If you are like me and plan on doing nothing at all this Sunday, you ought to at least have enough pride to get up early and start right away!
Anything worth doing –even doing nothing –is worth doing well.
Sunday morning vanity conversation leading to disappointment
This morning I was admiring my recent weight loss in the bathroom mirror as my wife and I were getting ready to go out for coffee. After my proud moment of self-satisfaction, I threw on a pair of jeans and wet my hair before combing it and began looking for a shirt.”
My wife walked in the bathroom to explain how our dog Macy was just… showing off to her by proudly holding a spider in her mouth before it dropped out and ran away.
Wanting to change the topic back to my proud weight loss, I pointed to myself and said, “Well, what do you think?”
“What?” Rebecca answered quizzically.
“This.” I responded smugly pointing in a circular motion to my torso area.
“What? You got water on you?”
“No!” I said flustered. “I’ve lost 28 lbs.”
“Oh.” Rebecca responded laughing. “You are acting like Macy showing off having a spider in her mouth.”
“No I’m not.” I said defensively. “I don’t think it’s the same thing at all. First off Macy didn’t lose 28 lbs and, second off, I am not holding anything in my mouth.”
“OK.” Rebecca said laughing to herself.
“Do you have water on you?” I repeated to myself under my breath. “Really?”
“Well, I’m proud of both you and Macy this morning.” Rebecca offered in a consoling voice.
From a business perspective, this gentleman starts by going through what separates the top companies from everyone else. In particular, he uses Apple as an example. In his example he states that most companies will market in this order; what we do, how we do it and finally why we do it. He later explains that the most successful companies use the “golden circle” and start with why they do it first, followed by how and what. He argues that people will buy WHY you do something over how or what you do. Apple doesn’t have any advantages that Microsoft or Dell or any other computer company has. Apple just knows their why and they include it in all their marketing and branding. This separates them from everyone else.
This led me back to my book, 12 Steps to Fitness Freedom, where I talk about the “Power of the Why,” and why it is crucial to success or failure in fitness and literally everywhere else. I have included a part of it below. But take a moment and really do some soul searching on WHY you do what you do everyday. The why is driving you in every endeavor you choose to be apart of. Finding your why changes the game for you. It motivates you and inspires you to make necessary adjustments and changes to ensure victory on your challenge.
So I challenge you to find your “WHY” in all aspects of your life. It is crucial to survival. To be fair, I will share with you my “WHY.” I am completely driven to making a difference in people’s lives, positively. No matter what the venue, my goal and vision is to impact everyone I train or come in contact with in positive matter so they are better for it. At the end of the day I want people to say, “because of you, I achieved.” It is my why and it is my driving force, not only through exercise and fitness but also through leadership and constant development. Enjoy the below:
The Power of Why (from Step 1 of 12 Steps to Fitness Freedom)
The greatest minds in the human races’ history have always asked one question, Why? Einstein, Edison, and Newton all posed the question of why and no matter how many times they failed they constantly pushed forward. The Power of Why.
Think about a child who is inquisitive, what do they ask repeatedly? Why? Why is the ocean blue? Why do I have to go to sleep at 8? Why do I have to go to school? Why why why? Their nature is to constantly pose the question of why so they can consistently learn and understand the why.
The why gives reason behind decisions and clarity behind things that are not yet understood. Reason and clarity are very big when discussing fitness goals:Why is getting in shape important to you? Why will having bigger arms or a smaller waist positively impact your self esteem? Why?
As you embark into a fitness regime it is important to remember why you are starting. From the mere example of you reading this means, on some level, you are interested in fitness. Either you; are wanting to start, wanting to continue what you started or are looking for fresh ideas to keep you going. Either way, we all go through a pre-contemplation phase when it comes to working out.
Some decide to put both feet in and go after it others keep one foot in and the other out and then there are those that never start. The decision is a personal one but once we cross into the stage of doing something about our current situation, it is important to remember why we are doing it.
So here is what we are going to do…
I am going to generalize everyone and pose the following questions:
1. What outcomes are you wanting/expecting from exercise program?
2. Which of those outcomes is the most important to you?
3. Why is that so important to you?
The answers to any of those questions can and will vary considerably. Everyone starts or continues and fitness program for different reasons. The importance to find the why behind the what.
Is the answer to number one; more energy, less body fat or to be healthier? We can easily put those answers into three categories; how you feel, how you look and how your insides are functioning. Either way these are important to you.
