Thursday, May 31, 2012

It's "Not Me's" Fault..

A recent article I read has caused quite a riff in my eyes and my mind.  I should not let it affect me but it is time for all of the blame games to stop.  There is a problem in this country with Obese people.  It's not a shock to many as we all notice this or hear about it.  The problem is the blame game.  "Not me" did it.

NYC and Mr. Bloomberg have proposed to ban Large sodas in certain venues hoping this will stop the rising levels of obesity right in their tracks.  Mr. Bloomberg, with all do respect, this is stupid and if you're smart you'd get your name out of the picture. Sure you have taken action and showed you care about this problem but this step could have been avoided, money could have been saved, and a real action oriented step could have been worked on.  You sir, are blaming people.

It happens all across the country with everything you can imagine.  People blame people who blame other people and never blame themselves.  Only the good ones stand up and say "NO- it was my fault not theirs."  The blame for obesity in this country has been pointed to almost every industry imaginable.  Fast food has taken a huge hit from lashings of obese patients or people fighting for the cause.  Processed foods from big food companies like Monsanto have been fired at in the line of blame gamers.  Soda has been on the forefront of this fault finding search since experts predicted Obesity would become an epidemic.

Every major player in these gigantic industries have been blamed and in turn blamed other people and nobody has stepped up to the plate and said "I did it".  Why?

The reason there is a continuing battle of blaming Not Me's is because these industries are not at fault whatsoever.  You think their food is bad, or soda is fattening, and processed foods packed with carbohydrates are causing Obesity but that isn't the problem and they shouldn't be blamed.  The blame is "you".

Like any epidemic in this country Obesity will never be fought and won.  There will always be sick people getting fatter and fatter while draining the healthcare system because that is chosen at an individual level.  If you are 400 pounds it is your fault and not that Big Mac you eat daily.  You choose to eat that Big Mac.  You choose to drink soda and you choose to have five servings of Mac and Cheese.  Nobody is holding a gun to your head saying "eat more and more or die".

People who are drug addicts or Obese, as examples, have made those decisions themselves and every decision has a benefit or a consequence.  Some decisions are healthier than others.  Are we going to start banning garden salad's at restaurants because the people who choose to eat them are more ripped or healthier than you?

Stop blaming everybody else and own up to your own responsibilities, decisions, and actions.  Stand up and admit the consequences are the results of your decisions and don't point your finger at anybody else.  I could sit here and point my finger and blame obesity on our National School Systems.  Why isn't Nutrition taught on a higher level in High School?  Why are gym classes used as a socializing class instead of an In-Your-Face wake up call on Health and Exercise?  I'm not.  It's not their fault.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

10 Reasons it's not working.

So you recently started on the path to better health and increased fitness, most likely since the beginning of the year as a New Year's resolution and you are not getting anywhere. Why?  Everybody is different in how they lose fat or build muscle but most of the time there are a few keys reasons why something you are doing is not working.  Below I will try to explain some of them and how you can avoid making this mistake so you can get the best results in the shortest amount of time.

Why "it's" not working:

1. You eat too much.

If you are trying to lose fat and it is not working the number one reason is most likely the fact you are eating too much.  Sure you're on a diet and eating less than before but are you truly eating the correct amount of food based on your exercise levels?  In most cases it really takes some big planning and record keeping to see amazing results.  If you are not losing fat after weeks of exercise, start a diet log and record everything you eat.  Weigh, measure, and count your calories for a week.  At the end of the week look back at what, and how much, you ate and measure it up with the scale.  If it didn't move, drop something out of your diet.  If it went down great.

2. You are not progressing on your lifts.

Whether you want to lose fat or build muscle you need to induce change in the body through strength training.  If you've been lifting weights for some time and are still curling 40 pound dumbbells, it's time to pick up the 50s.  You can't keep lifting the same weight over and over again and hope to see improvements.

