Commitment

The 2nd round of the NFL playoffs is about halfway complete.

One thing that is evident as the playoffs have begun and continue to the Super Bowl, the teams and players comprising the playoff contenders are committed to the perfecting of their craft and the pursuit of excellence.

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Granted, these men are partially motivated by multi-million dollar contacts, but the playoffs (of any sport really) bring out that extra level of commitment and competitive spirit.

The lesson to be gained is this: whatever your goals may be… getting stronger, losing weight, breaking through a certain plateau, eating healthier, etc., approach that goal with the same perseverance exemplified by these NFL players and coaches. Relentlessly pursue the things that you want to achieve.

Start the New Year Off STRONG!

Although my eating habits over the past few days were a little out of character in terms of health and nutrition, I controlled myself to the point of where I don’t feel a need to make any rash New Year’s resolutions.

Notwithstanding, I do have a personal goal of accomplishing more physically in 2013 than I did in 2012. 2012 was a year of transformation for me, including dramatic weight loss and some strength gains and metabolic conditioning. Now that I am relatively at a weight that I want to maintain and can manage, I plan to more aggressively increase my overall strength.

As an aside, Strong First is a great website that is dedicated to the strength building. The premise of this site is that as you become stronger (with a focus solely on that – hence strong first), the more fit you will become. Interesting food for thought as most people who are trying to go from unfit to fit strictly focus on weight loss and not actually increasing their strength.

In 2012, I experienced the most significant weight loss when I strictly counted every calorie that I consumed for a period of 100 straight days. I used an app on my phone called My Fitness Pal. While I honestly don’t aspire to track my caloric intake for the entirety of 2013, I am planning on continuing to use this app to track my caloric intake for the first week of each month. Don’t forget to stick to what has helped you achieve success!

Today’s first concentrated workout of the new year will include the following:

  • 30 burpees (with a pushup) – for a warmup
  • 100 kettlebell swings (likely with a 53 lb kb)
  • 100 kettlebell goblet squats (35 lb kb)
  • 100 kettlebell clean and press (35 lb kb)
  • 100 kettlebell snatches (35 lb kb)

Not sure yet on how I will break them down set-wise, but that is today’s goal.

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With workouts of these nature, the reality is that it is more of a test of the the mind and will than the body itself. Training your body to push past what your mind tells you it can or cannot do has incredible rewards and will help you push past barriers or limitations.

For 2013, I am committed to getting stronger while continuing to stick to the basics that were the foundation of my transformational 2012. What will you commit to in 2013?

Reality Check

In a break from talking about fitness and nutrition, yesterday we took our oldest daughter (who is 7) to the Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) for a procedure where they inserted medicine into her arm.

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Both daughters have been diagnosed this year with a condition known as Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH). Essentially, their adrenal glands do not function properly with Cortisol production. Although this condition is treatable with daily medication, it is not correctable and therefore lifelong.

It has been a journey learning about this condition, the effects, ramifications, etc. I am thankful that the endocrinologist was able to diagnose their condition and help them. For those who have full health (myself included), it certainly is a reality check to go to a place like CHOP and see the families affected by various conditions, many more severe than what our daughters are challenged with.

My New Walking Pal

I am not usually in the habit of taking multiple brisk walks a day (yes, there is a limit to my desire to work out). That all changed a few days ago after we ‘rescued’ Layla from the West Chester (Pa) SPCA.

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Every morning and night, Layla tries to drag me through our village at breakneck speed… so not only do I get in some extra walking, I also get a decent strength workout keeping her at bay.

On a side note, the workers at the SPCA were really nice and helpful, and we were glad to bring Layla home to become part of our family. Like my friend Mark says, adopt a dog in need instead of buying from a ‘puppy mill’.

Brush Your Teeth… a Little Earlier

This entry will be short and sweet (well short at least).

I recently went to the dentist to get in a cleaning before year-end. My dentist and I were discussing my love/hate relationship with flossing – or my lack of interest sometimes in flossing. In her opinion, the best time to floss is at night because that is when your mouth is most inactive and getting the least amount of oxygen flow as you sleep.

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At any rate, she said, don’t wait until right before you go to sleep to floss because you will probably be too tired at that point to do it properly if at all. Do it earlier in the evening. That got me thinking about late night snacking and the struggle that can be for some people.

Perhaps this is something that could potentially be a small help to people who struggle with late night snacking. Take some time early in the evening (maybe 8 or 9 PM) to completely floss and brush your teeth (oh, and you can skip the mouthwash too although that’s another story/theory for another day). With your mouth feeling so fresh and clean, you just may be inclined to let it stay that way until the next day and avoid eating something just because you feel an urge to eat.

If you have any tips or ideas for combatting late night snacking, add a comment and share.

Midweek Workout

It was refreshing to get an afternoon workout in today. All you need to complete it is a kettlebell and something to jump onto. Here is what we did:

WARMUP
– stretch
– 10 sets of 10 2-handed kettlebell swings with focus on form and proper breathing
– 30 pushups followed by 5 sets of 7 pushups with 15 second rest intervals

WORKOUT
– 7 sets of…
–> 5 slow grinding goblet squats (you could use either a kettlebell or a dumbbell)
–> 10 box jumps where you fully extend to a standing position at the top, then complete an air squat, and then step back down.

You could complete this individually, or with a partner… switching every time both are complete.

For the kettlebell swings, I used a 16kg kettlebell. For the goblet squats, I used a 12kg kettlebell, and the box jump is approximately 24″.

