Apr 09

Another April Special…

This one’s a blast from the past.

Team Beachbody has put Power 90 on sale through April 28th. What’s Power 90? It’s a fully integrated 90 home workout program designed by Tony Horton that was the precursor to P90X. Want to get fit and lose weight, but you’re not ready for an extreme program like P90X or Insanity? Tons of people got it done with Power 90.

Through April 28th you can buy Power 90 for $39.95. That’s about 44 cents a day to get off your butt and start taking charge of your fitness and health. Individual workouts run between 30 and 45 minutes, and you get Tony Horton and his basket of chuckles to keep you interested and involved (he really doesn’t have a basket of chuckles – if he did that would be scary).

Click here to order now.

Apr 04

April specials…

T25 Challenge PackBrazil Butt Lift Challenge Pack

Beachbody has these two great programs on sale in the month of April.

I completed T25 myself this past fall and it was a killer program. If you like to move you’ll love anything Shaun T throws at you, and his enthusiasm and spirit is infectious.

10 weeks. 5 days a week. 25 minutes per workout, and with this offer you save over $95 over what you’d spend if you were to buy T25 and Shakeology separately.

Brazil Butt Lift is another great program, led by Leandro Carvalho, who trains supermodels for a living (that guy has it rough). This is a fantastic program for people who are fond of latin dancing and latin dance-style workout programs. It’s called a Butt Lift, but it will work your whole body.

Buy purchasing this challenge pack you save $70 compared to what it would cost you to buy the program and Shakeology separately.

So, why should you get Shakeology? Because it tastes great, it’s made with superior ingredients and it will make sure your nutrition is strong and balanced and your body has what it needs to get you through these workouts and the rest of your day.

Click the either picture above to order now.

Apr 11

The golden rule…

22 people were injured when an obviously trouble student started stabbing people at his high school in Pennsylvania the other day. You’d need to be hiding under a rock not to know about this.

I’ve guided this site, over the past few months, to a narrower focus on fitness and health. So it might seem odd to my readers to see me write about a current news event that is wrapped up in a rather charged social issue – the level of violence in our society. I believe, very strongly, that health and fitness are more than just nutrition and exercise. If you don’t care for your mental, emotional and, for lack of a better term, spiritual wellness it won’t matter a bit how many pull-ups you can do, what size clothes you wear or how long you live.

The issue of violence in America weighs on all of us. It impacts our choices. For instance, there’s a elderly lady who frequents the gym I go to. She doesn’t lift weights, or use the treadmills, or swim in the pool. She goes to the gym to walk. She walks endless laps around the facility. I asked one of the trainers about her one day and she told me this woman pays for a gym membership so she can walk where she feels safe. Hearing that was painful. This particular gym resides in one of the most affluent communities in America, with a crime rate so low as to be nearly non-existent, particular as relates to crimes against elderly women. It’s also a beautiful place to walk, with paved trails, gorgeous tree-lined streets and fantastic parks. But this lady is afraid of all of those places, so she walks in circles inside of a concrete box. That’s behavior that’s driven by fear. It’s irrational fear, but it’s understandable given that a kid walked into his school with knives and tried to hurt as many people as he could the other day.

The previous week a soldier flipped his wig and murdered three of his fellow soldiers at Fort Hood. Last year two young men blew up a bomb that injured dozens at the Boston Marathon, and months before that a mentally ill young man murdered his mother and then went to an elementary school and opened fire on small children and teachers. And let’s not forget the daily violence of the poor communities in American, both in the inner cities and the rural south.

It’s easy to see how someone could become frightened, and how that fear could make you do something daft like walk in circles inside of a building. Another thing frightened people do is get angry. Angry people tend to take their anger out on others in one way or another. Most folks aren’t interested in physical confrontations, but those do happen. What’s far more common, and facilitated by this impersonal internet culture we live in, are verbal tirades, insults and diatribes. I’ve done it. I bet you have to.

It’s so easy to lash out online at someone. It’s easy to forget that you’re interacting with a human being, who has feelings. It’s equally easy to ascribe malicious intent to a phantom who you only know exists via an avatar on Facebook.

