Tuesday, August 22, 2017

How to Take the Weight of the World off Your Shoulders (One Move at a Time)

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August 22, 2017

How to Take the Weight of the World off Your Shoulders (One Move at a Time)

By Guest


Closeup of young shirtless man with shoulder pain isolated in white backgroundToday’s awesome guest post is offered up by a good friend to MDA—Ryan Hurst, Co-founder and Head Coach at GMB Fitness. I hope it helps you during your work week. Enjoy, everyone!

Our shoulders carry a lot of our stress. We hunch forward at our desks trying to get work done, tensing up over issues we thought we’d fixed already. And it doesn’t help that we often have to stay in the same position, even if we are lucky enough to have standing desks, typing or doing some other repetitive tasks.

As a result, a lot of us have issues with tight shoulders, and we know we really should move and stretch them, but stiffness and aches can make this even more difficult and uncomfortable. And that dreaded vicious cycle sets in. Your shoulders are tight because you don’t move like you should, but when you start moving it starts to hurt. And that stops you from moving….

The solution isn’t to quit working and do yoga all day. Instead, I’ll show you some simple movements to add to your daily routine. These exercises can be done in very little space and don’t take very long at all.

Below, I’ll share a simple and effective shoulder mobility routine that will help you get your shoulders back in gear. But before you start putting these movements into action, it’s a good idea to understand why you’re having these issues and why it’s so important to get your shoulders moving well.

What’s Tightening You Up?

There are a lot of different things that could be going on in your shoulders. For many people, sitting hunched over a computer or phone all day is the culprit, but for others, it could be something entirely different.

The way you exercise might be a factor. If you spend a lot of time in the gym doing bench presses or working your chest fly, that could encourage the shoulders to rotate forward.

I won’t go into too much detail here about how the shoulders work, but what I will say is this: the shoulder girdle is a complex area made up of at least 16 major muscles.

The innate complexity of this region means there’s a lot that can potentially go wrong, but there’s also a lot of tissue to support the shoulders through some pretty rough episodes.

Of course, our shoulders aren’t sealed off from the rest of our bodies. Shoulder issues very often come with neck and upper back issues, and vice versa.

The good news is the following routine will help you address your shoulder restrictions, which will often do a good job of clearing up some of those related issues as well.

Efficient and Effective Work is the Name of the Game

Before I get into the routine, I want to address the elephant in the room: stretching sucks.

…or, at least it can the way most people do it and teach it.

A lot of trainers or fitness companies will throw a bunch of random stretches at you, and when you don’t arbitrarily get “more flexible,” they tell you to just “stretch more.” That’s not very useful, and if that’s the way you’ve always stretched, then yeah, it’s probably sucked. No one likes to put in effort without any payoff.

What makes this routine different is that it’s not random at all.

While there can be so many different things going on in the shoulders, the exercises in this routine were carefully chosen to target the most common motion restrictions.

When your shoulders are tight, they keep you from moving freely throughout your daily life, as well as in your training. For people with particularly bad levels of tightness, something as simple as reaching to grab something from a high shelf can feel impossible.

Even if your issues aren’t quite that severe, you’re here reading this article, which probably means you are dealing with some level of restriction in your shoulders.

So let’s get into it!

Daily Shoulder Mobility Routine — Six Stretches to Help You Loosen Your Tight Shoulders

The following routine is made up of six shoulder stretches, some of which you may have seen before, but all of which work together to address the most common issues we’ve seen in clients.

Work through these slowly and do not move into any painful positions. Stay within a range that is comfortable for you.


Quadruped Shoulder Circles

jeff-shouldermobility-1You’ve probably done standard shoulder circles before from a standing position. The benefit of doing these on your hands and knees is the floor gives you some feedback so you can adjust the pressure easily.

Start on your hands and knees with your knees just beneath your hips and your hands just beneath your shoulders.

Press into the ground and keep your elbows straight as you shrug your shoulders up toward your ears, back toward your hips, down away from your ears, and then forward toward your head, creating a nice circle.

Do these circles in both directions, and then you can try doing the circles with alternating shoulders.

Do 5 circles in each direction with both shoulders, then do 5 in each direction with one shoulder at a time.

