…it might have been

If only…

My last post dealt with words that have to do with our state of mind, words that have a lot of power to influence us in how we act and can determine what lies ahead. Words are powerful. Why? Because when used and used often they determine what it is we do. Words are not just something we say, they are very influential in how we act. There is a saying, say something enough and it becomes the truth. I’ve written posts that talk about our state of mind and how we have already failed something even before doing it. As we know, the mind will quit before the body does. Read some of my posts and you will get a better understanding of this.

 

Attitude

I’ve seen it. I live it daily. Because of my passion of fitness, it’s something that sticks out to me and probably not noticed by most people. I think it also has to do with that in my spare time, when I’m indulged in my passion of karate I see people who constantly push themselves to the point that they are disappointed when they cannot perform to their expectations due to injury. This is when I have to tell them that they need to not do certain things if it aggravates the injury. And when I tell them this I can see the disappointment in their eyes.

Let me add a bit of clarity to this. I train with and teach people from as young as 3 up to people in their 60’s. And we train hard! I don’t make that claim lightly and I don’t make that claim because I’m talking about the club I train at. And I’m not naive. I’ve been training at this club for a number of years and there is a consistency regarding the training. It’s demanding. It’s the type of training that at the end of the night you are soaked with sweat. It’s the type of training that requires you to sometimes ask yourself why you are doing this, why are you pushing yourself so hard. But the answer comes afterwards when you can’t help but feel awesome and feel great physically and mentally. You feel this way because you are experiencing the physical aspects of working hard. Hormones being released, endorphins pumping through your veins. And you feel awesome because you have accomplished things that not many other people can do. You do this because you have the attitude that you can do it, and you will do it.

 

Majority

As a society we tend to fall into buckets with respect as to how we act, and the things we do. Society says that because you are a woman you should not do ‘A’ because that’s not what woman do. Society says because you are ‘X’ amount of years old you should not do ‘A’ because it’s time to slow down and relax. Society says because you have ‘X’ type of ailment, etc. that you should not do ‘A’ because you just shouldn’t. I think the reason these ideals live is because when someone goes against the grain, people feel uncomfortable, inadequate because they have chosen not to do these things. They feel inferior, and ultimately jealous. I think they also feel threatened. I’ve heard it myself, some people think I’m weird because I work out almost every day during my lunch time. Sometimes I’m laughed at because I don’t fit into their ideal of what I should be doing.

 

Choices

It doesn’t have to be that way. We don’t need to set limits on ourselves that have been created by others. If this was the case Terry Fox would have never walked across Canada raising awareness of cancer. Marilyn Bell would have never been the first woman to swim across lake Ontario if she listened to the naysayers. Jack  LaLanne would have never towed 70 boats for a mile when he was 70 years old.

We have a choice. We can easily fall into the stereotype that exists for the person people see us as. Or we can be our own person and do what we want to do regardless of what others think. To me there is really only one choice. It’s your life, it’s up to you to make the choices that make you happy, the choices that at the end of the day you are happy about being the person you are.

Do you fall into the comfortableness of familiarity, the safety of staying the course or do you make the decision to change things, to take life into your own hands and be in control of your destiny? How many people have regrets that they didn’t? How many people wish they could go back and change the decision they made? A lot. It’s in your hands. You are your captain.

You

It’s up to you, you control your choices, you control what it is you do. Don’t let others influence you with their negativity. You can do it. You have the ability to become the person you want to become. You can decide that it’s time you take control of your life, instead of letting others do that for you.

Not to be harsh, but eff them. Let them drag themselves down and stay clear of the pull of the undertow, don’t get sucked in. You are awesome! You can do anything you choose to do. Don’t forget that. The future is in your hands. Make the choice you want to make.

Yours in health,

Darryl

 

 

through my eyes the curtain is lifted

and the beauty shines brightly…

I can’t, it’s hard, I don’t have time, I’m too busy, I feel uncomfortable, it hurts, I’m too old, I’m set in my ways, it’s comfortable, I won’t know anybody, I’m afraid, they’ll look at me, I’m too out of shape, I won’t know what to do, I suck, I’m not worth it, I like the familiar…

 

I can, I’m awesome, I will, I’m worth it, I can change, I love a challenge, I will make time, I’ll feel better, I can accept change, I will not be afraid, I’m worth looking at, I will take the first step, it will become my routine, it’s my choice, I’m responsible for my happiness, it won’t kill me, I deserve it, no more excuses, I’m in charge of me, I can’t wait…

2 options

1 choice

You can do it. I know you can. Know that you can.

