Knee Injury Prevention Exercises

In December, I took a fall on my skis that resulted in a minor lateral meniscus tear and has led to 7 weeks of really slowing down my physical activity. Thankfully, the ole knee seems to be healing up quite nicely! As much as it’s a bummer to think about, there is actually no way to prevent injury. Things happen. No matter how strong someone may be, the body can only take on so much force, torque and impact. That being said, we can definitely mitigate injury risk by training smart.

A great way to stabilize and strengthen the knee is by adding a band around the legs and keeping the knee in a safe and stable position while moving through different planes of motion.

Give these moves a try and lesson learned for me is to avoid those powder runs towards the end of the ski day when the legs are jelly ⛷❄️ Heavy weighted goblet squat pulse w/ hop out (I used one 25lb dumbbell)
Deadlift with single arm upright row
Step back with fly
Jumping jack with overhead press

Meet Billy!

Billy with his daughters - down 40lbs! 

Billy with his daughters - down 40lbs! 


Billy joined the Wellness By Little family in 2015 on a quest to shed some weight, feel better and ultimately stop putting his health on the back burner. Billy is a devoted father to four children, husband and runs a thriving environmental law firm with his wife Amanda in Seattle. Yes, they are badasses. 

In addition to our weekly workouts Billy started a food log to track everything he was consuming. The feedback he got from me was to cut out the morning lattes and reduce his wheat intake. He happily took my feedback and from there, nothing was going to stop him. 

We did the math on the caloric intake of just the lattes alone per week and it added up to over 1,000 calories. Something so routine and mindless, yet over the years can take a toll on our bodies. It's one reason why even writing out what we eat can force us to pay attention. Eventually, as he got comfortable switching to drip coffee with almond milk he started to make the shift towards no dairy altogether and a wheat free eating regimen. 

Billy lost 40lbs in the course of 10 months and has maintained his healthy eating habits. Slow and steady realistic changes lended itself to where he is at today. He reports way less pain in his knees, ease of moving through exercises like squats and ab exercises and has ran a 1/2 marathon and now a full marathon too!  

When it comes to losing weight, it really is 80% nutrition and 20% exercise, especially as we get older and our metabolism slows down. The small day to day food choices that seem insignificant and often go unnoticed can either set us back on our journey towards better health or lead us forward to positive changes that bring us closer to our purpose. 

Looking fly for a white guy Billy ;) 


A Beautiful Obedience Towards Health

Ballard Session-0156.jpg

Wellness By Little means making those daily choices that we don’t get much praise for. The daily choices we make that seem boring. But these seemingly small, insignificant choices DO matter. When it comes to our health and well being it might look like denying our desire to oversleep and instead waking up for that early morning workout or when we reach for an apple instead of the chocolate chip cookie (or three... let’s be honest.) To me, this is a beautiful obedience. I fail often at being disciplined but there can be satisfaction, growth and transformation found we lean into the difficulty of stewarding our health and well being better. 

Lessons Learned at 13,310 Feet


It was when we turned the corner and the wind started blowing 60mph. Little BB sized ice pellets picked up off the surface of the hard packed snow and whipped into the small area where our faces were bare. It was like a million bee stings hitting our cheeks all at once. 60mph was the max wind speed before our guide would turn us around regardless of how close the summit was. He walkie talkied down to Paradise and the rangers reported back that the wind was not supposed to increase and it was safe to move forward. It was in that moment and for the first time in my life I really felt like I could die. I questioned everything. “Am I strong enough for this? “Do they know how dangerous this is?” “What the heck did I just sign up for?” “Do I trust my rope team?” “Do I even trust myself?” We were just 1,000 feet shy of the summit and decided to push on. 

In life we make decisions and take risks every single day. I strongly believe that if my life isn’t costing me something than I need to check my heart. Life is full of surprises, the unexpected, the wild. I’ve found rest in the fact that we were made for this wild. A life well lived is not achieved through the pursuit of comfort and happiness - of course we experience those things as humans but it is in the beautiful moments and the suffering that we are the most profoundly shaped. 

Is Hiring A Personal Trainer Actually Worth The Time & Money?

To answer this question objectively right off the bat, I think it depends on the person. There's an interesting podcast I listened to by Freakonomics on "What's The Best Kind Of Exercise?" In the podcast, they brought up gym memberships and how most people who become a member of a gym overestimate the amount they'll actually use the facility by 70% and this got me wondering... why? For myself and I know a lot of my clients, working out is more enjoyable when it's fun, different, safe, results driven and when you leave the workout feeling like you got your money's worth. 

I asked a few of my clients why they hired me and here are the top 5 reasons:
1.) To be pushed harder then I would push on my own. (They say that now!!) 
2.) To feel encouraged, motivated and to have fun during the session and throughout the week.   
3.) Accountability.  
4.) To learn how to move safely and have that second set of eyes watching form and biomechanics. 
5.) To have an intentional, focused hour with no distractions.

