Finding Your Accountabilibuddies

Finding Your Accountabilibuddies

Have you ever tried to do push ups, or planks, or squats, in the comfort of your own home? If you've been following our blog, or any other form of our content, you absolutely should have by now. They're free, they're simple, and they're essential to any form of movement outside of exercise and the gym. We often prescribe homework in our clients programming that contain language like "hold a plank during commercials while watching tv....NO FAST FORWARDING OR TIVO MAGIC." Or "Attempt a pull up or two every time you walk through a door frame in your home." Or "Practice your squat by not using your hands to get up and down from the couch." We use this style of language in our programming to focus on habit training, and to help eliminate the illusion of excuses. 

So as holistic personal trainers we recognize how important those two facets are to making sustainable changes, and how beneficial it is to know you can in fact exercise anywhere, anytime. 

However.

As fully formed adult nerds who built, live, and preach, a lifestyle on the tent pole principle of pursuing enjoyment, excitement, and wonder, we can also tell you how much it blows. It blows hard. On the scale of priority setting and procrastination, doing push ups in the comfort of your own home is the fitness equivalent of doing the laundry. You will feel good after doing it, but getting yourself to do it feels like pulling your teeth. In slow motion. While strapped to your couch.

90% of the success with "DIY" fitness programming we write for people stems from having us there. We are there to check in and remind them to do it. We are there to cheer them on when it gets done. We are there to point out and rejoice in the progress that would otherwise go unnoticed. We provide a sense of proof for accomplishments. We are there to point out each and every time they do something they said they couldn't.  We turn can't into won't, and won't into can, and can into will.

Rest assured, at no point does doing push ups on your home carpet become more enjoyable, or easier to make happen. The power of having proof for your effort, and a positive reinforcement for even trying, makes the teeth pulling tolerable. This is the power of the accountabilibuddy.

Just think, if the power of the accountabilibuddy is strong enough to get you to do and see progress from the most painstaking part of self improvement and habit training, imagine what it can do with things you actually enjoy doing!

What the heck is an accountabilibuddy?

It is a person, group of people, place, or environment, that holds you accountable and encourages your pursuit of self improvement. For a lot of people that feel stuck on a hamster wheel, or start and stop diets or programs frequently, not having an accountabilibuddy is most likely why. 

Sometimes it doesn't matter if you can ride your bike with no hands. It only matters if someone SEES you riding you bike with no hands. Especially if that someone is a person you respect or desire attention from. That's not to say you should be trying to improve your self for someone else. Because, don't. DON'T DO THAT. Your health and wellbeing should never be codependent on someone else, or worse, someone else's attention.

But. 

We are inherently social creatures. Even the most hermit based, prefer my dog to my neighbor type of person, enjoys having their effort noticed. Your accountabilibuddy is a sweet spot of social and variable pressures. Someone waaayyyy better than you or waaayyyy worse than you at something is not relatable, and will either fail to bring out your best, or make your climb seem insurmountable. A place filled with too similar of a struggle is a breeding ground for self loathing and victimising. 

Your accountabilibuddy will never be: 

- A person or place that claims you embarrass them, or makes you feel embarrassed.

- An environment that is angry when you try something new or different. 

-  Someone that lets you get away with giving up before you've tried.

- A group that tells you NOT to do something because A) You don't know how it will turn out. Or B) You have to get your shit in order first.

Your accountabilibuddy is going to support you in YOUR decisions, hold you accountable for what you say you want, be unapologetic with excuses, and pick you up when you fall. Because you will fall. Everyone does. You'll forget, or your motivation will waine, or you'll burn out for weeks at a time. 

Your accountabilibuddy is a force of positivity. Your defence against the unkown. Your super team in the battle of trying to give a fuck. So when preparing for a quest, always, ALWAYS, grab your accountabilibuddy!

What Super Power Do You Covet?

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What Super Power Do You Covet?

When you prepare for your crime fighting mission, what power do you expect to most rely on? The sheer amount of cardio you have to do will happen regardless. We discussed this in a previous post. But once you swoop into action, would you prefer to save the day as quickly as possible, pick something up and move it to safety, or deduce how the crime took place, so you can stop it from happening again.

Basically, would you prefer to have super speed, super strength, or super deduction?

All three skills, speed, strength, and deduction, are needed in some capacity for any hero. The super power describes which of the three you prefer to rely on, enjoy using the most, or use by default without thinking. 

For example:

You come to a stone wall. How do you get to the other side? Do you smash a whole and walkthrough? Do you run up and jump it?  Do you look for a door? 

Your instinctive answer is your super power. The primary gift you should look to hone and keep sharp in case of use. The other two skills are viable options you should always mix in, just in case. It would suck to rely solely on finding a door, only to determine there isn't one.  

Your super power is the anchor to your training. It's what you should resort to when you fall of the wagon, when you're feeling unmotivated, and what you measure and test your progress against.  

We are going to analyze and break down what parameters will be most useful for your desired super power.

 

Super Strength

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You are going to pick up anything that isn't strapped down. You are the one your friends call when they are moving. Some asshat parked their car in your spot? Move it. Locked yourself out of the house? Knock down the door. You prefer to wield giant hammers, clubs, axes, or two handed swords, swing them once, and go home.

The first rule of strength training, is that you don't get strong by being strong. You don't improve strength by trying to lift 500lbs that won't budge. You don't improve strength by always and only lifting your max. You can realistically hit your max lift once. It takes so much of your energy to do so however, that you can't do it a second time.  

To improve your strength you want to work in full body compound movements. You want weights heavy enough to tax your whole body, while at the same time being light enough that after you have set them down, you can still pick them up again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And then maybe rest.

 

Super Speed

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Lines are the worst. Walking in a pack downtown makes you want to pull the skin off your face. You can totally run faster than rush hour traffic. The fastest way to get from point A to point B is a straight line, walls and private property be damned. Your jab is your favorite weapon and your wit is quick.

Speed is most effective in short bursts. The longer you spend doing something, the more energy it takes to keep doing it, the more you slow down. So when training for speed really you want to focus on two things. 1) Your top speed being higher. 2) The amount of time you can maintain your top speed, or close to it.

Plyometrics are your best friend.  Sprints, jumps, and other short bursts of power are going get you going faster, sooner. 

 

Super Deduction

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You know who the killer is within the first act of the episode. Crosswords and sudoku are your jam. Getting a question to something you don't know the answer to is both exciting AND an excuse to jump down a rabbit hole of research and thought experiments.  Your quick thinking prevents fights from escalating in the first place. Your understanding of physics and obsessive nature help you excel at things like climbing, darts, and billiards.

Just like strength and speed, your ability to deduce information from observing the world around you is physically trainable. To make it a superpower you have to be able to rely on it when you don't have time to think. When panic sets in and the chips are on the table, being able to tell whether someone is left or right handed doesn't matter unless you can apply the knowledge at full speed.

To train your deduction you want stimulate your mind in between spikes of adrenaline.  Playing memory in between a tabata, or tick tack toe in between heavy lifts can scratch this itch.

Which  of these powers do you feel calling to you? Which of the descriptions best describes how you see or would prefer to interact with the world? Lets discuss! If you want to learn more about how to exercise for character type, make sure to check out "How to Train for the Life You're Currently Living Part 2: Superhero Special Moves," on the products page!

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Being a Superhero is Mostly Cardio

Being a Superhero is Mostly Cardio

As superheroes we know the importance of being able to lift tons of weight, hone our powers, withstand ungodly amounts of pressure, posses a relentless motor for getting through any situation, and the greek god like body that can come from training all those things. You know what no one ever seems to talk about? The amount of cardio required in superhero work. I'm not talking about training even, just the day to day job requirement that is high levels of cardio. 

You spend most of your time running to or away from things. Even if you're not dealing with a direct conflict, you're still walking during your patrol of the neighborhood. Quick question, how much energy do you think you would have left for bad guy shenanigans after forty five minutes of walking around the block, climbing buildings, and jumping from roof top to roof top? I'd say, rounded to the nearest whole number, zero. 

The trouble is, training cardio sucks. It is absolutely the worst. It is painful, and gross, and a great way for seeing the inside of your stomach. But if you plan on saving the day, you have to include it somewhere in your program. All the greats do. Even the strongest most super powered hero has to work on cardio. 

The Flash has super speed powered by the speed force, equally enhanced reaction and time perception, and has enough power in his sprint to bend, break, and travel through time. And he still had to practice running in order to do so because, cardio.

Superman is a Kryptonian alien with more powers, abilities and might, than most other teams of heroes put together. His power is fueled by our solar system's yellow sun. He has had most, if not all of his powers by puberty, and yet even he has to find time to huff and puff and hopefully not blow a house down because of accidental super breath.

Batman has every bat themed gadget you can think of, including an armored fleet of vehicles, and created a fighting system that requires one timely strike at a time to help him avoid as much cardio as possible. Yet he runs, swims, climbs, and of course conditions with sparring, you know, just incase.

Maybe, just maybe, it could be helpful to do a burpee, or run a sprint.

Somewhere The Joker is laughing.

 

How to Navigate Your Skill and Attribute Tree

How to Navigate Your Skill and Attribute Tree

 

When embarking on the heroes journey, you may find that navigating your user interface for your skills and attributes is rather clunky and not very intuitive. When possible, using a tutorial with the help of a guide can greatly improve your chances of success. At the very least learning how to read and understand your skill and attribute tree can set you in the right direction. So what are skills and attributes, and why do they even matter?

What are Attributes?

Attributes are your basic physical traits. Strength, speed, endurance, agility. Generally speaking when you are working out, you are attempting to improve one, some, or all of these attributes. They are the limits of what you can pick up or carry, how quickly you can get what you're carrying from point A to point B, how far a distance you can carry the object between point A and point B, and how many movements or changes in direction you can make while moving from point A to point B.

Most of the time if you find yourself using your attributes, the quest in question requires a mix of some to all of them. It is very rare that your quest simply requires you to pick something up and replace the object in the same spot you found it. However! When working to level up your attributes, you are best served by focusing on one attribute at a time. Whether it be through a full cycle of training that you spend on one specific attribute, or splitting up your workouts through out the week to focus on separate attributes.

The reason you want to focus on one attribute at a time is because they are applied generically to a variety of events, and trying to predetermine which events you're going to encounter is highly improbable. By linearly focusing on one attribute at a time, you can clearly see your progress as you level up, and have a better estimate of whether or not your current level can successfully interact with a situation. 

What are Skills

Skills are abilities that utilize your attributes. They are movement patterns, ranges of motion, or tool use. We use the word tool loosely. It doesn't have to be a crescent wrench or help you build something. It can be a toy, game, a weapon, or any other object that requires your interaction to be used. Your skills are the creative outlets for using your attributes. Much like with your attributes, you're best served by focusing on one skill at a time.

Not so much for keeping track of the linear progression, but more because of the time consumption required for success. There is a direct correlation between the amount of time spent practicing a skill, and the point at which it becomes an unconscious response. Leveling up a skill starts at the first point of it becoming unconscious. If you have to think about executing a skill before doing so, you have already been slayed.

By focusing on one skill at a time you can minimise the amount of time required to reach an unconscious response. You can further improve the time it takes to reach an unconscious response by practicing it everyday. While a given skill may get rusty if unused for too long, having it logged into your subconscious makes it much easier to pick up again when you need it. This allows you to focus on leveling up a new skill while merely maintaining your already developed ones. Maintaining your leveled skills simply requires applying their unconscious responses in your quests. In other words, keep going on quests.

Where do they fit into your heroes journey?

While your skills are purely technical, and until used, mostly theoretical, it is your attributes that dictate how long and with how much force you can execute them. You can't really succeed in any quest unless you build and maintain both of them. A skill without honed attributes will be weak, inefficient, lower your chances of survival, and eliminate any chances of escaping. Highly leveled attributes may allow you to survive longer, but leave you unable to complete any tasks.

The balance of trying to level up a skill and your attributes can seem daunting, but it doesn't have to be. The simplest structure is to focus on one skill and one attribute at a time and separately from each other. Your skill would be practiced every day, while fresh, and separate from or at least before your attribute workout. Your attribute workout would then focus on improving EITHER strength, speed, endurance, or agility. This allows you time to recover physically from each workout AND accurately track your attributes progress. If you don't have enough time or energy to switch attributes every day, you can instead focus on one attribute each time you work out and switch them out every month or so.

The relationship between your attributes and skills is built and maintained for the long haul. There is no point where you wake up and no longer have to work to at least keep your attributes at their current level. This is the biggest fallacy of working out. The idea that you've reached your goal, so you can stop. Or that you're done working out because you are already in shape. The most painful example is believing that you will pause your real life until you level up your skills and attributes to an acceptable level before returning to your previous ways.

The most crucial aspect of the heroes journey is adapting the lessons you learn to create a new you, understanding, and way of life. Peter Quill (Star Lord, and leader of the Guardians of the Galaxy) was once nothing more than a lazy dimwitted local government employee, that sucked at shining shoes.  He altered his beer intake, found his way to the gym after failing the police fitness test, and built in the day to day discipline required to improve his attributes to the level of a kick ass space pirate. He did so all AFTER turning 34. Peter didn't become a kick ass space pirate and then return to over consuming beer and getting high on shoe polish. He continued to maintain the required skills and attributes his new life required of him. Unfortunately for the fate of half the universe, he never really grew out of his over emotional dim wittedness.

 

 

Not Your Lover

Not Your Lover

As a personal trainer I wear many hats. I'm part teacher, part best friend, part therapist. But do you know what I'm not? I'm not your lover. That means you can't cheat on me. You can't get away with sneaking around, because your faithfulness isn't to me, it's to your program, or your desire to see results. I'm not the one getting hurt, you are.

It happens a lot, I give homework that doesn't get followed, diets that get ignored, and workouts that require pity rest for your suffering.  You skip class and sessions completely with no intention on keeping up with the program, or trying to fit your own work in.

To some degree it makes total sense. The process of getting healthier and changing your habits is hard and difficult and uncomfortable, of course there will be days you don't want to do it. However, the part of this that boggles my mind, is when you turn around and apologize to me. You owe me nothing. Our arrangement is simple. You pay me and in return I provide you with the science, programing, tools, and guidance necessary to make the changes you desire. Whether or not you follow through on using those tools is not part of the agreement. 

I did my part. I'm not the person you are cheating on. You are not trying to better yourself to please me. You are not paying attention to your energy levels to impress me. You are not tracking your home workouts to make me proud. You're doing this because you woke up one day and said you wanted to do more. You wanted to be better. You are the only person who feels the effects of your cheating.

The person you need to apologize to is yourself. The trust you broke was your own. I'm not telling you this to make you feel guilty or depressed or make you think you can never change. Everybody has a bad week once in a while. We are all a work in progress and constantly evolving. We are not going to have a perfect day all the time. That does not mean we stop trying.

Just because we went over our calories at lunch doesn't make dinner a free for all. Just because we missed morning cardio twice this week doesn't mean we stop trying to get up early and do it. If anything these are the times we buckle down harder because this is where the real change is going to start to happen. There is no wagon to fall off. Your day will go on with or with out your permission. If you forgot, or didn't make time, or over slept, or don't think taking care of yourself is a priority today, tough. Own it, suck it up, and kick some ass. I'm telling you this so you realize it's about you and only you. Show up and be there for yourself, don't cheat on yourself, you deserve better then that.

The Power of Naps, Curiosity, and Playtime

The Power of Naps, Curiosity, and Playtime

Why are we so quick to judge people as immature? Now we're not talking about people who don't pay their rent on time, or forget to pick up their friend from the airport, or crack a cruel or dirty joke at work to a customer. That is being immature. But for some reason we have this idea that to be an adult means you have to be serious one hundred percent of the time. That there is no room for “wasted time.” There are three parts of our childhood specifically, that get squashed out of us by the time we are working full time and maybe have kids of our own. They are naps, curiosity, and play time.

The importance of naps:

As a child nap time was a regularly scheduled part of the day. As a toddler at daycare, at preschool, at kindergarten, there was a time after a snack or lunch, where everyone lied down, the lights got turned out, and for about 30 minutes to a hour everyone slept.

Lets be honest, as kids we fought nap time tooth and nail, and the adults really just wanted some piece and quiet. Kids also had “grumpy naps.” Times during the day where everyone in the room but you could tell you were exhausted and needed to lie down for 20 minutes, because of how much of a whiny bitch you were being.

Nowadays we have research that shows naps to be an essential part of the learning process. We know that as the brain becomes more and more exhausted, a quick nap can help not only restore your energy, but is also a tool for making sense of all the crap that has become jumbled in your brain. We also know that kids have high brain/neural plasticity which is part of what allows them to learn and adapt at an extremely high rate. Making sure a kid naps is a great way to help them take advantage of it.

As an adult, naps are considered lazy. If you have time to lay around at 2pm on a Thursday, you're slacking off and not working hard enough. You know what doesn't change as an adult? Getting extra grump, short, heavy eyed, and easily frustrated around 2pm or 3pm. A bad diet tends to make it worse. You can lessen the effect by paying attention to what or how you eat, but it still happens in some capacity every day.

The fact is a 20 to 60 minute nap still has a big effect on your mood, alertness, concentration, and coordination. It helps reset your brain from the workload you've already dealt with. If you find yourself stuck on a problem, or extra snippy with people in the mid afternoon, a quick nap can do wonders to help. In order for that to happen, you must have given your brain or body a workload to respond to. If you find yourself taking a nap after a morning filled with nothing but sitting, laying, pooping, and eating, you will wake up extra grumpy and disoriented. THAT would be considered lazy.

That quick power nap can also help you from physical workload. Your bodies repair systems go into overdrive and do their best work while you are asleep. If you tend to be active or workout in the morning, a nap can help restore your expended energy. Any skill work you are practicing is improved while you are unconscious, not during the time spent executing the skill.

The power of curiosity

Our minds are naturally inquisitive. There is a strong pull to figure out why something doesn't make sense, or how something worked. Being curious has nothing to do with your ability to absorb or understand information. It is simply the spark that powers you to try. It's how we learn of our own free will.

As children we understand nothing. This gives us a sense of wonder and magic for the world. We are more open to new information and have zero confirmation bias. We know that asking questions plays a strong roll in learning and allowing a child to be inquisitive helps them develop critical thinking skills. We want them to develop the ability to solve problems on their own, and form educated opinions. We want them to take advantage of their higher neural plasticity and take in as much of the world around them as possible.

As adults we build a fallacy around the belief that we know how the world works. The more we believe we understand the less time we are willing to spend asking questions. Those who are inquisitive as adults are lambasted for being ignorant or stupid or immature. As a result, we stop learning. The spark and wonder within the world dims and the desire to make sense of things goes unfulfilled. What doesn't change as an adult, is the world being a crazy wondrous place filled with infinite possibilities to explore. If curiosity is the how we learn, and you stop letting yourself being curious, then you stop learning. You rob yourself of the exhilaration of finding something new.

If you look at the great minds of our generations, it's not just that they magically knew more or memorized more stats and facts better than others. No what made the great minds great, was constantly exploring and searching for answers. Always seeking out new puzzles, finding new mysteries, trying to explain the unexplained, and feeding their curiosity.

The power of play time

 

Play time is the most exciting and exhilarating part of your day as a child. It's 100% enthusiasm, unbridled joy, and free from worry or consequence. There may be rules to follow, or winners or losers, but your imagination gets to run free. Your first real concepts of right and wrong and risk reward come from playing with others. The ability to create is built through allowing your imagination to physically manifest.

Even if you have hobbies as an adult, or activities that you enjoy doing, showing pure enthusiasm for it is considered embarrassing. But for most of us, there isn't even time for enjoying things that have zero to do with your to do list. We remove joy and spontaneity from anything deemed worthy of doing. Everything is serious, your exercise, your fandom (sport, comic book, or sci-fi/fantasy), your pick up basketball game, or your role playing game. These are all outlets for imagination, escapism from the day to day, and fun for fun's sake, and yet how often do you end up filling the time with arguments, or walking away frustrated?

We as nerds tend to be the worst with this. We have built and grown into what we enjoyed as kids, and are fortunate to include and pay attention to our interests. But the joy associated with letting our imagination run free has been replaced by rigid schedules or cutting down of others for not being true fans.

We know how crucial the power of a child's imagination is for developing aptitude during a phase of their life when their neural plasticity is at its highest. We also make ourselves feel guilty if we don't take our hobbies serious enough. How many of us lose a little self esteem because we start writing a novel but don't finish. Or let the weeds over take the garden because we lost interest and want to learn the piano now instead. We look at hobbies cast aside a failures instead of what they truly are, playtime that has run it's course.

The emphasis of naps, curiosity, and play time is made when we are children, and our neural plasticity is highest. We focus on these points because they are considered essential for our development. Our mistake is thinking that at any point we have stopped developing. Sure our neural plasticity is higher as kids, but remember everything can be trained, and everything can be worked on. How much of having a harder time learning a foreign language is because your brain got too full, versus you stopped practicing how to learn new things? How can you expect to be able to enjoy life, when you have no practice in feeling joy?

The world will never run out of ways to inspire you or cause you wonder. You didn't lose your “child like enthusiasm,” you lost the ability to be or feel enthusiastic at all.

 

How to be Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

How to be Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

I love my couch. It is soft, and comfy, and just the right shape for both my dogs and my cat to snuggle over me like an extra blanket. After a long day of kicking ass with positivity, collapsing into my fort made of adorableness brings me a loving sense of euphoria. Every time I'm pretty sure I will never get back up, but that only feels so comfortable because I've spent the rest of my day being uncomfortable. It's the contrast of putting my body through stress and getting it sore that made the comfort so possible.

“But I don't want to be sore, or uncomfortable. It sounds painful, and I'd rather not be in pain.” I agree. I don't want to be in pain either. In fact our e-book “The Superhero Blueprint” discusses working to not have chronic pain and inflammation. However! I also say tough. Too bad. Tough noogies. Because while chronic pain can and should be thwarted, pain as a whole is going to happen whether you like it or not, and in some cases may be necessary.

In a mirrored universe where instead of kicking ass with positivity I spend most days on that same couch covered in the happiness that is puppies and kittens, it will feel decent for the first couple hours. After that my eating will be out of boredom rather than hunger. My food will taste bland and require oodles of extra salt, deep frying, and sugar in order to garner any kind of reaction. I will become tired from all my doing nothing. My butt will fall asleep, as will my hamstrings, and my ankles, which I won't notice until I try to stand up to use the bathroom. When I do stand up, or possibly even while I'm still stuck in the couch depending on how long it's been, I will notice that my joints are stiff, stuck, and fucking SORE.

No matter what you do, at some point, soreness will set in. That uncomfortable pain you want to avoid will exist either way. You can either put it to work or let it keep you from working. You can either use it to better yourself and improve your life, or it can take over your life and keep you from living.

What? Why? How?

Science SAID so that's how. Hahahaha puns.

Your body is a crazy, amazing, efficient machine. It is way smarter than you. It has to be in order to survive all the stupid shit we put it through. Your body has mechanisms built in that solely exist to fix stuff you fuck up. For example: there is a part of your sleep cycle that's sole job is to make sense of the things you sucked at today, and make you better at them. This is why you can end yo-yo practice frustrated and confused, and comeback the next day and kick ass at it. While you were unconscious your body found the missing links of yo yo stardom and put them together. 

Because of systems like this, your body readily adapts to the stimulus you give it.
This is known as the SAID (Specific Adaption to Imposed Demands) principle. Your body will adapt to its demands whether you choose to give it any or not. The way you sit, the way you stand, the way you walk, all play a part in how you body adapts. So if you spend most of your time in a fixed position at work, either standing or sitting, and spend most of your time in your favorite recliner at home, your body will adapt to those positions. When you move it will hurt because your body will have no idea how. The muscles in your legs, core, and back, that are supported by your chair, will have been turned off.

If you give your body demands to adapt to, it will. Putting demand on your body is by nature uncomfortable. In order for it to acknowledge and change from the provided stimulus, it must be more or different from what your body is used to. Part of the being uncomfortable will come in the form of being sore. So one way or another you will be uncomfortable and sore. The question is, is your body sore from adapting to your chair or is your body sore from adapting to exciting stimulus?

The choice is yours.

Athletic vs Aesthetic vs Healthy

Athletic vs Aesthetic vs Healthy

Today I want to do a little compare and contrast between athletic, aesthetic, and healthy. I want to do this because these things don't necessary go hand in hand, while some people may have all of the above it is just as easy to only be one of these things.

So lets start with athletic. What is an athletic body? Very simple it is a body that is trained and honed to do a specific task, often over and over, to a very high standard. That could be running, lifting large amount of weight, hitting a ball or even hitting another person. Athletic is probably the most specific goal you can have, not best but most specific. If you are training as an athlete, pro or for hobby, you are focused on getting your body to do one thing and getting it to do that thing better and better and better. Now getting your body to be a well oiled performance machine does not actually hit on any aesthetic of health goals. While sometime these things can go hand and hand, think Tom Brady or Venus Williams, having an aesthetically pleasing body does doesn't not come along with athletic training or enhance it, unless your sport is bodybuilding but that's another story. Prince Fielder, Dontari Poe, Shaquille O'Neal and Eddie Hall all have body's we would not think of as “Athletic.” In fact for most of us if we saw these men walking around in there street clothes we may even think, damn that guy need to hit the gym or go on a diet. But these man all have an athletic body type because they are all PRO ATHLETS. That what that means, they get their body to do something amazing and don't give a damn if it is healthy or if they look good. For all athletes their training, their diet, even how they recover is solely focused on their sport. This doesn't mean you can't have a sports hobby and be healthy at the same time or not to look to our athlete for inspiration, just know when you read about The Rocks 5,000 plus calorie diet that you are keeping his goals in mind so you have a clear perspective.

Ok Next is Aesthetic, lets face it this is what we all want and what drives most of us to the gym in the first place. The funny thing is how many people don't want to come right out and say it. I have so many clients that come to me saying they just want to be healthy but then only want to talk about losing weight. Or that they just want to feel good about themselves when secretly they are hoping I can give them visible abs. Now again you can be healthy and look great, and in fact I find that the mirror can be a good motivator for getting people to put in the work, nothing feels better then seeing your body take shape and lovely how you look. However there can be an ugly side to the aesthetic goal as well. Having an Instagram worth body does mean defecto health. There are many programs and system out there that will get you the aesthetically pleasing figure you want but it will come at the expense of your health.

Lastly we have health. This is always our many goal for our clients and ourselves but what does it really mean? For us health means not being in pain, being able to move comfortably, having sustained energy throughout your day, and having the strength to lift and carry things as your life demands, i.e. groceries or kids. In short health means being able to enjoy your life because your body is allowing you to live comfortably. Here is the kicker, you don't have to live like and athlete or look like an Instagram model to be healthy. You can be plump and soft, or tall and all sinew and still be super healthy. Health is about how you feel, how well this amazing machine we call a body is running then how you look.

So why am I going over these points? Whats the point? Am I just trying to make you feel bad for lusting over that six pack? Not at all, in fact if you want a six pack I can help you get that six pack. I just want you to see that difference between these things so we can have some clarity when setting your goals and making a plan to get there. Like I said at the start you can be some of or all of these things but be honest with yourself about what your true goals are and what you are willing to sacrifice to get there. We have about 3 month tell summer which means for most of us aesthetic is going to be our main goal, we want to rock that bikini. Now you can only focus on that, or you can focus on being healthy too. We can help you dial in a proper healthy nutrition plan and give you exercise that while helping your body to move more and better will also help you look your best. The same goes for athletic, I love programming for sport preformace it is super fun. But we are going to focus on not just making you the best but mobility and recovery work that make you a healthy athlete will a long career. Now as I said there are other ways, there are programs and shortcuts out there that will get you antithetic and aesthetic goals but at no concern for your health or even the stability or the result. If your goal is a six pack or run a 4 minute and that's all you care about damn the consequences will then more power too you my brother but we are not the right trainers for you. However if you have those same goals but want to take the time and discipline to do it in a healthy way, please give us a call, we can help with that.

 

 

How To Escape The Fitness Paradox: Why To Move First

How To Escape The Fitness Paradox: Why To Move First

Some of the most frustrating things I hear on an almost weekly basis are things like:

“Your class looks fun. Once I'm in better shape I'm going to come check it out.”

“I'm just not in good enough shape right now to exercise”

“I’m too old, I can’t exercise anymore.”

“I need to lose some weight so I can feel confident hiring a trainer.”

It’s a paradox right?

You can’t workout because you’re out of shape, but need to workout in order to get in shape.

This is how many people see fitness, and I can see why. If you go into your average commercial gym, or pick up any fitness magazine or diet book, all you see is people ALREADY in shape and fit. Ever try one of the workouts in a magazine? Yeah those are for people ALL READY in shape and fit too.

How can you be expected to do jumping lunge skater hops and weighted pull ups, if you can't jump, lunge or do regular pull ups? It's like the entire industry is a cruel joke of already fit people needing newer more complicated ways of getting extra fit.

How are you supposed to break free of this paradox? Where do you start?

I'm going to tell you a secret:

If you want to look like that mega babe busting out deadlifts at your local gym, there is one thing you'll need to do......

....BUST OUT DEADLIFTS!

....BUST OUT DEADLIFTS!

There's no short cut, no magic trick, and most defiantly no prerequisites, you just have to start. It won’t look as pretty or be as much weight, and you will be uncomfortable, both physically and mentally. But the only way to get there is by doing it.

A lot of people try to escape this paradox with diet first. They feel they can do it on their own, and there’s no need to go to the gym yet. Once they diet off enough weight to look good in their gym clothes, they can hit the squat rack!

However, diets are generally temporary. They restrict food in a manner that is not sustainable for once you do hit the gym, and tend to build an ugly relationship with food.

Yay, dinner served with an equal helping of despair.

Yay, dinner served with an equal helping of despair.

Plus diets can be extremely difficult to stick to if you live with family members or roommates that are not on diets. Do you really want to cook two different dinners every night or buy special food just for you? Can you really control yourself after a rough day when you come home and see your kids mega sugary cereal just waiting for you to eat it? Plus every time you crash diet and fail you put yourself in a worst place both physically and mentally for trying again.

That's why we like to start people off with simply moving more. All you need is 15-30 minutes a day to yourself. You can start today, without having to buy anything, or go anywhere specific. You can walk around your neighborhood. You can lay on the ground and get back up over and over and over again. If that sounds boring or doesn’t leave you exhausted after a couple weeks, go to your local pool or take a class (trying a class is normally free) even if it seems above your skill level (any coach worth his salt can scale a class so anyone can participate). The more specific your goal, the more specific type of movement you are going to need.

It can seem hard to carve out the extra time at first. Jobs and family seem to fill up every extra minute.

The simplest way to find time is to incorporate it within or around a regular commute. On the way or before work or school, or after work or school before you get home. This also leaves you natural rest days if needed on the weekends or days off.

That little bit of time quickly leads to being more present and productive at work, having more energy and focused attention to give to your kids and/or partner, and can also lead to cravings for better foods. While exercise can suck, be uncomfortable, and totally miserable when you start out. It has quick benefits of boasting endorphins, regulating other hormones, and decreasing stress levels.

If you find yourself stuck in the fitness paradox, the only error is to wait. If you have to choose between something you can do tomorrow and something you can do now, the way to escape the paradox is to do something now.

And right now you can sign up for our class or a free session!

JUST CLICK HERE!!

 

The Advantage Of Having a Plan of Attack

The Advantage Of Having a Plan of Attack

When I was 18, I was nearly 6 feet tall and 140 pounds...... with shoes and jeans and a hoodie. When I was 18 I joined a golds gym for the first time. I remember seeing people with arms bigger than my torso. I remember the machine I needed always being in use. I remember fighting with machines to adjust them to my gangly frame, and running away anytime someone walked by. I remember feeling like a rodent lost in a jungle. I remember feeling in the way, overwhelmed, and inadequate as human being. I was pretty sure I was an alien species that my parents found in a field somewhere.....You know.... Minus the sun giving me extraordinary powers.

Today I am 30. I am 6 feet tall and 165 pounds. I am stronger and faster than I've ever been before. Clothes actually mold to my body.

Even better:

I am a professional in the health and fitness industry. I own a personal training business. I have spent years, studying, researching, learning, practicing, and teaching others how to workout and eat to reach their goals. I've seen a number of people reach those goals, and others learn to maintain them.

And yet.

Every time I walk into a commercial gym, I still feel like I'm that 18 year old version of myself.

I am still timid about approaching the weights, and feel clueless fumbling with pins and stacks and seat adjustments on machines. I still get jealous of the guy with bigger arms than me, or the guy lifting twice my weight. I say things like “why the fuck does he get to have all the muscles! Leave some for the rest of us!.”

And I don't know why.

But I do know, that if after years of working in gyms, training clients, and seeing personal progress, I still feel out of place, insecure, and uncomfortable walking around a commercial gym floor, then chances are you will too.

While commercial gyms still make me feel awkward, that awkwardness now only lasts until about midway through my first set. The warm up is still awkward and I still feel in everyone's way while stretching. But once my heart is pumping and I'm moving through that first exercise all that goes away.

And that is mostly due to one big change:

Now I have a plan of attack.

Every time I enter the gym I know what I am going to do, and why I am going to do it. This gives me confidence in the work I am doing, and soon I find that I'm so focused on my own work I don't have the energy to worry about other people, or if I look like a gym fail video.

We want to help you get to that same level of confidence. We can build a plan of attack for you. Show you the correct form and talk you through how to get the results you want. That way the next time you walk into the gym you won't have to wander awkwardly and feel out of place for as long. You will be able to get lost in your workout, perform exercises confidently, and smash your goals!

If you're interested in learning how to have a plan of attack for using the gym click here to learn more and schedule a free session!

Are you making the most of your gym membership?

Are you making the most of your gym membership?

For most of you, regardless of your health history, size, or weight, exercise is still viewed as a want rather than a need. That's ok, I'm not here today to convince you otherwise. You have to come to that conclusion on your own. Even though most prescriptions for blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and obesity medication tend to also come with a prescription for diet and exercise. AND most of those conditions are prevented with a balanced diet and regular exercise in the first place. No. Today I'd like to talk to you about that want.

Because you already signed up for a gym, or have previously been a member of a gym, or will join a gym after reading this. That means you have enough of a want for exercise to throw down money every month. But not quite enough of a want, to actually go to the gym on the semi regular bases.

So what are you hoping joining a gym will accomplish? Why did you originally decide to sign up AND pay that stupid "enrollment fee." When you do make it to the gym, are you taking advantage of the whole facility? For a lot of people, a gym becomes a treadmill and shower rental. Which is absolutely acceptable! Cardio health is super important, but i know my apartment complex has a treadmill, and the park has running and walking lanes, and i have a shower at home. If there are whole sections of your gym that you avoid, you aren't getting the true value of what your membership entails, AND you are literally paying a place to give you nothing. 

The top reasons I get for not using or avoiding parts of the gym are:

- I'm not into bodybuilding, i don't want to get all bulky.

- I feel like everyone is watching me/ feel self conscious on the gym floor.

-I don't know how to use the equipment/ don't want to hurt myself. 

- I don't want to end up in a gym fail video on youtube.

OK first things first....the bulky body thing.... and this goes for both men and women.... It's not lifting weights that makes people become or appear bulky.

Period. 

What makes someone become or appear bulky is a mix of their hormones and how they eat, put together with HOW they are lifting weights. 

Secondly, nobody is looking at you. Nobody's looking at you cause they are too busy focusing on themselves, worrying that other people are looking at them, or in some cases, worrying that no one is looking at them, and of course, taking selfies.

Thirdly! I don't want you to get hurt either!! Not knowing how to use the equipment is the biggest contributor to feeling self conscious wandering the gym floor. Even the machines that are designed to simplify the process are cumbersome to adjust and have unhelpful instructions. Having an accountable-a-buddy, training partner, or friend can help with that process. You and your friend navigating the gym floor can at least be entertaining. 

You can also ask for help! There is plenty of information out there. You are currently reading a blog that covers information that can help you use a gym. There are plenty of books, and DVD's, and Youtube channels devoted to showing people how to use equipment properly. No one source is better than another, you can simply find one with a message you relate to, and follow that program. 

Sometimes even being armed with the correct information isn't going to be enough to actually do anything about it. Having someone to take you through workouts, show you how to use equipment, and move the equipment safely, could really help build your confidence on the gym floor. Not only have you now done it, but you know how to do it safely, and have been provided with a custom plan built specifically for you. A plan that you can confidently take to the gym floor on your own. 

Even if you don't feel like you accomplish much in the beginning, going to the gym on the regular basis will create healthy habits. Soon you will start to come back to the exercises you like, get inspired by other people you see, or just get more comfortable with your body being sweaty and out of breath in this weird environment.

That process is what a personal trainer is for. Your gym may even have some on staff. Working with a trainer doesn't have to be forever, but I encourage you to try it. Try it beyond the free complementary workout, and learn to make full use of your gym.

Which brings us back to that want. You want to see results. You want to feel healthy and energetic. But you don't want help? The number one reason people skip on using a trainer is because of price. It's understandable, since the per session cost and monthly cost tend to both be higher than your standard gym membership. The jump in price switches your “want” to a “don't need.”

Sure you want to lose weight, but you need new clothes. Yea you would like some definition in your arms, but you need to get drinks with your friends. You want to look good in your swimsuit, but you need to pay for the vacation. It is easy to justify other things you would spend your money on, because a need supersedes a want in priority. The problem with that hierarchy is that a lot of prioritized needs are really just wants you've built into a habit. The gym, or at least using the gym floor, is not a habit yet. That makes it awkward, and clumsy, and unfamiliar, and far more difficult than it actually has to be.

Unfortunately the only way you are going to actually get what you want out of your gym, is by making it a habit. In order to do that, other habits are going to have to make room and suffer. This includes financially based habits. It will be uncomfortable. Anything that has the potential to be life changing will make you uncomfortable. That doesn't mean you can't do it, just that it is different from what you're used to. And remember, what you are used to isn't working. That's the most important part here. It is also the hardest to accept.

So let me ask you a question.

How much are you willing to pay to keep your life exactly how it is right now? Because that's what your gym membership has become if you aren't making use of it, or aren't seeing progress on your own.

How much are you willing to pay to successfully make positive changes in your life? Because that is what personal training offers you.

I do realize the price jump can be unsettling, but I also want you to have every opportunity at seeing progress in the gym before giving up. So for a limited time, and a select number of individuals, I will include the monthly cost of your current gym, or the gym you are going to join after reading this, in the price of our training packages. Commercial gyms don't even do that with the price of there own training sessions!

I will also be offering single use, monthly sessions, that come with a month of programming to take to your current gym.

If you want to learn more about this limited time offer, CLICK HERE1


 

 

Do You Have A Bad Back?

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Do You Have A Bad Back?

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-Julian

We spend a lot of time helping members learn how to tell the difference between soreness and pain. Or how to tell the difference between an injury and recovering from a hard workout. One specific version of that is the issue of the lower back. Or the bad back. During workouts, “feeling my back” tends to be one of the first issues or requests for needing a break, needing to sit, or needing to lower the intensity of the workout. Outside of the gym, in the real world, I run into a lot of people that mention a bad back as a limiting factor for physical labor. The physical labor can range from gardening, to moving furniture, to the requirements of their job.

So here is what I want to address:

Do you have a bad back?

 Your low back pain is from either, injury/damage, weakness, or an increase of use. Most of the time (barring some specific injuries) it is fixable without pain pills, or surgery. The big problem with low back pain is that it feels the same regardless of what the cause is. While this may be true in general, it seems to be more so with regards to the low back. For most people, it can be easy to tell the difference between your bicep being sore from your workout and your bicep being in pain from smashing it into something. But the low back does not discriminate with its pain.

So if the pain in your low back feels the same regardless of its root cause, how are you supposed to tell the difference between whether it is injured, weak, or simply been used more than normal?

By paying attention to when the pain started.

In order for your low back to actually be injured, a specific, traumatic, instance must have taken place. Traumatic may seem like strong word, but really it just refers to sudden violence. Which can be something as small as grazing your elbow against a cardboard box. In a specific traumatic instance, you will feel or hear a pop or twinge, or be blatantly aware that you fell down, ran into, or stood up into something. It's pretty easy to tell if the traumatic event took place. Sometimes you won't feel pain right away. Sometimes you will feel the pain the next morning when you wake up. It is your responsibility in that moment to realize you hurt yourself the previous day, and NOT blame it on how you slept. Because,

It's never how you slept that puts a krink in your neck, or makes your back sore. It's what you did the day or two prior, that forced you to sleep in the manner you did.

If you wake up with back pain after a traumatic instance, or feel the pain immediately, you should get it checked out by a doctor, arm yourself with the knowledge of the injury, and do what you can to help it heal properly. If you do not, you will be living with an injured back causing you pain and discomfort the rest of your life.

If you worked out the day before and feel pain in your low back when you wake up, or begin to feel pain during the workout, and do not feel a specific bump, twinge, or pop, you are NOT injured. If the pain comes on gradually during a set, or you notice it between sets, you are NOT injured. You have simply used it more than it is used to. 

This is good! This is the same as your legs being sore or your arms being sore. It means you have convinced your body it needs to grow stronger. If you are working out properly, the soreness should show up later in the workout, or be less severe the next day as you progress.

If your back is in pain from being used more than it is used to, sitting as still as possible is going to make the pain worse. It will cause your muscles to grow extra stiff in response to the soreness, making it harder to stand up or move. Which is what makes it FEEL injured. 

To prevent this you want to take time to move in a manner that is different and less intense than the workout that caused the pain in the first place. 

If you have not experienced a specific traumatic instance and wake up with pain in your low back, feel pain when you bend down, feel pain when you pick things up, or feel pain walking or running, your back is NOT INJURED. It is weak or immobile, either due to lack of use, or imbalances built up from poor use. Ibuprofen and the doctor aren't going to help you if this is the case. Laying as still as possible on the couch isn't going to help it get better because, and here's the kicker,

NOT MOVING IS WHAT CAUSED THE ISSUE IN THE FIRST PLACE! That would be the equivalent of trying to treat a burn with boiling water.

So no, you do not have a bad back. 

If you want your back to get better, you have to strengthen it and move it to improve mobility. Which will probably cause it to get sore in the beginning. Make sure to recover with different and less intense movements to keep the soreness from feeling like an injury.

Start carefully of course but know if you don't, you put yourself at risk of actually injuring your back in a specific traumatic instance.

And that's on you.

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Fear, Passed Failures, and Rebuliding Trust

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Fear, Passed Failures, and Rebuliding Trust

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-Lydia

Fear is one of the most powerful emotions one can have. That is the reason so many political leaders use it to control the masses, why major news channels use it to boost their ratings, why parents use it to get kids to behave. The question is are you using it on yourself and to what end?

Most of us have dreams and goals we will never even attempt to go after because of fear. Fear of failure, fear of embarrassment, fear of letting other people down, even fear of success. This fear doesn't come out of no where though, this fear is taught to us. Watch a young child play at the park, they have very little fear. They run full force towards the jungle gym. It is not until they fall off that they think about the repercussions. But they fall off, they hurt themselves, they cry, and the next day they run towards the jungle gym, but maybe not at full force, maybe they think a little bit about how it hurt, but still they run, and again they fall, and they get hurt, and they cry, and they come back the next day, and this time they walk to the sandbox because now they are afraid of the jungle gym.

When I was in high school I wanted to be an actor. I loved the work, and I knew it was my calling. I got into a prestigious acting school in Manhattan. I soaked up every once of knowledge I could. I loved it and I was positive I was set up for success. After the first year I was not invited back to the school. It was a little hard to take but I pressed on. I got head shots taken and I started sending out emails and going to open calls, but nothing happened. At some point I stopped trying. I still thought about it, still thought there might be a way, but I had stopped taking action.

This is the biggies failure I've had in my life and it still hurts and it makes me scared everyday. It took me a long time to accept being a full part of Everyday Superhero Training, to be passionate about it and take ownership of it. If it was just Julian's company and I was just help, I wouldn't have to face the fear that my passed failures had left me with. But if I had stayed in the limited box my fear had left me in, I would've had no room to grow. I had to face my fears and let go of my passed failure so I could embrace a new passion and a new life goal, and man am I glad I did.

Dealing with fear and mistrust is something we go through with every client. No one comes to us having never tried to get healthy or lose weight before. Everyone comes  with passed failures and fears that this too won't work. We have to rebuild a trust with each of them that was broken by fad diets and bad trainers that hurt them before. It's our job to get them to trust us, trust the process, and trust that they have the ability to change and the out come this time can be different. This is made harder by the fact that we don't have a miracle cure.

I wish we could tell people to take a table spoon of some super food and everything would be perfect but that's not what we're selling. All we have is some physical tools, habit building, slow growth, and change of mindset. We are here to teach you how to move, how to build health into your everyday life, how to change your relationship with food. It's a slow process but it's real change. The thing is we need you to not just trust us and the program, we need you to trust yourself. We need you to lay aside all of the fear of passed failures, the shame of embarrassing snake oil cures you may have bought into, and most of all the fear of the what happens if this time it works and you really do change. If you put in the work something will happen. I trust that.

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Strengthen Your Ability To Enjoy Life

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Strengthen Your Ability To Enjoy Life

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- Julian

If you watch our videos, read our blog, attempt our challenges, attend our class, or ever have a session with me, there are a few things you may notice us say, do, and ask of you, over and over and over again. Things like, moving everyday, training for the life you already live, consistency being the key to results, and balance being the key to consistency.

These things are stressed because our focus is not JUST about losing fat or building muscle, but on building the habits that allow you to maintain those results, and in doing so grow your ability to enjoy life. While enjoying life may seem highly vague, there are mechanisms that can help quantify your ability to do so.....at least physically. There are many factors that contribute to your ability to enjoy life that are going to be deeply personal, mental, emotional, or spiritual, and I'm not going to pretend I can quantify them for you.

But there is evidence that suggests some physical measurements can be correlated to your ability to enjoy life. And none of those measurements are your weight, your waist size, your thigh gap, the definition of your abs, or your ability to take a gym selfie.

One such piece of evidence is a study that I frequently reference and was initially pointed towards by Dr. Andy Galpin, a professor in the Center for Sport Performance at CSU Fullerton. The study found a correlation between quality of life and three physical traits:

Leg strength – The ability to stand, walk, and move for needed periods of time without pain, or falling.

VO2 Max – The maximum amount of oxygen that an individual can utilize during intense or maximal exercise.

Lean Tissue – The amount of muscle on your body (and the ligaments, and tendons, and bones, and organs that connect them).

What does it mean though? This means it is not being overweight or being thin that dictates whether someone is healthy or not.

I am going to say that again.

Being overweight isn't what makes someone unhealthy.

Being thin isn't what makes someone healthy.

Regardless of your shape, if you can move comfortably within the needs of your life, not get winded from doing so, and have the structure to support your size, enjoying your life becomes a lot easier. That's what makes you healthy.

I am not going to pretend that looking good in your birthday suit doesn't play a factor. The desire to look good is what fuels most people to hit the gym, and feeling like you don't look good, or even worse, don't look good yet, is what destroys peoples confidence and self worth.

But here's the thing:

No one is ever satisfied with how their body looks. You can ask the top bodybuilders, athletes, actors, and models, anyone that we hold up as an example of what to strive for, and they will all claim to be unhappy with many parts of their body.

It is during the pursuit of bettering ourselves that we look best in the mirror. It is our ability to enjoy life that makes us healthy. If you want to feel your best, look your best, and believe in yourself, you should focus on bettering your ability to enjoy life.

This is what we coach, teach, and program for. This is how we train. This is what makes us the health industry rather than the fitness industry.

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The Necessary Evil That is Other People

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The Necessary Evil That is Other People

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-Lydia

I am by no means a people person. Like most villains I am a classic introvert. I tend to put people into two categories, family and members of my community who I would go to the ends of the earth for, and everybody else...who should be destroyed. Here is the thing with people though, whether they are an ally or nemesis, when you decide to make a positive change in your life they can react unexpectedly. And to both positive and negative ends.

On the positive side they can be your best support system and you can't achieve goals with out one. Having people to cheer you on, celebrate your accomplishments, and most importantly encourage or sympathize with you when you fail are kind of necessary. Even people who you aren't close to can be a help. Sharing your goals also makes them more real and can create a sense of accountability. So yeah I think we can all agree that people are great and we all need each other and kumbaya and shit. If you have people like this in your life right now take care of them. Thank them for being there, make sure you give them the same support back. If you don't feel like you have people like that in your life at the moment don't stress it too much. Make sure you take the time to be your own cheerleader and treat yourself well. Look for opportunity to be a support team to somebody else, give them a pat on the back and some encouragement. These things will open you up to having more like minded people in your life.

Now I do want to talk about the toxic way people can effect you when making life changes. I have memories of being a kid and going crabbing with my dad and brother. When you catch crabs you throw them live into an empty bucket, without a lid, and keep crabbing, or at least that's how we did it. We never needed a lid or cages for them. You see in an effort to escape the bucket the crabs will continue to pull each other down. I'm telling you this odd story because people can often react much like crabs in a bucket. When you make the announcement that you have goals to lose weight, or drink less, or start a big project, some people will react with contempt and resentment. What they hear is not that their friend is trying to have a better life but instead that they are being abandon by their drinking buddy or that you now think your better then them.

So how do you handle toxic friends? It's hard but you have to remember that your making positive changes for you not for them. They are acting out because of they're own feelings of inadequacies not because of anything you said or did. Move forward and continue to do your best, if they are a good friend they will come around and maybe even be inspired by the changes you made. If they can't come around and don't know how to be happy for you then they may not be a person you need to see a lot of.

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Why You Need to Cook at Home

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Why You Need to Cook at Home

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There are a lot of diets out there in the world and let me tell you right now...spoiler alert...most of them don't work and aren't sustainable. So what does work? Eating healthy and having a good relationship with food, I know, vague right? Now we have talked a little bit in the past about having a good emotional relationship with food so today I thought we'd talk about eating healthy. A lot of things go into eating healthy or “eating clean.” Portion size, macro counts, type and quality of ingredients. My biggest tip for getting started is to cook at least one meal a day at home from scratch.

