Friday, September 30, 2011

Strength Coach Creed

I am a huge fan of Mike Boyle, who recently posted this on his blog, courtesy of Anthony Donskov and I wanted to share it with all of you:

I am a strength and conditioning coach, not a cheerleader, rep counter, weight loader, scientist or lab technician. I am a motivator, not a babysitter, amateur psychologist, or boot camp instructor. I will not treat all athletes the same! I will treat athletes the way they deserve to be treated. I believe in determination, sacrifice, attention to detail, respect for those that have walked before me, passion, team spirit, and good old-fashioned sweat and hard work. Lou Holtz once said: "No one has ever drowned in sweat." I believe there are NO limits to greatness: no ceiling or rooftop. "I believe that personal greatness is measured against ones own potential, not against someone else on the team or elsewhere" (Coach Wooden). I am not a fad, fashion, or preacher. I am an educator, teacher, and role model. I am a Coach!

~ Sasha

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Value of a year....

... may be lost on many of us.
We spend a year, maybe 2; maybe 10 - in a relationship that we're not flourishing in but just 'comfortable'; or we do the same thing with a job; whatever the case may be.

I had the opportunity last Friday to spend the morning with a widow whose husband passed away to cancer a year ago today. Christa Harriman and I had the opportunity to speak to almost 900 kids, paying her late husband Tim's legacy forward and helping inspire kids from grade 1 - 12. The school we visited was passionate about Terry Fox's story, and when they learned how similar his story was/ is to that of Tim Harriman's, we were asked to shed light on his inspirational journey.

Tim Harriman has been the subject of this platform twice previously; and rightfully so. He is an amazing man whose story will inspire for many years to come.

As for Christa, well - keeping her private life private, I will say she's putting herself through school, finishing Tim's book, and still manages time to exercise, pay the bills, and tell her and Tim's story to those willing to hear it.

It's said that time waits for no one... and while I believe that to be true; there are those who continue to prove the example that time is neither with us or against us... it is a resource we can choose to use to the best of our ability - or squander.

On a final note, it is exactly the kind of year like this; sandwiched in between many more of it's kind - that adds up to a great legacy and the kind of people we think of as great. Great people don't one-off amazing accomplishments... they fight and claw inch by inch until their journey has covered thousands of miles.

so, what's in store for your next 365?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Five Thoughts on the Facebook Changes

  • Facebook needs to evolve - otherwise they will be left behind when a newer, shinier social network service comes up. Maybe it will work, maybe it won't - but it's pretty much a guarantee that if they don't try to stay ahead of the game they're going to become obsolete (hello, Friendster).

  • Ask yourself - do you actually not like the applications? Or do you just not like change? If you never knew any different, I'd hazard to say these modifications might not be an issue...

  • Many of the people who are complaining about the changes are the same ones that will complain that Facebook is old and uninspired if it doesn't change anything...

  • I have to be honest, I don't like the ticker in the sidebar. It's pretty annoying.

  • In the end, though, keep this in mind. Nobody has a gun to your head, nor is it a law that you be on Facebook. You don't like the changes? Then do something about it - stop using the service. If you're constantly complaining but all the while still taking part, then frankly - you're just annoying.


Saturday, September 24, 2011

Want to get a raise?

The most important aspect of requesting a raise is understanding the economics of business.
Like weight loss [calories in less than or equal to calories out], business profits are as simple as income greater than or equal to expenses.

Challenge: people believe they should be continually rewarded for doing their jobs
Reality : people are already rewarded for doing their jobs. This comes in the form of a wage, benefits, etc based on the contract signed.
Solution: education/understanding that compensation above and beyond the defined wages, comes in the form of effort above and beyond the daily expectation. If/when you are making the company extra money, there should be an opportunity to be rewarded for / share in that opportunity.
Comparable: when the company isn’t making money, you are not asked / expected to contribute to that loss. You only participate in the upside.

Challenge: people often try to calculate the gap between what they are receiving and the customer is paying
Reality: people have not been educated/ have little understanding of all the costs associated with running a business. Many companies have a goal of collecting 3-10% annually.
Solution : people need to educate / be educated on what fixed & variable expenses are; by definition and by literal terms.
Comparable: wages are normally a companies highest fixed & variable cost.

