American Pharaoh and a Champion’s Mindset

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I have been very intrigued with racehorses as of recently.

 

Actually. I wouldn’t quite say recently… but since American Pharaoh won the Triple Crown last year I have been even more interested in the finer details of horse racing.

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Eventually I would like to go the Kentucky Derby or the Belmont, if only to dress in a nice suit, smoke a cigar and have a nice glass of scotch at the races.

 

I don’t think I can quite pinpoint exactly what that reason is for my interest (outside the scotch and cigars).

 

Maybe it is the lack of drama involved in the athletes.

 

Ever hear about Secretariat trying to re-negotiate a higher paying contract?

 

Me either.

 

As I write this and continue to think more about it, really it is the mentality that astounds me.

 

Yes, I am talking about the mentality of the horses.

 

Think about it for a second…

 

When these athletes (and yes, they are very much athletes in every since of the word) train, they just do.

 

No questions asked. No complaints. They don’t quit because they ‘feel tired.’ They have one gear.

 

Go.

 

No other circumstances matter.

 

Imagine if human athletes adopted this philosophy. Or really imagine if humans, in general, practiced this philosophy.

 

We hire a coach (a good one) and we just do exactly as we are told.

 

No fanfare. No drama. No “I think we should do it my way instead.”

 

Now granted I am not advocating that we become emotionless slave robots without a personality.

 

That would be too boring.

 

I am merely stating that in our occupations, our passions, the things that are worth working for, we use our judgment and do our research to acquire a solid, well-versed mentor with knowledge above and beyond our ability, and we learn from them.

 

We follow their instructions to a tee. Even if it means we do something we don’t necessarily agree with or something that makes us uncomfortable.

 

The racehorse fully embodies this mentality.

 

The coach is free to design and monitor progress, see what works and what doesn’t work in a very quick period of time, and fine tune the program specific to the horses strengths and weaknesses.

 

Whereas, if we add the human element, it gets a little more complicated.

 

As humans, we seem to be programmed for self-sabotage.

 

We (including myself in this as well; I am absolutely far from perfect) throw out excuse after excuse as to why something doesn’t work.

 

We always look for the quick fix and get frustrated when it does not happen soon enough.

 

We blame others for our own mistakes.

 

Really, we are an interesting bunch.

 

But if we simply adopted the mindset of the racehorse I believe we could become incredibly efficient in any of our endeavors, including outside of athletic pursuits.

 

This does necessitate one key element, however.

 

A good coach.

 

This is where we need to be picky and do our homework.

 

In business terms, a company is only as good as the person at the top. The CEO. If we look at our lives as our business, then that makes us our own leader/CEO.

 

Scary thought for some of us.

 

When we finally start to think that we know it all (and many of us do). We instantly stop our growth. We stop learning and stagnate, allowing a more humble individual to pass us up in very little time.

 

I have always gone by the idea that if you cease to improve yourself, you are getting worse.

 

I know for a fact that horrifies me because I know I suck at a lot of things. I am just too stubborn, most of the time, to admit to it.

 

Back to my point.

 

If we put our time and effort into doing our research and picking a great coach, and we step back and just ‘GO,’ like American Pharaoh, then I believe we can accomplish 80-90% more in the time we are given.

 

There is a catch.

 

Many times, a coach tells us to do things we don’t want to do.

 

“Avoid eating sugar for a few weeks.”

 

“We are going to do some sprinting intervals.”

 

“I’d like for you to track your food every day for the next month.”

 

Whatever it may be, they are telling us to do it because it will make us better. They are telling us to do something that is uncomfortable because they know that change does not come easy.

 

In fact, change never comes easy. Ever. If it does, it usually is not worthwhile or fulfilling.

 

This is why we hire the coach in the first place.

 

So do yourself a favor…

 

  1. Be humble enough to hire a good coach/mentor(Do your research on this one)
  2. Adopt the race horse mentality and just GO

 

Do these 2 things and watch yourself achieve your metaphorical “Triple Crown” with a champion’s mindset.

 

Thor of the Avengers and How to Count Macronutrients

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ThorFair warning: This title can be deceptive. Yes, Thor does make an appearance in this article, but not in the way you may expect.

 

First, we need to determine the individual’s BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate). To do this we have a few equations that we can choose from. I am going to use the Katch-McArdle as I am most familiar with it.

 

You can use any of them that you please but you might as well just use this one to prevent having to google others and learning how to use those:

 

BMR = 370 + (9.82 * LBM)

 

Here, LBM is lean body mass. This is simply how much you would weigh without any body fat at all. It can be determined by obtaining your body fat percentage, which is usually done with calipers.

