Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Time to Face Your Fears

It was a cold and stormy Sunday night and as we were getting prepared for the week ahead it was tempting to sit back and watch the Sunday night football game that featured the New England Patriots take on the New York Jets. However, as we clicked through the channels, we couldn’t resist missing our weekly educational TV program – 60 minutes – and we are sure glad we caught it.

One of the features that evening was the life of Steven Spielberg – one of the best film director, screenwriter, and producer of all time; someone that has had a direct or indirect impact, through his movies, on millions of people for more than four decades.

As they uncovered and discussed his life growing up, the relationships he has had with his parents, his underlying motivation, his trials and tribulations over the years, and his ‘life lessons’ per say, the most prominent them of all was around facing one’s fears. Knowing it is Halloween; we thought it was a perfect discussion point around the ability to face your fears.

“He was scared of just about everything,” recalls Leah Adler, Spielberg’s mother. “When trees brushed against the house, he would head into my bed.”

From childhood anxieties to professional worries, Spielberg was no different than many of us – he was a living example of the success that is possible when you move beyond your fears, when you put away those nagging worries in your head and focus in on your goals & tasks at hand.

Even at an early age, Steven was forced to overcome his fear of standing out from the crowd and of being different. His years through high school he termed as ‘the worst time of my life’. His family had moved into an affluent San Francisco suburb, where he soon realized that he did not fit in from the rest of the crowd. He was ashamed of his Hebrew name and all things Jewish. Classmates would often make fun of his Judaism and was also a frequent victim of bullying after school. However, at some point he realized he could expose his passion and overcome many of these fears through his work. Through this he learned to cherish his religion, which would then fuel his perspective & the creation of his hits such as Schindler’s List and Band of Brothers in tribute to his ancestors.

Another example that Spielberg had to learn was his ability to conquer his fear of failure. After being rejected by the extremely prestigious film school at UCLA, upon which he had pinned his hopes and dreams, Spielberg was unsure what the future held in store for him. While he knew film was his passion, he began to questions his abilities and whether or not he would be able to succeed at it. Unwilling to give up on his dream, he enrolled in California State University and continued his path only to make an even riskier decision to drop out of school and pursue his passion on his own.

In order to succeed, Spielberg had to fight the urge to give up and continue believing in himself. But even Spielberg is not the picture of perfection that he might appear to be. To this day he is still afraid of the opening nights of his movies, where friends and film critics come to see an advanced screening. The thing that’s unique about him – he knows he has these fears and instead of worrying about them, he uses them to his advantage. “I still have pretty much the same fears I had growing up,” he said. “I’ve carried them with me right through my life until now. And I’m not sure I want to give those up because I think a lot of those insecurities are fuel for the stories that I tell.”

At the end of the day, just like Steven Spielberg we will naturally grow up to fear things in life. No different than we will naturally develop (and inherit) traits & skills that we are strong at and characteristics that we are weak at.  However, it is how we convert these traits & fears into fueling our personal & professional passions and overcome the things that might motivate us the most!

It's Time to Face Your Fears....

and Have a Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 29, 2012

pH balanced for a women...

I didn't know what they were talking about when I was little and watching that ad. There was more than meets the eye with that sentence. For those who don’t know, pH stands for the ‘potential of hydrogen’ and it refers to the acid level and or alkaline level in the blood. This is measured on a scale of 0 to 14 and it looks like a score of 7 is neutral where; less than 7 would be acidic and more than 7 would be considered alkaline. It’s never that simple so to complicate it we can also tell you that a long term pH levels below 7.35 is low grade acidosis, where a pH level over 7.4 promotes optimal health and function...

The risk of disease associated with a low pH may include; heart attack, cancer, loss of muscle and bone mass along with diabetes. Interesting enough, the stress hormone cortisol will decrease pH levels along with processed and refined foods. Some other notable foods to stay away from would be; gluten, corn, sugar, alcohol and soda as these are all proven to lower your pH status.

To combat evil low pH levels we can eat; green vegetables and high antioxidant fruits. We can also benefit from drinking water with a high pH. One thing to remember is that just drinking water doesn't cut it. We need to be consistent with the right amount of water. 1-2L just won’t do as studies show drinking your water goal can elevate your pH levels in days. Personally, I carry a 4L jug with me and I sip it all day long…I set my water goal at over ½ an ounce per pound of body weight and after a couple wks of hitting 4L per day I can tell you that it is a noticeable difference in increased energy and well-being. One will also detoxify and recover faster when providing optimal levels of hydration.

