Category Archives: experts say

3 Ways to Get the Most from Your Workouts

Here are 3 basic guidelines to help you take better care of yourself and make the most of your workouts. The more closely you follow them, the better prepared you will be for anything I might throw your way, and you’ll have way more fun.

I know what it’s like to run out of water in the middle of nowhere and force myself to press forward regardless of feeling lethargic, uncoordinated, and a little bit scared I was going to careen head-first off a cliff. Because I neglected to plan ahead, I set myself up for a potentially catastrophic emergency, a lesson I have learned repeatedly in my recent endurance training. Our bodies need to be fully hydrated well before starting a workout. You should be drinking at minimum 64 ounces daily. As you become more active, you sweat and breath more, which requires more water. As little as 5% dehydration can effect your energy and performance. Proper hydration also helps you insulate against the extremes of both hot and cold weather, aids in digestion, and a whole host of other functions. The minute you wake up, begin replenishing the water lost during the night. You can lose as much as 2 pounds just through exhalation during sleep, so one little glass of water isn’t going to cut it. Since Urban Agility workouts are only an hour, there’s absolutely no need to get fancy with your beverages. Unless you are recovering from an illness and are seriously dehydrated or you are training for an endurance event, water is the cheapest and most effective way to give you the necessary hydration, and it’s calorie free! In order to be ready to exercise properly, teach yourself to drink water throughout the day. Set a water bottle at your desk and remember to drink from it during posture breaks. Bring it with you in your car, drink from it at stop lights. Keep track of how often you refill it. About 1-2 hours before your workout, you should drink small amounts of water in order to maintain the proper levels. If, however, you have neglected to drink water until 30 minutes before your workout and then guzzle down a quart just before or during, all you’re going to experience is a lot of liquid sloshing around in your stomach. Not fun, especially during burpees and sprints. Once the workout is over and your body returns to stasis of rest and recovery, feel free to gulp down that quart of water. It will help aid in the digestion of your next meal. And speaking of food…

I once ate an entire burrito just before a spin class. I had waited too long to eat and suddenly I was so hungry, my logical brain had taken a siesta. That burrito, much to my chagrin, sat in my gut through the entire class. I was in serious distress, but I learned my lesson. When you eat, you are signaling your brain to send your blood away from your muscles into your digestive tract. You need to give your system time to process the food and send it back into your body in the form of energy. Your workouts will suffer if you haven’t nourished your body with the right balance of carbohydrates, protein, fat, and water well before your workout begins. As with hydration, you need to plan ahead. Know when your workout begins and work backward. If you have an evening training session, have a snack between lunch and your workout. I recommend something with fiber, protein and carbohydrates, like an apple and some almonds or peanut butter. Experiment with different protein shakes or bars or other whole foods. If you are slow to digest like I am, you’ll want plenty of time – at least an hour – to digest this snack. If your blood is still working on your last meal, it will not be much good to your working muscles.

I design each workout to give you a full body workout experience, combining upper body, lower body, stabilizing, trunk and core strengthening exercises with cardiovascular and agility drills. But not everyone can complete every exercise. Since I’m not a mind-reader, I don’t always know whether something feels right to you. I try to check in with everyone before the workout to gauge how things are going, However, it is your responsibility to learn how your body works – how it moves, what it can and cannot do. Many clients return to training after an injury, illness or pregnancy with some limitations. Or many limitations. I encourage anyone rehabbing a shoulder or knee, etc. to bring PT exercises to do when you feel you cannot do a particular exercise. That said, it is vitally important that you spend some time in between workouts to facilitate your recovery, improving range of motion, strengthening weak muscles, and becoming more in touch with how your body should and does function. And if you haven’t learned yet how to modify an exercise, I have become quite skilled at this, so please ask. Exercise shouldn’t cause pain, but it sometimes makes us feel uncomfortable, and you should learn to distinguish between something that will hurt you and something that will help you grow. As we work together, I will start to see how hard I can push you. Each workout gives you an opportunity to see where your physical and psychological limitations are. Don’t miss out on getting to know how strong you really are.

