Approach to Fitness + Philosophy of Movement

THE TRAINING SESSION:

“There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is give to him to till.” — R.W. Emerson

Mindset, motivation, and intention are incredibly important parts of your training session. During our live workouts, I’m keyed in on your body language, energy, concentration, and overall focus. Some days we make breakthroughs, other days we set you on a course to have success throughout the rest of your day, or week. Remember, you are training for life, not to be an Olympian! Your workouts should build you up, not beat you down on a consistent basis.

Key into the fact that if one person can do this so can you. Potential is a possibility. Desire drives action. The philosophy of movement is one of engagement. Pure and simple. Envision yourself as a child, rolling around, then crawling, then pulling yourself upright, then walking, climbing stairs, and eventually running, tumbling, swinging, climbing, etc. Movement is bliss. It’s freedom and entertainment. At this stage of life, the world is your playground. The less organized it is, the more fun it is. Spontaneity dissolves time. Remember being pulled from an experience to come home for dinner, or do your homework? Devastating! … Our approach to fitness will seek to re-establish this relationship. Re-connecting mind, body, and soul.

“Respect… take care of yourself. Your health is your most important possession. By taking care of yourself, respect your body because it’s the only one you are ever going to have. Exercise every day for the rest of your life. Stick to good health habits; the bad ones will go away.”

— Jess Bell

  • Purpose / Session Vision: Warming Up…
    • Greasing the groove.
    • Lubing the chain.
    • Shaking things out.

Connect with the feedback you are being given. Start the conversation with yourself or your trainer/coach. Remain loyal to your health and fitness goals. It’s always darkest just before the dawn…

Loyalty means nothing unless it has at its heart the absolute principle of self-sacrifice.” — Woodrow Wilson

  • Assess / Plan the Physical: Pre Workout…
    • Energy
    • Motivation
    • Will
    • Goal focus
    • Mindset, outlook, intention

Life is cumulative. Believe in yourself, taking care to guard your structural foundation. Recognize impact of XYZ factors… sleep, nutrition, enjoyment, attitude, outlook…

  • Recognize: Intention (at that moment) / Choose Direction
    • Success or Paced Endurance?
      • Aerobic / Endurance + Lots of Rhythmic Breathing
        • Run / Accumulate Volume: time, distance, reps, etc.
        • Steady-state / Flow
        • Endure / Self-Manage
    • Breakdown or system fatigue?
      • Breakdown to Breakthrough?
        • Anaerobic / HIIT + Large O2 debt + Big / Fast Movements
        • Stress Factor / Being Present Every Moment
        • Intensity

Analyze the situation and circle back to this idea of breathing. It’s a great way to figure out the level of effort you are expending. Ask yourself: can I breathe through this movement? How long can I sustain this? … Lacking an ability to breathe results in an increased HR in all positions (isometric) and/or movements (triple extension and overhead). Breath work is a system connection. Favors the process over the product. Trains the mind to be present.

You are in control, always: In-session thoughts

“I think the way I want to think. I live the way I want to live.” — Sidney Poitier

  • Reminders: both of these are controlled by the breate, and work in tandem.
    • “Relax Your Face” – don’t show the stress you are feeling.
      • It’s really not that hard…
    • “Soften Your Belly” – easy breathing to endure prolonged aerobic activity.
      • Rhythmic breathing / Process oriented
  • Vision: This is the destination. Today’s work is a step toward tomorrow’s reward. Through your eyes alone does your ship yet sail:

“he who floats with the current, who does not guide himself according to higher principles, who has no idea, no real standards—such a person is a mere article of the world’s furniture—a thing moved, instead of a living being—an echo, not a voice.”

