Archive for the 'Becoming More Active' Category

Things Trainers Think But Should Probably Say To Their Clients - Part 2

The continuation of Things Trainers Think But Should Probably Say To Their Clients.

Ever notice how the things you talk about not wanting end up being the things that you get?” The reticular activating system (RAS) is a mental process that directs attention onto the things that are considered important to a person. Our experiences and thoughts serve to populate the RAS with these items. IF someone spends a lot of time thinking about they don’t want to gain body fat, their attention will be directed towards all of the things that will cause them to gain it. As a consequence, they’ll probably over eat and gain body fat simply because they are focusing on NOT getting fat.

You think eating good quality food and exercising is hard? Try living with diabetes, recovering from a heart attack or a stroke or beating cancer, THOSE things are hard.” People do not identify the consequences of their actions as the initial symptoms of their impending illness, so they just assume everything is fine. But gaining body fat, losing mobility or muscle mass, or becoming lethargic ARE the initial symptoms of disease promoters of disease. It’s irrefutable, people who eat sensible amounts of good quality whole food and exercise moderate amounts are at the lowest risk of death. You have a choice though, do a little hard work now to promote recovery or compress that hard work into a few months in an attempt to survive.

When you say I’m just a little fat you’re ignoring the fact that you have damaged your ability to process sugar.” Telling yourself that you’re just a little fat is a softer story than the blunt truth - you are wrecking your body because by eating too much sugar you are impairing your bodies ability to handle insulin. This is hurting your body and it will eventually cause disease and an early death.

“Not everyone’s metabolism slows down as they age, it only happens to those who choose to let it happen.” While it is true that a person will burn fewer and fewer calories as they get older, making the decision to use this fact as a justification for gaining weight vs. a reason for engaging in intense physical movement is what makes it true. NOT everyone gains weight as they get older BECAUSE they remain active and move a lot. Hearing someone reference an inevitable metabolic slow down reveals a belief that needs to be addressed and updated.

“Stress isn’t a part of everyone’s work.” Accepting that stress is a necessary part of work is an excuse for accepting this damaging aspect of life and letting it continue to destroy and shorten life. Work can be a challenge, placing unnatural demands on a person, keeping it in perspective will go a long way in helping someone strike a more healthy balance. By assuming that work should be stressful, it give you permission to change priorities and move proper diet, exercise and relaxation down and move work responsibilities up. The negative outcome of reversed priorities is eventual ill-health and disease.

Things Trainers Think But Should Probably Say To Their Clients - Part 1

Over the years I’ve trained 100’s of people. I do everything I can to guide, coach and help them attain their fitness goals. There’s a lot of hard work to do and my job is to get the clients to do it. To this end, I basically stay positive and will say pretty much anything to keep them on track. But I think things during some of the sessions that I don’t ever say to the clients. These things are based on reality and are the result of noticing patterns between different clients and between sessions for the same client.

I haven’t been saying them to the clients because they are unfiltered and a little raw; there may not be any value in saying them during a session because they can alter the client experience, shift their focus and generally land poorly. But if I was to be fearless and completely authentic, you might hear me saying some of the following things to the clients because maybe there would be some value in shining a light on the patterns I notice.

You have such a passion for being average.” Most people do, and that’s why it is the average. But being average has few remarkable characteristics and other than being the safe option, so there is nothing positive about it. People end-up needing my services because they are being average - making average decisions, doing average things and thinking average thoughts. So when someone doesn’t complete a food journal, stops a set when it feels tough, or calls to cancel a session vs. reschedule it, it’s impossible to NOT see the average nature of these behaviors.

If you put as much effort into your workouts as you do into your excuses you’d be blazing a much brighter trail.” Having heard so many excuses over the years I have to believe that people spend time trying to come up with them. The first time I hear a new one it may carry a little more weight, if for no other reason than it was creative, but probably not. Successful people do not make excuses, they make the time to do the things they need to do.

You place a lot of value on that speculation.” If something hasn’t happened or isn’t known it simply doesn’t exist. But that doesn’t stop people from allowing it to impact them. In fact, some potentially powerful people are stopped dead in their tracks because of thoughts about things that do not exist. If something that doesn’t exist doesn’t motivate, drive or inspire you, embrace its non-existence and let it go, completely and forever.

Funny, you hire an expert then keep paying them money while ignore their advice.” I have a tough time with this because it reveals something very significant about nature of the client that isn’t very helpful or healthy. While it’s pretty dishonest to hire someone with a stated intention only to not honor that intention, it reveals an internal struggle between what they believe they want and what they believe they are worth. It’s pretty unworkable because, if they did know more than their trainer, they wouldn’t be in a position to need a trainer.

