Concentric vs. Eccentric Training

Let’s clarify 2 ways we strengthen our muscles: concentrically or shortening the muscle fibers and eccentrically or a combination of contraction and elongation of the muscle fibers. One movement shortens the muscles toward the body’s center and the other proceeds from the center. Is one more strengthening than the other? Before we answer that question, let me give an example to clarify the two techniques.

The most common example of concentric/eccentric load training is a bicep curl with weights.  When done correctly, by positioning the elbows in an isolated position next to your waist, the weight is pulled up from the waist to the shoulders, shortening the muscle.  This is concentric or positive muscle training.  The next step is to bring the weights back down to the waist. This is eccentric or negative muscle training. Both strengthen the muscles, just in opposing ways.

But which form actually strengthens more effectively? In modern day fitness it is common to think that strength is synonymous with concentric training; pumping weights to form muscles intodownload-1.jpg large, bulky shapes seen on the likes of the Incredible Hulk or Arnold Schwarzenegger.  Picture a professional body builder: they look very strong because he or she has “big” muscles, however compared to the strength of a ballerina, whose strength training is more specifically eccentric, pound for pound she is much stronger. And all this is done WITHOUT added weights!



Now, hold up!  You’re saying a ballerina is stronger than a bodybuilder?  Yes!  Because when the body is trained eccentrically, arms, legs, torso extended away from the body, the load is automatically heavier, which recruits as many muscle fibers as possible to move and hold the extended limbs.  Concentric training, on the other hand, only recruits the muscle fibers needed to bring the weight closer into the body.

To clarify, let’s go back to that bicep curl example. When the weights are pulled up concentrically, the bicep is strengthened and shortened, however when performing a negative (bringing the weights back down to starting position), both the bicep and it’s opposing muscle, the tricep, are used: the bicep to control the weight on the way down and the tricep to extend the arm at the elbow.  Moving the weight eccentrically then recruits a lot more deep muscle fibers to allow the muscles to move the weight down safely to avoid injury. These deep fibers are also needed to be strong and stable for daily functional movements.

Eccentric training, when done without weights, is not only a very safe method of training but it is the most effective strength training!  The other great benefit to eccentric training, as opposed to concentric training?  The joints and connective tissue are liberated instead of compressed.  It allows increased range of motion around the joints, which by definition is flexibility!

In the end, however, it would not be correct to point out the importance of concentric training to our program.  There are several instances where concentric training is vital and one is abdominal training.  Our abdominals play a very important role in core stabilization, spinal heath and correct posturing to name a few.  It is our role, as fitness professionals, therefore to strengthen the core in any way we can.

So it’s only fair to point out that we utilize concentric as well as eccentric training, but our focus: eccentric training!  To me it sounds like a winner!

For more information on the Essentrics® program, please visit:

(Principles of the Essentrics® Program by Miranda Esmonde-White)

What IS Essentrics®?

Essentrics® is a dynamic stretching and strengthening program designed to rebalance all 650 muscles, 360 joints, 208 bones including the surrounding connective tissue, organs and veins. By name, Essentrics® is trademarked by creator Miranda Esmonde-White to emphasize the focus on eccentric muscle training.

Using eccentric contractions (as we focus on in Essentrics®) one is training the body in an extended position: arms and legs extended away from the body instead of inward, thus pulling up and out away from the gravitational pull on the body. By training in this fashion it not only takes pressure of the joints allowing more range of motion (flexibility) but it allows the muscles to strengthen most effectively.

Essentrics® is such a huge part of my life, not only because I teach it as a way of earning a living, but mainly because it’s my WAY of life.  I never knew much about FUNCTIONAL training until recently.  After years of weight lifting (which included a stint in body building) and other forms of high-intensity, high-impact training, my body began to fight back in the form of aches and pains.  Afterall, using FORCE is not always the ideal way to work the body.  Essentrics® came at the right time.  It has taught me it’s more about function for longevity as opposed to form-a.k.a. BIG BICEPS 😉

And, as a former gym buff, I didn’t want to compromise the strength training component weight training provided. What I realized, however, was that I wasn’t compromising strength in any way!  On the contrary, functional training, such as in Essentrics® strengthens MORE since the muscle is in an elongated position.  In fact, “going to the end of a stretch” (more on this later) and working WITH our muscle reflexes is highly strengthening!

