Tag: health

Employee Spotlight: Sabina Lovett



One of our personal trainers Adriana recently interviewed another employee, Sabina Lovett, about her weight loss journey this last year and a half.  Sabina started out working as a front desk employee and is now our weekend manager on duty.  She started using one of her employment benefits here at the SAC, access to the facility and fitness staff, transforming her body and life.  To hear about how Sabina lost over 40 lbs read her interview below.

When did you start working at the SAC?

  • I started working at the SAC in November 2014.

How did you feel about your general health when you started here?

  • I didn’t really start working out/losing weight until this last September. When I started here I felt horrible about myself, to be honest. I was going back and forth between 175 and 165 pounds. I didn’t have a lot of energy and was constantly eating out. My skin looked terrible because it was extremely red and blotchy and I had fairly bad acne.

What have you done exercise/nutritionally/stress wise to better your health?

  • I started off just working out and not really changing my diet. I lost about 15 pounds pretty quickly. I was mostly running and doing light weights with a lot of reps. Once I hit about 155 pounds I hit kind of a plateau, which I knew then that I needed to change my diet. I stopped eating out so much (which has saved me a bunch of money too). Portion control was really a big thing for me. I started using smaller plates which really helped. I started upping the weights I was using and slowly added more time into my workouts. I started doing half hour workouts and now try to work out for 1 ½ hours if I have time.

How much weight have you lost?

  • When I started losing weight my goal was to just get back to my high school weight of about 135-125. I’ve reached that goal, as I am now 135. Now my goal is to get down to 125 and I’m working hard to have arms like yours 😉

How has your improved health impacted your life?

  • Losing the weight and becoming healthier, in general, has helped me a lot. My skin has completely cleared up and I don’t need to wear makeup now 🙂 My energy level is so much better! I’m able to walk to work a lot faster and I don’t sweat as much now when I’m just walking. I have to admit I’ve always suffered from insomnia so even if I do workout a lot, it doesn’t make a difference with my sleeping patterns. I feel so much more confident in myself now as well and it’s definitely helped with my stress level as I can workout my frustrations. I now look forward to working out and it’s become one of my favorite things to do.

15-Minute or less meal ideas!

Effective meal-planning must encompass the nights when things blow up and you need to get dinner on the table for yourself and/or your family in 15 minutes or less. If we have the right ingredients on hand we can always have a meal back-up plan.

Below is a list of some of my favorite 15-minute meal ingredients. I’ve separated them into Proteins, Starches and Vegetables. A healthy meal can combine all these into a well-portioned “balanced plate”: ¼ protein, ¼ starch and ½ vegetables.


Quick Proteins (1/4 of plate):

Leftovers or Rotisserie Chicken, Precooked Chicken Sausage (Adele’s or Trader Joes), Precooked Turkey Kielbasa, Canned & Rinsed LS Beans, Eggs, Tofu, Frozen Edamame, Precooked Veggie or Salmon Patties, Canned Tuna or Salmon, Frozen Turkey Meatballs


Quick Starches (1/4 of plate):

Frozen Microwaveable Rice, Microwaved Sweet or Russet Potato, Frozen Peas or Corn, Roast a bag of pre-cut Squash, Sweet Potato or Fingerling Potatoes, Microwaved Spaghetti Squash, Frozen Grain Blends, Couscous (takes 5 minutes to cook), Quinoa or White Rice (15 minutes to cook),Whole wheat pitas/tortillas/bread


Quick Vegetables (1/2 of plate):

Frozen: Broccoli, Asparagus, Pepper Strips, Brussel Sprouts, Frozen Specialty Blends with or without Sauce (Trader Joes has a lot of interesting blends), Bag of Broccoli Slaw (Add raisins/craisins, sunflower seeds and poppy seed dressing), Bag of prewashed & cut veggies (Green beans, mini zucchini, cucumbers, snap peas, baby carrots, mushrooms, specialty mixes), Bagged Fresh Lettuce: Romaine, Spinach, Mixed Greens (Add shredded bagged carrot, grape tomatoes, pre-sliced mushrooms)


Kathryn Reed

Next time you meal plan – buy the ingredients for a quick meal as a back-up. An example would be a flavored pre-cooked Adell’s chicken sausage, a box of couscous and a new frozen vegetable blend. These ingredients will keep for weeks/months – and you’ll always have a quick meal on hand – and avoid the pitfalls of dining out.

