Even if you’re in great shape, back issues can still affect your life. For instance, health/fitness coach Emily Schromm is extremely fit yet still suffers from back issues when she sits for long periods of time. When working out, people tend to neglect strengthening key back muscles that the body uses for everyday activities. Weighted mobility exercises are a great way to strengthen those muscles that we most often neglect. Emily Schromm shares her favorite back exercise you can do anywhere.
Weighted Back Exercise: The Jefferson Curl
All you will need to for this back exercise is a barbell or a weighted item, Emily uses a weighted backpack. The suggested workout includes doing 3 sets of 5 reps.
- Stand up tall while holding weight with both hands in front of you
- Tuck in your chin
- Slowly bend forward, curling one vertebrae at a time
- Curl all the way down until you touch the ground
- Slowly come back up to the starting position
To create even more mobility in the back, try standing on a box. This will allow you to get a little bit lower and increase the exercise’s range of motion. Complete the back exercise as normal while standing on the box, but instead of stopping at foot level, bring weight down farther past your feet, off the edge of the box.
Improving Back Health
Incorporating back exercises into your daily life can help strengthen muscles and prevent future issues. You may also consider using tools like the Marc Pro Plus, which helps recover strained muscles, eliminate tightness/fatigue, and improve conditioning so your muscles can do more and last longer before they break down. The Marc Pro Plus is also able to provide significant and lasting pain relief for nerve-related back issues.
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If you’re like most people, you probably spend a good amount of your day stressed out. Stress can be beneficial when channeled correctly, but prolonged stress can lead to a number of mental and physical issues.
Cortisol and Stress
Cortisol and stress go hand-in-hand. When cortisol levels get too high, our bodies fall into a stressed, sympathetic state where they produce a “fight or flight” response. When cortisol levels are normal, our bodies fall into a parasympathetic state where they produce a “rest and digest” response. Keeping the body in a sympathetic state for extended periods of time can cause many negative side effects. Emily Schromm states that we should be in the parasympathetic state about 80% of the time. However, with all the stress in today’s world we are in the sympathetic state 80% of the time. It’s important to learn ways to deal with stress and teach our bodies how to calm down.
5 Ways to Lower Cortisol Levels
Health and fitness expert Emily Schromm shares her top 5 ways to lower cortisol levels.
1. Learn How to “Check Out”
One of the best ways to lower levels of cortisol and calm your system is to just “check out”. Try doing an activity that gets your mind off the stressor. For example, you can try turning off your phone, going to a yoga class, surfing in the ocean, or doing a workout.
2.Essential Oils & Flower Essences
Emily Schromm has found that these remedies are key at calming the body. For centuries, essential oils have been effectively used for anxiety and stress. One of the most popular essential oils for stress is lavender.
3. Improve your Diet
How much sugar do you consume? Eating high amounts of sugar can wreak havoc on your energy systems. Sugar causes cortisol to be excreted in larger amounts inflicting more stress on the body.
4. Recover from Workouts
If you aren’t recovering well enough from workouts, you’re going to make things worse. When you’re under recovered, cortisol levels in your system will be higher and you will be left more prone to injury. Emily Schromm uses Marc Pro to ensure she’s recovered after every workout.
5. Adaptogen Herbs
These supplements can help bring down cortisol levels, helping you to become more adapted to the stress in your day-to-day life. Adaptogens can help you better respond to stress by balancing and restoring normal body physiological functions. Some examples of adaptogen herbs include ginseng, holy basil, ashwagandha, as well as rhodiola.
It’s important to learn how to balance cortisol levels. Having cortisol levels that are too low isn’t good for your body either. Understanding your own cortisol patterns can really be key in making sure you live a healthy and happy life.
This quick, easy protein pancake recipe from Emily Schromm is the perfect meal for busy athletes or anyone who wants to add some more protein into their diet. Using only eggs and protein powder, it’s a delicious low carb, high protein alternative to traditional pancakes. This protein pancake recipe packs 40 grams of protein per serving!