 

If you don’t have some, either buy a pair because they are cheap, or go to your local gym and have them do it.

 

YOU NEED TO KNOW YOUR BODY FAT PERCENTAGE!

 

For learning purposes let’s assume that we have a 200-pound male with a body fat percentage of 20%. Doing the math this would mean that this person has 40 pounds of body fat and 160 pounds of lean mass.

 

We can now plug in these numbers to calculate this person’s BMR.

 

BMR = 370 + (9.82 * 160) = 1941

 

This number is the amount, in calories, that this person would burn at rest. That is, no activity, whatsoever.

 

We know that most do not have the luxury to be able to watch Netflix all day so we will assume that they are at least somewhat active.

 

This means that we will have to account for the energy burned (calories) according to their activity level.

 

Therefore, we will multiply this number by an activity multiplier to determine daily caloric expenditure.

 

We have anywhere from sedentary, which will be around 1.2, to extremely active, which will be around the 1.7 – 1.9 range.

 

Note: 1.7 should be the highest anyone goes for the average person. Anywhere above would designate close to professional athlete level of exercise (or a freakishly high metabolism).

 

Let’s say our guy works at a desk from 9-5, but manages to go to the gym 3 times a week for an hour.

 

For this level of activity I would estimate his activity multiplier to be about a 1.4.

 

Sorry guys. This is not an exact science. Even with all of the math and the equations this is still only an educated guessing game.

 

Albeit, a game that I have gotten relatively good at.

 

So using this in the equation we get…

 

1.4(1941) = 2717 calories

 

Now we have his daily caloric expenditure. If he was to eat this same amount every day, he would maintain his current weight and body fat percentage.

 

However, said person is looking to lean up a bit.

 

How would he do that?

 

Since weight loss is predicated on a caloric deficit we need to find a way to decrease his caloric expenditure.

 

The easiest way to do this is to decrease his caloric intake by 500 calories a day.

 

If a pound of fat is roughly 3500 calories, this means that Joe will lose a pound a week maintaining this deficit.

 

For those of you that don’t know, this is healthy weight loss.

 

So let’s say that our guy (We will call him Thor because I’m an Avengers fan) needs to eat 2217 a day to lose weight.

 

Yes, in my story Thor is an average male in need of shedding a few pounds. Thor is long retired and in the middle of his mid-life crisis.

 

Now we need to divide this into macronutrients.

 

Understand that, per gram, macronutrients have different caloric densities:

 

Protein = 4 calories/gram

 

Carbohydrate (carbs) = 4 calories/gram

 

Fat = 9 calories/gram

 

We need certain amounts of each of these macronutrients in order to properly function.

 

For weight loss, we will need Thor’s protein to be about 0.75 – 0.8 grams per pound of body weight.

 

So Thor will need about 150 grams of protein. This will equate to 600 calories (150 x 4).

 

Fat is usually around 0.3 – 0.4 grams per pound of bodyweight.

 

This will yield us 60 grams of fat and 540 calories.

 

To determine carb intake we will use simple math to figure out what remains of our 2217 calories.

 

2217 – (600 + 540) = 1077 calories

 

We will divide this number by 4, since there are 4 calories in every gram of carbohydrate to obtain our goal number of carbs for Thor’s fat loss program.

 

This gives us 269 grams of carbs.

 

Our final numbers would thus be:

 

Protein = 150g

 

Carbohydrate = 269g

 

Fat = 60g

 

Total calories = 2217

 

If Thor is consistent he will dramatically and consistently decrease his body fat levels and increase his lean mass (read: muscle).

 

He will now be, once again, worthy to wield Mjolnir.

 

Note: I am a nerd. Get over it.

 

Note that as time goes along and lean mass increases, so does the BMR, which means that these numbers will have to be continually monitored and tweaked to obtain the ideal macronutrients.

 

However, this is by far my favorite way to eat, as it is specific and allows for flexibility in diet.

 

By that I mean that you can do whatever is necessary to hit these macronutrient numbers, so long as it fits within the specifications of the diet.

 

Of course I always encourage eating nutrient dense foods such as lean meats, fruits & veggies, nuts and seeds along with lots of water. However, this plan allows for you to have a donut here and there if you really need to scratch the sugar itch.

 

Everything in moderation.

 

Find this article interesting? Maybe you didn’t? Follow along with my blog for others! Or email me at support@gusworden.com! I would love to hear your criticisms/comments. 

The Perfect Fitness Program

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I get a lot of questions about programming that usually present themselves in some way, shape or form similar to the following:

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“What is the best program I can do to (fill in the blank with… fat loss/gain strength/add muscle/tone)?’