A caveat: you must RELAX!  Relax to strengthen? That can’t be right!  Through years of research, experts in their field have discovered that as we relax while extending our bodies outward, away from our core, it allows the muscle reflexes to “relax” or “override,” if you will. When our muscle reflexes relax, our muscles can stretch to full capacity, which in turn strengthens ALL the muscle fibers more effectively!

Think of it this way: imagine holding your arms in toward your body bent at the elbow for 5 minutes. Now imagine holding your arms out straight to your sides for the same amount of time.  Which takes more strength over time to hold?  No question the arms lengthened out to your sides! Training the muscles in extended positioning is more strengthening and as long as it is done safely, without added weight. It is considered the most effective strength training!


Join me next week where we compare the ever popular concentric muscle training to eccentric training!

Arms extended in opposition away from the core works the muscles eccentrically.

Reference: Essentrics® training manuals, Miranda Esmonde-White

I Hate my GUTS!


That’s it!  I’ve said it…I HATE my guts.  Hate is such a strong word, I know! But there it is.  I have had my guts since the tender age of zero and have learned that it is a finicky,

downloadspoiled brat who prides itself in being a HUGE FOOD SNOB.  “If you feed me that,” it says “I’m going to give you a big stomach ache, equipped with distention that makes you appear 5 months pregnant and TONS of gas!!” Anyone else been there?!

So what’s to be done about it? Here are some suggestions based on my experience:

  • Stop stressing out! Easier said than done but if your life isn’t in immanent danger (which it most likely is not) take a deep breath and put things in perspective.  You DO have control over how you feel at any given time.
  • Eat Healthy. At least embrace the foods that make you feel AMAZING not only physically but mentally as well; foods that don’t zap you of all energy and leave you with anxiety. Come on! You KNOW what they are;)
  • Exercise. Move that blood!  Detox your body and regenerate those cells!
  • Stop the MADNESS! Take time to just sit and be still without the obligation to those thoughts that loop over and over in your head.
  • BREATHE! Breathing long and deep lowers the blood pressure, tunes into that parasympathetic nervous system that relaxes the body and moves the blood, especially in the gut, aiding digestion.
  • Sit up straight or stand during (and post) eating to take compression off the guts and allow the food to pass through and digest more easily.
  • POOP!! EVERYDAY!! This is HUGE if you want to feel good mentally and physically. Utilize supplements if you have to but try to stick to non-addictive, natural methods.
  • Learn to love your guts and take care of your guts and show it the respect it wants (and deserves).


These are the things that have helped me manage my fussy guts.  And instead of loathing, learn to be grateful for the wonderful things your gut does RIGHT for the body!  Still having issues?  Read back into my previous posts on gut health!  And good luck!




What’s this BLOG all about?

I thought I would take a moment to comment on my BLOG. In the past my posts have ranged from gut health, to stress, to IBS to bone broth recipes, to fitness… whew! But you know what? This blog is a journey…my health journey. And sometimes with any journey, there are deviations.  Deviations that end up adding to the whole story: the story of health-inward and outward.

In essence, I write to help those of you who may be in a similar situation with their health OR to share knowledge gained through my fitness line of work.  It may be about how I’m feeling that day or what’s happened in my life related to my health or a tidbit I thought valuable enough to share. I hope you will follow me on my journey so you may learn something about yourself through my experiences.  And I hope to inspire you to go forth to be your best by FEELING your best!

Please comment on my posts, add something that may benefit others or better yet, share this blog!

Your partner in health,


My wonderful and supportive husband and children whom I hope to instill that anything is possible!

Disclaimer:  I have no intention of treating, diagnosing or leading you to believe that I am the ultimate authority on health.  I am a victim of my own circumstances and in being so I wish to share what I have learned with the intention of directing you through an alternative perspective. If you experience symptoms worthy of a LICENSED practitioner, I sincerely recommend you locate one knowledgeable enough to help you find ultimate relief.  Thank you!


