Happy Friday friends! Recently, I’ve found myself using the same coaching que with several clients and it falls into a category of one of the first things I try to teach people about resistance training.
This is something I call “The Stop.” It’s the point in resistance training where your brain overrides your muscles and stops you from completing any more reps.
As a rule this is actually a great function for us to have! Our brain prevents us from injuring ourselves and otherwise preserving our way of life by using this reflex.
The drawback is our brain will typically kick this reflex into motion JUST before we hit the optimal zone for muscle growth and development.
Damn you brain! … Yet again, you are counterproductive to working out and are working against us!
If you recall from one of my old posts “insert here” we discussed in some detail how the brain functions off of optimal energy storage and usage, as well as doing what it can to prolong our lives.
Now, before we continue, I need to address this:
There may be some out there going “But wait Ferret; if our brain is supposed to stop us from hurting ourselves, and this is a natural reflex that occurs prior to this “zone” isn’t this dangerous advice??”
Here’s my answer: There is a popular mantra in the gym that states “no pain, no gain.”
If approached by the uneducated, this can cause some serious damage to your body as everyone’s pain threshold falls into different categories and visibly forcing your body into rep ranges where your form goes to complete shite will often result in injury.
However, as with most “Bro-science” and myths there is a strong theme of truth buried underneath the surface.
The ideal rep range for stressing muscle tissue and thus providing a stimulus for growth and development is incredibly uncomfortable, especially to a novice, and is associated with a degree of pain.
So the safest way to attain this is as follows.
When you start to feel like you want to quit (notice I did not say need to!) assess the situation. How is your form? If your form is still good, you’re close, but not close enough! Keep pushing forward, turn off that “stop” mechanism and instead focus on your form. Yes, it should be burning. Yes it should be uncomfortable. YES it will hurt!
When your form starts to fail, and you start “kipping” to complete repetitions. Congratulations. You have achieved the optimal zone, and you are in a safe place to stop.
This is the zone right before muscle failure and it will take you a while to master falling into it.
But keep with it. Don’t give up. Don’t surrender to the brain! Deprogram “The Stop.”
The brains intentions are all well and good, but he’s working against you under stress.
Deprogram “The Stop” and reprogram your focus. Focus on your muscles and their form and function. Tell the brain to stop being a back seat driver, and move forward on your progress.
Happy Friday friends! Today we have a topic of great interest to me. It’s something I’ve wrestled with most of my life to pin down and have a good answer for, or at least some good questions.
In life, we find ourselves faced with cross roads, and forks in the road time and time again. We know we can only take one even if we kid ourselves into thinking some day we will be back to take the other. Each fork, each diversion, each path leads us further and further to who we are to ultimately become, yet … who hasn’t stopped for a moment and pondered “What if I had gone the other way?”
Recently, a friend of mine is being faced with a big life decision for herself. One path offers familiar comfort and adventuring opportunity in the last few remaining years of great freedom (College days) with good company old and new. The other, a new experience, secluded from the familiar, but set in an exciting scenario that promises great experiences and potential towards the future.
Each with its own merits, rewards, and opportunity; each greatly different and diverges in opposite directions.
She reached out to me, and asked, “If you were here, which would you choose?”
How does one instruct another life decision or even offer advice? Personally, myself, I’m just stumbling through the dark and finding neat stuff along the way. How could I offer any insight to how to approach major life decisions and ultimately choosing paths?
A simple flip of the coin?
No, it’s never that simple. Is it?
I’d like to now share with you one of my favorite poems by a great man named Robert Frost:
TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Frost knew all too well this very struggle.
There will never be a correct answer for any one individual. As well, there will never be any way to know for certain where the other path would have lead, for we cannot ever travel it.
We must be confident that all of our decisions are correct and the best we could have made, no matter how we come to them. Let the historians’ debate morality.
Understand that each is unique and offers its own adventure, rewards, trials and tribulations.
Well that’s all fine and dandy, at least now I feel good about tough life decisions.
BUT I still don’t know what to choose!
For this, I have finally developed an answer that I am confident in.
When faced with a fork in the road and you’ve weighed and balanced them; looked down each as far as you can see; pondered, pondered, and pondered somewhere just which one to take and are stuck.
Just simply, flip a coin. Before the coin lands, you’ll already know which one you want it to be and if you still don’t, well chance has decided for you and you may as well leap.
Happy … Sunday? Friends! Yes, that is right, it is in fact Sunday, not Friday. Womp Womp.
I underestimated how much my adventure last Sunday would kick my butt. But I digress …
This week, I would like to discuss with you some of the profundity’s I came across while hiking a Presidential Traverse on Sunday.
Just what the heck is a Presidential Traverse you ask?
It is a 20 mile hike (19.8) across the White Mountains in which you hit each of the presidential peaks. Of course, I am told from a purist perspective it is not a true presidential traverse unless it includes the 8th peak, but I’m not terribly concerned with semantics.
