New Year…New You?

December 27, 2007

The new year’s almost upon us. In just a few days we’re all going to usher in the New Year with millions of resolutions and promises to ourselves and loved ones that very few of us ever keep. I’ll give you the perfect example: for almost a full 6 years I was a smoker. Yes, I was a smoker. And every year for those 6 years I made a resolution to quit. Every year came and went and I was still inhaling dozens of chemicals dozens of times a day. I told my wife at the time that I really wanted to quit but I must admit that most of it was just to get her off my back. Not until my daughter was born did quitting smoking become real to me.

I remember visiting Myrical’s pediatrician (yes, that’s her real name and she’s the most beautiful soon-to-be 8 year old on the planet) for a wellness visit and her asking me if I smoked. My answer, of course, was “Yes, I do smoke.” Now remember folks, at the time I was a Special Operations Medic in the military. I was supposed to know the negative effects of smoking (I did) and know better than to smoke at all. However, I found every excuse in the book, and some not in the book, to not quit. Until that day, that is. My daughter’s doctor told me how I was affecting Myrical’s life. That even if I smoked outside my clothes would still carry multiple carcinogens and potentially harm my daughter. “Nuff said.”

I quit that very day and I’ve not had one cigarette since. Yes, I have smoked the occasional celabratory cigar, but never another cigarette. You see, what I needed was a real reason to quit. I needed something to motivate me from the inside. Once that happened there was nothing in the world that could get in the way of me quitting.

My advice to any and all readers out there is to identify what it is you really want to committ yourselves to in the gym. What’s real and what’s all talk? Some of you may want a complete overhaul of your appearance. Others may want to compete in a triathalon. There are so many potential goals out there that I simply cannot list them all. What I’m saying is: decide what it is that you really want to achieve and set goals to achieve it. Maybe take a picture of what you used to look like or a picture of someone that you’d want to look like and put it somewhere that you know you’ll see it every single day. Set yourself short, medium, and long term goals in order to achieve your ultimate goal.

Get with one of the trainers and ask them if they know of any motivational techniques (read tricks) that can help you along the way. Try something new like a spin class or a few sessions with a trainer to give yourself a kickstart into the New Year. Whatever your goals may be, they are all achievable, if you simply believe in yourself enough and take action. I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas and I wish you all the very best the New Year has to offer! See you in 2008!

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Imagine That

December 17, 2007

Okay, I understand it’s the holiday season, where friends and family gather for good times and giving. I understand that because of the season people will do things during this time of year that they probably would never do otherwise, like drinking eggnog or indulging on seasonal sweet pastries. But…and you knew there would be one…when is enough really enough? When is it time to hit the “off” button or at least shift down a gear or 3?

I had a conversation with a good friend this weekend that blew me away. Let me tell you just how the conversation went without giving away his name (Guido), or too much information about him (he’s a paramedic in Fort Lauderdale and I’ve known him since our service in the Navy together…sorry Guido,lol).

The conversation started in regards to his workout program and how he’s getting stronger by the day, which is good for him since his goals are strength increases and overall muscle building. However, about 5 minutes into the conversation he made a comment about how he doesn’t understand why he’s gaining inches around his waist. 3 1/2 to be exact; over a period of 1 month! So I asked him what his nutritional intake looked like. Without hesitation he said his nutrition was spot on, which is why he just didn’t understand why this was happening. He went on to tell me he eats 6 or 7 meals a day (perfect!) and never, ever misses a scheduled workout. His protein intake was adequate (200mg/lb), if just a little low for his lean body mass (220lbs), his carb intake seemed fine (roughly 300gms) and fat intake was virtually non-existant. so how in the world is he gaining so many inches around his waistline???

As if on cue the conversation took a turn when, in the background, I could hear his fiance telling him to hurry up or else they’d be late for the party. “What party,” I asked. “Just some Christmas party for her work,” he tells me. “It’s been non-stop for the past month, bro,” he continues to say.

So I asked, without really implying anything, just how many parties he’s been to. The answer to my question was dead silence….

“Hello?”

“Yeah, I’m here,” he says, “I’m just trying to think about how many we’ve been to. I think 6 or 7 so far and we still have 2 or 3 more to go to.”

