Define, Decide, Do

Kroger's Canteen

San Juans. Virginius Pass.

Your life gives you a finite amount of time, energy, and focus. Define what gives you the most value and spend your time on that. Do it. The rest is simply details.

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Balance. Keeping it all in check. Working enough to be proficient, but not an excessive amount to be a specialist. I’ve always operated best in a state of balance. Creating my own goals and activities. Using self-monitoring techniques to make decisions.

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Input and Output. Cause and Effect. Analyzing the aftermath.

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Life is never easy. The modern world is demanding. Therefore, we must be flexible. To be flexible we must be competent. Having a diverse set of talents gives you options. Having options provides the power of choice. Well, when you can choose, the effect is never far away.

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Engagement forms the bond. The bond becomes the connection. The connection makes it a lifestyle. When it’s your lifestyle, well, then you own it.

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Think on these things:

  • Life is a continuum. There is no big moment lying ahead. Establish your daily routine now. What you live will be a circular set of experiences.
  • Avoid magical thinking. There are no secrets. All changes are just habits. Learning to say “NO” to things that derail is paramount in importance.
  • Foster your Movement Mindset… 
    • Physical Activity Trumps Body Composition
      • Build it into your daily life
        • Choose simple over complex
          • Get really good at simple
            • do more, with less, more often

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Sequence your year…

My “quarterly” physicality:

  • November to March –
    • strength, flexibility, walking, and patience.
  • March to May –
    • prioritizing endurance, reducing strength and flexibility, increasing recover practices.
  • May to August –
    • extended endurance, goal-specific training, execute a successful race. ***Maybe
  • August to November –
    • hunt, hike, stretch, water, body weight, movement flow.

Coaching – Are You Ready?

“You show me a boy or girl, man or woman with a desire to win, and I’ll show you a person who will work hard the thousands of hours it takes to win. Show me those who want to go to the top, and I’ll show you people who’ll take coaching. They will welcome it. They will beg for it. They will use every God-given talent they have to its utmost. They will drink in inspiration. If they lack desire, they won’t work. They won’t take coaching.”           – Bob Richards Olympic Gold Medalist / Speaker / Coach

Looking back at each developmental stage of my life, I can pinpoint a specific person that was pivotal to my progress. Coaches, mentors, and even friends come into your life at key moments when your curiosity, drive, and focus are at their peak. This is the law of attraction. Connection builds trust. From a position of trust, we open ourselves to suggestion and likely, honest criticism.

When I meet someone I’m always curious about where they are headed. What’s the future look like? How are the decisions they make aligning with said direction? What are the hard choices they are making or putting off?

This curiosity comes from my own self-analysis. I’ve wasted plenty of time. Been complacent. Lazy. Put off hard decisions. Wallowed in self-pity. Made excuses. Quit races. Given up. Been jealous.

The complacent, weak-self I described above ALWAYS occurred when I was without guidance, mentorship or coaching. What’s missing? Accountability and vision. Someone who knows when to build you up, as well as when to break you down and then put you back together.

As a professional coach myself, I value my personal coaches immensely. Investing in yourself shows maturity and a level of commitment to life that can only be described as UNCOMMON.

Lean it out. Cleanse yourself of the common attitudes and opinions of those around you. Self-limiting beliefs can be contagious. Protect your circle. Let your true energy and personality shine through and opportunities will present themselves that you couldn’t have imagined.

Are you ready?

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Improving Bodyweight Exercise

  • Make movements harder.
  • Learn to engage and flex muscles in unity.
  • Utilize intense exhalation to contract the diaphragm during peak contraction.
  • Peak contraction facilitates progress.
  • Grease the groove. Move well throughout the day.
  • Slow down. Stop pre-failure.
  • Engage daily.

Performance / Success / Discipline

“A warrior cannot complain or regret anything. His life is an endless challenge, and challenges cannot possibly be good or bad. Challenges are simply challenges. – Don Juan, Carlos Castaneda

Application of the concept of right practice, the pursuit of excellence, or the process of formative lifestyle change/improvement applies to all areas of your life. Making this distinction and honestly engaging each aspect of your existence with these principles is a skill to be consciously employed.

“I appreciate greatness and I appreciate hard work. It’s something about devoting a piece of every day to something that’s far off that’s really inspiring to me. I know there are areas where I can improve, which gives me a lot of confidence that it’s not the peak for me.” Dylan Bowman – Professional Ultrarunner

“Performance is about being your best and learning to do something better. Excellence does not come easily, nor is it automatic for even the most talented, highly-motivated individuals. Rather it stems from the desire to be really good at something and the discipline to make a lasting commitment.” – Connie Carpenter 1984 Gold Medal Cycling

“A performance gap is thereby delineated with maximum specificity between the performance system subject to premature failure and the image of purpose. By employing the force of will, moment to moment, to sustain the training exercise past such points of premature microsystemic failure, the performance of that particular episode of exercise is enhanced.” Michael Livingston – Mental Discipline

Most athletic practice will embrace some fundamental performance objective, and this objective properly will be embodied in a general image of purpose. Discrete performance objectives / maximum specificity. Each microsystem must be trained with maximum intensity.

