Sunday, January 23, 2011

It is that time again......Resolution Reality Check....

Well, it is that time again. One of my mentors in fitness, Linda Mullins of Core Fitness Solution, says that it takes 21 days to create a habit. Well, today is the 23rd. How are you doing on your New Year's Resolution?

* If you are doing well AND getting results, however you can define them, you can stop reading now. Keep doing what you are doing and keep me posted. I love hearing about success, small and large.

* If you are not, there are a number of reasons for it. I am not detailing them to play Monday morning quarterback, but so that you can learn and replan for success for the other 338 days of 2011.

1) Don't fit it into your schedule realistically: You're busy. I get it. We all get it, because I am sure you tell everyone. If you are busy, you have to plan your workouts just like you plan everything else. Pick a time slot, and plan on working out during it. Mornings are generally best for busy people, because if something comes up, you can probably find a way to fit it in later. Out of all of the reason, fitting it into lifestyle probably accounts for 2/3 of failures. Saying you "don't have time" is also bull. You just chose to do something else. That's OK, you are not going to get in shape any faster whether your excuse makes sense or not.

2) Work outweighs recovery: Lets say that after a lazy 2010 that you want to get back into fitness. That's great. If you are sore all the time or catch a cold after hitting it for two weeks, not so good, and more importantly, not sustainable. You might as well start making your 2012 resolution.

You always recover from workouts, but they can either be unplanned (sickness, injury) or planned (rest days, adequate sleep, recovery modalities). If you work out more, you have to eat better, sleep better, and use more recovery modalities (active movement, massage, foam rolling, etc.). If workouts are the only change you make, you are only addressing half of the equation and will get less than half the results.

3) Workout plan that is limited: If your workouts do not cover multiple athletic qualities, you are going to be limited in what you can do. Treadmill and crunches, besides eventually putting you in the surgical ward, do not cover strength, mobility, stabilization, power, or agility. It may work, for a month at best. Chances are that if this is your plan, you have already quit right now, either through lack of results or boredom. Your program needs to include multiple athletic qualities and have multiple stimulous sources. You don't have to work out each one everyday, but you need to address them periodically.

4) Workout Smorgasborg: This is kind of the opposite of 3 above. You are trying to do everything. Surprisingly enough, a lot of time when I work with client that want to improve, I take stuff away from their program rather than adding to it. Sometimes you have to simplify. If what you are doing is not working, get back to basics. Maybe something like a 4 day bodybuilder split, ... or circuit training for a little bit? .... Wendler's 5-3-1? .... ETK? Yoga. A lot of time with programs like this, by trying to address everything separately, you overtax what your body can do on a systemic level AND you run out of time to do it all. Instead of trying to make a priority out of everything (which technically is not a priority at all), focus on two things at a time. Rotate your focus on every two to three months and not only will you progress on everything, but you will be surprised how much easier it is. For you kettlebell folks out there, Pavel's Return of the Kettlebell works in two-week blocks, and you will be suprised in how fast multiple athletic qualities are increased, even though you are only focusing on one or two at a time.

5) Workout that is boring or tedious: If you can't see yourself doing what you are doing for the next 3 years, it is not sustainable. Pick something else. Exercise does not need to be torture.

6) Low pain tolerance: You are determined in your effort to get in shape, you are a just really sore the day after, like can't walk or go to the bathroom sore. You wonder if it is worth it. You need to handle this in two parts. The first is perspective. Being in pain is NEVER the goal, but I don't know anyone who is in shape that NEVER occassionally gets sore. It happens, get over it. The longer you stay with it, the less it happens.

7) Manage Expecations: I see this a lot. "I only lost two pounds this week." Over the course of a year, you are a new person. The fact of the matter is that people watch Biggest Loser, and they expect 1/2 the results in 1/10 the time and also while living a real life. Really, the person has two choices:
* Stick with what they are doing.
* Change what they are doing.

If the say, "You know, losing 2 lbs a week isn't really worth it.", that is on them. Grow up and stay with something longer for a month. If you look at someone who has lost 52 lbs in 6 months, NOT ONE PERSON WOULD SAY IT WASN'T WORTH IT. I know you can lose weight faster, but you don't have to lose it faster. I have seen people say, you can lose 30 lbs of fat (or gain over 20 lbs of muscle) in a month like I did, but they look more like their before picture. What is the point of that?

Think "sustainable". If you weight loss plan consists of eating like a social pariah and supplementing with drugs you can't afford, it's not sustainable.

8) Entitlement: This is a big one. Just because you are in the gym 14 hours a week doesn't mean you are entitled to any weight loss. Listen, mother nature doesn't lie. People do. You have a contract with your gym. The gym does not have a contract with your body. If you don't force your body to elicit change, it won't. Doing a twenty minute workout in a ninety minute gym session does not entitle you to a ninety minutes of results. Weight loss is the ultimate meritocracy. If you aren't getting results, find out why.

