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Secrets of an injured trainer

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My workouts used to be intense. I rested only when I needed it. The pace of the workout was fast, and I mixed in weight training with cardio. When it was over, I was ravenous and pumped. Fast forward three slightly painful years later.

My right shoulder has a tear in one of the four muscles that make up the rotator cuff. The impingement in my shoulder has gone from bad to worse. The pain in my right hip was also finally diagnosed. After an uncomfortable hour and 30 minutes sitting under an MRI machine with my feet taped together, I found out there are two cracks in my hip.

Sadly, I have to alter the intensity of my workout. The days of jumping on a box, throwing a medicine ball at the wall, and bench pressing are over— for now. What to do? How am I going to stay in shape?

I still workout five or so days a week.  I do a little cardio, body weight exercises and rehab type movements/stretches. The way I burn most of my calories? Training others. Yes, that’s right, I burn more calories training people then I burn in my own workout. Here are three workout tips that can help whether you are injured or not:

#1 Move around all the time. Even when you are not working out, go for a walk, garden, play with the kids, play catch, or vacuum. The gardening does not take place of your workout, it’s just another way to be active.

#2 Find out what your limitations are. If you have bad knees, maybe you need to bike not run. Go to a physical therapist and fix that ailing back or wrist. Once you figure out what you can’t do, stay away from that and find exercises you can do. I found out that rowing doesn’t really bother me, so that’s my cardio for now. If you are having trouble figuring out what hurts, take a notepad with you to the gym.

#3 Train your core! The definition of core varies from trainer to trainer, book-to-book, the simple definition of your core is your hips, butt, lower back and stomach. Core has been a buzz word in the fitness industry the past five years and the term is not going away. These movements help in sports and in daily life.  Exercises such as the plank, clams, or hip raises are all simple exercises to fit in your workout.

Working out is only part of the healthy equation.  Another huge part of the equation is diet! When I say diet, I mean the food you eat regularly, not some starvation tactic to drop a few pounds. Since I am less active then I used to be, I eat a little less crap. When I say crap, I mean sweets. That’s my weakness, I love a good cookie. I still eat them; I just eat half a cookie now. I really do not believe in cutting out foods you love, simply eat less of them. Here are a few other diet tips:

#1 Have a fat meal. Once a week, have a meal with the food you love. Keep in mind, if you love deep dish pizza or fried chicken that can be your cheat food, just pay attention to the portion size. A cheat meal helps keep you honest during the week. If you know on Saturday you are going to Harold’s Fried Chicken, then you will be more likely to skip McDonald’s during the week. A cookie is not going to kill you, but if you eat a few min-snickers in the office, a handful of M&M’s and a cookie it will add inches.

#2 Size matters! I alluded to this in the last tip, portion control is important. This is probably the single greatest cause of obesity, people eat huge meals and they eat them often. I’m not saying don’t eat a burger, I had one the other day and it was delicious. However, if the burger is the size of a cow, only eat a quarter of it. If you are at a restaurant known for big portions (i.e. Cheesecake Factory) ask them to only bring out half your meal and package the other half up to take home.

#3 Read labels. Whether you are in a grocery store or at a restaurant, either read the label or look online for nutritional information! The amount of fat, calories and salt in any sandwich or salad at Cosi or Corner Bakery will blow your mind. I’m talking 1,000 calories, 30 plus grams of fat and your total daily allowance of sodium in one salad! If you love a certain salad or sandwich, look for ways to make it healthier— cut the bacon, light on the cheese, dressing on the side.

#4 Eat more fruits and vegetables. This is the easiest way to feel good and look good. Fruits and veggies have fiber, vitamins, water and other nutrients that you just can’t find in most other foods.  Another great thing about this simple trick— these types of foods help fill you up.  Hit the grocery store and load up on apples, pears, broccoli, carrots and whatever else you like. The key to this tip, is to prepare the food right when you get home— cut up the carrots, peppers, pull the grapes off the vine— then it’s handy for preparing in recipes and snacks.

In the past three years I have maintained my weight through following these tips. If you ask my coworkers, they will tell you I do not starve myself or avoid cookies. I simply eat half of the cookie. And I still workout, it’s just a bit less intense. Being injured is frustrating but don’t let it force you out of your skinny jeans (for the record I do not own a pair of skinny jeans). For more tips, follow me on twitter @fitwithkrit.

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