 

Side note: I really hate it when people tell me they just want to “tone.” But that will most likely be a whole other article.

 

  1. First and foremost, nutrition lies at the foundation of any one of these goals.

 

This is where 80% of your results will come from in any of the given options above.

 

Unfortunately this is also where I have to place the most emphasis with my clients, because for some reason, telling them that the food choices they make will determine how close they get to reaching their goal is pretty close to the result of attempting to persuade a Bernie Sanders supporter to vote for Trump.

 

For some reason many refuse to accept it. Animosity ensues.

 

Disclaimer: the above statements have nothing to do with reflecting my political affiliations. I will keep those to myself.

 

I believe the reasoning is because it is much easier for a person to add 3-5 30 minute workouts throughout the course of the week, than it is to give up the before bedtime bowl of ice cream.

 

It is almost like telling someone they need to break up with their abusive and demeaning boyfriend (or sometimes girlfriend). They realize they need to but for some reason they find security in their strained relationship.

 

Ironic, yes?

 

An object in rest/in motion will remain in rest/in motion unless acted upon by an outside force.

 

Isaac Newton had it right. Little did he know his law would very much apply to habit change as well.

 

  1. The mindset has to change.

 

Normally I would put this first, as the mind, in my own humble opinion, is one of the most powerful forces on the planet (maybe outside of our unwillingness to change our habits).

 

However, I decided to make the notion of nutrition the top priority to ingrain the idea and the notion that nutrition matters!

 

Essentially this is me, attempting to get your mind to focus on what matters, which, simultaneously means that I am also trying changing your mindset.

 

See what I did there?

 

The mind is incredible in it’s ability to interpret reality.

 

To try and explain what I mean by that, think of it in these terms:

 

I have heard multiple stories about very happy people who will go into the doctor’s office for an annual check-up and walk out with the diagnosis of a terminal or debilitating illness.

 

Before the appointment, they had not a care in the world and loved life, displaying no signs of any symptoms, whatsoever.

 

Suddenly, this same person is now in a wheelchair, not 5 days later, with a defeatist attitude and expressing every manifestation of every symptom related to that disease and sometimes more.

 

What changed?

 

Was the disease that aggressive that within 5 days of that doctor’s visit, every cell in their body is feeling the effects?

 

Possibly. But I doubt it.

 

The biggest change that I see is the change of mindset.

 

This is the same reason that those with the same terminal illness (like stage 4 cancer) can be told that they won’t live another 6 months, but then go on to fight it and end up living another 5, 10, 15 years cancer free!

 

The bottom line is that YOU decide whether or not you will succeed. If there are people out there beating stage 4 cancer, you can beat a little candy craving and eat a carrot stick instead.

 

  1. Find a basic workout program and stick to it.

 

I get it.

 

It can be very easy to try and find the ‘new best thing’ in a workout program.

 

However, as long as the program is progressive, safe and fun for you to do, then it will work.

 

This can be anything from something I have written (I will be posting some in the near future) to a home DVD workout series like P90X.

 

All that matters is that you actually DO it.

 

Note: If it sounds too good to be true, it is.

 

Take a page out of Nike’s book and remember that this is the area of lesser importance as it relates to nutrition. So put the majority of your emphasis on planning and preparing your food, and then, and only then, hit your workout.

 

  1. Focus, intensity and consistency

 

I’m not one for the whole ‘anything worth doing is worth overdoing’ mentality, but some people almost need to hear these words to understand this point.

 

Consistency is key. If you remain consistent and diligent throughout your workout program, ensuring that you have your meals ready before the next day begins and your workout is already in your schedule then you will win. You will see results.

 

There is no half way doing something in health and fitness. If your doctor prescribes you a medication, do you only take it when you feel like it is convenient to you?

 

Do you say “I don’t really feel like taking my blood pressure medicine this week, so I’m just going to hold off for now?”

 

I’m sure your doctor would be tickled.

 

Or as it pertains to work, I’m sure your boss would be thrilled if you told him that ‘working just isn’t convenient for me today so I’m going to go back to sleep.”

 

The point is that there are not a lot of things in life you can ‘kinda’ commit to. Health is no different.

 

So if you really want to see results, focus on what needs to be done (not necessarily what you want to do), and attack it with intensity and consistency, and over time you (and all your friends) will notice some pretty awesome changes in your body.

 

  1. Motivate yourself DAILY!

 

“Some people say motivation doesn’t last. Well neither does bathing. That’s why I recommend doing both daily.”