Now we must pick one as our sole goal to focus on. This should be the driving force on your fitness journey, the thing you cannot live without. Once we have answered that we are on our way.
Lastly, we must instill the Power of the Why. Why is that goal important to you and why is it the most important to you? The answer will define your fitness experience and adherence. Is it because you’ve always wanted abs or because you felt better when you were 20 lbs lighter? At the end of the day we all do this for an emotional reason and to boost how we feel about us. Nothing more, nothing less. Fitness changes us for the better by supplying confidence and increased self esteem we may not have gotten from anywhere else. This is the
Power of the Why!
Never forget your why and the reason you do this. On the days when you don’t feel well or you’re stressed from work. Remember your why. It is powerful beyond all comprehension.
PS: Write your most important goal down and the reason it’s so important on your mirror or car dash. When times get rough and you feel like quitting look at it and remember why you are here. Positive thoughts and energy creates positive outcomes.
Before I went to medical school, I spent 4 wonderful years at college studying the history of science and medicine. I especially loved the books on my reading lists that captured a story about a past medical discovery or epidemic. While I had no medical expertise at the time and simply wanted to do passably well on the MCAT so some medical school would accept me, the stories of the flu epidemic of 1918, the discovery of penicillin, the Wexner report and the development of formal medical education captivated me. They gave me context and allowed me to understand the path the practice of medicine had taken prior to my interest in the profession.
Medical school, residency, medical practice and parenthood do not leave much free time for pleasure reading. While it is still wonderful to escape with a novel, I still gravitate to non-fiction works that focus on medicine. A few years ago, I gave a lecture to my colleagues about books that every doctor should read. While it is still prudent to keep updated on new research to help our patients, these books are designed to help physicians (and non-physicians) maintain perspective. Here are a few of them:
History of Medicine:
- The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot is a well-researched account of the history of HeLa cancer cell line and the woman whose cancer launched a medical revolution.
- Bad Blood by James H. Jones is history of the Tuskeegee Syphilis experiment that the Public Health Service ran from 1932 until 1972. African-American men with syphilis were studied over decades to learn about the natural course of the disease. However, they were never treated with penicillin even after the antibiotic’s availability increased in the 1940s.
- The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee is a biography of cancer. It is long and detailed and clearly shows how recently many advances in cancer treatment have developed and how little oncologists really knew even 50 years ago.
Meditations on the Profession:
- Complications by Atul Gawande, a surgeon and prolific writer, is a collection of honest essays written during and after surgical training.
- The Youngest Science: Notes of a Medicine-Watcher by Lewis Thomas was his third collection of well-written and thoughtful essays reflecting back on his career as a successful academic and physician. I remember reading this in high school and deciding to become a physician.
- The Real Life of a Pediatrician, edited by Perri Klass is a collection of candid stories following the path from student to veteran doctor. While I love every book that Perri Klass has ever written (and can admit that her memoir A Not Entirely benign Procedure allowed me to survive the summer of 1988, also known as the summer of med school applications and MCATs), the many voices in this collection are honest and engaging. Let’s face it: pediatricians are generally nice people and I like reading about them.
Books that can influence the way we practice:
- Forgive and Remember: Managing Medical Failure by Charles Bosk, follows fictional surgical teams in a teaching hospital and is one of the first books ever written on medical error.
- The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande, provides a 21st century approach to patient safety using the expertise of the aviation industry.
- How Doctors Think by Jerome Groopman is an extremely honest and thoughtful look at medical error and cognitive error. It explores why doctors succeed and why they err, how they can embrace uncertainty and how patients can help doctors avoid error. I tell every trainee that I teach to read this book in the hopes that s/he will incorporate these learning points in the practice of medicine.
The title of the blog may seem confusing and even appalling to most. It may lead you to question my sanity after 11 years as a personal trainer. “How does he not know what his job is?” Just hold on for a minute. For years I have had this approach when it came to clients, focus on more than fitness and nutrition.
See I believe fitness is a vehicle that we use to improve people. People HATE exercise, for the most part. For one reason or another most people disdain the process of trying to get into shape. They have goals but most of the time those goals are deeper than fitness. They impact every aspect of their lives. So, if it deeper than fitness why do we not concentrate on more than fitness? This approach may actually help you jump start your fitness and go on a quest to better yourself.