As I mentioned, this hike really gave me quite a butt kicking! It took us 16 hours and went from pre-dawn to post sunset. Amidst the laughs, the sweat, and the tears, I reached several moments where I felt absolutely clear. As if some mystery or piece of knowledge fell within my grasp to solve and understand. I find these moments often when out in nature hiking (of course, I also find an abundance of these moments in the shower and in the car.)
Today, I would like to simply share with you the moments of inspiration that crossed paths with me during my adventure.
Never Spit Into The Wind.
This seems a little silly and is an age-old saying. What brought about this thought ironically was a literal application to the metaphor.
While at the peak of Madison and dealing with 60mph gusts of wind, I went to spit out some of what could only be described as “by product in the throat of altitude, cold, and physical activity” (I’m sure some people out there no what I’m talking about) and was actually surprised, when a gust picked up just then and flung the projectile back into my own face.
The only appropriate response to that was to laugh at myself. Fortunately, no one else had seen me do it and I was far enough ahead of my companions that I had enough time to consider the action I just took.
From the literal perspective, I was reminded “Don’t spit into the wind.” The consequence being, you’ll get hit with your own spit.
So, figuratively, what the metaphor means to me is a reminder how as we travel through life, we will always encounter gusts of wind. Resistance if you will. Resistance from the universe, relationships, tasks, trials, and the list goes on and on. When faced with those moments, the last thing you want to do is put your own crap against that resistance. It will always come back and bite you.
Consider the following: You are working hard at making a new routine work, and it is pertinent that you allow yourself an extra 15 minutes in the mornings to do so. The alarm goes off, 25 minutes earlier, and you are faced with the decision of waking yourself up or hitting the snooze button. Don’t spit into the wind!
You’ve got a big project due, and an afternoon set aside to work on it. Someone approaches you with an opportunity to do something that will take up half up that time. Will the remaining half still be enough time? Don’t spit into the wind!
You’re on a roller coaster, going 60 miles an hour. Don’t spit into the wind!
Perspective, Yes it’s important.
Perspective. Possibly one of the strongest forces to our mental state and level of drive.
While climbing (several peaks) looking up to your destination always seemed so daunting and far. But as I came to notice each time I reached a peak and looked down, it never seemed as far as it did from the bottom.
Then, the light bulb clicked on.
As with all obstacles we face in life, as we are at the beginning working our way up, the destination always seems so far away and the odds against impossible. But once we achieve the peak, the goal, the end, we look back and it never seems as challenging as it was. It looks almost … easy. Perhaps on some metaphysical level, it is easy now, once we have conquered it there is no longer that battling sensation of “can I do it?” because from the top, that question has already been answered with a resounding yes.
So friends, remember while you are climbing that mountain, looking down from the top will provide you with perspective and make the journey all worth it.
Those who have arrived at the peak already never forget that the struggle is real. No matter how simple it looks from the top, remember what you had to go through to get there. Always encourage those who are still climbing.
Say Yes to Life.
This was quite possibly my favorite profound thought of the day. Through life we are faced with many opportunities to live. To take advantage if of them all we need to do is say “yes.”
It was halfway through the hike, as we were climbing Washington it’s self that my mind started to wander to the “Oh crap … what have I gotten myself into? I am going to die. My legs are going to give out, and I am going to die.” Now, I was not in any real life threatening danger, but my body ached to the point where I was struggling to maintain that mental focus to keep pushing. That all too familiar zone I often times help my clients push themselves into and through.
Mustering what I could, and popping a couple Ibuprofen, I sucked it up and said “yes” to life even though I had the opportunity to ride a train back down the mountain and quit the hike half way through.
The rest of the adventure was STILL just as grueling and my body and mind reached levels even beyond that initial point where I had to keep telling myself to simply throw the next leg in front as I trudged on.
When we hit that final peak at Pierce, and watched the sun starting to set on the horizon, the entire trip suddenly became more than worth it.
The accomplishment, the feat, the adventure.
Never in my life had I completed a hike quite like this, let alone put my body through a challenge quite as physical, and here I was, at the last peak of our journey watching one of the most beautiful sun sets I had ever seen from one of the highest points in North America.
I’m reminded of a story at this moment.
While walking along a beach on the cape with a few friends on a very cold fall day, one of my friends looked out across the ocean and said “Let’s run into the water.”
The rest of us looked at him a little crazy, and without missing a beat, he threw off a couple lairs of clothing, looked us square in the eyes and said “Somewhere on the edge of your comfort zone is where life really happens.” Without missing a beat, he sped off into the water. His words rang true, and gave me this itching sensation of invigoration. I followed after and jumped into the water as well.
Yes, it was very cold.
Yes, it was crazy.
Yes … It made me feel alive.
Friends, say yes to life, as often as you can. We are only here for a short time, and the true adventure is making it mean something to you.
As many tears as it may take, as much as it may be outside your comfort zone. It will always leave you with a memory that can’t be replaced, a feeling that can’t be explained, and a life made, rather than simply lived.