3. You think you are working hard but really- you're not working hard enough.

You have a great program set up.  3 hours of strength training and 3 hours of conditioning.  Great! That type of program is your best bet in changing your body composition. So why isn't it working?  You need to do a quick gut check and ask yourself if you're really working hard enough.  Are you truly giving it your all?  Are you just going through the motions and counting your sets and reps or second intervals and not working hard enough?

4. You spend too much time in front of electronics.

Get away from the computer and television.  It's simple. Especially before you sleep.  Turn off your computers and phones and just zone out for an hour before you jump in bed.  SLEEP is important.

5. You keep thinking you're fat or too skinny, too weak, etc...

"Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve."  Stop negative thoughts dead in their tracks, stop saying or thinking you're fat or whatever because time and time again those thoughts will become reality and if they are already true- you have a hard time getting any better or leaner because what you think about yourself is how you will be.

6. You eat too little.

Yes sir.  Fat loss or Muscle Building- if you do not eat enough you will stall and stay in limbo for awhile.  Stop eating like a pigeon if you want to lose fat and eat like your body needs.  If you are stuck and not gaining muscle- eat more.

7. You are not envisioning the end result.

When you start on a program and say to yourself, "I want to lose 30 pounds" are you seeing yourself at that weight?  Do you walk and talk throughout your daily life like you are the new you?  You need to believe you have already lost those 30 pounds before you even start and live your life like you have already achieved your goal.

8. You keep listening to the trends in the fitness industry.

Stop bouncing from program to program, style to style, diet to diet and stick to the basics.  Do not fall for the gimmicks and the so called quick fixes and stay on schedule with your yearly program.  Nothing works better than the basics of strength training and healthy nutrition.

9. You don't stretch.

This may or may not be a real reason of why working out isn't working for some people but I feel it is important.  If you lift and are not flexible and don't try to work on mobility and flexibility you're most likely limiting yourself to greater gains and a better Range of Motion.  Also lack of stretching may be causing recurring injuries in you.. stretch... it really is important.

10. You don't want it bad enough.

You may feel like you want to lose weight or build muscle.  You probably know you're skinny, fat, weak or tired, and you know you want to change but deep inside- where it really counts- where it needs to come from- there is nothing. You probably just go through the motions of workouts thinking you're working hard and improving when actually you're just maintaining.  If you want to be lean, ripped, toned, big and bulky, you need to want it bad enough.  Eating for change on a 50/50 schedule is not going to cut it.  If you want to lose fat and get ripped your diet needs to be at least 90/10 on schedule with what it takes to achieve that success.  You probably need to grab a pen and paper and track your diet, track your workouts, or add 2 or 3 cardio/running/sprinting sessions to your weekly schedule in order to see the changes you truly want.  If you can't dedicate 4 hours a week to exercise and at least 90% of your weekly meals to healthy food- you DON'T want it BAD enough.

That's that. Straight to the point with no sugarcoating. Go through the list and see where you can improve.  Pick one, pick ten, and work on them.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Thoughts inspired by a Matt Carlson quote!

"Let me take a moment and share some interesting "findings" in the fitness industry. Stretching is bad. Stretching is good. Fruit will make you fat. Fruit is good for you. Heavy resistance is bad unless it's Crossfit. Paleo is the only way to eat even though no caveman lived past 30. Cardio/conditioning needs to be done fasted, not fasted, early morning, at night after training, HIIT, steady state and everyday not everyday. And so on and so on. Confusing? I know it is. Here's a fix I gave my clients and anyone who would listen. Don't read/listen to any study regarding exercise that begins with "studies show." Lift what's heavy FOR YOU and have a plan of steady progression. Condition when you can but no less then 3 times a week and make it sweaty while breathing really heavy. EAT less of what you are if you are fat. Make sure protein, veggies and fat are in your meals and EAT FRUIT. I don't know where or why fruit became evil. There's a diet out there that lets you eat skittles but you are a moron for eating a banana. So in closing...I hate the fitness industry. It's as bad as big pharma." Matt Carlson

Now it's been some time since I had an idea as to what I can write about fitness and the whole working out thing but the above quote has ignited something, so bare with me while I attempt to write about it.  