 

            -Zig Ziglar

 

I think it would be pretty sweet if you were able to ride those giant waves of motivation that you get when you finally decide to tackle something huge, like a fitness program, or starting a business, maybe running a marathon.

 

However, the harsh reality is that it very much does not last. In fact I find myself, literally daily, struggling with keeping my motivation high.

 

Therefore, the above quote I take quite literally. Every single day, I find something to motivate me towards my goals. And I tend to set goals that make me pretty nervous, so much so that, at first, I question myself as to whether or not I can even do it.

 

But that really is the beauty of it all. If everything that we wanted were easily attainable, or we only set goals that we know we can hit, we will never feel the satisfaction of tackling something that seemed impossible.

 

And really, life would be pretty boring.

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Even if we don’t hit it, we grow immensely through the process. And the place that we end up is one that is considerably better than where we started.

 

Motivation is the life-blood of our goals. It can be anything. Find a video, an article, a person you look up to, maybe a bible verse, literally anything that makes you desire to get up early and attack your goals day in and day out.

 

Because it is not a question of “will my motivation run out,” but “when.” And for most people that happens a lot sooner than they originally expect going into their goal.

 

This can be avoided. Take my advice (and mr. Ziglar’s) and every day, before you begin your day’s work, watch that five minute video clip that lights a fire and allows you to take the blows that life gives you and attack what you deem to be important.

 

Becoming healthy and fit really is not terribly hard. We just tend to overcomplicate the process and it becomes paralysis by analysis, as most of us have no clue where to start with all the weight loss propaganda lying around these days.

 

So in summary:

  1. Nutrition comes first
  2. Cultivate an unbeatable mindset
  3. Keep the workout program simple and stick to it
  4. Keep focused on your goal
  5. Stay motivated

 

Good Luck!

Setting Constraints to Manifest Goals: Becoming Super-Human at Time Management

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Time is easily our most valuable resource.

 

But, Why?

 

Everyone is allotted the same 24 hours as everyone else. Those people who are successful have somehow found a way to create even more hours during their day. They have transcended time, space and the laws of physics to enable themselves to engineer and fabricate extra minutes, seemingly at will.

 

How do we recognize these super men and women of the clock? Usually it is pretty easy. Think of the most successful person you know and you will begin to get my drift.

 

It just seems that for them somehow everything falls into place. They have it all figured out. With, what appears to be just an unfair amount of serendipity, they are able to make the day bend to their will.

 

They make the hours obey them as opposed to the other way around.

 

Because of all this, they seem to be the only ones that, not only accomplish, but nail all of their goals.

 

For us mere mortals who desire even a small taste of that success, how do we begin to craft out these extra seconds during the day in order to get more done?

 

The easy answer is time management.

 

But I’m sure that won’t make you listen to the rest of what I have to say, so I will give you the long form version.

 

Keep in mind this is my spin on taking advantage of every waking second that the day has to offer. I have done a lot of reading and research on the many ‘time travelers’ and ‘productivity super humans’ to come up with my own ‘mortal’ version of the elusive time management.

 

First I want to start by saying that, for me, routine is key. I base just about everything around some form of a routine.

 

Looking at many of the successful humans of the past, they were entrenched with rigorous, and sometimes very quirky and bizarre, routines. However, it obviously worked for them.

 

To give a few examples:

 

One of the founding fathers of America, Benjamin Franklin, had a very strict routine that he wrote out in a journal. He kept a visible template of the hours of the day labeled with specific activities occupying each hour.

ben-franklin-routine

Easily ascertained from this picture is his famous cliché, “early to bed, early to rise…”

 

However, his bedtime was not the sole reason for his success. Something that I really like from Mr. Franklin, was the emphasis on the questions he consistently asked himself throughout the day.

 

Starting every day with “what good shall I do this day?” and ending with “what good have I done today?” essentially allows him to hold himself accountable to his daily tasks and goals, as well as sets the framework as to how the rest of the day is structured.

 

Fast forward to modern day and a man by the name of Warren Buffett. His method is a bit different than that of Franklin.

 

A man made through investments, he reportedly spends 80% of his day reading.

 

When he is not doing that he is deep in thought on assessing the worth of different companies.

 

Author and lawyer, John Grisham, would stick to a very simple plan. Before his day job at the law firm he would sit down and write one page per day.

 

The time for that was irrelevant. No matter if it took 30 minutes or even 2 hours, he would write, at minimum, a single page per day before he began his day’s work in the office.

 

My point for these examples is to illustrate the power of routine. What that routine is can vary from a fully planned and scheduled day, like that of Ben Franklin, or it can be as simple as one page per day, laid out by Grisham.

 

I am also willing to bet that any individually successful person has some form of routine, or some singular habit employed each day that allows them to put their goal into focus.

 

And that is exactly my point.

 

The daily routines/habits that you create should serve as an outline to your ultimate goals.

 

By establishing a measureable goal, you are then able to create a structured plan around it that essentially becomes your daily routine.

 

It does not have to be extravagant or detailed. Really I would say that it depends upon the kind of person you are as there is not one, specific plan that works for everyone, which should be evident by the above examples.

 

Personally I believe that a routine should move you, daily, in the direction of your goals. This should hold true even on days that you feel did not go so well, because if you stick to your plan as best as you can on days such as these, you will still make forward progress toward your ultimate goal.

 

Life tends to be extremely chaotic, if you let it. This is manifested through everyone’s favorite miscreant, Murphy.

 

Murphy’s law states that: Anything that can go wrong, undoubtedly, will.

 

What happens when you arrive home and your dog has decided that you no longer need those nice, leather couch cushions on your sofa? Instead, they look much better inside, out and spread all around your living room.

 

How about when you decided to eat well for the next 30 days, and not 5 minutes after you write down your goals in your notepad, your best friend invites you out for margaritas and Mexican food at your favorite restaurant?

 

Or, God forbid, you receive news that a relative has passed? How will your day change?

 

Life has a mysterious way of happening at the times you least desire it to. It will kick you in the teeth while you are on the ground if you let it.

 

Therefore, your best course of action is to have a routine in place that allows you buffer it as much as possible, so that when Murphy decides to ring your doorbell, you have a plan.

 

Here is my personal take on how to establish a daily routine:

 

  1. Follow the 2% rule. If you can increase your personal productivity by changing just 2% of your day, what would that initial 2% be?

 

For me this is starting by waking up just 15 minutes earlier than usual. Then you allow it to build upon itself.

 

Each consecutive day I added just a few more minutes until I hit my goal of waking up 1 hour before I needed, in order to start getting ready for work.

 

This window of time I use to accomplish my most important task of the day. Again, it is not a huge change, but it allowed me to feel as though my day was a success, really before it even begins.

 

  1. Focus on one thing at a time.

 

I am sure it is just me, but I absolutely suck at multitasking. My brain runs way to much about too many different things as it is, so adding multiple things to do at once really overloads my ability to effectively concentrate on the main task at hand.

 

I have found that if I plan my day well enough I don’t have to run around like a distracted 3 – year old in a candy shop. Also, and I think most importantly, my focus is increased ten fold when I just concentrate on a single task.

 

  1. Complete your 1 or 2 most important tasks before you begin your day

 

Our world today is filled with so many distractions. People crave our attention, be they family, friends, co-workers, customers, or your obnoxious next-door neighbor.

 

Your best chance at winning your day is when all these other “productivity suckers” are still snoozing. I have learned for myself that I am 3 times more productive in this time than I am at any other part of the day. Here I can concentrate without having to worry about a phone call from a client or some other unforeseen obstacle during the day.

 

All it takes is getting up a few minutes earlier during the day. Even waking up 10 minutes before your alarm usually goes off will give you an extra hour and 10 minutes per week of productivity.

 

Personally, I soak it up and usually wake up an hour or two before I need to start getting ready for work.

 

  1. Plan your following day before you return home

 

Home should be the place where you relax and spend time with those that matter, not the place where you arrive just to have enough time to eat, shower and go to bed, only to repeat the cycle of misery the next day.

 

If, for some reason, you do not have a family to come home to, but instead you are living up the single life, then at least allow your home to be the place you enjoy coming back to after a day of work. Give yourself time to relax and not think about your job. Spend some time on a hobby you enjoy; watch a good movie, play with your dog.

 

Do this by having a ritual of preparing for the next day while still at work. Give yourself 5 minutes where you write the next day’s itinerary and create a to-do list of your top two most important activities.

 

Hint: do your top two priorities first. These should be tasks that, when you look back at your day, you can rest assured that you did something that propelled you closer to your goals. Chances are, these are also the things that you look at and feel the most uncomfortable about.

 

Make sure that these tasks are done before 11 am. This allows for unforeseen adjustments for the remaining chaos of the day and ensures you allot enough time for you to accomplish them, if, for some reason, they take longer than you originally anticipate (cue Murphy).

 

To be clear I still like to finish my most important tasks before the world even considers waking up, however it is understood that most people do not necessarily enjoy rising with the chickens.

 

I like to plan out as many details and appointments as I can. This even includes lunch with friends, my workout time, when I eat lunch, and sometimes, if it gets too crazy, scheduled bathroom breaks. Of course, this depends on how many cups of coffee have been consumed that day (just kidding…kind of).

