The other day I was all excited about my workout. I couldn’t wait to take a trip to Muscleville, population me.
I’m just a few sets in to my very first exercise and it happens. Stinking back spasms.
Not sure if you have ever had back spasms before but they are not much fun. The bad part is that is was completely my own fault that I got them.
If you were making a formula to give yourself back spasms, I came up with a pretty good one. First you get about 4 hours of sleep the night before, then, you drink lots of coffee to make up for that, do NOT rehydrate with water, eat not so great foods, sit a lot working on a project, rush through your warm-up, and then go too heavy too fast doing squats.
That will pretty much do it if you are looking to experience some sympathy back spasms with me. And I knew not to do all of these things, but I still did them. Do you ever get yourself in those situations where you know better, but do it any way?
The first lesson here is to always prepare for your workouts. If you are tired, dehydrated, your nutrition has been terrible, you’ve been sitting all day, and you halfway go through your warm-up chances are good you could injure yourself.
The second lesson was what I did after I got the back spasms. I obviously was finished with my heavy squats and deadlifts for the day, but that did not mean my workout was finished. I found some things I could do (wall sits, bodyweight squats, rear foot elevated squats) and not be completely miserable. Then the next day, I found upper body exercises I could still do.
When you have an injury, you can choose to give up or adapt. I always choose to adapt and you should too. It’s not time to throw in the towel because you are uncomfortable or it’s too hard. What CAN you do? Put the focus there.
Maybe it is time to clean up your nutrition, decrease your stress levels, or improve your sleep quality. If your lower body, upper body, or core is injured find what you can still work on and do that! Studies show doing something works 100% better than feeling sorry for yourself.
If you need help on finding what exercises you can still do, some lifestyle changes you can make, or anything else feel free to reach out to me. Don’t give in, awesomeness is still attainable at all levels of life.
Retired Admiral William H. McRaven did a commencement speech at his alma mater the University of Texas. The speech ended up going viral, so chances are good that if you didn’t see it you probably heard about it.
The speech was called Change The World By Making Your Bed. What does making your bed have to do with changing the world? I hate making my bed, I’m just going to sleep in it in a few hours!
There are several reasons for making your bed, the first being that it gives you a sense of accomplishment. Gives you a little pride to start your day and that sets the tone for the rest of the day. Inspiring you to do another task, then another task.
Making your bed shows you that the little things matter. You can never do the big things, if you can’t first do the little things. Then if nothing else when you come home and you have had a terrible day you have a nicely made bed waiting for you at home. And that gives you hope that tomorrow will be a better day.
I just finished reading Admiral McRaven’s book “Make Your Bed: Little things that can change your life...and maybe the world.” Great, short read if you are looking for a book. And it motivated me to “make my bed”. I just have one problem.
There is still someone sleeping in my bed when I get up at 4am.
So I’ve started waking up and immediately doing 5 minutes as hard as I can go on a VersaClimber. Wakes me up, I get in a little cardio training, and no matter how busy the rest of my day gets I have at least done 5 minutes of exercise that day.
What can you do to “make your bed” each morning? What can set the tone for the day and get you off on the right foot? Find what works best for you! Find that thing that no matter how bad your day goes, you will always have that one positive thing to look at as proof that this day was not a waste.
I was at Camp Sumatanga last week supporting a friend on his Emmaus Walk. Very cool experience and I was very grateful for the opportunity to be there.
One of the musicians there was blind. It was amazing! He was playing guitar and singing all without the benefit of sight.
My mind tends to wander, so I started to think about some of the TV features I have seen with blind people. How they have everything in their home a certain way, so they freely navigate around without tripping.
They have a checklist of sorts in their head that helps put things on autopilot. This got me thinking that a similar thing would be helpful for people trying to eat healthy and exercise.
So I put together an example of a checklist you could use to improve your success rate with added accountability. My suggestion is to look at this example and make it fit your lifestyle.
_______ workout clothes and shoes ready for the next day (always have workout clothes and shoes with you just in case)
_______ alarm set
_______ workout plan written down (if exercising on your own)
_______ change of clothes and toiletries packed (if showering/changing at work)
_______ quick breakfast planned for after workout
_______ healthy lunch packed or planned
_______ record all meals in food journal
_______ turn off electronics at 8pm
These are just a few things that can help you stay on track. Most days you might not be able to check every box and that’s ok. It’s striving to get better every day that is the main goal.
Take a look at that list, think about what you struggle with the most, and put together your own list. Having a plan will save you time, money, and frustration in the long run. It is well worth a few minutes of your time to put one together.
When your body is stressed out, you WILL NOT lose fat and you WILL NOT build any of the lean muscle mass you need to increase your metabolism. Our bodies are hard wired to deal with stress first before anything else. If you have been doing all the right things (eating right, exercising, etc...) and not getting results, this might be the the key for you to start getting the results you deserve. This goes back to our days as hunter/gatherers when stress meant something with big teeth and fast legs was coming at you. That is definitely a priority. But our bodies can feel the same stress when a big project is due at work, financial problems are hitting you hard, etc…
It can also be a compilation of a bunch of smaller stressors coming together to bring you down. Look at your stress life like a bathtub. It doesn’t matter if you have the stress on full blast or if you have it barely on but it is steadily flowing. Eventually it is going to spill over and you are going to have a mess. You need a drain or ideally several drains.
