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I Can’t Breathe and Chew Bubble Gum at the Same Time…

It’s a basic human impulse.

We Breathe. We do it a lot. On average 17 – 30 thousand times a day!

And yet, when we’re working out, it becomes something we don’t seem to know how to do right. At least I know I don’t.

I don’t do it right when I’m lifting or when I’m working my abs and that is a problem.

Correct breathing isn’t necessarily essential to the gains you’ll get from working out but it certainly is essential to your very ability TO work out. And I do it horribly.

Especially when working my abs, I just can’t seem to get my proper breathing down pat. I find myself holding my breath through entire sets. 12 weighted crunches take probably about a minute and, for that entire minute, I’m holding my breath. Not a really great idea. So lately, I’ve been trying to focus on my breathing. On the up, in through my nose. On the down, out through my mouth. This is going to require a LOT of work on my part because, as I focus on my breathing, I’m losing count of my reps!

What I have found though is, that when I’m breathing properly, I’m stronger and more able to complete my sets and maintain proper form. Of course, this often also results in my doing three extra or a couple of less reps because I have to estimate how many reps I’ve done.

Yeah, I need to work on this…

keep-calm-and-breathe-deeply-26

Until Next Time…..Breathe…..

The Power of Words…

Words…Oh how powerful they are! They can lift us up, tear us down, bring out emotion and turn our lives around. When put together in a rhyme, they can be beautiful or sad or angry. When strung together in a cohesive story, they can paint a picture in our minds.

Words…So powerful and strong.

Today, I want to talk about two words in particular: Gain and Loss.

Those two words can have so many different meanings and can generate so many emotions. To gain money is a wonderful thing. To post a loss in finances is bad. The famous phrase: “What good is it to gain the world but lose your soul?” Generally, Gain is good and Loss is bad.

Except when your journey is weight loss. Then it’s the opposite.

But yet, I still hear people saying “OH MY GOD! I’ve been so damn diligent on my diet and I’ve only lost 1 pound this week!” or “I’ve been on this diet for a month and I’ve only lost four pounds!”

In saying these types of things, you are stripping these very powerful words of their power. That, my friends, is NOT a good thing. You see, you’re stripping them of their power but only on the surface. In reality what you’re doing is distorting their power. The word Loss still has its power but instead of relishing in this one situation when Loss is a good thing, you’ve mutated it into being a bad thing. Instead of having its power to encourage and motivate, it now discourages.

And, continued thinking like that WILL lead to giving up.

Let this word have its positive powers! LOSS! SO powerful, so wonderful. So, you lost one pound in a week? You’re still better than you were last week! So you “only” lost four pounds in the month? YOU’RE FOUR POUND LIGHTER THAN YOU WERE LAST MONTH!!! Celebrate! Rejoice! You are WINNING!!

And, this poor word that spends 99% of its time being a terrible thing? It will get to be the positive thing it wants to be!

Until next time — Rejoice in the journey, my friends….

I’m Just Not Progressing Fast Enough!

It happens to a lot of us. We’re eating right, we’re busting our ass at the gym, we’re doing everything right! And yet, we’re not seeing the results we expect. We’re not as ripped as that guy over there. We’re not as thin as that girl over there.

Stop that please.

Let me offer a few tips as to how to avoid this “low”.