 

  1. Find time to be thankful

 

Personally I have found this one to be one of, if not the most, important things that I have recently incorporated into my daily routine. In fact I have a gratitude journal that I write in at the end of every day.

 

This tool alone really allows things to be put into perspective. All too often, we get caught up in the craziness of the day and forget about the things that really matter. Of course I am speaking for myself and generalizing for everyone else, however, I can’t imagine that I am the only one that this happens to.

 

By just filling out a page in this journal at the end of every day, I am brought back to reality and realize what matters most. It is really a good stress reliever. It lowers my blood pressure. But most importantly it replaces my fear and anxiety from the day with gratitude and thanks. It is almost, if not completely, impossible to be fearful when I am filled with gratitude.

 

Depending upon your goals, it also really puts into perspective your level of focus and your tangible progress to that accomplishment. It is similar to using a magnifying glass, except in this case you are the one being observed.

 

For example, if you had made a goal to lose 10 pounds in 2 months you would be able to essentially track your actions and see whether or not they match up with your intentions.

 

If, upon looking back at the last 3 days of journal entries, you find that you have neglected to chart a meal preparation session and have not exercised then your journal entry for today would include a top priority of one of those two things, if not both, and then a reflection on how the following day you could do better by planning these items.

 

It forces a strong sense of self-awareness, in that it keeps you honest. You will quickly find out if your actions match your words. And if they don’t you are able to reflect on how to make that happen.

I typically couple this with a quick prayer of thanks at the end of every work day and find that I feel much better and less stressed upon returning home.

 

To conclude I wanted to quote my man, Ben Franklin, since I started out using him as an example.

 

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”

 

The reality of goal setting is that it is hard. This is why only 8% of people achieve their New Years Resolutions. This is the reason, I think, why so many people give up on their dreams.

 

And this doesn’t have to pertain solely to just fitness. It could be business, family, sprititual, financial, social, whatever.

 

The bottom line is that establishing a routine allows you to have something to come back to each and every day. Progress does not have to be fast. Quite often it is the complete opposite, especially in weight loss.

 

However, if you make sure and schedule time each and every day to complete your top priorities, as it relates to your goals, you will be forced to take action on them.

 

You will begin to redefine who you are. And this, I believe, is the key to your success.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting ‘Real’ with Food: Eat Like an Adult!

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I think we have gotten away from actually eating like a responsible adult. We do everything else right (for the most part).

We pay our bills, go to work, clean the house (some of us), however we have completely sidelined our diet, thus impacting our health for the worse.

Modern marketing practices have done such a great job at making their products look appealing, that those things we are supposed to eat are now considered dull, boring and tasteless.

Heaven forbid we go a Sunday morning without our pre-church doughnut holes.

In fact, I have heard over and over again that eating healthy is not a sustainable way to live.

 

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Seriously??

 

I would argue that it is the most sustainable way to live. You feel better, spend less time at the doctor, allergies are relegated to the occasional instead of frequent, and oh yea, you look better as well.

 

So instead of eating properly to lose the extra weight, we search for ‘newer’ and ‘better’ ways, ultimately spinning our wheels when we realize that they don’t work as well as real food does. Weird.

 

Why is this?

 

Well, in short, because we, as fully-grown adults who pay taxes and make adult decisions, have decided that we don’t like the way the healthy stuff tastes.

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So instead of making an adult decision we relegate our mental fortitude to that of an 8 year old that refuses to eat their veggies.

 

A tad ironic I would say.

 

I will now step off my soapbox.

 

Anyway my point is this:

 

Our desire to have what we want NOW, coupled with an environment where proper eating is vilified through marketing propaganda has resulted in a scenario where we begin to search for shortcuts to obtain what we want quickly and easily.

 

Here is another way to look at it: we have arrived at a point where, for some reason, we want to lose weight or become healthier by avoiding the stuff that makes us lose weight and become healthy because we don’t like the taste.

 

You do not gain my approval because you made a ‘better’ decision by losing the ice cream and replacing it with a weight watcher’s double fudge brownie. To be perfectly clear…, it is still a double fudge brownie.

 

This is where it gets confusing for some people. And again, I really do not fault them for this. But, just because a certain food caries a label that states it is ‘all natural’ or ‘gluten free’ does NOT necessarily make it a healthy choice.

 

If you are trying to lose weight and improve your overall health then let me lay down some very simple guidelines.

