn how to cope with stress. I did not to need medication but I know not everyone with issues similar to mine are as fortunate. Regardless if you are taking medication for anxiety related disorders or not, it is my belief that incorporating physical activity into your daily life will improve you physically and mentally.

If my Dad is reading this, you were right. Hard work does pay off, in more ways than you think.