Thursday, July 30, 2009

Swimming is 300% more efficient for elites...why?

I've read a lot about swimming and referred my triathlete friends and training clients to writings and videos by Terry Laughlin, an excellent nationally-known swim coach. His program called Total Immersion has given me the most insights on how swimming can become more effiecient, less effort-full. The drills I've learned from his videos have helped me develop a better streamlined and more comfortable swim stroke and breathing pattern.

In short, I think Terry is great, and naturally, I was disappointed to not be in town for his visit to Cambridge/MIT last spring. He explained how recreational swimmers can try to bridge the gap between their inefficient strokes and wasted effort to swim more like the highly efficient elites: the Phelps and Coughlins of the world.
Thankfully, however, friends of mine at took a video of Terry's talk swimming efficiency talk ( at the Multisport World Expo. Several key points from his video:
  1. Comparing the performance efficiency of Land vs. Water athletes shows the propulsion vs. streamling differnce. Swimmers compare really poorly! Elites are 300% more efficient in their propulsion than recreational swimmers. No wonder Natalie Coughlin and Michael Phelps swim so much faster than me!
  2. By comparison, Land athletes (e.g. runners) have the propulsion efficiency difference of elites vs. recreational at only 20%. Runners don't get much faster by improving their aerodynamics, right? Running faster simply requires a bigger "fitness engine" -- muscles, lungs, aerobic capacity, etc. Take home lesson: in swimming, hydrodynamics are everything!
  3. Cooperate with the water, don't fight it. Practice easy and relaxed swimming. Legs should draft behind the body, not kick wide. The fuselage is your body and it must be steamlined. Fewer bubbles with clean entries and less fighting through the water is better. This is accomplished by rotating your body weight and pulling your body over the water rather than dragging it through the water.
  4. Synchronizing the hip twist and small opposite-foot kick is critical to good rotation and power. You can see a really good video demo of this by Terry on YouTube. Water is a dense medium -- 1,000x more dense than air -- so you can NOT just muscle through it. Swimmers must streamline their bodies from tip to toe. This will lead to efficient strokes, fewer strokes per lap, and easier swimming.
His talk is worth hearing (esp. part 2 which I linked to above, saving you the personal stories of high-school swimming that Terry shares in part 1. If you want to read more about stroke efficiency, tips for "Kaisen" (continuous improvement), and how swimming differs from running then click on those terms for additional articles by Terry at the website. All are excellent, recommended reading for swimmers!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Connect to SunnyDayFitness via Facebook Fans is now on Facebook, and you can follow us there as a Fan of the SunnyDayFitness page.

Joining the Fan Page will provide: updates in your Facebook Inbox about upcoming special events, bootcamp trainings, and much more from your favorite social networking tool, Facebook.

Sunny's Top 5 Nutritional Tips

I check labels and make informed choices about what and when I eat. But nobody's perfect, and sometimes I slip up ... a lot. See my Saturday log and how bad it got? I used to log my diet daily, even hourly to see what my hunger triggers and relievers are. Now I think a little longer term and have come up with 5 tips for better nutrition.

Here are my top 5 tips to drop 5 pounds with fewer calories and minimal hunger:

  1. Drink water. 2 liters daily, at a minimum. Start with a tall glass 12oz before every meal and another glass with snacks. Add more water by drinking every 5-10 minutes while working out whether with cardio or with strength. Yes, you'll pee more but you'll also feel full more quickly and feel hunger less often.
  2. Get green. Rethink snacks and look for veggie options like cucumbers with s&p or mustard, leafy green salads, steamed broccoli with a sprtiz of lemon. These are not on the shelves at CVS or Shaw's so you'll need to use pre-pack your snacks. Invest in ziploc baggies which microwave easily and small plastic boxes that won't leak.
  3. Grains keep giving. Complex carbohydrates are slow burners that are perfect workout fuel. Whole grain bread and barley or whole grain couscous salads will leave you full for hours, especially if eaten with a tall glass of water. The darker, chewier, and less processed grains are best. Try cooking a new/old grain like quinoa today!
  4. Nix sugary snacks. Fruity yogurt, begone! Unless you add the blueberries yourself, you're getting more corn syrup and sugar than goodness from fruit-included yogurts. And check the labels on so-called diet or nutritional bars also. Rice and cane syurp are common additives that only add quick-burn sugar to your diet. Use sparingly if at all.
  5. Keep one treat. In all things, balance -- if you too strict, you'll likely really fall off the wagon quickly. Follow the above guidelines 90% of the time and indulge a little, daily with your free 10% of the time. If you allow for a little 100-200 calories "fudge" factor you can more easily keep the rest of your diet squeaky clean.
That's the recipe for contentment and success! I use this to drop 5 pounds almost every summer and usually within just a few weeks. It takes cooking and packing meals, plus snacks, and several large water bottles, but it's very doable. You don't need to write it all down, but it helps -- just keep it real and honest. It's that hard look in the mirror that makes us able to see what's real, and grow from it.

