Does your training lift you up, or beat you down?

Assessing how you feel before, during, and after a training session is essential.

Some things to consider while training:

  1. Stress comes when you don’t feel in control. After you’ve done the movement in a few training sessions there should be no stress associated. If it stresses you out or requires too much effort to complete, move on to an exercise you can safely complete.
  2. Rep count does not matter. This is exercise not a prescription or competition. A few good, quality repetitions are better than many partial or cheated ones.
  3. Modifications are good. Have trouble with walking lunges? Use trekking poles, or do them in place, next to something you can use for balance (couch, bench, etc.).
  4. Weight. Start light. Take your time. If you can move it easily, work your way up. When it challenges you, stay there for a few sessions to build confidence in the exercise, set or workout. Repetition trumps variety.

How do you feel after a set? Stressed, exhausted, out of control? Those feelings are to be, mostly, avoided. Anxiety, fear, and worry don’t lend themselves to repetitive behavior. On the other hand, elation, positive energy, and enthusiasm build confidence and pleasure, which lead to increased repetition.

  1. Find out what you enjoy and repeat it.
  2. Build skills in 5 or so exercises you can go back to on a daily basis. Developing skill leads to the ability to increase resistance and difficulty. Variety is not necessary.
  3. Remember why you are exercising: to progress, maintain, become more able/capable, increase energy, increase outlook, enhance performance in all areas, and improve both health and quality of life.

Forced oxygenation and deep breathing change your bodies chemistry. This is a bonus to strength training in a circuit format. Transitioning and actively recovering while training is a skill that once possessed, powerfully changes your approach to movement.

Until you have the skillset you shouldn’t seek out the pain and strain of hard training. Shortcuts lead nowhere worth going. Time spent in foundation building is never wasted.

Think of your fitness training as building skillsets to last a lifetime. Moving well throughout your life is more important than momentary glory obtained in youth.

Developing Habits and Fostering Change

I must admit. My posts here come from feelings, thoughts, and experiences in my own life. If they resonate, great, if not, that’s OK too. Life has its way of remaining internal unless we become brave enough to release it upon the world. Writing is my release. Working as a personal trainer, making fitness my career, and experiencing the highs and lows of helping others with what can often be described as a frustrating process has taught me many lessons. It is here that some of those lessons become examined in detail.

Self-analysis is essential. Questioning your decision-making process and your reactions to those decisions can help you understand the choices you make. This is a required step in changing, eliminating, or developing a habit. This can be heavy! Breathe and get through the task. It’s worth it. Remember, knowledge and understanding create leverage.

The art of thinking well isn’t easy, but it’s essential. And doing it well is a matter of essentialism—cutting out the extraneous, corralling the negative, focusing on the constructive instead of the consuming.

Ryan Holiday “The Daily Stoic”

Goals are nice, but habits are better. Feed the habits you wish to define you. Starve those that are holding you back. Be clear on why you want to change. Understand that the negative energy attached to your health is holding you back. It’s only fear.

As your coach. Your mentor. Your trainer. Trust me. Walk with me. Be honest with me. Do your best to make me believe that you really will walk the walk. Always present. Always forward. Forever optimistic.

 

How I Improve “It” Every Day: Base Fitness

The biggest question that is asked of me, and that I ask of others is what or how do you do it? This question is always hard to answer, because as a trainer/teacher/coach I have a strong understanding that everyone is different. Thus, I’m fearful of others diving down my path to achievement or success. Needless, I have found some very strong parallels in those that have continual success. For the purpose of this post, I will keep it fitness related, though it applies to success across all areas of life.

Time. How much time does it take? When I’m training to maintain my fitness, while also enjoying life (food, drink, etc.), one hour each day is my bare minimum. This can be one hour of running, or a split hour of biking and stair-climbing, or a tri-hour of biking, rowing, and stair-climbing. Focused movement, one hour. As an endurance athlete, my “quality time” is that which is spent training specifically for endurance. This is the time each day/week/month that I track to make sure I’m staying consistent. I do also spend 60-90 minutes each week strength training, but I only track that if it is specific to my endurance training (squats/deadlifts/lunges/kb swings).

How do you find the time? When I consume media, I’m doing my cardio. Podcasts, books, or the occasional documentary are all enjoyed while working out on the indoor trainer (bike), or stair-master. I really enjoy this. If I were to recommend one takeaway from this article it would be to find an endurance activity that is convenient for you (could be just walking) and do it while listening to a podcast, audiobook, or in the case of indoor activities, reading on your kindle/iPad.