The most logical reason I recommend cooking for yourself is that you have more control over the ingredients. Even if you are at the best restaurant, even if there is calorie information listed on the menu, even if you use your Fitpal to track everything, you can't really be certain of what your getting. When you cook at home you know what ingredients are going in, what type of oil is being used, and how much salt was added. Also you will be less likely to over eat if you have made everything yourself. If you had to slice and deep fry our own potato chips or churn your own ice cream I bet there would either be less around and/or you'd make it last longer.

Which brings me to my second point. The more you cook for yourself the more you will appreciate your food. As a culture we have devalued our food, opting instead for convenience, but shouldn't what we put in our bodies to fuel our life be something of high value? Yes cooking takes time and energy but if you start valuing the food you use to run your body you will get more out of it. Cooking will help you to gain a new respect for your food.

I love to cook, and I love to make up recipes, for me getting creative in the kitchen can be a great joy. Now I know I said we weren't going to talk about food and emotion this time but the truth is I have a hard time separating the two. Cooking can seem like a chore that you would much rather out source to the drive thru. However it can have great benefits to our mental well being as well as our physical one. In a 2015 article Psychology Today toted cooking as “Meditation with the promise of a good meal afterwards.” They said that cooking can help you be more present in the current moment. If you have over eating problems or a bad relationship with food taking some time to become present in the moment before eating may help. Another article in The Journal of Positive Psychology posed that daily, small, creative projects lead to people being more relaxed and happy. So why not tap into the creative side of cooking? Have fun shopping for fresh ingredients, maybe check out a farmers market. Think about flavors that would go good together, try and recreate a dish you had at your favorite restaurant or from a childhood memory.

Food can also help us connect with other people. In the same article in Psychology Today they said that cooking together is a great way for couples to work on communication and cooperation. Making food with and for each other can be a caring and nurturing act.

So here is my challenge to you! If you are new to cooking and feel like you don't know what you're doing or don't like it, try developing one or two go to dishes and perfecting them. Having a go to date-night or potluck dish to share can be a real confidence booster. Take time to be present and enjoy the process. If you already enjoy cooking try taking it up a notch and see how few prepared or boxed ingredients you can use, make your own jam or sauerkraut, bake bread with a sourdough starter, make pasta by hand.

If you have any questions or want to share your cooking stories please comment below or reach out to us via email of social media.

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Stay Warm This Winter

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Stay Warm This Winter

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-Julian

You may have noticed some things as the calendar switches to December. Your old collarbone injury seems to be acting up. Your knees are popping more when you bend down. Your lower back refuses to budge. Your shoulders have become stuck to your ears. And you're pretty sure you pulled your hamstring getting out of bed this morning.

What gives?

Are you really that out of shape? Did you fall that far off your plan over the weekend? Have you gotten that old?

Nope.

You're just cold.

Do you remember that experiment in science class where you would stick an inflated balloon in the freezer, take it out five minutes later, and find that it had shrunk?

Well now that balloon is your body, and the freezer is your entire world. Your bedroom is cold, your living room is cold, your bathroom tile is even colder, and of course, it's cold outside. Your muscles, tendons, joints, and skin are all being held tighter because of it.

So what you need to do, is warm up. And I don't mean turning up the thermostat, or getting extra blankets. Partly because I'm guessing your are already doing that, but mostly because the typical response to being cold is to move as little as possible. Which means all your extra curling up is reinforcing any mobility issues you already have.

Remember that the biggest focus of exercise is always about maintaining or improving your day to day well being. Part of that is making sure to modify your exercise to fit with your environment. If you're cold in the morning, you feel stiff in your joints, and moving them can be unpleasant. If you overly stress your body with heavy weightlifting, the following morning you feel stiff in your joints, and moving them can be unpleasant.

So what do you think will happen if you overly stress your body with heavy weightlifting while you are cold in the mornings?

Your joints will be even more stiff, and moving them will be even more unpleasant.

Does that sound like it maintained or improved your day to day well being?

I'm not saying you shouldn't be lifting heavy weight when it's cold out, just make sure to take extra precautions. Here are some modifications that will help keep you less stiff, and sore, and maintain or improve your day to day well being while it's cold out.

  • Emphasize your warm up and cool down. The overall duration of your workout does not need to change, but spend more of it getting loose and sweaty, and more of it stretching after your peak intensity. This is crucial if you are planning to lift heavy when it is cold out. (Regardless of how warm or cold it is, you should always be sweating a little by the time your warm up is finished.)
  • Focus on using bodyweight exercises. Most bodyweight exercises are compound movements. Which means they recruit from more than one joint, or range of motion at a time. This will help keep your mobility functional.
  • Workout more frequently but with low impact exercises. For example, going for a brisk walk every day, versus a five or six mile run, once a week. The more you use your joints, the less stiff they will be. The lower the impact, the more frequently you can do a movement or activity.
  • Implement circuit training into your workouts. Switching between two, three, or four exercises in succession allows your muscles to rest, but keeps your heart rate up. Your heart rate being elevated is one of the biggest factors for being warm.

Comment of email me If you have any questions on what to do for warm ups, or cool downs, or any other information on keeping warm this winter. Or stop by the Superhero Field Training class on Sunday for some first hand experience!

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Don't Be Afraid To Eat During The Holidays

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Don't Be Afraid To Eat During The Holidays

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Lydia -

The Holiday season is officially upon us. This is a time of celebration and being with family but it's also a time of stress and often neglect to our health. Today I want to expand on what we talked about with emotional eating and look at what that means during the long stretch of Halloween through Valentines day.

The holidays can be hard for a lot of people. Dealing with family, friends, work, and all the good, but also all the stress that can come with them. A lot of people tend to gain weight over this time but that has nothing to do with traditional holiday food. If you think about it, while traditional holiday fare may be a little richer, maybe a little higher in fats and sugars, they are for the most part homemade, whole foods, and are eaten one or two days out of the year. Even if you attend every holiday party you can find, you would at most be having one or two extra rich “cheat” meals a week.

So why are you gaining that winter weight? Two reasons: One, you fall off whatever program you're on. For some reason or another you can't find time to make it to the gym or take a walk and become totally sedentary. And two, you start stress eating junk food and calling it a holiday treat.

Now while one big rich meal is not going to make you gain weight, grabbing that Christmas tree shaped cookie every time you're in the grocery store for two months will. So how do you know if the holiday food is good for you or you're just stress eating? Here here are a few Superhero rules to check with. 

A) If the food is made by you from scratch (or as scratch as your cooking abilities allow).

B) If the food is made specifically for you by someone that cares about you, or that you care about.

C) You are eating it with friends or family, without the aid of a tv.

Then you should enjoy and eat whatever it is without stress or feeling guilty. If it does not fall into one of these categories then maybe you should rethink it. To help give you an idea of healthy and unhealthy emotions towards holiday food, I'm going to run through a few scenarios for you.

Eggnog is one of your favorite things about winter and you can't wait until it comes out.

Unhealthy: You buy a carton of it a week, and drink two or three glasses a night by yourself in front of the TV. 

Healthy: You grab a few friends and talk them into going ice skating or having a snowman building contest (If you get snow over the holiday season). Afterwards, you warm up with an eggnog latte from a coffee shop near by.

Every year you have to go to your spouses office holiday party. You hate everyone they work with and since it is always an open bar, they tend to get extra douchy at this event.

Unhealthy: Stress about going and bicker with your spouse about it, once there you hit the bar a little too hard and are not even sure how much you ate at the buffet. You feel awful but it was the only way you knew how to get through an otherwise awful night.

Healthy: You make a fresh yummy dinner at home for you and your spouse before hand. During dinner you discuses a battle plan of how your going to present a united front and make up signals for when one of you needs out of an awkward situation. You arrive fashionably late, have one drink and make the rounds at the party. While it's not your favorite night you get through it and maybe even have a few funny stories to share.

One of your co-workers keeps bringing holiday themed cookies to work. Every time you pass the break room you have the urge to grab a few.

Unhealthy: You sneak a cookie or three, or four, eat it at your desk and immediately feel guilty and bad about yourself.

Healthy: Over the weekend you call your mom and ask her for your favorite cookie recipe from childhood. Then you spend the weekend baking and enjoying the holiday season.

It's Thanksgiving dinner and once again your aunt has brought her overly surgery jello and marshmallow madness that she insists on calling a salad, even though it's never touched a vegetable, and tastes like hospital food.

