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.

 

Smart Training = Avoiding Fatigue

Have you ever experienced the feeling of decreased self-control, or willpower due to simply being tired? I know I have. Finishing a long run, depleted, I’m susceptible to cravings and impulses I simply do not normally have. Sweets, carbs, bread, beer, etc. Following the “positive” comes a negative.

What do you think this is telling your body?

The same can be seen in the effects of excessive high-intensity interval training. Crushing workouts followed by fatigue, lead to diminished discipline and heightened reward signals.


  1. Know the purpose of your training:
    1. Why are you exercising? Body composition change? Image enhancement? Mental and physical performance? Hobby?
    2. Your purpose should direct the type of exercise you employ, as well as your nutritional needs.
  2. Avoid the extremes:
    1. Injuries happen when you ignore the signals your body is giving you. Excessive fatigue before, during or after exercise is a “Red Flag” to be respected. Stop and reassess.
    2. Only use a training weight that you can manage effectively. Ignore rep counts that you can’t mentally stay engaged long enough to handle.
    3. Where the mind goes the body follows. If 100% focus is not happening, then stop the exercise. More harm than benefit may be had on this day.
  3. Leave a little in the tank:
    1. Learn to leave something in the tank for the other events of your day, or tomorrows workout. Consistency and repetition are where your results will come from, not the temporary beat down of too much too soon and subsequent delayed recovery.
  4. Exercise in a 1:1 environment or alone:
    1. Distractions help pass the time, but it is not passing the time that we are after.
    2. Mind/Body is not a byproduct. Manifest the desired outcome and picture it happening.
  5. Less is More:
    1. Simply put. Learning to engage a muscle, what it feels like to achieve a proper contraction and seeking that feeling each repetition will give you amazing results.
    2. Eating less frees your body up to focus on aspects other than digestion and recovery.
    3. Less time spent exercising means more time spent living with your fitness.

Remember that your fitness and health are positive enhancers to your lifestyle. Engage in the learning process. Mastering a few key aspects of movement will do more for your health than any amount of variety can muster.

Onward and Upward!

Does your training lift you up, or beat you down?

Assessing how you feel before, during, and after a training session is essential.

Some things to consider while training:

  1. Stress comes when you don’t feel in control. After you’ve done the movement in a few training sessions there should be no stress associated. If it stresses you out or requires too much effort to complete, move on to an exercise you can safely complete.
  2. Rep count does not matter. This is exercise not a prescription or competition. A few good, quality repetitions are better than many partial or cheated ones.
  3. Modifications are good. Have trouble with walking lunges? Use trekking poles, or do them in place, next to something you can use for balance (couch, bench, etc.).
  4. Weight. Start light. Take your time. If you can move it easily, work your way up. When it challenges you, stay there for a few sessions to build confidence in the exercise, set or workout. Repetition trumps variety.

How do you feel after a set? Stressed, exhausted, out of control? Those feelings are to be, mostly, avoided. Anxiety, fear, and worry don’t lend themselves to repetitive behavior. On the other hand, elation, positive energy, and enthusiasm build confidence and pleasure, which lead to increased repetition.

  1. Find out what you enjoy and repeat it.
  2. Build skills in 5 or so exercises you can go back to on a daily basis. Developing skill leads to the ability to increase resistance and difficulty. Variety is not necessary.
  3. Remember why you are exercising: to progress, maintain, become more able/capable, increase energy, increase outlook, enhance performance in all areas, and improve both health and quality of life.

Forced oxygenation and deep breathing change your bodies chemistry. This is a bonus to strength training in a circuit format. Transitioning and actively recovering while training is a skill that once possessed, powerfully changes your approach to movement.

Until you have the skillset you shouldn’t seek out the pain and strain of hard training. Shortcuts lead nowhere worth going. Time spent in foundation building is never wasted.

Think of your fitness training as building skillsets to last a lifetime. Moving well throughout your life is more important than momentary glory obtained in youth.

Maintenance for Longevity

“A soft, easy life is not worth living, if it impairs the fibre of brain and heart and muscle. We must dare to be great; and we must realize that greatness is the fruit of toil and sacrifice and high courage… For us is the life of action, of strenuous performance of duty; let us live in the harness, striving mightily; let us rather run the risk of wearing out than rusting out.” – Teddy Roosevelt

Coveting the new, finished product is not an unknown concept. Yet, it is the act of ownership obsession that stifles personal growth.

All items that make our lives easier and/or more convenient require maintenance. Fairly infrequent is the act required, meaning our confidence and expectation trumps action in upkeep. When failure occurs, which it will, it takes both time and capital to get our life up and running again.

Our mind and body are no different. Neglect, and pay the price. Abuse, and live with the consequences. Time/age escapes no one. The fade may appear slow, until the check engine light flickers on. What will the diagnostic test reveal? What’s the damage? For many this is a trigger to wake up and forge a better life. For others this is the beginning of the end. The mind accepts the sentence.