9) Diet: I will address diet a little differently then most. I know it is 80% of results. I find the whole diet topic extremely boring and mundane, but here are two things that I have noticed about diets:

* People are either delusional or completely full of crap about the things they put in their mouths. When doing intake evaluations, I can tell who was lying (about 75%) by:
- Looking at their skin, if you eat salad and grilled chicken breast, your skin will not be oily.
- If you start sweating, and it glistens like bacon grease, I pretty much know you are lying.

* I would be more successful at trying to change someone's religion than changing their eating habits. There is a comfort in the food people eat. Also, there are memories and relationships that revolve around food. Also, in some foods, there are definitely brain activities that are similar to recreational drug interactions. Generally speaking, I can tell anyone anything about working out and they will at least consider it. Nutrition, sometimes it gets heated. Not sure why this is, it is only food. I think it has something to do with the fact that we have been eating for our entire lives, so in a sense we are all EXPERTS.

This is why "Iron Chef America" drive me nuts. They make eating seem so complicated, but more importantly they act like everyone should like and eat the same thing. I think Iron Chef from Japan got it right. Their judges were not only food critics and restaurateurs, but also athletes, movie stars, fortune tellers, scholars, and other regular (albeit) famous folk. This is one area where the origin "Iron Chef" totally kicks the tar out of "Iron Chef America". I think this is why people get upset when they are told what to eat. They are probably thinking "Hey, I have been doing this for 40 years, I know what I am doing."

Also, you can't talk about diet and exercise separately for this simple reason: Managing weight is about managing blood sugar and BOTH diet and exercise have hormonal effects on how blood glucose is treated in the body.

10) Faith: I don't mean religious faith or even spirituality. What I am talking about here is the probabilistic nature of training and diet. Most things in life are very deterministic, e.g., if I do X, I get Y. Diet and exercise are very undercertain. If I do X, I get something between Y and Z. I think this causes a lot of people to lose faith, because there is no instant gratification. It is more like "if I do A, B, C, and D, I may get X or Y, but I could get Z, which could harm me. The uncertain nature of diet and training cause people to focus on things that are more certain.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Some basic gym etiquette rules...

Sherry, you brought up a great topic: Gym Etiquette, I though I would add some things that people may find humorous.

1) Share equipment: You are not a five year old. Nothing in the gym is "yours". Let people work in. Even if they don't want to work it, don't feel like you have to invoke your "Squatter's rights" on a piece of equipment.

2) Leave stuff how you left it. Rerack weights and wipe stuff down. Also, disinfectant does not work drowning. More is not better, it just become toxic.

3) It is OK to be friendly or even start a conversation, but don't destroy the funk of someone's workout. That includes offering advice and hitting on someone. It is perfectly Emily Post to say "Hey, I am trying to work out." to any unwanted conversation or advances. Personal note: I can't imagine a worse place to hit on women then the gym. They see you at your worst, you can't avoid them, and I am sure they don't want to be the object of locker talk. Just saying.

4) Spots: If someone asks for a spot, give it to them unconditionally, unless you don't mind others thinking you are a self-absorbed dickhead). If you get a spot, you are on the spotters schedule, not yours, they are trying to workout to. Offer spots, it makes you look friendly. If you get pinned, it is your own fault. Don't complain about a spotter grabbing the bar too quick, they are not a professional.

5) Typically the guys and gals in better shape are usually the ones that also understand gym etiquette the best UNLESS their t-levels are so out of whack. No reason to be intimidated, there is no caste system in the gym. Also, unlike what other people think, they are also the most knowledgeable in a practical sense. If someone has a lot of book knowledge, but does not look or perform the part, the knowledge is used to create excuses. I think Planet Fitness paints a very judgmental and prejudiced view of this. I would post a PF video, but I don't want to give those douchehats free advertising.

6) Perspective: It is a workout, not the Olympics. No need to get all "Type A", obsessive-compulsive, or be a control freak about your workout. Act like a human in a society. Personal note: There is always one person in the gym who gets there at the same time everyday (typically mornings) and has to use the same treadmill every time. If you see that person, avoid them, they are really annoying and generally pretty useless socially as well.

7) Showering: Don't talk to anyone while you are naked. No one will say anything, but they are uncomfortable, annoyed, or very likely, BOTH.

8) If you don't want people to look at you, don't dress in a way that makes people look at you.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Workshop Schedule....

Sat 1/15 and 2/5: Introductory Kettlebell Workshop (10:30 AM to 12:15 PM)
Tue 1/18: Foundations 101: Basic Evolutionary Movement (7:00 PM to 9:00 PM)
Sat 1/22: Foundations 102 - The Paleo Advantage (12:30 PM to 3:30 PM)
Sat 1/29 & 3/12: Core Development (10:30 AM to 12:00 PM)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

New Years Resolution Diets....

There are a lot of people who are resolving to make 2011 the year they get in shape. The vast majority will not be successful. Too bad, so sad.

Here are 10 things to look for in your diet to ensure that you are trying to execute a crappy diet solution before you even get started:

1) You should NEVER have to eat anything that you don't like. There are essential nutrients, but there are no essential foods.

2) You should feel better a half hour after you eat, not worse. (Hey, I know some of those food that make you feel worse taste really good. Unless you are a fruit fly, you want to think longer term).