Tune in Monday for another great article written by our friend Erin!
Happy Friday friends! I’m back and ready to rock and roll after an awesome Spartan Race in Amesbury. This year was quite a challenge, but I am happy to report that not only was I able to conquer their challenges (no burpees for this guy!) but the folks who participated as part of the team also performed stellar and as much as I helped push them to their best, they in turn, helped push me as well.
But I digress.
3 Days of soreness and a voracious appetite later, I am ready to start delivering unto you more delicious brain food!
Today, our topic will be about creating a “Road Map To Success.” To throw this into lamens terms, we’re going to talk about goal setting and how you can help get yourself on your way to accomplishing said goals.
A dream without a plan is just a wish. One can wish as much as they want for things to happen, for things to change. But unless you are willing to be the change, or make something happen, they will remain just that, nothing more than an idyllic wish.
But … change is hard. There is no way to sugar coat that. We are hardwired to feel comfortable with repetition, routine, and the conservation of energy.
And let’s face it. Things that are effortless are appealing because of just that: They are effortless.
We’ve discussed before strategies for setting goals and accomplishing them, but today, I wish to share with you a new strategy I’ve been implementing and using in my own life to help keep me on track!
Yes, that’s right. In case anyone was wondering, I am in fact human! I have human qualities and traits, including susceptibility to becoming “comfortable.”
What I have discovered in my short time on this mortal coil is that comfort, while it is great, is the killer of ambition. It speaks to me as if it were honey in my ears, lulling me into a sense of false accomplishment. After all, if I am comfortable, have I not been successful?
Like many of you and others, I go through cycles where I am quite productive and find myself accomplishing goal after goal only to then run into a lull, or hit a rut where I just cruise on the coattails of my past accomplishments. I dub this, comfort.
So how do we beat this? It is only human to seek comfort, and a life filled with nothing but tension and uncomfortable uncertainty doesn’t necessarily sound very appealing.
So what I am proposing is that our goal should not be to spring forward with leaps and bounds towards all of our hopes, dreams, and wishes. Instead, it is merely to increase the duration and frequency of these cycles of “accomplishment.”
Que up: “The Road Map To Success.”
As silly as it sounds, it is literally a map. Written out, drawn out, illustrated, demonstrated, and any other form of expression that I need to give my dreams and wishes structure and direction helping me avoid the ruts, the plateaus, and the “comfort.”
To make your very own roadmap…
STEP ONE: first consider what the goal is you want to work towards achieving (Nothing is too lofty!) For example, I have chosen my goal of publishing my first book.
So this becomes our end point, our destination, our “X” on our treasure map. Draw it, write it, express it however you have to on your map.
STEP TWO: Now, consider where you are. What is your beginning point? For my goal that I have chosen, my starting point is the Blog I currently author. It is my testament to myself, that I am capable of this (even if it takes a year!) Consider the following: I have now been blogging for a year, one article a week, 52 weeks in a year. If you take the average number of pages of each article at 3, that’s 156 pages in a year. For what I want my first book to be, that’s perfect.
Now not only do I have my starting point, but I have a good idea of the time frame I should a lot myself to help keep me on track.
STEP THREE: We have a beginning and an end, but what we are missing is the meat! What steps must we take to get from point A to point B?
This step requires a lot of objectifiable thinking. We have to try and break down the unknown and mysterious “middle” into the several or hundreds of steps that we must first take to get to that end destination.
Where are we going? Well … regardless of whether you get the amount of steps, or even all of the steps correct, having one step is the biggest step forward you can take towards your goal. It gives you a direction, even if it doesn’t give you a plan.
For my example, my first logical step would be to plan out the skeleton of my book, to decide what the chapters will be about and what the message is that I want to convey with it.
So I may not have anything concrete, but now I know what I have to focus my mental energies on. I know what the “problem” is before me that I should be consciously and subconsciously working towards uncovering.
STEP FOUR: I reiterate, whether step three yields a hundred steps, or only one is irrelevant, once you have that first step, you may move on to step four, and the final step in the cycle of creating your road map.
Now we have a beginning, an end, and the first step of our journey. So it is only natural that the next phase involves breaking down our step!
So if my first step is to create a skeleton, to identify the message of my book, I need to dissect how I will accomplish this (note: that is not to say I must SOLVE this conundrum now, but I must a lot myself the time to figure it out in my schedule.)
With that in mind, I need to consider the question. I need to MAKE TIME!
So, I will commit myself each day to give this thought consideration for a solid 30 minutes. Scheduled time set to the same frame each day. I once read that a common trait of creative people, specifically writers, is that their method involves a structure. For example, Maya Angelou always rented a hotel room when she was writing (regardless if your goal is writing or not, giving an idea a schedule allows your brain to make that time the “active” time for “considering” that idea.)
If I accomplish nothing towards that step during that allotted time, so be it. If I am struck with a moment of brilliance at some other moment in the day, I will immediately jot down a note to myself so that I may remember it for when I enter into that structured time for that idea.
