Do one thing every day that scares you.Eleanor Roosevelt

 

A big part of what we do in our practice is to push folks out of their comfort zone.  Very little positive occurs when you just go with the flow.  We strive to make the exercise experience challenging physically but also mentally.  Improvements and growth only occur with pressure.  Set the bar high.. BE better.  Here are some suggestions to improve, grow or get outside your comfort zone in 2012.

1. Wear A Rubber Band and Snap it ! ~ This is a practice advocated by sport psychologist Jack Singer.  Dr. Singer was ask to work with a college quarterback.  It seems that the quarterback who was otherwise perfect, had a nasty habit of letting negative thoughts and pressure get to him during games.  After conversing with the youngster, Dr. Singer discovered that the player was sliding into a pattern of negative thinking when the game got close.  Together they created a way to change the course of his thinking.  Dr. Singer placed a rubber band on the players wrist and whenever a negative (self defeating) thought pattern started to drift into his mind he would snap the band on his wrist and start to visualize positive images of what he wanted to have happen.  Problem solved!   So next time you are about to down a bottle of wine when you should have a glass or a pint of Ben and Jerry’s at the end of the evening just snap it ! I’ll even provide the rubber band.

2. 30 Days of eliminate ~ I used to be from the school of subtle change..be gradual. Two years ago I did a 180.  Subtle didn’t work so I adopted the all in total immersion approach.  If you need to clean up your act take a 30 day pledge to change.  A few ideas include, no alcohol, no grains, no dairy (or all of the these) 30 days of workout, 30 days of 8 hours of sleep.  The list goes on.  If you really want over site and results you should join our PR12 program. Best hurry ! The winter addition begins next week.

3. Sign Up, Register, Enroll~ Some of the best leverage you can have over your training and lifestyle behavior is to pay the entry for a competitive event.  Paying the money to participate in anything from a benefit walk to a Tough Mudder will keep you on track with your training program.  Remember to tell your 5,000 best friends on Facebook too.  They will hold your accountable. We have a schedule of events that we will be supporting.  Plan on attending our kick off gathering on 1/18/2011 to learn how our methods can get you event ready on less effort !

4. Brain Trainer ~ Your brain like muscle needs to be stressed.  Reading, doing crossword puzzle and dedicated brain trainer exercises is critical to neural function. Daily brain training can strengthen willpower and promote healthy lifestyle choices. A University of Amsterdam study found that problem drinkers who followed challenging cognitive training regimens drank less than a control group who did only the easiest regimens. Morever, improvements endured one month later.Two on line options I like are My Brain Trainer and Lumosity.

5. Work on your balance ~ In assisted living communities they like to monitor the aging process with balance assessments.  A decline in balance equates to rapid aging. With that in mind each day perform a mundane task while standing on a single leg.  Brush your teeth or unload the dishwasher while standing on one leg.  If this becomes boring find a firm pillow to stand on and do the same.  Ever wonder why we perform so many single leg moves?  Well now you know.

6. Walk when you could ride or drive ~ N.E.P.A. stands for non exercise physical activity.  This is the non schedule exercise you get from parking further from the front door, the office entrance or the designed walk to the market instead of driving the grocery getter.  Adding these extra measures can add up quickly to improved health and opportunities to get some sunshine and vitamin D.  So next time your on the way home from the movies ask to be let out several blocks from home and hike on home.

7. Wednesday Benchmark~ Every Wednesday get out the measuring stick. This can be a weigh in, measuring the waist, charting food consumption, or a fitness yardstick like push ups.  This keeps you in check over the long haul.  Weight is NOT a great metric and BMI is an even worse idea.  The point is to keep 1 pound change a one pound change and not wake up in 12 months 15 pounds out of range.  If you really are bold you can get a Twitter account and tweet your weight.  Got questions just ask me.

8. Dump 4 Pints ~ When you donate blood it’s a double win.  You save a life and you rid yourself of old blood.   Some evidence points to the positive benefit of donating to reduce toxic build up and accumulation of minerals. So in 2012 donate once a quarter

9. One Sentence Journal ~ I taking this one from Happiness Project author Gretchen Rubins.  Everyday write one sentence on why you are grateful for today.   Prepare to be surprised.