Maintenance prolongs life. By now you should be familiar with what is minimally required of you to keep your arteries clean, blood pressure down, BMI at an acceptable level, and a myriad of other necessities to live a respectable life. But you slip. You stop learning. You envy the healthy and vigorous. You spiral into the depths of self-disrespect, and loathing.

But wait, doesn’t that new car come with an owners manual? The proficient dealership whom sold you the car is so kind to send out reminders of when service is needed. Just call, schedule, drop off the car, heck, you even get a loaner for the day… how convenient and caring of them? You clean your car, washing it weekly. It requires “premium” gas. You justify the extra expense by reminding yourself it is required to keep the engine performing. All this for the peace of mind in knowing that you’ve done what is required, as an owner of this find piece of machinery.

Now think of all of the luxury items this applies to? Maintenance is a daily process. The more things we own, the more maintenance we must do. Look at all the businesses that are simply products of required maintenance. Pretty amazing to think about.

Now back to you. Why does this one thing that you’ll take to your grave get get abused, punished, polluted, neglected, etc.? How has this become acceptable? It starts at a young age. A few silly choices, and habits start to linger. As you grow older those few bad habits start to multiply. Pretty soon the effects begin to show. Fatigue, lethargy, weight gain, acne, flatulence, and dependency creep in and take hold. Some can fake it longer than others, but the cold hard truth is unavoidable. Your time has come. With more neglect comes greater reliance on modern technology and medicine to stay alive. More dependence…

You, the ultimate possession, the un-replaceable commodity, the selfless giver to the soul, deserve more. The process is rather simple, yet the journey is long. Correcting behaviors is simple. Nutritious food. More sleep. Less stimulants and depressants. Exercise. Hydration. Choices that all add up and lead to change.

Enough already. No more ignorance and complacency. It’s time to give back to ourselves. Stop. Think. Engage. Honor. Refuse to “wish you had” and instead be “grateful for” the gift of sound mind and functioning body.

Very few things are needed.

Sustenance: food and drink. Nourishment. Water. Meat. Vegetables. Fruit. Nuts. Grains. Recognize when you embellish. Don’t chastise, minimize. Why? Understand weakness. Unavoidable slips need not derail commitment.

Fitness: Lift. Climb. Step. Crawl. Jump. Push. Pull. Stretch. Run. Walk. Bike. Swim. Ski. Row. Dance. etc. Experiment to discover enjoyment. Fulfill daily. Options are unlimited. Consistency is key. Repetition is the mother of skill. Daily engagement resets your mind, fueling the drive to give the body what it needs. Internal as much as external. Heart. Lungs. Brain.

Growth: Mind. Body. Soul. Books, mentors, friends, family, spouse, lover, student, coach, community. Growth comes from listening, and applying advice and lessons. Simply taking a step back, surveying, and making a decision is often all that is needed.

Onward.

“EACH OF US IS born with a 70-year warranty, but few of us read the instructions. We blindly go through life without consulting a manual for the operation of the human machine. The maintenance and preservation of our bodies doesn’t concern us. We believe that longevity and freedom from malfunction have been built in by the Creator. And they have. But we can live long and stay healthy only if we take care of our bodies as we would our automobiles. We have to follow certain rules to get maximum performance and maximum longevity out of what we were born with. We have to apply the biological wisdom gained over the centuries to our day-to-day living. Make no mistake about it: Nature does not allow for error, and she is not reluctant to inflict capital punishment. Deviations from the correct regimen can certainly diminish one’s daily well-being and eventually one’s life span. True, aging is inexorable. And death is inevitable. But neither should occur before its appointed time.” -George Sheehan

 

It’s Stupid To Be Safe

Note: This post was inspired by Maria Popova creator of BrainPickings.org. Fantastic site!

Everyone in this room is going to be gone pretty quickly – and we will have either made something or not made something. The artists that inspire me are the ones that I look at and go, ‘Oh my god – you didn’t have to go there. It would’ve been safer not to – but, for whatever reason, you did.’ And every time death happens, I’m reminded that it’s stupid to be safe… Usually, whatever that is – wherever you don’t want to go, whatever that risk is, wherever the unsafe place is – that really is the gift you have to give.

Amanda Palmer

Choose activities that allow you to go far. We can walk all day with no prior training. We can ride our bikes for hundreds of miles as long as our pacing and fueling is sufficient. We can run all day and into the next with a steady supply of water and a few calories.

If another human can do this, then you to have the potential to go way further than you’ve gone before. Much further. The effects of modern society, coupled with aging, have polluted our minds with endlessly questioning “why” other humans do so called “ultra” or “extreme” endurance events.