Why am I so TIRED all the time?

It’s 3 o’clock pm.  Your burger and fries (and Frosty 😯) for lunch just deposited into your intestines, and now you’re ready for a nap.  The best thing to do is to grab a coffee, or that Snickers bar you were going to eat for that mid-morning snack—SO GLAD YOU SAVED IT NOW! WOO-HOO!

There are many reasons why our energy levels aren’t what they were in our youth. It could be poor diet, such as the example above (sugary foods wreak havoc on blood sugar, plummeting our energy levels). It could also be due to a food sensitivity. When I eat foods not “designed” for my body, my energy will diminish, mostly because when I reenter my “healthy” diet the next day, I enter a state of detox, which can cause low energy levels—almost like a hangover.

But, what if your diet IS on track, and you have a stomach of iron? There are a number of OTHER reasons why energy levels are waning, such as:  an under active thyroid, not enough fasting during the evening hours, or weak/tight muscles. What? How do weak or tight muscles make me tired? I work out several days a week; surely, this doesn’t apply to me?!

Your muscles, when not used, or stretched, enough (i.e., avid gym buffs), could begin to atrophy.  Muscles and joints are meant to move in every direction—EVERY DAY—which usually doesn’t occur in a body building state. (I know; I used to train like one!)  The muscle cells would not receive enough nutrients (due to insufficient circulation), such that they would starve and shrivel up (like raisins), compressing all of the muscles into a tighter and tighter mass, compressing the joints. Then, the connective tissue around the muscle, or fascia (think Saran Wrap), has to shrink down to fit around the shrunken muscle.

So imagine, if you will, a 4 year-old hanging onto your leg as you try to walk (which frequently happens to me, by the way). It’s possible to walk, but it’s much harder, and I have to exert much more effort to do so, making me tired. When your muscles and joints are compressed by a tight band around them (the fascia), and it is not lubricated as it should be, it’s harder to move, so it takes a lot more energy! Do that all day long, everyday, and you will be dragging A**!!

Have you ever heard of mitochondria?  The mitochondria are the little “power houses” of our muscle cells. If you discover one day that you just “aren’t moving as you did in your 20’s,” or your energy just “wasn’t what it used to be,” it could be a lack of mitochondria DUE to the lack of functioning muscle cells from atrophy.

So, what’s the solution? Movement, movement, movement! And, I’m not just talking about a walk around the block; I am talking about movement of EVERY muscle, EVERY joint, EVERY bone, EVERY DAY!

So here is the formula:


More CIRCULATION/LUBRICATION of joints and connective tissue =

More HEALING to every cell =

An INCREASE in functioning muscle cells =

More functioning POWER HOUSES (mitochondria) =

Yep, you guessed it:

MORE ENERGY!! (As well as much more fat burning, even at rest—BONUS!)

“So, Jill, I’m in pain when I move!”  

The solution? Unless you are having knife-like pains that are absolutely debilitating, or you are under doctor’s orders, you NEED to MOVE to solve the pain problem! As we go through our days and “baby” our aches and pains, we continue to stiffen the connective tissue, muscle tissue, and joints. Each and every day we don’t move, it becomes worse because there is no healing blood flowing to these areas.

“When you have an injury, you want to make those muscles move and have the blood circulating to help heal the injury.”

—Anik Bissonnette in Forever Painless by Miranda Esmonde-White

It may be difficult at first, but the more you do it, the better you will feel. And, the better you feel, the more you will do!

I am happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have regarding any, and all of my topics. I love feedback!

Be WELL today!


Reference:  Forever Painless, Miranda-Esmonde White.

Disclaimer:  This blog is not a replacement for medical treatment. Please consult a medical professional.

Posture-Why is it so Important?

When I was a young girl I was told constantly by my Mom to “put your shoulders back.” Does this sound familiar? I would roll my eyes and sigh; move on until she would say it again…(Maybe this sounds familiar, too??)

What I realized, as an adult, is that it’s not just as simple as telling someone to do it.  I know now why she told me to do it and I have to bite my tongue when I see my husband or kids slouching!

