On Reflection, Time, and Decisions


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.



Accountability and Engagement


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%.


  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.


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!


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.

Sustainable Approaches To Health and Fitness

The mind’s first step to self-awareness must be through the body. Exercise and athletics are growth. -George Sheehan

How to get the most results / success / gains / change, from the least amount of training? We all want answers to this question. As a fitness professional, having a template that conforms and applies to all individuals would be a dream. Countless hours have been spent trying to create such a product, or system to no avail. Yet, the consumer still desires, and in many cases expects to be offered such products (shake weight, 8-minute abs, 10 minute trainer, perfect pushup, etc…). Substantial physical change requires a lifestyle intervention, drastic measures, and extreme discipline. What are you willing to invest?

  1. Seek improvement and enhancement. Is this visual? Probably not so much. Can you feel it and describe it? Definitely. Does it make you happy? Hopefully. This can be an exercise, a series of exercises, an activity, a sport, or a competitive challenge. Enjoyment. Engagement. Improvement.
  2. Work with a coach, trainer, or specialist to get feedback. This is time well spent. Confidence builder. Very helpful in the day to day, week to week process.
  3. Career enhancement. We spend most of our time working on and in our careers. A huge portion of our life’s satisfaction comes from our chosen careers. Most of us are professional workers, not athletes. What exercises, workouts, and activities can help correct physical imbalances obtained from our jobs? How can they enhance my ability to perform at work? Can being more physically fit help me advance my ___ career? These are the questions to ask yourself, repeatedly.
  4. Know the Impact of Your Choices. If you are a top physician, researcher, educator, or attorney, etc. deciding to invest 15 hours each week into training for a triathlon most likely will have a negative impact on other areas of your life, in which you are already successful. Your optimal fitness may be obtained with as little as 45 minutes of cardiovascular exercise 5 days per week, and 15 minutes of strength training 3 days per week. Simple, right? Knowing the best, most practical approach to your lifestyle demands is key.
  5. For many of us the endurance activities are all we will ever need. Jogging, cycling, walking, hiking, playing… loving and committing to every moment of it.

The time benefit equation is delicate and constantly evolving. Understand yours, be flexible and forgiving, and optimize your fitness practice to give your life the most benefit.

Exercise is done against one’s wishes and maintained only because the alternative is worse. Happiness is different from pleasure. Happiness has something to do with struggling and enduring and accomplishing. We are our bodies, our bodies are us. Satisfaction is such a minor thing. Joy is what we want. -George Sheehan

Being Emotionally Ready to Change

Being emotionally ready for the steep climb that lies ahead on your ascent towards (personal) excellence is crucial. Human potential is unlimited, but there is no shortcut to the end. Despising the process, while desiring the outcome, leaves us on a undesirable journey.

When a potential new client contacts me (the trainer) I approach this from the perspective described below:

You’ve recognized a problem, or found yourself in a situation that you want to change. You’re now thinking about changing and contemplating how to do so, as well as what this change will look like.

After we have our initial contact, or consultation we’ve now entered the preparation phase. This crucial phase is the “planning for success” step. The client (you) now has direction and direct, guided assistance from the trainer (me). Your team is coming together. Here we must get ourselves emotionally ready. Making lists of both goals, and desires is very helpful. Creating an emotional connection to your health is powerful. You are planning to take action for and in the name of your health. Your connection to this planet comes in the form of your physical being. The trainer (me) is here to guide you, and join your on your personal journey.

Our first training session initiates the action phase. We’ve shocked your system and altered your day. This new activity becomes a focus of your day, not merely another thing to check off your list. Along with the actually taking of action, we need to recognize the greater emotional importance of what these potential changes bring to your life.

Once our meeting times and schedules are well established we are now in the maintenance phase. This is often a difficult period as the “newness” has worn off and we are simply immersed in the actual “doing” of the program. It may help to refer to this as our “movement mastery” sessions. Laying the foundation that will provide stabilization and structure to expand off. Accepting the mundanity of this phase is crucial. The first three (3) months the client (you) need to remember that the workout has a greater significance than mere entertainment. Engaging with your weekly calendar is an essential, not an option, as we form positive associations and habits with our health.

Finally, we arrive at the termination phase. This is where we transition our programming from building our foundation to adding layers of skill. To the client (you) the changes will seem subtle. We use this approach to keep from being overwhelmed, and to ensure initial success and positive experience with these changes to your programming.

Enjoy the journey. Buy the ticket, take the ride. Repeat.

Running: Structure for Beginners

Running: Application and Implementation for Beginners

Becoming a runner is extremely satisfying. Having the ability to cover a certain distance, in a given time, is very freeing and enabling. You now can exercise almost anywhere, at any time, as well as plug yourself into the wildly popular and very welcoming running scene, whenever you feel like it. You can’t say that about too many other forms of exercise. Running is the best.

