We all have skeletons. Trainers/practitioners and clients/patients alike. While it is not professionally appropriate for either party to be the other's emotional therapist during training, people in fitness and health care can get quite close to one another.
Probably the best professional therapy we can offer is to outwardly recognize our own flaws and take steps to better them. By being a leader of your own self-improvement, others will follow. You will not have all the answers to fix someone elses life, but you can have a profound impact by simply being a strong and challenging example.
Challenge yourself every day - do things outside your comfort zone - particularly those things where you think "thats just not me". Yes you have an identity, but that identity is every growing and flexible just like those around you. Show them - don't tell them - the path to a brighter future. Learn to Live Above & Live Beyond™ yourself...
For too many people, holiday in 2011 has been an anathema. On the one hand they offer the chance to take a much needed rest from the no longer available 9 to 5 workweek. On the other, the give people the time to thoroughly ruin healthy habits in a potentially dejected haze of food and treats. As we all know, staying healthy - particularly eating healthy - is about routine and holidays invariably vary that whatever sense of routine we have created.
Is this a bad thing? Definitely not. While holidays - particularly these winter holidays - frequently force us to take a reprieve from otherwise healthy goals, they are also meant to give us reprieve from our otherwise unhealthy jobs, relationships, financial concerns, etc. And we should take full advantage of both reprieves.
In October we attempt to ward off the demons in our lives, in November we (in the US) give thanks to those who fulfill our lives, and in December we give reverence to that which embodies our lives. These are all necessary experiences which, I believe, should not be clouded by such problems as, "I can't have any holiday cookies because I'm on a diet." Berating yourself for fluctuating a few pounds during this season completely misses the point of the things we are celebrating.
Certainly if your life is feeling out of control and you feel the holidays give you license to go hog wild with improprieties, then you and your closest confidants must take a few moments to recognize the source(s) of your troubles and seize them by the horns in the coming year.
No one likes to be brow beaten, however. And since each of us is naturally our own toughest critic, we should allow our time around family and friends during the holidays to be much less critical.
If, over the course of 2011, you've managed to lose a few pounds, don't be too concerned if you gain a few back. Rather, have the confidence that in 2012, you can accomplish at least the same levels of success you experienced over the past year. If you've discovered a new way to manage your healthy lifestyle in 2011, the holidays are an excellent opportunity to present the new you to those you care about. Your happy self is one of the best gifts they will receive all season!
Fitness and Health are funny things. We pursue unattainable versions of them all our lives only to be thwarted in our successes by that which we are trying to avoid or prolong - death. It is a very personal choice to live healthily - free from disease, deterioration, and disability - through natural means in diet and exercise rather than artificial fixes. I will be fit and healthy as long as I can and I will live it and love it 'til I die, but who is to say that the "fitness" path is the only path.
Often when I tell clients or others pursuing a betterment of health what they have to do in order to achieve a "higher standard of wellness", they respond,"so basically I get to have no fun for the rest of my life!?". Is that really what fitness is? - abstention from fun? For those of us who are already physically fit we often find a sense of personal freedom, endorphins, and positive reinforcement from our healthy activities - indeed they are fun to us. But what about those who prefer to indulge in candies, cakes, soda and alcohol? Is it always their best recourse to pursue our "no-fun zone"? Maybe, maybe not.
Picture this: A client comes to you seeking the 'pinnacle of optimum healthiness" that you can offer. You begin working on their exercise routine, you begin working on their diet, you begin working on their time management, and even their rest and relaxation routines. Suddenly your client's life looks a lot like your own and you applaud your efforts - there you go, optimum health.
"But I want to go and party and drink alcohol with my friends on the weekend", they retort.
" You shouldn't drink if you want optimum health…" is your reply.
"… and you shouldn't stay out too late so that your body can maintain optimum rest cycles…."
"… and you shouldn't surround yourself with long periods of loud noise lest it hurt your ears …"
"…and you certainly shouldn't go out for late night nachos after the party otherwise you'll ruin your dietary plan."
"Boy, you're absolutely, positively, no fun!" they exclaim.
We preach moderation is most of our guidelines particularly with food, but we know for those seeking optimum health, abstention is the best path.
