Monday, December 31, 2007


The start of a new year brings a brand new outlook. A desire to change for the better. Optimism reigns while negativity cowers...temporarily. It's almost impossible not to have some sort of newfound hope and energy come January one. We look for ways to step up, so it's out with the old and in with the new. Bad habits and vices are put on hold, while plans to improve unfold. This ritual has been going on since the beginning time. We use the start of the new year to sweep our mistakes and shortcomings under the rug, so we can begin to work on becoming better people. We look at this fresh start as a means to become better humans. Happier, healthier more productive humans. Most New Years resolutions are personal. We look inside, search for flaws and make plans to improve ourselves. We want to exercise more because we know it the right thing to do. Some will stop smoking "for real" this time. You tell yourself that you're going to build that MDB business and become financially independent this year. These are I, me, mine resolutions.

Not that there's anything wrong with this, but most people's ME intentions and resolutions rarely get past March 1st. There are exceptions, and we've seen plenty of them right here in BeachBody Land. Hundreds of thousands of people have started their health and fitness journeys with Power 90 or P90X, and keep on going. Thousands are now reaping the benefits from building their MDB businesses. I salute you! I'd like to propose that you also try a little something else this year. I'd like you to consider being a better human being by helping other human beings. Instead of looking inward, how about going outside of the ME box and see if you can find someone or maybe a group of people to help. Rumor has it that altruism is the easiest and fastest way to find inner peace, happiness, joy and purpose. Serve others and in turn you serve yourself. When it's not about you, the pressure to change your life vanishes. Make this year's resolution count for something by helping someone other than you.

If you want satisfaction from your resolution then I recommend finding an organization that needs your help. I'm talking about getting involved with something other than fitness and your MDB business. Your business certainly helps your friends and family, but it's not charity work. Helping inform others about health and fitness can be tricky because it's critical that your advice is well received. Nobody wants health-help if they're not ready for it. Real charity work changes the world. When you change the world, you change yourself. It takes more than writing a check to I'm talking about seeking a cause and making contact with the people who need the help, or the folks out in the field doing the work. Everything from TreePeople (they plant trees) to church groups who help the homeless. Do you care about animals, the environment, clean local parks or rehab for Veterans coming back from Iraq? The really cool thing is that when you get involved with charities, you're not obligated 7 days a week like personal resolutions. Most organizations just need help 2 or 3 times a month. Do yourself and the planet a favor and see if you can focus less on ME and more on WE.



Wednesday, December 19, 2007

What The World Eats

Germany : The Melander family of Bargteheide
Food expenditure for one week : 375.39 Euros or $500.07 Favorite foods: fried potatoes with onions, bacon and herring, fried noodles with eggs and cheese, pizza, vanilla pudding

United States : The Revis family of North Carolina
Food expenditure for one week : $341.98 Favorite foods : spaghetti, potatoes, sesame chicken

Japan : The Ukita family of Kodaira City
Food expenditure for one week : 37,699 Yen or $317.25 Favorite foods : sashimi, fruit, cake, potato chips

Italy : The Manzo family of Sicily
Food expenditure for one week : 214.36 Euros or $260.11 Favorite foods: fish, pasta with ragu, hot dogs, frozen fish sticks

Great Britain : The Bainton family of Cllingbourne Ducis
Food expenditure for one week : 155.54 British Pounds or $253.15 Favorite foods : avocado, mayonnaise sandwich, prawn cocktail, chocolate fudge cake with cream

Kuwait : The Al Haggan family of Kuwait City
Food expenditure for one week : 63.63 dinar or $221.45 Family recipe: Chicken biryani with basmati rice

Mexico : The Casales family of Cuernavaca
Food expenditure for one week : 1,862.78 Mexican Pesos or $189.09 Favorite foods: pizza, crab, pasta, chicken

China : The Dong family of Beijing
Food expenditure for one week : 1,233.76 Yuan or $155.06 Favorite foods: fried shredded pork with sweet and sour sauce

Poland : The Sobczynscy family of Konstancin-Jeziorna
Food expenditure for one week : 582.48 Zlotys or $151.27 Family recipe : Pig's knuckles with carrots, celery and parsnips

United States : The Caven family of California
Food expenditure for one week : $159.18 Favorite foods: beef stew, berry yogurt sundae, clam chowder, ice cream

Egypt : The Ahmed family of Cairo
Food expenditure for one week : 387.85 Egyptian Pounds or $68.53 Family recipe: Okra and mutton

Mongolia : The Batsuuri family of Ulaanbaatar
Food expenditure for one week : 41,985.85 togrogs or $40.02 Family recipe: Mutton dumplings

Ecuador : The Ayme family of Tingo
Food expenditure for one week : $31.55 Family recipe: Potato soup with cabbage

Bhutan : The Namgay family of Shingkhey Village
Food expenditure for one week : 224.93 ngultrum or $5.03 Family recipe: Mushroom, cheese and pork

Chad : The Aboubakar family of Breidjing Camp
Food expenditure for one week : 685 CFA Francs or $1.23 Favorite foods : soup with fresh sheep meat

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Horton Holiday Travel Tips

People commonly fall off the fitness wagon during holidays. Don't do it! Prepare with these pre-trip tips to help you enjoy a healthy holiday celebration:

Pre Trip Prep Tip:
Pack Smart. Bring your resistance bands, a jump rope, healthy protein bars and a sturdy leak-proof empty (for security reasons) water bottle.

At the Airport:
Take the stairs often. Escalator schmescalator!!! Use the stairs whenever possible. If you’ve got a long lay over – climb a long staircase a couple of times or powerwalk through those terminals. Your legs will love the release after being cramped up, back in coach.

Fly the Hydrated Skies:
Pack the empty water bottle with your carry-on (you can fill it after you pass security). Airplane air is desert-dry. Much of the “jet lag” people experience is actually dehydration. So indulge in the H2O before, during and after your flight and you’ll be amazed at how much better you feel.

Pack the Protein:
Eating several small healthy meals througout the day is key to good nutrition, and almost impossible to do when travelling – unless you bring your own. So stash some healthy bars in your carry-on, and even if the flight is turbulent, your blood sugar won’t be.

While Visiting:
Sweat it out. Exercising at least 20 minutes a day is a great way to burn off the family stress. You can do plenty with resistance bands, your rope and a sturdy chair – so get creative! Can you say UML? It’ll keep your mood up and your weight down.

Check the Holiday Cheer:
Holiday drinks such as eggnog, peppermint schnapps, hot rum and the like are loaded with calories. If you treat them as deserts in liquid form, you’ll have fewer surpises the next time you step on the scale.

Get Jerky:
Healthy between-meal snacks may be even harder to find at your relatives than at the airport! So have plenty of those protein bars available and try stashing some natural Turkey Jerky in your parka in case of emergencies. Reaching for them before the chocolate or fruit cake will keep your appetite (and your mood) at an even keel.

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 03, 2007

P90X+ Hybrid Workout

I was talking with the ripped wonder Mark Briggs today and he was telling me about his new P90X+ hybrid configuration. He shared it with some folks at an MDB event, and I asked him to send it to me so more of you could see it. Looks like P90X+ will be available just before Christmas, so with a little help from Mark you'll know how to mix and match it with P90X.

Thanks Mark!