Having thought processes of merely entertainment, consumption, and leisure crush our innate desire to create, explore and take action. Now, more than ever, we need to create and inspire future generations to live lives filled clear direction and action. Driven by purpose and desire.

But however meaningless and vain, however dead life appears, the man of faith, of energy, of warmth, and who knows something, doesn’t let himself be fobbed off like that. He steps in and does something, and hangs on to that, in short, breaks, ‘violates’…

Vincent Van Gogh

I implore you to be conscious before speaking about another’s experience. Listen, process, and speak only if you desire to learn and employ whatever knowledge comes from your question. Wasted words to often appear in place of focused action.

Discomfort

The awkward, uncomfortable feeling of physical struggle we feel when the workout gets hard is essential to growth. Most people seek to avoid this at all costs, but to do so is to avoid growth and progress. Be clear on your “why” before, during, and after.

“Working out” is your pure practice of engaging in lifestyle change and enhancement.

Discomfort never lasts. Comfort never progresses.

When it’s over. You won’t regret it.

Engage!

Recovery

Move blood, flush by-products of previous day’s effort and create a demand for food.

-Gym Jones on Recovery

A mature message, that is not always easily digestible, but when it’s from the crew at Gym Jones, it’s honest and accurate. I could add to this statement, but will refrain. If you’re an athlete, or want to start training smarter, understand the physiological intention of your workouts.

Move often. Move frequently. Vary your intensity levels. Work + Rest = Training.

Notes on Nutrition

Notes on Nutrition

Success lies in the details. Success is personal. Success is rarely the same for any two people, let alone a legion of individuals seeking to become the best THEY can be. Self-discovery is a journey, which for many starts with just plain being fed up… fed up with their image, lack of energy, lack of lust for life, or an unfulfilled biography.

Nutrition habits are best represented by journaling. Keeping track of what you eat and consume all day long. It’s often not a conscious act, but an impulsive satisfaction of cravings, repeated throughout the day. The process of journaling is very educational. By tracking eating habits we can then correlate those habits with digestion, mood, energy, and sleep quality. Often this simple task is enough to get clients to immediately change their eating habits. It’s easy to substitute foods and increase nutrient quality of the food we eat. It’s also easy to drink more water, less alcohol, soda, and coffee.

Elimination diets are too quick to be adopted and don’t last. A lot of people are quick to blame gluten, bread, or dairy for their obesity, poor digestion, and other health related issues. For others it can be a completely unnecessary and expensive “journey” into very strict dieting and eating habits. Usually it’s unbalanced consumption along with lack of movement that creates the problem, not the entire food category. Keeping a journal and recording quantity consumed helps immensely.

What works for me, may not work for you. A few years ago I eliminated gluten for intestinal issues I was experiencing, thinking I must have a intolerance. What was lacking though, was balance in my diet. Too much of one food group and not enough of another was the main culprit. It’s a huge relief to know that you don’t need to avoid a food group for the rest of your life. Self-discovery is the key. Our gut is very sensitive. If we are experiencing a lot of stress and anxiety in our lives it shows in our digestion and eating patterns. Seeking balance and being accountable to your nutrition is the answer.

I eat pretty much everything. I avoid trans fats and overly processed, as well as fried foods. I enjoy cooking. I drink lots of water. I make one or two smoothies every day and eat a large salad every evening. This works for me. Nutrition is taken care of. I enjoy food and yet I recognize that as an athlete, food is fuel. This is who I am.

Choices… everything is a choice, when movement is a foundational element in your life these choices become much easier and more positive. Tip the scale in your favor every single chance you get!

SMOOTHIE RECIPE:

  • 20-30 grams protein (whey concentrate, vegan, plant)
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup blueberries (frozen)
  • 1 small banana
  • 1 handful of spinach or kale (fresh)
  • 1 tbsp raw almond butter
  • add ice cubes if you’d like, just a couple should suffice.

SALAD RECIPE:

  • spinach, kale, or arugula (couple handfuls)
  • chopped broccoli
  • diced red/orange peppers
  • diced tomatoes
  • sea salt
  • olive oil
  • dash of feta

WATER:

  • drink to thirst
  • quench often
  • always have a water bottle with you, within reach
  • helps body eliminate fat, impurities, toxins
  • cold water is an excellent thirst quencher, as well as coolant during extreme heat
  • drink half your body weight in ounces of water:
    • Jake = 160 lbs, Water = 80 oz … minimum standard

 

Emotion in Life and Training

Emotion in Life and Training

Focus your attention on the link between you and your death, without remorse or sadness or worrying. Focus your attention on the fact that you don’t have time and let your acts flow accordingly. Let each of your acts be your last battle on earth. Only under those conditions will your acts have their rightful power. Otherwise they will be, for as long as you live, the acts of a timid man.

