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.

 

The Absolute Minimum

Life, it happens. Work and family demands often interrupt our personal time for health and exercise. When this compounds from a single training session to multiple days or heaven forbid weeks, you have a problem. Time stops for nothing. Thus, the prioritization of self is truly not a choice. It’s a habit. Learning to say “no” is a skill that needs to be trained. When you respect yourself, others, in turn, show you more respect and understand your value.

Here are some tips to make things happen when you’re forced to modify.

  1. Have a list of “go-to” exercises you can quickly engage with. Ideally, these create a large oxygen demand, lending themselves to higher repetition training, via one continuous set, or multiple sets linked with short rest.
    1. Kettlebell Swings
    2. DB Cleans
    3. Squat Thrusts or Burpees
    4. Walking or Standing Reverse Lunges
    5. Step-Ups: weighted or unweighted
    6. Plank Mobility Complexes
  2. Short cardio bouts are good to implement as well.
    1. Warm-up for 5 minutes easy.
    2. Intervals: 10 x (:15 hard / :45 easy) or (:30 hard / :30 easy)
    3. Cooldown with 5 minutes easy.

Remind yourself to ask the question “how can I,” instead of stating “I can’t.” You can do it. Send me an email, give me a call, I’m here to help you implement, strategize and succeed.

Onward and Upward!

It’s Stupid To Be Safe

Note: This post was inspired by Maria Popova creator of BrainPickings.org. Fantastic site!

Everyone in this room is going to be gone pretty quickly – and we will have either made something or not made something. The artists that inspire me are the ones that I look at and go, ‘Oh my god – you didn’t have to go there. It would’ve been safer not to – but, for whatever reason, you did.’ And every time death happens, I’m reminded that it’s stupid to be safe… Usually, whatever that is – wherever you don’t want to go, whatever that risk is, wherever the unsafe place is – that really is the gift you have to give.

Amanda Palmer

Choose activities that allow you to go far. We can walk all day with no prior training. We can ride our bikes for hundreds of miles as long as our pacing and fueling is sufficient. We can run all day and into the next with a steady supply of water and a few calories.

If another human can do this, then you to have the potential to go way further than you’ve gone before. Much further. The effects of modern society, coupled with aging, have polluted our minds with endlessly questioning “why” other humans do so called “ultra” or “extreme” endurance events.

Having thought processes of merely entertainment, consumption, and leisure crush our innate desire to create, explore and take action. Now, more than ever, we need to create and inspire future generations to live lives filled clear direction and action. Driven by purpose and desire.

But however meaningless and vain, however dead life appears, the man of faith, of energy, of warmth, and who knows something, doesn’t let himself be fobbed off like that. He steps in and does something, and hangs on to that, in short, breaks, ‘violates’…

Vincent Van Gogh

I implore you to be conscious before speaking about another’s experience. Listen, process, and speak only if you desire to learn and employ whatever knowledge comes from your question. Wasted words to often appear in place of focused action.

Effective Strategies For Health and Wellness Pt. 2

The previous post was a bit of an extended lead in to this one. Now, onto the nuts bolts of applying and implementing knowledge.

Sleep/Wake:

  1. Get to bed on time. Put some closure on the day. Plan the next days events, including your workout time. Schedule everything.
  2. Wake up EARLY. Just a few minutes at first. This is step #1 in winning your day.

Nutrition:

  1. Schedule a cheat-day. Keep it the same day, no matter what your week entails. I like Saturday.
  2. Keep foods out of the house that are known culprits of indulgence: alcohol, peanut butter, potato chips, any and all sweet or savory snacks.
  3. Hydrate first. When feeling tempted to eat, or overindulge at a restaurant, drink a large glass of water first. Then, make the proper decision.
  4. Join or start your own group, for accountability purposes. Believe me, there is power in numbers when seeking to elicit change. Well established, in place, peer and work groups are great places to start. Who doesn’t want to make positive change?

Cardio/Aerobic:

  1. Think about activities you’ve been interested in in the past. If they’ve gone completely dormant ask yourself why, then decide if their benefit could possibly outweigh their cost. With a new mindset/outlook/goal you might be surprised at the answer.
  2. Get it in before the day starts. Four days each week wake up to that early alarm and start moving. I find getting it in before sunrise gives me a lot of power and momentum to seize the day. Start with 20-30 minutes for the first 6-weeks. Patiently increase your time each subsequent week until you reach that 50 minute sweet spot.
  3. In areas or times of inclement weather, or simply if you prefer indoor exercise, try utilizing media to make the time pass and gather knowledge at the same time.
  4. Seek enjoyment! The mind is powerful. If you believe what you are doing is improving your health, giving you more enjoyment, and increasing quality of life, you are more likely to be proud of it.

