Your tricks aren’t fooling anybody!!!

“The truth does not cease to exist because it is ignored.”

-Aldous Huxley


I have two things to go over today. The first is to wish Mac (pic above) a Happy Anniversary. The pic above was taken on the one year anniversary of Mac hiring me (May 5th). In that time, he has lost 22″ from his waist, 7″ from his neck and he has lost 147.2 lbs of bodyweight. On top of that, he has received great reports from his doctor on all of his blood work. And, he has put a knee surgery on ice because he no longer has pain. Let’s not forget that he turned 70 last month.

But the biggest change is right before your eyes. That smile!!!!! This is a man that truly loves life. He has always been a social butterfly but now he does so without feeling self conscious.

I can’t begin to describe my respect for him. He has been diligent in his approach and it has paid huge dividends on his quality of life.

I always tell people that I learn from every person I work with. Mac is no exception in that regard. I believe I learned as much from him as he did from me over the last year. His journey is not over. We still have more mountains to climb but the foundation that has been built over the last year is solid. It will provide a framework for all that he will face moving forward. Congrats Mac!!!! I know that you will achieve everything you set your mind to.

Secondly, I had a discussion with my boot campers this morning. It was about the quote that started this blog post above. “The truth does not cease to exist because it is ignored.”

Our conversation had to do with evasive tactics our brains do with the scale. Tell me if you have ever done this. Have you ever not weighed yourself on Monday because you didn’t want it to reflect the decadence of the weekend? You wait until Wednesday or Thursday hoping it will readjust, right? Have you ever waited to weigh yourself until after you have done your cardio? Come on… honest. The scale reads great after Zumba, Boot Camp or a nice run, doesn’t it?

I have a question for you. WHO ARE YOU FOOLING? These tactics do not erase the fact that you have been AWOL from your program. The mere fact that you are apprehensive about getting on the scale should be a CLEAR indication that you know about your transgressions. So why try to hide them?

It is what it is. Accept it, then do something about it. You will find that this tactic will become a weekly process. The reason is because you are telling yourself that the scale will come back down in a couple of days. So you do the same shit next weekend. You used smoke and mirrors to trick yourself into believing that you fixed it. You ain’t freaking David Copperfield!!!

This is a sign that you aren’t “getting it.” And, it can be a problem if left unattended. Get real with yourself. Own up to your blunders, take responsibility for them and make changes. The tricks don’t work. Your plan does. Get on that scale. Be brave. Be honest with yourself.

Do you know the Sandman?

How do you sleep? How much do you sleep? How many times do you get up during the night?

These are important questions. We are all both busy and stressed. We rush from place to place. We have too much activity on our plates. And, we worry about having enough time to get everything done. Does this sound familiar?

The problem is that we carry this stress over into our sleep. We go to bed with thoughts of anxiety and deficit of time. And it is killing us.

Sleep is for recuperation. Our bodies and our minds need to rebuild themselves so we can start all over again the next morning. We damage our bodies just by being alive. Every night we rebuild. But we never rebuild fully. Which means there is still some damage left over every day. This is the aging process in very simplistic form. A little damage every day, compiled over days, weeks, months, years and decades eventually amounts to a weakened organism that is susceptible to disease and injury.

Knowing this, you should be more concerned with your own level of recuperation. You should be getting both more sleep and better quality of sleep.

The real rebuilding happens during REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. It’s the deepest level of sleep. The problem is that it takes a while for your body to get to that point. If it is interrupted (by snoring, pee breaks, noises, etc) it will then take you a while to get back to the REM state. So, your goal here is to stay in REM sleep as long as possible.

Here are a few hints to help you get better sleep.