Good Health and Good Relationships Susan Raab-Cohen, PhD Psychologist & SACDT Member

Most of us at Seattle Athletic Club are swimming, running or lifting because we want to increase our odds of living today and tomorrow with strength, vigor and flexibility.

It could be, though, that we are overlooking one of the most important variables contributing to good health: the quality of our primary relationships. A good relationship is the single best recipe for good health and the most powerful antidote to aging.

Research shows:

Men gain health benefits simply by getting married. Their health status improves, negative physical symptoms decrease, and positive behaviors increase.

For each year of marriage, a woman’s risk of dying prematurely decreases.

Consistent emotional support lowers blood pressure and bolsters the immune system. It appears to reduce the death rate from cancer as well as the incidence of heart disease and infectious disease.

A secure connection significantly lessens susceptibility to anxiety and depression and makes us more resilient against stress and trauma.

Close connection is the strongest predictor of happiness, much more than making masses of money or winning the lottery.

A successful, long term relationship may do as much for your longevity, mood and physical resilience as the hours you spend working out. However, a lack of attention to your relationship may have the same negative consequences as inactivity:

Men who are divorced experience health risks equal to smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.

Women‘s health appears to be more susceptible to marital discord than men’s health. For women, poor relationship quality is associated with an increased risk of premature mortality and an increased risk of heart disease.

Obviously not everyone wants to be in a relationship, nor is it easy to find the right person even if you want to do so. Many people persist in relationships while feeling lonely, angry or hopeless. They have done whatever they can to improve their relationship but their efforts have been unsuccessful. Resignation seems the only possible outcome.

However, we now know more about strengthening the underlying bonds of marriage for straight, gay or transgender couples than we ever have. We understand that the attachment bond that defines the parent/child bond also defines the underlying bond of adult commitment. We see the power of that bond to build resilience in adults. We know what happens when the bond is broken—and we now know much more about how to repair it.

John Gottman, PhD, here at the University of Washington, did pioneering work describing what happens in the interactions of marriage. While Gottman studied thousands of hours of couples trying to get along, Sue Johnson, PhD, watched thousands of hours of couples in marital therapy and figured out what works. She developed Emotionally Focused Therapy, a theory and practice of couples therapy that has an extensive research record demonstrating its effectiveness. She also wrote a book: Hold Me Tight, which gives consumers a theory and outline for improving their relationships.

Sue Johnson also developed a consumer workshop based on her book:
Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for Connection®. This workshop is also evidence-based. It is now being offered all around the world.

My colleague, Dorsey Green, PhD, and I will be offering this seminar here in the Pike Place Market March 7-8 and May 30-31.

Rob Lauren has seen a direct connection between the mission of the Seattle Athletic Club and a focus on relationship health as related to physical health. We are appreciative to him for his willingness to partner with us this spring. SACDT members may attend Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for Connection at a discounted rate. This program is nonjudgmental (neither of you will feel blamed) and intimate (10-15 couples with significant time spent talking 1:1 in a structured way).

Interested?  You can learn more about the workshop as well as see comments from past participants on our website: www.holdmetightseminars.com.