10. Mess-O-Greens ~ While I’ve been accused of being a low carb Nazi ~ thank you.  I am in fact a vegetable advocate.  I typically eat one meal each day that includes a large vegetable serving. My favorite is a tossed salad.  I look to include red, orange, yellow and green matter in my salad.  (ROY Green) I toss it with olive oil and it’s good to go.  Eat a mess-o-greens like me and feel the benefits.

11. Get Lab Work ~ Unless you have a specific issue, when you go to your GP he/she is going to focus on your blood lipids for the most part.  I suggesting that you also start monitoring more.  Look at hormones as well.  You may get some push back if you ask for it from your physician.  If you don’t want to deal with your GP you can purchase lab work al a carte from Privatemdlabs.com ( Reading the results is a different thing but reference ranges will be provided with your results) Once you have the results plug them into a spreadsheet and plan to look at them again at five year intervals. (I have a strong concern for the future of the homo sapnien male but that is a post for another time.)

There you have it.  Ten things to push you out of your comfort zone now get you list organized.

 

 

 

Since 2004 I’ve been harping on the value of sleep.   Two important books and a few years under my belt brought me to this point.
(I’ve talked about sleep here in the past but I can’t help it.  It’s needs the focus.)

Sleep is an interesting challenge as a health and fitness practitioner. Some people require less and others more. Additionally, it’s difficult in a large setting to qualify and quantify how it all gets factored into the result.  The tendency in my industry  to focus on food (diet is such a bad word) and fitness and to give cursory attention to sleep and other lifestyle issues.  It’s our default setting.  So as a rule sleep is the red headed step child to programming and eating.

While improved sleep will help with anything from mental issues to a reduction in inflammation and cardiovascular events, they don’t appear sexy enough to get folks attention.

BUT, if you mention fat loss you will tend to catch an ear.

Sleep deprivation will absolutely train wreck your fat loss goals. Burning the candle at both ends stretches your reserves and puts your sympathetic nervous system into overdrive.  To over simplify things, your body is thinking fight. A craving for carbohydrates and sugars occur and fat burning is turned down.  The net result is the body holding on to fat as a survival response. (A poor training program nets the same result but that’s another topic.)

For males, running low on sleeps typically nets a reduction in testosterone levels which creates a whole new subset of issues.  Get that macho man? Less sleep = less manly.

I’ve found that better sleep is the result of better sleep habits ,before bed time ritual and a great bed.  You may also benefit from running your own sleep study.

Part 2 of this post will include my first fat loss story solely as a result of more sleep.  Stay tuned kids.

 

 

 

 

I

Sarah Fragoso~ Walks Her Talk

I received an advanced copy of Sarah Fragoso’s EVERYDAY PALEO. I typically don’t have time for book review’s but Sarah’s book is really good.  Here are ten reason’s why I recommend Sarah’s work and why you need a copy.

1. She learned from two of the best Paleo lifestyle advocates on the planet.  They don’t get a lot better or more knowledgeable than Robb & Nicki. That goes a long way.

2. She came from the dark side.  She was out of shape and pulled herself from the depths of unhealthy and unfit to fit and healthy. There is no substitute for experience and going from unsuccessful to successful teaches you so much more.

3. She converted her family.  This is WAY underrated.  In her book she provides excellent strategies on  how to integrate a Paleo lifestyle with your spouse and children.  How unique.

4. Her charts are colorful and easy to ready.  So many other books are black on black.  Sarah’s book has color and outstanding photos of the meals.

5.  The recipes are outstanding and easy to execute. She has them color coded for morons like me.  (I’m a minimalist cook.) Sarah’s foods are so easy to plan and prepare. I prepared some today and they are simple.  If I can do it then anyone can.