STEP FIVE: Repeat step three and four as many times as necessary to reach your destination.
Have a few steps in mind that build off each other? Use step three and four to plan those out as well.
Run into a new direction while achieving one of your steps in your road map? Return to step three and four as well!
STEP SIX: Keep your roadmap handy, visible, and accessible. The key to this idea working is that you must have it somewhere that reminds you to keep yourself honest. You need it handy and accessible so you can modify it as you see fit. You need it around, so you always have a map towards your destination.
So I hope this has been helpful for all of you! I know it has been for me in many things I have done and accomplished in just the past year alone.
My last bit of advice to you is this. Should you ever get lost on your journey, there is no shame in throwing your map out and starting over. To be honest, I’ve done that myself many times!
Especially when I feel like things are getting stagnant, or stale and I’ve been stuck on the same step for longer than I’d like and I start to get that creeping feeling of “comfort” I throw out my map, and I redraw it, reconsidering all of the steps along the way.
Also, there is a new section open on the site called “The Challenge.” Here I will be undertaking a challenge I have set for myself and all of you are welcome to follow along, and even participate! Check it out.
Happy Friday friends! It’s that time again where we sit down by the rocking chair and hear one of Ferret’s tales. Today we are going to learn about the relationship between rewards and reinforcing behaviors.
Through studying the psychology of behaviorism and observing human and animal learning in nature (via natural consequence) we can start to understand the basics of how habits can be formed from behaviors that are either positively or negatively reinforced.
Wait just a minute … this sounds similar to how one trains their dog, or teaches a child how to avoid disruptive behaviors and practice good ones.
Bingo! It is exactly the same.
To get kids to brush their teeth, or use polite words, we do this little song and dance where we give them praise or maybe even a reward for doing the desired behavior. This is Positive Reinforcement.
Conversely, perhaps they strike you or another child and find themselves in the infamous “time-out.” This is Negative Reinforcement.
The same goes for our house pets as we are housebreaking them, or teaching them how to be off leash.
You may not realize it, but many of the habits you have today (poor and good) were formed over your life time through these modes of reinforcement, one way or another.
That being the case, it is also important to understand that humans are programmed for repetition. Ever heard the expression of being a “creature of habit?”
Like it or not, we ARE our habits, good and bad!
That all said, we are going to focus solely on Positive Reinforcement. I am a firm believer that you will always catch more fly’s with honey than salt. Plus, it just plain feels better, and the goal of changing a desired behavior or adding a desired behavior is for a positive outcome, no? So why not keep the negative out!
There are also two main categories of reinforcement to consider.
Intrinsic (coming from within; internal,) and Extrinsic (outside the psyche, a physical manifestation.)
Intrinsic reinforcement to give you some examples, could be receiving a compliment from someone, or having a general feeling of euphoria after having completed something. When we are intrinsically reinforced, we feel good for the sake of feeling good.
Extrinsic reinforcement on the other hand could be receiving a reward for a behavior. Example; Johnny brushed his teeth this morning, so he gets a prize from the prize box. Atta boy Johnny.
Intrinsic reinforcement is going to be your go-to for long term benefit and retention of behavior. In fact, it is the backbone of how I train my clients.
I tell them to throw out all they know about numbers, and what their body image is, and instead, begin to focus internally. “How do you feel?” When you start to feel good about yourself and what you are doing, you no longer run the risk of lapsing due to being discouraged by a lack of physical representation of reward, because your reward can not be taken away and you provided it to yourself.
However … latching onto those good feelings initially can be tough, and not everyone is equipped and or ready to jump right into that.
With that in mind, Extrinsic motivation can be the perfect spring board to get you feeling good and practicing intrinsic motivation.
To provide yourself a good extrinsic reward you should pick something that is meaningful to you. I do not recommend food. Food should be enjoyed as sustenance and using it as a behavioral tool changes its very definition. Because remember,extrinsic rewards can be taken away, and nobody wants their food taken away!
Instead, think more to the big picture. Perhaps you’ve been wanting that fancy new doo-dad all the kids are raving about, and you are trying to quit smoking cigarettes as your chosen behavior to modify. Put the money you would have spent on butts into a tucked away place, and use that to purchase your new toy! It will be doubly good because a.) you saved up for it, and b.) it was something you were already spending money on to slowly kill yourself!
So now that we have a firm grasp of the mode … where do we begin? What behaviors do we choose?
Well friends, that one is on you I’m afraid.
But let me steer you in the right direction!
First, make a list for yourself, of the top 5 things you would change about you (behavior wise) if you could snap your fingers and make it so. Perhaps you want to stick to a gym routine, or you want to stop eating fast food 4 times a week, or you want to be better with money, or quitting a bad habit, etc etc etc!