First things first- Matt is absolutely correct about everything he said and you can see the various different opinions that almost everyone has inside the fitness community.  I've been there and done that and said Zumba was bad and CrossFit will hurt you- do this and not that, but for the purpose of this blog I will not discuss what is right or wrong but rather how the questions and focus can be dealt with before neck deep in exercise horseshit.

There are a few reasons why people workout.

1. To look good naked.

2. Because I am an athlete.

3. The doctor said I should.

I am going to discuss the quote and how it is a huge part of the number one reason people workout.  If your an athlete beyond high school you should have everything you need right in front of you from trained professionals.  If the doctor told you you need to start a diet and exercise program- hire a trainer or nutritionist.  Do not just try it on your own.  Avoid this dilemma in the above quote, save yourself time and money and buy some sessions from a professional or pay for a nutrition consultation.  You will feel so much better and happier making the decision to get help instead of going to Barnes and Noble trying to find the Holy Grail in the fitness section.  Also, if you blew your back out who would you go see?  If your roof was leaking and needed to be replaced, who would you call?  If you car was stuck on an interstate, broken down and needing a tow, who would you call?

Why is it different when your life and health is in danger or in need of fixing? Sure some people are really handy and can do things themselves but the majority needs professional guidance.

To Look Good Naked- This is the number one reason men and women work out.  Like it or not that is why people choose to workout. 

So most of the people who workout to look good naked usually join a gym and get a tour of the facility showing different equipment.  Young men go to Flex, Muscle Mag, Men's Health and to find out what they need to do to look good naked and women turn to Oprah, Weight Watchers, Dr. Oz, and Women's magazines.  Great.  Most of these places, if enough time is spent weeding, have some good information to use.  So why is there always questioning, bickering, and hollering going on?

We want it now! The results are not coming fast enough, we are not dedicating our time to one thing because 1000000 other things popped up in this month's health magazine of choice. Most people are afraid to commit to anything- known fact- but when it comes to training time is essential to success.  

For the general population in the United States of America- we are deconditioned.  Fact. Also Europe and other countries are not far behind in this deconditioned state. This is a serious situation these people are in and it is causing numerous health problems throughout the world.. not the point of this but I needed to say it for some reason..?

Lack of mobility, exercise, proper nutrition, and general activity has created skyrocketing issues: Obesity, ACL tears, Back problems, Hypertension, Shoulder and Neck pain, Ankle dysfunction and yada yada..

These conditions are not just for the adults, young men and women also have these problems and guess what?  They are overlooked.  

By overlooking these conditions and jumping right into a P92x routine, because it's whats hot at the moment, is going to cause the battles Matt spoke of- because while 2-4 weeks may work, the injuries, imbalances, and other factors will come out of the shell.  

So now XyZ who started doing a Biggest Loser workout found in a Health magazine, becomes tired and slightly fatigued, and they go and blame the issue of weight training and how this and that is bad for you.. or while working out in this routine they do not lose enough weight and blame it on eating Oats before a cardio session- leading to the bickering about fasted or non fasted cardio training.

The companies publishing this stuff or creating this stuff sit back and watch the heated battles ensue and brainstorm on HOW to keep this going.  They write an article saying yesterday's article is irrelevant now and people continue to want RAPID results so they bite the hook.  

Besides wanting results now, with the least amount of effort, there is this over abundance of information out there that people consume daily.  Breaking News ABC 7 at 7- pork chops have fat in them! Breaking News ABC 7 at 10- pork chops with fat are pork chops with fat.

Men's Health cover article of the month is this and that.  Totally different from last month!  I need to try it NOW!  Stop in the middle of my 4 week program that I'm having great success on and try this because Jason Statham does it. 

Enough is Enough and I've said it before. One person's words won't change the opinions of millions but the words of one have turned into two, which turned into 20, and now is continuing to grow.  If you follow Strength Coaches, (Good) Personal Trainers, and Diet Gurus you will see a little trend growing that is bringing 50 years of exercise horseshit back to square one.