A friend posted a link to this post from the Chief of the Brimfield, OH Police Department. Chief Oliver sums it up well:

Good Afternoon,

A little while ago, I posted about the tragic stabbings of students at a high school in Pennsylvania. We post info like that incident (and also officers being killed) as a notice for mourning and reflection. Soon after, the insults and innuendos started, with words like “conservative” “liberal,” “it wasn’t a gun” and “arm the teachers.” Here is some unsolicited advice. Do with it what you will. If it does not apply to you, then ignore it.

Until we, as adults, learn to stop being angry, insulting each other and picking fights every chance we get, how in heck can we expect our kids to behave any differently? I guarantee, if you are an Internet troll, generally angry and surly and by all appearances hate the human race, the children around you will act no better than what you are modeling. We have to be the examples for those who are still growing.

If you want another opinion, here you go. Until adults start leading and acting like adults, we are just spinning our wheels. There is no perfect political party, no perfect way to peel a banana, and no perfect person. Adults insulting each other and cramming political views in our ears in a constant barrage of “the world is ending,” is only making the kids in our society more stressed and angry.

In a case like this awful stabbing incident at a HIGH SCHOOL….pipe down and let the people mourn. Be there for them, but be quiet unless there is something helpful to say.

My apologies for being direct. It’s sort of my thing.

Carry on….Chief Oliver.

Apr 08

The scale is an evil jerk monster…

What the Number on the Scale Really Means: A Primer on Weight Fluctuations

via What the Number on the Scale Really Means: A Primer on Weight Fluctuations | Greatist.

Just go on right ahead and click the link above and read this entire article. Go ahead. I’ll be here waiting when you’re done.

Seriously. Go read it. Sheesh!

Ok, you’re back. Do you suddenly feel less stupid? You should. If you’ve been beating yourself senseless with self-loathing because your scale isn’t cooperating with you then you should also relax and cut yourself some slack.

The scale is a blunt instrument, and as this article points out very effectively, it flat out lies. Ok, it’s an inanimate object with no intentions or emotions, so it doesn’t lie. Fine.

It is a jerkface hobo with one eye and a lisp though.

You are not the sum of the digits your scale produces. For the people I work with on weight loss my first piece of advice is usually, “Ok, so, now that you’ve got your baseline weight measured and recorded, give your scale to a friend and tell them to hide it from you for 30 days. You don’t get to step on it again until then.”

Why do I say this? Because the information it gives you is not necessary information. Look, if you’re overweight you know that. You don’t need to know the precise number. That’s like being a middle-aged guy with male pattern baldness who counts the hairs that fall out on his pillow each night. You’re going bald. Does it matter precisely how bald?

Anyway, go back and read the linked article again, and print yourself a copy of the chart at the bottom. That’s your guide now.

Apr 07

Truly a Monday…

Today was a test.

Yesterday I learned that the social media gods were frowning upon me. I’ve been put into a timeout on Facebook because someone objected to either the quantity or content of my posts in a group I belong to. I’m not going to go into the level frustration I feel about the fact that FB does this without warning you, without asking for your input or doing much of anything to investigate the validity of the complaint. Complaint received = 30 day suspension.

This creates a number of problems for me in administering the fitness and nutrition challenge groups I’m running or soon to start that use Facebook groups as their platform. Sux. But what am I going to do? Demand a refund on the non-existent fee I pay to use Facebook?

What it does is make me aware that focusing too much of my efforts in this business on one social media platform is a recipe for disaster. Yesterday I was fatalistic about the whole thing. I said “I’ll just use this time as a chance to invest more time into other platforms,” and I will do that. But today I felt butt hurt about the whole thing.

I don’t like to go along with the whole “I hate Mondays” crowd. That’s silly and arbitrary. It’s just a day. Today really felt like a “Monday” though. My better half is not feeling well. My daughter was not feeling well. I had a vendor lunch at work (Message to all well-meaning business development folks – if you want to talk business, let’s get coffee sometime. When I’m in a restaurant I want to focus on the dining experience, not talk about work). I could go on and on. Regardless of the name of the day, today was a difficult one.

I got some things done though. I got my workout in. I got a couple of really nice hugs from my wife and kiddo and my dog was happy to see me.

Sometimes you just have to keep pushing play.