Yours in health,

Darryl

If all intentions

Each moment magnified by the intensity.

A lot of fitness posts have to do with the things not to do. I think I am guilty of the same as I probably have a few posts discussing the things not to do be it to lose weight, exercising, etc. This time I’m going to write about the things you should be doing.

The positive

So here in no particular order are things to do to help you keep a healthy lifestyle:

1. Warm up – probably the most important thing you can do to prevent injury. Before starting any exercise session spend at least five minutes warming up keeping your heart rate at about 120 beats per minute. Also try to add in dynamic stretching to maximize your range of motion.

2. Consuming – Eat. Don’t skip meals and don’t starve yourself. When you are not consuming enough calories or even consuming calories frequently enough your body goes into starvation mode and starts to metabolize muscle for your bodies energy needs. No one wants that to happen.

3. Keeping it cool – you have put your body through a lot during your workout, getting your heart rate up to 95% of its maximum. Now that you are done don’t just stop. Take 5 minutes to cool down and let your heart rate gradually decrease back to resting, breathing deep as you do this. Another great way to reduce the risk of serious injury.

4. Air – as silly as this may sound, you need to breathe while exercising. Of course you breathe otherwise you wouldn’t be here reading this but a lot of us don’t breathe properly. Most of us breathe quick, shallow breathes. Breathe in deep through your nose and breathe out forcefully through your mouth. Breathing out forcefully will get rid of that residual carbon dioxide that hangs around in the bottom of your lungs.

5. Stretching – overlooked by everyone, yes, everyone. Everyone is in a rush and we want things as quick as we can get them. Also we don’t stretch because it doesn’t improve our cardio and it doesn’t make us stronger. Really? Stretching improves our range of motion and stretching after exercise can also improve strength. Stretching can also help us become more efficient when it comes to cardio activity. Remember, dynamically stretch during your warm-up and static stretch at the end of your workout. Spend at least 30 – 60 seconds on each muscle group.

6. Balance – Eat meals that have a proper balance of protein, fat and carbohydrates. A good ratio is 30,30,40 of protein, fat, and carbs respectively. How do you know if you are maintaining this balance? That leads me to me next point.

7. Knowledge – Know what it is you are eating. Something as simple as the serving size can throw off the amount of calories, fat, protein, etc. that yoru are eating. A typical serving size listed on a box of cereal as an example is a good portion less than what most people put into their bowls. Same with serving sizes of drinks, etc. As painful as it may be, unless you measure what you are consuming you really don’t have a firm grasp on the amounts you are consuming. This is especially important if your goal is to lose, maintain or gain weight. Not getting stronger even though you have been working out for months? Could be you are not consuming enough protein for your body to grow the muscle needed. Feeling run down and tired? Are you consuming the same amount of calories that you were consuming before taking on an active lifestyle? The only sure way to know is to know the details of what you eat.

Positivity

Be positive when you workout and that you are working out. Start thinking that you can do it instead of you can’t. Your mind and attitude will get you through it. Congratulate yourself for being one of the 1% that are living an active lifestyle. You should feel really good about that.

And remember, you are awesome!

Yours in health,

Darryl

On the run

Stretching to new limits.

When most people think of exercising they probably think of weights or machines in a gym. But there are alternatives you can use. One alternative I would like to write about are resistance bands.

Flexible

So what are bands? Bands are typically a tubing or ‘band’ type shape made of flexible material. Think of an oversized rubber band. They can have handles at each end or can be connected to make a big circle. You can typically purchase bands with varying levels of resistance. They can also be large enough to fold in half to double the resistance.

Like most equipment, bands are good for some things but not all things. A couple of things bands are great for is they offer resistance through the whole range of motion of a an exercise. Also, there is no need to train against gravity because of the constant resistance.

How

I use bands to carry out exercises I would do on a machine such as cable rows or squats. They are also great to use for strengthening the rotator cuff since you can work those muscles from any angle while standing or sitting where as with weights you need to lye on your side to work the whole rotator cuff.

Bands are light, easy to store and easy to travel with. They are also very affordable (my bands cost me $20).

But with anything new that you do, be sure to educate yourself on how to use resistance bands. Improper use of any equipment can lead to poor results or even worse, injury.

Options

Do yourself a favor and pick up some bands. It will add variety to your workouts and will improve your health and well being. Oh yeah, you can thank me later.

Yours in health,

Darryl

if

…drain all of the things that are holding you back.