The reason you have to do this today is because you didn’t do it before today.” This is a simple truth, if you NEED to do hard work to achieve something it is because the work has not yet been done. And if you kick this hard work down the road another couple of weeks, months or years, it’ll still be there to do, and there will likely be more of it to do.

Training - Real Emergencies Vs. Fake Emergencies

There are very few accidents in life so there are very few emergencies. What most try to pass-off as an emergency is simply just something that wasn’t planned for, but which should have been predicted had the outcome been more important or had priorities been kept in mind.

Don’t get me wrong, emergencies do exist, and they are usually identified by an instantaneous and complete shifting of priorities. They are very rare and most people will have a couple of actual emergencies in their life time. In the realm of personal training, the cancellation call to the trainer is very low on the list of things to do when a real emergency kicks in. Survival or immediate service to those in need are hallmarks of a real emergency. For this reason, great personal trainers will never bill a client for an emergency because they cannot be avoided.

Some examples of a real emergency would be heart attack or stroke for a parent, injury in a car crash, delay due to actual highway / public transit congestion or closure, gas leak, bomb scare, fuel spill, tornado or other acute extreme weather event.

Some examples of fake emergencies would be children’s school event, sports game, or concert, impending work or school deadline, hot date, spontaneous trip or vacation.

The difference is in ones ability to anticipate the event or the amount of lead time or warning the client had about the event in question as well as the actual need to shift priorities. Work and school deadlines tend to be well communicated and well established ahead of time. The same is true for children’s school, sports and concert events. The date and times of these things are usually announced months ahead of time and are rarely spur of the moment things given the number of people involved with them.

What are we getting at here?

Very simple, our most successful clients have never missed a session due to an emergency. They have had to rescheduled sessions later in the week or do an extra session in the previous weeks, but if their program requires training 4 times per week, they always average 4 training sessions per week.

The most successful clients know their priorities and stick to them no matter what happens. They have the same opportunities to take spontaneous trips, dates and other events but they know exactly why they are training and do not sacrifice their future goals for immediate gratification. They don’t regard things they have a choice to do or not do as emergencies so their priorities cannot shift.

The least successful trainees or those who do not achieve their goals have a different view of emergencies. For those who are less committed to their goals, their future selves or achieving their potential, an opportunity to have fun now supersedes actual hard work and success. Worse than this is the tendency for these people to not know what the next few weeks of their life looks like - they don’t have schedules or day planners outlining the upcoming events like school activities, sports events for children, etc…. These people have little desire to create a new and better future because they just make plans and let life happen each day, labeling things emergencies so they can get out of their training session; effectively losing another day of their life just because they didn’t care enough to not lose it.

I recommend billing people for missed and cancelled sessions because there is no excuse for missing or cancelling a session. It isn’t personal but creating a new life is hard and if someone doesn’t care enough about their future to know what that future looks like - the upcoming events for their weeks - use the loss of money for a missed session as leverage for them to do what is important in the long run vs. doing the thing is fun right now.

8 Things Really Successful People Do

Great article about the habits / realizations successful people by Kevin Daum. Pretty straight forward list which is part of its beauty.

The key thing is to be very clear on what you want to do and not on the outcome your successes. Success is a mental game at first (getting into the right mind set, setting the right goals, creating the right habits), followed by the physical game (persistent hard work).

What I found interesting is the inclusion of being clear on spirituality because, for me, that has been a late player to the field. It boils down to being at one with the universe or God, accepting something bigger than just you and engage the world in a way that pays tribute to that relationship.

  • Make Materialism Irrelevant - be successful to be successful, not because you get to buy expensive things. If it is about buying expensive things, you aren’t seeking success BUT expensive things, go straight to them.
  • Enhance Knowledge - keep learning, from beginning to end. There is no substitute for a brain that is crammed full of wisdom.
  • Manage Relationship Expectations - relationships should be given an appropriate amount of time and finding the balance between the right amount of time and what other people want from you is a necessary endeavor. Creating the boundaries to enforce YOUR expectations is critical.
  • Practice Emotional Self-Awareness - emotions are not thoughts. They are types of information, but they are often not as valuable as logical thoughts. Make sure you know when your emotional system is ramped up and when you are functioning with a purely logically mind.
  • Commit to a Physical Ideal - creating a goal for how you want to look in the future will move your mind forward and give you a purpose to make it happen. Exercise tells your body that actions matter and looking and feeling great tells the world that “I am worth working hard for.”
  • Gain Clarity About Spirituality - understand your relationship with the universe so you can always stay true to it.
  • Adhere to a Code of Ethics - acting effectively can sometimes mean you need to have a list of actions to take for when you don’t feel like acting at all. Not knowing what you stand for will delay or impede action when action is needed most critically. A code of ethics will allow you to advance with consistency and it will free you from thoughts about your past actions because you will know you acted with integrity.
  • Focus on Time Efficiency - time moves on, even if you do nothing with it. Use it wisely and get the most out of every second. You won’t be getting any of the moments back.