For the sake of not wanting to write a novel, I only want to dive into the last reason further. Have you ever gone to the gym or set out to do a workout anywhere for that matter and not made good use of your time? I know I have and I've seen it happen a lot at gyms. We get to talking to people, we rest for too long between sets, we take way too long to find the perfect Pandora station or God forbid we're busy taking locker room selfies ;). If you're like most busy Americans then efficiency is probably important to you. By hiring a trainer you are devoting a solid hour to working out your body in a safe, effective, transformative way. A good trainer will design a workout to meet the clients needs that day while still being an efficient use of time and focused in a way that will allow clients to reach their goals.

If you're thinking of hiring a trainer - do it! If financially its difficult to justify one-on-one training consider small group training as a way to bring the price down and still get that focused hour with people you enjoy spending time with. Did you know that 80% of American's claim to not meet American College of Sports Medicine's guidelines of exercising for 30 minutes a day/5 days a week? My encouragement to folks is to simply start. Do one thing differently this week than you did last week. Moving daily (even a walk!) improves quality of life and adds years to your life. And of course if you slip up that doesn't mean you have to give up. We all have our hard days. Have grace with yourself. Pick yourself up and keep going! 

If you'd like more information on training availability with Wellness By Little click here to contact us!

Workout Wednesday: Create Your Own Gym. Use Your Own Body.

Ellyn in Eastern Washington. Photo Credit: Stephen Matera 

Ellyn in Eastern Washington. Photo Credit: Stephen Matera 

Going to the gym doesn't have to mean you need to master the newest machines or lift free weights. Sometimes the only thing you need is you. If your primary goal is to lose weight or get strong, keep it simple by utilizing your own body weight to work out. 

There are hundreds of ways to challenge all systems of the body through body weight exercise. For example, the circulatory system is stimulated through longer duration, moderate intensity exercises such as running, jumping jacks, power skipping or even just jumping up and down or side to side. 

The muscular system, meanwhile, can be targeted through strength exercises such as planks, push ups, lunges and squats. Each of these targets specific muscles to improve strength.

Another benefit of body weight exercises is their inclusion of balancing components. When using machines, the body doesn't need to balance any weight because it can only push or pull the weight via the cable. Because the cable guides the movement, most of the balancing action is eliminated.

For example, let's look at the differences between doing a leg press on a machine versus doing a standing squat. The machine is set up for a "generic human," and a cable guides the resistance, thus eliminating any balancing possibility. With a squat, however, you're in control of how the weight is distributed by having proper form from your feet all the way up to the crown of your head. You're forced to balance your own body weight. The same principal holds true when comparing machines to free weights, as free weights still challenge the body to balance. 

There are many ways to progress any body weight movement, such as increasing the number of sets and/or reps. You can also shorten your break time, lengthen the duration of the exercise or add supplemental weight when appropriate. 

Get Strong Quick With Kettlebell Swings

If you were looking for a single exercise to care for the human frame you’d probably look for an exercise that helped us regain our posture from one of sitting hunched over to one that was upright, extended, and open. The kettlebell swing is an exercise that helps strengthen the body and can overcome all the negative effects of sitting. This exercise can also strengthen your heart and help you lose weight, too. 

Before you get Started:
To perform a proper kettlebell swing, you have to first master the principles of a proper squat. Meaning weight is placed in the heel, knees are tracking over toes, core is engaged and chest is up. Although these swings do not require you to take a full squat, the foundation is very important to have. 

How to do a Proper Kettlebell Swing:

From squat position, drive the hips forward squeezing glutes, core and quadriceps, bringing kettlebell up to about eye level. The kettlebell will raise with your momentum on the way up and drop with gravity on the way down. Allow your body to move with that speed rather than forcing the kettlebell to do something different. 

These swings can be added into a strength circuit. Swings are a great way to get the heart rate up in a short period of time because it is a multi-joint exercise. 

The Modified Push-Up

I will admit that push ups are one of my least favorite exercises to do. They are hard and it doesn’t take many to feel the burn. I think many females can relate to the fact that more often than not the push up gets neglected over other exercises. 

During my teacher training with SloBody yoga we talked about why men are better at doing push ups than women. There is a reason! If you look at where men are the broadest/heaviest, it’s commonly the shoulders and for women it’s the hips. Women can thank having to bearer children for that one! From a biomechanical standpoint when performing a push up the body is mimicking a second class lever system with the axis located at one end (the feet), the resistance in the middle (hips) and the force at the opposite end (hands pressing against ground). If more weight is located at the center point you can see why it would be harder to press up from a push up than if the weight was added to an end point such as the arms/chest. 

So here’s the answer. Instead of neglecting push ups, modify them! The most common way is to do “girl push ups” although I don’t love this method as it doesn’t support a full range of motion push up. What I mean by full range of motion push up is having the ability to bend the elbows to 90 degrees while keeping chest and hips parallel just like you would in plank position. Two things I monitor very closely with my clients is that they aren’t rolling up as if they were doing cobra position in yoga and that they are lowering down more than 2 inches from the starting position. If you can only lower down 2 inches before feeling like gravity will take over and you’ll flop to the ground then listen up! 

Shown here is a user friendly method to performing a complete push up with a little love from a resistant band! This modification allows for full engagement of the pectoral muscles, triceps, anterior deltoid, serratus anterior and the midsection as a whole. Using the resistant band takes weight off of the central point allowing a full range of motion push up, core engagement and the ability to complete push ups to fatigue which is a key factor in building muscle.

This article is featured in January's West Seattle Herald: