It’s been a few weeks since our last school holiday so, in typical UAE fashion, another extended holiday is happening this week. Don’t get me wrong, I used to love holidays and am sure my kid loves being out of school. But as an entrepreneur, these frequent closures make running a business extremely difficult. If I ever get to come back to this earth, I want it to be as a student in Dubai.
While UAE National Day (and the two extra days that will follow it, plus the weekend) is a wonderful holiday to celebrate, you might not be one of the fortunate few who can get away for a mini-holiday. And with the kids at home, you might even feel a little screwed out of your normal fitness routine.
If that sounds a little like you, here’s a little help with your holiday fitness planning.
Holiday Fitness Quickie Planner
You need a pencil, paper and possibly some friends and family members to help. I like to involve my son so he can draw up a nice poster for motivation.
Step 1. Available Equipment
List all your home exercise equipment options. This could include pillows for jump overs, a bench for push-ups, stairs for step ups, a long hallway for walking lunges, a carpet for crawling, etc. Or you could simply skip to Step 3.
Step 2. 2 Minute Brainstorm
List all the exercises you could do with or without any of the equipment you identified. My favorites are push-ups, walking lunges, 180 degree spin jumps, drop squats, curtsy lunges with side squats, long jumps, burpees and plank variations.
Step 3. Chose your format.
Countless ways exist to turn this basic information into a workout session. Here, I’ll give you two easy ones, perfect for holiday days when you may want to get on with other things.
How long do you want to exercise? Lets assume 20 minutes. Next, choose a good work versus rest interval that suits your fitness level.
- 40s work: 20s rest for advanced (total set = 1 minute)
- 30s work: 30s rest for intermediate
- 20s work: 40s rest for starters
Since each set is 1 minute, you’ll do 20 sets of exercise. You can alternate from your brainstormed list in step 2, or simply chose a few moves for today and do those. During the rest portion of your interval, especially at the starter level, keep your rest active by marching. DON’T SIT.
Pick 5 exercises out of the list. Do 10 repetitions of each (on each side as necessary) before moving onto the next exercise. Continue until you’ve done all 5 exercises for 10 repetitions each. Rest for 2 minutes. Repeat for 5 rounds or until your time is done. Reduce the number of repetitions as needed to keep good form.
Getting the kids involved in the planning goes a long way in having them want to participate. You can play around with taking turns chosing the exercises, times or format. Pack some water, and head to a local park or green space for a family holiday fitness quickie.
Need extra help or guidance for your at home or gym workouts?
KULT offers both online training and monthly programming packages. We develop a plan based on your preferred training frequency, goals and available equipment, and follow it up with regular motivation and accountability to ensure you are keeping up to your end of the bargain. Contact us on email@example.com for details.
No Good Life Was Built on Excuses
My apologies. I have been back from California for almost an entire week but between jet lag and a nasty cold, I just haven’t been able to get my head on straight to finish any writing. With three drafts underway – my weekly good reads, a review of the cool things I learned at the Titleist Performance Institute and World Golf Fitness Summit and a technique review piece, I’ve put them all aside today to share some very sad news that has left me shaken.
Many moons ago, I left the safety and comfort of living at home for the adventures of doing my MBA at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. While I was young (in hindsight wayyyyy too young) to be taking an advanced degree usually reserved for people with more than 5 years of solid work experience, I met a group of amazing friends in similar situations – all young, living away from home, looking to jump start a career with an MBA. We became each other’s support system and extended family. Over our two year degree and for many more afterwards, we studied, celebrated and travelled together. Even though life has taken us in vastly different places and to remote corners of the world, we continue to stay in touch with visits, email and even tried to organize a reunion a few years ago. So it was a huge shock that we learned earlier this year that one of our group, a very handsome, fit, smart and funny guy was stricken with cancer. Over the months that followed, he kept us in the loop with regular updates on his life and treatments. Just six weeks ago we exchanged emails about my crossing the pond for a visit since Emirates now has a direct flight to Boston, where he moved with his expecting wife and daughter after his diagnosis. I didn’t think anything of it when no update came in October. Perhaps that’s why I feel so very sad – head too far up my own ass to see anything was amiss. But two things happened today. First, I met with a potential client who took close to 45 minutes telling me why she really didn’t have time to exercise and that I’d have to be available for her to make it work. Then I hear that my friend has in fact taken a turn for the worse and has been given about a month.