A Call To Action Becomes A Possibility When The Consequences Get Closer

Some political problems, like the impending fiscal cliff, cannot be solved until the very last moment, because the external pressure has to be so high that politicians can actually get forgiven for making the painful choice. If a Republican had acted 3 years ago and voted to increase taxes or a Democrat has voted to dramatically cut spending there would have been backlash from some of their supporters; they would have lost a lot of them and risked not getting reelected. But now, doom is so close that things have reversed - politicians face alienating their electorate by resisting tax increases or spending cuts. The notion of things falling apart in less than a month is a big motivator for creating the possibilities that become actions and solutions.

This tendency for action or different action to be taken as we get closer to the consequences is not isolated to politics because it seems to be a quality of most humans.

For example:

“The doctor told me that I needed to get into better shape.” This is usually interpreted by them as “I am going to die soon” and this is a compelling why.

“One of my friends / family had a heart attack and they are younger than me.” This too is interpreted as “I am going to die soon.”

Most drug addicts need to hit bottom before they stop using - death needs to be the next logical step in their addiction.

Many people who stop smoking do so only when they view the consequences (cancer, emphysema, etc…) as being inevitable if they continue to smoke.

Many students hold off studying until they view there to be no more time to waste.

Take a moment to think about your own behavior and that of those around you - how often are pragmatic actions tabled until they become crisis actions?

So what?

Be it your eighth cigarette or your 50000th, the threat of illness is always the reason why you should not smoke.

Being overweight or under exercised always increases your chance of dying early - this doesn’t become the reality the moment the doctor tells you to move more and eat better, or because someone you know has a heart attack.

Doing drugs always lowers your potential and does some damage to your body.

Consider the possibility that the “why” that seems to come to light as the consequences get closer is ALWAYS the why.

Working At It For Years - Disease Or Health

We are born as perfect as we will ever be. With rare exception, we have our greatest potential the instant we arrive into the world. From there, our environment begins to chip away at our possibilities and over time we suffer from the outcome of our decisions or the decisions that were made on our behalf. With each breath, we either maintain our potential or it is reduced slightly.

I have trained a couple of people who had suffered heart attacks and then subsequently made the decision to correct as many of their bad habits as they could. They eat better, exercise more, reduce their stress and stop over indulging in alcohol. They, like many people who have suffered a heart attack, make reference to their heart attack as both an ending point and a place of new beginnings; “my health was fine up until that day” is something that I have heard which reflects their understanding of what was going on. But it doesn’t reflect what actually happened. Their health had been suffering for years BEFORE the heart attack and the heart attack was only the latest in a series of escalating symptoms; even if it was the first symptom that registered that there was a problem.

You have been making yourself sick for years - everyone has been. At best, you are doing everything you can to achieve your potential - eating appropriate amounts of whole food, getting an appropriate amount of sleep and exercise, etc…. but in a world as polluted as ours, the chances of you not consuming toxins is very low. The clean life that you may be living likely isn’t as pure as is needed to reach the highest level of health. In all probability you aren’t getting enough exercise, eating the right amounts of food or getting sufficient rest to recover your vitality and enhance your constitution for health.

This doesn’t mean that you are going to die of a heart attack at 50 or cancer at 55. But it does mean that you are damaging you body and diminishing your ability to recover from this damage with each non-ideal choice you make. It also means that if you do end-up with a disease, there is a very good chance that you have been working at it for the last 20-50 years and not just during the few weeks preceding the diagnosis.

The human body has a remarkable ability to recover. There is ample redundancy so a lot of stuff can break down before their is critical malfunction. But there are limits and one needs to be mindful of them as they move through life. With each less than ideal decision that is made, you move one step closer to the cumulative consequences of these choices.

Who Are You Feeding?

Having been in the fitness industry for well over a decade, I have heard the following conversation countless times with the same usual outcome:

“I want lower my body fat, and look and feel better.”

“Outstanding, we can help you with all of those things. When was the last time you looked and felt the way you want to look and feel?”

“Oh, it has been a long time, when I was much younger. When I could eat whatever I wanted and didn’t have to worry about weight.”

“Okay, so this is a new journey for you and you’re aware that you’ll need to do a bunch of new things to achieve new results?”

“Yeah, I’m fully committed to doing whatever it takes to reach my goal.”