  1. DO NOT COMPARE!
    • You’re in a competition with ONE person, yourself. There’s always going to be someone more fit and faster. You’re not trying to be Mr. Universe or some supermodel (and, if you are, you’re reading the wrong blog). Don’t hold yourself up to unrealistic goals or role-models. Mr. Universe probably pumped himself full of steroids to get where he is. That supermodel you’re obsessed with becoming probably starves herself and takes excessive amounts of diet pills to get where she is. No, YOU want to make yourself as healthy as you can be within normal means, natural means. The fact that you’re going to probably end up with big biceps, a six-pack or the perfect booty is an extra bonus.
  2. AVOID “NEGATIVE NELLY” THOUGHTS
    • It happens. It’s happened to me and, more than likely, it will happen to you. You’re at the gym, you’re struggling through one more set and then you look in the mirror and think “Why the hell am I doing this?”. You MUST counter that with “Because I’m taking care of ME!”. I’ve said it before and, throughout the history of this blog, I’m sure I’ll say it many more times. If you’re not doing this for YOU, you’ll fail. You have to push those thoughts out and replace them with a positive message. Because you know what? Tomorrow you’ll probably be struggling through another set, look in the mirror and think “DAMN! I look great!”
  3. HAVE A VISION THAT INSPIRES YOU
    • When you hit a rough spot, have an inspirational thought that you can turn to. This should be personal. Think in your head something like “I am an animal!!” or think of the most inspirational person in your life or think of a can of tomato sauce. It doesn’t matter. Whatever is inspirational to YOU, have it tucked away in the back of your mind and pull it out when you need it. For me, it’s “Lunas”. I’d never be able to explain that to you in this or many blogs and I don’t ever plan on trying. But that’s MY personal “mantra” if you will. Works every time.
  4. GET A WORKOUT PARTNER
    • Personally, this isn’t one that I’d do but it’s something that some people need badly. Real, live, personal inspiration. But make sure that if you’re going to have a workout partner it’s someone that really understands you and what inspires you. Of course, it’s only right that you do the same for them. I don’t do well with workout partners (maybe I don’t play well with others) but many people do.
  5. GO WITH WHAT YOU SEE
    • Throw the damn scale away. Throw away the measuring tapes, the fat calipers. Just look in the mirror. I STRONGLY recommend that if you’re planning on starting on this journey, that you take a picture of yourself now. I made the mistake of not having a good “Before” picture and I deeply regret that. Don’t start until you take a picture. Then you’ll truly be able to see the difference in yourself. Stand in front of the mirror, look at the picture, look at yourself. If you’ve been true to your journey, I guarantee you’ll like what you see. Let THAT be your inspiration.

Please, please PLEASE don’t let a low moment destroy the work you’re doing. You CAN do this! Just like I did….

 

apron collage

Until Next Time – No Retreat, No Surrender!

Suddenly, Everything Changes

You’re fat. You’re obese. You’re chubby. Yes, these are not the politically correct terms for being “overweight” but let’s get real. I won’t say we’ve all been described by those terms but I know I have. And then, you make a life change. And those terms no longer apply. The world doesn’t see you in the same light. And you don’t see yourself in that light, either.

Suddenly, everything changes.

I’m not saying it’s an instant change. Oh no, as I’ve mentioned in a previous blog, you’ll be thin and in shape and still seeing yourself in the mirror as a “chub”. Then, it will hit you. In my case it sort of hit me all at once. I am better than I was.

Suddenly, the things I previously accepted as the best that I could get weren’t good enough. That food I ate that I LOVED now tasted like dog crap. That job I had that was hard to even motivate myself to go to, wasn’t good enough. The weight loss I’d managed wasn’t good enough. I didn’t need to lose more weight. I needed to do something even better with my new body. I needed to get sculpted, become “built”. And so my views turned. I adjusted my daily workout. I started studying bodybuilding. And I’ve started to see results.

You see, when you’ve accomplished what I pray you all will accomplish along with me, you suddenly realize that there’s nothing you can’t do.

And, just as suddenly, you have the energy and drive to do it!

change

You’ll look at the things, attitudes, situations and even the people in your life and see them with new eyes. Then, I imagine, once you’re really “built”, you’ll have even a keener eye. A keener attitude and outlook.

And, in my opinion, all those things that you see in a different light, that you no longer deem worthy, should be removed.

I know that sounds cold but hear me out here. All those things that you no longer view as worthwhile additions to your life contributed to what you USED to be. Remove them, discard them. Be HAPPY with everything you see around you. You’ve earned that. And, when you look at your life, I sincerely hope you see this:

 

mephobia

 

Until Next Time – Stay Awesome!

Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better…

I see it literally every day at the gym. There’s a guy who has clearly worked his ass off to get “jacked”. He’s got the huge arms, the six pack abs, the monstrous legs. He’s worked his ass off day in and day out to get himself like that. Maybe he’s using steroids, maybe he’s not. Either way, he looks like a Greek God and he works out like one. He’s benching HUGE amounts of weight like you and I would pick up a piece of paper. No, he is NOT showing off. He’s doing what he does. He’s doing what he did to get that way in the first place. And, over there? Joe Average. He’s the guy who’s just starting on his journey. He really can’t handle very much weight. He really can’t handle very many reps. He doesn’t have the body of a Greek God, his is more soft. Quite a bit more flabby. But there he is, working out nonetheless.