Challenge: few people want to expend the effort that it takes to maintain the hours & effort that lead to the desired paycheck
Reality: we are in a global recession and only the strong will survive. Those who don’t have the foresight to roll up the sleeves will have a harder time finding that ‘plan b’
Solution : people need to be educated/reminded about Newtons 3rd law. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The time to overdo it... Is now.
Comparable: the saying is 80% of your business will be generated by 20% of the team. If you don’t have hours/effort to hear, see, do, teach & follow up what they are doing, you’ll liely end up as the victim.

Challenge: people have been led to believe that tenure predicates raises.
Reality: performance is the only valid metric that should predicate raises.
Solution: when the company is not making money, the company doesn’t shell out money (common sense) until the company starts making money again
Comparable: General Motors was put out of business inpart due to an unsustainable workforce, hence ended up wiping out much more than just its workforce.

Want to maximize your chances of getting a raise in your company?
1. do your homework: know what the financial status of the company is. This simply makes you look smart out of the gates.
2. invest above and beyond the already agreed upon expectation. You will likely find yourself rewarded beyond the already agreed upon compensation
3. plan on rolling up your sleeves every day for the next 3-4 years. If yourself and your company make it, you & they will be luckier than a high % of North Americans who won’t.

It’s time to get to work.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Why Do You Do What You Do?

I was talking to someone the other day and they made the observation that maybe I would enjoy life more if I slowed down rather than hiked, biked and ran my way through it. In typical 'Sasha' fashion, I spent some time thinking about what they had said, I would see more (which means appreciate more) if I slowed down and sipped life instead of gulped my way through it, and I've decided that I respectfully disagree. I don't think you need to be standing still (although there is a time and place for it) to appreciate the great moments that life has to offer and I think you can miss them walking through life, just as easily as racing. Appreciation has nothing to do with how fast you're travelling; it's about your ability to connect with what's around you, what's inside of you and the moments when they're the same.

Now in fairness, I understand from the outside looking in how hectic my life may appear to someone else. If I'm not participating in an event, or travelling to a destination, I am spending my spare time training for it. The problem is how do you explain to someone who has never done any of these things why you do what you do?

How do you explain that it's the most basic level of being able to push yourself and be at peace with yourself? That you have the rare opportunity to be included in some of the most amazing moments that life has to offer - seeing the mist move across the mountains, or catching the sun breaking through the trees - beauty in its natural element.

And, how do you explain that competing is listening to your heart? That pushing yourself is tapping into your spirit and discovering strength from within that you never knew existed and may never have accessed otherwise. That it's as simple and as complicated as choosing to stop or keep going. How do you relay all of this to someone that has never experienced it for themselves? You can't.

So I'll look busy, and you sit still, and we can both appreciate the same things in a different way (but my way's better!)

~ Sasha

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Penny for your... actions?

Today the DOW plummeted over fears of a US recession. "Fears of" immediately grabbed my attention due to the fact we're "IN" a recession (and "have been" for about 6 years now. While I realize this is sounding like the all too familiar rant on 'how can some people be so mislead', since we keep having to have the conversation, we're going to keep needing to share the reality this isn't new news.

Today. Some of the legitimately wealthy, will watch as some of the wannabee wealthy scramble to get out of their stocks by cutting their losses with losses. Tomorrow. Those same legitimately wealthy, will go back in and buy up & back stock driving the markets up (now or later) at which point they will sell off to the wannabee wealthy at higher prices points and get out. ‘Fearful when people are greedy and greedy when people are fearful’ Warren Buffet (he’s done well).

This game has and will continue until the wannabe wealthy understand a few things.

1. Fear and Greed are two of the most powerful primary human motivators. Leaders know this, marketers know this, media knows this and when you’re feeling nice a relaxed, in a crumpled mess of wood pieces – they YANK THOSE STRINGS AS HARD AS THEY CAN AND MAKE YOU DANCE.

2. YOU don’t buy your way out of a recession. WE WORK your way out of a recession. Does anyone recall Obama’s speech where he said something to the effect of ‘we will have to work through some tough times together, but if we’re committed to working together we can make it’ or.... Did we just hear what we wanted to hear ‘yes we can!’

3. Times are a changing. Technology for one, the same miracle that enables you to access things more easily is the same miracle that’s made it easy to replace you.... more easily. This is a HUGE ‘not seeing it’ for most until it’s too late. For those reading this post, start thinking about what you can do to remain relevant bcs the middle class of jobs is about to be eradicated. It’s high end and bargain basement polars.