The purpose of walking the path is not to attain some final destination but simply to progress ever further along that path.

The ego distorts purity of practice. Product-oriented pursuits serve the ego, seeking some objectified result to be achieved through that practice. There is no purity of practice. No commitment to the process.

The purpose must possess a process orientation. This process orientation to the image of purpose, in turn, has two dimensions: intention and direction. The force of will acts on the mind in two ways. First, the mind must be directed, toward some conceptual goal. Second, the mind must be propelled or animated to move in that direction.

The greater the specificity and intensity of practice – that is, the more purposeful – the more effective the practice will be.

Stay the Course…

We grow when challenged. Now, more than ever, it is easy to avoid uncomfortable situations. Social, physical, mental, environmental… they can all become non-existent in our lives. Days turn into weeks turn into months turn into years, they hurry by you. Recognizing a challenge and engaging whole-heartedly without fear of failure, or expectation of success is a trainable skill. Approaching your challenge with a personal, meaningful mantra and reason is paramount. I can’t create your why or reason for you. Spend time in your own head each morning. Rise a little early. Break the routine just a little. Journal. Think. Grow. Be accountable.

Epithets for the self: Upright. Modest. Straightforward. Sane. Cooperative.

Marcus Aurelius

Pick your two words. You know you’re going into a tough assignment—say to yourself over and over again, “strength and courage.” You’re about to have a tough conversation with a significant other: “patience and kindness.” You’re about to lead a team of people, and you’re uncertain of your own ability: “calm and composed.” via Daily Stoic

-Let a man not be corrupted by external things

-Let him be unconquerable and admire only himself

-Let him be courageous in spirit and ready for any fate

-Let him be the molder of his own life

-Let not his confidence be without knowledge, nor his knowledge without firmness

-Let his decisions once made abide

-Let not his decrees be altered by any alteration

-Let him be poised and well-ordered

-Let him show majesty mingled with courtesy in all his actions

Seneca

Be honest. Follow through. Recognize that we often quit at 40% … think about that… you’ve got 60% left to give, it’s there, just waiting to be exposed. Whether training or competing you need to wire your mind to dig deep into the well of effort. This is why you do the uncomfortable, repeatedly. Training is just that. It’s practice. Don’t judge practice. You are your toughest critic. Running 100+ miles in 24 hours is a practice of commitment and self-care. Over and over again you are asking yourself to keep moving for no other reason than a personal commitment. No fame, no glory, no money, nothing but completion of the short journey that is endurance sports.

Value your time and you can create an existence for yourself that will bring you pride and joy. Do it for yourself. Do it for your family. Do it for your soul. Don’t do it for the selfies and likes you may receive. It’s not a reliable source of validation. Accept how much personal power you have. Once realized it may overwhelm you. Move forward and look ahead. The future is now and the path is in front of you.

I applaud your decision to use the sharp knife and make a clean cut on a new future.

Onward and Upward.

On Reflection, Time, and Decisions

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Giovanni Paolo Cimerlini’s etching “The Aviary of Death

I have made myself what I am.

-Tecumseh, Shawnee 1768-1813

Search for yourself, by yourself. Do not let others make your path for you. It is your road and yours alone. Others may walk it with you, but no one can walk it for you. Accept yourself and your actions. Own your thoughts. Speak up when wrong, and apologize. Know your path at all times. To do this you must know yourself inside and out, accept your gifts as well as your shortcomings, and grow each day with honesty, integrity, compassion, faith, and brotherhood.

-Terri Jean

Each morning I reflect on the passing of time. Not in a nostalgic manner, but one of acknowledgment. What actions were pointless, frivolous, or simply self-indulgent? What choices did I make that I’m proud of? The second question is harder to answer as those choices, for the most part, have become automatic. Habitual, if you may. Nevertheless, my goal is to quantify the positives and negatives, assess the behaviors that led to the decisions I made, and move forward, progressively as well as correctively. The analysis is not judgment.