Unhealthy: You pass on your aunts dish, actually you pass on most of the food. You even tell those who will listen about how awesome your new diet is, like you've found a new religion, as you pick at your single piece of white turkey meat,

Healthy: You eat the fucking salad! Because you realize there is no amount of calories that adds up to time with family and your aunt put a lot of love and care into that awful awful salad. The least you can do is eat some of the damn thing.

So you may or may not have noticed, but in most of these scenarios the healthy and unhealthy option both included eating some version of the “bad” food. The thing is it's not always the macro count or cleanness of the food, but how we approach it. It can take a lot of self-awareness and discipline but if you began to change how you look at food it will greatly improve you quality of life.

So that's my challenge to you this holiday season. When approaching food (especially holiday themed items) stop and think about if it follows those rules. Was it made by you? Was it made for you? Are you eating with loved ones? Also, don't forget to move. It's so easy to just want to hibernate in this dark and cold time, but moving just a little bit will make you feel so much better, promise. If you have more questions please reach out, we are always here. Comment below or feel free to email or call us and follow us on social media. I hope you have a happy and blessed winter season.

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The Walking Alive, The Sitting Dead

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The Walking Alive, The Sitting Dead

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Julian -

Grimes stepped off the elevator and heard....nothing at first. As he got used to the silence he started to notice the faint sizzle of the hallway lights, and then off in the distance, a faint clicking. Not once or twice, or with any coherent pattern. Just click click click click click click. The clicking was of course coming from his office.

Click click click click click click click.

Grimes did not want to go back to his office.

He rubbed his eyes. They were dry. It seemed like they were always dry, or tired...actually all of him felt tired. All of him felt tired, all of the time, except when he tried to sleep. Then he would find him self staring at the tv from his bed.

Click click click click click click click.

Grimes trudged his way to the office door. Moving seemed foreign to his legs. It was almost as if his legs new something the rest of him didn't. Like maybe he really shouldn't go back to the office.

Click click click click click click click click click.

His stomach started doing back flips in time with the clicking. As he drew closer to the office, he could hear wheezing coming from behind the door.

Click click " wheeze" click click click "groan" click

There was a loud pop and squeak as he pulled the door open.

Click, cli-,

Half a dozen people collectively groaned and stopped typing.

Grimes froze. These weren't people. Their skin was translucent and gray. Their hair thin and flimsy. Their faces sunk in around the eyes, showing dark shadows and deep leathery wrinkles. No, these weren't people.

These were zombies.

The group groaned again and turned back to their typing.

“Phew.” Grimes thought, “That could have been a lot worse.”

When we picture zombies, we tend to think of undead creatures roaming in hordes and devouring brains. There is supposed to be some sort of viral out break that can be passed through blood and saliva....or bites. And they tend to have rotting flesh and gaping wounds that don't heal. While the idea is terrifying, and not entirely impossible (a cousin strain of mad cow disease or rabies could do the trick). The reality is, that form of zombie and its apocalypse are a plot point used for a good scream and virtual shotgun blasts.

So you might not need to learn how to wield a shovel as a melee weapon, but you should know, there is an actual zombie apocalypse. It isn't coming like some far off winter we keep waiting for. It's already here, it's well passed patient zero, and chances are, you have been infected.

We are going to call it the zombie zone out.

The zombie zone out is created by a mix of immobility, repetitive task, and low motivation. In small doses the zombie zone out can be enjoyable, if not helpful for reducing stress. I for one am a huge fan of binging on sit-com reruns on my way to bed. Since I've seen the episode many times over, I don't really pay attention to it. But it's enough of a stimulus to keep me from thinking about things that went wrong today or that long to do list up in my office.

The zombie zone out can also be useful for fast forwarding through small boring parts of your day. Like the commute to and from work. You've made the same drive, same turns, same lane merges, and same traffic light stops so many times, that you no longer pay attention to them. Which leads to a slight feeling of not knowing how you made it home already.

The problems with the zombie zone out come from tying together back to back to back moments of it in the same day. You wake up on Monday morning and zombie zone out on the drive to work. Once there you are extremely bored of typing the same things and having the same arguments with your coworkers and dealing with the same petty annoyances that really shouldn't matter. So you zombie zone out through the work day. Then you are glad to be free, and really just need to get home and relax, so you zombie zone out on the drive home from work. Once you are home, you feel lethargic. The day sapped you of any energy and making it all the way to the couch seems like wishful thinking. Through some miraculous power of will, you manage to crawl to the couch, flip on the tv, and zombie zone out.... until you fall asleep in a puddle of drool, and wake up an hour later. Only to go to bed and be wide awake.

That string of zombie zone outs becomes increasingly difficult to break as more and more link together. By the 2nd straight day, sometimes known as Tuesday, you add waiting for the weekend to the zombie zone out horde. When you make it to the weekend, you start off by sleeping in because you have to make up for the horrible sleep you had all week. You have options for things to do over the weekend, but really that past week just threw you for a loop so relaxing at home and doing as little as possible sounds like the best bet.

If this process grows unchecked for too long, you will become an actual zombie. Because you aren't living anymore. Your heart may still be beating, and you may still be breathing, but your body isn't moving, your brain isn't working, and your conscious thought is non existent. You have zero desire to do anything, let alone workout or eat properly, and you are too bored to be depressed.

Don't panic.

All is not lost. I have a weapon you can battle the zombie zone outs with. It will create separation in your home to work zombie cycle, increase your awareness thought out the day, power creative thinking, and stimulate your body.

It's called walking.

It's free, it requires no equipment, and it's the base for all other movements you ask of your body. It doesn't have to be a long hike, or done at a furious pace. But it does need to be done everyday. Especially if it's your only shot at real movement during the day. 30-45 minutes can be enough to battle the zombie zone outs. If you can't seem to find 30-45 straight minutes of time, you can break it up through out the day. 10 minutes before going to work. 15 minutes on your lunch. 10 minutes after work before getting in the car. 10 minutes before heading to the couch once you get home.

It's never too late to start walking more. Try it now and start feeling results in energy, motivation, and sleep, in a matter of days. If you enjoy the walking or are already walking and would like a little more intensity in your zombie battle, stop by the gym and lets see how you are with that shovel....or perhaps a sledge hammer.

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Emotional Eating

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Emotional Eating

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By Lydia

There is no fitness term or cliche that outrages me more then “emotional eating.” We've all heard it, “I wish I could lose weight but I'm such an emotional eater.” So why does this term bother me so much? I believe that we are suppose to be emotional eaters. If you look through our history every country, culture, and religion uses food in one way or another to honer and enhance our emotions as well as our connection with each other. From myths of ambrosia to the body of Christ, cake on birthdays, champagne at weddings, chicken soup for the sick, and casserole for those in mourning. Food and emotions go hand in hand.

The first time I really understood this was when I was a freshman in high school and my grandmother passed away. I wasn't close to her either geographically or emotionally. As we were staying at her house preparing for the funeral, members from her church, the library where she worked, and different community groups stopped by with food. When her best friends who she had known since college came by, she had a box of cookies and a bag of potato chip “salt for your tears and sweats for your memories.” She said. After she left my mom chuckled and said “Mom always said Martha couldn't cook.” We shared food and stories of my grandma, it was nurturing and connected us to each other during a tough time.

So now does that mean when you have a bad day and eat a whole box of oreo's its perfectly natural and healthy? Yeah not quite.

There is such a thing as stress eating. Now, and this is important, stress is not an emotion. A rubber band can not be happy or angry or sad, but a rubber band can be put under stress. When we are physically or mentally stressed, over worked, or pushed to our limits it becomes hard to be fully present. When we are stressed out we often turn to cheap easy food and often aren't even aware of eating it.

So if it's just an issue of semantics, stress eating or emotional eating, why does it bother me so much? Well since the term emotional eating has grown in popularity it seems that food now falls into two camps, bad or healthy. So much guilt is now involved in eating anything that's classified as “bad” that we lose the emotion it should include. If we stop putting so much stress and guilt on food and started to enjoy it and most importantly used it as a way to connect with each other we would be much healthier. So hear is my challenge to you, sometime in the next week make an effort to share food with someone. It could be cooking a big family dinner or eating ice cream while listening to someone who's going through a break up. Share food, be present, and connect with your emotions.

If you'd like to share your experience with emotional eating we can keep the conversation going. Comment below with your ideas, questions, or comments. Also you can reach out to us privately by email or on any of our social media outlets. We'll be talking more about food, habits, and healthy lifestyle and mindsets so please subscribe to the blog as well as our YouTube channel.

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