I believe I have already written a few posts on the specific goal of adding muscle to your body, and I thought it would be a good time to write another one since it is a good way to reinforce what to do to pack on the pounds. Also, for some new people reading this blog, you might not have had a chance to go back into the archives and read those posts.

The right things

There are things we need to do to build muscle on our body and to keep the muscle we already have. It’s not just a matter of going to the gym and lifting weights. That is part of it but there are other things just as important that tend to get neglected. I’m going to list some of these things and explain why they need to be done to help you reach your goal. If you have read some of my previous posts you might notice some of these have come up in those articles. There probably is a reason for that.

  • Protein – in the process of working out to build muscle we create micro tears in our muscles. These tears need to be repaired and that is the purpose of protein. Without an adequate amount of protein consumed daily our body will not be able to make those repairs. Without making those repairs, we will not be adding on muscle. How much protein is enough? For someone who is quite active, the protein requirement can be up to .8 grams of protein per body pound.
  • Carbs – just as important that we have an adequate amount of carbs in our diet. Why? Carbs are what fuels not only our workouts but everything else we do. That fuel is what allows us to perform our best in our workouts and to get the most out of our workouts. Knowing this, keep your carb intake comprised of complex carbs. Please stay away from simple carbs like sugar, white bread, high fructose corn syrup (that stuff is nasty!).
  • Eat – Be sure to not let yourself get into a mode where you are starving your body of fuel. If our body does not have fuel (carbs) it will take the easiest route to get its fuel and that easy route is for the body to break down existing muscle into carbs. Sounds awful doesn’t it, that your body would turn on you and start to consume the very thing you are trying to add onto your body. But just like water, it takes the path of least resistance. One way to prevent this is to try to consume food 6 times a day instead of the traditional 3 meals. This is one reason why I am a proponent of having a snack at night time as long as it’s healthy. If you think about it, your last meal, supper, might be concluded around 6pm. If it’s around 11pm when you finally retire for the night, that is over 4 hours without providing fuel for your body. That’s a long time to go without fuel. Also, keep in mind that you are now putting a large taxing demand on your body. The previous caloric requirement probably is no longer satisfactory for what you are doing now.
  • Sleep – The often neglected sleep. Our lives can be very busy and hectic for a number of reasons. So much that sleep gets put down low as a priority. Another reason, I think, is society as a whole has trained us into thinking that sleeping is wasting time because we can be doing more productive things, like working and that if we are getting more than 8 or 9 hours of sleep that we are lazy people without any drive or ambition. I think it’s fair to say that the majority of people do not get enough sleep because of this.Make getting enough sleep a priority. Why? For the purpose of adding muscle, this is when our body releases hormones such as human growth hormone and testosterone allowing your body to grow and recover. If you don’t, you are sabotaging the very thing you are trying to do.
  • Rest – I’m not talking about sleep here. Rest can also be thought of as down time. Time off from working out. It’s common when your goal to add muscle is to overdo it. It makes sense that we think the best way to add muscle is to work out more frequently since working out is what adds muscle, right? But the opposite happens because we end up over training our body and it no longer has time to recover. An example is push ups and sit ups. For some reason we think these are exercises we can do every day and reap the benefits from doing them every day. It’s strange because we typically don’t train our legs every day by doing squats yet we’ll train these muscles daily. Muscles are muscles. When you train any muscle it needs a least 48 hours to recover, to grow. That includes your abs or your chest.Give yourself ‘off days’ where you are letting your body recover. Off days does not mean you have to avoid working out it means to give the muscles you have worked out a break. If you are overly enthusiastic and want to spend lots of time training you can always segregate the body into muscle groups such as chest, back, arms, etc. and work one of those groups one day, the next the other day, so on, giving those muscle groups rest while the other ones are being worked out. For example, you can train chest and back on day one, legs on day two, and arms and abs on day 3. Day 4 is a rest day and then you are back at day one. This routine would give you 3 days of rest between working that same group of muscles.

More than enthusiasm

We need to train smart, not just hard. If you are going to put in the hours training, why not do what you can outside of training to maximize the results? It’s not only what we do ‘in the gym’ it’s also what we do outside of it.

Besides, who in their right mind would turn down an opportunity to eat more and sleep more.

Yours in health,

Darryl

Like falling when you try to fly

…it is fueled by the mind that gives it importance.

The new year can mean new beginnings. For some people it’s a time to make a change or changes in their life for the betterment of themselves. The most common change is trying to lose weight by changing eating habits or trying to get into better shape by adding exercise to their weekly routine.