Drop me a note at if you want to know more about a nutritional lifestyle for weight loss or healthy weight maintenance. I look forward to hearing from you!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Saturday: Food & Exercise log

I began with a good appetite from a 5-6 mile run from Stade Olympique back to the B&B. Starting with the residential Rue Rachel, which features a prominent bike lane, I ran west towards the southern route called Rue Prefontaine, perhaps after the famous runner (more likely a Quebequois politician). In any case, I ran down to the gay village's main drag called Rue St. Catherine. This road, filled with bars/discos/boutiques near the center part of the Latin Quarter, is rather industrial on its eastern edge. The only scenic section was the overpass going across a few RR tracks that while running into a head-wind offered full views of downtown. The bright sun and strong breeze motivated me to run faster down through the Quarter.

People on foot were not as plentiful at 10am as they were at 1am, but remarkably I was the only one running and one of the few not smoking. People smoke everywhere here, especially on the sidewalks. It was a little sad to see so much disregard for health, lungs, and a bright Saturday morning, but I was happy to return to the B&B with my non-smoking friends.

Looking for food after the run, I was pleased that it was pancake day at the B&B and my two palm-sized cakes were nicely crisped at the edges. Add to that some syrup, a banana, two berries, a cup of soymilk, a croissant with smooth, Skippy-style peanut butter (a Nutella-like indulgence), a cup of plain yogurt and about 3/4 cup of muselix with dried fruits and oats. Whoa, that's a lot of food! It was probably 600 cals total. I drank diet soda and ate a piece of dark chocolate (only 30 cals maybe) afterwards, and thought "I should get out of this sweet-feed habit." But no...I added some gummy peach hearts to the mix for another probably 80 cals, which were entirely unnecessary. Note To SELF: Eating to win isn't about careless excess, and the race I want to win is just 5 weeks away now.

So, I continued with a rather light mid-day meal (ham on wheat) and a 100 cal trail bar that tasted like fruity pebbles but claimed to be healthier. Evening meal in Ogunquit was a lobster stew with garlic bread, and lots of it. I should have gotten a salad! Then after the dinner we went for dessert and I had a wonderful, half slice of homemade carrot cake. I felt pretty good about all that except for the lack of greens. I only disappointed myself further by eating another 250 cals at 10pm in malted milk balls while driving back to Boston. Ugh. I have got to drop that late night sweet-eating habit! More on that in my next posting on nutrition...

Friday, July 10, 2009

Active Vacations

Time to travel means time to walk, jog, run, and bike around a new place. Whether in the country or in a city, Sunny is a big fan of seeing new places under her own power and not always from behind the glass casing of a car, bus, or plane. It simply makes sense to spend time and get exercise by heading outdoors.
And remember: Taking in local sights and scenes while getting a little extra calorie burn also has the added benefit of allowing for a little slice of apple pie cake at lunch or a few special bites of chocolate after dinner. Some start with a massive breakfast followed by a late, carbohydrate-laden lunch. For me, that just leads to a nap-crash in the afternoon. Instead, I prefer taking in local foods, as suggested in this poster: We sell LOCAL products HERE.

Drop me a note at to get started on a healthier lifestyle for weight loss or healthy weight maintenance at home and "on the road". I look forward to hearing from you!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

SunnyDayFitness - July Bootcamp

Exciting news! I am proud to announce that Bootcamp at Fresh Pond starts tomorrow with a few friends from my website and Facebook Page for website fan page.

Here's a preview of the location where we'll be running

After a Warmup featuring dynamic, fun drills like "Monster Walks" and "Crazy Feet" we'll progress to what I call "The half-pond run". Participants will choose which direction to run -- Right (Red 1.6 miles) or Left (Blue 1.0 miles) for a longer or shorter warm-up jog/walk/run. Hopefully everyone will be up for the running, but we'll see!

Then we'll move into Drills and Games, like "soccer runs" and "capture the flag". Next comes P & P's -- code word for drill combos that people love to hate: Planks and Plyometrics. Then comes the triple threat for the arms - Pushups, Jumping Jacks, and Dips. Finally, we'll end with Stretches and a walk back to the cars or bikes where we start the rest of our day. All this in just one hour, once a week, and for only $10-12 per session. Sounds fun, doesn't it?

SunnyDayFitness can Revitalize your Life -- click here to see Sunny's card and contact her today with your questions.