Once you have that list, concern yourself with just first one you named and every day when you wake up, I want you to remember to take 5 minutes to ask yourself, “What can I do today to make this change?” You don’t even have to answer the question! Just ask it, and the little hamster in the wheel in your head will slowly start turning. The more you repeat this process, the more mental power your brain will divert to solving this quandary.
Next, choose your extrinsic reward, and how to measure when you get it. What is the first step in completing your goal?
Finally, complete your step, get your reward and bask in your own glory! Now how did that feel? Because I want you to latch onto the feeling, and let your brain feel it again every time you move forward towards that goal.
So what’s the takeaway from all of this?
Change is tough. Making the change is tougher. We are creatures of habit and are less malleable the longer we repeat our routines.
But there is hope. By practicing the pillars of behavior modification and being mindful of the changes we wish to see and the goals we wish to accomplish we can always keep our feet moving in the right direction, and with the proper tools, nothing can stop us.
Keep working hard friends on using every day you have to make a better you than you were yesterday!
Happy Friday friends! This week, we’re going to take an interesting new perspective on exercise timing. One of the biggest complaints I get from people is Time. “I don’t have the time.” “I’m way too busy!” etc. etc.
We’ve discussed before ways to get exercise in during your busy hours of the day and how to fit it in in compact blocks, but today, I want to get a little nerdy and lazy on you.
What I mean by that is … I’m going to teach you some ways you can get fitness in WHILE watching t.v or playing Video Games!
“Wait a second now … Mixing fitness and lazy leisure? You’re crossing some boundaries here Ferret!”
Mayhaps … Mayhaps … While many hold the belief that these things should not coincide or coexist, I tend to take the realist perspective: Not all people are not going to stop doing lazy activities in favor of fitness, so why fight it, when you can work with it?
This week, we are going to discuss the T.V Blitz Workout, and the Gamers Gambit.
The T.V Blitz:
So, while watching a show on T.V every so often these things pop up called commercials; annoying to some, a way of life for others.
Did you know … that commercials routinely pop-up in set intervals? Every 15 minutes (about half way through a regular program) there will be roughly a 2.5 minute break for commercials. Did you also know, that every half hour (in-between programming blocks) there will be a break for about 5 minutes of commercial time?
So, if you watch one hour of television, or one 45 minute show a night, you have 10 minutes of UNUSED time?? (That’s not including the 5 minutes of commercials prior to your show or the 5 minutes after.)
That’s the perfect amount of time, for a great routine.
First Commercial Break: 2 Minutes
Pushups – 60 seconds (As many as you can.)
30 second rest
Squats – 60 seconds (As many as you can.)
Second Commercial Break: 5 Minutes
Crunches – 60 seconds (As many as you can.)
30 second rest
Jumping Jacks – 60 seconds (As many as you can.)
30 second rest
Reverse Pushup Hold with Hip Raise – 60 seconds (As many as you can.)
(To perform this move, sit down, place hands on ground to the outside and behind buttocks with fingers pointed towards feet, plant feet and press hips up.)
Third Commercial Break: 2 Minutes
Pushups – 60 seconds (As many as you can.)
30 second rest
Squats – 60 seconds (As many as you can.)
So as you can see right here, we have a workout that not only DOESN’T interfere with your day, you can do it from the comfort of your living room right in front of your T.V!
Of course, this is just to get you started. This format can be modified to include any exercises you wish. For example, if you ritually watched a show every night, you can periodize your training (meaning select a single muscle group) and work just that portion of your body for the same duration.
So what are you waiting for???
Next up, let’s talk about the Gamer’s Gambit. Like a lot of folks who grew up in my decade, I used to play a lot of video games (I still would, if I could find the time to!)
Similar to the Blitz, we have to find a way to utilize the down time associated with gaming. But where is that down time? Unfortunately, this is not always apparent, and for some genre’s you may have to get a little creative.
Let’s look at First Person Shooters to start,
Prior to the start of a match, and at the conclusion of a match we have the most down time, possibly ranging from 1 – 3 minutes.
Also, during a match, we often times have to wait to re-spawn upon dying, which could take as little as 5 – 15 seconds.
To some this may seem like an impossible time frame to fit in fitness, but I tell you it is not!
Follow these guide lines…
Once you have joined a game, or a match, while the initial downtime is occurring that you would otherwise be using to fidget with your phone, or look at statistics you already know, drop and do as many pushups as you can.
During the match, for each time you die, drop and do as many burpees as you can before you re-spawn; you will either get really good at burpees, or get really good at avoiding in game death.
Upon conclusion of a match, do a Squat for each death you sustained and an abdominal crunch for each kill. If your K/D ratio was below 1.0 do 10 burpees before you start your next match.
This will entice you to not only play better, but will give you a physical challenge that will not hinder your gaming time!
Another popular gaming type, the MMO may also not have a lot of inherent downtime you could use for exercise. But look closely …
When queuing for any instanced type activity, there can be as short a wait as an instant queue or perhaps up to an hour. Here’s your first opportunity!