There is an abundance of muscles, joints, tendons and ligaments at play when it comes to holding your torso upright.  The erector spinae group is one of the most stabilizing, containing muscles that run the length of the spine, some from the back of the head, all the way down to either side of the spine.  Other larger muscles most familiar to us include: trapezius (traps), latissimus dorsi (lats), rhomboids, the abdominals, obliques (side of the body) and of course the gluteals, just to name a few.

Courtesy of “Wall Chart of Human Anatomy” by Thomas McCracken and Martin Griffiths.

These muscles, along with some others, help to support our spine from top to bottom in all positions, including holding our spines in the correct, upright posture.  If the spine is not held in the correct position because of weak or atrophied (non-vital muscle tissue) muscles, this can lead to many issues such as imbalances in the muscular/skeletal system, which in turn could lead to higher risk of injury, acute and chronic pain.

If our muscles are weak around our shoulders and upper back, the back will curve outward   and the chin will jut forward out of alignment.  Kyphosis (hunchback) is a degenerative condition, but for most of us we have what is called postural kyphosis due to slouching.  Most of the time this change happens gradually and goes unnoticed until one day you look at yourself sideways in a mirror and are shocked!

So what’s the big deal about slouching-it’s just so comfortable!  Well, besides looking like cavemen, it can lead to a number of health issues: imbalanced musculature that can lead to pain or injury, surgery and even digestive issues from protuberance of the digestive organs.

Improper Posture-notice how the head juts forward. Courtesy of Essentrics®

Also, when you are leaning over all the time your lung space collapses, which leads to less air, less circulation and less blood detox.

Have you ever felt anxiety?  Sometimes it can be simply that our lungs are compressed, not allowing maximum space for oxygen.  Stand up straight, raise your arms up in the air, take a deep breath, hold it and feel the stretch in the intercostal (rib) muscles then exhale slowly.  Do that 3 times and I promise your situational anxiety will be alleviated!

Daily habits can also cause bad posture.  In our modern society we sit constantly in front of computers, TVs, in our car, and in front of an IPad and IPhone that are all putting our bodies at risk for muscular imbalances and therefore incorrect spinal alignment.  Even our children are following in our footsteps in this digital world and will be the next generation of terrible posture, poor spinal alignment and chronic neck and back pain.

So what can we do about it?

  1. Body Awareness.  This is the most vital component to having healthy posture. Body awareness means consciously being aware of the postures you hold yourself in on a daily basis. How is your posture when you are eating,  working, or standing? Learning to be conscious of  body posturing will make you better at recognizing when you are not in correct alignment.  According to Miranda Esmonde-White, the creator Essentrics®, most people have such poor body awareness that slouching feels correct and standing up straight feels wrong.  That used to be me!  Now that I have learned how to tone and stretch my back and torso properly it feels so wrong to slouch!
  2. Strength Training.  We can only do what our bodies are capable of doing. If we have weak or atrophied muscles it will be almost impossible to have correct alignment and therefore correct posture. Strength training the muscles in your upper back and neck are necessary in order to hold your head in the correct alignment.  (One example of a back strengthening workout done without weights:  Take both arms up straight above your head so that your arms are next to your ears.  Pull your arms up to the sky and keep pulling to stretch the vertebra apart-imagine a slinky being pulled apart, allowing space in between the coils.  Keep arms up then push one arm to the back wall, engaging shoulder blade. Repeat the other side.  Do both arms together, pushing to the back wall.  Make sure you keep your torso from twisting and do not lean into your lower back.  Next, take arms out to the sides, elbows bent, palms up toward sky and push down toward the floor-opening up the shoulders and chest breathing out deeply. Repeat 4-5 times for a great upper back workout! See diagrams below. This routine and other similar routines are courtesy of
  3. Stretching. Along with strength training you should have loose, not tight, musculature.   If muscles are too tight that can also cause imbalances.  Try  gently rolling your head down your chest from one shoulder to the other to loosen up and de-stress.  Just move daily!

Now you have the knowledge and tools to improve your posture starting with the habit of body awareness!  With body awareness you are well on your way to looking and feeling younger and more confident!