It is important to note that the workout focused on controlled movement and not bouncing up and down on the knee joints (your knees will thank you for that, and the goal is strength building NOT max reps). This workout should thoroughly smoke your legs and core.

Remember, don’t forget to stretch when you are done… Bretzels and press-ups are good for that.

If you happen to try this workout, post here and let me know what you think.

Be Practical!

Unless you completely isolate yourself from society, it is hard to avoid all of the festivities (including parties and food) at this time of the year. While everyone will approach it differently, it certainly won’t hurt to have a game plan for enjoying the season without gaining 20 pounds.

While hiding in a hole for a month or so is an option, it certainly isn’t practical. There are few who can adhere to a rigid 100% healthy diet all the time. For those who can, I applaud them. For the majority who can’t, have a plan in place. Letting go and eating everything in November and December and then making a New Year’s resolution to join a gym to work off the unwanted pounds is not a good plan, in my opinion.

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  • So for the festivities that you do attend, have a plan in place.
  • If it’s a lunchtime event, eat a light breakfast and dinner.
  • If it’s an evening function, eat a light breakfast and lunch.
  • While at the event, have a goal of limiting yourself to 1 plate of food.
  • Make a point of focusing on conversing with others over eating. They will appreciate the fact that you are not stuffing your face while talking to them, and you will appreciate the fact that you are not overloading your stomach with food.
  • Take a few minutes and search online for some basic caloric facts about common party foods, including desserts. Armed with this information, you should have at least a little pause as your peruse the food.
  • Don’t stop working out… maybe even add 1 workout to your week. Just don’t lapse into the bad idea that a lot of working out will compensate for eating extremely unhealthy food. Good exercise and bad food do not equate. To be sure, it may be difficult to completely avoid unhealthy food, but manage the intake!

So… don’t hide in a hole. Go have fun, celebrate the time of year, and go to some parties. Just don’t forget to have a plan and to be practical!

Start Your Week With A Workout

What better way to kickstart your week than with an intense workout?

After completing a garage workout yesterday that focused on heavy weight training, today featured pushups… a lot of them.

For warmups, I continued a pushup program that is geared toward increasing my max number of pushups in 1 set. (65 pushups spaced over 6 sets).

Next up, single arm farmers walks with a 70 lb kettlebell.

Then 100 burpees with pushups. Spaced out in however many sets needed to get to 100… more important to maintain good form than complete in a certain time limit! Did 25 more pushups after just for the heck of it.

Finished with a 2 minute plank.

Don’t let this time of the year sap your energy for exercise.

Typical Breakfast

A typical morning’s breakfast for me: plain Greek yogurt, blueberries, cashews, and organic granola.

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Myth-Scuses!

In January 2012, I decided that I was going to take control of my life in terms of health, well-being, and physical fitness. The reasons that I got to the point of being unhealthy, lazy, couch-potato-like, and out-of-shape were because of the excuses that I convinced my mind to believe. Not only did I buy into these excuses, but they weren’t even true – ‘myth-scuses’, if you will.

Here are the 5 myth-scuses that enabled me to live a life where I often felt unenergized and tired:

  1. I Don’t Have Time – I’m Too Busy
  2. Maybe I’m Just Getting Older
  3. I Can’t Afford a Gym Membership
  4. I Can’t Afford to Eat Healthy
  5. I Can’t Stay Motivated

As time goes by, I will elaborate on how I confronted each of these ideas, but for this post, I will just focus on the first idea. I work in IT supporting conferencing technologies, specifically audio and video conferencing. The nature of this work sometimes consists of additional night or weekend work as well as being on call at times. The increasing responsibilities of my job as well as taking on responsibilities at my church teaching children began to consume the majority of my time. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not going down the road of telling you that I came to the conclusion that my job was not important. It is very important – it pays bills, it provides for needs, it generates relationships, etc. In retrospect, I have found that when I am shape and maintaining an intake of healthy foods that I am able to contribute a greater focused energy to my responsibilities than I was previously able to.

In my mind, I believed that in order to be in shape, that I needed hours and hours a week to accomplish this goal. In college, I competed in intramural sports as well as lifted weights at the gym 5-6 times a week. Since this did keep me in shape at that time, I equated that amount of time to what I would need now. I did not consider that perhaps my time then was not used as effectively as it could have been to generate results, nor I did I think for a second that my methods of working out could be wrong or misguided. At any rate, I convinced myself that if I couldn’t spend hours and hours a week working out, well then, I guess I just wasn’t going to work out at all. A few pushups on some rare occasion would be enough, right? (ha!)

Early this year, I discovered the concept of high intensity interval training (HIIT), and more specifically Tabata training. For someone like me who likes to give maximum effort at whatever I decide to do (and this unfortunately included sitting on the couch for long periods of time), high intensity was a perfect fit. I don’t know that I understood it at the time; but I do believe now that if that if high intensity training is the only thing you do, that you will lose a lot of weight but probably not have much else to show for it. Nonetheless, what an eye opener to learn that by packing maximum intensity in intervals into brief workouts that I could burn more calories (and continue burning calories) than I would through traditional cardio methods.

In the first few months, I did a lot of high intensity training mostly with bodyweight exercises such as burpees, lateral jumps, squats, and pushups. And to circle back to the original idea that I didn’t have time in my busy day to work out, well let’s just say that was going out the window. I was completing workouts 3-4 times a week in 15-30 minutes. There were other factors that I will expound on later, and I still had (have, really) so much more to learn; but more than anything, it was a step in the right direction.

What are some of the ‘myth-scuses’ that have held you back??