The Warmup:
1. Burpee Salutations (6 cycles)
2. Side Lunge Reach Back (stationary feet loading dock w/Bella twist) 30 sec per side
3. Squat Rock and Reach (15 reps)
4. Walking Crescent Lunges (1 minute)
5. No Pushup Divebombers
6. Swimmer Sprints (belly to back, every 10 reps for 1 minute)
7. The Cyclone (tip toes - 30 sec. each direction)
8. Run - Jack - Twist (1 min. total - 20 seconds per phase)

The Workout:
1. Iso-Climber Pushup (hold plank/chaturanga/knee to forehead) 1 minute
2. Standing X-Crunch (10 per side)
3. Mr. Moon (switch front/reverse) 30 seconds per leg
4. Jab/Cross (30 seconds per side)
5. Pushup O’Crunch - 1 minute
6. Scorpion Plank w/Twist (10 reps per side) from plank or forearms
7. Sumo Chair - 1 minute
8. Hook/Uppercut - 30 seconds per side
9. Combat Pushup - (military iso - left/center/right) 1 minute
10. Banana Mason - 1 minute
11. Hortonhead Hammers - 1 minute (turn/touch the floor/jump)
12. Front Kicks - 30 seconds per leg

****************WATER BREAK - 45 Seconds**********************

13. Frog Pushups - 1 minute
14. Warrior Bow (10 reps per side)
15. Russian Rubel Squat (15 per side)
16. Briggs Kicks - 30 seconds per side (side speed kicks)
17. Spiderman Pushups - 1 minute
18. Spread leg banana cannonball - 1 minute
19. 4 Position Squats - (close/medium/wide/super wide) 1 minute
20. Surfer Twist Jumps - 30 seconds
21. Kid Play (2 reps per position) 1 minute
22. Cherry Bomb - 1 minute
23. Squat Knee Raise - 30 seconds
24. The Gladiator - 30 seconds per side (show mod. Without jump)

The Cooldown and Stretch: 5 minutes of light cardio and stretching

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

What Can Other Countries Teach Us About Eating Right?

Ever notice how people in some countries never seem to get the same diseases we do?

The secret is in what they eat.
By Mehmet Oz

In spite of all the bad news about Americans' health, the truth is that we have one of the highest life expectancies in the world, 77.9 years. (Andorra has the highest, 83.5.) But there's a caveat: A big part of why we live so long is that we're good at treating what you might call lifestyle diseases -- things like high blood pressure and diabetes. It turns out that there are places in the world where people live about as long as we do without needing fancy medicine or surgery. We can learn from them.

Costa Rica's Nicoya Peninsula
Fruit every day -- especially papaya, which you can now get year- round in the U.S. Papaya contains enzymes that help break down food in the stomach, which lets you absorb more nutrients. It's also a prebiotic, which means it promotes the growth of good bacteria in the gut. Bonus tip: The staple food in Nicoya is a mix of corn and beans. Replace the corn with quinoa, a protein-rich seed from South America, and you've got what I call a perfect meal: rich in protein, complex carbs, fiber, and vitamins.

Sardinian wine from the Nuoro region contains five to ten times the procyanidins -- powerful antioxidants with cardiovascular benefits -- of most other varieties. Look for it next time you're at the wineshop. Bonus tip: Many Sardinians farm their own food, including naturally grazed meat. It doesn't just taste better, it's also better for you, because it contains omega-3 fats that feedlot meat doesn't. Buy grass-fed beef whenever possible.

The incidence of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's is significantly lower there, and we think the reason is the use of curry spices. The science isn't complete yet, but studies on three specific spices -- turmeric, chili, and cinnamon -- are solid enough to report that they help reduce everything from inflammation and chronic pain to bacterial infections and cancer.

Okinawa, Japan
Okinawans drink a lot of tea, which I'm now recommending Americans use in place of coffee. Green tea in particular contains the most antioxidants. Bonus tip: We should all follow the Okinawan philosophy of eating: Hara hachi bu, which translates to "eat only until you are 80 percent full." That's excellent advice. Calorie restriction is the single most potent antiaging trick we know about. You'll be hearing a lot more about it soon -- by pure coincidence, my new book talks about it -- but for now, just start saying no to a second helping.

I recommend drinking kefir, the thin yogurt popular in Turkey, for overall gut health. Almost anything with live cultures in it -- kimchi and kombucha, the Russian health drink you see a lot these days, are other examples -- will do the trick. They're all probiotics, meaning they supply you with good bacteria you need to absorb maximum nutrition from your food.

Mehmet Oz is a heart surgeon and the coauthor of You: Staying Young (Free Press, $26), out October 30.

Monday, November 12, 2007

In The Moment

When I first started acting in the mid 1980s I worked with an acting coach by the name of Darryl Hickman. Darryl introduced me to an acting technique and life philosophy he called "Being In The Moment." He felt that to be a good actor, you needed to stop acting or pretending and start listening. The words you'd hear from another actor had to be felt on a deep emotional level. It's affect on the actor needed to be real, not pretended. He'd say that poorly trained actors rehearse scenes with preconceived attitudes and/or fake emotions. If the stage direction in a script says a wife and husband are yelling, it doesn't mean that the actors needed to think and act angrily. His method taught actors to learn their lines and let things happen organically. He felt that good acting happened when two or more people in a scene re-acted to the events around them, as opposed to acting with some kind of a preconceived interpretation of a script. This was a very scary undertaking because it forced actors to trust a process that constantly left them open and vulnerable.

I tell you this because far too often I see people in the "real world" try to present themselves in a light that they think others want to see them. We have found a way to protect ourselves by putting on an act. Many of us aren't real in the real world. We're acting for others. The second
we wake, we start writing the script, and act our way right up to the point before we fall asleep. It's because we're afraid to "live in the moment." Living in the moment sometimes means appearing imperfect and vulnerable. We think we're better off if we present ourselves as busy, smart, important, brash, tough or cool. Most often, this kind of show doesn't allow us to really be us. The crazy thing is that most people aren't even aware that they're doing it. Boasting, bragging, excuses and little white lies are all part of the act. We get so used to acting this way that it feels normal. It's a way of protecting our fragile egos because we're afraid to appear human. It's only in the quiet times alone that this acting routine we present to the world feels empty and wrong.

What does any of this have to do with Health and Fitness? Everything! Being, living and working out in the moment allows you to release the ego and the act, so you can re-act and enjoy the reality of the moment. My beach workout today is a perfect example of letting go of the act (loaded with expectations) and allowing my body to listen. It turned out that my main job today was to show up and pay attention moment to moment. Were my reps down today? Yes. Was my form less than par? Yes. Was my range of motion compromised do to the cold and damp weather? Yes. Was my strength and ability less than the week before. Indeed. Did the workout, the way it played out deter me? No! Did it mess with my ego at first? A little. Cest la vie. It is, so therefore I accept it. The acceptance of each moment as it's happening makes it easier to come back the next day, and coming back another day is the most important part of fitness.

How you act (or don't act) through the process of getting fit is equally important. There's a fine line between a humble person, who works hard and is proud of their results, and someone else who shouts from the roof tops pleading for others to notice them. This "look at me" routine is part of the ego-fest that can jeopardize your long term health and fitness, because it's based more on your need to be seen and less on your desire to be healthy. Turn off the act, be in the moment, listen to what's really happening, stop looking for approval, and believe that your own health, fitness and quality of life is far more important than the dog and pony show of scales, tape measures, after photos and how you want to be perceived by others who could care less.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Obesity Linked to Increased Cancer Risk

Report says exercise and diet can lower chances of malignancies
By Steven Reinberg
Posted 10/31/07

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 31 (HealthDay News) -- Weight management, exercise and proper nutrition are key to reducing your risk of cancer. And the earlier in life you adopt these practices, the better off you'll be, a new study suggests.