Still curious? Click on this four minute video—What Is a Healthy Marriage? http://www.holdmetightseminars.com/what-is-a-healthy-marriage/

Lastly, the video below explains a very powerful research study that describes how love and trust change our neurochemistry and resilience to pain:

Soothing the Threatened Brain: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2J6B00d-8lw

**Research references available upon request

Strategies for a Healthful Holiday

  1. Enjoy the food and festivities. This is number one above all else. The more you enjoy your life and create holiday experiences you want vs. being on automatic pilot dreading the various gatherings and traditions that you really don’t want to be a part of – the more energy you’ll have to focus on nourishing yourself. In terms of food, pick those indulgences you really love and forego the things that bring the calories without much enjoyment. If you have to drink or eat your way out of an event you really don’t want to go to – re-assess if it’s really worth it.
  2. Work out more. Exercise is the number one way to maintain your weight. As you mindfully enjoy holiday foods push yourself the next workout to go an extra 15-30 minutes. Look for opportunities to walk more and take the stairs when you can. It all adds up to burning off those extra calories. For most, delaying weight-loss goals to the month of January is more realistic.
  3. Stay hydrated and keep up on fruits and veggies.  With adequate hydration and plenty of fiber – you’ll have less room for other things. It’s always better to focus on what you want more of than simply avoiding things you “shouldn’t” eat.
  4.  Sleep at least 7 hours a night.  If we get enough sleep we won’t be as tempted to indulge in the simple carbohydrates –sweets and bready things that are so abundant during the holidays. If you’re too tired you’ll crave these things. Make your sleep a priority and you’ll be more equipped to make healthful food choices.


Here’s to a holiday season free of guilt and good care. My hope is that you don’t lose sight of one of the most important gifts you can give – your own health and well-being.

Now Offering Craniosacral Therapy at the Seattle Athletic Club

What is it?

Craniosacral is a form of manual therapy that focuses on the pulse of cerebrospinal fluid and the subtle motility of the cranial bones.

Where did it come from?

Originally it came out of Dr. William Sutherlands osteopathy in the cranial field in the 1930’s and later evolved into craniosacral therapy around the 70’s. It was headed at the time by John Upleadger and has continued to evolve over the years.

Who would best benefit from it?

People who have sustained head trauma or any kind of trauma that prevents them from receiving or tolerating deep touch. It is also very helpful in addressing headaches and jaw pain.

What can it do for me?

It uses many mainly gentle techniques on the head, face and spine to address held tension or trauma. It also implores the use of intraoral techniques to address deeper structures of the jaw.

Jessie Jo recently completed a 260 hour formal training in CST. If you have any questions about this new-to-the-club style, feel free to be in touch.

The Importanct of Evidence-Based Practice: The Example of Exercise for Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis and osteopenia are common issues that affect the life expectancy and quality of life in nearly 40 million Americans. These conditions, which both indicate a decrease in bone mineral density, which we can consider as bone strength, occur in men and women of all ages but are most predominate in post-menopausal women. People affected with osteoporosis or osteopenia have reduced strength and resiliency in their bones leading to an increased likelihood of fractures. Fractures are linked to significantly increased all-cause mortality in older women as well as impaired mobility and quality of life so it is imperative that bone health be maintained.

One of the best ways to accomplish this is through exercise. With every muscle action and every contact with the ground, bones have some force exerted against them and they respond by becoming stronger. Increasing the amount of activity and exercise is therefore a viable way to increase bone strength. But what type of exercise will work best? A review of randomized, controlled trials evaluated various types of exercise to see which would have the greatest impact. The results varied based upon the body part. We will discuss the impact on two common sites of osteoporosis: the spine and neck of the femur. In the spine, bone mineral density responded positively to two types of exercise: Weight-bearing low force activity such as walking or Tai Chi and non-weight-bearing-high-force exercises. In the neck of the femur, a positive effect was observed in response to non-weight-bearing high force exercises. Non-weight-bearing high force exercises include exercise machines (such as the leg extension, leg press, hip abductor, hip adductor and hamstring curl) performed with almost as much weight as possible.

Look at that list of non-weight-bearing high force exercises again. If you have read my other posts or talked with me before, it is obvious that I am not a fan of those machines. In fact, some of them are on my list of top things to avoid at the gym. The motor patterns reinforced by these machines seem unproductive to me and they develop strength in very limited, non-functional actions. Worst of all, these machines allow you to develop more strength than your body can handle, which can lead to terrible movement habits and possibly injury.