Apr 05

A little bit of fantasy…

I love superhero movies. I AM the target demographic for movies like Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Saw it today with the family and some friends. It was great. Exciting, involving and just a lot of fun. If you like this sort of thing, get out there and see it.

I’ll let you in on a little secret – I owe my drive to become fitter and stronger to Iron Man. Seriously. I saw Iron Man and looked at Robert Downey, Jr. and said to myself – “If that guy can look that fit, so can I.”

Of course that was before I knew the amount of work that someone like RDJ, Chris Evans or Chris Hemsworth puts into preparing for these parts. But for ages I had this photo of RDJ from Iron Man where he’s wearing a tank top and pounding a big hammer on an anvil and that was my motivation for doing lots and lots of pull-ups, figuring out how to eat better and actually even stepping up my game fashion-wise.

In one sense these kinds of fantasies are healthy because they give us a way to channel our enthusiasm for working out. Ultimately though I’m pretty glad I realized that movie star beefcake doesn’t necessarily mean fitness. I read an interview with RDJ after Iron Man 3 came out last summer in which he was pretty candid about how deprived he is all the time. He’s got a full-time staff that monitors his nutrition (or lack thereof, as the case may be) and a personal trainer who works with him several hours per day. I don’t know about you, but I think if I had a Scrooge McDuck style vault of millions of dollars to swim in I’d probably not have a lot of interest in spending several hours a day doing rope swings or “cleanses”.

I think I enjoy being a superhero in my own mind more than being a real one anyway. Steve Rogers took a pretty severe pounding fighting the Winter Soldier (and half of SHIELD) in this movie. I’d rather heroically play with my daughter, take my dog for a walk or sweep my lovely wife off her feet on a date.

Apr 03

Depressed and sick or sick and depressed?

Will We Ever Accept that Exercise is Often the Best Medicine? | Mark’s Daily Apple.

In honor of Throwback Thursday, let me tell you a little bit about past me. He was often depressed. He struggled with anxiety to a degree that panic attacks hit him often. Once, when attempting to ride the bus to work he suffered a total meltdown, the drive pulled the bus over and a kindly fellow passenger took him off the bus and sat with him until help could arrive. He occasionally went through bouts of agoraphobia that confined his circle of movement to work, home, work, home. Even going out to the grocery store was impossible.

Sounds bleak, doesn’t it? Trust me, it was. So, not wanting to be debilitated like this, he sought out the advice of his doctor. The doctor was a good guy, who cared a great deal for his patients, and his initial advice was to “Just be nicer to yourself. Get out and do things that are worth doing.” The doctor wanted to send him to a therapist but the insurance company wouldn’t pay for that. They were more than happy to pay for drugs though. So he took them. And didn’t feel any better. The panic attacks weren’t as bad, but they still came. The fog of depression lifted, but it wasn’t replaced with joy.

The drugs brought with them side-effects. Disrupted sleep, weight gain, stomach cramps and poor digestion, occasionally increased anxiety (that’s awesome, give someone a drug to treat depression brought on by anxiety that causes more anxiety – did Joseph Heller think this stuff up?) and a host of other problems even I won’t write about on a blog.

Eventually, he got fed up with drugs that didn’t really help, often created new problems, or actually made things worse, sought out a therapist and actually started to make some progress. He had to pay for that therapy out of his own pocket, mind you (the idiocy of insurance not paying for talk therapy or CBT is fodder for a book’s worth of writing, but I’ll spare you… for now), but it has turned out to an excellent investment.

What’s my point? I don’t need to cover what Mark Sisson handles so well in the above-linked article regarding the obvious and impressive benefits possible by treating depression and other conditions with exercise. Here’s the thing – We modern humans are so impressed with our technology that we keep trying to use it to solve every problem, but there are many, many problems that simply cannot and should not be solved this way.

This guy, me, I wasn’t depressed because my brain chemistry was messed up. I was depressed because I’d developed bad habits as a child. I’d developed the habits of dwelling on unpleasant things that had happened in the past, and projecting that feeling of pain and fear into the future, and then becoming paralyzed with fear that everything I did would end in misery and pain. I got anxiety attacks because I turned maybes and could happens into will happen in my mind.

