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The Sequoia Advisor
IN THIS ISSUE                                                                July 15, 2009 
  • Dumbbell Training 101
  • Ralph is 298 Pounds and Stuck
  • Thunderstorm Anxiety in Your Pets 
  • Important Help for Osteoporosis 

Feel Better... Live Better

Dumbbell Training 101
by Woody McMahon

The History of the Dumbbell

The concept of using an external weight to improve physical strength and
fitness is old indeed. The dumbbell as we know it, is the modern day
predecessor to the Indian club; a strengthening device that can be traced
back to ancient Persia
. The Indian club was a wooden bowling pin shaped
device that came in varying sizes and weights. These clubs were swung in
choreographed movement patterns much like Tai Chi. Generally the clubs were
used by a group of exercisers led by an instructor. The movements and
weight of the clubs varied according to the group's ability.


The Greeks Had it Right

Hippocrates has been credited with explaining the principle behind the
modern use of dumbbells and other weight training devices when he wrote
"that which is used develops, and that which is not used wastes away." His
statement is much like the modern adage "use it or lose it". Even
Gladiators in ancient Rome trained with various weighted devices that would
ultimately be used in competition. It is important to note that even back
then, it was recognized that a regular fitness program was beneficial to
the body and mind.


Dumbbell Use Today

Today there is a wide assortment of shapes and sizes of dumbbells to use
in your fitness program. Most fitness experts consider the dumbbell to be a
superior training tool because of its ability to impart total body strength,
balance, stamina and full joint range of motion. This is something most other
forms of fitness equipment cannot offer. So let's look at the multiple benefits
of dumbbells and why you should incorporate these simple, yet effective tools
in your exercise program.


Benefit #1 Full Range of Joint Motion
Dumbbells are non-restrictive when it comes to joint range of motion.
As an example, if you have a shoulder problem, a dumbbell can be lifted in
the "restricted motion" still benefiting rehabilitation and recovery from the
injury. Very light or ultra light weights can be used to regain strength until
the shoulder becomes stronger and capable of a full range of motion.


Benefit #2 Better Balance Stimulation

Dumbbells, by their very nature, force you to control and balance your
body as you lift. Incorporating dumbbells with other body motions such as
single leg balances, lunges, standing one leg presses and even BOSU
activities challenge your balance system like no other piece of fitness


Benefit #3 Asymmetrical (One Sided) Training

A single dumbbell is an effective Core strengthener especially when used
in the overhead or extended position. Unilateral loading (one sided) better
stimulates the muscles involved in "real world" lifting and carrying. This
type of training is important for any complete fitness program.
Asymmetrical (one sided) training also adds an important stabilization
component to your fitness activities strengthening joints and reducing injury.


Benefit #4 Remove the Dominant Side

Everyone is stronger on one side of their body than the other. Dumbbells
allow for independent strengthening of the weaker side by keeping the stronger
side out of the lifting motion. A more balanced muscular system allows you
to perform better at all sports and reduces the potential for injury to the
weaker side.

Not all personal trainers are created equally. If you have special needs then
your trainer should have special training as well. Contact us to discuss how
Fresh Start can help make the most of your exercise time by building a stronger
body the right way. With our program you'll improve balance, strength, flexibility,
energy and stamina while feeling and looking your best. Call Woody McMahon
at 703-464-5171 to schedule your free Fresh Start consultation. You can also
email to


Ralph is 298 Pounds and Stuck

by Woody McMahon

Why You Get Stuck
For most people losing weight and keeping it off is hard work. When you do
succeed, it is a great accomplishment and makes you feel like a million
bucks. Unfortunately, most people continue to try and lose weight the hard
way. Not using the right tools means you'll eventually get stuck and oftentimes
not succeed at all. Here is an update and some lessons learned from the
actual story of Ralph, (not his real name), and his quest to lose 180 pounds.
At 371, Ralph's weight had admittedly gotten out of control. To date,
Ralph has been able to lose a little less than half of the 180 pounds set
as his original goal. What a great accomplishment! But by his own
admission, he is now stuck. Ralph is at an important crossroads, a place
where many people arrive and few continue on. This crossroads is an
opportune time for Ralph to finally understand and solve his weight problem
for good. All is not lost however. The good news is that Ralph has been
able to stabilize and maintain his weight loss at 298 with no great swings
up or down.
Trying to Take a Different Road
When Ralph first came in, we sat and talked for about an hour discussing
his weight problem. After making several suggestions, Ralph knew he had
left out critical components
in his previous weight loss approaches and
needed to add three major healthy habits to his new program. First, start
an accurate journal of his activities, food intake, mood and other factors