There will always be the Zumba people, the CrossFit people, the Aerobics people, the Spin Class people, the Jazzercise people, and then there's the Strength Training People.  Where it all started.

What is the one thing that all Trainers and Coaches who focus their exercise philosophy on strength training have in common?

They understand TIME. Not the difference between 12 noon from 12 midnight.  They understand the time it takes to create success and that "Good looking naked body."

Strength Focused Trainers and Coaches will not promise you the Golden Egg before you climb the Beanstalk.  They will not argue that Paleo doesn't work until they tried it for 12 months while keeping excellent records so they can give an honest opinion.  Fasted or Non Fasted Cardio will not be a dicussion because they both work well but the results from them take time. Try talking diet talk to a Strength Coach and they'll say do what works for yourself.  Try something, anything, and if it works great- if it doesn't- make some changes.

One thing all fitness PROFESSIONALS will say is that Resistance training with free weights produces great results and conditioning a few times a week will keep you HEALTHY. 

Prowler or Battle Ropes?

Sandbags or Kettlebells?

Squats or Deadlifts.. Wait what?  

Do them all, do one, do two, do whatever you want but make sure you dedicate a consistent time schedule to whichever option you fancy.  Don't push a prowler for 2 weeks and say it is useless.  Don't lift sandbags for 2 weeks and say it's not enough..

While the Good Looking Naked Body hunters continue jumping from A to B back to A to C and continue on in frustration due to lack of results- the Time Folks are on their 12th cycle of the 5/3/1 program or on Macro-Cycle 100 of the GST program and they look like they train.

The moral of the story is to go to the doctor and get some ADD medication and relax.  Enjoy the ride.  Choose a workout program like it's your dream home that you wish to keep looking brand new for years to come.  Do not focus on tomorrow or the summer at the beach.  Focus on the yearly plan you have and take it step by step.  If you've never trained before you need your yearly plan to focus on corrective exercise and stabilization if you have imbalances or past injuries for about 4 months.  Will you get that awesome naked body in 4 months?  NO, but the proper steps you are taking will help you get there quicker.  Do not bounce from 4 week Men's Health program to 6 weeks Flex Magazines programs.  PICK ONE program, one focus, and do it for a year- hell as Jim Wendler says "Do it for 10 years".  He is serious.  You want MASS?  Lift like you want it for ten years and then look in the mirror.  It'll be on your frame- whether you did 5/3/1 or Westside for Skinny Bastards.  You like CrossFit?  You plan on joining a CrossFit garage?  PLAN on staying there for a year before you say it doesn't work or it's the best.  You want to do Zumba and see results?  Guess what?  Do it for a year. Avoid bickering and exercise battles by deciding on what you want your focus to be and be consistent. You will save money, heart ache, and your motivation will stay on cloud nine.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Blog Fog Stew

Lately I have just gone blank on thoughts of what I want to write about.  I know I could give my opinions on proper deadlifting technique or how to measure food so you can lose weight without scales and special spoons but.. I have nothing.  The internet, big box book stores, and magazines are filled with so much information that has clogged the minds of billions that I need some hard time to figure out something that will create your "aha" moment. So I figured to try to jump out of the black hole of writing block and away from the over saturated fitness world, I would decide to just make a stew of random BS that may or may not entertain you.

Skinny Jeans on Men- Really?  Really?...... Really?

Morning workouts are awesome.  In an effort to trim my waist line after a few months of dat dere eating like a horse I have decided to throw in some conditioning workouts in the morning.  No more sitting around drinking coffee surfing facebook for an hour before I leave for work.  (Why I do this I have no idea I should just sleep.) I feel more alive in the morning after I do a conditioning drill or 4.. Feelsgoodman

Harry Beckwith is a good writer.  For those with businesses of your own I recommend buying everything he ever wrote.

Life is changing fast and the next chapter of my life is on the horizon and I am fucking scared out of my mind.

Not gonna lie- I'm freaked!

I miss watching baseball.  I completely forget it's on when it's on but I don't normally watch television anymore. Catching up on some baseball is in much needed order.

Kettle Bell conditioning is fun and exhausting.

My dog is a little bitch when it comes to walking on wet grass.  He won't do it.  He will happily hold his shit for 24 hours until the grass isn't wet or he just can't stand it anymore.

How can I help women change their bodies through exercise when most don't trust weights?  Most women rather dance with their girlfriends to some pop hits from the 80's in a church gymnasium.  It doesn't work but their ears seem closed.

Not all- I know about 5 or so who know how to bring it.,

Cricket Hill Lager is a local Jersey made brew and I couldn't stop drinking it.  A 6er went down smooth, delicious, and I stumbled later to my bed.

Hug the people you love every time you see them. Every freaking time.

Today is the reason I bought a Jeep with a soft top.  80+ degrees, sun shining, and not a cloud in the sky.  Wind over the bald head is nice and relaxing.

I watched a Rangers-Devils game the other day and actually enjoyed it.  I have not watched an entire hockey game in over 10 years.  I'm tuning in now.

Dogs rule.

Embrace life to the fullest every time you have the privilege of waking up.

Heavy weight training is forever a passion of mine.

Someone stole my NOV shirt that has the famous quote from Jim Wendler about science and studies on the back.... Fuaarrrkkk

Jack Canfield books have become interesting to me.

I am scheduled to play in a poker tournament that I previously won on June 9th- I'm stoked.

Writing a book on exercise and diet is probably in my future.  I mean seriously- there are about 10000000000 out there and people gobble them up like they describe Christian Grey's who who... Why can't I take advantage of that and possibly make a buck or two?

My cat can't find the litter box or she finds it extremely funny dropping a number 2 in random places at least once a week..

Call your mother everyday and say "I love you".

I was battling some really tight hip flexors and possibly tight piriformis' for awhile.  I switched my routine to train heavy twice a week and haven't felt them since.  I also added this daily:

People on Facebook are funny but sad at the same time.  Also sharing pic after pic after pic might clog your newsfeed and you find it annoying but 80% are funny as fuck.

WWE is fake.  I know.  But.. it's awesome.  Some is face palm stupid but most is entertaining.

The writers that make it to have inspired me and taught me more than a book ever will.

Joining a CSA is kind of neat.  A ton of it was lettuce, like Romaine, Bibb, and Red Leaf but now I won't lack in the greens department.  And the 2 pound jar of honey is tits. If you've never heard that expression I can explain it one day.

My cat just bit me.. twice.

After about ten minutes and a bathroom break I have come back to this here blog and I am stuck again on anything and everything.  Have an awesome week and drink craft beer.  Workout hard, eat well, kiss your mother, tell your loved ones you love them, buy a good book that can help change your life, get sun, lift heavy, kiss babies, hug a dog, play fetch with a dog, go for a walk, eat some chicken that roamed free at a farm, buy something that'll make you smile, kiss your wife or husband for more than 12 seconds everyday for the rest of your lives, laugh at annoying pictures on your wall, adopt a dog or cat, take a multi, and never pass up-deny-or resist sex.

Also- do not buy facebook shares.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Stretching 101

Probably the most overlooked and underestimated aspects of fitness is stretching and mobility.  More times than not you see a person walk into a gym, jump on a treadmill for 5 or 10 minutes and then get to work with the weights.  Rarely do you ever see someone stretching and doing a mobility based warm up.  Dangerous on many levels, the effects of not stretching are not often seen until three things- 1. you age and 2. you start lifting heavy weights. 3. you pull a muscle.

At Activate Fitness I take proper warm-ups and stretching very seriously.  It is important.  Jim Wendler of the 5/3/1 fame states "Stretch. Lift. Sprint." as keys to a successful fitness program, and he is absolutely right.  Activate Fitness understands the importance and has dedicated three classes a week to just stretching.  Come, stretch, go home.. Sounds dumb but don't people do Yoga for the same reasons?  