If you feed your body shitty food full of chemicals and pseudo-edible crap your health will suffer. Our bodies are made of what we eat. Eat junk = have a junky body. Garbage in = garbage out, as programmers say. Exercise and fitness works that same way. Want to run fast? Then run. Teach your muscles how to do the thing you want to do by repetition. No one who sits on their butt for 16 hours a day should be astonished when he/she cannot pick up a paperweight, or run a mile. You are what you do most of the time.

The mind is the same way. Dwell on misery, fear and suffering and that is what your mind will become accustomed to thinking about. It becomes a pattern. Someone once said the human mind is basically a pattern-recognition machine. Feed it specific stimuli and it will respond in the way it has been trained to do so.

I had to change my behavioral patterns to get better. Let me say that again – I had to change my behavioral patterns to get better. Just like I had to change my eating habits to lose weight and I had to increase my physical activity to get stronger and fitter (and it’s probably no coincidence that when I started taking better care of my body and being more active that my mind started to be more focused and fit as well).

We humans were not meant to spend our days glued to glowing boxes of light. Talk therapy works because, ultimately, having another human to open up to lifts the psychic weight from our shoulders. Exercise cures disease because doing is what we were designed for. I’ll say that again – Doing is what we were designed for.

Apr 01

How did I get here? Part 3…

After realizing where I’d taken a wrong turn in assuming that just riding my bike a lot would magically transform me back into my mid-20’s self, and beginning to understand how important resistance training really is to overall fitness, weight loss and body composition after reading and following some of the programming in Buff Dad, I made some good progress. I built on that by getting a gym membership, and setting myself a goal to complete a sprint triathlon in the summer of 2008.

At the gym I did a combination of the Couch to 5K running program, lap swimming and more resistance training. On the weekends I would hop on the bike and ride, either doing long rides with hills or sprint intervals. What I didn’t have though was a clear focus or plan for nutrition. I was still trying pretty much anything that I tripped over in order to try to get a handle on what and how much I should be eating. Slim-Fast, Atkins, South Beach Diet and a few others bounced around along the way, but nothing stuck.

Slim-Fast was just unbearable to drink. It tasted like a can of chemicals (which, it pretty much is). Atkins and South Beach were just absurd. Both dropped weight quickly in the first month, but it cam creeping back as soon as eating returned to anything resembling a normal human diet. I was also beginning to do plenty of reading regarding nutrition and it was becoming clear that all diets had one thing in common – they caused temporary changes and tended to make participants miserable.

Two books made a huge impact on me in 2009. Dr. David Kessler’s The End of Overeating and Mark Sisson’s The Primal Blueprint.

Dr. Kessler’s book made me realize that changing your eating habits is as much a matter of emotional and psychological change as it is anything else, perhaps more. It also made me realize that my major problem was that my relationship with food was distorted. Instead of eating food for fuel and for the sake of enjoying the food, I ate often to provide myself with comfort and rewards. If I felt bad, I ate. If I felt good, I ate. And I was addicted to sweets and junk. I needed to treat it in much the same way an alcoholic or drug addict treats the source of their addiction.

The Primal Blueprint opened my eyes to the damage modern life was doing to me. Simply sitting as much as I did each day as a part of work was devastating to the human body. Mark Sisson’s book inspired me to try to incorporate more movement (more than just doing a workout a few days a week) into my life and to eliminate as much premade and processed food as possible from my diet.

I’d made myself much fitter and stronger via exercise, and by the middle of 2010, via a focus on nutrition I was finally managing to see the physical changes to my body that I wanted.

Then I found P90X

Mar 31

Mmmm, Butter…

This doesn’t mean you abandon fruit for beef and cheese; you just abandon fake food for real food, and in that category of real food you can include good meat and dairy.

via Butter Is Back – NYTimes.com.

Fat is food. Fat is fuel.

Let’s repeat this, shall we.

Fat is food. Fat is fuel.

Getting nutrition right can seem so challenging to most people, largely because the institutions we count on to advise us on what we should or shouldn’t eat cannot actually be trusted. But, as Mark Bittman points out in the article linked above, the jury really is no longer out on whether or not dietary fats should be avoided.

