Jul 252016
 

How did treadmills and weight machines become the gold standard of fitness? Why have some of us turned our backs on the mirrors and gleaming devices of the traditional gym? What is the appeal of the stripped-down, functional approach to fitness that ís currently on the rise? In this captivating narrative, Daniel Kunitz sets out on a journey through history to answer these questions and more.

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I was asked to read and review the book LIFT by Daniel Kunitz. The book sounded really interesting to me because I was curious about the changing culture of fitness.

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I remember growing up in the 1980s, my mom was really into jazzercise and aerobics. She was even a teacher for a long time. I used to go to the classes with her (not to participate but to go to the daycare) and I’d watch all these moms doing step aerobics in their leotards with their big hair and your typical 80’s music. 🙂 I think a lot of my readers probably remember that time!

The author goes through the history of exercise–Roman times, event ancient Chinese history. He also discussed his own transformation through exercise.

One morning the author was sick and hungover after a rough night of partying when he had a realization. “It dawned on me that the state of your body isn’t something you either choose to care about or leave be, for your body never just is–it is always either decaying or getting stronger. Not choosing is still a choice. [pg 7]”

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The 70’s happened and “people began to shake off the smoking-drinking-drugging hangover of the previous era in unprecedented numbers by joining in the new fad for jogging. Twenty years later I did the same. Of course, by that time some things had changed. The terminology, for: what was once a mellow jog became running. [pg 8]”

The author then realized that smoking and running didn’t really go well together and he quit smoking.

“Running is monostructural: it improves your endurance but not your strength, balance, explosiveness, or flexibility. It might make you skinny, but it won’t produce muscles. [pg 10]”

I found that interesting and very true. In my own experience I was very much a cardio-junkie. I ran, I did the elliptical, I biked, I swam and did the stairmaster. I LOATHED weight lifting. It was slow, it was boring, I didn’t see the calorie burn I saw while doing cardio. Then I started getting injuries and I realized that what I was doing wasn’t working.

“Over time, as I noticed that even those who showed up each day to the gym didn’t make any visible improvements. I had to wonder if this was due to their perfunctory attitudes or the cause of them. [pg 12]”

How true is that statement?? It is very true for me! Being a gym rat I see the same people at the gym when I go and they all look pretty much the same. There is one guy that I saw on a regular basis and then I took a break from the gym a few weeks before my baby was born, then about 6 weeks off postpartum–I came back to the gym and saw that guy and did a double take. He was HUGE. His muscles had quadrupled! I was shocked. I don’t know what he did but he is the only one that comes to mind that made a very real difference in his body.

It’s easy to go to the gym and get into ruts and do the same thing every time, and your body doesn’t change or improve. The author talks a lot about the “new” crossfit phenomenon and the concept of FUNCTIONAL fitness–which I wholeheartedly agree is the better way to work out.

“I’d never seen anybody make a bicep-curling motion outside of the gym. [pg 13]”

Re-thinking the way we do fitness, the way we lift weights is making changes. I learned that going to the Warrior Room. I became SO much stronger MUCH faster doing functional things like flipping tires, carrying sandbags, swinging kettlebells, etc, than I EVER did lifting weights at the gym.

“So why did weight machines continue to flourish in gyms? Aside from the gleam of technological novelty, they offer the untaught user a way to lift. Properly training with free weights requires some skill, while the Olympic lifts–the snatch and clean and jerk–are highly technical, demanding extensive, long-term coaching to master. It wasn’t until quite recently, with CrossFit, that significant numbers of people came to grasp the importance of skill-based work. [pg 248]”

I admit, I often use the weight machines at gym. When I first started getting into weight lifting I did the machines because I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t have the skill set yet. Then having some training sessions with a personal trainer and eventually joining The Warrior Room, I learned those skills and got better at free weights and realized it was more FUN using kettlebells and free weights. No wonder I thought weight lifting was boring–sitting in a machine and going through the motions IS boring!

“By removing skill, machines essentially turn strength training into a low intensity activity: you might look better by using them but you’re not challenging who you are today to become a better version tomorrow. [pg 248]”

I never thought of the weight machines like that, but it makes perfect sense to me. You sure don’t get your heart pumping sitting in a weight machine and passively pushing, not like you do with dramatic movements like kettlebell swings!

“But what’s the point? To what end do we train and eat right and get enough sleep and learn new physical techniques and then relax by watching other people doing these things? [pg 39]”

It was really interesting reading about the history of exercise and weight lifting.