As you begin this journey, you must approach application in a patient manner with the intent to make it a lifestyle, not “bucket list” undertaking. I hate the idea of having a bucket list, but that’s beside the point here. Your first run may feel awkward. You may experience side aches, dull joint paint, dry mouth, and even boredom. This is OK. You are a beginner. Having two legs and being able to walk does not qualify you for anything. All good things come to those who persist, so as a beginner it is important to enlist the virtue of patience, often. Any time both feet are off the ground at the same time, you are running, not walking. There is no “pace” that you have to keep to be a runner. If it feels extremely slow, do not fret, you are running!

Running, like all endurance sports is measured in volume (mileage or time). As a beginner, understand that each week has seven days. Each week you will need to “rest” from running, three to four of those days. Sounds like a lot of rest right? It is. Your body needs time to adapt and accept what it is you are asking it to do. Think of it this way. Have you ever taken a long car ride or plane flight and had sore legs or back for a few days afterwards? I have, and that’s from being in a foreign position for far too long. Your muscles shorten, ache and may even spasm from just being a certain, non-strenuous, position. Well, running, or run/walking is the same way. You may be able to run/walk for six days in a row, but the unknown is how the cumulative fatigue will affect you the following week. Most likely it will leave you hungry, tired, lethargic, and unmotivated to keep up the activity. This, of course, is not what we want. Using our seven-day analogy, we need to structure our week like this:

  • Run or Run-Walk: Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday
  • Rest or Low Impact Activity: Monday/Wednesday/Friday
  • Full Rest: Sunday

I have not met a beginner yet who was ready to run or run/walk more than three times per week, successfully. At this stage quantity forces a sacrifice in quality, which leads to injury and burnout, and obviously we don’t that!

You may be asking how long? The answer is one hour. The answer is usually one hour. This includes warming up and cooling down. If you devote an hour you will get some quality work in during that time. Trying to shave it down to 30 minutes is OK for experienced athletes or exercisers, but not beginners. One-hour sounds like a long run, right? It is, and as a beginner you’ll want to break up this hour into small chunks of running and walking. A common application is running for 1-minute, walking for 2-3 minutes, and repeating until you’ve covered the hour. Remember it’s easy to scale your workouts up, meaning make them harder, but it’s harder to cut back after you’ve gone too far, both physically and mentally. Applying the run/walk technique also makes you a more efficient and aware walker. Your pace quickens while you walk as you work to keep your heart rate elevated. This also keeps your mind engaged in utilizing each minute. It’s not boring, because you have something to monitor, you are covering ground, and working on the new you.

After 4-weeks of 1-minute running, 2-3 minute walking, you will want to increase the time of the run to 2-minutes, while keeping the walking at 3-minutes, or dropping it to 2-minutes. At this time you should be motoring along, walking briskly, and running each interval comfortably. Notice I did not say quickly or fast. You are still building tolerance for the activity, allowing your whole system to adapt to the applied demands of running. What will not change is your volume. One hour, three days per week stays constant.

During your rest or off days from running I encourage you to partake in non-impact activities. Strength training, cycling, swimming, rowing, and yoga are all novel activities. Be aware of the amount of effort each of these requires. You will want to avoid grueling, high-intensity sessions. Volume is cumulative, so adding three hours of yoga and three hours of strength to your weekly running workouts will simply leave you tired, and looking for a way to boost energy. We don’t want that. It doesn’t work! Our virtue is patience. Cycling, swimming, and yoga are nice additions to running. Different muscle groups are prioritized and utilized during these activities, which is helpful, but the most important benefit is that they all need cardiovascular endurance to accomplish.

Remember, the key is to monitor intensity and volume. As a beginner, you must err on the side of caution and be diligent in your progression. Adding a variety of activities, especially if you have a comfort level in them already, will help you build cardiovascular endurance. Again, monitor intensity!



Well Rounded vs. Obsession

Well-Rounded vs. Obsession


When it comes to being “fit” the new trainee, acquaintance, or inquirer will often deem the image being represented a result of obsession. As they learn more about what the driving force is, maybe running ultra-marathons, their opinion edges ever closer to becoming solidified as fact.

Often what we have done, in terms of performance results or competition is a barrier to understanding the process of making fitness a lifestyle. In my experience a lifestyle brings balance to an often chaotic, existence. It gives purpose to movement, blending sometimes, narcissistic desires with essential activity for well, being.

Obsession is an absolute narrow focus. Your life revolves around that one thing. Nutrition, diet, sport and exercise are all common topics of obsession. I see it all the time. They often force either someone to be all in, or, all out. This is derived from the complexity of an action. Take a look at any diet and you’ll see what I mean.

Well-rounded on the other hand is what 99% of us should aspire to be. Pursuing this does not mean you do every activity: yoga, strength, cardio, Martial arts, etc. It’s about how we approach life. Athletic, intellectual, familial, and occupational form a symbiosis and balance that makes us well rounded.

In exercise, variety is often a nice option to have. Is it necessary? Absolutely not, I believe persistence and consistency are more important to having success. Mastery of movement, strategy of application, and the diligence to finish what you start are the keys to obtaining a lifestyle foundation.

At the end of each day it is not how long, or how much we devoted to our health and fitness. It is simply a matter of did we, or didn’t we? We become what we repeatedly do, so choose wisely!