Categories of Decisions (choices):

  1. Mental / Psychological / Emotional / Spiritual. This is broad for good reason. Each of these areas come together to quantify the self.
  2. Nutrition / Health. How much self-respect do you have? As human beings, we are physical clones of one another. We differ, mainly, because of the decisions we make in this category. Simple. Re-read the quote above from Tecumseh. 80% of the time think about food as it relates to health, wellness, and respect. 20% of the time associate food with an enjoyable, flavorful, entertaining activity. Would you attempt an extended endurance activity after eating “that” meal? Choose wisely.
  3. Physical / Fitness. Here you choose whether to seek the feeling and participate in change or not. Simple. Movement practice. Repeatable actions that accumulate and force adaptation. Improvement is felt and seen. The strength of your character. Prioritization of your time. How accessible is my chosen form of exercise? Do you know enough about, or have you mastered the movement to obtain full effectiveness from it?

Prioritize. Repeat. Learn.

It’s cliche, but true. Your most valuable resource is time. We can only hope to waste as little as possible. The expiration date is usually too distant to fully comprehend it’s magnitude. But you must. Your life is a gift. Your health is a choice.

  1. Create and assign values to every aspect of your life: physical / social / mental / spiritual / work / family
  2. Make sure your decisions align with your values.
  3. Repeat.
  4. Reflect, but don’t judge.
  5. Learn.

Onward and Upward.

 

Nuts and Bolts of Fitness Coaching

I label myself a fitness, health, and performance coach. The reach of fitness and health is broad, wide, diverse and expansive. It’s almost impossible to quantify the power your physical and mental fitness has on the rest of your life. No matter how successful you may be in other areas of your life, if you don’t have a high standard of fitness and health, you will lack performance.

My approach is simple. Get fit. Be healthy. Stay confident. Fit. Healthy. Confident. It flows right? I believe in coaching for one simple reason: accountability. In most areas of our lives deadlines imposed on us by others. Appointments, due dates, responsibilities, etc. all work to structure our weekly flow. When adding something personal into that mix, such as fitness training, it is paramount that the importance of this addition is treated as highly as those imposed on you by others. This is where your accountability coach comes in.

A few tools I employ to make sure you stay on track and have success:

  1. Private Fitness Training App/Website
  2. A requirement that all fitness and health activities be recorded and tracked.
  3. Sunday night check-in.
  4. Upgrade: “live” training via facetime, skype or other video calling service.
  5. Consequences for non-compliance. If you aren’t participating, you are gone.

Do you run a marathon to get to the finish line? Seems like a lot of hard work to simply stop the clock, right? No, you run a marathon to experience the journey along the way. From the day you commit to the process your life begins to change. No excuses. Do what has to be done to be successful!

Find Your Limiter

Your Limiter

Simple movements will expose you. Therefore, they should be, and are, all you need to evolve in your body-knowledge. Developing an understanding of what skilled movement patterns require takes patience and commitment.

I thoroughly enjoy this process! Lowering repetitions, yet keeping time under tension high has forced me to engage more, mentally.

In my profession, the plank allows me to assess where the client is weak. Their limiter could be core-strength, unactivated glutes, poor leg-tension, weak chest, weak shoulders, weak triceps, or an un-present mind. Movements are linked and connected, thus, how you do one thing is how you do everything.

Modifications are numerous. The plank can be performed from your knees, or with hands on an elevated bench, chair, or bar. Yoga blocks and parallettes are fun additions.

Simple Implementation. 1:00 Plank. 1:00 Squats. 1:00 Walking Lunges. 1:00 Rest. Repeat three times.

Free your mind and make it happen.

Musings on the Mind

It is said that there are two centers of action. The head, or medical statistics, and the heart, or independent counsel.

  • Think on this: in a climate of negativity, the ability to heal is greatly reduced – depressed people not only lower their immune response but even weaken their DNA’s ability to repair itself. – Can you relate? Have you been a part of an unhealthy cascade at any time in your life? Have you been around friends, relatives, or coworkers whos thoughts manifest an undesired reality? Be careful what you verbalize. Always guard your well-being.

Impulses require discipline. You must work to train how you act on each impulse. Once you say yes, you can’t go back. The ticket has been purchased and you are now taking the ride.

  • Think on this: as long as each impulse is healthy, the future is not unknown – it will flow naturally from the present, moment by moment.

Implement self-analysis. Be honest. Look in the mirror and list all of the important decisions that you’ve made. What you see, how you feel, even how you think and decide on a daily basis is a direct result of those decisions. Now you must quiet the mind and think hard about how each decision will affect your future.

  • Think on this: touching the source of thought is how the mind creates patterns of intelligence. At first, these patterns are only blueprints, but whatever they inscribe will hold – they will form our ideas and beliefs about reality.

“The implication is that we should dive very deep if we want to transcend normal reality. We are in search of an experience that will reshape the world.” – Deepak Chopra

Expansion of the mind can happen during meditation. The mind, when thinking, is in all activity. When not thinking, it is in silence. To “go deep” means to contact the hidden blueprint of intelligence and change it. Meditation is a state of hypometabolic wakefulness. When the mind shifts during meditation, the body cannot help but follow.