Two-Ingredient Protein Pancake Recipe
- 2 eggs (depending on your type of protein powder you may need 3 eggs)
- 1 large scoop of protein powder
*1 TBSP coconut oil for greasing pan
- In a blender, add eggs and protein powder.
- Blend mixture until it reaches a smooth consistency.
- Check consistency of mixture. If it’s too runny, add in a little more protein powder or coconut flour. If it’s too thick, add in an extra egg.
- Melt coconut oil in hot pan over medium-high heat
- Distribute pancake mixture in pan. One recipe will make about 3-4 pancakes.
- Cook until you start to see bubbles form on the top of the pancake, then flip and cook alternate side.
- Serve pancakes with toppings of your choice. You can add in some extra good fats by topping it with cashew butter, almond butter, or peanut butter. Emily also suggests topping the pancakes with berries and honey.
Additional Tips from Emily
Cooking Oil: Emily prefers to cook with coconut oil. You could use avocado oil for this recipe since it also does well at high temperatures. However, avoid olive oil if you can since it doesn’t do as well with high heat.
Protein Powder: For this protein pancake recipe, you can use whatever protein powder you have available, but some will work better than others. Most people tend to have whey protein at their house which can be used, but since it’s derived from dairy it tends to not do as well with recipes. For this recipe, Emily uses an egg white and beef protein isolate.
In an ideal world, we would get all our essential nutrients through the food we eat. Unfortunately, food these days is lower in nutrients and higher in chemicals, antibiotics, and other unnatural substances. In the past, organic farming was the norm, animals were raised in grassy pastures, and processed food wasn’t readily available. With all the changes in the food system, supplementation has become a great way to make sure our bodies get all the nutrients they need. Fitness expert Emily Schromm shares the 6 best supplements everyone should be taking for optimal health and performance.
The 6 Best Supplements
If you don’t get enough sun, you’re probably deficient in vitamin D3. Deficiencies in vitamin D can lead to fatigue, bone and back pain, and a lowered immune system. Taking a D3 vitamin can help fight disease, improve mental health/mood, strengthen bones, and support muscle function.
Magnesium is an important mineral that plays a role in over 300 biochemical reactions in your body. Getting sufficient magnesium can provide relief from muscle aches and spasms, increase energy, and prevent migraines. Taking magnesium before bed can help calm your body and brain, making it easier to get a good night’s sleep.
If you don’t eat a lot of fish or grass fed beef, fish oil is a great addition to your diet. Fish oil balances the omega 6 to omega 3 ratio, which lowers overall systemic inflammation. Nuts, seeds, grains, and processed foods contain omega 6s so it’s important to eat foods rich in omega 3s to create a more even ratio within our bodies. Fish oil can also provide benefits for anxiety, cancer, eye disorders, and heart health.
Turmeric is great at lowering inflammation and allowing our bodies to heal, but the benefits don’t stop there. Turmeric has also been shown to improve skin health, protect cognitive abilities, relieve pain, and slow the aging process.
If you work out regularly, collagen can help your ligaments and tendons recover. Collagen can also help prevent joint pain, strengthen bones, improve liver function, and help repair a leaky gut.
Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant that resides within every type of cell in the body, unlike other antioxidants that exist extracellular. Glutathione can help fight cancer, protect from toxins, slow the aging process, and prevent a number of other diseases and conditions, which is why it’s one of the best supplements you can take.
Supplementation needs vary by person depending on factors such as diet, activity level, and unique physiology. However, almost everyone can benefit from Emily’s list of the best supplements to take for optimal health and improved performance.
The importance of mental health often goes unsaid. At some point in our life, most of us have struggled with anxiety, depression, or just not feeling good about ourselves.
How Diet Affects Mental Health
It’s important to realize that what you eat directly impacts your mental health. Our brain operates off the nutrients we absorb from food. Proteins, fats, and good carbohydrates are the premise of our neurotransmitters (the building blocks of our brain). Eating the right nutrients is an important component of mental health. Certain foods can help improve mental health while others can make issues worse, so it’s important to make sure you know how your diet may affect your brain.