6. She spends time talking about SLEEP.  Lord knows we need to spend more time on that topic.

7. Her husband is jacked and her children are cute.

8. She has a 30 day meal plan provided.  No more excuses!  I like to tell folks to write down what they are suppose to eat and then eat that!  Sarah has a plan I can now handover to the excuses crowd.

9. She provided a fitness section with excellent illustrations.  If there is anything I can nitpick with with accuarcy it’s workout plans.  Sarah has built in progressions that takes you from the beginner stage and beyond.

10. Her Kids’ Fitness / Family Fitness section is impressive.  This was a real surprise and excellent part of the book.

The book releases on April 25th, 2011.  You should get your advanced copy today.

Last summer I had entered a Weightlifting competition.  I lift 94kg and typically give up several kilos each time.  This time it was a different story.  Over the course of the winter in which I had performed only a sprinkling of CrossFit style training my weight was a solid 94kg.  Being a little ‘fluffy’ was a unique spot but I wasn’t too bothered with it.~ Maybe a problem?  That all changed around the first of November when some of the gents from the gym invited me to join them for a Mancation and an adventure known as TOUGH MUDDER.  I believe weight to be a horrible metric but I decided that I might perform (survive) better running a bit leaner than my fluffy 207.

It’s been said that a coach who prescribes for himself has a fool for a client and an idiot for a coach.  Nonetheless, I believe the following strategies and practices helped me get ready for the TOUGH MUDDER Austin which I finished in two hours as the second oldest entry.

1. Programming / Training ~  My advanced folks have been running a MEBB variant since October.  Our training parallells my philosophy on strength layered on top of intelligent mixed mode CrossFit work.  October through December was 2 to 3 dedicated strength days and 2 to 3 CrossFit style workouts per week. More strength on the odd weeks less on the even.   Since January 3rd we have been running on two dedicated strength days with 3 mixed mode workouts each week.  Running for me looks pretty for about 10 meters.  After that I transform into an ice wagon.  To prepare, I dropped in a wave of long runs on Sunday peaking at 9 miles of running a month before the MUDDER event.  Occasionally I was able to squeeze in one or two more efforts @ 80% of fatlek or tempo work around 30 minutes each. My own version of a CrossFit Endurance design.  My benchmarks all improved. I finished near the top each day on the Whiteboard and I maintained respectable strength metrics of 125 kilogram deck clean and 420 x 6 trap bar dead lift.

2. Diet ~ In 2006 I tinkered with a cyclical ketogenic diet.  I was miserable for awhile but in reviewing some old notes I believe I failed to consume enough fat & protein and was super restricted on calories.  This time I did a much better job.   I capped my carbs at 30 grams consumed  and used DAILYBURN on my iPhone to track my intake. I set targets with the application. Robb Wolf encouraged me to hammer down a hunk of protein within 30 minutes of awakening.  That was big. There were  4 to 6 days I skipped breakfast and fasted until noon.  I bridged until lunch with BCAA’s.

I heard Tim Ferris say that Tracking + Loss Aversion > The How To.  I was tracking with Daily Burn and my loss aversion was an EPIC FAIL in Austin.  Nobody wants to see an old man in the fetal position sucking his thumb in the middle of a Texas field ~ especially my athletes.

I run low on carbs regardless, but this uber low practice along with my training shifted me into a ketosis until Saturday.  Since I was going to pound asphalt on Sunday I spiked my carbs on Saturday at lunch and dinner.  Mostly staying Paleo.  This dietary practice was the centerpiece of dropping some serious cheese. I rarely felt hungry and my energy has been insane.

In summary:

1. Low Carb < 30 grams / day Monday-Saturday lunch.  I think a carb up on Wednesday night might work just as well.

2. Eat whatever at lunch and dinner Saturday

3. Stay Paleo !

3. Supplements~ I used supplements which I believe helped. Someone said supplements suck but I do believe that there is a responsible way to use supplements to enhance health and performance.  Here is my list.

Athletic Greens ~ 1 Tablespoon / day.  I switched Greens Products.  It’s a long story but I like this stuff.