Now I’m not trying to be a downer here, even though I feel very down at the moment. I’m simply wanting to underline that our health is a GIFT. We need to cherish it, protect it and defend it. Eating well and exercise all do that. Excuses simply allow your status quo to continue. Nothing was ever created with an excuse. If it is important – and your health should be important – then DO IT. Even if it’s not important to you (why?) what about the influence you have on your children and loved ones? Don’t you want them to have fighting chance to stay healthier? Stop making excuses. Start finding reasons. Honor the gift of your health. So for my friend who I can only remember as being strong, athletic, fit and healthy and who would give anything for more time with his family, I was sorely tempted to tell this potential client just where she could take her busy schedule. But then it occurred to me. Maybe she was sent to me as a test. Or as a gift. As an opportunity to help someone discover inner strength to make tough tradeoff choice. And to embrace fitness for the gifts that it can bring her. I’ll take that challenge. For you AC. And for me.
KULT question of the week
“On your home page, you say you help build better bodies. What do you mean by building a better body?”
What is a better body?
Generally speaking, a better body is one that…
- Stands erect, with good postural alignment.
- Does not hang on its soft tissues for support.
- Moves well, with efficiency and elegance.
- Has a balance strength, flexibility and mobility through all fundamental movement patterns and in all ranges of motion.
- Has high energy levels, to fuel your dreams and ambitions.
- Is functionally strong, so you can participate in activities without the worry of getting injured.
- Does not age prematurely through unsupportive lifestyle factors
- Displays good static and dynamic stability and motor control allowing for higher levels of training.
- Has a healthy body composition.
- Supports metabolism.
- Is pain free.
- Exhibits optimal gut health and hormonal balance.
- Has healthy relationship between training and recovery.
- Does not seek every sitting opportunity.
- Is well hydrated.
- Does not require stimulants for energy.
- Feels vibrant and full of life.
- Has a strong and efficient heart & lungs so you can run after children as needed.
- Is stress free, both in the mind and in the soft tissues.
- Displays a strong connection between mind, body, and spirit.
- Is aware of its surroundings.
- Contributes to mental health, acuity and self esteem.
To me, a better body is one that is built to last a lifetime.
And I think it’s worth putting in the effort to make it better.
How do you build a better body?
Building a better body is a journey. A lifelong journey at that. You don’t achieve it overnight. Building a better body is a process that requires consistent and mindful effort. Persistence. Trial and error to see what works for you and what doesn’t. It requires the ability (and will power) to make necessary sacrifices, tradeoffs and supportive decisions consistently, time in and time out. And when mistakes happen, to stand up and keep going. It takes grit, determination, commitment and above all, an acknowledgement that it is important. It also takes love because loving yourself makes the journey more enjoyable and more worthwhile.
I know what you’re thinking…
This sounds like a lot of work!
But before you shut your mind to it, think.
Is it important to you?
Really important for you and your family?
Imagine. Just for a moment. Close your eyes and imagine what it will FEEL like to live in your better body. Not a hypothetically perfect one, but YOUR better one.
Now think of the alternative.
No energy to do the things you love. A weakened immune system susceptible to all sorts of icks. Dissatisfaction with how you move, look and feel.
To me, that’s no way to live.
And that’s why I stay on my own journey and look to help others on theirs. I want you by my side every step of the way!
If this rings true to your heart, then you are ready. Your brain will follow. Lets get started.
Body transformation challenges: 4 keys to success
Been on any social media platforms lately? Hard to miss the countless body transformation challenges out there. For the record, I respect coaches who guide their clients to achieve fantastic results through hard work, discipline, commitment and dedication. I am not however a fan of any extreme challenges, where people are undernourished and pushed to physical limits far removed from healthy behaviors, maintainable lifestyle choices, and common sense. That’s not a challenge. That’s purgatory. Good transformation programs usually succeed because they give the hopeful three keys to success: a deadline, motivation that change will happen and sound advice. The fourth key really shouldn’t need to be mentioned but I will: YOU HAVE TO DO THE WORK. Few things in life magically appear regardless of how hard you wish it into existence.
What I notice when looking past the fancy marketing and packaging from one challenge to another, things are rather similar. Drink more water. Cut out refined carbohydrates and added sugar. Limit your treats. Eat more leafy plant food. Exercise more – and hopefully smarter. Track. That’s pretty sound advice. And honestly, after the usual 8 to 12 weeks, folks that followed the advice are transformed. I’m always so very proud of my students when we create these opportunities for them.
But what about those on the outside? People who can’t fathom having 12 uninterrupted weeks to metamorphose? Given our kids’ school holidays in Dubai, such stretches are near impossible. Are these people doomed to “if only” and “I wish”? I don’t think so. The answer lies in our interpretation of transformation. Small changes in the right direction are still changes. So how do we marry small changes with the success keys of challenges?
Get your fitness started in 21 days?