Then, he looks over at the Greek God. And his hand reaches for his own weights. He jacks that puppy up another 20 pounds and, with all his remaining strength, he lifts the weights skyward. “I can do this”, he thinks. He barely manages his way through one reasonably well-positioned rep. Time for rep two! Once again, the weights head toward the gym roof. He gets them about half way to their goal.

And then he hears and feels a “pop”. His right arm goes dead. The weight crashes down, barely missing crushing his chest. And, just like that, his workout regime is as dead as his arm. He tore a ligament or a tendon. He overworked his already tired muscles. And now, for probably a month or more, he won’t be lifting anything heavier than a scrap of paper. And, even that, with an effort.

Why would anyone do that you ask? Simple. Ego. Plain, stupid ego. Mr. Average looked at the Greek God and thought to himself “Man, I can’t let some other dude show me up like that!” When the reality of it was that “Greek God” wasn’t showing ANYONE up. He was just doing what he does. He was working out to keep the body that he created. And Mr. Average might have had that same body or even better if he hadn’t let his foolish pride get a hold of him. Maybe “GG” was actually having an off day. Maybe he was actually lifting LESS than usual and feeling shitty about it. Or, maybe he was just about to achieve a personal goal and he was personally proud of it. Whatever he was doing, it has NOTHING to do with what you’re doing.

competition 2

That is a VERY simple concept but yet so hard to get through to some people. Don’t compete with the Greek God. Don’t compete with the perfect, Barbie Doll at the gym. COMPETE WITH YOURSELF! Instead of looking at the person next to you, look in the mirror. Envision yourself yesterday. Envision what you did yesterday. Now, beat that. Ever so slightly, beat that. Don’t go off a cliff beating it. Just beat it a little. Then do the same thing the next day. Beat yesterday’s you.

You know what will happen if you do that? Quite possibly, at some point in the future, you’ll see some guy reaching for his weights and you’ll be thinking “Wow, that guy doesn’t look like he can handle that much weight!” And then, as that guy crashes to the ground in pain, you’ll realize that he was looking at YOU just before he upped his weights to way too high…

 

Until Next Time – Stay Strong and Focused.

Rome Wasn’t Destroyed in a Day

I know, I know, the saying is “Rome wasn’t built in a day” but it wasn’t torn down in a day either! This is the struggle that many of us go through when we achieve something and then hit a speed bump in our plan. I’m currently in one of those “dips”.

When I was “Young and Unfit”, my back decided that it would go out on me. To this day, nearly 30 years later, I don’t know what the source of this back issue is but it’s something that’s stayed with me. Now, this is not one of your normal, average, everyday back issues. This is the most weirdly intermittent back issues you’re ever going to see. I can have an issue today, let it heal and not have another issue for 2, 3, 6 years. Or, it could happen again in 3 months. It’s clearly not a chronic issue and I’ve never actually gone to a doctor to have it properly evaluated.

My back issues, however, are not the point of this blog. What IS the point is that I’ve not been able to go to the gym for three days! And, like I’m 100% sure many of you would think, my first thought has been “I’m going to lose all my gains!”.

So, let me get this straight. I lost nearly 70 pounds, got in the best shape of my life and made an entire life change….yesterday? Nope. I did that over a period of a little over a year. I did that by consistent hard work and consistent “life maintenance”.

And three days is NOT going to destroy that. Today, I will go back to the gym. I will do what my normal Sunday workout is and I will continue moving forward like these three days never happened. One bump in the road DOES NOT mean that it’s time to give up!!

mistake

The reality of it is if you’ve missed some time at the gym because of an injury or you’ve eaten something you shouldn’t have because of a weak moment, that doesn’t mean you’re done. It doesn’t mean that you’ve failed. What it means is that you’re human. As y’all know, I was SUPPOSED to quit smoking as of yesterday. I did not. Am I done trying? HELL NO! I haven’t lost my drive or desire to quit. I’ve just reset my expectations and I am continuing forward in my attempt. Just like today, when I return to the gym, I will be continuing forward.

