The Greatest Fitness Book Never Written…

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I was talking with a friend the other day who also works as a trainer and we were talking about the reoccurring cycle we see throughout the year. January brings a renewed interest in fitness and wishes to shed the gains of the previous year. Most clients stay strong through the month before easing back off  when the excuses begin. Typically beginning with the Superbowl, moving into Valentines Day, bring on lines like, “It’s just one day, it won’t hurt,” even though those leftover wings and dips, chocolates and sweets carry on for the next week. Add the cold weather factor this time of the year when it’s easy to hide these slips under a few stylishly planned layers until “Holy crap it’s almost spring break!!!” Clients reengage and promise to commit once again to logging their meals and following through with their solo workouts and cardio during the week. It’s no different than cramming for a test in that this maximized effort is for a short term purpose. Working to fit back into that swimsuit rather than working to stay in it. By this time of the year we’ve seen Spring Break, St. Patrick’s Day, March Madness, Cinco de Mayo and other “It’s just one day or one week, I’ll get back at it as soon as (fill in the blank)” pressures come and go and many clients find themselves frustrated to be right back where they were before the new year began. These frustrations lead to misguided beliefs that they don’t have the ability to reach their goals because “it runs in the family”, slow metabolism, low testosterone, thyroid and other self-diagnosed “reasons”. Some even shift the responsibility on to us, the trainers, blaming the style of training because Joe and Jane Blow did something else and they look great. No, Joe and Jane set goals, DESIRED to reach them and did not quit even once they got there.

I wrote back around the first of the year about making resolutions stick. It’s equally frustrating to a trainer to see clients struggle with these things throughout the year and especially year after year as it is for the clients themselves  It would be very easy to say “Quit putting crap in your mouth,” but it’s deeper than that. Most people simply attack goal setting in the wrong way or too ambiguously, setting themselves up to fail. Others wish and want to achieve their goals, but they don’t DESIRE to achieve them. One of the greatest books on setting, attaining and maintaining fitness goals won’t be found in the health, sports and exercise, or even the self-help section. You’ll find it in the business section.

Think_and_grow_rich_original_coverIn 1937, Napoleon Hill wrote the book, and later video, “Think and Grow Rich”, containing the 16 “laws” of achieving success, modeled after individuals such as Andrew Carnegie, Edwin C. Barnes and Marshal Field. Success in a fitness and wellness program are said to be 80-90% nutrition and the rest hard work and rest. But, without starting on a firm foundation, you lack the inner voice reminding you what you are doing this for. That voice that doesn’t let you skip a workout or tells you that this weekends drinking binge and gastro-disaster are ok because you can make up for it next week. To truly succeed, you need more than wishes and wants. It has to be bigger than just reaching a goal. DESIRE is about the climb, reaching the top and remaining the king or queen of the mountain. Only when we get to  and remain at the peak can we look out for that next summit that is just a little bit higher to set our sights on next.

Hill writes that “the method by which DESIRE for riches can be transmuted into its financial equivalent, consists of six definite, practical steps…” These steps translate directly into how we set our goals for fitness and wellness. It begins with fixing in your mind exactly on what it is you are trying to achieve. It is not enough to simply say “I want to get in shape.”

First: Be definite on your goal.

Second: Determine exactly what you intend to give in return for the results you DESIRE.

Third: Establish a definite date when you intend to possess the results you DESIRE.

Fourth: Create a definite plan for carrying out your DESIRE and begin at once, whether you are ready or not, to put this plan into action.

Fifth: Write out a clear concise statement on the results you intend to achieve, name the time limit for them, state what you intend to give in return and describe clearly the plan through which you intend to reach the goal.

Sixth: Read your written statement aloud, twice daily, once just before going to bed, and once when you wake in the morning. As you read this each time, visualize yourself already having achieved your goal. Feel and believe to yourself how you would feel as if you had already achieved your goal. This psychological imprinting is the crucial difference between your wants/wishes and true DESIRE.

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Bonus – BURN YOUR SHIPS and Create a BURNING DESIRE: Hill tells the story that “A long while ago, a great warrior faced a situation which made it necessary for him to make a decision which insured his success on the battlefield. He was about to send his armies against a powerful foe, whose men outnumbered his own. He loaded his soldiers into boats, sailed them to the enemy’s country, unloaded soldiers and equipment, then gave them the order to burn the ships that had carried them. Addressing his men before the first battle, he said, “You see the boats going up in smoke. That means that we cannot leave these shores alive unless we win! We now have no choice, we win or we perish!” They won.

Make your goals public, whether that be with your spouse or family, co-workers, Facebook etc. Share your statement above with them as well as your progress along the way identifying trouble areas and upcoming potential to slip and fall. Establishing partners in accountability holds you to your DESIRE, effectively eliminating sources of retreat before reaching your goal.