Dietary fat is a necessary component of balanced nutrition. If you restricted the foods you eat to things labeled “low fat” or “non-fat” this would not have the desired effect… at all. Depriving your body of dietary fats WILL disrupt your hormone balance. It will also lead you to eat more.

The human digestive system evolved to register satiety in proportion to the quality of nutrition consumed. Food with a decent amount of fat in it registers as more satisfying and filling for a reason. Dietary fats provide long term energy and help to break down fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. What’s the number one most common vitamin deficiency in America today? D deficiency. Now, part of that is because we modern humans don’t spend enough time in the sunshine, and when we do we’re slathered in sunscreen. But another big part of the reason why vitamin D deficiency is so common is that we’ve been told to reduce our consumption of dietary fats to the point where we aren’t able to metabolize the D we are producing/consuming.

But again, I don’t want to add to the confusion. Read Bittman’s article. Read the studies he links to. Do some research on your own if you like, but if not, then just eat food. Don’t eat things that are industrially designed to be incomplete nutritionally. I love Bittman’s example of how the mind simply boggles at the notion of such a thing as non-fat sour cream. Cream, even the sour variety, is fat. Non-fat sour cream is, effectively, non-fat fat. If that makes any kind of logical sense to you, you’re obviously a lawyer. In all seriousness, non-fat fat can only be a highly engineered, industrially produced glob of pseudo-food and chemicals. You really shouldn’t eat such things.

If you don’t want to count calories, or analyze your macronutrients or any of the nerdy and borderline crazy things us fitness geeks compulsively do, but you still want to eat healthier, then just do this – stop eating anything that had to be engineered in order to be edible. Eat meat. Eat vegetables. Eat fruit. Eat nuts. Eat seeds. Or, as Michael Pollan put it so well – Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

Mar 23

1200 Calories = Abject, Ridiculous, BS…


I’m really not sure why Huff Post decided to re-run this brilliant post, that originally ran here – http://sophieologie.me/2013/09/26/1200-calories/ – last September, but I’m really, really glad they did.

To me, there’s a certain amount of ethical horror that so many magazines, popular websites and TV shoes continue to repeat the mantra that women, regardless of age, height, weight, fitness or activity level should just eat 1200 calories and voila! Physical perfection beckons. I mentioned to the missus this morning when I read a couple of quotes from this article to her that, intellectually, I know that the mission of Dr. Oz isn’t to give health advice, it’s to get people to tune in consistently so they see the ads that bracket each segment of his show. Likewise, the purpose of any consumer magazine isn’t really to produce quality, well researched information, but rather to generate interest so that while you’re reading you’ll see the ads.

Still, the people who produce this stuff are still human beings, and, one hopes, they have a conscience and a moral center to their own lives that makes them want to produce a show or magazine or website that doesn’t actively do harm to the people who consume their product.

Of course the other part of the problem is the audience. People do not like to hear that reaching their goals will be difficult. {Insert Name of Useless Celebrity Here} lost 30 pounds in three weeks, therefore I must do likewise. What a load of malarky. It took me 5 years to lose 50 pounds and keep it off. In those 5 years I had to relearn how to eat, learn to stop sabotaging myself, and find a fitness regimen I enjoyed enough to stick with it. Oh, and the first 75% of that weight was easy. The final 25% is what took all the time and effort. So, Sugar Buns, if you’re thinking you’re only interested in improving your life if you can do it in a month, then just don’t bother. You, frankly, are not serious about this.

Yeah, the audience is a huge part of the problem. If I run a magazine I have to sell ad space. To sell ad space I need to draw people to my magazine on the news stand, and to do that I need to greet my potential readers with messages that appeal to their preconceived notions of how things are. A banner headline on the cover that says, “Lose Those Stubborn 30 Pounds In 3 Years” is going to generate exactly zero readers, which will cost me my job.

It’s a conundrum. The two big myths of female fitness – that lifting actual weights will make you bulky and that 1200 calories is a reasonable amount of food to eat – are entrenched in the American psyche. Entrenched in a steaming, fetid trench of BS.

Digging them out and planting honest information that can actually help people is going to take a very big shovel… or a lot of us with tiny ones.

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