 

  1. Eat real food. By real I mean lean meat, veggies/fruits and lots of water. Not fruit juice. These items are usually around the perimeter of the grocery store.
  2. Avoid brightly colored packages and processed food. These items are usually in the aisles at the grocery store.
  3. Cook your meals. Yes, all of them.
  4. In anticipation of the “I don’t have time to cook” excuse… Plan ahead. (cook before your week starts and put your meals in containers).
  5. Understand that the sooner you accept the fact that this will be hard to do, the better you will get at it.
  6. Say it with me… “NO.” This is the magic catch-all word to say to others offering you a twinkie. This is also what you say to yourself when you have a craving for something not listed in the first guideline.

 

 

Again, understand that I mentioned these guidelines are simple. They are, by no means, easy. I totally understand that habit changes of any kind are hard.

 

However, if we truly desire to take control of our overall health, then we need to act like the adults that we are, and choose the foods that are going to propel us forward towards our goals.

 

I will just leave you with one last nugget of advice.

 

There are no shortcuts. Zero.

 

Understand that no one becomes healthy by eating a chocolate chip cookie. I don’t care what the claim on the package is.

If you have found this article even remotely interesting or entertaining, please share it using the social media buttons on the left. It would mean a lot! 

 

The 80/20 Approach to Health: Doing Less Gives You More

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How do we eliminate the unnecessary junk from our lives and focus solely on that which gives us the most return on investment (read: bang for your buck)?

 

Another way to put it is as follows:

 

What if I told you that the majority, or rather 80%, of your results stemmed from a mere 20% of your efforts?

 

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How would this affect your approach? What would you do differently if this one piece of information was known before beginning a grueling exercise routine to lose weight?

 

Keep in mind that 80% is a passing grade in all known academic mediums. At least in the institutions that I have been a part of that has been the case. Only once have I actually heard tale of a nut professor making the statement that anything below a grade of an 85 out of 100 was considered failure. In my experience 60% tends to be the consensus for being deemed “inadequate.”

 

Let’s use the example of a term paper to illustrate this principle.

 

When you were in college (perhaps you still are) and were assigned a paper, what was your typical reaction? I’m willing to guess that it is similar to mine, which is as follows:

 

Hear about the paper and listen intently solely for the purpose of attaining a due date. I don’t care about the topic so much as I can ask my smart friend about that later. My only care is about how much time I can waste partying and socializing before I take it seriously.

 

Then I have an ‘oh crap’ moment when I realize that I now have less than 48 hours to complete a project that was originally intended to be undertaken with a 3 week time stamp.

 

This happened every time without fail and with a thought of “Ill start sooner next time.”

 

Yeah right.

 

A weird thing happens in that moment however.

 

Instead of combing my way through the endless volumes of research, delicately picking just the right articles written by multi award winning professors and academic supermen (and women) to add to my works cited page, something quite interesting occurs.

 

Panic and a significantly smaller window of time forces me to ruthlessly axe anything that could possibly waste any of the few remaining precious seconds I have to save my grade from being curb stomped due to an incomplete term paper.

 

Therefore efficiency ensues.

 

Only the most readily available articles and references are used, and very conservatively at that. I don’t have the time to look for new or better sources.

 

I skimmed through the literature like an ADD 1st grader during a spelling test, using and highlighting only those few and far between sentences and useful fragments necessary to extract some kind of relational sense as it pertains to my topic.

 

And even then I only really use 2, maybe 3 of the required 7 sources. The other 4 or 5 sources I use only briefly to embed a small sentence fragment. And that is just so I can say I actually did use them… Just not extensively…

 

The typing of the actual paper becomes a bit comical.

 

Originally the parameters only allow for single spacing, size 12, times new roman font with a five-page minimum.

 

Buuuuuuttt….I may just “forget” to do that.

 

Anyway I think it looks much better double spaced, size 14, and bold-faced. But that’s just me.

 

Luckily I have a father who passed the BS gene (thanks dad!) down to me so I tended to have a little bit of a leg up on my peers when it comes to writing a paper with a voice that may or may not cater to my professors personality.

 

Side note: If in college, spend time getting to know your professors. I wish I had done this from the start.

 

D-Day comes and after 24-36 hours of a Redbull induced cram session I managed to grind out a fairly decent paper worthy of my eventual grade of a 78/100.

 

C’s get degrees.

 

The takeaway from all of this is quite interesting.

 

Compared to my classmates, some of whom failed by the way, I managed to spend close to a fraction of the time on my TERM PAPER.

 

AND…

 

I pulled out a grade decently above the danger zone of failure. (I start to get worried with anything below a 73).

 

I give you the 80/20 rule.

 

I ended up obtaining close to 80% of my desired result by putting in 20% of the effort.