In my mind exercise/fitness and good nutrition affect every aspect of my life. Therefore, not only do I affect the physical part of me and they way I look but I also affect several other aspects of my life; relationships, better sleep, energy, confidence etc. So if you knew that working out would help boost your confidence and help you have the courage to ask a pretty girl on a date or make a great speech in front of the CEO of you company, would you be more aped to do it? Of course you would. Here are 5 of the most impacted areas of our lives that fitness increases more than anything else.
The picture on the left is from my high school graduation in 2000 and the picture on the right is from last year. On the left I weigh an astounding 140lbs on the right 200lbs. Forget the numbers and the obvious physical difference, the number one benefit that fitness has provided me is confidence. Without it, I would not have been able to speak in front of hundreds of people, write a book, go on a bootcamp tour for 14 days across the US or be a personal trainer. Physically I am different but the most effect has been in my confidence.
So many of my clients will list confidence as their number one benefit from working with a trainer and starting an exercise program. The proof is in the pudding.
As a continuation from confidence, I find that increased relationships with others is a direct reflection from being fit. Often times clients will meet new people and friendships are born or their existing relationships improve because of heightened self confidence.
A direct reflection of being fit is increasing one’s diligence and determination. Get tasks completed because they have more energy or confidence is common place.
The hormonal effect of exercise is documented but what you often forget is the increased ability to think clearer. This aspect comes in handy in todays fast moving world. I always have told people I never make decisions until I have worked out that day. Working out will give me the extra time and mental clearness to think about making a decision.
5. Self Esteem
Confidence and self esteem are different. Self esteem is how you view yourself and how you feel about it. Fitness supplies the increased self esteem that one feels like they can conquer anything. Feeling better about the way you look is the best feeling in the world.
All in all, I do not concentrate on fitness. I concentrate on the effects of fitness and how it effects and impacts our lives. Anyone who has started an exercise program an continued with it can tell you that there are more than just five aspects that help better their lives. Focus on the effects working will give you, instead of thinking about whether you can do it or not.
Here is my “Before” alongside my future “After” pic.
About 6 months from now….while thinking about how much better I look with all that weight off, especially when I stand on a rock and look out over the ocean while wearing faded torn jeans with a tan and long hair with the wind blowing through it and a stylish watch in case I want to know what time it is.
Serious before and after:
Of all the types of questions a fitness professional is asked, nutrition is the most common subject. Quite frankly people are clueless when it comes to what they eat. Conversely, that is not their fault. In this country we search for the quick fix, the easy way out and our media has done a great marketing job on “diets.” These diets usually consist of restriction some selection of food; fat, carbs, meat etc. So we are constantly told what we “shouldn’t” eat and rarely are we told what we should eat. So I wanted to put together a list of 10 foods that most everyone needs (barring food allergy, religious reasoning or preference). These 10 foods have various purposes that go beyond how many calories they consist of. These foods help the body ward off disease, decrease inflammation, and add vital vitamins and minerals to our body.
1. Eggs- Eggs are on this list for a variety of reasons; the whites are full of high biological value protein (that is a good thing), the yellow is full of leptin (which controls appetite) and they are extremely versatile (scrambled, poached, boiled etc.). Eggs also have 12 vitamin and minerals, one of which (choline) is vital for brain development and increased memory. Eggs are nutrient dense only containing 75 calories per egg.
2. Nuts- If you only look at foods based upon their fat content and calorie count you would probably leave these section of food out. You would be missing the point of the article. Yes calories matter, however a twinkie may have less calories than a Big Mac that does not mean it is a good option. Most nuts are loaded with Omega 3 fatty acids that are good for the cardiovascular system and act as an anti-inflammatory warding off potential disease. Also nuts are considered an antioxidant which has the potential to decrease the potential for cancer. Because most nuts are high in fat, thus high in calories, use proper judgment and portion control and monitor the salt as well. Almonds, cashews, pistachios are all good choices.
3. Sweet Potato- One of my all-time favorite foods that packs a punch and is nutrient dense. Sweet potatoes are technically a vegetable, although we rarely think of them in that way. Their dark orange coloring makes them high in Vitamin A and C and an outstanding source of potassium. Diabetics can enjoy these foods because they are lower on the glycemic index than white potatoes, generally because of their high water content. Sweet potatoes also act as an anti-inflammatory.