Factors such as birth weight, childbearing, breast-feeding, and adult height and weight also influence cancer risk, according to the report released Wednesday by the American Institute for Cancer Research and the Britain-based World Cancer Research Fund. Understanding how these factors affect cancer risk, and how to put this information to use to prevent the disease, offer promising new directions for cancer research, the study authors said.

"We need to think about cancer as the product of many long-term influences, not as something that 'just happens,' " Dr. Walter J. Willett said in a prepared statement. Willett, a professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, was one of 21 authors of the report, Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective.
"Examining the causes of cancer this way, across the entire lifetime, is called the life course approach," he added.

The report, an analysis by scientists from around the world of more than 7,000 studies, offers 10 recommendations to help prevent cancer. They include staying lean, getting at least 30 minutes of exercise daily, limiting your intake of red meat and alcohol, and avoiding processed meats.

"These findings are right on," said Colleen Doyle, director of nutrition and physical activity at the American Cancer Society. "They are consistent with our own nutrition and physical activity guidelines. They clearly put the emphasis where the emphasis needs to be, and that's on controlling your weight."

"This is a good-news report," added Karen Collins, a nutrition adviser at the American Institute for Cancer Research. "If we are watching our weight, working regular physical activity into our daily life and eating a healthy balance of foods, we could prevent a third of cancers," she said. "Extra weight is not dead weight," she said. "It's an active metabolic tissue that produces substances that promote the development of cancer."

"People should take this message to be empowering," Collins said. The analysis of the studies found a definite link between excess fat and cancers of the esophagus, pancreas, colon and rectum, endometrium, kidney as well as breast cancer in postmenopausal women.

The risk from excess weight begins at birth, according to the report. The reason for the link between birth weight and breast cancer has to do with body fat. Excess body fat influences the body's hormones, and these changes can make it more likely for cells to undergo the kind of abnormal growth that leads to cancer, the researchers said.

In addition, overweight girls can start menstruating at an earlier age. So, over their lifetime, they will have more menstrual cycles. This extended exposure to estrogen is associated with increased risk for premenopausal breast cancer, the report found. Not smoking is the most important thing one can do to reduce the risk of cancer, Doyle said. But, she added, "there are estimates that obesity will overtake smoking as the leading preventable cause of death.

"It's great to see another report that emphasizes being active, watching your weight and eating a healthy diet are not only going to help you reduce your risk of cancer but heart disease and diabetes as well," Doyle said.

The report also found that breast-feeding can lower a mother's risk for developing breast cancer. In addition, breast-fed infants have a lower risk of becoming overweight or obese, and this means a lower risk of developing cancer.

"The evidence is uniformly strong on breast-feeding, and the fact that it offers cancer protection to both mothers and their children is why we made breast-feeding one of our 10 Recommendations to Prevent Cancer," Willett said. In addition, tall people seem to have a higher risk of colorectal and postmenopausal breast cancer, according to the report.

"We found that tallness is also probably linked to increased risk for ovarian, pancreatic and premenopausal cancer as well," Willett said. Although the association between height and cancer is convincing, tall people are not destined to get cancer, he added. Willett noted that being at increased risk is not a guarantee that you are going to develop cancer. "Risk isn't fate," he said. "The evidence clearly shows that risk can be changed.

"We wanted to point these emerging links out, because we now believe them to be more important than the scientific community, much less the public, has yet realized," Willett added. "Whether or not we get cancer has to do with our genes and with the choices we make everyday. Our cancer risk is also influenced by our whole accumulated life experience, from conception onwards."

Body weight and composition is a big factor, one expert said. "This report really reinforces the connection between being overweight or obese and the increased risk of many, if not all, cancers," said Carolyn Lammersfeld, the national director of nutrition at Cancer Treatment Centers of America. "The majority of Americans are not aware of that connection. They are more concerned with pesticides and environmental contaminants, but obesity is a much greater risk factor," she said.

But risks can be minimized, she added. "If you don't have cancer, it's never too late to try to do what you can to lower your risk," Lammersfeld said. "In addition, cancer survivors should follow the diet and weight recommendations to prevent a return of cancer." The report said that people should not use dietary supplements to try to offset cancer risk -- something Lammersfeld agreed with. "You can't fix a crappy diet with supplements," she said.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Whole Grains and Half Truths

If you knew about a product that could reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, obesity and diabetes, aid your digestion and manage your weight while allowing you to eat MORE – would you buy it?

You bet you would. And you’d be smart to do so. Whole grains have tremendous health benefits. They are rich in phenolic acids, phytochemicals, antioxidants and good stuff that’s harder to get from fruits and vegetables such as fiber, iron, magnesium, and vitamins B and E.

The downside? Food companies are falling all over themselves to offer you something that appears to be whole grain, but in truth may be far from it. They’d love to continue selling you the same old crap under a different name.

So how to separate the wheat from the chaff? Best case scenario is to look for foods bearing the “100%Whole Grain Stamp” from the Whole Grains Council. If you can’t find these foods, then you’ll need to read the labels more carefully. Most importantly, look for the word “whole”. Words like “durum”, “wheat”, “organic” and “multigrain” may sound good, but are pretty much meaningless without those five magic letters
“W-H-O-L-E” – so read carefully. Secondly, once you’ve found a bona fide whole grain, make sure it’s first up on the ingredients list. If it’s listed second, the product could consist of as little as one percent whole grain - and you’d have no way of knowing.

So pay attention to your labels. If you don’t, you might not be buying whole grain, you might be buying a lemon.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Creeping Crud

My Consumer Reports "On Health Magazine" had a cover story this month on the rising cases of staph infections in gyms and health clubs around the country. Another good reason to workout at home. My guess is that the ropes, rings, pull-up bars and parallel bars at the beach where I workout aren't thoroughly cleaned every day, so I thought that maybe it was time to bring some hand cleaner to the beach on Sundays. Turns out that dangerous bacterial infections are on the rise all over the place. A whole new batch of antibiotic resistant strains of these little buggers also laugh at penicillin. I suppose if I read less I'd be less paranoid, but Doctors warned of this some 10 years ago when we all started using alcohol based "anti-bacterial" hand sanitizers. The experts said that the bacteria and viruses would mutate to build immunity to the very medicines and cleaners that are supposed to protect us. The over use of antibiotic medications has caused these little suckers to mutate and figure out new ways to infect us. Now there are super virus' and bacteria that are smart; they mutate the moment we stop taking the drugs to control them, thus making those drugs obsolete. (aids patients who stop taking their prescribed medication, even for one day, must start over in their medication regimen because the virus figures out how to circumvent the medicine in 24-48 hours and renders it obsolete)

There are several schools of thought, mostly in the psychiatric field, however, that we are genetically predisposed to illness. All the case studies I have read could be interpreted as a direct result of environment and behavior effecting our genetics. In the few physical illness articles I was able to find, doctors and scientists are somewhat divided and unclear. For instance, some sheep farmers in Britain are genetically effected by the chemicals they put on their sheep, and are unable, due to a genetic mutation caused by said chemicals, to fight off the damaging effects of the very chemicals they use to protect the sheep. Spraying pesticides to control West Nile Virus, does very little to control the virus, but has a very adverse effect on people, plants, and animals. In a study in northern Idaho, the town was sprayed with Malathion, the accepted pesticide for mosquito control. It did very little to control the bug population, (it is the larvae that needs to be killed, and you do that most effectively by not providing a home. e.g.. stagnant water) but caused some people in the region to stop producing a natural enzyme which allows them to fight off neuro toxins in the body. Thus, creating a bigger problem than the one or two cases of people getting sick from the virus itself.