 

And quite often that 80% is enough to get the job done in most instances. This can be applied to just about anything.

 

Pretty nifty really.

 

However, there is a caveat.

 

The part where it becomes tricky is that the 20% you put in to get 80% of your desired result necessitates that you execute the correct 20%.

 

In the example I used above it would not facilitate the same result if I spent my allotted time only writing the article without any sources.

 

Read the fine print. If your instructions give you parameters, understand the critical points.

 

Here it was needed in my REASEARCH paper that I include and cite RESEARCH from outside sources. It would have made no sense for me to labor that long and miss the critical points stating that I needed to include RESEARCH in my work.

 

Therefore I spent a decent amount of my already brief window of time thumbing through various RESEARCH tomes to include in my project.

 

You get the point.

 

This method works well, but you have to focus and refine your efforts on only the 20% that matters and this will open the door to 80% of your desired result.

 

Enough diatribes.

 

You are probably wondering what this has to do with health and fitness.

 

Allow me to present my case.

 

Let’s look at a few more numbers and then I promise Ill shut up. For now anyway.

 

According the CDC (Center for Disease Control) 34.9% of adults in the United States are OBESE. Not just overweight, but grossly fat!

 

This means that for every 3 people you count, one of them is going to be as big as a house.

 

I’m not even including the statistics for people who are just overweight.

 

The bottom line is this. We, as a country are not healthy. And spending my time as a trainer I can tell you that it isn’t necessarily for lack of trying. Most of my clients are those who just want to shed a few LB’s in order to increase overall health and just look better. In fact it is usually the later if I am being completely honest, but hey, at least they are being proactive.

 

I wish I could say that I am the best trainer ever and evey one of my clients has walked away from me with abs to rival the metaphorical washboard. However, the reality is that many of the people that see me end up losing weight, but not nearly the amount that they wish before their motivation dies out and withers along with their dreams of looking good this swimsuit season.

 

A lot of these people are very highly motivated as well. In fact, I would argue they are considerably more motivated than the majority of the population.

 

So what gives?

 

Here is my take: We put our focus on that which does not give us the greatest return. WARNING: CONTROVERSIAL!! READ WITH CAUTION!!

We put too much emphasis on just getting a good sweat and leaving the gym feeling like we accomplished something.

 

In short, we are working too hard.

 

Instead, the place of emphasis, that 20% that will yield 80% of our desired results, when it pertains to health and fitness is found in honing in our nutrition; it is actually not in trying to increase our daily activity level by going to the gym.

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I realize as I am saying this that this is not the sexy part of becoming healthy.

 

Now don’t misinterpret what I am saying. I fully believe in going to the gym and being active.

 

But for some reason we romance ourselves into becoming the fat-burning gym warrior, tirelessly trying to make our fat cry in the gym, thinking that in doing so we can outwork the dozen doughnuts we ate in the morning.

 

The reality is that the majority of people simply lack the motivation to stick with going to the gym. It is those same people that become disheartened when they realize that all of their time and sweat at the gym hasn’t resulted in any weight lost during the course of the month they have been religiously punishing themselves.

 

Think of a person’s motivation like an hourglass. Some have a much larger amount of sand (motivation) in the glass than others do, however the point it this: Our motivation, especially when it comes to something we don’t particularly want to do, is very finite. When it runs out, we are emotionally over it and move on to something else.

 

So why not spend that motivation in the area where we get the most return on investment?

 

By simply refocusing our efforts more to the side of nutrition we can use the limited amount of motivation we have and reap 80% of our desired outcome by putting in a fraction of the work.

 

This is not to say that I am telling you not to workout. In an ideal world everyone would have the time and will power to be able to do both simultaneously.

 

However our statistics of one out of three people being obese speak a little differently as to our availability of time, energy and motivation.

 

Therefore, in order to obtain the most ‘bang for you buck,’ we need to shift our emphasis a bit on the health spectrum more towards nutrition.

 

For many this should be good news, as I know so many people who absolutely despise exercise.

 

Again in a perfect world I advocate both, however if you lack motivation to exercise, DON’T! Instead, take the time that you would originally spend going to the gym and cook healthy meals based around lean meat and veggies.

 

Time is our most valuable asset. And in the area of health and fitness it needs to be spent wisely because the reality of today’s microwave society is that the majority of the population does not have the time, much less the desire, to spend this precious resource at the gym.

 

However, life necessitates that you will always have time to eat. Duh! Invest a bit in you health and cook something that your body will thank you for.

 

This simple re-focus will save you much time and frustration in the pursuit of your weight loss goals.

 

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