4. Broccoli- Another one of my all-time favorite foods. Without the cheese, broccoli is a true super food that is packed with potassium a rich source of Vitamin A, C and K. It can be very beneficial for diabetics because of its high fiber content. Just remember, no chees
5. Apples- Not all fruits are created equal. Some are good and some are not. Apples however are unique, the skin is full of fiber (blunting the insulin effects of sugar) and they have high antioxidant content. Apples have been linked to prevent lung cancer, improve lung function and help prevent Type II diabetes.
6. Salmon- the American Heart Association recommends eating salmon twice per week because of the high Omega 3 content. It is low in calories, high in protein and low in saturated fats. If at all possible choose fresh salmon versus farm-raised.
7. Kiwis- They are a nutrient dense food that has an entire days requirement of Vitamin C in one large kiwi. Also high in fiber and potassium and a good source of Vitamin A and E. Great taste and texture makes this fruit a great super food.
8. Beans- Beans are loaded with insoluble fiber which is great for ridding the body of unwanted waste. These are heart healthy foods which are low fat good source of protein. Beans are versatile, they can be a good side dish, a great substitute for meat and chicken and can also be mixed in with other foods to make a great snack.
9. Quinoa- What? Yea Quinoa (pronounce keen-wa) is an ancient grain that is now readily available in health food stores and sections of your commercial grocery stores. Its high in protein and fiber and a good source of iron. It is as easy to prepare as rice and can be combined with nuts and beans as a good meal.
10. Berries- pack an incredible amount of nutritional goodness into a small package. They’re loaded with antioxidants, phytonutrients, low in calories, and high in water and fiber to help control blood sugar and keep you full longer. And their flavors satisfy sweets cravings for a fraction of the calories in baked goods. Blueberries lead the pack because they are among the best source of antioxidants and are widely available. Cranberries are also widely available fresh, frozen, or dried. All can add flavor and nutrition to numerous dishes, from salads and cereals to baked goods and yogurt.
So instead of focusing on foods you shouldn’t eat, concentrate on the foods you should. Start incorporating the above and watch your health increase dramatically which will vicariously help you reduce body fat, lower your blood sugar and help you build more muscle. Let me know if you have any good recipes!
This week’s installment, is not necessary about “tips” but more so about perspective. I took on a new fitness challenge recently and it got my thinking about my time as a trainer and what it has taught me. I believe we can look at all aspects of our life and extract many learning experiences from it. Here are mine.
My 11 years in the fitness industry has taught me a lot about life. It has taught me what to do and in some cases what not to do. Life often emulates art and I have always thought of personal training as art, it makes sense that I have learned some important life lessons. In no particular order, these are the 5 things I have learned about life from being a personal trainer:
1. Anything can be achieved with passion.
I’m not the best personal trainer and I am far from perfect. I am however passionate, a word that is thrown around in the fitness industry more than anything. My definition is simply one who eats, sleeps, breathes their work. That I do. Fitness taught me how. Through ups in downs, passion has let me conquer personal issues as well as professional. An unrelenting quest to be the best version of myself was taught to me from my experience in this industry. I attribute everything I have accomplished personally and collectively due to that passion. Without it, I have nothing.
2. If you want something bad enough you will do whatever it takes to achieve it.
My clients and clients of other trainers have taught me this. My client Rolodex is full of people who conquered the odds, all because they wanted it bad enough. In my book 12 Steps to Fitness Freedom I tell a story about a woman from Columbus who lost an extraordinary amount of weight and developed a community of enthusiastic people wanting to do the same. Or the woman who I have trained for many moons, who at first just wanted to be fit but now owns her own personal training business, all because wanted it more than other people. If you want it bad enough, you’ll go get it.
3. No one gets to where they are, alone.
I didn’t get to this point by myself. I had help…a lot of help. That help came in the form of support from others a long this 11 year journey. It also came in the form of detractors and negative people who taught me what I didn’t want be. No matter how successful you are, you got there with help. If I was never given a shot to train at Gold’s Gym in 2004, I would never be here today.
4. Bad times will always pass.
Obstacles are put in front of us not to stay and best us down but to leave after we have conquered it. I’ve seen it a thousand times, some one who goes through turmoil but keeps at it and never quits, always turns out for the better. If I have learned anything from working with trainers and clients is, regardless of the situation, if you keep at it, never waiver and never quit you will come out of the dark and into the light. It’s that simple.
