Do You Need a Massage?

Just reading the title makes you want to stretch your neck and rub your shoulders. Doesn’t it? The answer to “Do you need a massage?” is YES. You need a massage. Why? Because you’ve had injuries. Because you don’t stretch enough. Because you sit at a desk all day long. Because you have intense workouts. Because you woke up with a crick in your neck. Because you want to improve your exercise performance. Because it feels good. Because your spouse’s hands tire so quickly. Because you want to treat yourself. Any and all of these are good reasons to schedule a massage.

Yesterday I got a 1-hour massage by Robb Seal of Premier Bodywork LLC. How was it? Will I go back? Just keep reading.

Robb and I met at a High Tech Happy Hour in January. After a short conversation, I expressed interest not only for myself, but for my clients too. Being able to refer a skilled massage therapist is a value-add for my business. So I scheduled an appointment for March 1st.

Just walking into his office at 715 Hill Street #122, I started to feel relaxed. Was is the decor, the gentle music, the anticipation of healing hands? Probably all of the above. A health history form/questionnaire attached to a clipboard was waiting for me on a chair. After I filled it out, Robb and I talked about any immediate issues or concerns I had. Three hours later, I was on the table. Just kidding. It was a couple minutes. Unfortunately I have a laundry list of injuries due to car accidents, sports, overuse and my body just reminding me that I’m not all that and a bag of chips. My goal in getting a massage by Robb was two-fold: 1) help fix/repair any of my various muscular and fascia issues and 2) see how comfortable I would be referring him. Now, let me back up a second. Clearly, I was willing to get on his table after our initial meeting. Robb has thousands of hours of experience and uses the vocabulary of a healer. Not the typical rub and fluff massage you might get at a spa. That type of a massage has a place, but that’s not what I was looking for and that’s not what most of my clients are interested in either.

Okay, back to the story. After I got on the table, he started palpating (using his hands to examine and feel around). I noticed how intuitive he was as he let his experience and knowledge guide him. There were areas that I asked him to address and parts that I forgot to note on the questionnaire that he quickly discovered. A true professional. He used a combination of deep tissue, myofascial and trigger point work. How could I tell? Just a reminder, I did massage for eight years back in California. Had my table and chair and worked at both a physical therapy clinic and a hotel spa. Plus I have received many massages over the years. I could tell that Robb was not your typical massage therapist when he said that he could have his hands on my left shoulder for 30 minutes. Compare that to your fluff and buff massage technician. Robb is a healer.

In addition to being highly competent and intuitive, Robb tried to balance out the massage by touching on most parts of the body. If he worked on hamstrings and hips, for example, he spent at least a few minutes balancing it out by addressing the quads. While my face was in the face cradle I laughed that I could get a 100 hour massage since I had so much “stuff” going on. Robb didn’t disagree.

When we were done, I polished off the glass of water he had waiting for me. Very professional. We chatted briefly as he had another appointment showing up in a few minutes. I told him that I was very interested to see how I would feel that night and the next day. He reminded me that things would continue to release over the next 48 hours. When I got home, I was ravenous and devoured the chicken and vegetable stir fry that I had made earlier. In bed I did some light stretching and noticed significant improvement in my range of motion and reduced pain in my right hip/piriformis.

How about this morning? Great! A little sore where he spent more time and used more localized pressure. As an aside, I attended the Middleton Chamber Breakfast today, and my friend, AJ Sue, asked me how I was doing. A simple question. I answered him that I was processing yesterday’s massage and how I was feeling. Not in a concerned way, but more introspective. I consider myself to be very body aware and I wanted to pay attention to what my body was telling me about the massage. I forgot to mention that after I got home from my massage appointment, I felt lighter and could walk up the stairs easier. I also felt like I could breathe deeper. So Eric, it sounds like you had a good massage and can highly recommend him. Absolutely! Robb is extremely competent, professional, intuitive and sensitive. I will go back soon, and I hope you book an appointment with him too. Thanks again, Robb!Premier Bodywork LLC

Stuffed Crookneck Yellow Squash Recipe

Stuffed squash is one of my favorite dishes, especially on a cold winter day. A great thing about squash is their hardiness. They will last quite a while indoors in a cool, dry place. So your fall squash harvest can be feeding you well into the winter.

The Crookneck Yellow Squash is similar to my Zuccanoes Recipe except that the skin is tougher. If you’d prefer, you can use the squash just as a serving vessel, or depending on how you prepare it, you can eat the skin as well. I did. It was a little fibrous but tasted good.