A fun trick used by weekend warriors could be to eat a lime before exercise. Looks like it could spike your alkaline levels and hey, that could help performance a little but the best option is to have consistent pH levels…

-sleep well to manage cortisol
-eat green veg and keep away from processed foods
-hit your daily water goal

Looks like living healthy will promote appropriate pH levels so do yourself a favor and don’t worry about any shortcuts, do what’s best for your body and love it…

Friday, October 26, 2012

Feeling Crampy?

There are three main causes of muscle cramps:
  1. Lack of Magnesium: Improper Calcium to Magnesium ratios do not allow an active muscle to relax.
  2. Dehydration: Dehydration can cause a decrease in blood volume, resulting in inadequate flow to the muscle.
  3. Electrolytes, such as Calcium, Chloride, Sodium and Potassium imbalances: Nerve stimulation and muscle contraction rely on exchanges of electrolytes across nerve and muscle cell membranes.  Electrolyte imbalances decrease electrical activity in the muscle and therefore the muscle may not return to rest after activity, as it should.

Some great ways to avoid cramping is through prevention. Stay hydrated and consume adequate amount of minerals on a daily basis. 

Avocados, lima beans, potatoes, tomatoes, bananas, fish, apricots, spinach, almonds, apple cider vinegar
Celery, unrefined sea salt, sea veggies, many other foods
Green leafy veggies, turnip, broccoli, almonds, brazil nits, figs, dairy, seeds, kelp
Whole grains, dark green veggies, molasses, nuts, seafood, legumes

Keeping hydrated for anyone is important and especially important for those who are very active. Nearly seventy percent of the human body is water, and almost all bodily functions, from transportation of nutrients to the elimination of toxins, happens in a liquid medium.

When being active, adequate amounts of water are critical for optimum performance. Those who drink water while they are active, approximately 1 cup ever every 15-20 minutes, will be able to last longer than those who do not consume any water. Although they may be able to continue activity without consuming water, their performance will likely be compromised and their recovery slower.

Even slight dehydration can affect mental ability and muscular strength. When you lose around 2% of your body weight in sweat you will feel weak, breathing will become harder and muscle fatigue may set in. Losing 5% may result in rapid breathing, abnormally fast heartbeats and loss of concentration. More than 6-8% may result in death.

To stay hydrated and avoid getting cramps you should avoid soft drinks, artificial sweeteners and consume beer and wine in moderation. Coffee and tea remain controversial, but they do have a diuretic property.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Risk Versus Reward

When it comes to exercise, one should always consider risk and reward. Working hard or doing a “cool” exercise is not always correct or right for your particular body. You must always weigh the risks and the rewards of said exercises or workouts. There are a lot of trendy workout routines out there these days that are “super hard” or “insane” or “the toughest workout on the planet”, but what it always comes down to is that the key to exercise is a long and dedicated approach of hard work and consistency.
The correct way to exercise is to start with what you can do and slowly work your way up. Even high-level athletes don’t do plyometrics and high impact exercise for more than 4-8 weeks a year because it is hard on their joints and, when they do use them, the number of footfalls is always limited. Why is it that the business professional who plays golf on weekends feels he/she needs to be jumping over boxes and throwing weights around? Does jumping help this individual or does it put them at risk without reward? Often the answer is that we like to do things that are cool and “hard core”. Now it is true that staying engaged in exercise and enjoying your workouts go hand in hand. However, highly impactful types of exercises should be worked up to properly and only done for a short period of time to minimize the negative impact they can have on the body while, at the same time, getting all the positive physical and mental impact they can yield.
How do you know when you are ready? Let’s take jumping as an example. There is a simple set of progressions that you can follow to get yourself to jump and land while minimizing your risk of acute or chronic injury.
Stage 1: Be able to perform a basic squat. This squat should be very close to perfect form. Your knees should not go beyond your toes, your chest should stay up with your shoulders back, and you should be on balance and be able to control your pace up and down. Your knees should be tracking over your first or second toe with very little lateral or medial movement during the entire squat.
*If you cannot perform a basic squat, you should regress to a Stability Ball-supported (against your lower back) squat until you can sit back in a proper body weight squat.
Stage 2: Be able to perform a basic weighted squat. All of the rules above apply AND you should be able to perform the squat with at least 30% of your own body weight on your shoulders (140lb person should be able to squat with 40-50lbs).
Stage 3: Be able to perform a pace-controlled weighted squat. This is the same as above AND now you are pacing yourself. Very slow on your decent (3-4 second count) followed by an explosive ascent (0.5 – 1 second).
Stage 4: Jumping onto a box. Jumping up onto a box takes a lot of the impact away from the landing. You should be following all of the mechanical pointers listed in the basic and weighted squats.
Stage 5: Broad jump. You should now be able to jump and land while maintaining correct form. You should be jumping and landing with very little noise. Soft landings make for an efficient jumper! In between each jump, give yourself a moment to ensure that you are set and ready for your next jump with perfect mechanics. 
Stage 6: Now you are ready for a plyometric jump. This includes both a landing (load) and immediate jump (explode).
Stages 1-6 can take up to 4-6 months to achieve and NONE of the above steps should be skipped.