But how you decide to undertake these things can be the difference between success or failure.

A change

For most people this new year’s change can be a significant change from their existing lifestyle. Because of that I think how the change is incorporated into someone’s life needs to be looked at very carefully. Let’s take a look at what can be done and what not to do so exercising can not only be a part of your life for the first month or so, but a part of your life moving forward for many years:

  • Gradually – Exercising regularly might be, or probably is something you have not done for a considerable amount of time. Typically, your daily or weekly routine did not include going to the gym, or exercising at home. Because of this I think one of the most detrimental things someone can do is to jump into the deep end of the pool instead of wading in through the shallow end. We cannot go from zero to 100 right of the bat. Doing this can set yourself up for failure because you will tend to overwhelm yourself with the commitment, and probably end up over training your body which will have a negative effect.The end result can be that you will end up back to your old routine and probably be disappointed in yourself. Don’t set yourself up for failure. Start off easy by adding exercise to your week twice for the first month. Then you can increase the weekly frequency to three times for a few weeks and then to four times. I believe you will be more successful in the long term of having exercise as part of your routine by easing into it instead of going full bore.
  • Seek – Just like you probably wouldn’t try to do your own brake job on your car, or build your own house, why is it a lot of people try to ‘build their body’ without any professional assistance? I think exercising is one of the things people attempt without any professional knowledge or assistance and a lot of times this ends up with negative results. I have seen it many times, usually in the new year, where people are in the gym and you know they don’t have the proper understanding on how to train or even worse, how to use equipment. The worse that can happen is the person gets injured and can no longer exercise. What usually happens is the person does not see any positive results and ends up not exercising any more. Very counterproductive.I think this happens because we all kind of think we know how to run, we know how to use basic gym equipment and we have all seen people exercising. Also, I think there is this idea that engaging a personal trainer can be very expensive. Yes and no. Yes, if you hire a personal trainer full time for every workout you do the cost can be prohibitive. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can engage a personal trainer for a number of sessions, maybe 10 to do things such as put together a routine for you, show you how to exercise properly and ultimately be successful in your endeavor. It’s a great way to get off on the right foot and start the new year off in a positive manner. You always have the option of reengaging the personal trainer again if you need to change your program or need some encouragement. Using a personal trainer does not have to be a lifelong commitment.
  • Rest – More and more studies are showing the importance the proper amount of sleep has on our body. Lack of sleep can lead to an increase of risk of disease, increase in body fat and also an increase in recovery time from our workouts. Do not discount the importance of sleep and try to treat it as something just as important as working out, or eating properly. Because it is! When you work out you are putting large amount of stress on your body and your body needs time to repair the effect of that stress. That is where sleep comes in. Just like brushing our teeth to prevent cavities from the bacteria that forms in our mouth partly from the foods we eat, sleeping is the tooth brush to the exercise that is the bacteria. I don’t know if that makes sense or not but it’s the best analogy I could come up with.
  • Why – The last item I’m going to include is why are you doing this? Was the gym membership a gift? Have you been wanting to add exercise to your lifestyle for a while now and you are using this time of year as a jumping stone? For whatever reason, be sure to have a goal in mind. Exercising for no apparent reason other than exercising can end up being a short term activity as you probably will lose interest and stop. When creating your goal try to use the SMART method:
    • Specific – Instead of a goal being ‘I want to become stronger’, change that goal to ‘I wan’t to increase my squat weight by 10%’. This is no longer an arbitrary goal but something specific.
    • Measurable – Be sure that you can measure the goal. Running a 10k distance in under 50 minutes is a good example of something that can be measured.
    • Action Oriented – What action is needed to achieve this goal. An action for increasing squat weight by 10% would be having to do squats. More specifically it would be to keep squat repetitions below 8 and the number of sets no less than 4.
    • Realistic – The goal should be something that you can achieve. If your goal is to run a 10k distance in under 50 minutes but the last time you ran this distance it took you 70 minutes, that might not be achievable. Having a goal that you cannot realistically reach will end up deflating your encouragement to do this. Don’t sabotage yourself.
    • Timed – When do you want to achieve this goal? Is it a short term goal or a long term goal? Always try to put a date to your goal. And if it’s a long term goal, try to break down your goal to sub goals that also have dates tied to them. Take the goal of running 10k in under 50 minutes. If your current time is 75 minutes to run 10k, this would be a long term goal, maybe achievable in a years’ time. Create short term goals of running 10k in under 70 minutes, then 65 minutes, etc. Having these sub goals will keep you motivated as you reach to achieve that long term goal.

