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.

Live the Script to Nutrition Success

Image result for jack lalanne

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.

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.

Evolve

Into The Unkown / Arrowhead 135 Extreme Endurance Ultramarathon

Sometimes, head down, into the unknown, is the only way to go.

Changing course can be a stressful event. Exchanging comfort and control for the unknown is often too much for one to handle. From personal experience, I can attest to this. Recognizing, though, that time moves quickly, and making transitions requires taking action, I’ve become more open to evolving. Opinions, priorities, habits, people all must at some point be questioned. The desire to be yourself must be greater than the need to be liked or to fit in.

Have I become stagnant? Am I moving forward? Is my mobility upward?

Honesty, with yourself, is essential. Self-assessments can be harsh. You must remember that it is easy to judge yourself harshly. Comparisons (to others, and society) are easy to make, yet often disregarded is the fact that your (my) goals and direction may be different from the common human. Moving through life, living true to yourself, accepting the discomfort of alienation (self or group imposed) requires maturity and confidence. Thus continuing to evolve, your positions should be questioned and challenged.

It’s up to you. If you are happy with your current trajectory, by all means, continue onward. For those of you that are still curious, don’t fret, you are not alone. Take comfort in that. Understand that your self-confidence is paramount to living an authentic life. Evolve from within. Learn new skills. Disengage from that which may be holding you back. We all know what those things are in our lives. Evolving requires honesty.

Do not be afraid to use the knife on the reins of your existence. Freedom is always one swift slash away.

NEW DAY

NEW DAY. ENJOY THE SUNRISE. EVERYDAY.
EVERY DAY IS A NEW DAY.
A CHANCE FOR CHANGE.
OPPORTUNITY TO GIVE THAT EXTRA 1%.
IMPROVEMENT.
STARTS UPON RISING.
FORCE AND PRESSURE ARE SELF-IMPOSED.
DO WHAT YOU CAN WITH WHAT YOU HAVE: TIME, ABILITY, RESOURCES,.
ALWAYS COMPARE YOURSELF TO ONLY YOUR PREVIOUS SELF.
WHAT ARE YOU DOING?
WHAT AREN’T YOU DOING?
HOW CAN YOU CONTROL YOUR HAPPINESS?

The Perfect Trap

“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft. I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.”
― Anne Lamott

A common phrase uttered in the world of sport is: practice makes perfect… or, better yet, perfect practice makes perfect. In relation to competition, this may be the very thing that is holding many of you back from peak performance.

Competition in sport has a way of exposing your weaknesses. Maybe you train to your strengths, or obsessively compare one workout to the last, judging your performance in the present moment. These tendencies, over time, become hindrances to progress. You improve by encountering failure, embracing the unknown and using experience to move your forward. This is the antithesis of perfection.

In the above quote, Ms. Lamott is speaking of writing, and obsessing over perfection. How will this look? How will this be perceived? How does this make me feel? Is it (am I) ready? Its application is directly relevant to sports and competition. In endurance sports, you are your main rival. The other competitors are their own rivals on race day. It is your body of work that is represented when the gun goes off. All dreams of perfection must be released and the importance of acting and reacting must be prioritized.

So, how do you avoid the perfect trap? Here are a few examples:

  1. Ditch the watch: run by feel and emotion. Biofeedback is fun to track, but it can hinder the mind if the numbers aren’t where they “should” be.
  2. Train with a group: training partners, friends, and teams can provide the necessary stimulus to lift you into a new training experience. *Communicate with the group members and understand the goals of the workout before beginning.
  3. Go off road: nature is calling. Hitting the trails is a great way to add new and dynamic stimulus to your training. The mind works harder to engage with the environment. The body reacts to sudden terrain changes. Pace and speed go out the window when the terrain dictates movement. Also, proprioception, coordination, mobility, and strength are enhanced by training off road.
  4. Remind yourself that your finishing time matters to no one else. Nobody cares, but you. Nobody remembers, but you. Release the social pressure of achievement and be happy to be able to participate.

As the great Stoic Marcus Aurelius wrote:

“The things you think about determine the quality of your mind. Your soul takes on the color of your thoughts.”

We take on these difficult challenges, because they bring out the best in us, on that given day. Be happy in the moment and embrace the beauty that competition and sport bring to life.

Onward and Upward!

All Change Must Start From Within

What is your “why?”

What do you want from life? How will losing weight, finishing the triathlon, going on that hike, or simply having more energy make your life better? Establishing your why is essential to forming new, healthy habits. All change must start from within. The mind is extremely powerful and will win most internal arguments (see what I did there).

Where does your motivation come from? Really own this answer. It will help keep you on the path.

Think small. Look at your priorities and define short-term realistic goals. The change will be incremental, so start with one habit, work on it day by day until you own it. Move on only when ready.

Accountability and Engagement

Accountability.

4:15 AM. Alarm sounds off. Doesn’t matter as I’ve been looking at the clock since 3:00 AM. Night of no sleep due to lack of A/C, summer heat, and humidity over 90%.

Options.

  1. Lay in bed and try to sleep a couple more hours. Reasoning that I can make up my workout in the afternoon, or another day. It’s hot, humid, miserable, and won’t be a good workout anyway.
  2. Get up. Drink some coffee. Meet my training partner at the park for the standard hill workout. Give it all that I can and hang on until it’s over. Win the morning. Sleep can come again later.

I chose option 2.

The accountability of having someone waiting for me at the park, expecting me to be there to suffer alongside him was paramount to me showing up.

Engagement.

Workouts in tough conditions are not going to give you the positive feedback you desire. It will be tough from the get go and you will suffer more than usual. That said, the act of engaging with the assignment and seeing it through to completion will make you stronger. It’s the tough situations you get through that mean the most.

When faced with that first choice of the day. Choose to win. Hold yourself accountable and engage!

Mindfulness and Movement

Your mindfulness practice should begin and end each day. Mastering your first conscious thoughts is a skill, necessitating practice and repetition. Calming nerves and heightening focus, we can sort through the clutter and clear a path for our mind to focus. The truth of our existence is so simple it can seem unbelievable. Hopefully, your surroundings help draw your attention to this matter.

Movement is natural. Spontaneity can direct the when, where, and how, but action needs to be taken. Similarly to mindfulness, it must be engaged in at certain points of your day to make it concrete. You should begin to create a few minutes for movement flow. Inflexibility and the inability to support your body weight in various positions is a weakness that can easily be eliminated. Persistent practice opens windows. How did I learn to do anything? Practice.

Modern life is filled with barriers to the learning process. The main culprit is the service industry. Anything you need to be done you can pay someone to do it for you. Thus, they take you to the end point, or simply put, they let you skip the process and give you the product. The ability to see things through from beginning to end is lost… for now.

Practicing mindfulness and directing focus place you on a path. Beginning movement connects you with your body and breathe. This experience is an exploration of how your mind and body engage with the world. You learn by doing. Being clear and alert to what you are feeling and thinking. Slowing down to breathe and process.

Calm. Focus. Examine.