Stuffed Crookneck Yellow Squash

Ingredients
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound lean ground beef, grass-fed (you can also use ground turkey, chicken, lamb or pork)
6 white mushrooms, sliced
1 8-ounce can diced tomatoes, fire roasted
flesh of one yellow crookneck squash, chopped (you can also use straight neck or a zucchini)
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, grated (or your favorite melting cheese)
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste
2 tsp olive oil

Directions
Slice one squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out insides, leaving 1/4″ rim so canoe stays intact. (You don’t want your canoe to sink in the oven. Very messy.) Dice the squash innards and set aside.

Set stove top to medium-high heat. To heated skillet, add olive oil then sauté ground beef. Once browned, add onions, garlic, mushrooms and squash innards. Sprinkle with rosemary, thyme, basic, salt and pepper. Cook 5 minutes stirring frequently. Add diced tomatoes and lower heat. Simmer for additional 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Set oven to bake at 350 degrees. Take meat/vegetable mixture and spoon into canoes. Do not overfill. Top with 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese. Bake for 45 minutes.

Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup grated cheese and serve.

Preparation time: 1 1/4 hours, including baking. Serves 6

Shoe Review: Skechers Sport Men’s Skech Air 2.0 Brain Freeze

Other than my Babolat tennis shoes, my last two athletic shoes have been Skechers. Lightweight with a mesh fabric upper, memory foam insole and a flexible outsole. Not your typical trainers, but they have worked unbelievably well for me. In the good ‘ol days I was a fan of Adidas running shoes. Granted I was an avid runner at the time, so that made sense. But I also wore them to the gym to train clients and for my own workouts. Features changed over time, and I moved on to Sauconys and Mizunos. I even owned a pair of Otomix bodybuilder shoes. So how did I shift to Sketchers? I just happened to drop by our DSW at Greenway Station — my big bro would always tell me how he’d find deals on the discounted shelves in California. As luck would have it, I found a pair of Sketchers Men’s Skech Flex Sneakers. They were sooooooo comfortable. I literally smiled when I put them on. I have had those shoes for two years. Yes, I know that breaks many rules about how long you’re “suppose” to own a pair of shoes. I still wear them once in a while.

My next pair of Skechers was similar but had slightly more support. The upper was a combination of mesh and synthetic. For long periods of standing and/or doing “light” workouts, these shoes are fine. But for long walks, running or other activities that require more lateral support, these don’t cut it. Thus I recently ordered the Skechers Sport Men’s Skech Air 2.0 Brain Freeze. Unlike the previous two Sketcher’s, my feet are still breaking them in. If you’re like me, my feet are NOT symmetrical. It’s a running joke in my house about how “I broke the big toe on my right foot in a soccer game when I was 12” and how it never healed properly. Ohhh, poor Eric. Needless to say, that has greatly impacted my shoe choices. These Sketchers are slightly heavier, have more grip and more lateral support. Also it keeps the foot in a neutral position. Absolutely no supination (rolling your ankles out and pushing off of your pinky toe) or pronation (ankles rolling in and pushing off of the big toe). I went for a long walk the other day and felt great. A little toe rubbing, but with my issues, that’s to be expected.

After my walk, I went to the gym and did some cardio on a step mill. Again I felt supported and comfortable. Feet were breathing well. Then I did a number of bodyweight calisthenic exercises and finished with some free weight resistance exercises. I even noticed how “centered” I felt doing standing dumbbell biceps curls. Plus I think these shoes boost me up to almost 5’8″ :-)

Eric, what about your Babolat tennis shoes you mentioned earlier? For tennis, they are incredible. They offer tons of support, lateral stability and durability. Okay for lifting and walking but awful for standing for long periods of time or straight up running. When I put them on, it’s like a switch has been turned. I want to start moving quickly, shift side to side, pivot, etc. These shoes are like race horses in the gates. They want to get out there and do what they’ve been designed to do.

If you’re looking to experience a light weight shoe with Memory Foam insole then Skechers Sport Men’s Skech Air 2.0 Brain Freeze is a great choice. Wait a second! What’s that I see on Amazon.com? The Skechers Sport Men’s Skech Air 2.0 Zero Gravity? Might have to give those a try too.