L-Arm Stretch

jeff-shouldermobility-2This is one of my favorite stretches because it’s very effective at stretching the rotator cuff and the back of the shoulder. It can feel a bit awkward at first, but just play around with finding a position that feels relatively comfortable for you.

Start by lying on your stomach with one arm by your side. Stretch your other arm across your chest with your palm facing up and without letting your shoulder shrug up toward your ear too much.

Use your shoulder muscles to pull your chest down toward the floor, creating a nice stretch in the shoulder capsule. Move in and out of the stretched position, and then hold the stretch.

Once you find a comfortable position, move in and out of the stretch 10 times, then hold for 30 seconds. Repeat this sequence a total of three times.

Prone Bent Arm Chest Stretch

jeff-shouldermobility-3Here’s a stretch that targets the chest and front of the shoulder. You’ll work on one side at a time with this one.

Start in a prone position (on your stomach) with one hand on the floor and your elbow bent.
Shift your weight toward your hand to feel a stretch in your chest. Move in and out of the stretched position, and then hold the stretch.

Once you find a comfortable position, move in and out of the stretch 10 times, then hold for 30 seconds. Repeat this sequence a total of three times.

Tall Kneeling Arm Raises

jeff-shouldermobility-4This one engages the hips as well as the shoulders, and will really help with opening up your tight shoulder muscles.

Start in a kneeling position, sitting with your feet under your butt.
Lift your hips as you raise your arms straight up overhead.
At the top, you will be in a “tall kneeling” position with your arms straight up. Make sure to really open up the shoulders in that top position, but don’t arch the back.

Move in and out of the stretch 5 times and then hold for 15-30 seconds.

Tall Kneeling Arm Raise to the Side

jeff-shouldermobility-5This stretch starts in the same position as the last one, but you’ll feel this one more in the lats and the back of the shoulder.

Begin in the same tall kneeling position, where you have your feet under your butt, and then drive your hips forward until you are kneeling on your shins.

Now, instead of reaching straight up overhead, keep one arm down by your side and reach the other arm up and over to the opposite side.
Really focus on reaching through the shoulder, so you feel a nice stretch through your lats and back of the shoulder.

Move in and out of the stretch 5 times and then hold for 15-30 seconds. Repeat on the opposite side.

Clasped Hands Extension

jeff-shouldermobility-6The last stretch in this sequence will help you work on shoulder extension, combating that rounded posture so many of us find ourselves in.

Start in a seated position. In the video, you’ll see that Jeff is sitting cross-legged, but sit however feels comfortable for you. If sitting on the floor is uncomfortable, you can sit on a chair or bench as long as it does not have a back.

Clasp your hands behind your back and straighten your elbows. Sit up with a tall posture as you pull your arms up and back. Focus on squeezing your shoulder blades together as you move into the stretch.

Move in and out of the stretch 5 times and then hold for 15-30 seconds.

Take Some Time to Take Care of Your Shoulders, and Your Physical and Mental Health Will Be Better off…

Don’t let tension and stress build up so much in your shoulders that it stops you from doing what you want to do. Whether you are dealing with shoulder problems now or if you want to know how to prevent that from happening, the movements I’ve shared above are a great investment of your time. A few minutes now can save months of trouble later on if you let things go too far.

Shoulders are definitely not the only areas that can stand more of your attention. If you find yourself moving more stiffly than you’d like, have a look at our head-to-toes body maintenance guide and get moving better today!

Ryan_Headshot 01_2017_03After a training accident ended his competitive gymnastics career, Ryan moved to Japan and competed in various martial arts until another injury made him reevaluate his priorities in life. As Head Coach at GMB Fitness, his mission is to show everyone that you can define your own fitness as a sustainable and enjoyable part of your life. You can follow him and GMB Fitness on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

Thanks to Ryan for sharing this awesome routine today. I highly recommend his head-to-toes body maintenance guide for overall mobility and fitness. Do you have questions or comments regarding shoulder mobility or other related issues? Share them on the comment board below. Thanks for reading, everyone.