providing valuable current and future accountability and insight. Secondly
he needed a better personal and professional support team. Support is the
key to a successful outcome especially in the early stages. Finally, he
needed to figure out why he was eating so much food. Not necessarily an
easy task but an important one to stop his uncomfortable relationship with
food. Adding these new components to his program would make it easier to
lose weight permanently.
What Really Happened
With all good intentions, Ralph found that his journaling was at best
. He had no record of his eating, activities or mental state to
look at and reflect upon. His support system that was designed to reduce
stress and provide companionship never really materialized. Consequently,
his stress levels continued to be higher than they should be promoting
overeating. The good news is that Ralph has been able to implement one new
healthy habit. He is taking more time now to figure out his unhealthy
relationship with food. He has started reading some books that have helped
him with this self-discovery process. Ralph now has a better understanding
of himself and his unhealthy relationship with food
How to Get Ralph Unstuck
Ralph is at a turning point and must decide where to go from here. He
wants to complete his goal of 180 pounds but does not feel motivated to do
it. He knows that long-term success means going back to basics and
integrating journaling and a support system that will ultimately help him
succeed. In addition, Ralph is going to try to meet his goals by using a
little success trick. If you find yourself stuck, try this success trick
and see how it works
Shift Your Goals
Many times it is helpful to just shift your goals. Anybody can get bored
with the same old approach. Ralph has decided to place more emphasis on
as his next 6 month goal. He has found that the extra weight
and lack of stamina and strength prevents him from enjoying some activities.
Better conditioning will allow him to play tennis and participate in other
physical activities without feeling "whipped" at the end of each session.
This strategy works well because shifting goals makes things fresh and new
again. Ralph can still lose weight because he will spend more time at the
gym and engaged in additional physical activities outdoors. The increased
activity helps lower his stress and reduces the chance of overeating.
Stay tuned for further Ralph updates.

When you are trying to lose weight, there is no reason to get stuck like Ralph.
Losing weight is easy if you follow our Fresh Start Healthy Weight! system. 
We provide the education, motivation and accountability necessary to reduce
your weight and improve your health while helping you feel and look your best.
For a free consultation, please call Woody McMahon at 703-464-5171 or email to  

Pets and People  


Thunderstorm Anxiety in Your Pets
by Ingrid King 

Few people are happy to endure the sounds of a severe thunderstorm,
complete with darkening skies, strong winds, flashes of lightning and crashing
thunder. Some people become extremely anxious while for others the fear of
thunderstorms turns into a full-blown phobia.

Some pets, especially dogs, are also affected by thunderstorm anxiety to
varying degrees.
While some pets may tremble, whine, pace or hide under the
bed during storms, in more severe cases, panicking dogs have been known to
destroy furniture, jump through windows or otherwise harm themselves during
bad weather. In either case, this type of behavior is the sign of a very unhappy

Fear is a normal response to a fear-inducing situation, whereas phobias are
irrational, extreme reactions in which the fearful response is magnified to the
point of dysfunction. Behaviorists are not sure which part of the storm
frightens pets the most -
the lightning flashes and thunder, the winds
blowing around the house or the sound of rain hitting the roof. Some dogs
even show signs of anxiety an hour or more before a storm hits, leading to
the hypothesis that they are reacting to changes in barometric pressure.

Many cats become nervous during storms and generally hide from the
disturbance under beds or in dark, quiet corners. Unlike dogs, they tend to
not progress to the phobic stage - they simply wait out the storm in their
safe place and come out of hiding when the storm has passed.

So what can you do to help your pet deal with thunderstorm anxiety?