If you have a pretty good idea that your queue will take less than 60seconds, try and do as many burpees as you can before the queue pops. If you have a better idea that it could take 5+ minutes, start a gambit!
Pushups – 60s
Squats – 60s
Crunches – 60s
If you manage to get the gambit done 3 times before your queue pops, guess what? You’re done! Of course, you can repeat the gambit as many times as you see fit, and once you start to feel more confident, you can add other exercises in, or increase the number of rounds to 4.
So what about those games that don’t have queues or short breaks in the action?
For example, games like RPG’s where you move a character through quests, or you complete levels from start to finish.
Well there is your answer right there!
Upon finishing a quest, an objective, or unlocking an achievement, take 60seconds, and perform one of the 3 basic fitness moves!
Pushups, Crunches, Squats!
Ultimately, whether you are a gamer, or a T.V viewer or someone who just thinks they don’t have time for fitness, the take away from this post is to understand that no matter how many times you tell yourself that, there IS time. Sometimes, you just have to be creative.
15 minutes broken up over the course of an entire day is still 15minutes of activity, and 15 minutes more than you would have otherwise gotten.
So get out there, and unlock some REAL achievements you can be proud of.
Happy … Monday? Everyone. I know I know, it’s not Friday. Weird right? There is a story, I promise, and it will be our anecdote for today’s topic; all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, or for layman’s terminology: Take a Break.
This is the story of the vacation that almost wasn’t.
Early at the start of the week leading up to July 4th I received an invite to travel to Lake Winnipesaukee and spend several days relaxing by the water and enjoying good company, good food, and good fun.
I started to plan immediately, getting so excited I nearly forgot I even had responsibilities to tend to throughout the week. There was a blog post, my client load, a plethora of behind the scenes Fit Ferret work, and an ever increasing number of errands to keep me busy.
By Tuesday, as I had had time to calm down, I took an objective look at my workload and my financial situation and realized I had to make a choice; the choice I wanted, or the choice that seemed like the “adult” or “right” thing to do.
I chose work, and financial savings. Woooo … exciting (but sometimes necessary.)
I set myself to my decision, and went right back to work.
As Wednesday rolled around, I started to notice that the quality of my work was starting to diminish, and my quality of sleep was horrendous as well. This had been going on for the last week, as my sleep cycles were starting to include less and less sleep, but I was in such a state of “Go” that I had not stopped to notice it.
Into Thursday now, I couldn’t accomplish anything and I felt beyond exhausted.
I promote healthy living. Physically, emotionally, and mentally.
I had reached a point, where I was no longer keeping my mental health in balance with my world.
So I did exactly what I would have advised someone to do in my situation if they asked: “Go on vacation you dummy.”
So I dropped everything, hopped into my car, and made the trip.
As soon as I left the house, I felt a hundred times better. When I showed up at the lake and was greeted with open arms of friends and strangers alike, I felt a thousand times better, and the moment my feet hit that beach, I knew I made the right decision.
I could literally feel the stress of life melting away like thick layers of grease. I was back in my moment. My mindset of clarity.
Physical health is very important, and we must keep our bodies moving to keep it in good maintenance.
Emotional health too is very important, and we must keep it in tact as to not strain our relationships or our own self-image.
Mental health, which sometimes can be pushed to the side, is also an integral part of the health trifecta. Good mental health allows us to plan, and take action…
To appropriately deal with and manage stress,
To organize our lives,
To be productive and have direction,
If physical health is the peanut-butter, and emotional health the jelly, mental health is the bread that holds it all together.
Without the right frame of mind, keeping up your physical health is not only a chore, but nearly impossible.
As well, when out of our element, mending our emotions and keeping them in balance can become difficult and strain our relationships and stress us out because we feel out of control.
While burning the candle on both ends, I started losing this important balance, and almost passed up on an experience of a life time, favoring being an “adult” over living life to its fullest.
While it is important to make “adult” decisions so we may be responsible and achieve our goals, a very delicate balance of living life unhindered must be adhered to.
All work and no play, makes jack a dull boy.
We work hard, so we can play harder.
The take away here my friends, is to recognize the signs of stress when you have been working too hard or just when you simply need to take some space from anything or everything so you can readjust, reevaluate, and attack.
Remember to take those mental health days when they are needed.
Recharge, rejuvenate, and reinvigorate.
Can’t win if you break!
Happy Friday friends! Welcome to the latest episode in our ongoing saga. Today’s topic is going to be a revisit to one of our old topics. This is due to it being a rather hot topic for myself and my clients recently. Today, we are going to re-hash the topic of Failure.
As a word, it elicits quite a negative feeling. Quite often we label tasks, or life events that we are unable to conquer as a failure and attach these negative emotions we feel to the concept.
Recently, I have undertaken a few new clients who have needed some balance work to help improve the quality of their life (as well, good balance cleans up the neural pathways and makes training for any level more efficient.)