Today’s question is whether you can impact your fitness in just 3 weeks? My resounding answer: YOU BETCHA. You can make a difference in your fitness in just ONE day, since every decision that you make towards a healthier you is a difference. Every little positive decision builds the foundation for lasting change. Now you didn’t get out of shape overnight, so you aren’t going to reverse that in a day or a few weeks either. But here’s why 21 days is a great time frame to get your fitness started:
- It’s close enough to light the fire under your backside to get started. Deadlines are critical to achieving goals since, without them, goals are just wishes. So you’ve got only 3 weeks to build momentum on habits that will fuel your future fitness.
- Sort of the reverse of number 1, it’s not so far away that you have time to mull things over, over analyze and procrastinate. DO IT. I’ve made it easy with three weekly action sheets so you know what you need to do every day for 21 days.
- It’s long enough to build supportive habits – and to start to break bad ones. I’m a firm believer in having the strength to make tough choices for the things that are truly important to you. You’ve got good time in 3 weeks to also get rid of sabotaging habits. Don’t kid yourself – it’s your habits that make or break your fitness. Invest time replacing bad with good and the tradeoff will become easier the more you do it. Go ahead, try me.
- Twenty one, shmenty one. There’s nothing that says that you can’t extend it to 28, 35 or more building on all that you’ve learned in the first three weeks.
- 21 days = 300+ opportunities. When we consider the 15 to 20 daily opportunities to make a positive and supportive fitness choice, 21 days actually becomes over 300 actions. Each one brings you closer or farther away from your goal…choose more positive ones and find them getting easier. Simply being conscious of the fact that these are your CHOICES goes a long way in supporting your mettle. And be grateful for actually having a choice to make. Practice makes permanent. Practice well.
T minus 3: Your 3 day preparation countdown
Now before the countdown clock starts, I’ll give you three days to figure some stuff out and put you solidly on the starting blocks to success:
- Journal or Notebook. GET ONE. USE IT.
- mood, sleep, stress level?
- exercise & physical activity: walking, playing with kids, dancing, whatever.
- how did you feel after your exercise?
- supplements: i.e. vitamins, Omega, D3, etc.
- water consumption? # glasses
As for food, I want you to know everything that crossed past your lips, how much and when. This is often most useful as a breakdown per meal of the following:
- beverages: what? quantity?
- vegetable servings
- fruit servings
- protein servings
- sweets / treats servings
- complex carbs (bread, rice, pasta, grains, etc.) servings
- For example: Breakfast 7am – 3 egg white + 1 yolk omelette cooked in 1tsp butter plus ½ cup broccoli, ½ a red pepper, 4 mushrooms. 2 cups black coffee. (Yes, really.)
- Get your fitness clothing and footwear ready to go. Pack a towel and water bottle (which will become your new best friend).
- Get your schedule out and plan when you will exercise, and if appropriate, where for the entire 21 days. Even if it’s just a quick 10 minute fast pace walk, schedule it. 7 days a week. While you are at it, plan when you will do some preparation for healthy meal choices…cutting veggies for snacks, cooking larger batches of chicken breast, making soup, whatever.
- Go shopping. Get what you’ll need for your meals for the next 3-5 days. Don’t over complicate things. It’s ok to have food re-runs, especially when we’re on a 21 day time crunch! Remember, you can have it all, just not all at once. Plan ahead so you can’t fail.
- Involve your family. Explain to them what you’re going to do and have them help you…get them excited about taking walks, bike rides, at home fitness time, preparing food and eating well.
- Recruit a buddy. Next to having a deadline, having an accountability system is another huge success strategy. No one can lose here, well…other than for a few pounds, some negative self talk and unhealthy habits. You’ll both benefit.
Reality check: what was your reaction to T-3 plan?
If you rolled your eyes at the T-3, I’d say you are likely not ready for a change just yet. It does not make you a bad person. It simply indicates that it isn’t really that important or you may not yet trust yourself to make difficult tradeoffs. Save this plan then for when you are ready. I’ll still be here.
Your 21 day action sheets
FEED YOUR BODY
Using these three weekly actions sheets is easy. You’ll need 7 of the week 1, 7 of the week 2 and, obviously, 7 of the week 3 action sheets. Some of you may ask “What’s a portion size?” Well, look at your hand. For ladies it’s a fist size for fruit and veggies, and the size of your palm for protein. Men, you can double that. You’ll note that I didn’t mention anything about carbs. You’ll be getting plenty of them with your veggies but I don’t want you to necessarily limit your starches, other than perhaps choose the best quality and most whole food ones you can (sweet potatoes anyone?). Start with veggies and protein at every meal. Then if you have room, eat a serving of starchy carbs (about the same as a veggie serving if not a little smaller). See how it goes. If you turn really nasty – eat more. How to use the sheet? Just tick off the boxes that apply. For example in week 1, I’m asking for you to drink 8 cups of water per day – that’s 2 litres. I’ve given you an extra 2 little cups there for bonus points. Come 6pm if you see that you’re short on water or veggies, EAT/DRINK. Don’t worry about fruit and don’t eat more protein than with every meal – you have 5 little egg cups there, but if you only eat 3 times, that’s all you need to tick.
MOVE YOUR BODY
I’ve provided a daily workout suggestion. You have a bunch of 10 minute increments that you can check off for your planned exercise. Aim for at least one tick EVERY DAY and between 2-3 ticks 3x per week.
Let me know how it goes. While I’d be very happy for any fat loss you’ll achieve, I’m really interested in whether you now consider yourself a little fitter than when you started? Consider this your 21 day kick in the pants, compliments of me!
You’ve heard it before. Perhaps you’ve even said it. “I just don’t have the time to exercise.” Now I get that some days are really over the top busy with family, children, work…everyone wants a piece. But have you considered whether you are getting easily wrapped up in the merely urgent, rather than staying focusing on the truly important?
It’s not about more. It’s about better.
Obviously the first step to that is deciding what is important to you and then scheduling time for it. Not only is it a mindset, it’s a habit…the more you do it the easier it gets. Health. Stress relief. Setting a good example. Eating more healthfully. Moving better. Getting stronger. Is living a fitter life important to you? No ‘buts’, this is a yes or no question. How will you feel when you are doing it? If your answers are yes and better, then you must make time for it. Your family and work life will benefit more than if the washing is done. And in fact, it’s not a question of having more time. It’s a matter of using the time we have more wisely.
In the simple yet mindful act of deciding that your fitness is important, the merely urgent loses a bit of its power over you. But just deciding it doesn’t make it so. Only action makes it a reality.
That’s where smart training comes in. It’s all about making the most out of the time you have. It’s about being effective AND efficient. It’s about working on your weaknesses to improve your overall performance, endurance and capacity. It’s about making you proud of your commitment to your health and the example you are choosing to give to others. It’s also about having MORE time (not to mention energy) to enjoy your favorite activities and hobbies, time with friends and family, quiet down time for yourself. It’s about helping you work towards your physical potential without spending countless hours doing less effective exercise.
I admit it – being an instructor makes me biased. However, the proof is in the proverbial pudding: training with kettlebells will drastically decrease your workout time because it’s more efficient and more effective than any method you’ve used before. That makes it very smart training. No more slaving away at the gym for hours or pounding the pavement – unless you truly enjoy it. For those that do, two to three short kettlebell sessions per week will make you better at it. Just think how much more time you can spend with your family or do the things you love yet still reach your physical potential. Kettlebells are proven to increase strength, decrease body fat, increase bone density, BMR, flexibility, glucose tolerance and aerobic capacity. A kettlebell routine can also increase human growth hormone (HGH) naturally. HGH, which declines markedly after the age of 50, is responsible for fat burning, muscle building, increasing metabolism, improving the ratio of good to bad cholesterol, better immune system, increased sex drive and reduced risk of heart disease. Who doesn’t want an all around better quality of life? And do you know what the best part is? You don’t need to get all fancy either. In properly trained hands, simple kettlebell movements pack a great fitness punch. Remember not to mistake ‘simple’ for ‘easy.’
5 Smart and Simple Kettlebell Workout Routines
The following routines are deceptively simple as they combine only two movements. Done with a challenging kettlebell weight, they’ll deliver fat burning, strength & cardio endurance all at once.
1) 2 Hand Swings & Goblet Squats – declining repetition ladder.
Start with 10 swings and immediately follow it up with 10 goblet squats. Without rest, switch back to 9 swings and 9 goblet squats. Continue until you are all the way down the ladder and finish one repetition of each.
2) 2 Hand Swings & Push Ups – on the minute
Do 10 swings followed by 5 push ups on the top of the minute for 15 minutes.
3) Heavy / Regular 2 Hand Swings – for 15 minutes
Complete 5 heavy kettlebell swings immediately followed by 10 swings with your ‘regular’ weight. Rest as needed.
4) 1 Hand Swings & Kettlebell Long Press (thruster) – on the minute
Do 10 1 hand swings followed by 5 kettlebell long presses (full squat into a press) on the top of every minute. Each minute change hands. Continue for 18 minutes.
5) Kettlebell Snatches and Turkish Get Up – for 16 minutes
Do 10 kettlebell snatches on the right. On the last repetition, descend with a TGU, change hands and ascend with a TGU before continuing with your snatches on the left. Continue as long as your form is good for up to 16 minutes. Use the TGU portion of the movement as your rest so be mindful to control each stage.
Enjoy. I’d love to hear about your experience with any of or all of these workouts. Comment as you please! If your are new to kettlebells and want to learn, I’d love to help.
Today I expand a little on a topic I spoke of a few weeks ago jump starting your fit lifestyle. It’s not that I’m trying to be redundant, it’s just that food is intimately linked to your body shape and your health. Want to change your body? Then you MUST clean up your eating and embrace healthy eating habits.
Indeed a source of great pleasure for many people. From delicious smells, to evoking good memories, to luxurious textures, to unexpected flavors, to satisfying cravings, to tantalizing tastes, food seems to hold enormous powers of seduction over our ability to make choices that support our goals. But just because it has power doesn’t mean we can’t and shouldn’t resist, or at least maintain the upper hand with regard to our choices. It only has power because we gave it to it in the first place. Good news – we can take it back.
What does eating well mean?
Now I get that the term eating well will mean something different to different people so I will define it here for my purpose (it is my blog after all). Eating well here implies making food choices that support three objectives: a well functioning body (health), a body composition in the desired range (look), and an ability to perform well in my physical pursuits (performance). The intersection of these objectives is where eating well happens – it’s what I call good nutrition. Yes, as goals change so does the profile. But what doesn’t vary is the mindset that food’s primary purpose is to provide the necessary building blocks for a healthy body to support a happy life. So many people become obsessed with how they look that they forget that food is there to nourish above all else. It is a distorted reality when people contemplate surgical procedures and risky diet aids rather than clean up their eating. So what exactly does clean eating entail?
Clean eating basics
Sometimes, it is helpful to define something by what it does NOT include. So eating well does not include mindless eating – or the action of putting food in your mouth without being conscious of it and without needing the nutrition or calories (i.e. snacking at social gatherings when you aren’t hungry comes to mind). It also doesn’t include bingeing of any kind, filling our stomachs with low nutrient-density foods (i.e. drinking sugar-filled juices, convenience snacks, highly processed foods), or repeatedly making unsupportive food choices because we’ve failed to plan in advance. A few more NOTs come to mind, but I think I’ll wait for another post since I’m hoping to present Basics here.
So while we’ll be looking at more detailed views on eating well in future posts, let’s review 3 Basics that everyone can adopt now: know what you eat, drink water, protein and veg at every meal.
- Know what you eat. More than 80% of successful body transformation participants used a food diary to keep track of their food intake. Why? Firstly it’s being mindful. No one truly knows how much they snack, or underestimate their portions or whatever until they write it down. Next, the simple act of having to record what you’ve eaten helps you make better choices later on (or ideally right on the spot). Lastly, you can’t change what you don’t know. Write it ALL down. Or better yet use a smart phone application – there are tons out there. Is it a pain in the butt? It sure is. But remember when you said you’d do anything to change your body…here is a simple, proven strategy that will deliver results. Stop whining and do it.
- Drink water. Your body is made of water and critical metabolic processes are facilitated by water. Plus it fills you up, controls hunger, helps flush out toxins, keeps your skin healthier (it’s the cheapest, effective anti-aging potion out there). Even low levels of dehydration have shown to decrease performance. Drink at least 2L per day of water. Don’t like it? Too bad. Do you like your body more than you dislike water? Find a way to drink it. Add some fresh lemon, orange slices, cucumber or apple slices, maybe some mint. Whatever. Just drink it.
- Protein and veggies at every meal. Paleo folks love me for this, but it’s really not so much about wanting you to eat more protein for the sake of it – it’s about the fact that protein takes more time to digest so it keeps you fuller and bodies use proteins as building blocks. Keep portions the size of your palm. Veggies are all about high nutrition, low calorie options. The more veggies you eat, you get fantastic nutritional bang for your buck, while leaving a little less room for higher calorie carbohydrates like grains and legumes. Shoot for at least 2 servings of veggies with every meal – yes, breakfast too (I had broccoli and mushrooms in my omelette this morning).
Decide if changing your body is important. Decide if the eating habits you may be teaching your children is important. If they are, then act. If not, then don’t feign surprise when your body stays the same or things get worse. The best time to start eating well was likely some time ago. But that’s ok since the next best time to start is right now.
If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.
With few exceptions, most successful body transformations started with a want: a better body (or at least a better shaped one), more energy, a healthier lifestyle, improved health markers, more endurance, a better example to family, increased strength, decreased body fat, better metabolism, shapelier arms, a more toned butt, better sports performance, or whatever. But until that ‘want’ was turned into a specific goal (or set of goals), it remained wishful thinking, lacking the power to help drive behaviors towards making it reality.