  • Go to bed earlier…..DUH!!!!
  • Avoid drinking large amounts of water prior to going to sleep (pee breaks)
  • Avoid stimulants at night (coffee, tea, pre-workout, etc)
  • Avoid large meals just prior to bed
  • Write down your “To Do” list for tomorrow. Then let it go. Don’t replay it in your mind a thousand times. It is written down… don’t need to play it out as you lay in bed.
  • Meditate
  • Use soothing music or sounds (ocean, birds, etc) to relax.
  • Use timers to turn off your equipment (TV, cell phones, computers, etc)
  • Use shades and curtains that will completely darken your bedroom.
  • Earplugs if you are super sensitive to every little sound.

You need to prioritize your sleep. Some simple changes can go a long way towards improving your recuperation abilities. Nighty-Night.

You want to graduate from “Buff University”?

This whole working out and eating well thing is not easy. Well, at least, not as easy as eating whatever you want and hanging on the couch…..can we agree on that?

So where does it fall on the “difficulty” chart? Is it as tough as childbirth? Is it as hard as what our military men and women are dealing with overseas? Is it as challenging as what the Boston Marathon Bombing victims have had to overcome? Is it as difficult as getting a college degree?

Hmmmm? A college degree? It is definitely not as hard as those other choices but, a college degree? Maybe.

I think that there are a few parallels here. Getting a college degree requires consistency over a significant period of time. So does this fitness stuff. College requires some sacrifice. So does fitness. College means saying “no” to temptation at times. So does fitness. College is dependent on “creating good habits.” Same thing with fitness. There should still be some fun to go along with all the hard work in college. Fitness should be no different. You need to adapt to changes in college. Adaptation is important in fitness. You need to overcome obstacles in both college and fitness.

I like where we are going with this. Getting buff is very similar to getting a college degree. Why is this important you ask? Because if they are very similar that means your approach needs to be similar.

Most people don’t approach their fitness with the same fervor as they did with their education. That starts with mindset. Most think that college is one of the most important undertakings of your life. So, you act accordingly. If you were to approach your fitness with that same mindset you would be able to achieve remarkable things.

Success is a formula. There are principles that will be effective regardless of the area of your life you are trying to conquer. Careers, relationships, money, school, sports, etc, all require the same kind of commitment to be successful. There is a mindset, work ethic, commitment, approach, action and evaluation process that works for all of them. If you follow the formula, you find success. If you don’t, you won’t.

So approach your fitness endeavors the same way you would approach getting a college degree. You might just find yourself a graduate of Buff University.

Is the number “33” meaningful to you?

Boy, a couple days of nice weather really boosts your spirits, doesn’t it?

It makes you start longing for the summer and all the stuff you love to do like swimming, going to the beach, pool, lake, river, etc.

These early warm days should serve as a reminder that summer is right around the corner.

You can’t wait much longer to start getting that body ready for all the exposure.

There are only 11 weeks until July 4th!!! That is not a lot of time. You can accomplish quite a bit in that timeframe but you really need to start right away.

Let’s do the math.

1 lbs per week = 11 lbs

2 lbs per week = 22 lbs

3 lbs per week = 33 lbs

Your diligence to your program will determine which one of these you end up with. Less cheat meals and less missed workouts moves you closer to the 3 lb per week category.

What would you look and feel like without an extra 33 lbs? Really think about that. Would you feel better in a bathing suit? How about shorts and a tank top? How about a summer dress? A suit? Picture yourself in that attire.

Now look at your calendar.  Think about how you would look 33 lbs lighter. Look at your calendar. Think about 33 lbs lighter. Look at your calendar. Have I hypnotized you yet?

I hope you have a sense of urgency after this little hypnotic session. Time is ticking away. The decisions you make now, today, in this very moment, will determine how much you enjoy your entire summer.

Sacrifice now, enjoy later. That is how life goes. You can’t get to the hallowed ground without some work and sacrifice. The Fitness Fairy is not going to leave a jacked physique under your pillow tonight. There is no Leanness Bunny who leaves magic eggs for you. No Ab Santa with gifts under the tree. No Magic Pumpkin full of seeds that make you buff.

You need to do the work and put in the time. 33 lbs by July 4th… can be done. Start right now.

Are you invisible?