And until the masses concede & look to be the change they want in the world (eg: wanting it to work), we will ride this roller coaster all the way to the 3rd world country.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

20 Questions

Seems like each day we all try our best to make sense of the goings on around us. Most things aren’t as simple to figure out with a black & white answer, however it’s our pursuit towards that answer that conversation, debate and hopefully learning arise.

Having said that, here's our 20 questions.

1. Why are the Kardashians famous?
2. Why isn’t good news interesting to the masses?
3. What has Paris Hilton accomplished on her own accord?
4. Why do so many people voluntarily seek/tune into train wrecks?
5. Do people wake up and say ‘when I grow up I want to be a terrorist’ or is there something that sets those wheels in motion?
6. What’s the difference between a terrorist and a freedom fighter? Don’t they both kill people from other people’s countries in the name of something?
7. Why do we spend a disproportionate amount of time on problems vs. solutions?
8. Why should we feel sympathy for people who suffer because they have made uneducated decisions.
9. Why can’t we do a better job of getting along together ?
10. What’s the difference between a dictatorship and a gvt who censors the information it provides to it’s people?
11. Why doesn’t 95% of the population (employees) realize that 5% of the population (employers) created their opportunity to work, hence can probably find a way to eradicate them?
12. Why are we the only animal species who takes 25+ years to educate our babies how to survive in the world?
13. When will we admit those who have the money, have the power?
14. Why don’t we teach financial management in public school?
15. Why don’t we educate the realities of life in high school?
16. Does anyone ask or check references any more?
17. Why in a democracy of freedom are files upon files of information ‘classified?’
18. Why do people who flow against the grain find themselves ostracized in the media?
19. Do we actually think we will ignore or spend our way out of a global recession?
20. What is funny about jersey Shore?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

What is a MET?

MET is an abbreviation for Metabolic Equivalent is a term used by physiologists to describe the energy cost of doing physical activity, in terms of the amount of oxygen that was required to complete the activity.

The way it works is that we have determined that at rest, we take up and use 3.5ml/kg/min of oxygen, which was assigned the value of 1 MET.

We know that the higher an activities intensity level, the greater the oxygen requirement necessary to produce energy. For example the energy cost of walking is less than the energy cost of sprinting.

Over the year the metabolic cost of almost every physical activity have been tested and the 3 tables below are a good illustration of how activity intensity, energy cost interact (from

Remember, these values are very generalized and are affected by factors such as body size, body composition, fitness level etc. They do however provide us with a better understanding what the energy cost of our daily physical activities and our exercise is.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Five Tips to Kickstart Fat Loss

First off, before I let you in on how to fire up that fat loss, I'd like to make a quick couple of points:

  • I said "kick start", not "speed up" - and this was deliberate. You're planting seeds in a garden, here, not purchasing a fully grown tree. It's going to take time, patience and effort to achieve your goal - there's no way to do it in a healthy way overnight.

  • Below are simply the tips - if you want to know more about them in detail, speak to your training coach.

Tip #1: Address your nutrition.

I know, I know. You "eat pretty well" - your diet isn't the problem. Well, the bottom line is: if fat loss is your goal and you're not losing it then despite your denial - your diet is, in fact, the problem. Not one of the problems - the main one. While there are people who have actual medical problems that affect their weight, the vast majority simply eat badly. If you think you're one of the few with a medical issue, then get checked - and if/when you find out there's nothing wrong (as the vast majority of you will), then start facing the truth.

Tip #2: Lift heavy weights.

Stop trying to "tone up" with light weight and reps of 15-20. Lift as much weight as you can with good form for repetitions of 6 - 12, and start building lean muscle. The bonus? You're going to become a much stronger person, as well. And women - this means you, too.

Tip #3: Incorporate High Intensity Intervals into Your Training

Obviously, they need to be appropriate to your age, ability and fitness level - but if you want to start attacking that body fat, start doing intervals.

Tip #4: Regenerate

Your biggest gains will come when you allow yourself to recover. If you're following the first three tips, then you're going to have more time on your hands - so work out less and recover more.

Tip #5: Work Harder

See the above 4 tips? Now work 30-40% harder at all of them. Stop blowing off your healthy eating over the weekend, lift heavier weights, push your limits on your intervals and get waaaay more rest.

Like anything else, yes, there are some compromises that can be made to the above - but realize that they operate as a quid pro quo. For every shortcut you take, there will be extra effort required somewhere else.

We can't have our cake and eat it too... no pun intended.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Newton’s 3rd law.

Some of us spend A LOT of time in react mode cleaning up issues that could have been averted with an ounce of forethought. If we think about how much time in our day, week, month and year is invested reacting to some of our poor decisions, we’d probably be embarrassed. Hard truth is most of our reactions aren’t as much circumstance as they are self fulfilling prophecy. Some simply refuse to look inward and take responsibility for their role in the actions. Some refuse to believe it IS them vs. everyone else.

Instead we blame others for our circumstance. And when they respond... we react to their response. We just cannot understand why they can’t make the changes we need to thrive & survive. And we wonder why we find ourselves in similar predicaments, feeling the same feelings over... and over... and over again.

My boss has it in for me? - Them or is it something you’re doing / not doing?
My wife is no longer interested in me? - Her or is it something you’re doing / not doing?
My friends no longer call me? - All of them or is it something you’re doing / not doing?
Our country is the most hated in the world. - Rest of the world or is it something you’re doing / not doing?

Some never ask these questions. Its constantly their fault, their idiots, their loss.

Others chose to live their lives proactively. You won’t often see them whining about circumstance because they’ve likely already examined their decisions, took the lessons from them and moved on (not likely to repeat them again and again and again). Not ironically, things seem to happen for these people rather than to them and sometimes it’s all we can do to not to be envious. They’ve mastered Newtons 3rd law and spend their time dealing with the worthy.

No one is above making mistakes. No one is above feeling wronged. No one is above just wanting a break. However proactive people are above blaming others when they don’t get that break because they know one thing that reactors do not. At the end of the day there’s only 1 person who’s accountable for their life path.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Are you getting ahead?

Today's entry is based on a simple concept we can all innately relate to - then unfortunately, subconsciously walk ourselves into repeating what we know to be a mistake.

It's Wednesday - almost all of us are deep into another work week, we might be on our last dime looking forward to pay day, and we might just need a perspective shake-up on what it's all for.

Coming from one of the worst nations in the world in terms of consumerism above basic needs - the following study serves as a sharp reminder of how (and IF) we differentiate need from want.

Have you worked your tail off, only to earn more, only to spend more, only to have to earn more? Seems foolish in theory, yet all too common in practise. Like a good business, make sure you are reinvesting some of your profits...

Full house, empty heart seems like a deathbed prospect we'd all avoid if we could. Why wait until then to have the regret if we can do something different today?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Are you at risk?

Longevity is a topic which is always being researched and discussed. We all know that your genes play a role in you life expectancy but there are many other factors which might have the same, if not greater, impact on your expected life span.

What you do and the impact it has on your health has become the focus of many studies, and the results are interesting, but not unexpected.

According to the American Journal of Public Health, published online on August 18, 2011, it was found that middle-aged individuals who avoided smoking, ate a low-fat and low-sugar diet, exercised regularly, and drink alcohol moderately were 63% less likely to die within 18 years.

Those who did smoke, drank excessively, ate a diet high in fats and sugars and did not exercise had a life reduced life expectancy of almost 8 years less than the group who followed healthy lifestyle habits.

Furthermore, and it should come as no surprise, smoking was indicated as the number 1 predictor of premature death.

So what is the return you can expect from leading a healthy lifestyle? Reserachers followed a group of middle aged individuals for 8 years and showed some very appreciable benefits to leading a healthy lifestyle:
  • 93 percent lower risk of diabetes
  • 81 percent lower risk of heart attacks
  • 50 percent lower risk of strokes
  • 36 percent lower risk of cancers
In this study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, being overweight was the strongest risk factor for the development of chronic disease,next was smoking and next lack of physical activity.

If you did not know the benefits to eating well, being physically active, losing those extra pounds and not smoking - now you do!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Let's Put This Another Way

It consistently surprises (nay, frustrates me) when people tell me what their goals are, and when I tell them what they need to do to get there... they begin to try and negotiate with me. As if, somehow, I have the power to change reality.

While I appreciate their perception of my omnipotent power - I get tired of the same conversation.

"What do I need to do to lose weight?" they ask.

"Well," I say, (knowing where this is likely to go), "you can start by exercising more. But the truth is, while it helps, exercise contributes less to weight loss than nutrition. The only way to lose weight is to address your eating habits."