Your job is to figure out what your faucets are, how much they are on, and find the drains to get rid of them. These are non-food/drink ways to rid yourself of stress that I’m talking about. When the food or drink is gone, the stress will come back ASAP.
There are hundreds of ways to manage stress. I will list a few options, but you need to figure out what suits your personality best. And find one that a few that you will actually do.
Here are some ideas to get your creativity going: go for a walk, hit a punching bag, listen to music, talk to a friend about your problems, pet a dog, do a hard workout, yoga, meditation, prayer, get a massage, start a budget, go swimming, go for a bike ride, take a nap.
Do something other than just internalizing your stress. You will be happier, healthier, and you will be able to get results much easier.
Raise your hand if you get enough sleep? Not too many hands there, I know mine wasn't up. But I am constantly working on ways I can improve my sleep/rest, which will lead to better recovery, which will lead me to getting better results with those first two building blocks we have talked about.
Here are just a few things that studies have shown that lack of proper sleep can cause:
-snack more after dinner
-eat more junk carbs
-fat cells age, making you more likely to gain weight and get diabetes
-a decrease in alertness and increase reaction time, making you more likely to be in a traffic accident
-increased levels of stress, anger, sadness, and depression
So here are 7 tips to help improve sleep quantity as well as quality.
1. The single most important thing you will need is a good bed
In my opinion a great bed and mattress are well worth the amount of money they cost. Think about how much time you spend in that bed over the next 10-20 years. A very worthwhile investment, so get a good one that works for you.
2. Create a good sleep environment
Keep the noise level down as low as possible, as dark as possible, and keep your room cool (to my wife this means 87 degrees, for me it is 48 degrees). The research shows around 68 degrees is an optimal temp. Sometimes my wife reads these e-mails, fingers crossed today.
3. Get a routine
You know the basketball players that dribble twice, kiss their cross medallion, wipe the sweat off their forehead, do 4 clap jacks, and then shoot a free throw? No? Okay, just know that you need a routine to help you wind down and relax before you go to sleep. This can be reading, listening to soft music, taking a bath, praying, some light stretching. Just find a calming activity you do every night that will be your body's signal to shut it down for the night.
4. What about when you have to get up in the middle of the night?
The number one thing is to avoid frustration. If you have been trying for more than 15 minutes and nothing is happening, get out of bed and do some sort of light activity (eat a light snack, drink a glass of milk, read something boring) with the lights dimmed. If your mind starts working a hundred miles per hour on things you need to do, keep a notepad next to your bed and write down the things on your mind. All of these are designed to take your mind off things and not be so frustrated at yourself for being awake.
5. Stay away from pills!
They are the absolute last resort. There are times when you need them, but research has shown that using a good sleep routine is more effective than pills.
6. Some things that can mess with your sleepy time:
* Too much food, especially fatty, rich food. These take a lot of work for your stomach to digest and may keep you up. Spicy or acidic foods in the evening can cause stomach trouble and heartburn.
* Too much liquid. Drinking lots of fluid may result in frequent bathroom trips throughout the night.
* Alcohol. Many people think that a nightcap before bed will help them sleep. While it may make you fall asleep faster, alcohol reduces your sleep quality, waking you up later in the night. To avoid this effect, stay away from alcohol in the hours before bed.
* Caffeine. You might be surprised to know that caffeine can cause sleep problems up to ten to twelve hours after drinking it! Consider eliminating caffeine after lunch or cutting back your overall intake.
* Smoking. Smoking causes sleep troubles in numerous ways. Nicotine is a stimulant, which disrupts sleep. Additionally, smokers actually experience nicotine withdrawal as the night progresses, making it hard to sleep.
*Electronics. Turn the electronics off at least 30 minutes to 1 hour before bed time and keep them away from you as you sleep. Our gadgets can suppress melatonin, keep your brain alert (and you awake), and all the beeps, buzzes, and chirps can wake you up in the middle of the night.
7. And of course, the best thing you can do is exercise!
Our bodies are not designed to sit around all day with zero physical activity. I have a saying about kids that applies to adults too. When in doubt, wear 'em out. Moving more and sitting less will help improve your sleep quality.
Some of these may seem obvious, but the idea is to do ALL the steps to optimize your sleep. Not just the ones that come easy to you. Good luck and get some rest tonight!
I was a chaperone for a church youth trip this past weekend. We took the kids to a conference called Motion that was held at the BJCC in Birmingham. It was amazing, overwhelming, and I don’t think I slept more than 6 hours total the whole time we were there. Sleeping on the ground is rougher than I remember. Hashtag feeling old.
Something one of the speakers said really stuck with me He said that knowledge is doubling every 5 years (some sources say every 18 months). So every 5 years the amount of knowledge the world knows DOUBLES. I think that is so crazy!
Like many things that is a two-edge sword. On one hand that means everything you need to know about health, fitness, nutrition, exercise or anything you want to learn is out there for you. On the other hand, there is a lot of garbage out there.
In your every day life think about how often you are bombarded with TV commercials, plugs on Facebook, radio ads, and Spam e-mails for weight loss advice, products, and services. I Googled weight loss yesterday and it came back with 270 million results.
How do you know what is legit? There are a few things that have always worked and will continue to work forever. The basics are not sexy or exciting but they are effective.
Are there great supplements out there? Absolutely.
Are there weight loss systems that help people? Yes!
Are there diets that work? Every day people are successful with any number of different ways of eating. But ask yourself these questions first before you try something crazy: -Could I work out harder and be more active (especially outside of your workout) overall?
-Could I eat more foods that I prepare and eat out less?
-Do I take in a lot of empty calories? (junk and processed foods, soft drinks, alcohol)
-Does my body need more sleep at night?
-Is my stress level too high?
That is a very oversimplified list, but if you answered yes to the majority of those I would start there. Exercise, proper nutrition, recovery, and stress management are building blocks of your health. If one of them is off, it negatively impacts the rest of them.
Where do you need to start? Pick one building block and start there. Over the next few e-mails I will break down each of the building blocks.
Let’s get back to the basics, so we don’t have to sift through all the confusion that is out there.
Daniel H. Pink recounts an experiment that tested people’s ability to invest in their future in his book “To Sell Is Human”. Yep, I’m using that book again, it’s a good book. They tested the subjects by having one group look at an image of themselves now and then talk to a digital representation of the researchers.
The researchers asked the subjects if they received an unexpected present of $1000 how would they spread it around. The options they could pick from were:
-Use it to buy something nice for someone else
-Invest it in a retirement fund
-Plan a fun and extravagant vacation
-Put it in a checking account
Everything was the same for the other group, except they were shown an image of themselves at 70 years old for one minute before they were asked the question. You can probably guess that the group that was shown an image of their future selves saved more. They put more than double into retirement than the other group did.
A similar thing happens with health and fitness. It is tough for younger people to picture themselves ever having to change what they eat or their activity level. Remember when you could eat donuts, mac and cheese, and pizza every day and still look the same?
Young people are not the only ones. Very few of us take the long-term approach to health and wellness. Not sure about you, but I plan on being around for awhile and I want to be strong and healthy that whole time.
Every day I get the opportunity to make deposits in my account through what I eat, how much I move, how much I sleep, etc… I can also make withdrawals with those same choices.
Take some time and think how you want to look, feel, and move at 50. 60. 70. 80 and beyond. Let that guide your daily choices. Not what you want next week or next month.
Keep making those deposits, minimize the withdrawals, and let’s plan on being those old people that work circles around these other whippersnappers.
I've got some really exciting news to announce. We are changing the 830am class to 9am! We have had several people inquire about the time change and now it is happening.
Many people were not able to attend because their Mother's Morning Out drop off time was at 830, so they were unable to attend. Now they can! Thank you for that feedback, we aim to please.
The 9am class is a little different than the other time spots and locations. It is a small, but mighty class 🙂 We have access to a gym, so we do a lot of TRX and kettlebell workouts that are very effective for all fitness levels. This class meets on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
Here is my son using the TRX if you have never seen it before
Alos, we are running a New Member Special for all class times and locations. $99 for a month of unlimited classes. A huge savings and I guarantee you will be blown away with workouts, support, encouragement, and fun you get for that price.
We have 530am classes in Harvest, 530pm classes in Monrovia, and 530am/9am/530pm classes in south Huntsville. We would love to have you join whatever location suits you the best.
Take advantage of the Mew Member Special here --->Special Deal
New classes start on May 30th, see you there!
In a recent study published in Cell Metabolism researchers may have found the key to slowing down the aging process. It is not a pill, potion, or surgical procedure. The key is good old exercise.
In particular the key is High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). The study reported that the subjects who were in the 65-80 years old group increased their mitochondrial capacity by 69% through HIIT biking. What this fancy talk means is that this type of exercise stopped the aging process at the cellular level.
Pretty cool stuff, but how does that effect you? If you go to our boot camp, you are already doing this type of training! If you are not, I wanted to give you a few tips to add HIIT into your training regimen.
Let’s go ahead and start with the bad news first. HIIT is hard. Always gotta add those disclaimers.
HIIT is simply alternating high intensity exercise with low intensity exercise or short rest breaks. Where you take it from there will vary based on personal preference and your fitness level.
In the study they used biking, but you can do walking, running, swimming, bodyweight exercises, kettlebells, weights, bands, and just about any exercise method you can think of. When you are first starting out, I would recommend short bursts of the high intensity part and longer rest breaks or low intensity portions.
A famous (and famously hard to do) training protocol is the Tabata method. This is 20 seconds of all out effort (think running as fast as you can) and resting for 10 seconds for a total of 8 rounds. It is pretty rough, but if you are pressed for time it is a great option.
That is just one way, but there are tons of ways to work this into your program. Give it a try and have a great weekend!