Probably the best treatment is avoidance. If there's a place where your
pet feels safe, be it a kennel or crate or a finished basement that is
relatively light and sound proof, you can have your pet ride out the storm
in his safe place.

Another option is desensitization. This approach gradually retrains your
pet by exposing her to gentle reminders of a thunderstorm such as a
recording of distant thunder, and rewarding her for staying calm. The idea
is that over time, the response to the stimulus decreases.

There are a number of natural remedies that work well for mild cases of
thunderstorm anxiety. My favorite is
Rescue Remedy, a Bach Flower Essence
blend. There are 
other natural calming aids available, Holistic Pet Info offers
a good selection along with  some good advice on how to handle situations
that cause stress for your pet.

It is important that you remain calm when your pet is afraid. Pets
pick-up on your emotions, and if you're anxious, they'll be anxious as well.
While it's tempting to cuddle and comfort your pet during a storm, in your
pet's mind, this rewards the fearful behavior. It's much better to provide
your pet with a safe, familiar place where he can ride out the storm.

In severe cases, a visit to your veterinarian is in order. Your veterinarian can
prescribe anti-anxiety or anti-depressant medication to help keep your pet
calm during storms.

Ingrid King is a writer, Reiki Master Practitioner and owner of Healing Hands.
She publishes a FREE E-zine with topics ranging from conscious living for you
and your pets to holistic and alternative health topics.  Healing Hands provides
Reiki for pets and people.  Ingrid also hosts a popular blog, "The Conscious Cat".
She is the author of "Buckley's Story - Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher",
to be published later this year.  For more information about Ingrid and Healing
Hands, please visit

Help for Brittle Bones... Be Bone Strong!

"Healthy Bones Come From a Healthy Body" Woody McMahon

We have just introduced a new Fresh Start program called Be Bone Strong! Another
in our series of healthy lifestyle programs, Be Bone Strong! is the only complete osteoporosis prevention and repair program. Unlike other programs that just
focus on medications, calcium and vitamin D to increase bone density, Be Bone Strong! works to modify ALL the lifestyle factors that lead to poor bone quality.
Included in the program are:

The "Big 5 for Healthy Bones"

1. Dietary changes that balance protein with fruit and vegetable intake.
Fruits and veggies contain greater amounts of water, minerals and antioxidants with generally lesser amounts of animal protein to reduce total body inflammation.
2. Calculate optimum water intake for maximum hydration. Water is very important
in helping the kidneys regulate pH and detoxify the body.
3. Increase daily stress reduction activities. This helps lower cortisol and homocystein
levels while reducing calcium loss.
4. Establish year round vitamin D3 levels in the 50-80 ng/mL (or 125-200 nM/L).
This should be confirmed by regular 25-hydroxyvitamin D testing.
5. Safe and sufficient weight bearing exercise to stimulate muscle growth and balance. This is essential for increasing bone quality and preventing falls.


Test your bone knowledge and take our Strong Bones Healthy Body Quiz at


To learn more about Be Bone Strong! or to schedule a Free consultation, please go to and click on Be Bone Strong!.




Continued Good Health,


Woody McMahon

The Sequoia Advisor

Sequoia Health and Fitness, Inc.
483A Carlisle Dive
Herndon, VA 20170  

Required Disclaimer: The material provided herein should not be construed as a health-care diagnosis,
treatment regimen or any other prescribed health-care advice or instruction. The material is provided with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in the practice of medicine or any other health-care profession and does not enter into a health-care practitioner/patient relationship with its readers. The publisher does not advise or recommend to its readers treatment or action with regard to matters relating to their health or well-being other than suggesting that readers consult appropriate health-care professionals in such matters. No action should be taken based solely on the content of this publication. The material and opinions provided herein are believed to be accurate and sound at the time of publication, based on the best judgment available to the authors. However, readers who rely on material in this publication to replace the advice of health-care professionals, or who fail to consult with health-care professionals, assume all risks of such conduct. The publisher is not responsible for errors or omissions. 

Copyright (c) 2006-2009 by Sequoia Health and Fitness
, Inc.

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