“Weightlifting refers specifically to the sport of shifting loads from the ground to overhead. Although it was included in the first Olympics in 1896 as a field event, it was excluded from the 1900, 1908, and 1912 games. It returned as its own event at the 1920 Olympics and over the course of that decade evolved into something like the sport we know today. Weightlifting was codified in 1928 as three lifts: the snatch (pulling the bar in a single motion from the ground to overheard), the clean and press, and the clean and jerk (cleaning means hoisting the bar to the shoulders, where the athlete can either press it overheard or jerk it, using the leg to provide momentum). [pg 163]”

This book is perfect for the reader that likes history and is interested in reading about the evolution of fitness. It was fascinating reading about the different trends and how things changed–and how ideas and values changed.

I personally would have liked more personal anecdotes from the author’s journey from unhealthy to fit, because what he did share was interesting and I could relate to a lot of it. The book felt more history-heavy than personal. I think there could have been more of a balance between the two. If you’d like to read this book, check it out here:

HarperCollins | Amazon Barnes & Noble

Happy reading!

Jul 202016
 

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I can’t believe my teeny tiny newborn is now 4 months old!

It seems like just yesterday we were bringing him home from the hospital, not sleeping at all and I was struggling with nursing. I am so happy we got the tongue-tie fixed and that breastfeeding is (mostly) a breeze now. I’m also happy that when I’m home I’m down to pumping once or twice a day only.

Work

I’ve been back to work in the office part time for a little over a month now. The first week was the hardest thing ever. Being away from my little guy ripped my heart out. But after that first week it was easier and I actually looked forward to going into the office part time (you know, being with adults, getting out of the house, doing my job again, using my brain, etc etc).

What’s also awesome is that Michael gets to be home with Logan two days a week. I think it’s been so wonderful for them to bond and spend quality time together. Michael is an awesome dad, as I knew he would be when we first met 🙂 and I love see how Logan’s face lights up with a big, gummy grin when he sees his daddy! He also follows him around the room and looks for him when he leaves. It’s so cute.

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So what is Logan doing at 4 months old? Everything. LOL He’s no longer the tiny baby that stays in the same place you put him. Now you have to be mindful!

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Rolling

He rolled over for the first time (tummy to back) at 9 weeks. He’s done it a few times since but mostly it was just gravity taking over. Whenever he’s on his back he immediately rolls onto his side. He’s also started scooting around and changing spots. I put him in his crib in one spot, come back a few minutes later and he’s on the other side of the crib in a different position!

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A few times now I’ve caught him doing a full downward dog position (minus the arms part). I am never fast enough to snap a photo of it, though! But it’s pretty cool to see him doing that. 🙂

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Sleeping

Sooooo I thought we were super lucky that Logan was such a good sleeper. He’s been a good sleeper since the beginning. About a month and a half ago he started sleeping through the night!! The first few times it happened I thought it was a fluke but then all of a sudden it started happening every night and it was AWESOME. Mom and Dad got REAL SLEEP FOR THE FIRST TIME. It was so amazing. Words cannot describe how much better *I* felt after a month of good, solid sleep every night.

Well at 15 weeks I think he hit the dreaded 4 month sleep regression thing. His new thing is being fussy at night, not wanting to be put down, refusing to sleep unless mom rocks him for 10 minutes first and he’s back to waking up sometime around 3am to eat again (thankfully that is slowing down again and it’s not as often). I thought we were over that! I hope it’s a short term thing and not back to stay for a long time. I was really enjoying those full nights of sleep…. 🙁

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Teething

I think he started teething a few weeks ago. No teeth yet (I keep checking) but he’s had all the signs. Drooling, fussy, putting everything in his mouth, chewing and gnawing on EVERYTHING. Seriously, everything.

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Other

He’s fussy when mom or dad leave the room. If he can’t see one of us he starts to get fussy. So leaving him in his crib to play while I start a load of laundry is usually short lived and he starts squawking to get my attention.

He’s still pretty good at letting other people hold him. He is curious about everything and everyone and loves looking around and staring at people.

He likes “talking” and has a LOT to say! 😉

He has the BEST baby belly laugh!

It’s so fun watching him grow and learn things. Some days it’s a new thing every day. It’s cool to see his little personality start to form, too. In some ways I want time to stop but in other ways I am so excited for him to crawl and walk and talk…what an adventure we’re on!