Raise your hands. How many of you are intimidated by other people being present while you are working out?

Wow!!!! That’s a lot of hands!

Does it prevent you from working out? Do you stop working out when someone else arrives? Do you purposely change your workout plans because of it?

Most people have this fear. It is normal. Unnecessary….but normal.

All it takes is a mind shift in order to conquer it. You have to shift from being embarrassed to being proud. It is that simple.

Most of us are worried about what other people might think. First off, we are a little self-centered to think that the whole world has nothing better to do than to watch us. I think we have this misconception that we are as popular as Tom Brady and if we were to be out in public everyone would be staring at us. Sorry. The truth is, the vast majority of the general public has no idea that you even exist. I’m not trying to mean, I’m just stating a fact. Everyone else is just as self-centered as you. They are too busy worrying about what everyone thinks of them to be concerned with what you are doing. Seriously.

Something else to consider is this. Do you have control over what someone thinks about you? Nope. No control at all. You could be the nicest person in the world yet some people will think you are phony. That’s just the way it is.

So let me translate this to working out. Let’s say you drop you son off at soccer practice. Normally you sit there watching practice instead of driving home only to return in a half hour to pick him up. You now have a full hour to either waste or get something done. What prevents you for doing some body weight exercises (push-ups, squats, etc) and jogging (or walking) around the soccer complex? I’ll bet that most of the reason is fear of what the other parents would think.

As I said you can’t control what others think. So what if all this time you were sitting there wasting time on Facebook that everyone was thinking “Boy, she has gained a few pounds. Maybe she should be exercising instead of playing on Facebook.”? Never thought of it that way did you?

Maybe, just maybe, you might even gain some respect from gawkers. Maybe you even inspire someone else to join you.

That is why I love this meme above. No one is watching, but if they were, show them what it means to take control of your life. Show them how hard you work. Show them how tough you are. Make them feel embarrassed that they aren’t putting forth the same effort. And make them say “I wish I could do that.”

That is how you conquer that fear. Take pride in managing your time, taking control of your health and happiness, conquering your fears and trying to better yourself.

Be a rebel. Put yourself out there. And stop worrying about what everyone else thinks. They don’t even see you.

Embrace the suck

I need you to ask yourself something. Are you just going through the motions? Are you giving 110%?

Before you answer, I want you to think about this in terms of two different areas.

  1. What is your % of workouts missed/made and % of sticking to your meal plan? If your plan is to do 5 weight trying sessions per week and you only get in 3…..that is a 60%……or a ‘D-“. If you plan on doing cardio 4 times per week and you only get 3…..that is a 75% or a “C”. And if you are supposed to stick with your meal plan seven days per week but you had a meltdown on Tuesday and ate a whole bag of chips, gave in to peer pressure and chugged down a few glasses of wine and ate off the plan on Friday night, and you attended a wedding on Saturday where you went off the rails again, then you did not follow your plan 3 out of 7 days this week……that is a 57%……or an “F”. So right now your report card has a D-, C and F on it. Your GPA is a “D”. See where I’m going with this?
  2. Are you leaving it all on the table when you train? Are you challenging yourself daily in the gym? I’ve been in the gym for 35 years. By my estimation, 90% of the people I see in the gym are not working hard. In my personal training experience I have found that most people have no idea how far they can push themselves. At the first sign of discomfort they stop or slow down. I’m talking about intensity here….not duration. Short but intense workouts……Anyone? Bueller?

I’m betting that most people relate to #1. If you were to provide a grade for your effort, you would probably be surprised at the outcome. It is math. It is hard to dispute. #2 is a different story though. It is hard to quantify intensity. I have an old school philosophy in regards to evaluating your prowess in the iron game. Here it is. Do you live for leg day? Leg Day sucks. Do you chase the suck? Or do you avoid it? Do you make excuses and do biceps instead? Do you make justifications and only do leg extensions instead of squatting and hitting the leg press? There it is. If you don’t chase the suck then you can’t expect dramatic changes.