In 2005, the American Thoracic Society released a study citing that children living next to highways and who have certain genetic backgrounds, are more likely to suffer from asthma than those living farther from the road. Uh, duh... I would think that if you live next to a major highway, you are certainly more likely to suffer from the effects of the pollution produced by living next to the road. And they failed to study whether or not the genetic alteration was caused by the parent living next to the road in the previous generation and passing that genetic code on to the child. Chicken or the egg? I'm not an expert but, I guess what I am saying is, we are constantly bombarded by virus' and bacteria and pollution, always have, always will. That bombardment has increased exponentially in the industrialized era. In a society that views the band aid as the fix, we need to remember we cannot take a pill or use a lotion to fix this. We need to take the actions necessary to increase our immunity naturally in order to survive. I believe the answer involves getting back to basics, what we put in and on our bodies and how we treat our bodies, exercise, diet, stress, etc. is a direct cause and effect.

We should remember, our own immune system is the best first defense we have and we should do everything in our power to make it as strong as possible. Naturally.

I'm just sayin...

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Strength Training - More Than Just Getting Ripped

We know that strength training is an important part of a Power 90 or P90X routine. Why? It makes you stronger, and I'm not just talking about the shape of your biceps or the size of your pecs. Resistance training strengthens bones, ligaments, and tendons as well as your muscles. All together, a well oiled internal machine improves your balance and power, while shortening recovery time and risk of injury.

The difference between a full spectrum workout like Power 90 or P90X and an all-aerobic workout regimen is huge. People who perform aerobic only routines run the risk of overuse injuries and their fitness is imbalanced. Runners for example work their calves and hamstrings hard, but the quads and upper body get off easy. It’s important to strengthen all the major muscle groups for overall fitness balance and reduce injury risks. No matter how careful they are (varying their workout intensity, the terrain, wearing good shoes, etc.), runners who do not balance with strength training are likely to suffer from some kind of running related injury sooner or later.

Strength and power start at the core. Your core strength, which comes from your abdomen, back and trunk is the center for most of your power, agility and balance. That’s why we bust out the crunches, lunges, and squats. Strengthen the core and you’ve got a lot more umph to rock out the outer, sport specific muscles. Another major benefit to muscle training is creating muscle density. The denser your muscles, the higher your metabolism – and you know what that means. You can consume more calories without gaining weight. Now that’s incentive!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Keeping The Glass Half Full

We all feel bad sometimes. But getting trapped in negative moods like anxiety, anger and depression can do more than ruin your day, they actually raise your risk of heart disease. Here are 4 things you can do to keep yourself feeling happy, boost your mood when you’re feeling down and keep you healthier in the process:

Move, Move, Move
If you can resist the urge to skip your workout on a low energy day, you'll reap the rewards both now and later. Try tricking yourself by committing to do just 10 minutes. Push Play anyway and see what happens. Once you're up and moving, you'll probably want to finish your workout. And even if you can't push past that 10-minute mark on a really bad day, you can feel good about doing at least a little something. Sticking with your fitness routine will help you feel good about yourself, strengthen your immune system and enhance your body's production of mood-boosting hormones.

Hanging out with your family or friends at least once or twice each month and maintaining connections with the people you care about has a hugely positive impact on your health – especially if you share some laughs. Laughing lowers blood pressure, dissipates anxiety, and releases endorphins, which block pain. And don’t forget to make the most of your relationships at work. Colleagues and co-workers can provide valuable support and keep your blood pressure under control during stressful situations.

Be of Service
Find an organization, school, club or church where you’d like to volunteer. Sharing your time, talents and expertise not only helps others, it does wonders for your well-being. Getting involved and feeling engaged with your community is good for your emotional health. It’s also an opportunity to learn new skills, which will keep your mind sharp.

Controlled breathing exercises (like inhaling through the nose and exhaling slowly through the mouth 3 or 4 times), progressive muscle relaxation, yoga, and massage are all effective means of reducing tension, stress, depression, and anxiety. So, when you’re feeling stressed - pop in your stretch disc and push play or take a brisk 10 minute walk. That’ll do a lot more to lift your spirits and dissipate stress than grabbing that bag of chips or cookies you crave when you’re feeling anxious.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Below The Belt

While women have been told about the benefits of exercising their pelvic floor muscles (known as kegel exercises) to address a variety of issues from bladder control to improved sexual satisfaction, not a whole lot of men are aware of what it can do for them:

Okay, guys. No one wants to admit if they’ve considered buying a bottle of little blue pills, but the truth is erectile dysfunction (ED) effects 15-30 million men. The good news is that 40 percent of guys who deal with this problem and consistently do pelvic floor exercises for 6 months, first with a trainer and then on their own, regain their normal function au natural. Now that’s worth a try, wouldn’t you say? And if you start doing these exercises consistently, you’ll reduce your chances of ever having it happen in the first place.

Here’s the deal: Your pelvic floor muscles support your bowel and bladder, so you’re looking for that feeling you get when you’re clenched up, waiting to get into the men’s room before that bean burrito explodes in your pants or cutting your urine flow off in mid stream. When you tighten those muscles, you’ll know you’re doing it right because your penis should retract and your scrotum should lift. Tighten and hold for 10 seconds, then relax. Repeat. Do it as often as you like. The best part about doing this routine is that you can do it any time, anywhere, and nobody can tell you’re doing it.

Keep in mind that there are a lot of factors that can contribute to ED such as diabetes, vascular and kidney disease. Maintaining your healthy diet and sticking with your Power 90 or P90X programs will make a big difference not just for your overall health and fitness, but to your little buddy, too.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Obesity Rate in U.S. Still Climbing