Think of your meditation as a way to slide to a new pitch… to go beyond.

 

Live the Script to Nutrition Success

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I train like I’m training for the Olympics or for a Mr. America contest, the way I’ve always trained my whole life.  You see, life is a battlefield.  Life is survival of the fittest.  How many healthy people do you know?  How many happy people do you know?  Think about it.  People work at dying, they don’t work at living.  My workout is my obligation to life.  It’s my tranquilizer.  It’s part of the way I tell the truth – and telling the truth is what’s kept me going all these years. – Jack LaLanne

Despite being quite fit and strong since I can remember, there was always something missing. I never missed a workout, and if I did, I’d make up for it by doing calisthenics in my spare moments at home or in between commitments. Instant feedback, endorphin rush, muscle pump, vascularity, increased energy, etc. kept me coming back day in and day out. Nutrition wasn’t even on my radar. I consumed too much of everything bad and had an immature relationship with nutrition and health. I was lazy and took shortcuts whenever I could. Luckily, this didn’t last…

Fast forward to late 2005. I had started to make fitness and personal training my career. Surrounded by friends who had matured in their nutrition and consumption behaviors, as well as clients that struggled with this aspect (some mightily), I started to take this aspect more seriously. Still, I wasn’t ready to give up the food as pleasure outlook I’d been living my entire life. Jump ahead a few more months and my training curiosity placed me in the bodybuilding world in the summer of 2006. Good nutrition builds lean mass. A heavy rotation of protein: steak/fish/chicken/eggs, and healthy carbs: sweet potatoes and brown rice, had me realizing the work hard, eat smart equation produces results. I signed up for a competition, which built-in accountability and added a deadline feature to this process. A magic formula if there ever was one. My food choices were narrowed down to only those things that would guarantee a successful outcome. Elimination works. Just getting rid of the sweets, refined sugars, and most carbs had me leaning out and putting on muscle. The decision fatigue that plagues many adults was no longer present. I had begun to evolve as an adult.

After competing in the bodybuilding competition I realized that the weightlifting lifestyle was not for me. Being active, mobile, light, lean, and adaptable was much more appealing. I started rock climbing and trail running. Both sports require a maximum strength to weight ratio. Like bodybuilding, the sport, or activity, was the driver for the nutritional component to follow. Fueling for prolonged movement meant eating less (volume), but more nutritionally dense foods. The focus was on feeling light and agile. Over time, my appearance shifted quite drastically. I was smaller but leaner, and more striking in physicality. Think Bruce Lee versus an NFL linebacker. The saying, “appearance is a consequence of fitness” became something I could actually relate to.

Epiphany. I can control how I look and feel by moving daily, and eating only healthy foods. We all know this works. Live the script day in and day out. By doing this you will develop your own standard.

My Nutritional Environment:

  • Drink a lot of water with a pinch of sea salt. Start your day with 20-24 ounces of cold water. Drink up to 1 gallo throughout the day depending on the activity level and environmental demands.
  • Water. Coffee. Tea. An adult beverage in the evening.
  • Smoothie:
    • Almond or Coconut Milk
    • Almond Butter
    • Blueberries
    • Spinach
    • Protein Powder
    • Local Honey
  • Snacks (options):
    • Mary’s Gone Crackers (costco in bulk)
    • Avocado
    • Kirkland Protein Bars (costco in bulk)
    • Hardboiled Eggs
    • Dates
    • Macadamia Nuts
  • Dinners:
    • Chicken / Sardines / Venison / Steak
    • Occasional sweet potato, brown rice, or other carbs
    • Spinach salad w/beets, carrots, feta, avocado oil and sea salt
      • or similar combo of veggies, sometimes sauteed.
  • Cheating:
    • 1-2 meals a week. Keep it to a meal, not an entire day. Make sure you are very active on that day and it won’t set you back very much.
  • Always check in with how your nutrition is making you feel. This is key.
    • NOTE: be honest with alcohol. Don’t consume within 90 minutes of bedtime or you’ll pay for it in quality of sleep, hydration, and performance the next day.
  • Be smart when you intake carbs. Make sure they go right to an activity or are being stored for a big cardio/endurance event the next morning.

Many years later I still adhere to this philosophy. Make good choices easier by limiting your options. Repetition is beneficial or harmful. I choose to make it beneficial by making the high-calorie meal the outlier. Plan for success. Foster the environment for this to occur.

Make the transformational process of owning your health a focused competition with hard deadlines. This works! Remember that today is the best day of the rest of your life and live it that way. Positive choices > Negative choices. Win the day.

Writing this reminded me of a great article that arrived in my inbox last summer. Click here to read.