Tips for Improving Mental Health
Tip #1: Gut Health- Balancing Serotonin & Dopamine
Serotonin is responsible for our feelings of contentment, well-being, and peace. Dopamine helps regulate emotional responses and contributes to our motivation, pleasure seeking behavior, and attention span. Balancing these two chemicals is critical for optimal mood and cognitive function. Both serotonin and dopamine are produced in the gut. Therefore, when our gut is in an unhealthy state, our bodies aren’t able to regulate and keep a healthy balance of serotonin and dopamine, which ultimately affects our mental health. Taking measures to heal your gut as well as seal any leaky gut potential can greatly improve mental health. Consuming certain foods and avoiding others contributes to a healthy gut.
Tip #2: Get Rid of Processed Foods
Did you know that processed foods, food dyes, food colors, and artificial flavors can all directly relate to anxiety? The additives, chemicals, and preservatives found in processed foods are shown to negatively affect gut health by throwing off the balance of bacteria and microbes within the gut. If you struggle with anxiety, eliminating processed food can greatly improve anxiety and mental health.
Emily Schromm’ s Transformation Story
Emily Schromm credits her self-transformation and confidence to the food that she eats. Growing up, Emily dealt with a lot of anxiety, self-doubt, and a lack of confidence. When she changed her diet and workouts, it all went away- which was huge for Emily. When you’re trying to perform and put the best version of yourself out there, there’s no room for self-doubt. Mental health is so important for being able to go out there and know that your brain is functioning properly, your memory is sharp, and you’re confident in your abilities.
If you’re dealing with any mental health issue, no matter how big or small, it may be time to start looking at your diet. There are so many benefits, especially when it comes to improving mental health, that follow when you start caring about the food you put into your body.
Fats can be very powerful for the body. More and more people are starting to realize the importance of incorporating healthy fats into their diet. Not all saturated fats are bad. There are many benefits of eating the right saturated fats, such as MCT oil.
MCT oil is a medium-chain triglyceride. Its fatty acids have a shorter chain length, which means that it is more quickly absorbed by the body. One source of medium-chain triglycerides is coconut oil. Coconut oil is made up of about 65% MCT oil. Often times, instead of consuming coconut oil to increase their intake, people will use pure MCT oil- which can easily be extracted.
Benefits of MCT Oil
- Instant Energy– Due to its ability to be broken down and absorbed by the body rather quickly, MCT oil provides an instant energy kick.
- Brain Health– A good percentage of your brain is made up of fatty acids. In order to keep your brain running properly and stay sharp as you age, it’s a good idea to include healthy fats into your diet. Medium-chain triglycerides are believed to be one of the best.
- Hormone Balance– Fats play an important role in the production and balance of hormones. MCT oil is shown to support healthy hormone levels in the body.
- Heart Protection– Research has shown that MCT oil can help prevent metabolic syndrome. By preventing metabolic syndrome, people are less likely to become obese and therefore have a decreased risk for developing cardiovascular disease.
- Digestion– MCT oil can serve multiple purposes in the digestive system. One, it is great at balancing bacteria in the gut. Two, it allows fat-soluble nutrients to be absorbed and utilized by the body.
- Weight Loss– MCTs are believed to assist the body in producing ketones. When your body is in a state of ketosis, it means that it is running off fats for fuel. Instead of running off glucose stores for energy, your body burns fat.
How Do I Start Using MCT Oil?
There are many different ways you can start using MCT oil. One of Emily Schromm’s favorite ways is to add it to coffee, smoothies, and tea. However, if your body isn’t used to MCT oil be sure to use sparingly- too much can shock your digestive system. Start with adding a teaspoon and see how your body feels. From there you can work on increasing your intake.
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What do you do when a health issue arises? At first sign, most people immediately turn to medications, prescription strength pills, or over the counter remedies. Have a headache? Take an Advil. Upset stomach? Just pop a Tums. However, food can be a very powerful tool for healing your body and preventing issues from starting in the first place.