It has been said that “Our mistakes are the only things we truly own”. That is 100% and unequivocally true. So, we own our mistakes. We can do with them what we want. What I’m going to do with mine and what I want everyone who reads this to do with theirs is to recognize the mistake, acknowledge that we’ve made it, crumple it up into a little ball and toss it in the trash. Act as though it never happened. When you look back on your journey to a fit and healthy lifestyle, you’ll see these mistakes as little tiny broken pieces of pavement on your road. Be strong and carry on.wp-1485699340038.jpg

Until Next Time, Faithful Readers – Stay between the lines

 

I Can’t Eat THAT!!

I can’t count how many times I’ve heard people say that. “I can’t eat that cake!” “Pizza?? Oh my god! That’s not on my diet!” Hell, I’ve said it. And, in the beginning, it was true. I was closely counting calories and I wasn’t willing to spend my daily allotment on one piece of cake or a slice of pizza. Remember, counting calories is basically the secret of life when you’re trying to lose weight. But also, counting GOOD calories is the way to change your lifestyle. If you have a designated 1500 calories a day, using them all on a handful of Pringles or a slice of chocolate lava cake isn’t going to cut it. So, you eat good, nutritious meals that are calorie limited. You work your ass off on the cardio. And you lose weight. Then, one day, you reach the weight you’re comfortable with. For me, that was 185 pounds. Now, I could have continued my calorie counting and judicious, if somewhat crazed, focus on not overeating. And, you know what would have happened? I would have KEPT losing weight. I would have ended up at 175 or 170. And I wouldn’t have felt as good as I do. So, I had to find a balance. I slowly increased my caloric intake while also adjusting my workout regimen. Now I was looking to put on muscle, not lose weight.I was looking to lose that last layer of fat and expose the muscle beneath. I haven’t achieved that completely yet but I’m getting there. But that’s not what this blog is about.

Once you’ve achieved your goal weight (which should be the weight at which you feel best) start eating a few things here and there that you’re eating “just for the taste of it” Retain moderation and good judgement and you’ll be golden. Just two weeks ago or so, I ate pizza. I had three slices and it was freakin’ GLORIOUS! I hadn’t had pizza for about six months prior to that and I may not have it again for another six but I treated myself And I didn’t do a damn thing differently after that. No extra workout, no denying myself a normal meal. I came, I saw, I ate. And I kept going with my life as I’d built it. Back to high protein, greens and carbs as a side. All in moderation. And that, my friends is the real key to lifestyle change. Moderation.

Maintain a moderate lifestyle and you’ll maintain your health. Binge constantly, ignore what you’re eating for the sake of flavor, eat whatever, whenever? You’re done. Denying yourself everything that you love and you’re dieting, not maintaining, Not changing your lifestyle. Dieting, plain and simple. And, as we all know, diets don’t work. Diets are a bandaid on a bullet wound. They’re temporary. One of the key philosophies of Old & Fit is “Never a diet, always a lifestyle change”. That’s the philosophy that works. Not temporarily but permanently.

Can you eat THAT? Yes you can. Just don’t finish it….

moderation

Until Next Time – Rock it and keep going!

 

Consistency, the Root of All Good

“Goals, Goals, Goals” – Sometimes I feel like that’s all I ever hear in regards to fitness. “What is your goal?” “Have you reached your goal weight?”, yada yada yada…(forgive the 90’s reference but I AM old, remember).

 

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have goals. But goals are not what will drive you to a healthy lifestyle. There is no final goal. There are intermediate goals and there are temporary goals. But there can be no “end goal”. Think of them more as markers along the way. I’ve reached the weight I want to be, marker reached. I’ve achieved a personal high in bench press, marker reached.

When we set an end goal, we’ve removed all of our inspiration and, by extension, all of our drive. If I’d have said that my final goal was to weigh 185 pounds and be able to bench press 115 pounds for 3 sets of 12 reps, I would have stopped my fitness journey months ago and would probably be gaining weight and losing muscle as we speak.