5.Look to add value versus make money.
Money comes and goes like the wind blows. No matter how much you have you cannot take it with you. Having money is not impressive, adding value to other’s is. I have learned this through experience in the fitness industry. I have seen people with lots of money that truly had nothing, nothing because they were not adding value to others. The single most important lesson we can all learn is how to add value to someone else’s life. Whether it is to listen, be a shoulder to cry on or help a friend in need, adding value to someone means so much more than money. “Choose legacy over currency,” is a favorite quote of mine and it means to simple to add so much value to someone that you build a legacy and are never forgotten. A very important lesson.
I could write a list longer than this but for time purposes I will keep it short. Being in fitness has taught me so much that I feel honored to talk about it everyday. The lessons I have learned are so important not only to my life but the lives that interact with on a daily basis.
There is nothing noble about how Phillip Seymour Hoffman died. Nothing courageous; nothing thoughtful; nothing exemplifying caring for those who relied on him. And there was plenty to suggest deep pain, deceit, secrecy, …and recklessness—all flowing effortlessly from a piercing drug addiction.
Professionally, Hoffman left an extraordinary legacy of achievement. But in his personal life, his legacy to his children was cut brutally and inexplicably short. Yet his will, leaving direction but limited resources to his three children showed, in my opinion, that he loved his children devotedly and cared deeply and thoughtfully about their well-being.
And proved again that love is better measured in time and thoughtfulness than dollars and cents.
One can hope, ironically, that this legacy Phillip Seymour Hoffman left to his children in death, may help in some important way to protect the children he loved from meeting the same tragic end that Hoffman himself did.
As I sit here on my 2 day vacation in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina I have to remind myself of the importance of rest. As most know, I will push myself to limit everyday, sometimes working 7 days a week and working out 6-7 days. Rest has not been my best friend, but thankfully I have great people around me who encourage that I take a break. And that break was must needed. For the last 2 days, I haven’t done much of anything besides walk the beach, work on my tan and disconnect from everything. It is a great feeling, every once in a while.
Not only did my mind need a breather, my muscles did as well. For the better part of 15 years, I have consistently worked out, 6-7 days a week. However, lately injuries have mounted. My biceps tendon was an issue for 2 weeks, then it was my hip. After resting the past few days, my aches have subsided. My body was telling me to take a break. And for the first time in a while, it got it.
So here are three components of rest we must remember to take our bodies and our minds to the next level:
1. Sleep- helps the brain commit new information to memory through a process called memory consolidation. In studies, people who’d slept after learning a task did better on tests later. While lack of sleep can have dire consequences, adequate sleep provides only positive, healthful benefits. In a typical day, a person’s waking hours are consumed trying to meet the many mental and physical demands encountered at every turn, as well as replenishing vital nutrients as they are being used up during these daily activities. In the hours remaining during sleep, the body takes time out to rebuild and recharge, preparing for the day ahead. PLUS…your body only changes when you sleep, so no sleep equals no change. 7-8 hours is recommended.
2. Relaxation- in addition to sleep, your body and your mind needs to relax. Working out hard is great but you cannot take your body to limit all the time. Taking a day off to recoup is a great idea. Listen to your body, it will tell you where to go and what to do. Yoga and meditation are great relaxation techniques to put you in a great mood and keep your body changing and results coming.
3. Recovery- can encompasses the 2 above but I would also like to include the nutritional aspect. Adequate amount of protein, healthy fats and vegetables should be used to help recover your muscles to go again. Remember muscles don’t grow and body fat does not disappear during exercise. It is during the recovery phase that changes happen.
We we all work hard and sometimes forget to take care of ourselves. Just remember this equation: Work + Rest= Success.
A little over six months ago I saw a friend, Kent Oyler, and told him I had just started a diet. He asked me my weight goal and I said I didn’t have one yet and he thought that was a mistake. I agreed and then asked Kent, since he was my height and in great shape, what he weighed. He told me and I said that was my weight goal. It was 27 lbs for me to lose.
Last night I reported to Kent that I was actually only 3 lbs away from my goal of reaching his his weight. But Kent then reported that he had actually gained 3 lbs this summer and we were now at the exact weight.
I raised me arms in exultation….feeling, for a moment, like I had achieved my goal of attaining Kent’s weight. But being honest with myself my real goal is still about 3 lbs away and I’m hanging in until I reach, well, both goals!