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Going for Your Goals: Advice for Athletes

July 26, 2016 11:59 AM with Dr. Carrie Jaworski

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Whether you’re looking to adopt a new workout regimen or prepare for the next big marathon, it’s important to set fitness goals along the way. It’s not uncommon to run into injuries, feelings of frustration or a change in motivation. If you’re looking for strategies for shaping and improving your workouts, staying in the right mindset and more, join our chat with Carrie Jaworski, MD, Director of Primary Care Sports Medicine at NorthShore. She will take your questions and provide tips for staying positive and productive during your physical activities, preventing injuries and targeting your workouts for your goals.


Kathryn (Moderator) - 12:00 PM:
Our chat on advice for athletes is now open. You can submit questions at any time during our chat.

  Kay (Evanston, IL) - 12:06 PM:
I started running a few months ago, and even though I feel like I'm looking a little leaner (and my eating habits haven't changed), the scale shows I've gained weight. Is this normal?
Dr. Carrie Jaworski (NorthShore)
Hi Kay, This is actually very normal. As you gain muscle mass, the scale can increase. Don't worry. Even though muscle weighs more than fat, it burns calories 24 hours a day, so you will see the scale go down soon!

  Beth (Evanston, IL) - 12:10 PM:
I work out on a regular basis, but have started straining my calf muscle on-and-off for the last year. I started taking a magnesium/potassium/calcium vitamin and letting it rest after I re-injure it. I may not be resting long enough though because it keeps occurring. Any advice on what I can do on an ongoing basis so I can continue to work out as I want to?
Dr. Carrie Jaworski (NorthShore)
It sounds like you may need someone to look at how you run. Perhaps your gait is affecting how your calves feel. I will often have my runners obtain a video gait evaluation where we video them running and then give advice on how to improve/prevent injury. In the meantime, I would also add some calf stretches off the edge of a step or curb before and after running to help with the tightness.

  Latienda (Skokie, IL) - 12:14 PM:
Hi Dr. Jaworski! I injured my shoulder in April and since have been recovering from inflammation of my supraspinatus. I started off in PT, but have somewhat continued the exercises while increasing my yoga and swimming practice since I stopped going to PT. What is the "crackling and scrunchy" noise when I rotate or maneuver my shoulder throughout its ROM? Also, will I incur permanent damage to my shoulder if the "shaking" continues during certain points in my range-of-motion without strengthening?
Dr. Carrie Jaworski (NorthShore)
Hi Latienda, Sorry to hear about your shoulder issues. I would encourage you to continue your PT exercises along with the yoga and swimming. As long as there is no pain with the "crunchy" noises, you should be fine. If there is any pain, be sure to be seen by a physician instead of working through the pain in order to prevent further injury.

  Greg (Evanston, IL) - 12:19 PM:
What is the suggested rest time between sets and work outs for push ups, crunches, squats and bicep weight curls?
Dr. Carrie Jaworski (NorthShore)
That is a difficult question. It depends on how often you are working out. If you are exercising daily, then body weight exercises like squats, push ups and crunches are fine unless you are particularly sore and need a rest day. I advise you to increase the amount by 10% per week if you are new to these exercises. A standard recommendation is 3 sets of 10 for any weighted exercises. If you are trying to gain muscle mass, heavier weights with less reps is good. For more muscle endurance, lighter weights with more reps.

  Ray (Skokie, IL) - 12:27 PM:
How can I balance caloric intake while focusing on fat loss in the belly and muscle growth in arms and chest?
Dr. Carrie Jaworski (NorthShore)
Unfortunately, you can't really spot reduce. I would recommend you consider tracking your intake and exercise. It is really easy with any of the apps that are available nowadays. My Fitness Pal is an example of a free app that allows you to enter your food intake as well as your exercise. The goal is to have more calories burned than calories consumed in order to lose weight. As for gaining muscle, stay focused on your exercise while eating healthy. As you shed pounds, the muscle will become more apparent.