If you are training for an endurance activity of more that 90 minutes like a half marathon or marathon, here is a great article on ways to keep your body functioning and happy in regards to fuel. I encourage you to experiment with different sources and see what works for your body.

Testimonial Wednesday – May 22

Community Banking
If you have discovered that your bank is actually the devil, you might consider divesting your hard-earned dough out of those multinational financial institutions – you know, the ones who kind of destroyed our economy – and start investing in a local bank. Two you might consider checking out are Self-Help Federal Credit Union in West Oakland and Torrey Pines Bank in downtown Oakland. People’s provides financial education to the local community and savings accounts for those who need to build their credit. In addition, during tax season, they set up a tax site and process hundreds of tax returns for low income earners. Torrey Pines Bank offers many more services and accounts. I personally have a business account with them and am thinking about shifting all my accounts to this bank. Their customer service is fantastic, and I never have to wait to talk to someone or make a deposit. And they provide free parking, yay.

Self-Help Federal Credit Union
“Community development credit unions provide all the services one would expect from any other credit union. What sets them apart from traditional credit unions is the emphasis placed on serving underserved populations.

CDCUs offer low-balance, interest-bearing accounts and low-interest loans to members. They position themselves as alternatives to predatory lenders and check cashing stores that drain communities’ capital resources and promote dependence on a cash-based economy. CDCUs reinvest member and non-member deposits into loans and services that preserve and expand a community’s assets.

Community development credit unions also provide financial education services to their members and community residents. CDCUs view these services as crucial in their efforts to break the cycle of dependence and increase self-sufficiency within the low-income communities they serve.”
Torrey Pines Bank
“At Torrey Pines Bank, you’ll find all of the products and services of a large bank, with the personal attentiveness of a community bank. When you approach a large national bank with an unusual need or a complex challenge, you often run up against organizational bureaucracy that gets in the way. If you take that request to a typical local bank, they may have more leeway to find a creative solution but lack the necessary resources.

Our unique advantage is that we have resources that surpass most community banks while we preserve the ability to adapt our offerings to each customer. For example, in the area of commercial real estate loans, our individual lending limit is three to five times higher than a typical local bank. Our lending practices have always been thorough, methodical and designed to reward established, well-qualified borrowers. So while other community banks find themselves constrained by a lack of capital, deteriorating loan portfolios and lending limits, we’ll often provide financing others can’t.” Ask to speak to Dale Marie Golden. Tell her your trainer sent you!!

Here are previous testimonials and blog posts.

Testimonial Wednesday – May 15

What does a graphic designer and a custom slipcover maker have in common with fitness? Ceci Bowman and Teal Major were coming to my circuit training class at the Berkeley YMCA long before I made my move to become an independent business owner. I loved that at each workout, they gave their very best and left the gym feeling great. They are both highly skilled in their respective fields and I learned a lot from them. I certainly would not be doing what I do without their encouragement, ability to brainstorm, and creative solutions. Ceci and Teal and I formed an informal networking group a few years ago to help motivate each other in our respective businesses. They gave me the idea for Urban Agility as a business name. Ceci designed my business logo and has been instrumental in helping me achieve success. I have a few of her beautiful ceramic pieces which I’ve managed to keep intact in this crazy house. Teal reupholstered my sinking couch cushion that my children still haven’t destroyed. Teal and Ceci are spectacular, strong, funny, talented women, and they are my friends. They also collaborate with each other. Here’s the work they do together: Doggy Disks

Ceci Bowman
“Ceci Bowman combines wit and whimsy in her fine art and illustrations. A graduate of the University of California, Santa Cruz, with a Fine Art degree, Ceci is a versatile artist who has illustrated children’s books, designed children’s fabrics, and crafted unique designs for nonprofits, businesses, and publications throughout California. Her fanciful illustrations are printed on wrapping paper and greeting cards sold in boutiques nationwide.”

Teal Major
“Although I appreciate the clean lines of upholstered furniture, I have become a proponent of slipcovers. I like the idea of recycling old furniture and transforming a shabby, tired chair into something fresh and inviting. But mostly I love that slipcovers can be washed or dry cleaned whenever necessary. Honestly, how likely are you to have your couch or chair steam cleaned? When you wash your couch and chair covers in addition to dusting, vacuuming the floors, and cleaning the cobwebs from the corners, the whole room is fresh and ready to be lived in.

As the years have gone by I have added curtains, roman shade, cushions, pillows and bedding to my custom design and sewing work room.

I enjoy helping people choose fabrics and helping them to make their house into a home. And I am thankful for each and every one of my clients who has asked me into their lives. Being a results oriented person; seeing a project through to the end and enjoying the results of change is what I was born to do for my life’s work.”

Thank you, Ceci and Teal, for inspiring me to be better at what I do!

Testimonial Wednesday – May 8

Testimonial Wednesday: Holistic Health
I have been developing great relationships in the past year with 4 gifted professionals who often collaborate with each other to create a plan of action for people who want to improve their lives. They are all highly qualified in their fields and have been an inspiration to me.

Naturopathic Doctor: Teray Garchitorena
Please meet my colleague, Dr. Teray Garchitorena. Dr. Teray has 4 spots open in her naturopathic practice and asked me to think about people who might benefit from improving their health and addressing health issues with her support. I thought you might be interested in checking them out.

Dr. Teray herself is an experienced naturopathic doctor and part of Berkeley Naturopathic Medical Group. She is uniquely qualified to work with people like you because she has expertise in treating the underlying cause of health issues with natural methods. She is also especially gifted in working with healthy people to help them achieve a greater level of health. Here is a link to her website and qualifications:

Her clients consistently feel better and have increased energy and better sleep. I thought you might be interested in one of these spaces.

ADHD Coach for Adults and Teens: Sydney Metrick
Do you…
get lost
get distracted
lose track of time
worry excessively
get over-stimulated
have memory problems
have a learning disability
have a strong nagging inner critic
try to do things perfectly or not at all
avoid paperwork, billing, reports, etc.
make impulsive or compulsive decisions
often stay late at work to get the job done
have a high IQ, creativity and under-achieve
have a respectable career, yet do not feel successful?

My friend and colleague, Sydney Metrick, can help. Artful Coaching works with people who have ADHD and other non-linear thinkers providing unwavering support and enthusiastic encouragement, along with practical tools and resources. Together she helps her clients target their most challenging areas developing strategies and habits which create ongoing accomplishments.

Ask about a complimentary session.

Relationships: Craig Toonder
I would like to introduce my colleague and friend, Craig Toonder, MFT. Craig is a psychotherapist who specializes in couples counseling. Craig is running a couples communication skills class. The class teaches couples to recognize deeper issues behind their arguments, and how to communicate more effectively with each other. A friend of mine took his class and said that “after more than 21 years, it’s as if [her] and [her] husband had a whole new relationship.”

I thought I would help spread the word. Here is a link to his website.

Craig was recently interviewed on Dr. Lori-Ann Gertonson’s Self Health Movement Teleseminar Series. The interview, The Gift of Love: Exploring Connection and Understanding, offers information around what makes a healthy relationship and what gets in the way.
To listen or down load it for free, go to:

Holistic Chiropractor: Lori-Ann Gertonson
Dr. Lori-Ann Gertonson is the founder of The Gertonson Institute, and the developer of The Quantum Alignment Process™-a consciousness based healing system that incorporates her expertise in lifestyle management, personal development and well-being. For 30 years she has been helping people to find the underlying cause and lasting solution to their health problems, to release pain, anxiety and overwhelm in their lives, to create happiness in their daily life, and to navigate life transitions with ease while connecting to a deeper sense of self and higher purpose.

She is dedicated to providing the knowledge and tools for people to take charge of their own health and healing, live a healthy life, and connect to their inner truth. She has been a speaker, workshop leader and consultant to companies such as United Airlines, Kaiser Permanente, and Whole Foods. After years of helping people manage personal transformation she is bringing a new perspective to healthcare through the self-health movement.