Have a happy and healthy day!


References: Essentrics®Level 1 Manual-Miranda Esmonde-White

Let’s talk about POOP, Baby…

 Let’s talk about poop, baby

Let’s talk about you and me

Let’s talk about all the good things and the bad things that may be

Let’s talk about poop, let’s talk about poop!


Ok, maybe Salt-N-Pepa didn’t sing it quite like that but you get the idea (And now that song is stuck in my head!!) As uncomfortable (or funny) a subject this may be, it’s also a pretty serious one as well.  So today, let’s talk about poop!

If I were to show you a chart on poop consistency could you pick the one that yours looks like most of the time?  This chart is called a Bristol  Stool Chart and if you’ve never seen one click on the website linked here. (By Cabot Health, Bristol Stool Chart –, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Gross, you say? Of course!  But it’s necessary that you know what a healthy *#!% looks like.  After all, it ultimately determines the health of your gut.  So, with that being said, where are YOU on the scale?  The consistency of your BM should be loose enough to come out easily without straining. Too much straining can cause another list of problems including hemorrhoids or a prolapsed rectum.  Too loose and well, you will have a sore bum from toilet paper rash and maybe a few skid marks in the ol’ undies, how fun!!

And how often are you going? Is that daily, once a week or is it several times/day?  A healthy gut eliminates a few times per day but everyone’s systems are different. Also, elimination and frequency can be determined by your diet.  Are you eating things that are constipating frequently such as cheese, bread and milk?  Are you intaking too much caffeine, which can increase bowel movements? And then finally, do you have gut and bowel conditions such as IBS, Crohn’s disease or colitis for example that could increase or decrease your frequency and the consistency?

So how do we “fix” this?  The key is to get a diagnosis, if needed, and to know your body.  Know which foods trigger constipation or diarrhea with you and use them less frequently or eliminate them.

For me, having IBS can determine the consistency and frequency of my BM’s really stemming back to my most recent diet and supplementation. I take supplements that can help me on a regular basis, based on how my diet was that day (if I had a lot of constipating foods.) Once I began these supplements and eliminated on a regular basis I felt calmer, less anxious and I had far less distention in my gut (a common symptom of IBS).  These supplements include magnesium citrate, Milk of Magnesia and Oxy-Powder  by Global HealingCenter which oxygenates the gut, cleaning it out. I rotate through these supplements each night but take all of them with a tablespoon of Braggs apple cider vinegar in a full glass of water.  I also keep water by my bedside at night to stay hydrated.  In the morning I begin my day with several glasses of warm water with lemon essential oil.

If my gut seems very off and I am not going as I should or I am type I or II of the Bristol scale I may include Ginger and Fennel essential oils into my diet (I am partial to doTerra essential oils.)

So, I know today’s topic may have been unpleasant, and now you have a poop song stuck in your head to boot, but I wanted to emphasize how pooping on a regular basis with a good consistency can make you really feel on top of your game-mentally and physically!

Good luck and happy elimination!!


See!  Everyone poops!

Stress and Your Gut

I never feel like myself when I am stressed.  I am exhausted mentally and physically. I don’t digest properly, either.  A lot of times you hear people say when they are stressed they get an upset stomach or diarrhea.  The mind controls more of our gut and, visa versa, our gut controls more of our mind than we think it does.

As a dental hygienist, I remind my patients all the time that just because you go to an MD for your body and a DDS for your mouth doesn’t mean those 2 areas of the body are disconnected. Resent research has proven that the bacteria in the mouth has been linked to illnesses in the body-so why wouldn’t our minds have some sort of control over our digestion?

For example, when you have the flu, do you feel like working or studying and performing at peak?  No, your body is in a state of illness and is using all it’s energy to fuel our immune system to bring ourselves back to a state of health. Our mental energy is zapped and we cannot function optimally.

Experts say this is linked to something called the gut-brain axis.  According to Annals of Gastroenterology (Ann Gastroenterol. 2015 Apr-Jun; 28(2): 203–209.) it says that the “The gut-brain axis (GBA) consists of bidirectional communication between the central and the enteric nervous system, linking emotional and cognitive centers of the brain with peripheral intestinal functions. Recent advances in research have described the importance of gut microbiota in influencing these interactions.”