3) Your diet should allow some flexibility if you don't follow it 100%. If it doesn't, it sucks. As one of my engineering professors would say, your diet is not "robust." A good diet regulates your hormones and gives you "metabolic flexibility." Remember when you were 17 and could eat whatever your wanted. That was before you destroyed your hormones.

4) You should not feel hungry all the time. If you are, your insulin is out of whack.

5) At least 90%* of the cost for what you put in your mouth should be food. 10%* or less should be supplements or drugs.

6) Sticking to your diet should not mean that you have to avoid social situations. Both eating and social interaction are basic human needs. You don't have to sacrifice one for another. Also, WoW is cool, but it is not social interaction.

7) Your diet should help your performance, not hurt it. "I can't lift heavy because I am on a diet" is BS. You can't lift heavy because your diet sucks.

8) You should be willing to feed a young child with what you eat.

9) Ideally, everything you put in your mouth should be able to be "hunted" or "gathered" (and no, going to McDonalds is not hunting down a Mac and going to 7-11 is not gathering a Slurpee).

10) At least 80%* of the food you eat should go bad within a week.

* -- These are guesses subject to additional analysis.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Why Kettlebells Rule!

1) They are portable: If you have kettlebells, you can get your workout wherever you are going to be. That is so valuable if you take your fitness seriously. For most people it is not the quality of the workouts, but the consistency.

2) They are athletic: Look at people using kettlebells. Look at people on a treadmill. What looks more athletic?

3) Adjustable leverage: Because the kettlebell is asymetrical, you can change the leverage of the kettlebell by changing how you grip it. Take presses: Grip it by the bell (waiter's press), grip it by the handle (bottoms up press). They all work your body different, JUST LIKE OBJECTS IN REAL LIFE. Try doing that with a barbell or dumbbell.

4) Enable High Rep Ballistics: Because the kettlebell can be swung between the legs comfortably, you can do high reps ballistics with them. If you are interested in fat loss, this is critical. Swings, snatches, and cleans can be done for hundreds of reps. HIIT, and the fat loss and cardiovascular conditioning that comes with them, are so much better with kettlebells.

5) Cheap: Kettlebells, when you compare them long term with a treadmill or your gym membership, are a ridiculous bargain. For the average female, for $400-$500, you can get enough kettlebells to last you for the rest of your life. That's right, no other investment in your fitness. That does not even buy you 1 year of a gym membership. Don't even think of getting a treadmill for that little. For a home, a treadmill will easily cost between $2000 and $4000.

6) Versatility: You want to burn fat, get stronger, build muscle, and improve joint mobility. Kettlebell deliver on all counts, often in the same workout. In my kettlebell boot camps and workshops, all of these are covered.

7) Durable: Kettlebells last forever. No moving parts.

8) Extensible: Kettlebells workouts can be simple or as complex as you want them to be. Need a simple workout, the Enter the Kettlebell Program Minimum is where it at. Want to build muscle, I recommend Return of the Kettlebell. Fat loss, Kettlebell Burn will do the trick. Whatever you need is whatever you get.

In summary, if you have resolved to get in shape in 2011, take the leap and dive into kettlebell training.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Some workouts that I have done....

As many of you know, I have been travelling in the UAE and India since 12/23. I have had no fitness equipment available in that time.

Here are some of the workouts that I have done.
* 10-9-8..-2-1 Burpees and Situps for time. (PER rating: 6)

* 5 sets of (20 squats/20 pushups). (PER rating: 5)

* Suitcase Jerks, these were actually jerks done with my 45+ lb suitcase, 20-35 reps/set) (PER rating: 3, but I like the movement for the shoulders)

==> You see luggage, I see added resistance for jerks, TGUs, squats, and cleans.

* TGUs with my backpack (PER rating: 3, but they did open up the shoulders). Don't be afraid to be creative.

==> You see a snorkel. I see $1 altitude training.

* 10 x 20 Pushups and Lunges (PER rating: 6)

* 10 x 7 Pullup hanging off of the stairwell, 1 minute rest between sets (PER rating: 7, there were much harder than regular pullups because my fingers could not get around the bar. Also, the surface was marble-like, stiff and slippery).

==> You see a stairwell, I see a pullup bar!

* 10 squats, 10 pushup, 10 situps for 10 rounds (PER rating: 7)

* 25 snatch balances each arm (PER rating: 6)

* 10 x 10 suitcase squats, 5 x 5 box pistols, 5 x 20 suitcase jerks, 10 x 5 dragon walks (PER rating: 8, really tried to pick up the pace. And the dragon walks really open up the IT band and hips abductors).

* Three mile walks (PER rating: 2, cake but I didn't want to die while running on the streets.)

* Yoga poses: Samson, Pigeon, Buddha, Happy Baby, Downward Dog (PER rating 9: I suck at these, but they help with posture and squat depth.)

In retrospect I wish I did more sprinting and jumping. Oh well. My diet was good over this holiday, not great.

Will be home in 2 days. See everyone on Thursday.

Washington Post

I got a small mention in the Washington Post. It is a small mention in a big paper: