Friday, July 29, 2011

Don't Do it Over, Do it Now!

In the health and fitness industry September is fast becoming the new January, and summer is turning into Christmas break with many of us taking time off, not just from work, but from working out as well. The reality of the situation is that we don't have the luxury of being able to take time off from being healthy; it's something that we must make a commitment to every day, regardless of the season.

We see it again and again, customers calling in to cancel their sessions because they are going on vacation, have decided that they need a break or they just want to take advantage of the nice weather and being in the gym is not allowing them to do that. The funny thing is, whatever the 'reason' it's always followed by, 'Don't worry, I'll start again in September.'

What makes September and January magic months? Where all of a sudden following a routine is easy, and self discipline is suddenly found. What makes it impossible for us to start a new routine in any of the other 10 months, including the few in the summer? And, why are so many of us all right with letting ourselves backslide and starting all over again sometimes worse of than we were in the very beginning? Isn't that the definition of 'insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.' ~ Albert Einstein.

Why not try to not take a break this summer and see how many workouts you can make despite being on vacation and see how much closer, not farther away, from your goals you are, when September starts. Why not do it now, instead of doing it over?

~ Sasha

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Weight gain and aging

Weight management is not about how much you exercise, nor is the volume of food you eat.

In a recent study, carried out over 20 years showed that the type of food eaten was the greatest causal factor for weight gain and not the volume of food consumed or the lack of exercise.

The following foods were seen to cause the greatest weight gain in participants taking part in the study:
  • French fries (2 lbs per four-year period)
  • potato chips (1.69 lbs)
  • potatoes (1.28 lbs)
  • Other forms of potatoes (0.57 lb)
  • sugar-sweetened beverages (1 lb)
  • red meats (0.95 lb)
  • processed meats (0.93 lb)
  • refined grains (0.39 lb)
  • sweets and desserts (0.41 lb)
  • other fried foods (0.32 lb)
  • fruit juice (0.31 lb)
  • butter (0.3 lb)

So in order to avoid gaining the roughly 17 pounds in 20 year, the study recommended we eat foods that promote weight loss:
  • Vegetables (-0.22 lb per four-year period)
  • Whole grains (-0.37 lb)
  • Fruits (-0.49 lb)
  • Nuts (-0.57 lb)
  • Yogurt (-0.82 lb)
Other recommendations to better limit weight gain include: Daily exercise, 6 to 8 hours of sleep per day, restricted television watching, avoiding smoking and not consuming more than one alcholic beverage per day.

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Hardest Part of Falling Down Isn't the Landing...'s getting back up.

Today, on a training ride, one of my teammates went down pretty hard on the mountain bike section (though not as hard as the guy in the picture) - she's nursing some pretty decent wounds on her elbows tonight, along with her fair share of bumps and bruises.

But she finished the ride.

That being said, my wife had to tell her to get back on - because, having gone through a similar fall herself, she knew the importance of getting back in that "saddle". You see, the biggest obstacle you face after a fall is the fear that you feel on every turn and drop, and the frustration that builds with every little fall afterwards. But all of that pales in comparison to the feeling of failure that accompanies not even trying.

It's all right to be afraid - it's not all right to quit.

"Each time we face our fear, we gain strength, courage and confidence in the doing."

~ Guy

Friday, July 22, 2011

Don't Become Blase

On assignment for several years Anderson Cooper had very slowly become desensitized to the violence he was witnessing around him; the horrors of the Rwandan Genocide became trivial: "I would see a dozen bodies and think, you know it's a dozen, it's not so bad." One particular incident, however, snapped him out of it:

On the side of the road Cooper came across five bodies that had been in the sun for several days . The skin of a woman's hand was peeling off like a glove. Revealing macabre fascination, Copper whipped out his disposable camera and took a closeup photograph for his personal album. As he did, someone took a photo of him. Later that person showed Cooper the photo, saying, "You need to take a look at what you were doing." And that's when he realized he had to stop - "I've got to report on some state fairs or a beauty pageant or something, to just, like, remind myself of some perspective."

The first event that I ever signed up for was the Honolulu Marathon. Prior to that, the longest that I had run was probably 10km and never in a race. Once I had committed myself, I set to work developing my training program with help of a veteran coach, and part of it included registering and running in the North Shore Half Marathon.

I can still remember the days leading up to the race, I was so nervous. So nervous in fact, that on the morning of the race I almost didn't get out of the car in time to make it to the start line. Needless to say, I did race that day and have been ever since. But one thing stuck with me, how blase everyone around me was about me completing a half marathon.

I understand we do this all the time, and it's easy to forget what your first race felt like when so many others have happened between then and now but sometimes, just like Anderson, it's good to remind yourself of some perspective and remember that this is someone else's first race.

~ Sasha

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

There are always 2 sides to the story

The joy running brings to many of us is immeasurable and it forms an integral part of our lives, so when a debate of the magnitude of the barefoot / minimalist approach VS running with supportive footwear, reaches the general media there is often a lot of hype around it.

The shoe companies say one thing while the advocates of barefoot / minimalist running say the opposite. So who are we to listen too?

My advice, for what it is worth, is to take the good from both sides of the debate, and use them to your advantage.

We need running shoes to protect our feet for sure. We can however gain a lot of benefit from including some of our run training using parts of the minimalist approach.

For example, your longer runs might make use of your regular footwear. Your speed work on the track or treadmill might make use of a shoe with a small amount, perhaps even no, control mechanisms. Perhaps if you have the opportunity to go barefoot, do so. Going bare feet while warming up is an excellent way to transition into more minimalist running.

Each one of these modalities will provide you the opportunity to do what you love - run, and at the same time, will challenge your anatomy and biomechanics, leading to certain improvement in your running.

Remember, there are always 2 sides to story. Knowing each one will benefit you the most in the long term.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Stop Looking for the Easy Route

"I never said it would be easy - I said it would be worth it."

~Mae West

What I am about to say, I relate to fitness and health goals - but they can be applied to everything else in life.

You know what I'm tired of? People looking for a quick, simple and easy solution to their poor health.

  • "I just get bored doing the same thing - I want something new every time."

  • "I don't want to feel like I'm working out."

  • "I don't like going to the gym."

  • "It hurts to do X. Can we do something else?"

  • "I know I should eat better/more frequently/at all - I just don't have time."

Frankly - stop whining, or looking for a way out. Anything worth having in life will demand hard work, sacrifice and commitment - if it doesn't take all three of those things, then it's value and effectiveness is significantly diminished. My answer to each of the above?

  • "It takes 10,000hrs or repetitions to get something right - variety will keep you perfectly mediocre at everything."

  • "If you don't feel like you're working out - it's because you're not. Start pushing yourself, or you're always going to be in the same place."

  • "Too bad. I hope that you like being weak, because all of that yoga/running/spin/Zumba isn't making you any stronger."

  • "Does it actually hurt? Or do you just not like doing it? Because if it is truly painful, we can always find something else that will accomplish the same goal without the pain - but it won't be any easier."

  • "Yes, you do have the time. It's just not a priority. And until it becomes one, you will continue be running at a standstill. Let me know when you're ready to make a change."

Remember - simple and easy are two different things.


Friday, July 15, 2011

The Apprentice Years

Can you imagine playing baseball (or softball) and getting to start at third base? How great would it be to be able to focus on running home, rather than working to get all the way around the diamond. Unfortunately, we don't get to start at third base, in any business the first decade in your field will be spent working. As Outliers author Malcolm Gladwell would say, you need to put in your ten thousand hours, and as Mike Boyle says, until you do, no one cares because you haven't done anything.

Boyle, who now has the opportunity to train professional athletes says he gets quite a few requests from other fitness professionals who want to come and help him train his athletes. His response is always, 'I didn't know that I needed your help.' He says that if your goal is to train professional athletes, you don't get to start there, you need to earn it. He sums it up by saying that success is easy but it's hard. It's achievable but you must be willing to work for it and that means putting in your time and not trying to start at third base (unless you hit a triple).

~ Sasha Myers

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Not all training is created equal.

2 years ago, researchers in Norway showed that incorporating High Intensity Interval Training (H.I.I.T) into recovering heart attack victims training programs showed an increased maximal oxygen uptake and faster recover times.

The improvements, gained over a 12 week program of H.I.I.T, were shown to be maintained for up to 2.5 years after the training.

Earlier this year, the same Norwegian researchers showed that utilizing H.I.I.T, as opposed to continuous cardiovascular training, better reduced high blood pressure in hypertensive individuals.

Obviously this type of H.I.I.T requires guidance by a trained professional and should be approached with caution, but the benefits to those suffering from high blood pressure and recovering from heart attack, might well make the hard effort required of the intervals worth while.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Five Thoughts on... the HST Referendum

  1. I hate the fact that we're having a referendum after the fact. While I thought the way that the tax was brought in was duplicitous and completely undemocratic, at my core, I'm cheap. Now that the money's being collected, I'd rather see it going to something other than a single-shot, mail in decision.

  2. On that note - how many people are doing the vitally important research into understanding what they're voting for here? And how many are going to be snowed by the political posturing, misdirection and sleight-of-hand that's appealing to their emotion, rather than their logic? Far too many are going to fall into the latter camp, I sadly believe.

  3. To all of those people who are voting to scrap the HST: what makes you so sure that we're not just going to get another, more expensive tax in it's place? Remember, this one is going to drop to 10% if we keep it.

  4. Another thing to keep in mind - we (British Columbia) received $1.6 billion dollars from the federal government for harmonizing our tax... call me crazy, but I don't think that they're going to let us keep it if the HST is scrapped. So then - how are we going to pay back what we've already spent, and where are we going to find more money to make up for all the things this money has been allocated for? I have a hint for you - some sort of tax. No way to avoid it.

  5. Finally - just because there are things that were PST exempt before that now have HST attached... what makes you so sure they're still going to be exempt if the HST is removed? Something to think about.


Friday, July 08, 2011

11 Rules for Life Kids Won't Learn in School

I read the text of a speech allegedly given by Bill Gates in which he set out 11 rules for life kids won't learn in school. He talks about how feel-good, politically correct teachings created a generation of kids with no concept of reality and how this concept set them up for failure in the real world. Whether or not he actually gave the speech, I love it, and had to share it with all of you.

Rule #1: Life is not fair - get used to it.

Rule #2: The world won't care about your self esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.

Rule #3: You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school. You won't be a vice president with a car phone until you earn both.

Rule #4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait until you get a boss.

Rule #5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your Grandparents had a different word for burger flipping - they called it opportunity.

Rule #6: If you mess up, it's not your parent's fault, so don't whine about your mistakes, learn from them.

Rule #7: Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you are. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent's generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.

Rule #8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT. In some schools they have abolished failing grades and they'll give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer. This doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.

Rule #9: Life is not divided into semesters. You don't get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF. Do that on your own time.

Rule #10: Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

Rule #11: Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one.

~ Sasha

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Randy Travis said it...

"Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers".

He was referring to loving his wife and being thankful that he met and married the girl he loved, not the one he lusted after and wanted right now.

Been there, and I love my wife too and am glad for a few unanswered prayers along the way, but that's not directly the implication of Randy Travis' song that I want to have everyone consider today.

I just had a conversation with a great girl who was saddened by a big change in her workplace that directly impacts her. She's been doing the same thing for 22 years, and has a great amount of respect and trust she's earned over time from her coworkers and those impacted by her work.

In short, she has to move off a project she has championed for the last 10 years and take a smaller role; albeit on a bigger project.

The relevancy of this story to the line from aforementioned country song is simple, and fourfold: perspective, persistence, patience, and payload.

Perspective: when the plans we made evaporate in front of us, it's hard not to notice what we're losing, even if we stand to gain much more in the process. try to see the potential amongst the pitfalls.

Persistence: If you work your hardest and your smartest, with all your talents in the right role clinging to the right values... it's only a matter of time before things work out in your favor...

...hence why Patience is such a key ingredient.

As far as Payload - the dividends on opportunities, market conditions, risks, and people that we can predict and control are rarely as high as they are when we battle uncertainty, question our faith, risk more than we thought we wanted to, and hit obstacles we need to improve or reinvent ourselves to overcome.

How many people think Bill Gates, Arnold Schwarzennegger, Oprah Winfrey, Lance Armstrong, Michael Jordan, Jim Carey, or J. R. R. Tolkien ended up exactly where they planned?
Now how many people think they planned on making it big, sacrificed bigger, and made it even bigger still? That's what I thought.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Somthing a little different this week ..

Every week I keep up-to-date with the goings on in the health and fitness industry by reading numerous blogs, articles and websites.

Last week I found a very interesting piece from one such site -

It has to do with how to reduce the risk of your child developing nearsightedness. Not somthing I had ever heard about for sure.

Dr. Mirkin recommended taking your child outside as often as possible. The reason:
"growing children spend too much time indoors (Archives of Ophthalmology, June and December 2009). Nearsightedness is not caused by reading at a young age. It appears to be caused at least in part by not getting enough sunlight."

In other words - get your child outside often!

Research has shown that from 1970 to 2000, the incidence of nearsightedness has almost doubled. The cause of this dramatic increase? Dr. Mirkin reckons it is"probably because as an infant grows, the eyes adjust to the amount of available light. Sunlight sets the normal distance between the lens and the eye nerve called the retina. However, when a child spends most of his time under artificial lights, the eye accommodates to this decrease in light by extending the distance between the lens and the retina. This makes far away objects appear blurred and a person becomes nearsighted."

Once again - get your child outside often!

Monday, July 04, 2011

Five Thoughts on... Public Gyms

  1. People migrate to where they're comfortable and what they're good at. This is why it's impossible to get a bench press, curl bars, or a treadmill, but the squat rack is almost always available.

  2. I am so cautious when working with people to ensure good form and minimize risk. Clearly, based on the form I see when people exercise on their own... I'm worrying far more than I need to.

  3. Mirrors are an incredible aid in teaching correct movement mechanics. This is not what the mirrors in public gyms are being used for, unless fixing your hair or checking out your own butt has become an essential component of movement. If this is the case and I missed the memo, please pass it along.

  4. Virtually no one is working hard enough to get results. Assuming you don't have any injuries that prevent it: when you run, run hard; when you lift weight, lift heavy. If you're able to have a casual conversation during an exercise, this is probably a good indication that you're slacking off. Remember - you get out of it what you put in.

  5. There is far too much uncovered spandex. Compression shorts alone are not acceptable gym attire... I don't care how fit you are. Unless you're George St. Pierre - cover up.