Thursday, July 27, 2006

Finding Balance

Small minds gossip, complain and blame others for their problems. Average minds talk about possessions and money. Great minds exchange ideas. On any given day I might fall into any one
of these three categories. Old ways and habits are hard to break especially when life is hard. Being that apple near the tree combined with other demons from our past make it difficult to change. Each day we're dealt a different hand. Each day we have to figure out how we're going to play that hand. Life is like a poker game because the same hand can be played many different ways. Some days you've got a good poker face and others you want to fold. Great players are capable of winning often, even with lousy cards. People with every advantage in the world, still find ways to blow it.

What makes life so puzzling, is knowing what the right choices are, and not choosing them. I know that eight hours of sleep is necessary for me to have enough energy to handle the next day, but instead I stay up watching Napoleon Dynamite for the fifth time. I know that eating chocolate at 11:30 at night while watching Napoleon Dynamite for the fifth time is not in my best interests, but I do it anyway. How do I leave myself alone when my behavior is less than perfect? And why am I controlled by my interpretation of perfection? For me it's a desire to not appear weak in front of people who are used to seeing me strong. One of my biggest fears during one of these less than perfect periods, is not knowing how long it will it last? When I'm happy I can't conceive feeling low. When I'm sad I can't imagine ever feeling good again.

Does the inability to make smart choices come from childhood stuff, biorhythms, brain chemistry, fatigue, daily conflict, stress or a bad fish enchilada? Who the hell knows. The more time I spend trying to figure it all out, the longer it will take to turn it around. If I could just beat myself up less and let life be life then the quicker I'll find a place of balance. My hope is to embrace these ups and downs. See the process less like "fighting demons" and more like gifts that can better my life. I often hold on too tightly to my rules. As a result, I don't notice when the rules are changing. Sometimes five card stud becomes Texas Hold em in a matter of minutes. If the game changes, will I notice, and when I win and lose a few hands, will it still be okay. I hope so.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Law # 11 ~ Food and Supplementation

You are what you eat! Food and supplements are your fuel. The right fuel supplies proper energy and recovery through balanced brain chemistry.

Even though my job title is Trainer and Coach, I put a lot of time and energy into Diet and Supplementation. We need Energy and Enthusiasm to exercise. That energy and enthusiasm is determined by the quality of fuel we choose. The Double Es (as I call them) can make or break your day. When they are strong, we are strong. When they waver, we falter. Your fuel intake is a key component to your success with Power 90 and P90X (and everything else in life). Healthy, nutritious food provides the energy you need to get through a hectic day. Poor food choices, aka “FOOD PORN” causes napping. Your choice. When you do the right thing, you’re sharp, ready, enthusiastic, and willing to take on the day. When you fill your gullet with processed foods and grease, trying to organize a sock drawer feels like climbing Mt. Everest.

Everything you put in your mouth—all the food, snacks, liquids, supplements, and even drugs (prescription or otherwise) affect the quality of your life. Excess quantities of low-quality food and drink can and will lead to weight gain, excess fat stores, heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and even things like arthritis, osteoporosis, and Parkinson’s disease. Recent research shows that this is only a partial list. A poor diet will affect mood, energy, strength, and destroy healthy sleep patterns (see Stress and Sleep). Recent studies have also shown that a poor diet leading to extra pounds increases your risk of cancer of the breast, prostate, colon, esophagus, ovarian, uterus, kidney, and possibly more.

Eating high-quality foods, combined with proper supplementation greatly reduces the risk and the possibility of developing and/or dying from such health problems. High-quality foods and supplements assist in lowering fat stores, losing weight, increasing energy, recovery from workouts, and maintaining healthy bones, muscles, and joints. Supplementation and eating well also reduce bouts of depression, sadness, and anxiety while promoting psychological well-being. The Power 90 and P90X diet plans show you what kinds of foods to eat and when to eat them. In the test groups I witnessed firsthand the difference between folks who ate well and took their supplements, and those who didn’t.

I take my supplements every day. My belief is that going without them is like going without water. They supply us with the nutrients required for living a healthy lifestyle. The vitamins and minerals in supplements work together with food to supply us with the energy we need to do a six-day-a-week program like Power 90 and P90X. Supplements are NOT drugs. A prescribed drug is taken when your body and/or mind is no longer capable of functioning normally. Supplements are taken to subtly assist the mind and body to reach beyond everyday activities.

When it comes to food, I have never been a calorie counter. I have enough things to think about, and keeping track of calories is not one of them. I’m equally uninterested in percentages, formulas, and “weird” combinations of different foods to trick the body into losing weight for a short period of time. This battle of overeating, eating garbage pretending to be food, and dangerous ways to lose weight is a nightmare. If you really care about your health then you must clean up your diet. If you consume high-test fuel, your mind and body run smoothly. Low-fat chocolate cake is NOT a healthy choice. Fat-free potato chips are NOT healthy either. Bacon for example, is not the best way to start your day. This stuff is FOOD PORN.