Strength:

  1. Keep it super simple (K.I.S.S.). No sense being overly creative here. The same exercises that worked in the early 20th century still work in the early 21st century.
  2. Be creative in your programming. Utilize ladders, timers, games, competitions, and keep track of your workout totals.
    1. Max reps in 10/20/30/60 minutes. Take 1-3 bodyweight exercises and do as many reps as possible in the allotted time period. Squats, lunges, pull ups, push ups, and dips work best here. Metabolic conditioning movements, such as burpees or squat thrusts are great as well, but don’t combine these with the other movements as they are most effective, in this format, when isolated.
    2. Kettlebells. Simple and sinister. Check these out, but be sure to learn proper form and technique. The best exercises are the Goblet Squat and the Swing.
    3. Deadlifts. If you’ve got a background in strength training, you’ve probably done a few deadlifts. Check out the form here, and then keep the reps simple. Build a solid base of 5-10 reps at 100-150% of bodyweight before cranking out super heavy sets.
  3. Rest 48-72 hours between workouts. Unlike cardio, it’s not advised to “lift” on consecutive days. You can get away with this in your youth, with hormones raging, but let commonsense play out and recover properly. Proper recovery insures we absorb these hard training sessions.

Yoga/Stretching:

  1. Do it. Once a week, minimum, spend 45-60 minutes breathing and stretching.
  2. Focus on the hips, low back, and shoulders. Breathing is everything here.
  3. The foam roller can be extremely therapeutic. I use it as a passive activity for my back and spine, but you can get extremely involved with it.

Search, Seek and Employ. The solutions are right in front of your eyes. Make the time. Make it happen.

Onward, Jake Lawrence

The Plan. The Process. The Commitment.

XF_IMG_7635

Follow your plan and you will succeed. Quiet the doubts in your mind. Understand that they are natural, and will continue to come. Daily, intentional engagement will lead you forward, onward and upward.

Discomfort

The awkward, uncomfortable feeling of physical struggle we feel when the workout gets hard is essential to growth. Most people seek to avoid this at all costs, but to do so is to avoid growth and progress. Be clear on your “why” before, during, and after.

“Working out” is your pure practice of engaging in lifestyle change and enhancement.

Discomfort never lasts. Comfort never progresses.

When it’s over. You won’t regret it.

Engage!

Training: The Long Run

Arrowhead 135 - Gateway
Proper pacing ensures successful racing!

 

With March upon us, many of you are probably finalizing your spring/summer/fall race schedule. Along with that schedule, of course, is your training program. Speaking to the marathoners and ultra-marathoners among us I’d like to give you some quick tips on the long run.

  1. Wear a HRM: heart rate monitor
    1. You can skip this for your tempo and interval training, but always wear it on your long run. Your races are long! Train at a sustainable pace, mimicking the pace you will run your race at. This ensures proper training effect, and smooth recovery for the following week’s training.
  2. Use MAF formula
    1. 180-Age. This will give you your effective training HR for those long runs. As an example, I’m 33 so my base MAF is 147.
    2. If you are fit, healthy, and have been injury free for at least 6 months you can add 5 beats per minute to your MAF. For me, this would make mine 152.
    3. Alternatively, if you’ve been injured, sick, or are relatively new to consistent running, subtract 5 from your MAF score. For me, this would drop me to 142.
  3. Use a HR range
    1. My range would be 142-152. This would be where I keep my effort at for the entirety of my long run. Instead of focusing on pace I’m focusing on effort.
    2. When you encounter hills your HR will rise substantially. Walk! Don’t become impatient. Keep accountable to your MAF.
  4. Communicate your intention
    1. Let others know what your strategy is on the long run if you are running with a group. They may stay with your pacing, or you may find yourself running solo more often.

Becoming more efficient at lower levels of effort will only help your racing. Making your hard runs hard, and your easy or long runs consistently easy/moderate is something many runners fail to respect.

The next post will be on fueling for the long run. Specifically, we’ll address how changing what you eat in the 36 hours leading up to that run will change your bodies fueling strategy.

Keep running!

A Call to Action

Fit. Healthy. Confident.

2013Superior100

A Call to Action.

Get Noticed. Be Different. Stay Successful.

Do you see how “fit, healthy, and confident” translates to “noticed, different, successful?” Now, do you think those words mean the same thing to all people? No. Everybody has a slightly different vision of their end-point. But, you can begin to understand that being fit and healthy will give you confidence. What might that look like? Well, to me it’s someone that stands out (getting noticed for being different), their presence is stronger than the rest of the group. A quiet confidence comes from knowing you’ve given yourself an edge over a vast majority of your peers (you are fit and healthy). You want success right? Well, take heed in knowing that by carving time out of your busy schedule and daily demands to “workout” and producing results from that time commitment is the ultimate representation of success. Make no mistake, physical fitness and the confidence that comes from knowing you are doing more in the same 24 hours that we are all given, is an elite edge.