New findings show no state posted a decline in adult rates last year
By Amanda Gardner, HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Aug. 27 (HealthDay News) -- More and more Americans are sliding into obesity, a clear signal that this national health problem is getting worse.
According to the fourth annual report prepared by the research group Trust for America's Health and released Monday, adult obesity rates rose in 31 states last year, 22 states experienced an increase for the second year in a row, and no state had a rate decrease.
A related public opinion survey found that 85 percent of Americans now believe that obesity is an epidemic.
For the third year in a row, Mississippi topped the scales with the highest rate of adult obesity in the country. It also has the dubious distinction of being the first state to record a rate higher than 30 percent (30.6 percent), according to the report, F as in Fat: How Obesity Policies Are Failing in America, 2007.
Colorado was again the thinnest state, but even its adult obesity rate increased over the past year, from 16.9 percent to 17.6 percent.
"Despite increased attention to the obesity epidemic, obesity is continuing to grow in America," Jeffrey Levi, executive director of Trust for America's Health, said at a news conference Monday. "While some promising policy efforts are under way, the nation still lacks comprehensive, effective strategies for addressing this serious health crisis."
Dr. James Marks, senior vice president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which funded the project, was bleaker in his assessment of the findings at the news conference.
"We find this report to be a devastating indictment. We're in the middle of a public health crisis that is still deteriorating rapidly, and we're treating it like a mere inconvenience rather than the emergency it is. Over the past year, obesity rates got worse in nearly two-thirds of states and got better in zero. That is not progress. The number of states with obesity rates greater than 25 percent has more than doubled in just two years. That's not sending a wake-up call. We're ringing the disaster alarm," he said.
The existence of an obesity epidemic in this country is not news, but the rapidity with which Americans' waistlines are expanding is unprecedented. Obesity lurks behind several serious illnesses, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.
According to the new report, rates of adult obesity exceed 25 percent in 19 states, up from 14 states last year and 9 in 2005. In 1991, no state had an adult obesity rate exceeding 20 percent.
The South is a locus of the problem, possessing 10 of the 15 states with the highest rates of adult obesity. In addition, the South also had eight of the 10 states with the highest rates of overweight children (aged 10 to 17).
According to Levi, the South had higher levels of type 2 diabetes and hypertension and lower levels of reported physical activity. Mississippi had the highest rate of adult inactivity, at 31.6 percent; Minnesota the lowest at 15.4 percent. In the nation overall, 22 percent of adults reported that they do not engage in any physical activity.
The rates of overweight children ranged from a high of 22.8 percent in Washington, D.C., to a low of 8.5 percent in Utah. Overall, about 25 million U.S. children are overweight or obese, the report found.
"Diseases that used to be considered adult illnesses like type 2 and high blood pressure are becoming increasingly common among children," Marks said. "If we fail to reverse this epidemic, the current generation may be the first in American history to live sicker and die younger than their parents' generation."
Among the study's other findings:
Only 17 states require that school meals and snacks meet higher nutritional standards than the U.S. Department of Agriculture requires (six states enacted new laws in 2006-07).
Only 22 states have mandated nutritional standards for foods sold in vending machines, a la carte, in school stores or at bake sales, and only 26 states limit where and when such foods can be sold on school property beyond federal requirements.
Many physical education requirements in schools are limited in scope or not enforced.
This year's report also included a national opinion survey, which showed that 81 percent of Americans believe the government should play a role in addressing the obesity crisis, 55 percent of parents with children under 18 believed school lunches were not nutritious enough, and more than two-thirds of Americans believe children do not participate in enough physical activity.
In addition, 60 percent of those polled favored a proposal to measure students' BMI annually and provide this information confidentially to parents or guardians (currently 16 states provide BMI or fitness status information to parents or guardians confidentially).
The authors of the report also put forth recommendations for combating the problem.
"There isn't going to be a magic pill or a magic bullet," Levi said. "We need action from government, from communities, from individuals, and we need a major cultural shift. We need to change the norms in our society about healthy eating and about physical activity."
"This is going to require more than any single intervention," Marks added. "Schools have to be behind this, but it's also something that industry and business have to be behind."
Specific recommendations included: developing, at the federal level, a National Strategy to Combat Obesity; ensuring that all Americans have access to a workplace wellness program; increasing research on promoting healthy choices; and providing more recreational places.
"The only scorecard that matters is the health of our people, and right now obesity and the illnesses it causes are still getting worse," Marks said. "The need for strong interventions couldn't be clearer, and our leaders must answer that call."

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Al Qaeda's In The Cake

Hey Tony,
I find so much comfort in food. Every time I'm having a bad day or I'm angry, I turn to food and usually the kinds I should be staying away from. Since starting P90X I've been able to resist some of those bad foods on a frustrating day, but not completely. Are there any tricks besides simply human disciple, to stop this age old problem?

You are struggling with the same food issues as most Americans. Do you realize that by the year 2015, if the tread continues, 75% of U.S. citizens will be either dramatically overweight or morbidly obese. What the hell is going on? Since when was sitting on your ass and eating junk such a great life choice? The reason why you find so much comfort in food is because you don't have enough other things to give you comfort. This is probably true for 3/4 of the people in this country. The Roman time bomb is ticking and most of us are sitting around waiting for it to go off. Adventurous, purposeful, selfless people don't need food to be happy. They have projects, hobbies, charities, and 6 day a week fitness routines to keep them occupied and fulfilled.

I was back home in the great state of Rhode Island in early July and every year we have a big family ho-down. We celebrate my birthday, my dad's birthday and Independence day. This year we added a couple of engagements to the celebration. While we were all gathering in my cousin Ann's kitchen cutting up the big birthday cake my other cousin Betsy was asking Ann's brother David (who works in DC) if he had heard of any inside info regarding Al Qaeda striking on American soil again. I blurted out that there was a much greater danger of dying from the ingredients in our birthday cake than from Al Qaeda. Cousin David is a lobbyist for several health and fitness companies and added that a terrorist attack couldn't come close to killing as many people as our poor eating habits and lack of exercise. After hearing this my other cousin Mary yells, "Al Qaeda's in the cake!"

The excesses and complacency in this modern world is killing us. Too much of anything is bad for you and too little movement combined with surgery fattening food is the ultimate road side bomb. We have enough technology and conveniences to push us right over the edge. We must put our iphones, play stations and cell phones down and go for a run, read a book, plant a tree, lower our carbon footprint or take a dance class. Too much "I, me, mine" (Beatles) and not enough "Smile on your brother everybody get together and love one another right now" (name that band). When it comes to a better diet, disciple is toward the bottom of the list. Life purpose, fun hobbies and fitness gatherings with like minded people are the best way to find true authentic comfort. I like sweet yummy comfort food too, I just eat them in small amounts every once in awhile. Keep your 3 main meals and 1 snack clean and healthy. If you're going to stray plan the time of day and know what it is in advance.

Saturday, July 28, 2007


We'll throw anything down our throats if it's marketed well. Take Red Bull for example. This sugar water loaded with caffeine is supposed to "Give You Wings." This sleek can and tons of advertising using cartoons is one part synthetic bull bile. Taurine; one of the main ingredients (also known as 2-aminoethane-sulfonic acid) is supposed to assist your enthusiasm for extreme behavior. This inhibitory neurotransmitter (a mild sedative for some) is a man-made antioxidant. Eat blueberries instead! Our next ingredient is Glucuronolactone. The debate goes on about what this is or does. Most information regarding Glucuronolactone is rumor. It's supposed to increase well-being and fight fatigue. Getting a life and 8 hours of sleep can do that. Next is Inositol. A carbohydrate found in animal muscle. Also known as "Meat Sugar." Early studies are showing that Inositol can help people suffering with depression, panic attacks, agoraphobia and obsessive compulsive disorder. Sounds like liquid therapy in a can. Too bad you'll need 360 cans of the stuff for any benefit. Niacin (vitamin B-3) is in here to increase good cholesterol (HDL) and help with energy, but alas there's not enough to do anything. Lastly there's some Sodium Citrate (a preservative for soda and spreadable cheeses) which helps convert glucose into lactic acid during exercise. Yup, when I'm looking for improved performance, I like to get it from a preservative that helps me spread my cheese.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Your Brain on Exercise

There was an astonishing article in Newsweek a few weeks back that just blew my mind/brain/cranium/noggin. Here's what I've learned from this article and further research. We all known that working out and exercising does amazing things for our bodies, and the benefits other than weight lose and getting fit are endless. Most of us also know that when your heart, legs and lungs get pumping you feel much better than if you did nothing. Turns out that 20 minutes or more of cardiovascular and/or high paced resistant workouts effect every aspect of your life. The great thing about this article is that it really laid out the scientific findings over the last few years. Here's the scope. When you're forced to pull more oxygen into the body through exercise you break what's called "the blood brain barrier." It happens when you climb a long flight of stairs and when you're busting through any kind of workout that gets your heart rate pumping. This oxygen filled blood makes it's way into the temporal lobe of the brain. Inside the temporal lobe is an area called the Hippocampus. Inside the Hippocampus lies this seahorse shaped area known as the Dentate Gyrus. As you exercise these oxygen filled blood cells rush into this area of the brain. A chemical/protein IGF-1 is formed then released inside the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus which ramps up another chemical/molecule called BDNF. IGF -1 & BDNF are "Miracle-grow" for the brain.