I guess I should also say that you should acknowledge that you have decided to make a positive change to your life. That’s great! Don’t neglect that fact. I think focusing on the positive things we do instead of the negative things we do is very important. Daily we are inundated by negativity be it from the media, from work, etc. Focus on the positive and this will also help keep you motivated.

Yours in health,

Darryl

 

 

 

a drop of free water

“All great achievements require time.”

I like to take this time of year to write a post that will help people new to fitness/working out and also to those that are already active. Be it that we are new to fitness, or a veteran, everybody can benefit from motivation. I think it’s fair to say that working out in itself is not overly difficult, it’s getting there and getting started that is the tough part for most people.

Things

Trying to find things that can motivate us can be easy or difficult based on where we are on our path of fitness. It might be a new gym membership for those who are starting up in the new year. It could be a new training method such as TRX to bring motivation back. Regardless of what gets us motivated, most times that motivation starts to wane after some time. Could be a few weeks, a month or two or could also be after a year.

Let’s look at some things that we can do to keep motivated:

  • History – how do we know where we came from if we don’t have a map? Ok, that’s the best I can do for an analogy, not the best but what I’m saying is how do we know that we are healthier, stronger, have less body fat if we don’t know what those things were at the beginning, or months back? I realized myself after having some time off due to injuries and starting up again that my fitness level was pretty good before the injuries. How did I know this? Because I knew what my numbers were. I was able to compare my fitness level to what it was before my time off. Knowing where I was and where I am motivated me knowing that my fitness really dropped off. How awesome would it be to weigh yourself at the beginning of an 8 week or 12 program and at the end of that program weigh yourself again and see the improvements! Or to know that 6 months ago you could do only 5 pushups and now you can do 12! Could be a good motivator. Keep track of your workouts in a journal, or maybe try one of the new fitness tracking devices to have it do it for you.
  • 80% – I wish there was a way to get a taste of that feeling after you have a good workout, before you work out. I know on those days that you are tired, or not motivated to work out but you still go and you feel so awesome afterwards! You have that feeling that you’re glad that you worked out instead of skipping it. 80% of working out is just getting off of the couch and doing it. Once we get off the couch and make that commitment, we usually finish. And we feel great! But it’s difficult when you are in that moment, in that zone and you try by telling yourself you’ll feel better but it’s not the same as the feeling itself. If there was some way to activate that feeling in the brain for a small moment, knowing that a work out will give you that feeling for a prolonged period motivation might not be an issue.
  • Get Oriented – Do you know why you train? Do you have a goal(s)? Training for reason such as I want to feel better, I want to live a healthier life, etc. are good reasons but they are not measurable goals. What about I want to run a marathon, I want to run a 10k under 50 minutes, I want to add 5lbs of muscle to my body. These are goals that you can measure, track and hopefully are realistic enough to achieve them. An example could be I want to complete a marathon 1 year from now. It’s great to have goals but we need to keep them realistic otherwise that goal can end up deflating any motivation you have. Something else you can do if your goal might take a fair amount of time to complete is to set up sub goals. Let’s say your goal is to add 10lbs of muscle to your body. A fantastic goal. But this could take maybe up to a year to achieve depending. Break down this goal into sub goals of adding just over 3lbs of muscle every 4 months. This way you are rewarded sooner in the process and will probably feel really good about each achievement.
  • It’s powerful – Getting motivated can be more complicated certain times. If you find that you are having a hard time getting motivated to do other things, simple things, it may be something deeper. It might be depression, or something like SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). I know this time of year here in Canada it’s tough to do things you would normally have no problem doing in the summer. There’s less sunlight during the day. Most of us drive to work in the dark and drive home in the dark. And it’s cold! If you think this might be you see if you can seek out a professional to help you. And don’t view it as a negative thing. It’s not. I’m hoping one day people will start looking at mental health as they would look at the rest of the body. I don’t understand why we look at depression, etc. differently than we would look at a broken arm, or a heart attack. I think we are getting there though.

Doable

Sure, it’s easy for me to sit here and provide points on motivation. I wish it was as easy as having someone read this post and find what they are looking for. I know it’s not. If it was that easy there wouldn’t be a multi-billion dollar industry selling DVD’s, seminars, etc.

I guess my goal of this post is to help you find or keep that motivation. If I’ve done that it makes it all worthwhile.

Yours in health,

Darryl