In my mind, well coached and well-performed squats, deadlifts, hip hinges and farmers walks would be way more helpful for developing bone density. But, the evidence is right there, pointing at me, saying that these much-maligned-machines may have some usefulness after all. Perhaps the machines were only helpful for the subjects tested because they didn’t have good coaching. Perhaps the researchers simply found it easier to compare exercise machines. Perhaps I am a good enough coach that I can overcome these obstacles and increase my clients bone density without using the machines. So, I find myself in a quandary: Follow the evidence and use the machines or trust my own education, intuition and instinct. The question is best answered with humility. I honestly don’t know if better results can be obtained without using the machines. It seems likely to me but at the end of the day, there is not evidence to directly support it. So, I would like to take a moment to apologize to all machine advocates out there and also endorse the use of these machines for increasing bone mineral density in the spine and neck of femur.

If you have osteoporosis, osteopenia or are at risk, this discussion was likely very useful for you. But if you don’t, it still offers a valuable lesson. No expert can know everything. Even strictly within the field of exercise, there are countless complicated decisions that cannot be answered through logical reasoning and intuition. When it comes to your health and fitness, you deserve to know that you are making the best decision. Always ask your trainers, instructors and health care providers why they are doing what they are doing. Ask about the evidence they have supporting them. There are a lot of things that don’t have clear evidence-based answers but it never hurts to ask. It will make you a better client and make us better trainers.

It’s Plyo Time!

This morning instead of my typical run, I decided to get a plyo workout in! It went a little something like this:

Warm – up:
20 knee skips to chest
20 outward knee skips to the side
20 butt kicks
20 knee to chest, kick outs (hamstring stretch)

30 sec walk (4.0 speed)
1m sprint (7.0 speed)
30 sec walk (4.0 speed)
1m sprint (7.0 speed)

20 squat jumps
20 wide jumps
20 narrow jumps
25 crunches on bosu ball
Repeat 3 times

20 squat throws with medicine ball on the wall (8-10 pounds)
20 side step squats (with bands around thighs)
20 switch lunges
25 bicycle crunches
Repeat 3 times

Cool down on treadmill
1m Walk 4.0 @10 incline
1m Walk 3.8 @7 incline
1m Walk 3.5 @5 incline
1m Walk 3.0 @0 incline

Give it a shot & let me know what you think! If you have any questions about this workout or getting into the figure and fitness competitions look for Stephanie at our Tuesday night professionals from 6 pm to 8 pm.

Importance of a Strong Core

The core has most often been thought of as “abdominal” muscles. However, recent scientific research has caused a shift in that perspective of thinking to include several stabilizing muscles surrounding the torso known as the lumbo-pelvic hip complex or simply, the “core” complex. This complex comprised of; abdominal, spinal, pelvic, gluteal and hip girdle muscle groups, act as a corset around the mid-section to stabilize the spine, hip and pelvis and act as an integral link in the kinetic chain during body movements.

Research conducted by Hodges & Richardson in the journal, Physcial Therapy in 1997, examined the sequence of muscle activation during whole-body movements discovered that specific core complex muscles were consistently activated prior to any limb movements. All movements incorporate the transfer of energy from one segment to the next in the kinetic chain. Force generation and distribution, movement control, stability and initiation of the kinetic chain, began in the core complex before progression to the extremities.

When the core complex muscles operate efficiently, the result is maximum force generation and proper force distribution, optimal movement and energy control, with minimal compressive, translational or shearing forces of the joints involved in the kinetic chain of the movement performed. This can translate to improved athletic and sport performance, enhanced daily activities; create better overall balance, stability and posture and prevent injuries, strain and compensatory movement patterns that lead to muscular imbalances.

Athletic movements require a strong core complex for postural control in order to transfer optimal energy to the limbs. A more efficient transfer can mean injury prevention because no compensations are made in attempt to make up for the lack of force production. Although core stability is essential to athletics, this can also directly translate to daily living by improving more functional actions such as walking, climbing or lifting etc. When the core complex muscles operate in a unified fashion, the strength combined can provide the spine, pelvis and other extremities with more balance, stability and a correct natural posture. With an improved posture and movement awareness; injuries, strains, lower back pain and other compensations are less likely to occur.