– Michael

Summertime Fitness – Hydration and Electrolytes

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With summer officially in full swing, it’s prime time to address hydration and specifically clear up some confusion about electrolytes; what they are, where they come from and America’s “drinking problem” of turning to sports drinks as a source. 

What are Electrolytes?

Chemically, electrolytes are either positively or negatively charged particles that, much like ends of a magnet, either attract or repel each other and other particles within the body. This quality helps regulate many processes, most importantly transport across cellular membranes.

Huh?

Let’s drop the science for a bit and drop some real life knowledge on what this means. Think of the last time you were out at the club. Most likely there was security at the door regulating who came in and how fast the line moved (membrane transport.) Once inside, additional staff patrol the floor helping maintain the cool in the club (homeostasis), as well as escorting out those who have had a little too much to drink and have worn out their welcome (metabolic wastes) and those who never should have been allowed to enter in the first place like the creep on the corner with the sunglasses yellin for more Jagah’bombs (free radicals and other foreign substances.) Frequently, the club will reach capacity and the rate new patrons are allowed to enter is strictly regulated and based on the frequency and volume of guests exiting. The club owners want enough guests in the club to ensure maximum profitability, but not so many that other guests or over crowded or that the club itself becomes unsafe. This is a perfect example of the sodium-potassium pumps that play a huge roll in homeostasis within the cells by ensuring that sufficient nutrients enter to maintain cellular function, but not allowing the cellular membrane to burst from excessive intracellular pressure.

The Sports Drink Dilemma…

Sports drinks such as Gatorade, Powerade, Vitamin Water and others typically are misbelieved to be the best source of electrolytes and rehydration. While they can work and even be recommended in extreme circumstances for athletes that perform at a very high intensity as well as emergency situations of dehydration and malnourishment, for the rest of us there is one answer to staying hydrated and rehydrating, WATER. First and foremost, like most other nutrients, if your diet and lifestyle are balanced, you are getting sufficient electrolytes from the foods you eat. To rehydrate, you simply need to drink more water, period.

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It is pretty common knowledge that Gatorade and Powerade are loaded with sugar and other nasties. But Vitamin Water is one of the most deliberately misleading products on the market. Reading the label you don’t have to look very far to see that sugar is the second ingredient listed. But wait, it only says it has 13 grams, is that so bad? Look again, that’s 13 grams per serving. At 2.5 servings per bottle that most people drink easily in one sitting, that’s 32.5 grams of sugar per bottle, right up there with many soft drinks. Keep reading and you see many of the same acidic ingredients that with the sugar contribute to tooth decay and other metabolic issues.

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Electrolytes in Food…

Sodium and chloride are found together in foods as NaCl (aka salt) and work mainly in the body as discussed above to maintain fluid balance and cellular function. Common foods containing sodium and chloride are beef, pork, cured meats like sardines, cheese, olives and other pickled items. If you are still eating processed foods, most are made with additional salt, like in the case of deli meats, chips and other snacks, nuts, butter, margarine, mayonnaise and many condiments.

Potassium is found in lots of fruits and veggies,  especially green leafy ones like spinach, turnip greens, collard greens and kale, the obvious favorite bananas, tomatoes, oranges, melons, potatoes and sweet potatoes, prunes, raisins, peas and beans. Potassium also helps to regulate blood pressure and prevent bone loss and kidney stones as well as its work in cellular function.

Magnesium, like the others is found in green leafy veggies as well as nuts, legumes and tomatoes. This powerhouse electrolyte also supports bone and teeth development, nerve and muscle function and the activation of enzymes in the body thus supporting other necessary functions in the body.

Hungry for More?

Jump over to Motility Training for Tom Holland’s 6 HOT Tips for Cool Summer Workouts

Major Step in the Obesity Epidemic

The American Medical Association announced today that it will begin recognizing  obesity as a disease. A chronic disease has been defined by the National Institutes of Health as “the basis of the biomedical disease classification” including other diseases such as diabetes, asthma and depression. Until now, obesity has been viewed as a chronic illness, the “personal experience of living with the affliction that often accompanies chronic disease.” Because of this, obesity was not recognized by the health care field as a condition that “fit into a biomedical or administrative classification.”

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Obesity by the Numbers

America, by a huge margin, leads the world in obesity with 92,000,000 Americans with a BMI greater than 30%. Read that again, NINETY-TWO MILLION Americans are currently obese. 66% of Americans over the age of 20 are overweight and 33% are obese according to United States Obesity Statistics as of May 2013.

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What Does the New Designation Mean?

Although the AMA is not the end-all-be-all regarding disease recognition legally,  their statement, “RESOLVED, That our American Medical Association recognize obesity as a disease state with multiple pathophysiological aspects requiring a range of interventions to advance obesity treatment and prevention,”  is huge as it will pave the way for further studies and legislation that may result in more weight management, nutrition, health and wellness treatments being recognized and covered by health care insurance and other programs.