Studies with kids right up to seniors have proven that high paced workouts (Power 90, Power Half Hour, Master Series, P90X, Tony & The Kids, etc.) cause the release of these chemicals into the brain. Combine this with even more "brain drugs" like dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine and you've got yourself a feel good party in your head. Aerobic and elevated heart rate activities cause the release of these chemicals, which in turn helps you focus and gives you energy when you need it. They also help you relax, stay calm under pressure and allow the body to rest properly. It's like a home made chemistry set inside your skull that produces a cocktail simulating the effects of Prozac and Ritalin. Children who play outdoors score better on tests than kids who don't. Regular physical activity improves, memory, mood, and problem solving abilities. Consistent exercise raises self-esteem and decreases anxiety. Study after study has proven that people who exercise 5 to 6 days a week greatly decrease their need for psychotherapeutic drugs. If your brain goes without regular bouts of exercise the hippocampus will shrink and erode, which can lead to neurological illnesses such as Alzheimer's disease. When the dentate gryus of the hippocampus is stimulated neuro-genesis or neuro-plasticity occurs. I'm not talking about slowing the aging process, I'm telling you that the brain creates new cells through exercise. Brand new cells that assist in the reversal of aging. If you're looking for the fountain of youth, you can find it inside your head every time you exercise for more than 20 minutes. TMT X 2 anyone?

Monday, June 25, 2007

Kornfield Classics

I've always been a big fan of Jack Kornfield's work so I thought I'd share 10 of his finest offerings.

1. Letting go is a central theme in spiritual practice, as we see the preciousness and brevity of life.

2. The independence and rebelliousness of our adolescence offer us yet another quality essential to our practice: the insistence that we find out the truth for ourselves, accepting no one's word above our own experience.

3. As we age, having seen many cycles of birth and death, there is a detachment and a wisdom that grows within us.

4. Who am I? who is carrying this body?

5. To see the preciousness of all things, we must bring our full attention to life.

6. Our consciousness contains all these rolls and more, the hero and the lover, the hermit, the dictator, the wise woman and the fool.

7. We can bring an open and respectful attention to the sensations that make up our bodily experience.

8. The things that matter most in our lives are not fantastic or grand. They are the moments when we touch one another.

9. It is the place of feeling that binds us or frees us.

10. The real world is beyond our thoughts and ideas; we see it through the net of our desires, divided into pleasure and pain, right and wrong, inner and outer. To see the universe as it is, you must step beyond the net. It is not hard to do, for the net is full of holes.

Friday, June 01, 2007

8 & 8

Success requires rules and a plan. If you're struggling out there, you're probably breaking the rules and trying to wing it. Most of the information flying around today regarding how to get from here to there in life doesn't cover the basics because it's boring and not new. I believe that the self imposed pressures of the modern world steer us away from the basic rules of life. One of those rules is rest and hydration. I call this combination the 8 & 8. I've see people follow these simple laws of nature and get their lives back. I'm telling you that if you get eight hours of sleep at night and drink eight oz. of water eight times a day some of your problems will disappear and your life will improve.

Our bodies are 72% water give or take, and this water circulates nutrients and hormones, distributes heat and provides the medium in which chemical reactions take place. Most importantly, water flushes out the toxic substances and waist materials via the kidneys. It's how our basic balance of body chemistry is maintained. Proper hydration plays a huge role in the prevention of disease. Drinking eight glasses of water daily can decrease the risk of colon cancer by 45%, bladder cancer by 50% and can potentially reduce the risk of breast cancer.

Eight hours of sleep every night restores the powers of the mind, body and spirit. Proper rest combined with healthy food and supplementation is the best way to improve the immune system, restore cognitive and motor performance and replenish your energy and enthusiasm for the day ahead. Countless studies have shown that people suffering from irritability, sadness, depression and anxiety no longer needed medication for these aliments after discovering that proper sleep was the key ingredient to stabilize brain chemistry and improve cognitive performance.

Do yourself a big favor and try this experiment for one week. Hit the hay eight hours before the alarm goes off and drink water (nothing else) eight times in a day. Eight oz. is a small glass so spread them out throughout the day. Don't try to drink large amounts all at once because you'll lose out on the benefits and stress out the kidneys. Follow this simple 8 & 8 plan every day and you'll find that life will get a little easier, a little less stressful and a lot more productive. It also contributes to weight lose and better health.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Who Are You?

An audio post from Tony

Tony Horton P90X - TMT Update

An audio post from Tony

Who Are You?

An audio post from Tony

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Tony HortonP90X - TMT Update

An audio post from Tony

Friday, May 11, 2007

P90X & Mr. Briggs

An audio post from Tony

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Sustaining and Maintaining

An audio post from Tony

The Pill

An audio post from Tony

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Panacea or Placebo

What's the deal with supplements? Do you really need them? Are they worth the money? I'm convinced that my daily vitamins, minerals, protein powder, creatine and recovery formula save the day, every day.

I have devised a simple test to find out if you really need supplements or not.

For ONE week (that's all you'll need to find out) workout 6 days, eat clean and stop taking all supplements. Answer these 13 questions at the start and end of that week.

At the start of the following week start taking your supplements. I recommend Slimming Formula, Protein Powder, Performance Formula and the P90X Recovery Formula. At the end of TWO weeks take the test again. Compare your numbers and you'll know if they make a difference or not.

Answer all questions on a 1 to 10 scale. 1 = Never & 10 = Always

1. I experience sound restful sleep most nights

2. I have plenty of energy throughout the day.

3. I have a healthy and normal appetite with very few cravings.

4. I am happy with my present weight.

5. I'm enthusiastic about my fitness and have plenty of energy during exercise.

6. I'm good at handling stress.

7. I'm satisfied with the state of my libido.

8. My memory, cognition and mental acuity is good.

9. I have pain free joints and good/full range of motion.

10. My muscles are strong and lean and recover quickly after exercise.

11. My heart and lung capacity are strong during cardiovascular exercise.

12. I have no digestion, stomach or intestinal issues.

13. I rarely suffer from sadness, depression or anxiety, and I'm in good mental health.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Write These Down

1. Let your manners speak, your deeds prove and your delivery impress.

2. Love is the ultimate state, where compassion prevails and kindness rules.

3. Your greatness is measured by your gifts, not your possessions.

4. I would rather have a mind opened by wonder, than closed by belief.

5. Happiness is the result of inner maturity. It depends on us alone, and requires patient work, carried out from day to day. Happiness must be built, and this requires time and effort. In the long term, happiness and unhappiness are therefore a way of being, or a life skill.

6. The body and the word have great importance: it is through their support that the true nature of the mind can be realized. It could be said that, in a way, the body and the word are servants of the mind.

7. The basic root of happiness lies in our minds; outer circumstances are nothing more than adverse or favorable.

8. Do not encumber your mind with useless thoughts. What good does it do to brood on the past or anticipate the future? Remain in the simplicity of the present moment.

9. What counts is not the enormity of the task, but the size of the courage.

10. The trouble is that you think you have time.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Another Johnny Classic ~ Enjoy!