Don Juan, Carlos Castaneda

I talk a lot about lifestyle fitness. This idea of fusing our health, habits, hobbies, and activities into a symbiotic relationship that becomes who you are in the physical element. A general enjoyment in your fitness regiment makes the likelihood of repeating it, no matter where you are in the world, more likely. Thus, you become what you do. You become a runner, an athlete, a cyclist, swimmer, exerciser, etc. Making an emotional connection with movement becomes your grounding element in life. This creates the passion that becomes your lifestyle. Common examples I’m sure you are well aware of are alpine skiing, surfing, mountain climbing, rock climbing, and trail running. Being a participant in these activities not only connects you with others, but it connects you with your environment. It connects you with nature. Your individual style is expressed by the passions your hold both on the surface and deep down at your core.

In training I seek to instill emotion in the exercises I assign. The rep count, or number of sets is arbitrary and inconsequential if there is no presence or bond to the exercises. Planning and programming are helpful in providing structure at the remedial or introductory level, but in the future, beyond the first 12 weeks of fitness training, your success is more closely tied to the enjoyment you associate with the activity. Creating that bond is crucial and it takes patience. Adopting an active, physical lifestyle will change who you are. If a client is of high stress, type-A personality, it is my job to work to change their approach, not to modify their exercise protocol to fit that personality. We work together to change the behaviors that have created chaos in their health and wellness. The act of exercising, and the emotional response to it, is a very therapeutic, healing process.

  • Therefore, my prescription of movement may be very open-ended. General Example:
    • Monday: run/jog for 30 minutes, focusing on posture, breath and awareness of your environment at a relaxed conversational pace.
    • Tuesday: perform 100 deep bodyweight squats, 75 sit-ups, and 50 push-ups in any set/rep/circuit combination you’d like.
    • Wednesday: AM: light stretching, deep breathing. PM: walk for 30-60 minutes before or after dinner.
    • Thursday: perform 100 squat jumps and 50 pull-ups.
    • Friday: run 30-60 minutes with a focus of being light on your feet. Every so often pick up your pace for 1 minute to a challenging effort level. Sit in Asian squat position for 5 minutes to open hips and groin.
    • Saturday: 100 Squats, 100 Pushups, 100 Situps in any set/rep/circuit combination you’d like.
    • Sunday: Rest. Or move…

Creating this emotional connection is a process. Where the mind goes the body will follow. We must be so consumed with our fitness and health that we forge an unbreakable bond between living and fitness. My hope is that you see this connection between happiness in life with happiness in health and exercise.

When you move, be mindful. Exercise is your practice. Repetition brings mastery. Perfect practice, makes perfect.

Take infinite pains to make something that looks effortless.

Michelangelo

A Little Caution…

A little caution avoids great regrets. Hope for the best and prepare for the worst. Keep fully insured physically and materially and keep hedged emotionally. Insurance is not for sale when you need it.

Your health is personal. The old adage, “find an hour a day to exercise, or get ready for 24 hours a day of death,” is blunt, but mostly true. In its truest form exercise is meant to keep us healthy, both mentally and physically, providing us with a release from our daily tasks and commitments. The idea of changing your appearance, or modifying your image to compete in or complete a complex task is a whole other aspect of fitness training. When comparing the two we are confronted much more with the latter image of “fitness training.” The intense, extreme, and transformational are obviously more dramatic to sell. As consumers we want to believe the message, but doing so can set us up for frustration and failure. How you might ask? In short, to achieve phenomenal, mind blowing transformation in an unrealistically short period of time, requires an extreme time and energy commitment, drastically changing your lifestyle, effecting not just you, but everyone around you: family, friends, and coworkers included. You can only pull this energy from other areas of your life.

Maturity, confidence and self-control are the biggest factors in staying consistent with your health and fitness. They are the behaviors that keep you insured. Through your chosen activity you hopefully begin to build a solid fitness foundation. Basic examples are squatting, pushing, and pulling. Including these movements with a consistent aerobic activity is your solution. Being patient with health is essential. Good habits take some time to develop and bad habits take even more time to get rid of. A little movement goes a long way. Forget about high intensity until you have a firm grasp of your fitness. The consequences of too much, too soon are very great and very real.

Now take a long deep breath. Stand up, reach high above your head, bring your hands down in front of you and squat. Hips back, chest open, and bend your knees, breathe in as you go down, and breathe out as you come up. Listen to your body. Perform 10-20 repetitions. Three sets. Rest about a minute between sets. As you finish move around a little. Drink some water. See how easy that was? You took initiative and you started. No one can take that away from you. If you sit all day, this is how you break free from that monotony. Don’t forget… maturity, confidence, and self-control… these are your tools. Keep them sharp and carry with them everywhere you go.

Someday you will be happy you took these steps to arm yourself for what lies ahead. Remember, insurance is not for sale when you need it.