 

There is still much work to be done such as standardizing means of identifying and defining what it means exactly to be obese as the classic BMI system contains some arbitrary classifications that don’t take into other factors such as metabolic conditions etc. I’ll definitely be following this one closely.

– Michael

 

Belly Up to the Wet Barre with Katrina Brock’s Great Water Workout

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You don’t have to be a prima ballerina to know that barre classes are a red-hot fitness trend right now! These easy-on-the-joints, low-impact workouts consistently delivers a muscle burn that’s anything but girly. Barre is a blend of ballet, Pilates, yoga, body-weight exercises and traditional calisthenics with varying degrees of cardio.  The benefits come from the combined challenge of highly controlled movements and lots (and lots) of reps – you’re guaranteed to get a solid workout packed with core and lower body focus.

With summer upon us and the blazing sun beating down, why go sweat it out in a studio when you can get the same great results in the pool? For years I’ve taught aquatic fitness classes in the pool and yoga, Pilates and barre on land and I thought – why not combine them all?  So I did just that, with a workout called Wet Barre.  Trust me, you’ll be way ahead of the curve with Wet Barre, because I specifically designed it to pair the benefits of barre with the built-in resistance of the water.  Did you know water resistance is 12x that of air?  Yes, indeed.  So an added benefit of the water is that there is virtually no need for resistance equipment (although using aqua gloves is an easy way to increase intensity should you want the added challenge).

For a full body blast while at the pool, I’ve put together a little sampler of some of my favorite Wet Barre moves for you to try.  Are you ready to get off that lounge chair and take the plunge?

Click for the full workout…

Chicken Enchilada Stew

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When I wake up to rainy days like today, only one thing sounds good. Soup. I had just enough time to throw this in the crock pot before heading to class, can’t wait for the amazing smell when I get home later, NOMS!

Ingredients:
2lbs chicken breasts
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 bell pepper, chopped
2 jalapenos, sliced very thin
4 Hatch green chiles, charred with torch or over stovetop burner, deseeded and chopped
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 (14oz) can of fire roasted tomatoes
1 (7 oz) can tomato sauce
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons Mexican oregano
salt and pepper, to taste
bunch of cilantro, to garnish
avocado, to garnish

Method:
1. Season chicken breasts with cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper. Sear lightly in saute pan with coconut oil on both sides until they begin to brown. Don’t cook through completely.
2. Add chicken and all ingredients to crock pot on low for 8-10 hours or high for 6-8 hours.
3. After 6 hours remove chicken breasts and shred with a fork before returning to crock pot to finish cooking.
4. Garnish with fresh cilantro and diced avocado.
5. Enjoy!!!

Note: I make this typically in large batches. It can be eaten as more than just a soup. By straining the stock, the chicken and veggies are amazing in omelettes and on salads.

Tom Holland’s Motility Circuit

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Check out this great workout from my friends over at Motility Training. Tom Holland is a 21-time Ironman, author and national fitness celebrity. An exercise physiologist who has built his life and career on a commitment to helping people better their lives through fitness, Holland has encouraged and coached thousands of people to reach their fitness goals. He holds a BA in Communications from Boston College and a Master’s Degree in Exercise Science and Sports Psychology from Southern Connecticut State University.

THE MOTILITY TRAINING OUTDOOR CIRCUIT #1

Summer is right around the corner and this is a great time to mix things up by taking a few of your weekly workouts outside. This will serve to add variation to your program which we know is essential to overall fitness success, both mentally and physically.

You don’t need any equipment whatsoever to get in a quality full-body workout. By being creative you can hit all of your major muscle groups without lugging so much as a dumbbell. Remember, the most basic exercises are generally the most effective at altering your body composition.

The following is a great 45-minute program that combines both cardiovascular and strength training exercises into one workout. This is really fun to do with a friend or two at your local park.
Get the full workout here!

Avocado, Citrus and Fennel Salad

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This is a great little salad I like to whip up when it starts warming up outside. The avocados are a no brainer as I always have them on hand and they go in just about everything I eat. A great vegetarian source of protein, avocados contain all 18 essential amino acids to form a complete protein. They are also a great source of high density lipoproteins (the good cholesterol) and have incredible anti-inflammatory properties. Combine the peppery spice of the arugula with the sweetness of the citrus and the fennel’s aroma and it’s a win.

For those who know me, my favorite things to make are soups and sauces, and that includes dressings. There really is no reason for anyone to visit the salad dressing aisle in the grocery store other than to get some ideas of a dressing to make at home themselves in a batch to use and also store for later.