Consistency is the only way to reach and maintain a healthy lifestyle. You must consistently be trying to better yourself if you are going to be healthy. Does that mean that you have to strive to break world records in bench press? Hell no. What it means is that when you get to a place that you feel comfortable, make yourself uncomfortable. Then again and again. There will eventually come a time that your body is going to say “OK, that’s all I’ve got”. Have you reached your final destination? Nope! That’s when you learn how to maintain what you’ve achieved. And there is more consistency involved there than at any other point in our journey. You must find your level and then consistently maintain it. And, when you do that? Eventually your body is going to signal you that it’s ready for more. And the journey continues.

Now, consistency might sound boring but it’s not. I want you to think how much of what you CAN do now that you COULDN’T do before. Marvel in that. Cherish it.Use that to be your inspiration. Even if it means you can do one more push-up or pull-up than you could 2 months ago. You HAVE achieved something. Build on that.

consistency

Although what I’m about to say is extremely cliche’, that doesn’t mean it’s not extremely true…

Life isn’t about the destination, it’s all about the journey.

 

Until next time – Stay fit my friends.

Gonna Slap That Taste Out of Your Mouth!

Many many years ago, the food industry discovered something amazing. If they could make your food taste good, you’d buy it. And usually in mass quantities. They also had to make it look good but that wasn’t quite as important. There were study groups done. People were brought in to taste the food and give feedback. How does it taste? What do you think of the appearance? There was, however, a notable exception to the feedback they sought. “How does it make you feel?” “Is it good for you?”

The term “Blind Taste Test” was coined. And the marketing world rejoiced! They discovered a very simple thing. Appeal to one of the senses and people will want that sense appeased again and again. If someone made a specific consistency of poo and made it particularly tasty, people would pay to eat it. Now that may be a bit of an extreme example but it essentially is the basis for all of the junk food on the market. No better example of this exists than McDonald’s. Allow me to share a personal experience. About a year and a half ago, which happens to coincide with the very last time I ever ate fast food, I’d forgotten to prepare my lunch for work. I wasn’t into healthy eating yet. I figured, what the heck, I’ll grab Mickey D’s for lunch. Now, at that time, I hadn’t had fast food for lunch in a while. Not for the sake of health but for the sake of economy. I was bringing leftovers for lunch to save money. So, that day, I drove over to the Mickey D drive-thru and ordered up an old favorite, two double cheeseburgers, small fries and a large Diet Coke. YUM! Lunch was served! I sat in my car and delighted in the greasy goodness. Then I took the remnants of my large soda and returned to work. Sitting at my desk, with a ton of work in front of me, I discovered something that was truly eye-opening (or eye-closing as you will see). I felt like crap. Suddenly I was tired. I had the after lunch drag like I hadn’t had in months. I actually felt my eyes closing a couple of times. In case anyone didn’t know, falling asleep on the job is NOT a good thing! I started thinking about why I was so damn sleepy. I’d actually gotten a pretty good night’s sleep the night before. I eliminated every possible contributing factor but one. That garbage I’d put in myself at lunch was actually performing the opposite task of what food is supposed to do. Rather than fueling my body, it was draining my body. I visualized my system looking at this glob of useless crap and thinking “What the hell am I supposed to do with this??” “Hey brain? Do you recognize this stuff? No? Stomach? Do you? No?” You get the picture. I think my body was using all of its available energy trying to figure out what to do with the non-useful calories I’d just supplied it.

That was a bit of an epiphany for me. My mother, though not in any way practiced in the arts of proper eating, had a saying she would throw out fairly often. “Eat to live, don’t live to eat”. That moment when I’d eaten the double garbage burgers was the moment when I truly knew the meaning of that saying. Food is NOT intended to satisfy any of your senses. Of course, I get that it’s easier to eat something if it has a good smell, taste, texture, etc… BUT that is not its primary purpose. Food’s entire reason for existence is to fuel your body. Now, you have a choice. You can pull up to the pump and fill your main vehicle with the cheapest, lowest grade fuel out there and end up with knocking, pinging and, eventually a blown engine. Or you can choose premium. And therein lies the comparison to our cars and our bodies. A car is, in many cases, the second biggest financial investment we will make. We pamper it, we give it the specific fuel it needs. We change the oil and use the best oil we can get. We wash it, detail it. We make sure that baby purrs like a kitten. But the one body we were given, the body that we have to live with our whole lives, we treat like it’s disposable. If it tastes good, we’ll shove it in our mouths. Look below, and tell me if you can identify this:

cocoa

Grab a hold of that and have yourself a good, long taste! That, my dear readers, is chocolate in its raw form. The chocolate manufacturers knew that you’d never buy THAT! So, they cook it up, process it, color it and load that puppy FULL of processed sugar! Now, there’s something that people will eat! Oh wait! Let’s form it into nice little shapes so it’s kind of cool looking. There we go:

chocolate-bar

Nice! people are going to buy the shit outta THAT! What? Nutritional value? Well, it had some before we processed it but who cares about that? This shit TASTES good!

Back to my car comparison. if someone came up with a gasoline that smelled like roses, had a rich, golden appearance and even felt good but would blow your engine in 30K miles, would you use it? I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t. But that standard doesn’t hold true for our own, precious bodies.

C’mon, people! THINK about what you’re putting in yourself! There are a TON of options that actually taste good, feel good, look good AND are good for you. It’s just a matter of adjusting your tastes. Which, by the way, is something that can be done with consistency. I used to be a freak about donuts. Dunkin’, Krispy, Entemann’s it didn’t matter. Donuts were life for me. Today, a year plus after I worked on changing my perceptions of food, I look at a donut and get zero cravings. In some way they now repulse me. You can get there, too. Just start thinking about every thing that you are putting in your mouth. Ask yourself “What am I getting out of this?” If the answer is just “It tastes good” or “It smells good” then don’t eat it. Get something that tastes good, smells good AND can fuel you properly. Go for Premium instead of Regular. I promise you, you won’t regret it.

Eat to live, don’t live to eat

Until next time, stay strong

You Say You Want a Resolution?

Ladies & Gentlemen, they’re gone. The Resolutionaries are gone. Just like that, February left us and, with it, the fakers. Now, that is a very judgmental way to describe them, I know but the reality is, that’s what they are. These are the people that made a resolution on New Year’s Eve to get fit and lose weight in the New Year. They came equipped with their fad diets, pricey workout clothes and a wide eyed “Deer in the headlights” look. Some of them went to the only piece of equipment they vaguely recognized, the treadmill, and started running as fast as they could….for all of two minutes. Some of them just wandered around the gym with no idea what to do. They go from one piece of equipment to the next with no earthly idea how to operate it. Then, after a few early morning sessions at the gym, they wake up to their 4:30 alarm, hit the snooze button and say “I just don’t feel like going to the gym today.”

reward

These people come specifically to Planet Fitness because they don’t have to sign a contract. They’re paying month to month so they can just cancel at any time. There’s zero commitment. Why do I get judgmental about them you ask? Because if you’re going to make a resolution, KNOW WHAT THE HELL YOU’RE RESOLVING TO DO! If I buy something for $20 (the current monthly Planet Fitness charge) I would insist on having the directions for use and reading them. Planet Fitness goes one better than that. They actually offer, for free, someone to walk you through the use of the machines! But the faker Resolutionaries don’t use that resource. They know what they’re doing!

In reality, they have no clue what they’re doing but they’re not invested enough to learn. Getting fit is a commitment. A lifetime commitment that cannot be taken too lightly. The Resolutionaries don’t know that and aren’t willing to learn. I’ve always said there’s a huge difference between stupid and ignorant. Ignorant is you don’t know. Stupid is you’re not willing to learn. The fakers are the ones not willing to learn and there are many of them.

Another sure sign of a Resolutionary is the ones sitting on a piece of equipment and texting or browsing the internet rather than working out. They are the ones getting in the way of those that really ARE trying. And that’s just wrong. If 1000 people come to the gym after a New Year’s resolution, probably 75% of them won’t make it through February. I have no basis in fact for those numbers other than my personal observance but I’d bet I’m accurate.

So, please don’t be discouraged when you go into the gym and you can’t get to the piece of equipment you need to use because some Resolutionary is texting his plans for the evening. Just look around you and try to get on a different machine or on the free weights. Remember, it’s not always how much you exercise, it’s also THAT you exercise. Keep moving no matter who or what stands in your way. And, don’t worry, they’ll be gone soon.