As you can see this is a detailed approach to jumping, but, in order to properly perform a complex movement that has a high-risk component, you should be following the proper progressions. If you are starting a new exercise program that is billed as “crazy” or “insane”, perhaps you should consider whether or not your particular body is really ready for crazy or insane. An injured person does not tend to be nearly as effective at getting fit or healthy as an uninjured one! Injury can be quite the depressant! Using logic and common sense when starting an exercise program is essential. Going hard early usually means not going for very long. Pace yourself for long-term success. If you want to do the crazy workouts, then be patient and put in the work. Make sure your form is perfect and always make sure that the risk is worth the reward.
 ~ Yoshia

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Changing the shape of a nation.

 It was Nov 2009 when a good friend from Ontario came into town on a business trip. He would step into our children’s rooms, see their conduct contracts on the wall and be inspired to take that idea to the next level. Returning home, he would not only integrate contracts into his children’s daily habits, he would go into elementary schools he was invited to speak and challenge them too; 60 days of activity for 60 minutes / day. He  would create activity contracts kids would sign and with the help of a talented friend, brand the concept The 60 Minute Kids Club. With that, what will be one of the most significant initiatives in the country was born.

On a consecutive trip, he would share the program with another associate who saw the potential and brought it to our attention. It was good, but needed to be great if it were to be scaled. The limiting factor of the idea was the time needed to take it to the next level. Would it work? How would it be funded? Who would dedicate time & attention to it? How would it scale? None of those questions actually entered our minds because to be frank, those are questions entrepreneurs ask.... later.

Our 1st stop was the gvt. Using our contacts, we approached them for assistance. It was here we would learn how difficult collaborating with gvt could be. Public and private are two very distinct animals, both of which serve great purpose and both of which have strengths and limitations. While our initial meetings were not overly fruitful, we knew with time and attention, we would be back at this table. In the meantime, we would take it upon ourselves to use our personal contacts to make it into elementary schools and test our idea.

The idea (to be clear) is that our childhood obesity problem doesn’t have to be a problem if it is addressed early, often and meaningfully from K-5. Healthy & active children are not an option, hence their willingness to participate in preventative programming should not be an option. Given our 20 years experience in personal training and our research around programs that already existed we would come to a few conclusions about gaps that needed to be addressed for program adherence. 

  1. people need incentive to participate in programming. If we wanted to increase the results, we needed to increase the incentives.
  2. people need to be held accountable to programming. Quantitative, tangible, meaningful stats vs. qualitative intention.
  3. people needed follow up on the success / failure of the programming. Reports generated to share what had actually happened.
  4. people needed an enjoyable ‘experience’ to become & remain engaged in the programming.

With this information we would combine best high touch (human interaction) practices with best high tech (computer interface) practices, throw in a healthy challenge and pilot the 60 Minute Kidsclub program. We wanted to see if our ‘idea’ would stand up to the scrutiny of a very taxed, tired and tricky system of the school boards. Our 1st stop was the various contacts we had in schools across the country; Nova Scotia, Ontario & British Columbia. We needed a solid sponsor, and did our due diligence around companies we believed to be the right fit for our cause. TELUS stood out and while they get pitched on a thousands of different good ideas / day, we felt strongly this was the ‘one’. We shared, pursued, followed up, and followed up again to eventually strike a 5 year deal that would ensure there was no cost to the end users (kids). This persistence would prove to be invaluable!

In 2010/2011, we would select 5 schools / region [Nova Scotia, Ontario & British Columbia] for our pilot project from various socioeconomic backgrounds and run the program over a 60 day challenge. The results were encouraging. 68% of kids across the nation would be actively engaged in the program for the 60 days. The ‘big’ revelation; the program didn’t just support the kids who were already fit and active, it provided the contributions of those who may not be on their school teams the opportunity to count. Essentially, they were now contributing members on their school team vs. 1 size fits all. We had engaged over 5000 kids.

Step 2 (2011/12) would be implementing the program year round, narrowing our focus to British Columbia and Ontario while scaling the number of kids from 5000 to 15000. Again, we would yield participation rates of 70% (avg of both provinces) and more importantly, the concept started to capture the attention of entire school districts, setting up the 2012/13 school year to scale significantly.

Currently, we are set to service 6 entire school districts in British Columbia and the 2 largest districts in Ontario (that's potentially over 60 000 kids). Through our excellent partnership with the TELUS team we are also set to engage the province of Alberta and eventually Quebec. At the same time we’ve received national charitable status and will continue working to ensure physical literacy is more than talk, carries no cost and provides incentive, accountability and follow up to create healthy habits from K-5 across the nation. 

If you would like to find out more about the 60MinuteKidsclub and our goal of eradicating childhood obesity, contact us [Western Canada] or [Eastern Canad]. You can also sponsor a kid, class or school by following the links here


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

I know a guy.

I know a guy that had a dream. 
I know a guy that overcame obstacles to achieve that dream. 
I know a guy that worked hard for the past 5 years to overcome the obstacles to achieve that dream. 
I know a guy that accomplished that dream just yesterday. 

His name is Jeff. He is a great friend & a teammate of ours for the past decade. But he isn't any ordinary teammate - and that's why everyone loves him. 

5+ years ago Jeff embarked on a journey to open up his own personal training facility. Over those 5 years he experienced what many entrepreneurs face; doubt from all the nay sayers, loss of financial backing [not once but twice], struggles to secure the deal [& the space], and the inevitable delays along the way. Through all this he remained persistent & consistent with his focus to achieve his ultimate goal of being a business owner. Yesterday, October 22 2012, he accomplished that mission. 

Whether it is Jeff focused on opening his own personal training facility or Felix Baumgartner determined to do what no man has done before - they both set goals, experienced the adversity that comes with setting those goals, and perserved through the challenges & amount of time it takes to accomplish what we set out to do. These goals don't come overnight. They aren't easy. And few people have the patience to stay focused, confidence to take risks, and work ethic to make it happen but that's why they rise above status quo. That is what separates them from the rest of the pack. And that is what makes them entrepreneurs. On that note - congratulations on your recent success Jeff. 

I saw a quote the other day and it said it perfectly. 

"Entrepreneurship is living a few [or many] years of your life like most people won't, so that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can't.

And that is just one secret to your own personal & professional success. 

On that note, many people want to achieve success in life, but it's easier said than done. There are so many distractions [in today's world in particular] that it can be challenging to discipline one's self to accomplish a monumental goal. Here are 15 tips to keep in check and on your mind as you pursue your goals like Jeff & Felix have. 

1. First & foremost you have to imagine yourself being successful. 

2. Surround yourself with other people who are successful. When you're surrounded with people who are highly-driven, it's encouraging - let alone the insight & perspective that they can provide. 

3. Define the meaning os success as YOU see it. You cannot achieve success if you do not know what it means for you. 

4. Stay away from all the distractions. Time focused on items that are not bringing you closer to your goals will force the time to achieve those goals to be longer. 

5. Find the purpose or passion of your life. The things you love to do are the things that will give you the greatest satisfaction. 

6. Set a timeline on when you want to achieve your objective. If you don't know when you will achieve your objective then you will never know when you will achieve it. 

7. Identify the things / skills / materials / people that you need to achieve your objectives. Essentially this is identifying short terms objectives to achieve long term goals. 

8. Study successful people. Look around - who has the success that you envision for yourself? Spend time around them, learn from them, and implement similar strategies that have been successful for them.  Successful people do what unsuccessful people don't do. 