Enjoyment. You’ve got to enjoy fitness for it to show. No way around this one. If you enjoy working out, and attend to that part of your life every day, it will show. For most people, this is the goal, for it to show… to be recognized by your peers, family, and friends as someone that has a certain level of fitness. You can’t fake this. It’s so easy for me to invest the necessary time, because I enjoy it, and I really really want it to pay off, either athletically, or simply in enhanced appearance.

Activities. The more you have, the more you can pull from, the more likely it is you will be successful each day. The hardest part of programming or writing weekly workouts is the rigidity. By nature, I’m extremely flexible in my daily fitness. I’ll have 2-4 things I can choose from to address my fitness needs each day. Usually, running is at the top of the list, but on occasion, that will get swapped for a workout on the trainer, a row on the concept 2, or a long climb on the stair-master. I like it all, so I’ve got options. Options = Success. Remember that by skipping a workout session, you skip the essential hour of exercise each day. When those skipped days add up, it’s pretty obvious why you aren’t being successful.

Correlation. Working out (exercise) is a fairly sufficient beast on its own. You can make some great gains in your strength and cardio by only focusing on the workout. With nutrition, you can also make some great gains in the area of weight loss by only focusing on nutrition. When you combine the two, and use them to keep you accountable and attentively to both elements, results happen VERY quickly. Starting both at the same time is a pretty strong shock to the system, but stick with it for 3-4 weeks and you will start to re-wire your operating system. You see, it’s all about TIME. How much you invest each day, each week, each month, and ultimately over your lifetime. When you make it quantifiable it is easily trackable. By tracking it, you can see patterns develop (both success and failure) and work to accentuate the positive behaviors.

Daily. With the goal of one hour of movement (aerobic based) each day, this will set you on the path to success. In addition, by starting to add some basic strength exercises: squats, pull-ups, and/or push-ups into the equation you also address the structural needs of your physique. Squats build and define your thighs and butt. Pull-ups build your biceps, back, shoulders, and core. Push-ups build your chest, shoulders, triceps, and core. This is the “secret” …. daily practice. When something gets easier, you can do a little more. Now, you are on the confident and success driven path. You’ll find yourself willing to set aside more time for these activities.

The Mind. This is the big one. Initially you must conquer the complacency of the mind. The mind seeks comfort and consistent patterns. Interruptions are resisted, but must come anyway. The body communicates it’s current ability. When your fitness level is very low, the body must be driven forward by a disciplined mind. Once these two work together, making daily choices on exercise and nutrition, which positive path to take, the success process takes form.

Engage in the process. Immerse yourself in learning about topics, people, and practices of successful, enhanced living.

Tracking: attackpoint.org

Podcasts: Tim Ferriss, Joe Rogan, Sam Harris, Tara Brach

Books: whatever motivates!

Be Tenacious!

Be Tenacious!
Live relentlessly. Progress continuously.

One of my female athletes, Kristen, recently completed a half-marathon. Kristen is one tough person. She is eager, enthusiastic, goal-oriented and accountable. Essentially, she’s a dream client. She gives honest, real feedback and asks questions, anything from nutrition, to supplementation, to body rhythms and rest. Kristen has also come a long way.

Like many other female clients, Kristen sought order and structure in her health. I find that women operate in extremes a bit more than men, and their bodies often are the representation of that extreme. The spectrum can run from super, rail-thin, nutrient deficient to obese, compulsive, coping behavior. The unifying factor with each of these women, and all the women in between is purpose. My initial job is to help define and represent purpose in relation to fitness training and exercise. If I can relate daily positive behavior and choices, to a goal-success that we’ve established, the “realness” of the association makes the lifestyle easier to accept.

Women are fierce in their self-representation. Using their intellect, career, passions, and life-balance to do so. Simply put: women seek to achieve objectives, which makes them such a joy to work with.

Getting back to my athlete Kristen, her goal was to establish control and increase her capacity to do. Meaning she wanted to be balanced nutritionally, to have energy to workout after a long day at work, to be able to do pushups and pull-ups, to be able to run 10k’s, half-marathon’s, and race sprint triathlons. Once we made the association (of fitness and life empowerment) the commit to change was solidified. The path to lifestyle change is best represented by the stock market. We want to trend upward, avoiding deep valleys, while investing the time needed to see fruition. When Kristen experienced failure or inadequate results in training she would always ask/wonder “how and why”. It wasn’t “I can’t do those” or “I can’t do that”. How and why are the two questions that continue to keep her on the path of relentless, forward, progress.