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Just a Reminder about the FREE Interpreting Your Genetics Summit

inline_Screen Shot 2017-08-22 at 10.14.56 AMHey, everybody. There’s a regular post coming this morning, but I wanted to remind everyone about the Interpreting Your Genetics Summit. I’ve talked about various genetic tests on the blog before and the ways I’ve used them to understand my own health. That said, this field is exploding these days, and I’m excited to hear from the 31 experts offering the latest in genetic/genomic information.

The Interpreting Your Genetics Summit is online and free from August 21-28. You’ll learn:

  • Your predisposition for diseases and how to minimize manifestation.
  • Genetic health traits your children are likely to inherit.
  • Whether your medications and supplements are right for you.
  • How to unlock previously unsolved health challenges.

This event is totally free to anyone who signs up. You can listen live or catch the talks later the same day, since each day is available for the full 24-hour period.

Just so you know, today’s talks include Genetics and Autoimmune Diseases, Understanding Methylation, and Epigenetic Mastery for Everyone among others.

Whether you’ve taken a genetic test or plan to, these experts will teach you the best practices for using this information to alter your lifestyle, guide treatment and create better health! Your genes can unlock a new era of personalized medicine that will help you evolve into a healthier, happier life. Register for FREE now!

Would you rather purchase the talks and watch on your own time? The organizers of the event have extended the pre-event price of $59 for full online access to all talks. They’ll be yours to own and enjoy whenever you want. But hurry, because this pre-event price ends today and will go up to $79! And, yup, I’m happy to disclose that I’m an affiliate and receive compensation from the event, but what I love about these summits is the chance for anyone to take advantage—for free. Don’t miss out!

More to come this morning. Catch you soon, everyone.

Interpreting Your Genetics Summit


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5-Minute Face (Effortless Beauty)

Hi, guys!

I wasn’t sure whether I should devote an entire blog post to Beautycounter’s 5-Minute Face, but the deal is just TOO GOOD not to share! And if you’re interested in cleaning up your beauty products (which can definitely affect your hormones – yes, I’m obsessed), it’s a great way to discover what Beautycounter is all about.

The 5-Minute Face includes six of Beautycounter’s most popular products:

  • Tint Skin Hydrating Foundation (I wear Sand)
  • Touchup Skin Concealer Pen (I use Light)
  • Color Define Brow Pencil
  • Lengthening or Volumizing Mascara
  • Powder Blush Duo
  • Lip Gloss

$178 ($241 value)

Interested to learn more? Check out how the 5-Minute Face can give you effortless style in just 6 quick steps (#momlife). Then, just select the combination of products that best works for you!

If you guys have any specific questions about products, please don’t hesitate to contact me (or just leave a question in the comment section below). My goal is to support you on your journey to discovering cleaner beauty products. And, as always, I truly appreciate your support!

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Talking with Toby Amidor, Author of The Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook

Healthy Eats sat down with writer and registered dietitian Toby Amidor, author of the new book The Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook.


Healthy Eats: Congrats on yet another awesome book! What sets this book apart from others focused on make-ahead meals?

Toby Amidor: Each of these make-ahead meals is delicious, healthy and made with minimally processed ingredients. I also kept in mind reusing a dish for different meals. For example, my Slow Cooker Barbecue Chicken recipe can be made into a Barbecue Chicken Pizza. Both recipes are provided in my cookbook, along with additional ideas on pairing meals.  I also give food safety guidelines for safe meal prepping. From defrosting to cooking to reheating, there are simple steps to follow to keep food safe and prevent illness when cooking in batches.


You’re a working mom of three, so you know how stressful it can be to get a healthy meal on the table! How can this book help busy folks eat better?

Having meals ready to go reduces my weeknight stress level tremendously. If I do forget something at the market, or want to whip up side salad, that’s quick and easy. My mid-week grocery runs are only for a handful of items and not a cartful. I also get my kids involved in selecting the recipes they want for the week, and leftovers are used for packed lunches, including my own. This means I’m also saving money mid-week and don’t have to drop $10-15 for lunch every day. Over a month that adds up to over $60 that I saved!


What are some of your favorite ingredients for meal prep?

