Category: Fitness

Posts to catalyze your fitness life!

A Better Body in Minutes per Day!

A Better Body in Minutes per Day!

This is no gimmick, and I’m not here to sell you the next great exercise machine for 4 easy payments!  The key to a better body and great fitness is applying a few life principles such as the “Pareto principle” and “How to Eat an Elephant” to your workouts.

Most people start working out with workouts that are too hard, too fast, too soon.  They will get so sore the first workout that they don’t even come back for the 2nd time, or at best do it for a few weeks. Working out less, but regularly, throughout the months and years will take you significantly further than those intense “P90X”  extreme workouts that you will quit in a month if not a week. Sustainability is the key!

How to Eat an Elephant:  Lets talk about sustainability and how to eat an elephant first.  You want to do something you can continue to do for the rest of your life without it becoming a drudgery.  Let’s face it, lifting weights isn’t a whole lot of fun.  But, if you break it up throughout the day, you can do it without even breaking a sweat. As important as building muscle, is building the habit!  “Eating an elephant” means breaking up any over sized task into manageable bites.  Over sized tasks can be overwhelming in size or in difficulty.  A big 1 hour workout can be too much to take on many days.  It takes time to rest between sets, time you could be doing something else besides wishing the workout was over.  So, why not do your “3 sets” throughout the day instead of all at once?  In the morning, do a set before you shower, a second set after you shower, and a final set when you get home from work.  You’ve done your same 3 sets, and probably did each set a little better than if they were done all at once, and you didn’t even notice you’d worked out.  I do abs and chest one day, and biceps and back the next.  I workout every day, but alternating back and forth allows the muscles to rest and repair. For legs and glutes, I do lunges and plyometrics to build muscle every other day, and racquetball or Zumba every other day for cardio/aerobic fitness.  Granted, there is not a way to break up the cardio/aerobic fitness throughout your day, but everything else can be.  If you have no equipment at home, it will be difficult to apply this principle, but you could still do calisthenic or plyometric sorts of exercises.

If you must go to the gym I suggest you work on sustainability there too.  I’m always tempted to lift heavier and heavier weights, or push a cardio machine further and further.  This is unsustainable.  If you don’t end up with an injury, you’ll burn out or start skipping workouts.  Do a moderate amount of weight or cardio and do it regularly.  This will result in a sustainability that keeps you strong, lean, and feeling good.

Pareto Principle: Muscle burns calories, and the more muscle you have, the more calories you will burn even when at rest (your metabolism will rise).  So, to lose weight, you need to build muscle. I have found that no matter how much cardio exercise I get, I don’t lose weight unless I include some weight training to build muscle.  To apply the Pareto principle to your muscles and your workout, think about your biggest muscles as well as what will enhance your looks the most if that is your goal for working out.  One little muscle in your forearm might be important for a body builder, but probably not worth the time to isolate and work by itself for the rest of us.  It can get worked as a side effect of working something more important such as your biceps, triceps, or chest muscles. 80% of your improvements in metabolism and looks can be done by working 20% of your muscles.

Glutes and Legs – these are your largest muscles and can increase your metabolism the fastest.  If you do nothing else, work these muscle groups as a minimum and you can get results.  I used to walk to work every day which was about 45 minutes to an hour both ways.  Doing just that, I was able to eat anything I liked without gaining weight, and I probably lost some weight.  Not to mention what a long walk twice a day did for my mental health. If I had added in a few sets of lunges along the way, I’m certain I would have lost weight.

Make It Fun: I mentioned earlier in this article that lifting weights is just no fun and therefore unsustainable for most people.  The same goes for exercise machines.  I feel like I have a fair amount of discipline, but it is just too mind numbing for me to get on a treadmill or just about any exercise machine 3 times a week for any amount of time.  What I do love to do for any length of time is play a sport like racquetball, tennis, badminton, etc.  I will do this for hours on end without ever noticing I’m “working out”.  Another thing that is almost as good as a sport is taking a class such as Zumba, Dance Blast, etc at my local fitness club.  Once you get over “dancing in public” without a beverage to relax your inhibitions, it’s a lot of laughs and a lot of unnoticed exercise.

Don’t Over Do It:  I was reminded of this life/exercise theory just last week while travelling for work.  The place I was going to had the best food imaginable for lunches, and dining out every evening was beginning to take a toll on my waist line.  I had been doing pretty well at eating manageable portion sizes, but the food was just too rich.  So, on Wednesday, out of guilt, I did a lot more exercise than I normally would, trying to make up for it.  Thursday and Friday, I could hardly move without excruciating pain and didn’t do any workout at all.  Saturday I was still extremely sore, but finally was able to do 1/2 of what I would usually do.   You will end up working out less if you do too much.  So, start out pretty easy, and gradually work yourself up to bigger workouts, larger reps, more sets, etc. Remember to find a moderate level to stay at permanently too.  You will only set yourself back if you do too much too soon.

Injury prevention:  I see people taking huge risks all the time with their workouts.  I see people pushing their bodies beyond what they were made to do all the time.  Things like straight arm weight lifting (imagine a slow motion jumping jack with heavy weights). Yeah, it really works the shoulder muscle hard, but one day that shoulder is going to give out on you.  Then, you are not going to work out for 6 months while you recover.  There are hundreds of safe ways to workout every muscle on your body, so why risk an injury?  Think twice about the leverage, stress, and strain you are putting on your joints before doing an exercise.  Shoulders and knees are what I see people risking the most often.  Take plyometric jumping for example.  I see people jumping on and off platforms, usually very unsteady platforms, or even worse, bleachers!  You are really asking for it.  And by “it”, I don’t mean a staring role on Funniest Home Video’s.  You don’t need to take this risk.  Just jump as high as you can from solid ground, reaching for the stars.  Do 3 sets of 20 of these and see if you aren’t completely wiped out.  You get the same exercise, and almost zero risk of injury.

In summary, work your biggest muscles, one set at a time throughout the day, in safe ways, and increase reps/sets gradually to a moderate level. Also find some fun activities that you can do regularly and trick yourself into a workout.

 

Weight Loss Can Be Fast and Sustainable

Weight Loss Can Be Fast and Sustainable

The Pareto principle says that 80% of consequences stem from 20% of causes, aka, the 80/20 rule. This is true in many categories of your life, be that work, study, diet, habits, practically anything you can think of.  This principle can be used to help you lose weight fast!

Apply The Pareto Principle To Your Diet to Lose Weight

If you are overweight and want to see a remarkable change, just eliminate your biggest weakness.  When your weakness is just one thing (like sodas) it is a lot easier to remove than all things of that category (like all sweets).  If sodas are your weakness, get rid of them.  Find something you like to drink that has zero calories instead.  Surely there is something.  For me, this would be Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls.  These are very dangerous for me.  I like them so much, I run the risk of eating an entire box in a day!  So, I eliminate them and eat something I like (Oreos), but that I seem to have some control over.

Some people are sweet snackers, some are savory snackers, and some are beer drinkers.  So, if eliminating one item within these categories doesn’t do much for you because you have 50 other choices, you may need to eliminate the category itself.  You’ve been eating these things for years, so you may need to replace it with something healthy just to satisfy the habit.

The key to getting rid of your food weakness is discipline.  If you can’t master yourself, be sure that you know yourself.  That means don’t even bring it into the house if you know you won’t have the discipline to leave it alone.  If there are others in your household who want it in the house, ask them to help you be accountable.

It is the simplest thing to do.  Eliminate your food weakness, and you’ll definitely start losing weight.

Get Comfortable with Discomfort

Get Comfortable with Discomfort

We all think we want a life of leisure, but it doesn’t end well if we are successful in that.  Although it sounds bad, a life of discomfort will set you up for success, health, and joy. Even though it sounds good, a life of leisure will lead to failure, disease, and disappointment. You might think a weekend of sitting on the couch, eating your favorite pleasure foods, drinking your favorite beverages, and watching your favorite football teams or movies would be wonderful. It is, on occasion, and in moderation. If your life defaults to this mode, you will end up fat, diseased, and incapable of doing things that require even a little physical or mental strength. No one is handing out trophies or getting paid for you doing the easy things in life.

Adversity is the ruler of the weak, but an instrument of the wise!

The difficult I do today, the impossible might take a little longer!

A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him!

If you want to experience achievement, success, and enjoyment in your life, you will need to embrace discomfort. The definition of success in it’s simplest form is overcoming an obstacle. Until I wrote this post I never understood mountain climbers or rock wall enthusiasts. I had always thought it was such a waste of time and effort. However, what they are really doing is getting that dopamine rush we all get by accomplishing something difficult. Perhaps you know someone at work who is like the rock climber, who seeks out the hardest projects. You can bet that this person enjoys their work a lot more and gets paid a lot more than the one who is putting just as much effort into getting out of work.

You are not getting out of this life alive, you know. And, you are not going to avoid a lot of adversity along the way either. If you are running from adversity, you better get a good pair of running shoes because you will be running for the rest of your life. So, welcome the obstacles that come into your life as a chance to achieve, a chance for a rush of dopamine, a chance to gain instead of lose.

Fitness and weight loss is another great application for this life lesson. You simply cannot lose weight and get in better shape without a lot of discomfort. You can choose to stay comfortably where you are or experience some discomfort in a better direction. Our stomachs growl and we seek to immediately quiet them down with whatever is available. Instead of letting that slight discomfort be satisfied, enjoy it for a while. Think of it as pleasurable to burn a few fatty deposits for a little while. Don’t just think of it as discomfort. You will not be able to eat the most comforting of foods either. Gain a lasting trophy of fitness, attractiveness, and health through healthy eating rather than the short term reward of delicious junk food and it’s lasting trophies of weight gain and disease.

While you are busy taking the hard way, the road less travelled, don’t forget to rest on occasion.  I am a firm believer in “all things in moderation”, and sometimes we need a day of downtime.  Just be sure your habit is one of enterprise, not laziness.

Don’t believe that you can’t buy happiness. Buy it with discomfort, not money! Happiness comes from success which comes from overcoming obstacles, and that will be uncomfortable.  So, get uncomfortable, motivate yourself for adversity, and succeed today!

Delayed Gratification For Success

Delayed Gratification For Success

What is Delayed Gratification

Delayed gratification refers to the ability to put off something mildly fun or pleasurable now, in order to gain something that is more fun, pleasurable, or rewarding later. For example, you could watch TV the night before an exam, or you could practice delayed gratification and study for the exam.

Delayed gratification is one of those fundamental skills that is hard to see in the moment, but becomes very obvious over a long period of time.  To be successful in life, you will have to master the tyranny of your desires.  The greater your ability to sacrifice today, the greater your success will be later in life.

“He who controls others may be powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still.” – Lao Tzu

Stanford University Marshmallow Study on Delayed Gratification

Back in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s  psychologist Walter Mischel of Stanford University performed a study on delayed gratification.  In these studies, a child was offered a choice between one small reward (marshmallow) provided immediately or two small rewards if they waited for a short period, approximately 15 minutes, during which the tester left the room and then returned.  In follow-up studies, the researchers found that children who were able to wait longer for the preferred rewards tended to have better life outcomes, as measured by SAT scores, educational attainment, body mass index (BMI), and other life measures.

It wasn’t that the children who could wait had better genetics than the ones that couldn’t. They were simply better at distracting themselves.  They would sing, walk about, kick the table, do just about anything to keep their mind off the temptation.  If you remain in the presence of and with a focus on the temptation, your willpower will not be enough.  Keep yourself distracted until either you or the temptation are separated.  Go and do something productive to not only distract you but to achieve something as well.  Focus on the goals you are trying to reach that the current temptation will distance you from.

“Always remember, your focus determines your reality” – George Lucas

Delayed Gratification Will Make You Successful Financially

Your finances are the easiest thing to see where delayed gratification will reap benefits.  Without a good practice of delayed gratification, you will end up with mountains of debt and never being able to retire.  Those small daily spending habits certainly add up.  I used to know a guy who went to an expensive coffee shop twice a day.  No kidding, he was spending $10 or more per day just for coffee.  He was smart, but obviously not good at math.  That is $3650 a year just for coffee!  He could have purchased a decent used car with coffee money.  Math is your ally when considering a recurring expense.  Before you make the purchase, multiply it out and decide if the purchase is better than what you could buy at the end of the year.  Besides, the coffee you make at home would probably taste better and be less fattening.

Retirement is an area people struggle mightily with delayed gratification.  It is so hard to decline today’s desire for a need you might have 50 years from now.  The worst case scenario isn’t that you’ll be dead by then and have missed out on so much.  The worst case scenario is that you’ll be alive bye then and have too little to live comfortably.  Neither your brain nor your body will be in great shape to work, but you’ll have to because of the petty purchases you made in your 20’s.  It is hard to see as a young person, or even middle aged person.  It will be starkly obvious as an old person.

“Don’t give up what you want most for what you want now.” – Richard G. Scott

Delayed Gratification Will Make You Successful in Health and Fitness

Your health is probably the hardest thing to know without a doubt how the lack of delayed gratification will add up.  You will even use the argument of “who knows if we’ll even be alive tomorrow” to justify your indulgence of the day.  Either way, you will not be better off by indulging today.  The amount of pain and suffering you will experience in later years, as a result of the indulgences of a lifetime, will be far worse than suffering through today’s denial of one temptation.  Whether it is smoking, drinking, junk food, or lack of exercise, you are making deposits into the account of your health.  Keep your focus on the “balance” of your account.  Don’t skim over this paragraph.  Re-read it, and meditate on it.  It is important that you “know” this, understand this, and weave this into your thoughts and life.

Anticipation is More Enjoyable Than Instant Gratification

You don’t have to avoid every indulgence for the rest of your life.  Indulgences just need to be the exception rather than the rule in your daily habits.  You will find the indulgence yields far greater pleasure if you have to wait for it.  We live in a “now” world these days and waiting for something is a lost art.  I can shop on my phone and have just about anything I want delivered in an hour or two.  There is nothing wrong with that, but I could end up buying things I’ve not thought through.  Impulse purchasing.

The thought of the object of desire is always better than the execution.  Most of the cars I’ve bought over the years were wildly exciting the day I bought them.  It didn’t take long until they turned into just another way to get from point A to point B.  Never have I been thrilled with the indulgent item I ate or drank after it was consumed and frequently I have felt terrible afterward.  It seems that only recently have my purchases been satisfying for longer periods of time.  Hopefully that is a result of putting more thought into what I buy.  All of the things I have purchased 15 years ago are now gone.  Focusing on what you will feel like months after obtaining the desired object might dissuade you from getting it.

In summary, whether the choice is about what you eat/drink, how you spend your money, or how you spend your time, learn to bypass the empty calories in life so that you will have a more abundant life in the future.

“Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t so you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t.” – Author Unknown