5 FAQs with Certified Personal Trainer Eric Foxman

The other day, I set my video camera on a tripod, hit record and just let it go. My goal? To give honest, non-sugar-coated answers to some of the most common health and fitness questions. Watch my 15-minute video.

Slow Cooker Beef Tongue: It’s Really Really Good

Before you scroll down to look at the pics of the two beef tongues that look more like Chestbursters from the Alien movies, PLEASE keep reading. They were absolutely delicious and flavorful, easy to prepare and much leaner than I expected.

With our quarter steer that we ordered several months ago, the butchers from Lodi Sausage Company and Meat Market, threw in two tongues. I guess tongue is not popular. As a matter of fact, we asked them for the liver and a few other “throwaway” parts. The tongues sat in our basement freezer for some time, and then Heather pulled them out the other week and asked what we should do with them. Given that a cow uses its tongue pretty much non-stop, my first thought was to cook it low and slow in the crockpot. This was confirmed when we checked out some recipes online. My initial concern was that it would have an “organy”, “minerally”, “irony” taste. Nothing could be further (or farther) from the truth. The beef tongue was AWESOME! Tender and flavorful like filet mignon. No kidding.

We set the crock pot on Low over night with carrots, onions, celery, salt and pepper and a bay leaf. In the morning after letting it cool Heather sliced a small piece and took a taste. She almost literally ran into the living room and said “Eric, you need to try this. It tastes like filet mignon.” Tender, juicy and for you foodies out there, had a great mouth feel. It had a nice chew to it. Not grainy or slippery. Now, what to do with them? She sliced both tongues — sounds like it would hurt: ) — and put them into two containers. The first was for beef tacos. We coated them with some Mexican seasonings (cumin, Mexican oregano, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika and dried chili powder) and gave them a quick saute in olive oil. We served them in warmed corn tortillas with salsa, avocado and a little cilantro. I must have had five or six. They were awesome!

The remaining beef tongue was for our beef with barley soup. And yes, we used the broth from the crock pot. And no, the broth was not fatty. I had read a few online recipes where fat from the tongue seemed to be an issue. People felt that the beef tongue was fatty and the “juice” was too greasy. Not in our case. Maybe it was the way the butchers cut the meat or that these grass fed cows were just leaner? Either way, we did not have to skim fat off the surface of the broth.

There you have it. An unpopular and unattractive piece of beef that turned out fantastic. It made me realize again that we are so conditioned to purchasing and eating only certain cuts and parts of the cow, chicken, pig, etc. All perfectly cut and individually packaged. In my opinion, that really disconnects us from our food. And that is why the last chicken we culled from our flock was done by yours truly. It was a great experience.

So the next time you go to your butcher, see what “throwaway” pieces they have. You might be pleasantly surprised by what culinary delights you can prepare.

2 uncooked beef tongues
This is not a pretty picture. I was hesitant to include this pic because, let’s be honest, the tongues look frightening.

2 cooked beef tongues
After they were cooked, they didn’t look much better.

tender inside of cooked beef tongue
Now we’re talking. Here’s the payoff.

beef tongue slices
2 containers of beef tongue please. The left became shredded beef tacos and the right became beef with barley soup.

beef tongue crock pot broth
Let’s not forget the broth. That’s where the flavor is. Not some bullion cube. This is the real deal. All the flavor.

Time For a New Pillow?

How was your sleep last night? Not so great? Maybe you were cold. Or your book was at the exciting part? Did you eat supper too late? Maybe the food was too spicy? Exercise later than usual? Work late? Have stuff on your mind? These are a handful of reasons why we may not get as much restful sleep as we’d like. Or it might be as simple as replacing your pillow. Yes, you heard me. It might be time to replace your flattened out ten year old pillow.

Over the last few months I have been hearing that MyPillow advertisement on the radio over and over again. So maybe it’s a bit of brainwashing. But I’ve also seen and heard many mattress ads too. Like most of us, I decided on the cheaper and simpler of the two. Keep reading.

For some time, I had been feeling a lot of pressure on my face when I woke up. My cheek was getting absolutely squished. Was I sleeping on a brick? I also noticed extra tightness in my low back. Just to back track, sleep has been absolutely crucial for me as long as I can remember. Not only have I had a few sports related injuries that required me to rest and get off my feet, but I’d been in a couple car accidents 26 and 22 years ago, respectively. These were good ol’ fender benders where I experienced whiplash. For both I dealt with sciatica issues and some peripheral neuropathy for many years. That is why I consider myself a bit of an expert on shoes, chairs and pillows. So back to present day. After listening to me complain, my thoughtful wife, Heather, suggested that I grab one of the new pillows she bought for our guest room. Ahh, she’s always looking after me. Drum roll please. Problem solved. The moment I laid my head down, I was like “this is how it’s suppose to feel.”