  • Olive oil: Meal prep is all about keeping it simple. Although you can use a variety of oils in the recipes, most of them use olive oil — a must have for any meal prep kitchen.
  • Canned beans: I always keep a few cans of no-salt added canned beans. I can use them to make a chili, toss over a salad, or add to a quinoa bowl in a flash.
  • Lemons: This citrus fruit is one of my favorite flavor-enhancers. I use the juice and zest in marinades, dressings, and batters.
  • Quinoa: Many of the dishes in my meal prep cookbook can be eaten with grains. I like to have cooked quinoa on hand for that extra boost of protein. I can add chopped fresh herbs to it or dried fruit and use it as a side for lean protein, stir fry, or over a salad.


Tell us a little about the meal plans featured in the book.

As everyone has different goals, my cookbook has a 2-week meal plan for three types of diets: clean eating, weight loss, and muscle building. The clean eating meal plan includes fruits, vegetables, lean protein, low fat dairy, whole grains, and healthy fats. Canned, frozen, and fresh foods are used (with no-added sugar and low sodium varieties). I have visited numerous farms and seen the canning and freezing process where foods are picked at their peak nutrition and quality and then preserved. The weight loss meal plan includes recipes that are lower in calories, but full of nutrition and flavor. The muscle-building meal plan is geared towards those who like to hit the gym and weights numerous times a week.


Apricot Chicken Drumsticks

Courtesy of The Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook

Makes: 4


Cooking spray

8 skinless chicken drumsticks

2 tablespoons canola or safflower oil

¼ teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons sesame seeds

¼ cup apricot jam

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce


  1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Coat a shallow 9-by-9-inch baking dish with the cooking spray.
  2. Brush the chicken with the oil and sprinkle it with the salt and black pepper. Put the chicken in the baking dish and bake until a thermometer inserted in the center of a drumstick reads 165ºF, about 35 to 40 minutes.
  3. Just before the chicken is ready, in a small skillet over medium-low heat, toast the sesame seeds until slightly browned, stirring them frequently so they don’t burn, about 5 minutes.
  4. In a small saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the apricot jam and soy sauce. Cook, stirring frequently, until it boils, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the stove.
  5. Let the chicken cool for 5 minutes, then drizzle the apricot sauce over it and sprinkle with the toasted sesame seeds.


REFRIGERATE: Store the cooled chicken with the sauce and seeds in a resealable container for up to 1 week. To reheat, microwave for 1½ minutes. It can also be reheated in a saucepan over medium heat.


FREEZE: Store the cooled chicken with the sauce and seeds in a freezer-safe container for up to 2 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and reheat in the microwave for 1 minute. It can also be reheated in a saucepan over medium heat.


Per Serving (2 drumsticks with 1 tablespoon sauce and 1½ teaspoons sesame seeds): Calories: 541; Fat: 32g; Saturated Fat: 7g; Protein: 46g; Total Carbs: 14g; Fiber: 1g; Sodium: 766mg


Photos courtesy of Nat & Cody Gantz (left and bottom right), and Melani Lust Photography (top right).


Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition.

*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.

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One of My Least Favorite Things

Hey, guys!

So, yesterday involved one of my least favorite things: Not eating. I’m off to a colonoscopy later this afternoon, so, in preparation, I wasn’t allowed to eat anything after noon yesterday. Ugh, I’m terrible at not eating, and it will take every ounce of my being to survive 26.5 hours without food. Ok, I’ll stop being so dramatic. I’m sure I’ll survive just fine. I’m just a baby when it to comes to being hungry. Anyway, here’s a recap from yesterday!

I was allowed to eat in the morning, so I had my usual oats mixed with ground pumpkin seeds, collagen, SFH churro protein powder, and a big scoop of sunflower butter.

I decided not to go to CrossFit – mostly because I was sore from the previous two days’ workouts, but also because I wasn’t able to properly fuel my day. I stayed home and worked while Mal and Quinn went to the gym.

Mid-morning, I snacked on a coconut peanut butter Perfect Bar. I figured a figured a high-fat and high-protein snack would keep me satisfied for awhile.

When lunchtime rolled around, I made a rice bowl with chicken, sweet potatoes, and barbecue sauce. I wanted something both filling, delicious, and GI-friendly as my “last meal.”