  Kenny (Niles, IL) - 12:33 PM:
Which "reward" will have a more negative impact on work out results: 200 calories of chocolate chip cookies or 200 calories of beer?
Dr. Carrie Jaworski (NorthShore)
Good question Kenny. In reality, a calorie is a calorie. Anything that your body doesn't need for fuel will be converted to stored fat. But if you have 200 calories to spare, you could choose either. I personally would reward myself with the cookies. Alcohol has a negative impact on exercise performance so it is more likely to affect your next workout. Although, everything in moderation is fine. :)

  Jackie (Evanston, IL) - 12:38 PM:
Is it better for my weight loss if I eat before or after a workout? I want to make sure I'm doing all that I can to get my numbers down.
Dr. Carrie Jaworski (NorthShore)
It depends a little on when you are exercising, Jackie. You never want to exercise without fuel (food). If you are a morning exerciser, it can be more difficult to get food in and, for some, to keep it down! In this situation, I advise something light like a banana with peanut butter or a small smoothie. If you exercise in the afternoon or evening, you will have likely had a few meals, and so a small snack will suffice before you exercise. Many people find that their appetite decreases after a workout, so you will wind up eating less at that next meal. Hope that helps!

  AC (Evanston, IL) - 12:43 PM:
I am 3 years out from chemo and radiation for breast cancer. I have been walking/jogging for almost a year to get rid of the weight I put on with treatment, and it seems to have gotten no easier since I started. I jog pretty slowly, use music and am trying an iPhone app to keep me going, but I get very short of breath. The first 20 minutes of on/off jogging are the worst of the 45 minutes. What can I do to increase my stamina? I feel like a failure. THANK YOU!
Dr. Carrie Jaworski (NorthShore)
AC, First off, congratulations on being 3 years out! The exercise you are doing is great to keep you healthy. I am wondering if there are any effects from your treatments on your heart and lungs. Often, the chemo and/or radiation can cause changes that may affect your stamina. You should check with your primary care doctor about having this evaluated by a specialist if it has not already been done. Assuming there are no residual effects of your treatments, then it may make sense to work with a sports medicine physician on an exercise plan. We do a lot to assist patients with their approach to exercise and with finding ways to make it a more pleasurable experience. Best of luck!

  Brian (Chicago, IL) - 12:52 PM:
Besides walking, how does someone who is pretty out of shape get started on a dedicated exercise regime? Do you have any exercise suggestions that are good/challenging for overweight people just getting started, but easy enough to not discourage them?
Dr. Carrie Jaworski (NorthShore)
Hi Brian, I would suggest you start by do something you enjoy. Walking is certainly one of the most recommended starting points but things like swimming, walking in a pool, riding a stationary bike and dancing are good too. Along with cardio exercises like those I just mentioned, I tell people to do body weight exercises like squats and lunges as well as exercises with light weights or a resistance band. You can search online for ideas of both upper and lower body exercises with the band. If you don't have a band, you can use household items as weights (milk jug, canned goods, etc). Start with a goal of 10 minutes a day and work up to 30 gradually on most days. The CDC recommends that adults get a total of 150 minutes of exercise per week but you can break it up into 10 minute increments and still see health benefits. Hope that helps!

  Sherry (Evanston, IL) - 12:58 PM:
Can my heart rate tell me anything important about how I'm working out?
Dr. Carrie Jaworski (NorthShore)
Hi Sherry, Your heart rate is usually a good indicator of how hard you are working. For most people, the goal during cardiovascular exercise is to be somewhere between 60-80% of your heart rate max. The heart rate max is calculated by taking 220-age. This is a very rough estimate and it is certainly very important to check with your doctor about what is safe for you and your medical conditions. If you are on medications this can affect your heart rate as well.

Dr. Carrie Jaworski (NorthShore) - 1:03 PM:
Thank you everyone for the terrific questions today. I hope the information was helpful. Be well- Carrie Jaworski, MD Director of Primary Care Sports Medicine

Kathryn (Moderator) - 1:03 PM:
This will be the end of our chat. Thank you for your questions. To learn more about sports medicine and athletics, or to schedule an appointment with a specialist like Dr. Jaworski, you can contact the Department of Sports Medicine

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