People want dramatic results but aren’t willing to take dramatic action. Dramatic results don’t come about by average (or below average) effort. If you give “A” effort you will be guaranteed “A” results. That goes for the rest of the letter grades as well.

Ask yourself……Do I thrive on the suck?

Go “Old School”

Have you felt frustrated that your fitness goals seem to be taking forever? That’s a pretty common feeling. I think we are all familiar with that on some level.

Some of it is due to the limitations of the tools we use to quantify our results. The scale is the primary culprit. The scale doesn’t allow for us to account for water retention and gain of lean body mass (muscle). Body fat measurements by way of bioelectrical impedance or skin fold caliper also have a margin for error and aren’t as accurate as we would like.

These tools are super sexy though. We love all the bells and whistles, flashing lights and 3D displays. They just aren’t really practical unless you understand the limitations and have come to grips with them.

So what do we do?

We go off the grid. We simplify. We go “Old School”. If your goals are to lose body fat, your clothes are your best tool. If your jeans are slipping down yet they were snug a few weeks ago, there is a damn good chance you are losing body fat. I know it doesn’t sound like Quantum Physics but you would be surprised by how many people refuse to recognize this simple concept. If your rings are getting loose on your fingers, you are losing body fat.

Here’s another one. If your goal is to gain muscle and you are getting stronger in the gym, chances are pretty strong that you are putting on muscle. I have yet to find a human who got stronger while losing muscle. Simple, right? Yet, people line up to get on the newest, sexiest, high tech gadget that will measure their body fat and lean body mass.

Stronger in the gym=muscle. Pants falling down=fat loss. Do you really need to know more than that?

Here is where people shoot themselves in the foot. Let’s say someone has both of the above examples (stronger and pants falling down) yet the scale isn’t moving. Frustration right? But if you look at it, it should all make perfect sense. Increase in muscle should cause the scale to rise. Decrease in body fat should cause the scale to fall. They cancel each other out!!!

Yes you should track your weight. Yes you should track your body fat. But, NO, they should not be the only tools you use. Track your food and exercise as well. “Winging it” is not an effective methodology.

And be patient. You aren’t going to lose 10 pounds of body fat in a week. There are chemical and hormonal changes going on under the surface that aren’t visible to you. Those changes will result in your body being more efficient at burning body fat.

If your plan is practical and creates a slight caloric deficit through the combination of diet and activity, then you will lose body fat……period. If, however, you aren’t following that plan diligently or aren’t tracking thoroughly then you will have no way of knowing if you have created that caloric deficit. It then becomes guesswork.

Sometimes, stripping things down and simplifying puts things back into perspective. We have a tendency to make things difficult on ourselves and overthink. Technology is great but sometimes good ole’ common sense reigns supreme.

Give your dreams CPR

Hey Gang,

I had a bit of a revelation this past weekend. We went on a family trip to Fort Myers. The girls spent their days on the beach. The boys spent their days at the Boston Red Sox spring training practices and games.

My 18 year old son, who will be playing college baseball next year, was in his glory. He was rubbing elbows with his heroes. He was listening to their conversations. He was getting autographs. And then something crazy happened. My son got an autograph from the Red Sox first round draft pick. He is…..get this….18 years old!!! The same age as my son.

I noticed a change in my son’s voice when talking about this particular encounter. Although he expressed how impressive it is to be drafted as an 18 year old, I noticed some background tinder in his voice. Almost like saying “Hey, I’m 18 too. He should be asking for MY autograph.”

So I started to think about how dreams die. I’ve been fortunate to have some dreams come true in my life. I married the love of my life. I have three amazing kids. I have two careers that I am proud of. I played college football and became a pro bodybuilder. But, what happened to some of those dreams that died? I too wanted to be a Major League Baseball player for the vast majority of my youth. I still want to be a successful millionaire.

Fortunately my son is still a baby in this whole process. He still has youth on his side. Most of his dreams are still in front of him.