After lunch, Quinn went down for his nap. I got back to work while Mal did some projects around the house. When it was time to see the eclipse, we went outside with our homemade pinhole glasses (cereal box) to see it.

We eventually figured it out and saw the eclipse  – very cool!

Around this time, I started to get pretty hungry, but I feel like it was more out of habit than anything, so I grabbed a La Croix sparkling water.

When Quinn woke up from his nap, we took a family walk around the neighborhood.

Our big kid peddled his bike all by himself!

When we returned home, it was just about dinnertime. I was legit hungry then, so I broke out some green Jell-O. Yum.

Yeah, I know… eating Jell-O for dinner was not my favorite thing, but I did feel better after I ate the entire bowl.

The rest of the night involved catching up with Big Brother and the really “fun” part about colonoscopy prep, but I’ll spare you the details.

I went to bed early – just so I didn’t have to think about food. I’m allowed to have black coffee this morning before my procedure, so I’m planning a trip to Starbucks to hopefully distract my stomach and brain.

Only a few more hours to go. Wish me luck!

Question of the Day

What’s one of your least favorite things in life that you have to do?


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Home Neat Home: A Place For Everything

I’d been thinking about an angle for another Home Neat Home post when this phrase popped into my head as a theme: “A place for everything and everything in its place.” We’ve all heard it before. I think it really is the essence of a decluttered house.

In this post, I wrote about decluttering and slimming down the variety of things in each category. Once you get to that step, you have to find a place to put everything. But before you can even start sorting, you have to assess the space you have to work with.

My remote control gets tucked into that box under the TV when not in use!

Organizing professionals often advise that clients take everything out of their closet/garage/kitchen/junk drawer and then slowly put back things in order of importance, leaving a pile that either needs to be sold, donated, or relocated. Taking everything out will allow you to view the space differently and utilize it in an unimagined way.

I rarely lose things because there is only one spot (maybe two) where I put them. My Kindle is either on my nightstand or on the coffee table. My keys always go in the basket by the door. Incoming paper and mail go into one of two spots: the office inbox or the outbox by the back door. Rain boots and yoga mats always go in the hall closet. My soccer bag is stored in the downstairs mudroom. Even my water bottle has a place where I store it at night in a cabinet. When you have a spot for everything and everything is in its place, the house is tidy and you can always find exactly what you’re looking for.

This piece that I bought on Joss and Main years ago works so hard in our kitchen entryway. Keys go in the basket, the Pottery Barn sorter holds pens and serves as an outbox, the drawers house chapstick, packaging tape, chalk, Gus’s leash and baggies, etc., and the baskets underneath hold shoes and extra dog items.

My home gets cluttered throughout the day, but by evening it takes me 10 minutes to put everything back where it belongs. Clutter problems occur when you don’t have a spot to put something. I am often brainstorming better, smarter systems in which to organize everyday items like shoes, dog gear, Mazen’s toys, kitchen items, and more.

What do you do if you live in a tiny place with no storage? You can either: reduce your things or create more space. I’ve gotten creative with storage in the past and used my dining room cabinet for kitchen overflow, basement shelves for appliances (I’m seeing a kitchen things problem theme here!), or spare rooms and closets for off season clothes. Smaller spaces forced me to think out of the box for storage solutions.

I didn’t want appliances like the microwave or toaster on the counters, so I had this shelf custom made through Etsy to keep my countertops clear. Wine and extra water bottles fit in the crate on the bottom, and there’s a neat spot for T’s lunchbox. 

As much as I love my belongings, I could live without most of them if I had to. I’d just have less variety in my life for serving dishes, sheets, clothes, tablecloths, recreation, and decor and would need to stick to just one per category. If your candle storage box, or your tupperware drawer, or your kids’ toy bins are overflowing, that is not your cue to re-organize; it’s your cue to give some away. We are naturally going to acquire new things, so the other old saying “Out with the old, in with the new” must apply. Every space will fill up in time if we’re not careful. Our job is to make sure everything has a place to rest and space to breathe.

Tablerunners hidden in the coffee table! 

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