Vitamin C ~ 3 grams/day

Vitamin D3 ~ 4000-8000 iu / day  (I’m certain I have SAD.  Vitamin D has made winters here tolerable)

Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) ~ 100 mg with each meal (I heard this stuff might mess with thyroid function if you have any issues with thyroid function.  Proceed with caution)

Fish Oil ~ 5 grams/ day ( I like Carlson’s, FLAMEOUT and Nordic Naturals.)  I’m rarely sore.  The low carb, fish oil combo is clearly working.

BCAA ~ 6 x twice daily.  I was part of an amino acid study in 1982.  (Obviously survived)  I’ve found them amazing on mornings when I wanted more coffee during a fast.

ZMA ~ 3 capsules.

Z-12 ~ 2 capsules Monday-Friday.  Improved sleep quality for certain.  Not necessarily longer but deeper for certain.

On Thursday prior to departing my weight was exactly 10 pounds less than in July 2010.  My body fat was a notch under 10%.  I had no difficulties with the course despite selecting bad shoes.  I got Mudder bug so look for me at a Mudder near you.

I could not avoid this entertaining five minute success lecture on the power of sleep. Dig around THE FITNESS CONDUIT or this new blog, and you will find a number of posts on the value of improving sleep quantity and quality. Thank you Michael Halbfish for posting this first.

A month ago I witnessed a client involved in an automobile accident.  Thankfully everyone was okay.  The driver of the other vehicle clearly ran a red light.  Folks chase lights and even I on occasion will catch an orange one.

I learned this week that the driver of the other car was under the influence of sleeping pills.  It got me thinking about how many kinds of pills are available for a variety of aliments and conditions.  We’ve got pills to get us going in the morning, pills to knock us out at night and when the mode strikes us if nature doesn’t work~ get it up.

The more you dig into sleeping pill usage you learn that there are some serious issues.  We are turning into a nation of Ambien Zombies.  There have been some pretty high profile Zombies to date as well.  The use of sleeping pills in the United States alone has risen over 138% in four years.  Sales of sleeping pills has a total value over 4 billion dollars.

I place sleep hygiene at the bottom of the health pyramid.  No matter how zealous you are with your health and fitness approach you must rest.  This is so critical to your overall health.  Name the aliment and you will likely also find a critical link to poor sleep history.

Your bedroom should be used for two things and one of them is sleep. (BTW the second thing is not watching Soprano’s season II.)

Getting a good nights sleep like many things involves habits.  Routine is critical.

1. Go to bed at the same time and wake at the same time. Your target is 7 hours as a minimum.  Do the math.  This usually means that you need to be in bed asleep by 10:00 pm.  No excuses about waiting up for kids.  The inmates do not run the prison.  FYI~ Young teenagers should be logging 9 hours per night.  There bodies are a raging hormonal storm.  Lack of sleep combined with a highly processed high carbohydrate diet is a recipe for disaster.

2. Make sure your room is dark. Cover the windows and the alarm panel.  Anything that lets light in should be blacked out.

3. Leave you cell phone in another room and turn it off. For the love of God tell your mother in law or anyone else not to call the house after 10 pm unless the world is ending.  It can wait.

4. Formulate a bedtime ritual.  Here’s a suggestion….1. Keep the light low and turn of the stupid box (TV) for roughly 1 hour before bed. 2. Take a hot shower or bath or hot tub. 3. Put on your bed clothing.  4. Brush and floss your teeth. 5. Don’t go to bed angry.  Whatever happened during the day save it for tomorrow but don’t be angry.

5.  Watch caffeine intake late in the day or evening. This goes for alcohol too.  A little alcohol might help but we are taking about 4 oz of red wine with dinner.  Alcohol as it wears off will become disruptive to sleep rhythms early in the morning.

6. Heavy meals and excessive carbohydrate intake can be distributive. You’ll crash but then wake up with heartburn or just be uncomfortable.

You can also do a little SLEEP CAMP study to optimize your sleep.  A non pharmaceutical approach might include a bit of  ZMA and or Magnesium Calm for your nocturnal bliss.