H.F. Amiel

  • Phases of Vision / Steps: Detailed analysis follows…
    • Today: your choices add up. Accountability begins now. Be present.
      • Process engagement.
      • Discipline or buy-in is high.
      • In this new beginning a lot is required of you.
      • Demand in mental energy.
      • Attitude training. How much can you muster?
      • Do something. Always.
        • What are you enjoying?
        • What are you avoiding?
      • First 30-days, very linear results.
  • 90-Days: Lifestyle or Priority/Value Change
    • Part of the process.
    • A shift in your “mindset” to living occurs.
    • Developing a new value system.
    • Switch from thoughts from “I can’t”  to “How can I”
    • Non-linear results. Highs and lows are experienced.
    • Accumulation and completion of workouts / positive choices.
      • Q: What builds you up?
      • Q: What beats you down?
    • Recognition of strengths and weakness.
    • Knowledge of effect of choice.
    • Q: How are you eating?
    • Q: Preferred training stimulus?
  • 1 Year and Beyond: balanced lifestyle
    • Life viewed through a broad lens. Vision for who you will be, what you can do, how you move, breathe, look, and feel.
    • What brings you happiness?
    • What will you be able to do? Improved capability. Broadened scope of choice. Remember, with fitness, comes confidence.
    • How is your health? What will have improved. How does this make you feel?
    • Completion. Change. Lead to improved cognition. Mental clarity.
    • Put a fine/sharp edge on your existence.

Outcome: Lifestyle change. “Things” become automatic. You will decrease the number of decisions to be made. Life simplified.

  • Questions that no longer needed to be asked:
    • Do I have the time?
    • Do I have the motivation?
    • Do I have the energy?
    • Can I really do it?

“I sought advice and cooperation from all those around me—but not permission.”

— Muhammad Ali

When you own it. You become it. Appearance is a consequence of fitness. Everything comes from repetition. Your exercise is a skill, developed from repetition. Therefore, fitness is a process of accumulating skilled repetition. Once you have ownership of a movement (specific exercise or modality of locomotion) each repetition solicits the intended response. Obtain skill via consistent repetition.

Skill + Repetition = Fitness

  • Note:
    • All workouts are not the same.
      • The stimulus can be general or specific.
      • The action random or programmed.
    • If you can communicate to me what you want to see happen with your fitness or physique, I will train you with this as the focus. 100% focus on your outcome. You will learn why movements are done. You will learn to connect mind to body to movement. In repetition you will seek the feeling. Your time will always be maximized. Workout completion will result in exhaustion. Setting you up for success the rest of your day.
    • Working out is not simple or basic. There are no basic movements. A movement variation is not the destination. The process is one of skill development to increase efficiency en route to product.
    • Realistic approach to fitness means we must be looking for the minimum effective dose (MED). Your daily dose. Reducing workout volume, time, distance, or repetitions, does not require an increase in intensity. Quality. Connection. Focus.
  • Analogy: The Box of Matches…
    • In fitness, racing, or any endeavor where you can effectively choose your level of effort, there are only so many times when you can dig deep. Equate this to striking a match. It flares and burns for a short moment and then it is gone. Thus, distribution of effort should be wisely thought out and intelligently undertaken.
    • If all of your workouts are of the intense variety you will soon plateau. Striking a match that will not ignite. This leads to lost motivation, decreased desire and even a feeling of hopelessness. You’ve deviated from a process mindset.
    • Those matches in your matchbox should be the special spark you rarely use. There when you need them. Prescriptive in nature.
    • With age you have less matches to light.
    • Be cautious with intensity.

“If you have a goal in life that takes a lot of energy, that requires a lot of work, that incurs a great deal of interest and that is a challenge to you, you will always look forward to waking up to see what the new day brings.” — Susan Polis Schultz

  • As a Beginner:
    • Focus on the learning. Understand the why and how. Doing and completion. Numbers and weights do not matter. Your fitness foundation is built upon knowledge.
    • There are no endings, but only beginnings. Move well, beginning at dawn.
    • Engage with a beginners mind. Zero expectations. Ask questions. Use caution.
    • Always use common sense. Do no harm.
    • Speed and intensity are killers. Know your limits.
    • “Constant practice alone is the secret to success.” BKS Iynegar
    • The beginner must become comfortable being uncomfortable. The “new” normal.
    • “Comfort will set us adrift on the current of illusion.”
    • “Work out your own salvation with diligence.”

“Send the harmony of a great desire vibrating through every fiber of your being. Find a task that will call forth your faith, your courage, your perseverance, and your spirit of sacrifice. Keep your hands and your soul clean, and your conquering current will flow freely.”