To which I often get one, or more, of the following:

  • "I don't want to have to count calories."

  • "I don't want to have to give up what I enjoy."

  • "What if I add another day of training in?"

  • "What if I started running 3 days a week as well?"

My answers to the above (although paraphrased to be brief):

  • Fine. Don't count them. Just start eating better.

  • Tough. Life is full of sacrifices - this is one of them.

  • That's awesome, and your strength, mobility, balance, and cardiovascular health will all improve - but you're not going to lose more weight.

  • Then we'll need to address the program to ensure that we're doing everything we need to do to keep healthy while you run that much - especially if you're still carrying an extra 10-15lbs because you haven't addressed your eating.

Maybe consider it another way. Imagine if I asked you how far it was for me to drive to work, and you told me it was 20km. What would you say if I responded with any of the following:

  • "I don't like to have to drive 20km."

  • "I don't want to have to spend that much time in the car."

  • "What if I got a better car - would it be closer?"

  • "What if I drive faster - is it less than 20km then?"

Ridiculous, right?

Well, that's how it is when you try to avoid this simple fact: although everyone's situation, tactics and approaches will all differ, if weight loss is your goal, you have to address your eating. You can come up with any excuses, justifications or arguments you want, but it's like telling me you dislike gravity.

Save your energy, and start looking for ways to create a productive action plan - because the longer you put it off, the longer it takes for you to get where you want to be.


Thursday, September 08, 2011

BC Goats.

The tragedy of it all is that the message probably STILL evaded many this afternoon when the British Columbia finance minister announced the province would have to spend 2.3 BILLION dollars to revert back to our old PST / GST tax system and make up 431million (this year alone) to keep us as a zero budget. Instantly our deficit tripled and we all (yes that’s correct) WE ALL will bear the brunt of this horrendously short sighted decision.

Not unlike we all bore the brunt of the ‘are you retarded’ decisions to invest money in non existent ‘on line’ potentials in the early 90’s. Not unlike the ‘you’re kidding me’ decisions to take $5000 dream home mortgages on $2000 salaries. And not unlike the ‘how could you’ decisions layoff quite a few loud, lazy, unreliable autoworkers and replace them with silent, efficient medicare-less robots.

Let me be candid. This happens because there are WAY more stupid people in the world than smart people and as long as we continue to be hapless, blaming, victims, the smart people (who make all the money) will continue to profit from our ignorance. In today's case however... no one wins.

Here’s the scoop goats. The province is like a business. When there’s a surplus, we should be holding out hands out and when there’s not – they should be in our pockets or better yet getting dirty working to create surplus. 0-0 is 0 and right now, there’s NOTHING left to take. Don't argue it. Accept it and do something about it.

Worse than 0 - 0 is attempting to take something away from nothing. That's called a deficit and results in debt. Piles and piles of debt. If you’re brilliant enough to keep trying to get something for nothing, than you’re brilliant enough to turn on the tv and see what happens when countries run out of money. Maybe another riot BC? (no wait, that didn’t make sense either).

1. don’t spend what you don’t within your means.
2. don't ask for a raise when your company, province or country is broke.
3. the next time we feel compelled to scramble to keep up to the rest of the heard and storm the corral lets do ourselves a big favor and THINK (just for a second)

.............where are we going?

Friday, September 02, 2011

What's Your Effort?

I was watching an episode of What Not to Wear the other day - for anyone that watches the show on a regular basis they were following their typical format - take footage of a badly dressed person who was nominated by friends and/or family, ambush them, spend time trying to convince them to change while figuring out what the deeper issue is, then in comes the glam squad, followed by the final reveal, in which they are now enlightened dressers (and slightly sheepish for their resistant behaviour in the beginning).

What struck me during this episode was what they said to the girl - they were in the process of showing her outfits that would look good on her and explaining why and what to look for when she went shopping on her own, when she stopped them and said that it sounded like too much work. Their response was no different than what we all know to be the truth, but it really resonated with me that day. It's always going to be an effort to look good, you are never not going to have to spend time on it, that's why not many people do it.

That's just it, you're always going to have to put in an effort - whether it be on your diet, or working out, or dressing better, you will never reach a point when you can stop trying. When you stop trying, there's no effort, so you're not going to get anywhere. That's what successful people have learned - it's always work, which explains why not everyone is successful because not everyone is willing to put in the effort.

~ Sasha