Tag Archives: motivation

The Small Stuff Adds Up

It’s been quite some time since I penned (or typed rather) a blog post. I wish I could give a good excuse, but really, who isn’t busy? I guess the good part is that while I have been busy, it has not affected my commitment to eating right and working out like a madman.

This post will be brief and to the point. One of the thoughts that’s been running through my head lately is the idea that the small things we do each day add up – either positively or negatively. Most Americans strive so hard to live a life of comfort that they often do themselves a physical disservice. We drive around searching for the closest parking space to the store, take the elevator or escalator instead of walking up or down the stairs, eat finger foods because it seems to be the simplest way to eat, wear slip-on shoes, etc., etc., etc.

All these little things surely make us comfortable but certainly don’t do us any benefit from a fitness standpoint. I’m sure you’ve been around someone (hopefully not yourself) who had difficulty breathing after walking up a single flight of stairs. You don’t get into that type of physical condition overnight; but the wrong type of small stuff will add up over time, and the sum often adds up a little nuisance called obesity (among other ~enjoyable~ medical maladies).

A small late night snack here, a small late night snack there, an elevator ride here, a small get-together that certainly must include food (likely unhealthy), a skipped workout, driving somewhere you could walk to… the small stuff truly adds up. Take stock of your daily habits (perhaps even journal them) and evaluate the small stuff that comprises your day. Do the small habits, routines, and decisions of your day guide you to maintaining healthy physical fitness, or do they contribute to a slow, steady decline toward a very unhealthy person that doesn’t become the person you should be?

While you may never develop an appetite for rigorous, intense workouts or have the fortitude to correctly eat almost all the time, you can pay attention to the small stuff and ensure that the small stuff is adding up to a positive outcome.

Very simply, the choice is yours…

True Fitness = Hard Work + Proper Nutrition

The title lists a very simple equation, and yet the solution seems to evade so many people. Let me write it out again:

True Fitness = Hard Work + Proper Nutrition

It’s not to say that Hard Work is more important than Nutrition – I just happened to list them alphabetically. The opposite is probably true that proper nutrition will benefit you more long-term than hard work if you could only pick one. By Hard Work, I mean strenuous, physically-exerting exercise. And by Proper Nutrition, I mean eating foods that are actually good for the body (that’s a dissertation in itself) and getting proper sleep and hydration.

I often run into people that I haven’t seen in awhile, and they typically remark how much thinner and more fit I look. Of course, they want to know what I’ve been doing to achieve my level of fitness. When I tell them about my workouts and changed eating habits, their peaked interest usually dwindles. It amazes me that practical living and hard work are a major turnoff to people. I mean, when you see how hard people will work to live in a certain community or get to a certain position at work, it’s obvious that hard work is not a foreign concept to them; and they seem to have enough common sense that they would seriously evaluate the food their body intakes.

Let me reiterate:

True Fitness = Hard Work + Proper Nutrition

There are no quick fixes or magic potions that will turn you from a lump of dough to a fit, vibrant person. It will take hard, strenuous work. I have stated it before, but I am a strong advocate of working out with kettlebells and bodyweight exercise.

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The benefits are clear:

  1. You will get strong
  2. You don’t need much space
  3. You don’t need to go to a gym
  4. You don’t need to make much of a financial commitment
  5. You can accomplish a lot of hard work in a fairly short period of time

It will take some effort to research the foods you eat, read the labels, understand what ingredients/foods/medicines are good or bad for you, make well-informed food purchases, plan and prepare nutritious meals, etc.

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Again, the benefits are clear:

  1. If you are overweight, you will lose weight
  2. You will be healthier with a stronger immune system
  3. You will have more natural energy (this will fit perfectly into your strenuous workouts)
  4. You will be likely live longer
  5. You will maintain the weight your body was designed to support and your joints will thank you profusely for that

The solution to true fitness couldn’t really be this simple, could it? If you read most of the trendy health and fitness magazines, then to them, the answer is no. There’s always a new gimmick workout or diet (or even diet pill). There’s a huge industry devoted to the millions of people who keep futilely chasing the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

If you truly want to live a longer, healthier life where…

  • You are physically strong
  • You are able to run and play with your kids (or grandkids)
  • You wear normal clothing sizes
  • You get sick less often
  • You won’t need an untimely knee replacement
  • You won’t increase your risk of cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, etc.

Then review the formula 1 more time:

True Fitness = Hard Work + Proper Nutrition

Decide today to be equally committed to both components of the solution, and you will be the better for it. Don’t expect many others to join you, but hey, you are living your life in your body. Only you can directly change and affect you.

Garage Workouts

Lest ye think I only work out with kettlebells, yesterday’s workout included sandbag single arm presses, sandbag zercher squats, barbell bench press, rowing, static dumbbell holds, and more!

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That’s me on the right completing a sandbag press with a 35-lb sandbag. The weight isn’t the challenge as much as the grip and balance of the bag.

Kettlebell Swing Basics

In my previous post, I mentioned capturing your form on video for self critique. I spent a few hours this weekend shooting some video of myself doing a 2-hand kettlebell swing and then put together a video that highlights the key things to remember when swinging a kettlebell.

Enjoy, if you can survive the 8 minutes of me droning on and on!

Critique Your Form

When working out, one way to avoid unneccessary injury is to execute correct form. Whether you are doing deadlifts, running, swinging a kettlebell, pushups, pullups, etc., there is a science behind every exercise movement and an exact, correct way to do it. There are thousands of videos on the web with people demonstrating exercise form (some correct and some not so much). Whether you have a personal instructor or are using web content, the hard part is taking what you’ve seen and replicating that with the exact same form.

Anyone who works out hard and very intensely for an extended duration faces the challenge of fatigue and as a correlating result: slipping form. As your body fatigues and your form begins to slip, your potential for injury is really increases. My mentor and coach Mark always says, “Train hard, train smart!” Both are equally important: hard generates results, and smart keeps you injury-free and able to keep working out, which is pretty important.

Let’s move on to what the title of the blog post is actually about. It is critically important to evaluate your form from time-to-time. Over time, as you learn and ‘master’ a particular routine or exercise, it is easy to fall into the mindset that you will continue to always do that routine or exercise with good form. It is common to pick up bad habits form-wise without realizing it. I understand that not everyone has access to a qualified trainer who can point out and correct flaws in their form. While that is obviously ideal, there are alternatives.

As an alternative, you can record yourself via video. Go back and watch that video (even in slow motion). While you may not be able to notice every little nuance in your form, it is quite likely that you will notice any bad habits that you have picked up. For example, you may notice that your body is not perfectly ramrod straight when doing something as simple as pushups – perhaps your knees are dipping, maybe your butt is too high, etc. Consider pro golfers. Even the best golfers in the world develop issues / hitches with their swing that they either self-evaluate or use a swing coach to correct in order to return to world class form.

Lastly, don’t forget to practice exact and correct form. The more you practice the right form, the more ingrained in your mind the form will be. As your workout progresses, and your body fatigues, your mind will rely on the correct form that you have time and time again stamped into it.

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?

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.

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.