Are you my ideal client? Do you want to be fit, healthy, and confident? Do you want to get noticed, stand out, and exude success? If so, I can help you gain the edge.

Your time is valuable. Unless you simply go through the motions day in and day out. Living the same complacent life as your parents, neighbors, or friends… a consistent acceptance of mediocrity. If so your time is not valuable. Your time is expendable. The throes of complacency have gripped you, wreaking havoc on your ability to manifest powerful images of success, and transform those thoughts into action.

It’s just a decision away. Stay on a health and fitness path (if any) that is not producing and eliciting, or do a 180 degree about face. Without decisive action you won’t make distinctive change.

In parting, you are closer than you think you are. You can handle more than you think you can. The future reveals an empty canvas of potential.

  • Focus on building an able body to take on and complete athletic competitions
  • Dial in your nutrition and obtain a complete understanding of your bodies response
  • Give yourself daily options to stay on the path of results and success
  • Maximum results / Minimum time
  • Give yourself an edge
  • Stand out wherever you make your presence felt
  • Become inspirational in your social and community circles

Mobile: 505.715.9316 / Email: jake@xclusivefitness.com / Local: Twin Cities Metro

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!

Balancing the Fitness Equation

Balancing the Fitness Equation

To ensure our health, wellness, and a steady progression, work and rest need to balance each other out. This is the same principle that defines many other areas of our life: financial, social, work, school… you name it.

I exercise everyday. Whether I’m in training for a race, or focusing on another area of my fitness, my weeks are littered with physical activity. For some time, I trained intensely almost every day. It was like a drug, or therapy, if I did not reach that lucid feeling of muscular fatigue I was not finished. For a period of your life, you can train like this. It was not stressful for me. I could handle the workload, and relished the pain, intensity, and strenuousness that each day entailed. This was my twenties. Entering the next decade I found myself seeking more balance in my life. Not simply a balance to my weekly exercise, but a balance in my life: work, social, physical, and athletic. Seeking to be “well-rounded” and diversified is a tough task. It’s easy to slip into the obsessive, single-minded state of goal achievement and optimization of an activity we see some success in. Hence, if you are good at working out, and you enjoy it, see positive changes in your self-image, you’ll make this a daily priority.

Motivation + Positive Feedback = Continuity

If I want to run a 100-mile trail race I’ll first sign up for that race. That commitment is the kickstart I need to start training specifically for the demands of running 100 miles. Otherwise, I simply go on with finding a balance in my daily life, which in terms of fitness is pretty much whatever I feel I need on that particular day.

If you don’t already love to workout every day, or even 5 days per week, you’ll need to make a commitment to develop these habits. Think of how many people you know, or have met, that run 5k’s, 10k’s, ½ marathons, marathons, or any other event that entails registration (buying a ticket J). Now, think of all those people (maybe yourself included) that hire personal trainers, and commit to scheduled weekly workouts. This helps immensely when establishing a bond with fitness and exercise. It works. Understanding the psychology of commitment is key. Once you realize that to commit is to begin, you can then move forward.

Looking at my week, during a buildup period to a ultramarathon, you would see running listed 6 of 7 days, consisting of a strong modulation of intensity, duration, and stimulus (hills, track, trails, road). Learning how to modulate exercise is the progression. The body thrives off of specific imposed demands. In a runner, this is essential to being able to deal with the stresses of racing. If I train to my strengths day in and day out I fail to prepare myself for vital elements of the race. I’ve committed, but failed to properly prepare.

How does this apply to the person seeking to enhance their image with 1 hour of exercise, 6 days per week? They must prepare. Simple preparation goes a long way. Knowing what you will eat, and when is vital. Setting aside a specific period of time each day to workout is essential. Eating well, and exercising never just happen. It’s a myth. No adult happens upon fitness. If they tell you they did, they are lying. Remember, motivation + positive feedback = continuity. If running 3 miles a day, plus doing 50 pushups and 50 situps elicits the results I desire, I’ll keep it up. Maybe after a month I’ll add another mile every other day and a few extra pushups and situps… this is gradualness. Assessing the feedback my body is giving me from my daily exercise I can then make adjustments based on my desired outcome.

Knowing your level of commitment and personal goals with exercise is mandatory. Opinions, distractions, snake oil solutions, and fad programs will constantly ping your daily life. There is absolutely no reason to get on their bandwagon. If you’ve been fit and healthy in the past, why then would you need, depend, or rely on raspberry ketones, green coffee beans, or the new 10-minute workout routine? See the message and use your brain.

Plan. Prepare. Prioritize. Balance. Achieve.

Discipline removes the element of surprise from the fitness equation. It ensures continuity, applies modulation to your week, and promotes change in the form of gradualness.

Success should never be a surprise.