The two main difference between a want and a goal are usually an action plan and a deadline. Therefore for those who want to truly change their lives to reap the benefits of a healthier, stronger body the next step is define your ‘destination’ in as much detail as you can, because where you want to be will usually suggest the best ways to get there. Most of us have heard of SMART goals. While many descriptors can be used to define goals as SMART, I’m defining them as Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Time Bound. In a nutshell, goals that don’t meet these criteria are too wishy-washy to be of much help – either too vague or broad to know if you are moving closer to them or farther away, are based on subjective evaluations that can change with your moods, aren’t really something you can take daily actions towards, require more work or resources than you can realistically provide and/or are too long-term to be useful at the moment. It doesn’t mean that huge goals aren’t great – because they are. It’s just that to be SMART, it’s usually a good idea to break them down into smaller, shorter-term goals so that you can build momentum, celebrate many successes and enjoy the journey along the way. Changing your body must happen in the context of your life – don’t cheat yourself out of the satisfaction of succeeding at making small changes and being consistent because it’s the small things that we choose to do, and not do, that make a life.
Two notes on specific and measurable
- Unless you can measure something, you know nothing. And you’ll never know when you’ve reached it. Do you want to lose weight? OK – perfectly fine WANT. Now lets break it down: lose weight or body fat? How much (kg, lbs, % body fat)? Lose cm? How many? Fit into a size “Q”? Which brand of what? By when? Eat better? How – X servings of foods, Y servings of water, Maximum #of items allowed (servings of alcohol, unsupportive meals, etc.)? Improve your blood pressure? By how much? You’ve got to take the time to be specific if you want your goals to help you.
- Along the same lines: what are your starting points? Take your current measurements, and BEFORE pictures (trust me, you’ll be so very thankful you did), get the details of how current clothing fit (again with pics is best), what you currently eat (5-7 day detailed food diary), medical reports (blood tests, etc.). Successful transformation started with people knowing exactly where they were and where they wanted to be. Armed with those tools, they could map out the daily ABCs (actions, behaviours and choices) that would bridge that gap.
Stay tuned: Body Reshaping Basics #3 – Eat Well.
Reshaping your body – it’s in your power.
Is it complicated? No, it isn’t. In fact, certain fundamental principles repeatedly find their way in almost every body shaping program out there. There really isn’t anything totally ‘new’ – other than perhaps the marketing BS that goes around trying to make you believe something is new so you buy it (spoken from an extensive marketing background here). The good thing is that we know what to do. The bad thing is that we often choose not to do it. We look and find convenient justifications, excuses and reasons NOT to do the things that we KNOW we should do. And do you know what? After repeating those excuses to yourself long enough, your brain starts to believe them. But that doesn’t mean you are doomed to your existing body. Your brain is an incredibly plastic and wondrous thing: what you teach it to believe works both ways…start taking responsibility, trusting in your strength and ability to commit, to make tough choices, to resist temptations, to work TOWARDS your goals and your brain will start to believe that instead. And once your brain believes it, anything is possible.
So the first basic step in reshaping your body is taking responsibility for your actions and acknowledging that working towards goals isn’t complicated, it just isn’t always easy. Tough choices have to be made as it’s those choices, little ones, big ones, frequent ones, etc. – towards or away from your goal – that add up to your result. No one else is responsible for your success but you. Stop blaming your busy schedule, your lack of personal time, your family responsibilities, your stressful job, your old injuries, your medical conditions, your visiting friends/relatives, your or your family’s food preferences, etc. and acknowledge that YOUR DAILY ABCs (actions, behaviors and choices) are what created the body that you already have and will create the body that you will have. No one else can chose that future body but you. You just need to really want it and believe that you deserve it. And trust me, everyone deserves to live in their best, healthy body.
Stay tuned for Basics #2 – Goals.
Ahhhh the end of summer. For some it brings welcome promises of relief from the heat (check), too many travels or even children having gone a bit squirrely from too few friends or too much home time (check). For others, it’s a more melancholic goodbye to slow mornings, special summer foods and activities (check), and reconnecting with far away loved ones (check). Regardless of which side of the fence you might sway (back and forth is perfectly fine), we can all embrace fall for the new opportunities it brings to reengage your fit lifestyle.
ABCs of your Fit Lifestyle
In a nutshell, a fit lifestyle is one where your Actions, Behaviors and Choices support a healthier life for you and your family. Repeatedly done, these ABC make up your habits. The power of your habits is what dictates your successes and misses because you get very good at what you repeatedly do. When you become a pro at dismissing exercise or at sitting on the sofa, changing those habits can seem and feel really hard. But being difficult is no reason not to do something. If it’s important to you, you will find the discipline to do it. Not so important? Excuses will come easily. You need to decide whether living a fitter lifestyle is important to you or not. Only YOU can make that call. If it is – then make your ABCs reflect it. Don’t whine about it, just do it.
All or Nothing?