Testimonial Wednesday – May 1

Testimonial Wednesday:
This is a new series I’m starting to highlight some of the amazing businesses that have shaped me as a person and a trainer, and helped me wear all the other hats I wear in my life. Some may be more personal than others, some are based on professional relationships I’ve established. Some weeks, I might bunch a few together. Take a few minutes to look at the testimonial below and see if you or someone you know might need this particular person or service. It’s great when I can help make your life better in some other way than just bringing totally awesome workouts. I chose this first one specifically because I would not be doing what I do without the help of this amazing person.

Katie Mink, Bancroft Center for Chinese Medicine
At the Bancroft Center for Chinese Medicine the other day, I laid down on the treatment table and took a big breath. Katie Mink and I had been talking for some time and now she was ready to give me an acupuncture treatment. I suddenly realized that of all the things I told her, I didn’t mention any physical pain at all.

Twelve years ago at my first appointment with Katie, I was living with pain so debilitating that it truly crippled my body and my spirit. I had been diagnosed with tendonitis in both arms. The pain traveled from my fingers up to my neck with a burning sensation searing across my shoulders. I stopped being able to work or sit for any length of time. I wasn’t physically active and certainly wasn’t inspired to exercise. Still, I was desperate to change my life. I remember how scared I was at the first appointment, and I’m not talking about the needles, which I don’t actually mind. I was brought up to believe that anything “eastern” was evil and to be avoided. This meant yoga, meditation, and most especially acupuncture. I must have been in a lot of pain to put that aside and give Katie a call.

After our first session, my pain went away for a few hours. It eventually came back. But for the first time, I felt hope I hadn’t felt in a long time, hope that things could be different. We worked together a lot in the first year. Each time, the relief would last a little longer, a littler longer. Days, then weeks, then a couple of months would go by, and the pain was less and less. I’m not cured by any means. I may always have some level of trouble with my hands and arms. But here’s the miraculous thing: I am a different person than I was 12 years ago. The hope she instilled in me helped me reach a little further into myself and discover that I was stronger and more resilient than I gave myself credit for. I started to exercise: run, lift weights, and even – Oh Lord! – practice yoga!! Two years after those first sessions, I became a certified personal trainer. Now, I’m also a level 5 Acutonics sound healer. I use the sound forks regularly in my training practice, on my body, and with my family.

Both Katie Mink and Laurie Heron, have given me so much in these past years. They have skills and compassion as healers, and they have wisdom to impart as mentors. I highly respect them as guides and love them as friends.

Contact Info:
1720 Bancroft Way
Berkeley, CA 94703

Race Post-Mortem

It is often helpful to look back at a race (or a hiking trip or a trip to Costco with small children) and examine in hindsight the decisions we made that either helped or hurt our experience and performance. Regardless of whether you ever have any desire to engage in that activity again, it is still important in order to become a guide for someone who’s interested in your wisdom. Alright, I’ll go first.

The Oakland Half Marathon was great. Again, I knew I would complete it because I’m at a place in my fitness and mental preparation to be able to push through certain kinds of discomfort and pain and get through the gauntlet. Heather, my running buddy, was sticking with me through the whole thing, yay. My nutrition the day before consisted of a large late lunch with extended family: pretzel dog, green salad, quinoa salad, chicken, chips and guacamole, and 2 chocolate chip cookies. That sounds like a lot, but I did not have dinner but continued to drink water throughout the day. In the morning, because I had decided to just have fun and not stress about how I was going to do, my stomach was not in knots like usual. I drank coffee like always, then ate oatmeal with applesause, cinnamon, berries and toasted almonds. No eggs. I made that mistake last time and had stomach cramps for 9 miles. I felt great, digestion-wise, didn’t even feel guilty about those cookies – they were so good. I packed some hot black tea for the trip over to the staging area. Caffeine is awesome.

About 30 minutes before the race, I ate a banana. I find they are the easiest food for me to digest before exercise. I had a small water bottle with me on the course to sip between water stations. I doon’t know if I’d do that again, there seemed to be plenty of water stations on the course. Once we started, the little twinges in my body started cropping up: ankles, hips, knees. Made a mental note to get back to yoga. Still, I felt pretty good overall. By mile 5, my hip pain was constant though not worsening, ankles felt better, knees not so good. I had experimented with kinesiotaping my IT bands the night before, which have been tight, but I think I added too much tension, and I felt pain in a different part of my knee than normal. Another note to self: practice kinesiotaping on NOT RACE DAY!! Oh wait, I should backtrack.