Hey B-Team

Well, as you have heard from our friend Paul, the snow is hitting the fan here in the northwest. My story begins early last week when I talked to Paul about coming up to visit. His report was glowing and I was a little jealous. I was also slightly bummed, because while we had over a foot of new snow, the wind was howling and no lifts could be run. That was last Tuesday, the last day I felt normal.

On Wednesday, I got up early and dropped the kids off at school, with my ski stuff on. They let me have it.

"Doing much work today Dad??"

I slowed the car down just enough to avoid serious injury, and pushed the little (adorable) brats out the door, then peeled out of there on two wheels and got up that hill. At moments like this I question my mental health. An overwhelming anxiety takes over as the anticipation becomes unbearable. What kind of snow will we have? How many people will show on a Wednesday? How many first tracks will I get? A thousand questions run through the mind in an instant. Everything becomes a contest - I need to get there before first chair, I need to get to my favorite lines first. The emotion is intense but at the same time its pleasing as you ponder the possibilities. Its like the 10 year old kid on the night before Christmas. The groom just before his bachelor party. The bride as the music starts in the church. Nervous but raring to go.

I was fortunate enough to spot my father-in-law near the front of the now prodigious lift line before the opening bell. A quick call, a smooth slide through the line and I was in. On the ride up, my own personal tension was palpable. The small talk centered on my Fat skis (what does that swallow-tail do, anyway). At the top, I slid off the chair and giggled like a 5 year old. When was the last time you giggled like that?

The first run was insane. The wind and enormous snow load had filled in the mountain to a perfectly smooth surface. An unblemished canvas waiting to be painted. Lets call it wind-groomed. The surface was not grabby, not crusty, it was smooth, buttery, pleasingly compliant. The first turn is burned in my memory, the second was a dream. The speed increased quickly but controllably. There was no faltering, no surprises, just pure momentum. I felt a glow come over me like a new, higher level of consciousness. The mountain had been renewed, the past had been erased. It was a fresh start, a mid winter epiphany, and with it a new start for me, a new opportunity. I jumped off my favorite rock and time stopped, I was flying, not falling. I thought "I should have landed by now" but was not sure and felt the need to look down to determine exactly what surface I was on. Air, snow, gravity seamlessly connected in some crazy euphoric dance.

When I reached the bottom and scampered through the line to quickly reload, I knew it was going to be a big day. I set my altimeter, which I have not done all year, to keep a tally of vertical feet on this day February 21, 2007. I never stopped skiing this day and was never on a groomed trail. By 11 my watch indicated over 25,000 vertical feet. I wasn't even tired. At noon, I was tired and my lower back hurt. I kept ripping. By 2, I had to leave and be home for the kids, and grudgingly pulled myself away. My watch said 38,620 vertical feet and 28 runs (many of these were from midway to the top - a steep intense shot of less than 1,000 feet). It had been a big day.

The next day I was exhausted and sore. My back and legs and shoulders ached. Then it started snowing. All day and all night.

Friday morning I dropped the kids off on the fly and charged up for some more fun. Seven new inches over night. This day was different. If Wednesday was about speed, Friday was about fluff. Soft blower pow just like in the movies. It was endless, bottomless. Speed just fell away as the substance gently resisted the forces. Face shots, soft landings, gentle bumps, hidden tree stashes. It was glorious, exhilarating. I skied till 330, when I just could not go any more.

Three more inches overnight. I dropped the kids off at their ski class and went on my way, a little dazed and not sure where to go next. It was fun but I was tired. I had been everywhere on the mountain in the past few days and could think of nothing new. I thought about going into the lodge and just resting until the kids were done.

Then I met John. He's a ripper from Alaska who has been skiing Schweitzer for a while but never really explored it, since he skis by himself. I said two words "Follow Me!". Off we went, exploring, sharing my playground with a new friend. He had no idea this place had so many secrets. It was invigorating to share this bliss with one who could appreciate it. This was yet a different kind of feeling, charitable, compassionate, satisfying. We hucked the cliffs, darted through the forbidden forests, and shredded the hidden steeps.

By the end of the day, I literally could not go any further. I started to make mistakes, lazy errors, skipping turns, linked recoveries. I needed rest. On Sunday it snowed 7-inches and I stayed home. I felt ashamed, and it grieves me to share this personal weakness with you. Monday morning - 5 new inches. I was back out there again, but was still recovering. I stayed on the backside where the lifts are slower, forcing me to rest a little. This day would be all about quality. I made each run count, sometimes I even stopped and just took it all in. Today's glory was on a different level, a different buzz altogether, somehow I felt a little older and wiser, having experienced a literal rainbow of emotions.

Today is Tuesday and I have a ton of work to do, so I will rest and work. I hurt pretty much everywhere. Its a good hurt, a small satisfying sacrifice of flesh and pain. The memories, they will last far longer than these ephemeral infirmities.

This season has been one like no other, a harmonic convergence of conditions, ability, and attitude. I owe much of my confidence to you B-team. You have pushed me to new heights and picked me up when I faltered. This crazy thing that we do defies competent description. It is constantly changing and goes far deeper than the physical world, if you allow yourself to recognize it. When you can share this deep spectral experience with someone that can appreciate it, you are obliged to do so. I thank you for letting me share it with you.

May the snow find you, and keep you in peace.


Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Cheat, Slow Down & Take Breaks

I've discovered over the years that one of the main reasons why people can't stay fit and healthy is because they put so much pressure on themselves to see constant improvement in their performance and appearance. They also become discouraged when things like strength, energy, range of motion and endurance waver from workout to workout. For some reason many of us think that with every workout we're supposed to get stronger, leaner and better. The truth is, no one can continuously maintain or sustain an ever improving level of energy and enthusiasm for every workout. It's impossible. There are dozens of factors that effect how we're able to accomplish things. Sleep, stress, diet, weather, illness, injuries, biorhythms and more, all play a part in your day to day successes, disappointments, accomplishments and setbacks.

My 5th Law of Health and Fitness is Reality. If reality dictates that you're wiped out after a long day, and at the end of that long day you have a PlyoX workout to do, then let reality play a roll in how you will do that workout. Some choose to skip the workout altogether because they feel (prior to starting) that their performance will be substandard based on past performances. Others might 'get through it" but beat themselves up afterward because they weren't as strong or capable as in past workouts. If this kind of mental gymnastics is happening with you, then understand that comparing your present situation with past ones will make you crazy. This kind of thinking is a leading cause for why people can't get or stay fit and healthy.

Life is filled with ups and downs, and these ups and downs will inevitably affect the quality of our workouts. When I ask you to do your best and forget the rest, I'm asking you to see if you can show up and be okay with how you're doing right now, not last time. The place and head space you're in right now is all you have. Why would you want to ruin it by comparing it to something else? If a particular workout seems daunting prior to starting it, then I say, it's okay to "get through it" anyway you can. This includes using that pause button on your remote often if necessary. It's also okay to skip parts of a workout. Run-in-place or stretch during Bow to Boat or Plyo Push-ups if your too tired or not in the mood. I'm here to tell you that it's perfectly okay to cheat like hell, take breaks and skip some moves if that's what you need to do to get through a workout. I do.

Any workout (no matter how altered it is) is always better than no workout at all. When you shift your mind set to doing something (even when you don't want to) you'll be less likely to completely fall off the fitness wagon. Don't let your ego fight what's happening to you right now. Gracefully accept the conditions that present themselves as opposed to fighting the reality of your situation. I've mentioned the fight or flow scenario before and it applies here as well. Go-with-the-flow based only on who you are right now, and stop fighting the truth of now because you so desperately need to keep up with your past. If you can do this and accept this, then you'll know how to stay fit and healthy for the rest of your life.