“Fantastic, this is going to be a lot of hard work, but once you make real this desire to look and feel amazing you’ll be grateful for all of the effort you put into it.”

So far, so good, someone has a desire for something they have never achieved. Given that they have never achieved it, they connect with the experts to learn how to make it possible. For a few weeks they follow the nutrition advice, reduce their stress, train with a trainer 3-4 times per week and independently 1-3 times per week and their transformation has a fantastic beginning.

But this great start is often stopped dead in its tracks when the body and brain begin to make real the story the people tell about themselves. Suddenly and quickly, the person begins to act in a way that isn’t conducive to achieving their goal. Most often the breakdown will be about food - they start to eat food that they know isn’t going to move them towards their goal or they eat in a way that isn’t recommended and that doesn’t help get them them any closer. Other times they stop training with the intensity or frequency that is needed to keep momentum and progress going.

Unbeknownst to them, they are paying service to a version of themselves that didn’t believe that achieving the goal was possible. They are, in essence, feeding their old self and making sure it continue to exist as opposed to altering their actions to become the new possibility.

Call it self-sabotage, the expression of their belief of self-worth, whatever, the end result is the same, corrective thoughts, feeling and behaviors do not get traction and the individual remains the same – overweight, lacking vitality and living an uninspired physical life. It’s an avoidable shame and tends to be the outcome of an incomplete conversation during the initial conversation about training.

What is missing is the needed conversation to get answered the “how did you do it?” questions about your life and how you ended-up straying away from the life you wanted to live. These questions need to be asked because human beings pay service to their uncommunicated habits and because each individual is the expert in how they came to be how they are. They don’t need to get into the “why” questions because the answers to these questions do little to shed light on the new way of being that is needed to achieve results that have never been achieved.

What this does that is so important for transformation is help someone see their past as a series of behaviors so they are then able to see their progress as a series of different behaviors. Their present stops being the past and starts to become their future – it is only through different thoughts, feelings and actions that someone will be able to become transformed.

This needs to happen because human beings are complex and require more than a coat of new paint to become something physically, emotionally and spiritually different. Critical to transformation is the wisdom gained from understanding what was occurring to keep things the same because if these behaviors remain unknown they will repeated.

To do the job correctly a trainer / coach does not just to show people the way to make the lasting change but to also show them how they found their way to needing the change in the first place.

So, how do you feed the more energetic and goal achieving you? It’s very simple, you eat frequent servings for plants and small amounts of meat that haven’t been processed, flavored or “enriched”. You eat things that will rot quickly without refrigeration, things that have not been manipulated extensively to change their form or state. You eat chicken and not chicken nuggets, beef not hamburgers, fish not fish sticks. You eat green leafy vegetables and not just green powders or vitamin pills. You eat small amounts of fruit and not fruit bars. You drink water and not sugar water solutions. Basically, we foods that are high in nutrients and low in energy.

You make and take the time to buy good quality whole foods and prepare it with care, creating meals that don’t look that much different from the foods you bought. You remain open to the possibility for a new you and embrace the reality that this different version needs different things. Then you do these things over and over and over again until they become automatic and  part of your new identity.

100 Tips To Have An Extraordinary Life

I found this list of 100 tips to live an extraordinary life by Dr. Sukhi and felt it was worth sharing.

4. Develop a Routine and Rituals.

5. Exercise Everyday.

6. Start Your Day With Visualization.

7. Laugh and Play.

8. Create Short and Long Term Goals.

18. See Challenges as Opportunities.

19. Get a Mentor.

20. Know What You Value.

21. Be Somebody Others Respect.

29. Be Enthusiastic.

30. Plan Your Days, Weeks and Months.

31. Create Extraordinary Experiences for Those You Love.

32. Cultivate the Kid in You.

54. Always Tell the Truth.

55. Be Persistent and Patient.

56. Don’t Judge Others.

There are a number of things on the list that have been posted on this blog before, some that are part of the common experience of our culture and others that are new, uncomfortable and outside the normal way of being. But always keep in mind that an extraordinary life requires extraordinary actions so don’t count on remaining comfortable as being one of those things.

6 Ways To Create A Better Life

Ever see one of those people who is always happy and wonder what they are doing different that seems to bring everything they want into their life? The people will the big smile, the positive energy and a willingness to go along with whatever seems to come their way, as though it was exactly what was supposed to happen? If you ever sit down and talk to them, you’ll uncover some very surprising things about how they engage the world that seem to open closed doors and create a better life at every moment.

Having a great life is simply a matter of finding out and doing what they do so this greatness is within the realm of possibility for most of us. Below are 6 things that you can start doing today that will improve your experience this summer and beyond.