When Kristen lined up to run that half-marathon she had been living the lifestyle for one full year. The journey had brought her to the race start, not a year older, but a year better, a completely different person now stood waiting anxiously for the starting gun to fire. The race unraveled a lot like any new challenge undertaken. Ability, energy and enthusiasm carried her to the 9-mile mark averaging 7:45/mile, which is a great pace. Then, suddenly things changed. She got sick, and started cramping badly. It got so bad she passed out twice, falling hard onto the pavement and getting scraped up. When she came to, her calves were so tight they had to be massaged at the aid stations. Do you think she quit? No. She was tenacious. The previous year of problem solving and solution seeking had set her up to succeed. Kristen’s mindset was to give her best, always. Making it to the finish line, she was very sore, battered and a bit confused as to what had just happened, but ELATED that she finished!

In the days that followed we came to the conclusion that her diet was simply not supplying her with enough fuel for her active lifestyle. Her body also was lacking in minerals and electrolytes, which led to the cramping. These are easy things to fix moving forward.

Whether you think you can or can’t, you’re right. Having a “can-do” attitude and spirit is something that you have or you don’t. We must all do our best to cultivate a positive spirit that lives for the experience. It’s never a failure if we refuse to quit!

Always remember, you are better than you think you are and you can do more than you think you can. Now go do it!

Proper Self Care

If I were to ask you if you were a “type A” personality would you answer yes? I’m talking about career driven, high energy, self-motivated individuals. If so, you are a common client of mine as Type A individuals dominate my list. They also are my toughest customers because of their tendency to neglect self care during times of high stress, when self care would be most beneficial.

What is proper self care?

From wikipedia we get this definition, “Self care refers to actions and attitudes which contribute to the maintenance of well-being and personal health and promote human development.”

Let’s look at a day in the life scenario. Starting each day the focus should be on meeting your self care needs. Eat a light breakfast or snack , placing some fuel in your system so you can get your workout or training session in. Be in the moment during these workouts as it may be the only time all day when you can focus solely on your health and performance. Make a quick breakfast smoothie to take with you to work.

Doesn’t that sound easy? It is, but it takes practice and planning. It won’t be automatic, no matter how motivated you are, self care takes discipline, along with a strong valuation on the concept.

As your day unfolds you must schedule a time away from work, not a time to meet with others and talk about work. If you didn’t workout in the morning, this would be a great time to take 1.5-2 hours out of your day to hit the gym or go for a run. Some prefer this time of day to break things up so they can start fresh again post-workout. Another option would be to take a walk to grab a coffee or tea. Fresh air, sunlight, being outside for just a few minutes can do wonders for your sanity. Leave the smartphone at work during this time. Break the habits that have placed you in a imbalanced state of health and lost self care.

If you work off of appointments, which most of us do, make sure you are wise with your scheduling and delegation. Stretching yourself thin with late nights, weekends and early mornings may give you a sense of accomplishment financially, but the downside is that something always pays for that imbalanced state. Have a strict end time for work or at least for seeing clients. Some days won’t be perfect, but you will know where you stand each day… balanced or imbalanced. Learn to delegate. This will free up a lot of energy and simplify your decision making processes. Can someone else do it? Most often the answer is yes. Prioritize and vocalize your needs. We all know where we are losing time and efficiency. Work to correct this sooner rather than later.

After work. Come up with a strategy or system for disconnecting. Ask your spouse how his/her day went. Plan dinners. Cooking if it is a option for you, is a nice way to sink into the evening. Treat your dinners as nourishment. Choose the majority of your foods this way, avoiding eating for comfort and mass consumption. Again, slow things down. Wash the dishes, dry them, put them away. Make sure to hydrate. Run a bath, light some candles, listen to relaxing music. This is your life. Take care of yourself. The TV, computer, phone, whatever the distraction may be is not beneficial. Learn to engage with your environment and not merely spectate.

Sleep. Get some rest. By treating your evening in a similar fashion as I described above you will transition much easier into sleep. Darken your room. Lower the temperature. Read for a few minutes until you are ready to fall asleep.

If you’d like some help in nutrition and lifestyle planning, please contact me. I’m here to help. It’s my passion to see you living at your highest level possible!