I realized that it is my responsibility as a father to teach him how to foster those dreams. It is my job to teach him the skill set of not listening to the noise of non-believers. I have to provide him with the tools to be strong and overcome adversity. I have to show him how hard work can slay almost any impossibility.

I need to express this to him in words and feelings and emotions. But more importantly, I need to LEAD by example.

So, today I am starting over. Today I will become a dreamer again. Today I will start the process of recovering my dreams, breathing life back into them and developing a bigger purpose than just going through the motions of my busy, chaotic life.

I suggest you do the same. Give your dreams CPR. Shock them with an AED. Be like Dr. Frankenstein and give life to that which has been dormant for some time.

We all deserve to live our dreams. And by “all” I mean you, me…….everyone. Get to work.

Were you drafted in the sixth round?

Hey Gang,

Friday is the perfect day for today’s conversation. Do you see the picture above? For Pats lovers it invokes a feeling of ecstacy. For Pats haters…..not so much. Regardless of your position on Tom Brady and the New England Patriots you have to admire the guy’s perseverance.

People who hate Tom Brady usually complain about him being “The Golden Boy.” They see his success, his super-model wife, his marketing appeal, and they hate what they see as his privileged life.

They forget where he came from. When Tom Brady went to the University of Michigan he was seventh on the depth chart. He wasn’t even a full time starter his senior year at Michigan. He had to split time with Drew Henson. He was drafted in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL draft (pick number 199 overall).

None of that stopped him. He has put together arguably the greatest career an NFL quarterback has ever had. He topped that off by completing the greatest comeback in NFL history and winning a record 5th championship a couple of weeks ago.

So where am I going with this? Well….besides taking great joy in celebrating my home team’s accomplishments there is a lesson to be learned here.

Tom Brady is 39 years old and still has the same chip on his shoulder he had when he was seventh on the depth chart at Michigan as an 18 year old.

He consistently feels that he needs to work harder than everybody else. He honors all he has accomplished by not letting it fade.

We aren’t trying to be the best quarterback in NFL history. But most of us feel like we are seventh on the depth chart. From time to time we all feel like we got drafted in the sixth round. Sometimes our own personal “Deflategate” knocks us around a bit.

But we should follow Brady’s lead. We should approach our goals with that same dogged determination. We should constantly strive to become better. We should act as if someone is gonna take something away from us. And most of all…..we need to be consistent.

You can hate him if you like, but you would be lying if you said you wouldn’t want to be as successful in the things that are near and dear to you, as he is at football.

What is better…..cats or dogs?

Have you ever watched a cat stalking its prey? The eyes widen. The brow furrows. The movements become liquid, fluid, and exact. The focus never wanes. It is a steely eyed, patient, calculated approach. Nothing is left to chance. When the moment is right…..lightning!!!!!

We can learn a lot from this hunt. Cats (both big and small) are incredible hunters. They are efficient, stealthy and precise. They aren’t goofy and bumbling like dogs.

Humans should be more cat-like. Unfortunately most of us are more like dogs. When a cat first sees its prey, it never takes it’s eyes off the prey. Dogs get distracted very easily (look…a squirrel). A cat plans its attack. Dogs rush in with reckless abandon. Cats are quiet and get close without being seen or heard. Dogs are loud and aggressive. Cats waste no movements. Dogs expend energy uselessly. Cats are patient. Dogs are impulsive.

If you want to be successful at something you need to be focused. You need to be patient. You need to be calculating. You need to be undistracted. You need to be efficient. You need to plan. You need to execute with precision. And you need to wait until the perfect moment to unleash the “lightning.”

Hey, I’m a dog lover. I have two of them. They have some awesome qualities. They are friendly, loyal, fun, affectionate, playful and loving. These qualities are great for creating and maintaining relationships. But the skill set you need to accomplish goals is clearly that of the cat.

So, I guess I am saying that you have to morph between those dog and cat qualities. In a social environment, be a dog. But in business, schoolwork, losing weight, making money, moving up the ladder, or pursuing a job, be a cat.