Certified personal trainer Emily Schromm suffered from gut and skin issues for years. Once she eliminated gluten and dairy from her diet, everything went away- without having to turn to drugs or medication. Even if you haven’t previously dealt with any allergies or food sensitivities, it is possible to develop reactions to certain types of foods, such as gluten or dairy, after being able to handle it for years.
Why Would I Want to go Gluten & Dairy-Free?
Skin: Gluten and dairy can trigger an inflammatory response, which can lead to skin conditions such as acne or eczema. Also, the hormones found in milk can increase oil production in the skin and clog pores. By eliminating gluten and dairy, you may see drastic changes in the appearance of your skin.
Mental Health: Depression and brain fog are common effects of eating gluten for those with a sensitivity to it. Dairy has shown to affect people’s brain and mood. Many people experience improved mood, reduced mental health issues, and a boost of energy by eliminating dairy and gluten. Going gluten-free and dairy-free may be just what you need to feel like yourself again.
Gut/Digestion: For those who can’t process gluten properly, eating it can damage the lining of the small intestine, leading to a leaky gut. When the lining is damaged, this can cause digestive issues such as bloating, gas, diarrhea, cramps, and other symptoms like irritability. Dairy is also linked to these digestion problems and has been identified as a trigger of other digestive conditions such as IBS. Cutting out gluten and/or dairy can help relieve stomach issues.
Other: Many people with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease have found that their headaches went away when they stopped eating gluten. Since dairy can cause excessive mucus production, those who avoided dairy found that their sinuses and congestion cleared up.
Is Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free for Everyone?
Going gluten and dairy-free isn’t for everyone. It can be a very daunting process to take these out of your diet. Plus, some people’s bodies do well with dairy and gluten so it’s not necessary for all. However, if you are dealing with any of the issues described it’s worth it to at least try giving up gluten and dairy for some time to see how your body responds.
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“The importance of recovery cannot be overstated”
Why has recovery been getting so much attention in the sports and fitness industry? Athletes are realizing the importance of recovery and all the benefits it offers. With training today, athletes are constantly pushing their bodies harder and longer to keep up with the demands of their sport or their own personal goals. When we don’t allow our bodies to recover properly, they break down, drastically increasing the likelihood of injury. It’s during the recovery process that our bodies adapt to the training stimulus, muscles rebuild and get stronger, and we return to a state where we are able to give 100% again. Training is important, but just remember, so is recovery.
Emily Schromm shares that, “the Marc Pro has completely changed my recovery game.” Not only is the device extremely effective at what it does, it’s also easy to use. All you have to do it place the pads on the area you want to target, turn it on, and sit back and relax.
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Gut health is something that is often overlooked. Since our gut is the starting point for many processes within the body, it’s something that more people should focus on to improve overall health and well-being. When our gut isn’t functioning properly, systems throughout the entire body can be thrown off.
The gut is where all of our nutrients are absorbed into the bloodstream and delivered to our cells. When there is an issue with our gut, our bodies aren’t able to obtain all the nutrients it requires to operate correctly. Beyond that, an unhealthy gut causes lower levels of serotonin and dopamine, which is responsible for making us happy.
Signs of an Unhealthy Gut
How do you know if you have gut issues? Some common signs of an unhealthy gut are bloating, cramping, and distention after eating. But, there are also some uncommon signs of an underlying gut issue. For example, an unhealthy gut can also affect your mood, skin, immune system, and can even cause bizarre nightmares or vivid dreams, so you may not realize your issues are even stemming from the gut.
How to Heal Your Gut
1. Slow Down
Many of us operate in a sympathetic (stressed) state. When we eat, we’re often thinking about other things going on in our lives and don’t really think about the food that is in front of us. The problem with this scenario is that our body then doesn’t produce the enzymes and natural HCL that properly breaks food down before it gets to the small intestine. Emily’s biggest tip for people is to slow down. It’s important to remind yourself that you’re trying to break this food down properly so your body can put it to good use.
2. Incorporate Key Nutrients
Bloating and distention is often a result of intestinal permeability. This means that the lining of our small intestine starts to pull apart, allowing particles to pass through that aren’t supposed to. Emily’s three favorite nutrients to help bring the intestine back to its ideal state are glutamine, marshmallow root, and slippery elm.