Monday, February 12, 2007


As the new year kicked in I was struggling with a New Year's Resolution. I thought that maybe this year I'd just blow it off and keep doing what I've been doing. Truth be told, 75% of the time things were great, while the rest of life was a struggle. As I began to look at it closely, I kept trying to create a statement that would reveal what I needed to do, to improve my percentages. It didn't feel right that most of the time I felt open, positive, creative, energetic and hopeful and a forth of the time I was feeling scared, anxious, sad, nervous and overwhelmed. A grand improvement from my days of youth, but I knew that there was still more room for improvement. I understand that certain situations in life can and will cause some discomfort, but I believe that I'm the main cause of my unhappy times, not some outside source. This revelation came just after the new year and in that moment I realized what my resolution for 2007 had to be.

I figured out that most of my angst came from two things that are directly connected. 1. Not knowing how to make my way through certain situations that involve solving complex life problems. And 2. Not having the confidence that I already have the answers, or the courage to ask questions of the right people who can help me understand/solve my problems. When I became aware of this, the statement I was looking for popped in my head clear as day. I knew in an instant that in 2007 I needed to find clarity with the people in my life and tie up unfinished business. I was very clear about my workouts and diet, but my finances, relationships and career were only getting part time attention. This was creating problems and I knew I was the only cause. This newfound clarity resulted in having difficult conversations with lawyers, accountants, investors, friends and family. I was pretending to know where everyone stood in my world, but the truth was I was clueless.

I stopped waiting for situations to resolve themselves, and for people to come around when they were ready. I had to take the initiative and ask as many questions as possible to make sure that the people around me knew exactly where I stood. This didn't require being a tough guy or a wise ass. I didn't have to raise my voice or point any fingers. I tried to stay upbeat, humorous and curious throughout the process. My job was to find ways to help me understand where I stood with all the people and situations in my life. The lack of clarity and unfinished business was eating away at me and it dawned on me that asking the right questions was the only way to make for a better life. I made lists (and still do) of the things that felt unfinished. I called and e-mailed the people connected to these unclear, unfinished situations and asked them how they intended to proceed. The end result was astonishing. My concerns were washed away once I began talking with people. When everyone involved is fully informed, clarity is achieved, unfinished business resolved, and life becomes joyous and a lot less complicated.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Slide

The Slide is that thing that occurs between the time when you have focus, energy, determination and enthusiasm for something positive and productive in your life, and when you don't. Hundreds of thousands of people who set goals on January 1 are beginning to feel The Slide right now. Good intentions quickly switch back to old bad habits again. This is a very difficult period for people because the transition is often abrupt, unexpected and overwhelming. I've seen news stories on the tube and newspaper articles touting January 22nd as the most depressing day of the year because some expert somewhere determined that Americans fall back into old habits on the third Monday of January. The Slide can happen any time of year and it often occurs several times in a year for many people. It happens in relationships, at work, with our finances, you name it. One day we've got our act together and the next it all goes to hell in a handcart.

In most cases The Slide doesn't just happen, it's triggered by something. An occurrence that overwhelms us. An unanticipated event that causes one or more rock solid patterns in our lives to go south. Whether it's a sudden case of tennis elbow, a breakup with your girlfriend or a letter from the IRS, this trigger can throw all the positive behavior in your life, right out the window. The truth is, calling this shift "The Slide" is being kind. I should call it "The Crash" because it turns up into upside down overnight sometimes. Bad shellfish and a night of poor sleep might be all some folks need to start the downward spiral. If there's been a pattern of see-saw events in your life then you're probably very familiar with The Slide. Good intentions have never been enough to keep people on track, so the only way to keep from sliding back (to the old ways) is to surround yourself with good people and a plan/philosophy to reach for when the going gets tough.

Let me say that I've been a victim of The Slide in years past. I've also had a very strong tug to blow some things off again this year. My tendency has been to fight it, but I've learned that avoiding The Slide requires flowing not fighting. I'll get these two voices in my head that have a little discussion about what to do (or not do) when it comes to tough decisions and things that require some discipline. When I've had a good night's sleep, kept stress at bay, made a plan for the week and ate healthy food then the voice of productivity kicks the crap out of the whoa-is-me voice. I've noticed that I struggle most when I'm lacking clarity about what it is I want from day to day. When there are lots of untidy loose ends in my world I end up sliding all over the place. The difference between fighting and flowing is the difference between sliding back or going forward. I think far too many of us freak-out about the outcome of events in our lives before we even start them.

If you want to slide less then you need to flight less and flow more. This means that you need to take the focus off of the future and see if you can do the right thing right now. How many calories you need to eat per meal so that you can lose 2 pounds a week in the first phase of your program is crazy talk! How many days into the future do you want to think this way? Unless you're a robot (and some people are) this approach will cause a slide show every time. When you flow you show up in the moment and you never beat yourself up when things don't go perfectly. The line between fight/slide and flow/go is very subtle because the activity between the two looks the same until the fighter fails. Not to say that flow people can't slip and fall, it's just that they don't recognize failure the way fighters do, so they rarely suffer from the slide. The bottom line is that if you want to slide less and flow more then sit back and enjoy the ride, do YOUR thing, go at your pace, make a plan without being attached to the outcome and surround yourself with people in-the-know who want to help you succeed.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Mind The Gap

There is something unique about that feeling you get with the start of a new year. I know it sounds cliche but I really do believe that January 1 gives us the opportunity to start over again. It's interesting that the chaos of the holiday's ends abruptly and we're given a brand new year to set the plan and get to work. The mistakes and sub-par behavior of the year before get washed away and 2007 can be the year that we plant the seeds for change. It's that time of year when everyone's glass gets filled to the brim. So why is it so hard for so many of us to sustain this vigor and enthusiasm beyond the first few months of the year?

I think that most of us know deep inside that we're two people. The person we are right now, and the one we'd like to be in the future. We all have dreams, desires and aspirations that create thoughts and feelings that are nurtured by taking action. Our thoughts become things and events and these things and events become our history. Going from who we are to who we want to be requires minding the gap between the two. Choice and time provide results within the gap. Most of us would like to improve as we get older, but in most cases the opposite occurs. Too often we settle for the status quo and end up living lives of quiet desperation. Look around and tell me it's not true.

With every passing year creating positive and permanent change gets harder and harder. Teaching old dogs new tricks that stick often requires cleaning out the doghouse. I'm taking about how important it is to make a conscious shift in your approach to life. This shift needs to look and feel honest and authentic. You must believe it and trust it in your core. You have to turn off the old negative noise floating around in your head and free yourself of all the naysayers and non-believers. Any ties to ill advised past behavior will be extremely detrimental to your ability to close the gap. This is scary life altering stuff and it's not for the weak at heart. If closing the gap was a simple and fast task then the journey wouldn't be worth it.

The one thing I've learned in 24 years of helping people get fit and healthy, is that this journey called life provides endless opportunities to mind the gap. Living in the past, the future and for others is surely a trap that will swallow you alive. As long as we stay wide eyed, flexible, curious and patient, this earth is our playground. Each and every moment can be precious and spectacular. Stay in the moment and surround yourself with loving supportive people who understand and accept your journey. If you can do that then you become the person you'd like to be.