I believe that your ABCs move you either towards or away from living fit & healthy. There is no Switzerland in fitness. Moving is better than not moving. Mindful practice beats mindless workouts. Eating clean whips bad food choices. Sufficient recovery trumps going hard all the time, anytime. But while it may seem helpful to evaluate each ABC in isolation, you should never forget the context of living. Living is where shades of grey come in. For example, sweets are not ‘healthful’. And yet, we feed our emotional health when we guiltlessly share cake on a child’s birthday. Conversely, our ‘indulgences’ need to be viewed in the context of fitness. When a fit lifestyle is important, then we need to tip the scales towards fit enhancing. Do this enough and you’ve created a fit habit so temptations on the other side have less hold on you. Rather than being a question of all or not healthy, it’s more a question of more fitness and less indulgences. Don’t delude yourself – these are your CHOICES.
5 Fit Lifestyle Tips
With September just around the corner, here are 5 tips to jumpstart your fit lifestyle:
- Drink more water. Sounds simple but it’s true. The amount of water in the adult human body ranges averages between 50% – 65%. Water feeds your body since it is essential for proper circulation of nutrients and is a medium for energy production. It boosts performance since dehydration can lead to weakness, fatigue, dizziness and electrolyte imbalance. It helps promote a healthy bodyweight by controlling your appetite and keeping you full. It helps flush out waste and toxins. It reduces fine lines and makes your skin glow. How much? Shoot for 2L per day as a general rule.
- Keep a food journal. Unwanted, unplanned and surprising. Extra calories creeping into our bodies that we didn’t even enjoy simply because we were not mindful of eating them. Keeping a food log or journal for seven days gives you two of the most effective tools for changing your eating ABCs – acknowledgment and accountability. You can’t change what you don’t know or acknowledge. Pain in the rear end – absolutely. But it works. You decide what’s worse…the inconvenience of keeping a journal for a week or a softer than desired middle.
- Eat more vegetables. Add some…everyone can improve on their rainbow. Every meal – yes even breakfast. How much? Half of your plate.
- Forget juice (not to mention soft drinks). This goes hand in hand with drinking more water. Juice has a lot of sugar with very little fibre. Soda is crap. Instead of a glass of apple juice, try this: alternate drinks of water with bites of an apple. Continue until it’s done. Real hydration, natural vitamins and phytonutrients, lovely fibre…all from real sources.
- Limit extra sugar. I’ll talk about this in a separate post but added sugar is not good. Make small changes: cut ¼ tsp sugar from your tea or coffee. Reduce sugar in your baking. Cut out highly processed & refined foods or at least reduce your consumption. Don’t believe packaging: question all marketing claims and judge for yourself.
A Fit Lifestyle is yours for the taking and starts with your daily ABCs – actions, behaviors and choices. Notice the word YOUR twice so far? It’s because it’s all about you. Not your job, nor your family, nor your sore knee, nor your medical history. If it’s important to you, you can CHOSE to make changes. Yes it might take time, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t worth it. Remember that small changes are what bigger changes are made up of so it’s not an all or nothing thing. Make your choices. Own them. And if you need help to get started, or for a kick in the pants, I’m here.
And because you’ve been so nice reading up to here, I’ve included a few extra bonus tips to consider.
- Think. As you face ABCs think of the consequences of your actions. You have the power to make choices: either towards or away from your fit lifestyle. It’s ok to chose an indulgence once an a while…we’re just getting used to being mindful about them to diminish their power as less healthful habits.
- Plan ahead. Pull out your calendar and start to find opportunities for regular exercise and more active living. Set aside some time every week to prepare foods – cutting vegetables, preparing meats, portioning snacks.
PS: Today’s post has been about the general context of a fit lifestyle. I’ve purposefully not delved in the realm of working towards specific fitness goals, nor have I addressed the pursuit of physical excellence. For either, the scales are a stricter and in some cases, such as elite levels of performance, ABCs to achieve it often comes with a price. I’ll cover each of these in future posts.
Intentions are merely wishes. Wishes are dreams with no deadlines. Actions are what life is made of.
Guilty. My first attempt at blogging fell into the trap of so many others…self doubt. What did I have to say that was interesting enough for people to read? Do I really think I’m that good that people will want to read my blog? Am I that arrogant? Why compound the very real challenge we all face of information overload? I’m not a writer. What can I offer that’s not already being offered? Etc. Not surprising that with so many voices in my head I lost the desire to continue. But what I’ve never lost is my passion to make the world a fitter and healthier place, to help people discover the joys of movement, to sift through mounds of conflicting BS more easily and to provide an often needed reality check with a good dose of tough love. Part of that passion came to fruition when KULT Fitness opened it’s doors. And so though the work done at the studio, I am blessed with the opportunity to touch lives. But I’m a little greedy – I want to touch more. So I’ve realized that blogging is a way for me to spread my reach. To share my passion and help people, few as they might be, possibly take a journey with me towards a fitter life. It’s our actions, behaviours and choices that make up who we are and power our dreams. So in this blog, I hope you’ll take the journey with me. I welcome feedback, ideas, comments or a simple hello. Life’s long…and short. So no whining.