“Sounds like fun,” I say and start laughing. Guido, being the man he is, instantly realizes why I’m laughing and lets out an audible sigh. “I can’t believe this! I’ve been shooting myself in the foot for a month. All those drinks and all that food! I never even thought about it. Dude, I must have eaten more than a thousand calories at each of those parties.”

You see, folks, it’s so easy to lose track of your fitness goals during this time of year. Especially if you’re a socialite like my friend Guido (yes, that’s his real name). Without realizing it he partied himself into an extra few pounds. It can happen to any of us. He’s just one example of many, many more out there.

So my point this week is this: if you plan on stopping at a few Christmas parties just try to stay aware of what you’re eating and drinking and how much. Guido’s case may be a bit extreme, having gained almost 3 and 1/2 inches around his waist, but there are people out there reading this right now and realizing why they’ve gained an extra 7 or 8 pounds this month. It’s too easy for us to fall into the trap of thinking we can just do a bit of extra cardio to burn off the excess calories we eat at parties and functions. The truth of the matter is you can avoid all the extra sweating and endless time spent on the treadmill by watching just how much you eat and what you eat at these parties. How hard is it really? The better question is…how badly do you really want to be in the shape you say want to be in?  

Look, I’m not saying you should sequester yourself and not go to these parties. That’s what the season is for. What I’m saying is there has to come a point when you say, “enough is enough.” Remember all the time you’ve already put into you quest for optimal fitness and keep that thought at the forefront of your mind when you see that eggnog in front of you. Instead of having 6 of these and half a dozen of the other simply downshift and enjoy 2 of each. Trust me when I tell you, it makes one heck of a difference in the long run.

So, by all means, go out. Enjoy the season. Have merry times and good food. Just have merry times and good food in moderation. Merry Christmas!

Leave Your Ego at the Door

December 13, 2007

I’ve been in the fitness industry for a long time and I’ve seen some very “interesting” things. One of which occurred last week while I was working out. There was a gentleman doing barbell curls inside the squat rack at Gold’s Gym in Brooksville. First, let me just say that the two bodyparts I see being bombarded and overtrained the most are biceps and chest. Every man seems to want them bigger and better and expect that to happen NOW!

Well, this man’s quest for bigger biceps was no different than hundreds of thousands before him. It was obvious that he believed it was all about how much weight he could lift, not necessarily about how hard his biceps were really working. His barbell curl looked more like a crazy hyperextension for his lower back than anything even remotely resembling a biceps exercise.

Picture this, if you will: he had a 45 poud plate on each end of the olyimpic bar, totalling 135 pounds, including the bar. The man himself only weighed 150lbs, give or take, and that’s with his clothes on. He grabbed the barbell with a grunt and instead of curling the weight with the strength of his biceps he leaned forward to almost 45 degrees and jerked his back up and backwards until he was leaning 45 degrees in the other direction! His arms stayed bent at 90 degrees from beginning to end, never having gone through any range of motion that would help him in his quest for larger arms mass.

I decided I should try to give him a pointer and maybe he’d accept my advice. I guess I should’ve mentioned that he was in his mid to late 40’s and I’m 33 (yeah, I know, I look much, much younger, lol). I approached him and asked if he minded if I showed him something that could help him and he said, “Sure.” So I go on to tell him that if he simply dropped some of the weight off of the bar and corrected his form that he’d get much better results and his biceps would actually start to grow again.

I was told in no uncertain terms that, ” I’ve been doing this for 20 years! I know what I’m doing!” Well, ya know something, he really didn’t. Less than 30 minutes later I overheard the same gentleman telling another gym member that he was fighting off a nagging back injury. Well, imagine that! Looks, folks, injuries come and go no matter how safe we are in and out of the gym, but why go looking for one just to say you lifted a certain amount of weight. Had this guy checked his ego at the door and done his lift SAFELY there would’ve been much less chance that whatever lower back issues he was battling would still be existant.

I see it all too often and I’ve seen it for too many years. You might even be one of them. If you are please take my advice and check your ego at the front desk. Watch what kind of results you can get once you actually start to feel your muscles working instead of simply lifting as much weight as you possibly can.  When was the last time you’ve seen me barking at the ceiling because the weight was too much? Exactly my point.

So there’s my first of what I hope to be many stories and issues I can relate to you over time. I look forward to hearing from each and every one of you.

Hello world!

December 5, 2007

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