Laying my head on the new pillow was like trying on a new pair of athletic shoes. Can you relate? You slip your old shoes back on after trying new ones and you realize your old shoes offer zero support and are so compressed they feel more like bedroom slippers. You’ve heard me rant in previous posts about wearing comfortable shoes and replacing them sooner rather than later. Some running shoes, for example, say you should replace them after 300, 400 or 500 miles or between 3 to 6 months. I’m on my feet for long stretches, so that is more difficult to calculate. There is little noticeable wear on the outside of the shoes but lots of compression inside. The same is true with your pillow. I’ve read that you should replace your pillow every 2 to 3 years, if not sooner. Personally, I think it’s entirely up to you. If you are uncomfortable laying your head on your pillow, that’s a quick clue.

Remember to take holistic approach. If you are not getting restful sleep you should also look at your workout routine, diet, etc. to see if you’ve made any recent changes. I can tell you that sitting in front of my desktop computer for too long makes my neck and upper back hurt. That’s why I’m going to end this article soon.

Hindsight is 20/20 right? With my old pillow I noticed that I was less settled when I slept. I’d roll from side to side. Getting restful and uninterrupted sleep is a key ingredient to your health and well-being. So before you spend serious bucks on a new mattress or make an appointment with your chiropractor try a new pillow.

Make 2017 The Year You Achieve Your Health & Fitness Goals

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2017! If you are you ready to make your fitness resolutions a reality then watch my video below. You’ll learn how to target your goals, stay on track and have fun along the way.

Give the Gift of Health this Holiday Season

Not sure what to get your spouse, relative or friend this holiday season? Give a gift that will make a positive difference in their life. Buy a package of personal training for that special person. Don’t stress out standing in long lines at the store or throw money at another electronic device that will be obsolete in one year or wonder if your on-line order will be delivered in time. Personal training is an experience and not just another thing that you pull off a shelf. A personal training gift certificate shows that you care about a person’s health and well-being. It’s also a great way to help someone achieve their fitness goals faster, stay on track, and have fun along the way. I have four private training packages to choose from. If you are having difficulty choosing, here’s some motivation. From now through the end of the month, you can buy any training package (1, 5, 10 or 20 sessions) at my best session price of $65/session if paid by check or cash. That’s a $15 savings for a single session and a $50 savings for the 5 and 10 session packages. For your convenience, I can attach a gift certificate to print out or email. So don’t wait. The clock is ticking. Happy Holidays! ❄️

Contact me today (608)798-0081 or balancepersonaltraining@tds.net

Happy Holidays from the Foxmans 2016

Happy Holidays 2016
photo by Natalie Senecal of Oh Shoot Photos

A Great Testimonial!!

Twenty-one months ago, I received an email from a prospective client named Nate. He said that he had two fitness goals related to the practice of his martial art, Northern Style Kung Fu. First was to improve flexibility so he could perform front splits (right and left) and possibly side splits. The second was to increase strength to aid in the combat sport of Lei Tai. He described Lei Tai as “the Chinese full contact version of MMA (mixed martial arts).” He felt that his endurance was good but just didn’t have enough upper body strength. Drum roll please . . . Mission accomplished.

I can’t say enough about training with Nate. He is patient, open-minded and hard-working. In addition, he welcomes constructive criticism, arrives early and never misses an appointment. What a winning attitude! Nate continues to make great strides in his fitness and I look forward to his weekly workouts. And without further ado, here’s his testimonial.

Eric is exactly what I needed to take my workouts to the next level. He’s not afraid to roll up his sleeves and customize training to increase my strength and flexibility for the martial arts I practice. I have had some lower back problems in the past, and Eric makes sure to put safety first in every session. Furthermore, he’s taken my non-existent bachelor cooking skills and turned me into someone who cooks dinner on a regular basis. Eric doesn’t quit when you leave your training session; he helps you make adjustments and live a healthy lifestyle. I have fun and look forward to seeing Eric each week. -Nate G, Madison WI

Nate G doing splits
Nate performing the splits.

Nate G martial arts demo
Nate leaping in the air at a martial arts demonstration.