While probiotics can help balance bacteria in the gut and provide many benefits, Emily stresses that they won’t do any good unless they have a good home. It’s important to make sure you don’t have any form of leaky gut or intestinal permeability before probiotics are introduced.
Emily Schromm has experienced firsthand and through her clients the benefits of a healthy gut. Spending more time on improving your gut’s health may be just what your body needs to feel better and function more efficiently.
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Marc Pro Athlete Spotlight: Emily Schromm
One look at what Emily Schromm has accomplished in the last few years, and you’ll wonder how she found time to do it all. She’s a CrossFit athlete, having come in First at The Fittest Games Amateur Division at CrossFit Center and placed at the CrossFit Games Open Southwest Regional in 2014. Emily’s also got a certifications list a mile long:
- Certified Personal Trainer for National Academy of Sports Medicine
- USA Women’s Sports Performance Coach
- CapLogistics Health and Wellness Coach
- CrossFit Level 1 Coach
- CrossFit Kids and Gymnastics Coach
But outside the fitness world, Emily is well known for her participation in various MTV shows. She was a cast member on “The Real World, DC,” followed by competitions in “Real World/Road Rules Challenge.” She won the Rivals II Challenge in 2013, which put her on a fast track to win The Next Fitness Star award from Women’s Health magazine in 2014.
You might assume that all these accolades are the result of strict calorie counting, but you’d be wrong. It’s not about quantity, it’s about quality – and that means getting rid of carbohydrates, embracing good fats and the right proteins. Emily will be the first to tell you that weight is just a number. Clean, healthy food provides the energy she needs to get through workouts at CrossFit Park Hill in Denver. We talked to Emily about training, muscle recovery and her go-to device to ease aches and pains.
Chat Session with Emily
1. What do you recommend for muscle recovery after a workout?
I cannot get enough of the Marc Pro [electro-stimulation device]. If my body is achy from working on my feet all day or if my shoulder is angry from too many jerks, I know that I can come home and immediately feel better after a thirty minute session with the Marc Pro.
Outside of my Marc Pro, I love arnica oil. [It’s] all natural, soothing and seriously effective for sore muscles. And…SLEEP. I must have lots of that. Magnesium helps greatly with not only muscle recovery and efficient ATP production, but – if taken before bed – [it] helps me sleep all night and wake up recovered and refreshed.
2. What types of physical training are you doing these days?
Not only am I training in hopes of [competing at ] CrossFit Regionals with my team, [but I’m also] constantly working one-on-one as a personal trainer and fitness instructor. On top of that, [there’s] the psychological stress of owning two businesses and working many hours outside of my one-on-ones. [It] can really add up and tie in to my recovery, which is why it is vital for me to get all the help I can.
3. When did you first start using Marc Pro?
I heard about Marc Pro by word of a friend who knew I was struggling with a former labral tear in my hip. I refused to do surgery and needed any other way to start the healing process. Along with proper rest, mobility and clean nutrition, the Marc Pro helped me in my full, non-surgical recovery.
4. What else do you like about it?
It is so easy to use; I don’t have to think about it! Even foam rolling can be hard to do after working all day. I don’t want to lie down and inflict pain on myself. With Marc Pro I can do it right before I fall asleep as I’m winding down.
5. Would other athletes benefit from using the Marc Pro?
Athletes need to stay on top of their game, and the Marc Pro is a fantastic tool to help you do just that. Recovery is the only way to keep your body happy, strong, and running for many years to come. Don’t let little tweaks and injuries affect your true potential! I highly suggest it to any athlete, any competitor, or anyone who is sick of those nagging aches and pains their training can cause. There is nothing more valuable than being able to take care of your body when needed.
Emily will be staying busy in the coming months. She continues with CrossFit training and running her companies as personal trainer and fitness instructor. She’ll soon be adding another accomplishment to the list: Fall 2015, Emily will be earning her credentials as a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner.
Connect with Emily on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.