Through our first rounds of simple exercises involving various positions that off center the gravity, they were able to complete the tasks I gave them, albeit with great difficulty, but enough to their satisfaction they attached the feeling of accomplishment to them; as they should!
But, with balance, fitness, or obstacles in life, without failing the task, there is no improvement. There is no progressing forward, or learning the value of a lesson.
It’s a hard truth to wrap our minds around, especially when we spend our life feeling negative about failure.
As we continued to progress to increasingly difficult exercises, the clients reached a breaking point: They could not complete the task I assigned them to their satisfaction of “perfection” and began to become frustrated. These frustrations lead to disruption in their concentration and favoring speed over form. This then lead to the difficulty of the task increasing even more and becoming more of an “impossible” obstacle to their frame of mind.
Thus … the cycle began.
Increasing levels of frustration, created a greater deficit in difficulty for the task at hand.
This is not synonymous with just balance exercises, or any task requiring fine motor skill.
This cycle of frustration and difficulty also occurs in our day to day lives.
And here’s where we begin the personal anecdote!
Ever have one of those days where something goes wrong … and then another thing … and another until all of a sudden the whole day just becomes one of those “I can’t wait till this horrible no good rotten day is over” kind of things?
Ever then had that day turn into a week …
A Month …
Nothing goes right, and you find yourself just waiting for the next bad thing to happen?
This is the same vicious cycle that can prevent us from conquering skills, fine motor activities, personal demons, and even life achievements.
If we remain in that negative mindset, it will never get easier, and we will never progress. We will simply wait for the next bad thing, the next failure, the next negative feeling.
Yikes. That doesn’t sound like much fun when you break it down, does it?
Living 10 moments in the future expecting the failure out of frustration, we start to forget what is going on right here, right now, and we miss things. We miss something beautiful, or a small success, or an opportunity and fall into a perpetual cycle.
This is a reality when acquiring a new skill, setting goals, or even how we view our lives and the directions they are taking. We may quit the process of acquiring the skill, end our pursuit of a goal, or live in fear and anger.
So here’s my parallel…
One goal I had set for myself when I started this blog on healthy living and mindful-living was that no matter what, no matter how much I didn’t like what I had written, I would post something every Friday. This almost didn’t happen this Friday.
A string of disappointments occurred in rapid succession and I fell into the cycle I always try to steer others away from. My thought patterns became negative, and I had more or less committed early in the week already that I had failed and there would be no post this week.
I kept waiting for the next bad thing, and the bad things kept happening.
Fortunately, through the kind words of a friend, I was able to snap myself out of it, and rather than objectifying the bad things, I started to draw inspiration from what was going on around me.
After that point, my productivity shot back up, and I knew exactly what I wanted to write about this week and share with all of you.
My failures and short comings were not a result of me being a victim of the universe. They were a test, a heavy set, a balance exercise I had never tried, a skill I did not practice yet; a way to learn, and better myself, an opportunity to fail to allow for growth.
Tying this all back in, this is why we continue to lift weight until the muscles cannot complete the repetition, the volitional fatigue point.
This is why we practice a skill a thousand times to refine it and become the best.
This is why we teeter and totter during a difficult balance exercise, so the brain can learn which muscle fibers to use.
This is why we are faced with difficult situations in life, so we can overcome them, and be mentally prepared to push ourselves through the next tough time.
Like the friend who offered me kind words to digest, while working with my clients who were frustrated at their balance, I had them stop, take a breath, and objectively look at what it was they were doing and trying to achieve.
Almost like a light-switch, the form began to refine its self, and the shift in focus was immediately evident. The frustration with failure was replaced with a sense of challenge and opportunity for growth.
So remember friends: Be it in the gym, while learning a new skill, facing a difficult life situation or a bad day, attitude is everything and will either make you or break you. The choice is always yours and no one can take that from you.
Rise to the challenge and make yourself better, or victimize yourself into the cycle.
Hello friends and joyous Friday to all. Today’s topic will be about Over Training and Safety. It is unfortunately a topic that sometimes gets overlooked in our pursuit of fitness. Disregarding mantras such as “Less is more” and “Small steps and little bets pave the way to great success” in favor of mantras such as “No pain no gain” and “Pain is weakness leaving the body.”
While these are all great mantras and can help you push yourself when you are in a lul or fire you up to attack a PR (Personal Record) there is one mantra that outshines all of them that I like to keep highest on the priority list: “All things in moderation.”
From body image disorders to tri-athletes, cross-fitters to weekend warriors, and seekers of instant results; all can become a victim of the over training bug.
Time for an anecdote!
I have fallen victim to the over training bug many times in my life (No one is immune to its temptation.) Particularly when it has come to training my chest and my legs I have pushed well beyond reasonable and ended myself up in injury land that not only halted my progress in my training, but put me out for long enough to cause regression and make me lose gains I had.
Since tearing both my groin muscles 8 years ago, I have JUST now regained all the leg strength I had built up to, mostly due to the psychological effect that injury had on me.