One of the first ingredients to look at in our diets whether it be for weight management, performance or just simply to be healthy is where our fat comes from. Rather than get into too much science here, for now let’s just stick with the refined oils used in salad dressings. When oils are processed, their chemical structures are manipulated by manufacturers in order to increase shelf life, maximize smoke points for high-temp cooking and any number of other reasons. These alterations also increase the likelihood of oxidation of the oil and making them molecularity unstable and potentially becoming carcinogenic free radicals within the body. The list below are oils to avoid and those recommended. Keep in mind that we are only talking about for cold uses. I will spend significant time in another post discussing oils safe for cooking as many listed here like olive oil are very dangerous to cook with for the same oxidation concerns.

Oils to Avoid: Canola, Corn, Vegetable, Soybean, Grapeseed, Sunflower, Safflower, Rice Bran

Oils Recommended: Olive, Sesame, Nut (walnut, pecan, macadamia), Flaxseed, Avocado

Next time you’re at the store, pick up a bottle or two or ten. Read the labels and I challenge you to find many if any at all that do not contain these processed oils. Look especially close at those that advertise being “Made with Olive Oil.” Sure, the are technically made with some olive oil, but there are no guidelines set as to what percentage must be olive oil and what can be the other junk.

The Ginger Citrus Vinaigrette recipe below is a great example of what you can do yourself. The ratio of vinegar to oil is one that can be kept standard for you in other dressings so with that you can get creative and play with other flavors from fruits to berries, nuts and spices. This leaves you in control not only of the flavors you are in the mood for, but also the quality of ingredients you are putting into your body.

Ginger Citrus Vinaigrette
1/2 cup blood orange juice (may substitute orange, lime, yuzu or any citrus juice)
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallots
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon organic local honey
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Salad
4 cups arugula, rinsed
1 whole avocado, peeled pitted and sliced 1/4″ thick
1 whole fennel bulb with frond, bulb sliced very thin with knife or mandoline, with sprigs reserved for garnish
1/2 small red onion, sliced thin
1 grapefruit, cut into supremes

1. Mix all vinaigrette ingredients except oil, salt and pepper into a bowl and whisk together or blend with a hand mixer.
2. Very slowly drizzle oil while continuing to whisk until an emulsification begins to develop. Oil may be added a little faster at this point. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
3. Lay avocado slices across bottom of plate as a base for arugula.
4. Toss arugula, shaved fennel and red onion lightly with just enough vinaigrette to coat but not soak and wilt the leaves. Place on top of the arugula.
5. Garnish with supremes and fennel sprigs.
Note: for added protein, this salad goes GREAT with smoked salmon, ahi tuna or lump crab meat. Enjoy!!!

Ancestral Fitness… How Far We’ve Come…

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With so much focus on ancestral diets, it is important to note that the nutrition piece is only part if resyncing ourselves with out genetic coding. Physical activity has no doubt decreased in modern society as we continue to advance technologically.

The dreams of the past of when computers and machines would make our lives much easier and increase the quality of living did not come true for most of us. Now don’t get me wrong, sure we can communicate at lightning fast speeds, automate production and travel more efficiently (even though I’m still waiting for my hover board from Back to the Future.) But, as our technological means have increased, so have the expectations of our production. We are working as many, if not more hours than before except now we are tethered to our devices sitting at desks, on planes, trains or in automobiles. Even the visit to a cubicle down the row has been replaced with a text message or email. Add in the morning and afternoon commutes, it’s no wonder over 35% of Americans are now obese. Read that again, over 35% of Americans are obese, not just overweight.

While it would be true to say that America has gotten lazy and simply let the blame lie there, in many cases we have actually just hoarded too many to-dos and are left with our time management cluttered and we don’t know where or how to fit functional fitness into our routines. We’ve forgotten how to move.

Regardless of ones view on the evolution vs creation debate, our ability to move is not only something we should not take for granted, it is a gift we should celebrate as a species! I mean, can you think of another animal on this planet capable of what we are? Crawling, walking, running, jumping, ducking, dodging, climbing, swimming, diving, pulling, pushing, lifting, throwing, catching etc… And with the correct apparati, you can even throw gliding and flying in there. You get my point, we are truly the Swiss Army Knife of biological organisms.

I’m really excited to spend the next several weeks revisiting a study done by the esteemed Dr. Loren Cordain (pioneer of the paleo movement) and colleagues on how fitness was incorporated in the lives of our ancestors and why it is still possible, and critically necessary, to revive this “movement” in our lives today.

Congratulations to Master Relson Gracie on his promotion to Red Belt…

Last weekend Relson Gracie earned his Red Belt after 60 years of jiu-jitsu. Red Belt is the highest rank one can achieve in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and Grand Master Rorion was present to bestow this honor upon his brother. Congratulations Master Relson, and thank you for everything you’ve done for jiu-jitsu!

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