1) Create goals and look at them every morning when you wake-up and every night before you go to bed. You need to know where you are going in order to get there and your goals are the best predictor of your future, if you focus on achieving them. “Book ending” your day with a quick review of your goals primes your brain to work on them while you are awake and while you sleep. In fact, without priming your brain with problems to solve, you cannot expect to achieve anything that you haven’t already experienced. Take 10 minutes to read your goals at the beginning and end of your day to think and feel what it will be like to achieve them. Creating the emotional sense of accomplishment can alter how your process the world and this can present the pathway to everything that you want.

2) Do 4 hours of intense exercise per week. 4 hours is a critical amount, and having your heart rate elevated is key. This minimum amount of exercise will help improve body composition, improve blood circulation and get your body functioning more efficiently. It’s going to reduce stress, improve sleep and help you look and feel great. Good health is often considered one of the top 3 things needed to have a happy life, so dedicating 4 hours out of 168 that are available per week to move you towards a better life is a small time investment.

3) Eat food that you can identify as food and that will rot in a few days without refrigeration. Food is the only thing that actually becomes you. Every cell that you are is made-up of participles that were outside your body until you ate them. Higher quality food is going to supply more and higher quality nutrient so buy the best quality food that you can afford. The food you eat should be identifiable – that is, you should have some idea from where on the farm it came– and when left at room temperature, it should spoil fairly quickly. Things that have an indefinite shelf life or come from a factory tend to be much lower or void of nutrition. Eat as little of these food-like products as you can in favor of whole foods.

4) Be grateful. It is impossible to be unhappy when you are grateful. You may feel many emotions, but sadness will not be one of them. Being grateful creates a sense of connectedness to others that can eliminate feelings of isolation. It will also alter the way you view the entire world as gratitude tends to have a cascading effect on perception – if you process things from a place of gratitude, you will see more and more things in the world to be grateful for, which will make you happier.

5) Surround yourself with people who are living a great life and get their help in making your life better. This is a matter of doing what they do to achieve what they have achieved. Copy those who have blazed the trail and get the same outcome. Ask them for help and follow their advice. They’ll save you a lot of trial and error and boost the chances of you achieving your goal.

6) Remain open or childlike! Very often life is not going to go the way you want or plan. Embrace this fact and realize that the things that are unfamiliar actually create more joy in the long run than the things that are predictable. Accept that every lesson grew out of something you didn’t know before. Being wrong is the best way we have of eventually being right, but only when we accept and remain open to making mistakes. If you want to make an extraordinary life for yourself, you need to learn some extraordinary things thought the making of some extraordinary mistakes. Be childlike with your mistakes, be open to making them, learn from them and discard any sense of shame they created.

That’s it, 6 simple things you can start doing that will being to transform your experience of life into the realm of greatness. Begin to do one a week until all 6 of them are a habit and be curious and pleased to see the impact they have on your life!

Training Is Action, All Types Of Action

Often forgotten or repressed is the fact that body composition changes are the result of 1000’s of small actions over a sustained period of time. Oftentimes, people simply regard their time in the gym or exercising as their training and neglect the rest of the important steps.

Food consumption is training - eating 5-8 good quality meals per day can be a challenge, more of a challenge than an intense 45 minute workout. But eating frequently is critical in creating new eating behaviors, regulating blood sugar and optimizing metabolic functioning.

Food preparation is training - making 5-8 good quality meals per day can be a challenge. But since food supplies the building blocks needed to remake our bodies, preparing meals of a high quality is essentially MORE important than the workouts we do to break down the tissues that serve as the catalyst for adaptation.

Getting sufficient rest and recovery is training - being asleep before 11 pm has been shown to be extremely important in regulating anabolic hormones and the hours of rest between 11pm and 3am are some of the most critical times for recovery as they represent the best opportunity for falling into the deepest stages of sleep. The body does not recover when it is moving, so lying down and being still (as we are when we are asleep) is important for making the most out of the time spent training.

Reducing stress is training. Cortisol is released in response to stress. It is a catabolic hormone breaking down protein to create sugar to fuel fight or flight responses. ANY stress can cause the release of cortisol so it is important to reduce the stress response and limit the amount of stress that we experience.

Looking after your tissues is training. Rigorous exercise causes muscles to tighten-up, which can place increased stress / pulling on joints that can lead to pain. Maintaining flexibility requires dedicated time to stretch / foam roll.

The notion that 4 hours of physical exercise is sufficient to create a body transformation is not accurate. It is a great start, and they create a critical foundation from which to base all other self improvement actions, but they represent about 50% of the effort that is required.