At this point, I believe, "Personal Training" becomes truly personal. When we know our clients' desires well enough to understand when to leave well enough alone. Maybe they don't need a six pack and maybe it would be beneficial for them if we're not constantly shoving that reminder in their faces. Maybe being 10% body fat doesn't really fit well with their preferred lifestyle. Maybe they'd prefer a 70 year life full of friends and occasional hedonistic revelry rather than a 76 year life without.
In the end it is their life and although they have entrusted us with a significant role in it, it is not our place to tell them what they should want from it. We use our knowledge for guidance and teaching but leave the desire and preaching to their own subconscious.
These are just ponderings:
I don't do a whole lot of scientific studies now that I'm no longer in school, but I do make lots of little observational studies in my own head (and some on paper). Here's a new one:
No matter what your opinion of "Global Warming" phenomenon, does it seem like people are becoming more and more affected by the weather?
Recently I've noticed that an inordinately large number of people have similar problems - from "the blues", to allergies, to a sore neck from sleeping funny - all around the same time.
For several years I've made this connection between odd weather and odd personal habits but the phenomenon seems to be getting more prevalent.
I'm not in to excuses in any form but the next time your client comes in complaining because he or she just "doesn't have it", check and see if there is a storm front coming in or a new season on the way. Chances are, you'll hear a lot of that same complaint in short order I bet.
In the end of course, we never wanna blame something uncontrollable like the weather - you just have to "live above, live beyond" it!
Getting proper nutrients into yourself and your family is becomming a monumental tidal wave of poor health and not that many people even see it coming. Nutrition, or lack thereof, has been correlated (no actual causality mind you - science can rarely prove causal relationships) between poor nutrition and hundreds of health problems including many that were previously thought to be exclusively genetic.
Poor nutrition can be the culprit for obesity, scurvy, malaria, rickets, anemia, osteoporosis and other well known connections as well as new findings connecting nutrition to autism, allergies, asthma, depression, ADHD, and even a variety of cancers. With all this in mind, it's hard to believe that people still give such little attention to their health (why would anyone ever eat such low nutrient and damaging food as a fast food cheeseburger?) but they do.
The difficulty with all this nutrition talk is two-fold. First, in our fast-paced, take-the-easy-road society, it is often more expensive, more time consuming, and requires more effort to seek and prepare truly nutrient rich foods on a daily basis. Some restaurants may claim that they offer high quality nutrients in their ingredients, but you can bet they don't unless their prices reflect the higher cost of naturally grown and stored foods.
Second - through some twist of food voodoo - low nutrient, high calorie, bad food actually tastes good to a lot of people and makes your brain feel better (at least for an hour or two). Somehow, our unconscious selves actually got attracted to ingredients that should otherwise amount to poison: such as high fructose corn syrup, other sugars, fats, and salts.
The solution to all this bad nutrition has recently been to attempt to supplement as many good nutrients as we can to compensate for our own little (or big) indiscretions. In the past I have always considered vitamins and supplements a good thing and recommend two different company's products for the best nutrient supplementation products on the market. Those products being Juice Plus+ and USANA vitamin products because they are the most tested and highly regarded in the industry.
Recently, however, I changed my mind. Not that good nutrition isn't imperative, it most definitely is, but for my own self confidence I don't like what taking supplements represents. Taking vitamins daily is essentially admitting to myself that I can't take control of my nutrition well enough with food and need the support of some company's conglomeration to make up for my own lack of effort. I don't like the idea of admitting that I've failed in an effort before I've even started.
In truth, I still may not be able to get sufficient nutrition into my system without supplementation, but I'm going to try. The way foods are grown, manufactured, processed, preserved, shipped, stored, and prepared these days it makes it extremely difficult to get all the good stuff we need into our systems, but I have to believe it is still possible. If not, then we could be a lot closer to relying on some "Matrix" like gruel that is purely some high nutrient soup but not worth calling food.
Here are some suggestions I practice to get as close to full nutrients every week with food and without supplementation:
1) Eat a lot!
- I'm eating constantly. Lots of vegetables, fruits, and nuts all day long because I am so active. I usually end up having 2-3 salads per day, not just at one meal.