— Thomas Dreier

  • Parameters of Performance: recognize that at the highest levels genetics come into play, but for the lifestyle athlete this need not be thought of as having a significant effect.
    • Endurance – repeatability
      • A product of enjoyment
    • Strength – control / mastery
      • A product of skill and confidence
    • Power – speed / force
      • A product of genetics and demand (sport / activity)
    • Coordination – awareness / efficiency
      • A product of skill, confidence, and repetition
  • You will learn to understand the mind, discipline, and the concept of force of will.
    • Force of Will: requires one to continually remain in the moment.
      • Extends beyond artificial limits.
      • Employed moment to moment to sustain the training exercise.
      • Becomes a technical proficiency.
      • Makes the act automatic.
        • The act becomes a mind-focus instead of a body-focus.
          • Mind defines conceptual purpose.

“The long span of the bridge of your life is supported by countless cables called habits, attitudes, and desires. What you do in life depends upon what you are and what you want. What you get from life depends upon how much you want it—how much you are will to work and plan and cooperate and use your resources. The long span of the bridge of your life is supported by countless cables that you are spinning now, and that is why today is such an important day. Make the cables strong!” — LG. Elliott

For more information on fitness and lifestyle coaching, please contact me here. I look forward to connecting with you!

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!

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.

The Absolute Minimum

Life, it happens. Work and family demands often interrupt our personal time for health and exercise. When this compounds from a single training session to multiple days or heaven forbid weeks, you have a problem. Time stops for nothing. Thus, the prioritization of self is truly not a choice. It’s a habit. Learning to say “no” is a skill that needs to be trained. When you respect yourself, others, in turn, show you more respect and understand your value.

Here are some tips to make things happen when you’re forced to modify.

  1. Have a list of “go-to” exercises you can quickly engage with. Ideally, these create a large oxygen demand, lending themselves to higher repetition training, via one continuous set, or multiple sets linked with short rest.
    1. Kettlebell Swings
    2. DB Cleans
    3. Squat Thrusts or Burpees
    4. Walking or Standing Reverse Lunges
    5. Step-Ups: weighted or unweighted
    6. Plank Mobility Complexes
  2. Short cardio bouts are good to implement as well.
    1. Warm-up for 5 minutes easy.
    2. Intervals: 10 x (:15 hard / :45 easy) or (:30 hard / :30 easy)
    3. Cooldown with 5 minutes easy.

Remind yourself to ask the question “how can I,” instead of stating “I can’t.” You can do it. Send me an email, give me a call, I’m here to help you implement, strategize and succeed.

Onward and Upward!

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?

Breakthroughs

The first 15 minutes of my day are tough. Not physically, but mentally. Do I get after it, or do I snooze a bit longer? Tuesday mornings, this is especially the case. On this day of the week, a standard hill workout is scheduled. Hyland Park’s South Ski Hill provides the incline via a 0.5-mile loop going up the hill and back down a class 5 gravel maintenance road. A trail runners version of the “track” workout. This is done to improve climbing and descending ability, as well as accumulate elevation gain in the mountainless state of Minnesota.

So, the alarm sounds at 4:10 and there are 30 minutes to departure time (Hyland is a 20-minute drive from home). Depending on the previous nights sleep this can be an especial cruel start to the day. Nonetheless, it’s time to move.

Somedays breakthroughs happen when we least predict or expect them. When the mind settles the body will often follow. Having commitments, scheduling consistent events in your week, and sticking to a routine is the most effective way to set yourself up for success, and even a personal breakthrough.

Breakthroughs aren’t planned, they happen. For me, on this day, I experienced a mental-physical one that has been a long time coming. Controlling the thoughts in my head: doubts, pity, defeat, and weakness. Letting themselves out while I do what I love (run) is giving in to the athletic process.

Eliminate the decisions you need to make. The fewer choices the better. Show up. Give your best effort. Don’t quit. Good things happen.

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.

Mornings

Protect your mornings. As the first few minutes pass and you begin to awaken, turn your attention to your favorite form of movement. Move the body to prime the mind for what is about to occur, and what may lie ahead throughout the day.

This time is precious. Do not put off what can be accomplished right away.
Win the day. Accomplish more in your first 90 minutes of awakening than you could ever imagine as they day wears on and its effects weaken your resolve.

Rituals of habit, work. Continually showing up, engaging, and finishing are qualities that transfer to other areas of your life.