Experts say you should never do something new on the day of an event. You should break in a pair of shoes, an outfit, a habit, a running technique, a technology well beforehand. I did everything right on that list except for taping my legs and the technology. I usually run with a iPod, make the running mix beforehand and try to gauge where I’m going to need particular songs. At the last minute, I decided to use my iPhone for music – you know, consolidate my gadgets. With my headphones now connected to my phone (not my iPod), I moved past mile 6. West Oakland, the Crucible, my neighborhood, the music totally in sync to where I thought I’d be: The Tuneyards, Cee-Lo, Ms. Dynamite. I rounded the corner of 7th and Mandela where they had water, Gatorade and GU packets. I took GU and Gatorade, figuring that’s the best place to replenish electrolytes. In my opinion, I should I have stuck with just Gatorade. The cloying sticky sweetness of GU didn’t feel good. I probably would have done better with a piece of hard candy to suck on or a cough drop. It wasn’t until we reached Brown Sugar Cafe when I made my fateful dietary decision: to eat the brownie or not eat the brownie.

I ate the brownie. My stomach said, “What are you doing? We do not like that?” All the blood I had circulating in my body was not directed at my digestive tract. That brownie was just too complex for my system to handle. I was looking around for more water just to wash the sweetness out. I don’t know if the later events would have transpired if I hadn’t have eaten that brownie. But the future is clear: just don’t eat the brownie.

My family met me right there with great signs of love and support. My wife, my daughter in her mermaid dress, my son with a “Go Susan Go!” sign, my brother Steve and our friend Deborah cheered for us. It was so great. Leaving West Oakland, my foot started to get a hot spot, a precursor to a blister. I had slathered my feet in Vaseline, a back-packing trick I learned many years ago. I changed my running gait to see if it put less pressure on that spot. Instead, a blister formed on a totally different part of my foot. We meandered toward Lake Merritt, a stitch forming on my upper right side. Effects of brownie or the typical lactic acid buildup I tend to get? I tried to open up my chest and stretch my shoulders as I ran. Effective somewhat, nothing miraculous. Starting to feel sluggish. At almost mile 10, our friend Marlo was waiting to boost our morale. I gave her a great big hug, and that sustained my mood. My body, however, was struggling. I had to stop and stretch my hamstrings for a minute, which felt awesome. I really wanted it to be over, to walk to the finish. Heather told me she had to keep running or she would cramp up, and I thought, “Oh shit, is she for real or is she lying to me so I’ll keep moving? I cannot lose her!” I did not walk. I didn’t exactly run either, something in between. By mile 11, I really needed the right music to be cued up. My iPhone required a password, which I tried to put in while “running” and squinting in the sun and sweating all over it, but it kept going to shuffle, and I was so frustrated. Last note: my iPod works so much better.

Oh hey! They finished the new walk bridge around the lake just in time, it even smells new! How great. Okay, back to the race.

Okay, here we go with the lineup: Macklemore “Can’t Hold Us” – AWOL Nation “Burn It Down” – Lil’ Kim “The Jump Off” – and for the finish line, Die Antwoord “Baby’s on Fire” (don’t judge, that song is really motivating). But Lil’ Kim went on too long, and we passed mile 13, and oh man, an uphill finish, this is hard, and who cares what song is playing, we are almost there. Everything hurt and nothing hurt, we were going to sprint to the finish. Heather was fading, and I was not going to let her fall behind. She had practically pulled me the last 3 miles, the last 13 miles, we were going to finish together. The lyrics “So we put our hands up, like the ceiling can’t hold us “ playing in my head, across the line and then, it was over. Funneled through the vortex of water, food, silver blankets, and medals, we shoved food and liquids down our faces, wanting to find a place in the grass to be horizontal. Instead we stood along the finish line to wait for our friend Shoshana, who was finishing her first full marathon. Which she totally did.