Core complex efficiency requires coordination and integration of the essential muscles, joints and neurological systems for order for optimal functioning. Although muscular strengthening may be required, reawakening of inhibited muscles may be the primary step to develop the core complex. When developing a training program, it is recommended to progress in gradual stages. First, it may be necessary to restore initial core muscle contraction and mobility, followed by activation of the integral core muscles through specific exercises. Once mastered, more advanced exercises can be added. Eventually, a transition to more functional movements that promote balance, coordination, precision and skill are to be achieved. Ultimately, the goal of a good core complex program is to train movements and positions rather than isolated muscles.

For further information on the core complex, please feel free to contact personal trainer Kendra Kainz. Resourced from the American College of Sports Medicine, p 39-44. Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Clinics of North America, p 669-689. Physical Therapy, p 132-142.

Back to the Basics

Sometimes more is better. Sometimes flare is good. Sometimes getting nuts is totally the thing to do. But sometimes none of those things are the answers. When is that the case? When you stop and ask yourself, “Am I getting any stronger, faster, healthier, fitter, am I making progress?” When you answer no to any and all of those questions then it’s time to dial back and get back to basics.

Here are a few examples of what I’m talking about, first, moving up in weights. If you haven’t been able to add that extra 10lbs to your squat and press weight the answer may lye more in technique than it does in actual strength. It’s time to break down that complex movement and focus on better full range of motion squats (weighted or just plain old air squats), and then practice your shoulder press form. Breaking down complex lifts so that you can put more energy into each piece so that when you put them back together you are stronger in both aspects of the lift is the best way to be more efficient in your movements as well as increase strength.

Same rules can apply to less complex lifts; take the bench press for example. If you feel like you are really struggling to improve your bench press and even more so really struggling to get the bar to your chest at the bottom (lets be real, it’s not a bench press if you aren’t doing the full range of motion) then perhaps adding more weight or doing more reps is not your answer. The best way to improve your strength, especially in the full range of motion of the bottom position is to do the old basic push-up. Teaching your body the path of motion and touching your chest to the floor in your push-ups (let’s be real, it’s not a push-up until you touch your chest to the floor) will increase your joint strength and flexibility 200% more than a heavy bench press to 90 degrees.

Maybe you don’t care about how much weight you can lift, maybe you care about how well you do during the swimming leg of your next triathlon. You’ve been doing all these super cool exercises with a band, you started adding in some crazy new bag full of sand, or you decided using the strength ropes during every workout for 30 minutes was going to get you faster and stronger. You know what makes you a better swimmer…swimming. Will more strength help you? Sure, but unless you are an efficient swimmer with great technique you can only get so far creating stronger muscle fibers.

Sometimes my clients ask me, “How do I get strong enough to do a pull-up? What kind of exercises should I do to improve my pull-up strength?” Easiest answer ever…do some pull-ups. If you are looking to improve your running, run. I don’t think rowing and bicep curls are going to do anything for your 5K time.
Sometimes we get sucked into the new craze, the new in thing. There’s been Abs of Steel, Tiabo, standing on exercise balls, standing on Bosu Balls, Kettlebells, Strength ropes, and the list goes on and on. But when all of these fads come and go or at least stop being the “cool new thing” what keeps you ahead of the rest and improving? Knowing the basics. If you can swing a 50lb sandbag around like it’s your job but you can’t do a proper full range of motion squat you are going to have trouble doing much else besides swinging a sandbag around. To be a good athlete, a well rounded athlete, a strong, flexible, powerful, healthy, uninjured athlete you need to start from the ground up. Good training has nothing to do with how hard you sweat, what kind of crazy equipment you use, what kind of protein shake you ingest; good training comes from good movement and good smart progression.

As the saying goes, you have to learn to walk before you can run. Learn the basics, if you’ve learned them but let some things slide in order to move up in weight, do more reps, sweat more, etc. maybe it’s time you take a step back and get back to basics.