So … How does one push to the brink of performance to make the best version of themselves without falling victim to over training?
1.) Safety: Practice safe gym techniques. From making sure you’re not sacrificing form for weight, always using the safety bars in the rage cage (These may save your groin muscles one day,) to having a smart spotter for exercises that could cause you harm if done incorrectly or if your muscles fail, these are all safety techniques that require little to no extra effort and will prevent you from injuring yourself and halting or regressing your progress from your own stupidity.
2.) Listen and Respond: Pain and discomfort are two completely different animals. Understanding the difference between the two can be key to preventing your next round with over training syndrome. Discomfort in the muscles as they stress to perform the exercises and general fatigue are the signs you are looking for. Discomfort in a joint on the other hand? That’s not the sign of “weakness leaving the body” that’s a sign of incorrect technique, load, or just a light injury that should be rested to prevent a more serious injury. As well, feeling PAIN in the muscle is the sign of a tear, at which point you are not increasing its effectiveness, you are literally destroying it.
3.) Rest IS a part of your Routine: Some folks just hate missing a day at the gym, even if their muscles are screaming at them. Something you should know, rest and recovery IS a component of your training. If we do not let our muscles rest, they do not grow, they do not become stronger. In fact, the exact opposite will happen from over training, you will consecutively tear the fibers so much that they never adapt and you can cause the medical affliction known as Rhabdomyolisis. That can mean one thing: Game over man, Game over.
So the take away here folks, is while you should push yourself, you should be exhausted by the end of a tough workout, but you must also understand and respect the physical limitations of your body. By not respecting them, you will not overcome them, they will break you. As Sun Tzu knew: Know thy enemy, know thy self. The parallel, know your body, know your limits.
Happy Friday friends! This week we have an interesting topic to consider. It’s not fitness related, or even nutritionally informative. This week’s topic is about Body Image and taking a step back to consider how our actions can affect others, as well as address the unrealistic image that has been ingrained in our heads as “healthy.”
Unfortunately, with as many strides as we’ve made as a society, in some respects we have made just as many steps back. Wildly unrealistic images of the human body are bombarded at us in advertisement (done through clever use of editing software,) eating disorders are an issue that plague many people, fad diets that promise instant results for a skinnier you run rampant, bathroom scales are considered the measurement of “health,” and to put the bread on the sandwich, fat shaming and skinny shaming are “okay.”
Now of course, as with many of the entries, here is the anecdote that prompted this…
Being a former fat kid who once tipped the scales at 275, much of my youth was spent centered around a negative body image, teased about being “overweight” and not fitting into the “accepted” body image. I’m sure this scenario unfortunately rings true for a lot of others out there as well.
Though it was difficult sometimes to cope with, over the years it has ultimately made me stronger and more zealous in my own endeavors to be in charge of my life.
Now that I have finally achieved my ideal body and healthy life style, all of those negative feelings seem to be a distant memory and hold little power against and over me these days.
However, every once in a while, someone will make a remark that some people may hear and think nothing of, or even presume it to be a compliment.
“You’re too skinny.”
Having struggled with weight and body image most of my life, a comment like this brings back many old feelings. Despite overcoming myself and reaching comfort and my ideal health, my body image is still not good enough for people around me.
But wait a second!
Why does my body image need to be good enough for anyone but myself?
This is my mantra that keeps bringing me back to a centered feeling, and helps me forgive ignorant statements such as the previous.
The media’s grasp on body image is probably not one that will be changed any time soon and will continue flooding mainstream marketing. Our best defense, is education, understanding, and a little something I like to call “noneya,” as in, someone else’s weight or body type is “noneya” damn business and you have no right to criticize one way or another. You don’t know that persons struggle, or their story. So follow that golden rule so many of us seem to forget from childhood “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say it at all.”
For those of you, who are on your journey and find yourself encountering these obstacles, remember these following nuggets.
Celebrities have tons of money and time to throw at nutritionists and personal trainers to meet certain standards set before them. However, this does not measure how healthy they are, and many of those fad diets are not only a temporary fix to a bigger problem, but can be incredibly unhealthy for the human body.
Eating disorders are a real thing, support those who struggle with them, and just try to sympathize with what they are going through. Often times support and understanding can go a long way in combating disorders such as those.
Scales do not measure health. Scales do not measure how fat, or how skinny you are. Scales measure how much your bones, muscles, internal organs, blood, skin, hair, and any food or liquid you might have in your system weighs. Oh yeah, and they also take fat weight into that equation.
Remember, loving yourself is one of the biggest first steps. Taking care of yourself follows shortly after.
Forget the haters, and those who would try and force their opinion of your body image on you, take your journey to health one step at a time, and look inside for health, not out.
Remember to ask yourself, “How do you feel?” Not how you look.
Live, Laugh, Love!
Dan "The Fit Ferret": An avid enthusiast of life and seeking out adventure wherever it may lie. ACSM certified Personal Trainer and Spartan OCR Competitor.