Don’t get caught up in all the fad diets and weight loss pills. Long-term success does not happen with Atkins, Slim-Fast, or the Coconut Diet. It happens when you consistently eat lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats. Showing up for six workouts a week requires great discipline. It’s also important to show restraint and discipline in your choices regarding food and supplementation. Our bodies don’t run on exercise, they run on the fuel we put in our mouth. You cannot substitute good exercise for a bad diet. Good diet and exercise have to happen at the same time. If you bring the same level of consistency and discipline to your daily fuel intake as you do the workouts, you’ll greatly reduce a lifetime of health risks, improve your overall quality of life, and see much greater physical change in a shorter period of time.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Law # 10 ~ Flexibility

Flexibility is the fountain of youth! Flexible people are much less prone to injury. Yoga and stretching allow you to bring more intensity to your workouts. Flexibility is the key component to becoming less vulnerable and more durable. Aging has a funny way of making everything we do harder. Staying limber and flexible is the way to prevent that from happening.

When I was a young lad there was no such thing as stretching, really. When I heard the word yoga I thought people were mispronouncing yogurt. Come to think of it I didn’t know what yogurt was either. Some kind of healthy sour milk. Nasty! (I love it now!)

Back in the ‘60s (yes, I’m that old) there were benchmarks that determined how fit you were. Push-ups, pull-ups, dips, sit-ups (not crunches), the 100-yard dash, and whether or not you could touch your toes. The first five items on the list involved strength and speed. Some kids had it while others did not. I was in the “did not” category. (That changed later). Touching your toes was a breeze for all of us. Even out-of-shape kids like me could touch their toes.

When you’re young (no matter what kind of shape you’re in) you’re naturally flexible and durable. Kids get scrapes, bruises, even broken bones, but it’s pretty rare for a young child to pull a muscle, and if they do they recover in the blink of an eye. Back in the good old days, the focus was on running faster and jumping higher. The only kids in my neighborhood that stretched were gymnasts or ballerinas. Try to imagine a stretch class for children in the ‘60s. Yeah, right!

Back in the day, proper stretching didn’t happen. For most adults it still doesn’t. Studies show that pulled muscles (due to lack of flexibility) cause as many people to quit their fitness programs as joint injuries. Back and hamstring muscle strain/injury can take as long to heal as a broken bone….or longer.

People hate to stretch because they say it’s too boring. They feel that stiff, tight people can’t become loose and flexible. They say that stretching and yoga are too uncomfortable, and they don’t see results fast enough. People don’t like it because it cuts into their workout time. I’m here to tell you that it’s time to rethink the importance of flexibility.

Stretching, yoga, and Pilates improve overall body awareness, enhance all aspects of physical fitness, reduce muscular soreness, increase skill and performance levels during training, and during athletic performance. Flexibility increases mental relaxation, greatly reduces the risks of various injuries (like back problems, muscle strains, and joint sprains), and slows the aging process in muscles and joints. Who wouldn’t want all that?

The only reason why people don’t become more flexible is because they’re not willing to put in the time. The axiom for other aspects of fitness also applies to flexibility: You get better at the things you do often. Stretching and/or yoga are equally as important as strength conditioning and cardiovascular fitness. Stretching and yoga can replenish the natural flexibility and durability of our youth. If you decide and commit to becoming less vulnerable through flexibility, you will also discover a calmness (much like meditation) that comes with stretching and yoga.

Flexibility is the Fountain of Youth. Give yourself that amazing gift. Here’s to touching your toes.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Birthday Workout

On July 2nd 1958 my mother gave birth to an 8 lb 11 oz. boy. On July 2nd 2006 that boy weighs in at 180.5 pounds. A whole lot of things have happened in 48 years. This planet and my world has changed in so may ways. As I look back and examine my choices along the way, it amazes me how lucky I am. There were thousands of options at various points in my life. I could have very easily lived in New England, got married at an early age, had three kids and worked for my Dad. That could have been a great life. Instead, I choose to go west in 1980. A phone call from a high school buddy changed my life forever. Living in California turned me into a fitness freak. The last 22 years of my life have been dedicated to finding ways to feel good, stay healthy and improve my fitness. Beachbody gave me the opportunity to share my journey with this awesome community.

It just so happens that my birthday this year falls on a Sunday. Every Sunday morning between 9:30 A M and noon some of my closest friends and I head down to the original Muscle Beach south of the pier.

Our two and a half hour workout is loaded with all kinds of gymnastic-like activities. This weekly routine has gone beyond basic pull-ups and push-ups. The Gaylord brothers Mitch & Chuck (Chuck, a nine time all American & Mitch, a gold medal winner in 84) have turned our workout upside down.

As a group we have proven that the human body is capable of amazing things at any age.

As the senior member of The Sunday Bunch I can tell you that hard work, time & patience is the magic potion for success and improvement. At 48 I'm fitter, stronger and more flexible than I was at 38, 28 or 18. It has been a long and mind altering journey. Not every step was easy, but each step has been worth it.

Health and fitness has been the fountain of youth for me, and many of you have discovered the same thing. As you make your way through life don't be afraid to open new doors and try new things. Stay curious, push the envelope, test the waters and trust that your choices will change your life for the better. If it can work for me, it will work for you. If you'd like to learn & experience how to live a healthy lifestyle then I invite you to join me at one or more of my fitness camps this year. Our Miami camp was a blast! You have three more opportunities in 06. New York in July from the 14th thru the 16th. LA in August from 11th through the 13th.And Chicago in September from the 15th thru the 17th. Everyone is invited regardless of fitness level; everyone goes at their own pace and everyone gets to share in the camaraderie, fun and laughter.