Guest Blog Post by Sydney Metrick, PhD:

I was pushing 40 when I joined a gym for the first time. With a history of clumsiness—my parents sent me for ballet lessons in the hopes that I’d lessen the frequency with which I tumbled down the stairs—my expectations for success as an athlete were slim.  Imagine my surprise when I found out I actually excelled at aerobic machines and weights. For the first time in my life I felt strong. I had muscle definition and stamina and confidence in my body.

But that wasn’t all. The most astonishing benefit was mental, and I’m not just referring to the confidence. My brain was functioning better. It’s known that exercise increases levels of serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine, which are neurotransmitters involved in how the brain cells connect to one another across those synapses.

In 2004 a panel of researchers reviewed over 850 studies and found 30-45 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity three to five days a week has a positive influence on memory, concentration, and behavior.

This is great news for all of us. It’s especially good for me and my clients. Those of us with attention deficit disorder (ADHD) do not produce the above mentioned neurotransmitters in sufficient quantity. Exercise is an excellent way to improve our brains and our bodies at the same time.

Sydney Metrick, PhD is a coach who specializes in helping people with ADHD and other non-linear thinkers. Her website is

Fat Around the Middle

I’m an apple shape kinda girl. I come from at least 3 generations of apple shapes, big-boned men and women with the bodies and temperament for farm work and street brawls. I’m also very strong and fit. Even on my bad days, I can manage a 2-mile run and 45 minutes of strength training. It’s not pretty, but I can get it done. Up until now, I’ve been getting away with that as my excuse for not dealing with the nutrition side of my health. I love BBQ and cakes and lattes and all sorts of party foods. But I’m 41, and it’s time to take the next step into adulthood and to take the role of health professional much more seriously, to lead by example.

I’ve just read this book, Fat around the Middle, by British nutritionist Dr. Marilyn Glenville. It’s an incredibly scientific approach to the body’s physiological response to sugar and gluten and lactose. Without spending time quoting the text, my take on it is pretty simple. Instead of stabilizing our blood sugar and keeping the stress hormone cortisol at its normal levels, we often feed our addiction to sugar instead of feeding our body. This is the roller-coaster lifestyle of feeding the low with sugary foods (and caffeine), bringing the blood sugar into the stratosphere, and repeating when the crash inevitably comes. Cortisol is the body’s stress hormone, which reacts to our mental anguish and rage as if we are in mortal danger. Cortisol slows digestion, giving us energy to fight or flee. When that energy isn’t used up, as it most often is not, it stores energy (fat) around vital organs to protect it for the next attack or famine. Many years of feeding the sugar lows combined with the stress factors of a modern life increase our bodies imbalances. Hence, apple-shapes. This is dangerous if not caught early. High blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes – these are real risks, especially for those of us with fat stored around our midsections.

I’m not a believer in the “spot loss” philosophy. There is no such thing as a quick fix to make our bodies flawless. When you lose weight, there’s no real recipe that you’ll get to choose where that loss happens first. That is not my goal in this lifestyle experiment. My main goal is to get a real grip on my eating habits, behavior and attitudes. I have been a slave to the brownies most of my life. I joke about it, but it is a real struggle. It’s important that you understand how hard a change this is for me. My wife was shocked that I wanted to undertake such a massive shift in what I put on my plate and in my body.

So, what is going on my plate and in my body?

For the next 3 months, I will replace the vast majority of my sugar, caffeine, wheat, cheese and milk with beans, nuts, fish, quiñoa, vegetables, eggs. Most of the fruits are okay, though I’m going to limit bananas and grapes and all dried fruit (too high in sugar). Mostly, it’s a whole food diet, eating small meals about every 3 hours. I wasn’t ready to do this 6 months ago, but now I’m willing to give it a go. In fact, I’m starting my third week, and so far so good. I notice my mood swings are less severe. I passed up peanut M&Ms on New Year’s Eve and then again after a 5 mile race. It was hard, but I didn’t die, so I can move on from there. Oh yeah, and I’ve lost an inch and a half and 7 pounds.

Does this inspire or motivate you to make more healthy food and fitness choices?