So my question is: is it our minds affecting our guts or the microbiota and gut environment affecting our minds?  In other words, what came first, the chicken or the egg?

I find that when I have more stress and anxiety, my stomach becomes upset. I have to be careful of what I eat and how I eat it. If I am in a good mood and relaxed I process things differently.  I don’t want to say that gut distress is all in our minds but it does have a lot to do with it.  The better outlook about what I put into my body, BEFORE I put it into my body, the better I will feel; a little like mind-over-matter.

So how do I destress?  Decompression time at the beginning and end of my day is key for me.  Exercise for me is one of the most important ways I prepare my body for the day. Circulating the blood and oxygen in the body helps to “detox” my organs, including the adrenals, which, when fatigued, can causes us to become tired, snappy, and grumpy, which in my case is true.  And at the end of my day I usually like to spend time with my husband, to watch a favorite show for 1 hour or read.

If it is hard for you to find a specific time during the day, find just a couple of minutes to just sit, without sound if possible, and take deep cleansing breaths, rolling your head down toward your chest slowly, stretching your limbs in all directions, including your hands and feet.  This short but cleansing movement and breath is great to rejuvenate mind and body and release stress. I would even suggest doing this prior to your meal before digging right in.  Also, eat slowly and enjoy each bite as you eat, allowing some digestion to happen first in the mouth so your gut doesn’t have to work so hard!

Wishing you a heathy and STRESS-FREE day!!



Taken from Clingman’s Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee.





Traveling with IBS


Last week I spent 4 days in New York City-fun, yes! but unfortunately my stomach had to go with me.  It can be more of a challenge for an IBS sufferer to travel.  At home it’s easy toIMG_1267 control your meals but traveling presents a lot of different challenges-not to mention changes in regularity.

My advice is to plan ahead as much as possible.  Find the supplements and foods that travel well. Be creative:  hard boiled eggs, homemade trail mix, veggies and fruits. I have even traveled with squash and salads on the airplane, not only does it save money but it travels well with little refrigeration.  Find out what you will have available at and near your accommodations: a mini-fridge, a kitchenette; nearby grocery stores? Does the hotel provide breakfast and what kind-full service or bread and jelly?

I may also loosen the rules to give more variety and purchase pre-made snacks such as KIND low-glycemic bars .  I usually tolerate them well even though they do have chocolate.  It’s the fact that they are only 5g of sugar, which is what I like as opposed to most “health” food bars with upwards of 30g of sugar per serving, no-no for someone with fermentation issues!  I also take with me plenty of protein powder.  I use RAW MEAL, which only has 1g of sugar per serving and is vegan.  It is loaded with lots of great veggies and sprouted grains, which are easier to digest.

So breakfast was covered.  The Airbnb I stayed in provided fruit, which I sprinkled with my “Nut-ola” (see last post for recipe!)  and a protein shake. It was great tasting, balanced and nutritious.  It even tided me over till lunch, which is great when fasting in between meals is best for digestion.

Lunch and dinner in NYC may be a little more expensive than your local fare but at least there are plenty of choices for eating healthy!  Organic food, salad cafes, vegetarian, vegan, meat eaters, whatever, it’s there!  But what about those places not as full of variety? That’s where you need to ask a lot of questions.  It’s in the restaurant’s best interest to provide and accommodate the best they can for their customer and it’s YOUR job to function and feel the best YOU can, especially while traveling.

And if things don’t work out as they do at home in a controlled environment, try not to stress!  Stressing can make digestion worse.  Try to remember to always take your digestive enzymes, just in case!  I always keep them in my purse for instances where I can’t control the menu.

And lastly, have fun!  Traveling can be stressful, especially for those of us with digestive issues but don’t let that take away from the wonderful and exciting experiences that come with traveling.  And for goodness sakes, when traveling to France, try that freshly baked croissant! Just make sure your digestive enzymes are in tow!


Have a happy and healthy day (and travels)!!