9. Take risks. Step outside your comfort zone. Successful people think big and act big. 

10. Master solution based thinking. People who are successful encourage progress by solving problems and answering questions in a quickly fashion. 

11. Be persistent & relentless. Don't give up. If your first attempt didn't work, don't quit. Evaluate what isn't working and find another way of achieving that result you are looking for. 

12. Gather information. Soak in as much information about anything and everything. Listen. Study. Understand. Learn. Knowledge is power so become the student of the game. 

13. Accept failure. Understand that behind every success there is bound to be a failure. Embrace those failures so that you can learn to be better. 

14. Take responsibility. When you do fail or receive constructive criticism, ensure that you take ownership & responsibility for the actions instead of passing the blame. 

15. Remove fear, doubt, and negativity from your way of thinking. You will be surprised how effective you will become if you streamline your thoughts around positive thinking & successful outcomes.  

Monday, October 22, 2012

Build your team

No matter which stage you are in, there will always be positive benefits to building your team. A team comprises a group of people or animals linked together in a common purpose. Teams normally have members with complementary skills and generate synergy through a coordinated effort which allows each member to maximize their strengths and minimize their weaknesses… When approaching a problem, it can be wise to access your team for assistance. Unless you are in the mountains and setting up a solo accent, there can always be a use for a team. Your first member is yourself and you yourself are the most important member. You are holding yourself accountable, you are personally responsible for the ‘team’ and the state of affairs it works on – your life. When we begin to build the team, we shouldn't have to look too far for its members. You may have already started building one. Maybe you prefer a specific barista at your coffee shop or possibly you have a favorite checkout attendant where you buy your veggies…these are all members of your team. Take it a step further; do you have a good friend a couple days a week to train with or you may even be lucky enough to have a trainer you work with. Associating specific tasks to specific people will aid in adherence and progression to the goals related to that team. Financial planner, barber, butcher and mechanic…these are all your team mates and whether you like it or not you have selected them to accompany you with/to your success. Are all your team members rowing the same direction? When looking loosely at life’s team members you will be lucky to have the bus driver and landlord working together but why not access a new team that has your best interests at heart, simultaneously you having their best interest at heart? Whether you are starting a new business or setting up a block watch, gathering others with similar goals may enable you to break into that next level personally and professionally. Not only will collaboration result in new ways of looking at a problem but being held accountable to a group is a great motivator to establish. We all need to be accountable and if you are unable to be accountable to yourself then you better build a group to help achieve this notion as this lost art has a power you may be looking for. We are only as strong as we choose to be…it may be time to revisit this concept because you may need to find others to be accountable to in order to jump start your journey towards your success.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Dirty Dozen

Although research is mixed on this topic, there are certainly at least some benefits to eating organic foods. Organic means the food has come from a farm where no pesticides or chemical fertilizers have been used to grow the food. There are benefits for the farmers who are exposed to fewer toxins, benefits for the environment and for those of us who will be ingesting fewer toxins. More and more individuals are taking precaution just in case, regardless of what the research has yielded. Some, such as pregnant women and parents of young children are also taking precaution to avoid increased exposure to chemicals. 

The difficulty, and perhaps hard part, for most people is the extra cost associated with purchasing organic food. If you have bought it before, you know that it does not last as long as non-organic food and that it often is all different sizes at the market and maybe not quite as "pretty" as its non-organic counter part. That has been my experience, and to build a bridge between ingesting extra unnecessary toxins and not breaking the bank I abide by the "Dirty Dozen" list whenever possible! 

These are 12 of the most contaminated fruits and vegetables to avoid eating, to lower your pesticide intake substantially. The lists can differ year-to-year, and will also depend on the area you live; 

 Bell Peppers

 In addition to following the dirty dozen list, you can find products out there to use to soak your vegetables and fruit in to reduce the chemicals and residue. Another way to cut down on chemicals in your home are to use cloths that contain anti-bacterial agents, and require no additional cleaning agent such as products from Norwex. You can find products for your home, body and food!

An excellent way to keep food fresher longer is to use a storage container that allows circulation versus placing them in a bag or in nothing at all in your crisper. Look for containers that have a grate placed in the bottom of them and this will allow vegetables to breathe, but still be limited to light and too much oxygen, which accelerates decomposition. 

Keep things fresh and healthy in your life!