Below I will list a few of the important, and effective, stretches that I feel everyone should do- on a daily basis. Take it how you'd like but I truly feel that anyone incorporating stretching as a foundation of their program will be far more successful towards their goals and decrease their chances of injury.  

1.  The Hip Flexor Stretch- Kneel on right knee, with toes down, and place left foot flat on the floor in front of you, knee bent and aligned with ankle. Place hands on the thigh- or if need be- hold onto something. 

Press hips forward until you feel tension in the front of your right thigh. Raise your arms overhead, fully extending them, keeping your elbows close to head with your palms facing each other, and slightly arch your back while keeping your chin parallel to the ground. Hold for 30 seconds, then switch. Repeat 3 or 4 times daily. 

2. The Butterfly Stretch- Sit down on the floor, knees bent in, feet together while keeping the back straight. Grab a hold of the feet and feel the inner thigh open as your elbows are even with the knees.  Hold for 10-30 seconds.  Repeat two or three times.

3.  This next one is called "The Squat Stretch" and I feel no other matches the effectiveness of this movement.  It works for helping the flexors, hamstrings, quadriceps, and lower back.  Basically you squat down and put the elbows on the inside of your knees, and push your knees outwards.  Keeping the back straight and heels on the ground is important.  I found this video a few years ago and always go back to it-

4. The Pigeon Pose Stretch- Most people with low back injuries in the gym or even at sedentary jobs possibly suffer from tight piriformis muscles, there is even a name for it called The Piriformis Syndrome (some even say this is the true diagnosis for "sciatica") .  The piriformis is a muscle located in the gluteal region of the body.  Essentially starting at the base of the spine going through the pelvis and attaching to femur.  

This is tricky to do for some people- on the floor kneel down and begin by pulling the right leg in front of you while bending the knee as if you were doing the butterfly stretch.  Then extend the left leg out behind your body- full extending it.  Now this should be worked up to, some people may be way too tight to perform this correctly.  Spend 5 minutes a day for BOTH sides.  Release the stress and tension in your hips and feel the emotions. Trust me.

I'll stop there with stretching- if you want more come to a stretching class ;).  Actually- two more things and I won't explain them but I'll show you and name them- GET THEM. 

Foam Roller.
The Stick- The Muscle Massager- The Tooth Brush for your Muscles- Whatever.. get one.

Tell you something personal- I use this instead because I had it already, works the same way as the above muscle masher-

The foam roller and a muscle stick are amazing and everyone should use them.  If your gym doesn't have one or the other tell them you want one or your money back.  Google is your friend and youtube videos will help you understand why they work and how to use them.  If you take one piece of advice from me ever- go buy a foam roller.

Another important piece of the puzzle is mobility.  While there are millions of different things to do for mobility I feel the best movement to help your hips stay mobile and healthy are Hip Hurdles.  You do not need any fancy equipment for this movement and if you'd like to see it done by Athletes (Please go and Look) go to YouTube and type in hip hurdles.  

This can be done with a "make believe" hurdle or in a Squat Rack- (You mad bro?) with a bar about 4-6 inches below your waist. Even at home with a dog gate, two chairs with a broomstick or anything you can step over that is about 4-6 inches below the waist.  

Lift one leg up, over, down- repeat with other side.  Do this facing forward for one minute, turn sideways and do it for another minute, and finish up by doing it backwards for another minute.  Feels good man!

Now- no more skipping your warm-ups or neglecting your hips and the muscles that support them.  Be proactive about the health of your hip flexors, your piriformis, your low back, and the mobility of your hips and watch pain disappear, watch your health become better, watch your emotions become more positive, and watch your success in the gym increase.  Come sign up for classes at Activate Fitness and enjoy the benefits of my stretching and mobility class to fully benefit from the awesome effects it has on your daily life.  Keep in mind the later years of your life and how healthy those hips are... 

Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to stop by my blog and read what I had to say.  I appreciate the fact you clicked the link to come here and if you have any questions ever- just ask.