Here is the introduction to my previous blog. Those that know me will recognize that I’ve not changed.
In my 17+ (MK: 19 years now) years in the fitness industry, I’ve read a lot of related books, tried and tested countless ‘new’ exercise and diet programs, fielded a lot of fitness and nutrition questions, given motivational pep talks, provided an available shoulder for any form of support, been an avid fan of my student’s improving efforts and results, had my fair share of rants, train smart and eat well tidbits, inspired a few to finally take action to change their lives, likely bored others with dissertations and possibly insulted a few with my zero tolerance of whining policy. It was at the suggestion of a few current kettlebell students that I put my ramblings on paper that sparked the creation of this blog. So here I am.
Our bodies are designed to move, and move well. Unfortunately, our modern lifestyles of too much sitting (and badly at that), general inactivity and poor eating habits has wreaked havoc with the beautiful functioning our bodies were designed for. Loss of mobility and flexibility. Inefficient and/or dysfunctional movement patterns. Poor postural habits. Over fat. Under strong. Reduced endurance. Low energy. Strong food cravings. Wishful thinking that 5 hours of exercise per week will make up for bad eating, lack of activity and dodgy postural habits the remaining 163 hours. That’s what a modern lifestyle has brought to many. But it doesn’t have to be. It’s time to face the truth that each one of us(*) is responsible for the bodies that we have. No one else can take the blame – not your parents, your children, your job, your sore knee, your visiting family, your busy schedule, etc. YOU make your choices to eat what you do and to move like you do – or not to. But that’s just it – it is YOUR CHOICE. And because of that, it is totally in YOUR POWER to change your body and your life.
Move well. Train smart. Eat well. Be strong. Live fit. Love life. These are my choices. So if you chose to follow my blog, you’ll hopefully get some idea of how I approach any of these in addition to some tough love: stop your whining, get off your a$$ and stop putting crap in your mouth. Politically correct – likely not. But I’m not about coddling people into believing that it’s not their fault that they’re carrying around too much fat, that their knees hurt because they did squats (BTW it’s not the squat that hurts your knees it’s how YOU do the squats that hurts your knees; and if you have a bad back you MUST look at how you move – this speaks directly to the move WELL), that pushups are hard, that they HAVE to have that drink with dinner…No, I’m not about denial. However, I will give you (virtual) hug if you need one, listen to your challenges and tell you that everyone (me too) faces setbacks. I will also follow that up with helping you find the “ok, NOW what?” If you’re serious about improving your strength and fitness, I’m serious about helping you. The impact on how your body looks and feels will be the lovely side effect of our efforts.
I hope you’ll join me.
(*) Granted not everyone has won the genetic lottery. There are some people who have legitimate impairments that affect how they can move and process food. However, even these people can be held accountable for their choices to make the best out of unfortunate circumstances. Beating cancer is hard. Having only one leg hard. Choosing to move your body instead of watching TV and not putting cream in your coffee IS NOT HARD. Perspective people. You created those habits – now create new ones.
Living in the desert, I often hear more complaints about the blinding sun, dusty air and heat than I hear compliments on rarely having to plan weekends around weather, the beautiful mornings and lovely evenings. Now that KULT doors are finally open, even with all it’s fantastic natural lighting, I’m missing my morning outdoor training sessions.
A recent tidbit from Women’s Health Magazine recommended exposing yourself to light early in the morning as opposed to later in the day. Apparently morning light more effectively to synchronizes your internal body clock, which means that you’re more likely to have a natural and steady sleep schedule. In turn, that steady sleep schedule helps your metabolism run more efficiently. And who doesn’t want a more efficient metabolism since it plays an important part in maintaining a healthy body composition. The second reason that morning light may help your body comp plays off of the first. By nature, morning light is much stronger than afternoon or evening light. That’s because there’s a higher amount of blue light in the morning — and blue light is the kind that has the strongest effect on your circadian rhythm, say researchers. Better rhythm, better sleep, less stress…all good things. I’ll also add we need our daily dose of sunshine to help our bodies to produce vitamin D, which is critical to health. So many of us are covered up with either protective clothing, masses of sunscreen or stay inside to avoid the rays that we’re at a very real risk of becoming deficient. Because the rays are less strong in the morning, we can help our bodies with a little less risk of premature aging. Again, who doesn’t want that?
So before school starts, my challenge for you is to get up a little earlier — you’ll need to shift your schedule soon at any rate — and spend 15 minutes outside. You can play with your children or simply enjoy your morning’s beverage of choice. Lets me know how you feel at the end of the week.