2) Eat whole grains
- I have a monster bowl of oatmeal every morning (real stove cooked with the bran left on - not the instant stuff) with flax meal, nuts, and raisins to start the day with a high does of vitamins B and other natural energy sources.
3) Eat Fish
- 3-4 times per week. If you eat enough anti-oxidants as well, you can forget about almost any possible mercury problems
4) Eat Crazy Greens
- Kale, Chard, Lettuce, Cabbage, Collared Greens, Radicchio ... as many different kinds as you can find - eat them often and in abundance (look up lots of good recipes on line to make them palatable).
I don't know if this new outlook on supplementation is going to work as well or not, but since I've started buying and eating tons of natural food from my local farmers market, my workouts are better, my recovery is better, and I feel great - without supplementation. I've also managed to skip the first flu of the year in my area (one that usually beds me for at least a week).
At this point, I still believe food being the best medicine and best option for good nutrition. You have to pay attention and work at it to make good healthy choices in your day, but I'm just not comfortable admitting that we've killed our crops thoroughly enough that we can't eat our most vital nutrients without supplementation.
addendum: Watch out for products at major markets including Walmart, Target, Costco, and standard grocery stores. Mass produced and mass marketed products are always lower in quality and food is no exception. Also, you get what you pay for and you can pay for what you choose to get!
Try eating real food for a change and see how it changes your life!
Last week was an "A" type person's nightmare. Not that I consider myself an A type person but many of those around me do so when their life gets thrown out of whack, so does mine.
Shortened weeks are always a little bit hectic and with the Labor Day holiday, Tuesday felt like Monday which meant people didn't want to get moving until Wednesday when the week was half over already.
Of course on Wednesday public school started and the craziest thing happened here in San Clemente - we had a legitimate bomb scare at our local high school! Fortunately no one was hurt except for a little sun burn (from having all the students and staff quarantined to the football field while the dogs sniffed out bombs) and the perpitrator turned himself in quietly. The event made national news, however, and of course parents were freaking out and the students didn't end up having anything close to a normal first day of school. Monday is now Thursday - difficult way to get things done.
Thursday night we had our next event - power blackout. From Mexico to Arizona to north of LA blackout! I was loving every minute of it - reading books to candle light, not having to listen to my neighbor's television and video games, and musing in the activity from people exiting their front doors to socialize since they had nothing else to do. A night of lost power, however, did wipe out another day, Friday, since people missed alarms or had to catch up with the items they were not able to accomplish the night before... Scratch Friday.
Pretty much an entire week lost to odd luck! The world did not end, however, my business keeps rolling, and now it's a new week. Cheers to moving on!
How do you define success? If you read my first blog post, you know that I define it by much much more than just financial wealth (although that certainly has it's place too).
So this month, August, 2011 was my month to be successful. Prior to that I was in a rut - a deep rut. I wasn't working out regularly, I wasn't happy with where my business was going, I wasn't happy with how my marriage was going, I was worried, anxious, and depressed often by just about anything - the economy, politicians, the have's vs. the have not's, world disasters, war, foot fungus - you name it (ok, maybe not foot fungus - that's not something I've ever had to deal with thankfully).
Then on the weekend before August 15, I got to be re-acquainted with the reason that I work in health and fitness in the first place - the people. IDEA World offered me the opportunity to commune with the best and the brightest in my field as well as be recognized and revitalized by those very same fitness stars.
When I got home I made a mental commitment. Five things I wanted to change for at least 21 days (I heard somewhere that 21 days makes a habit, so I figured it was a good place to start).
This is probably my tenth attempt at a blog. Thus far I have given up on all of them. The posts for the past blogs ended in 2001, 2004, 2008 etc. But this one will be different. Because this blog will not be about solely what I know, but more importantly, what I believe.
I've spent the better part of 33 years (which I realize is not that long) trying to convince people that I know things. Knowledge is king, knowledge is power. The stink of it is, as anyone who knows anything can testify, the more you know, the less you understand... therefore, the more you must believe. If you don't believe, then all your greatest knowledge could be worthless - which would basically mean you're full of shit. O.o !
Fortunately I don't believe I'm full of shit, quite the contrary, I believe what I know is extremely valuable - therfore it must be (more on this idea in later posts).
What I do believe is that what I know must be molded and balanced in a manner that incorporates
Five Aspects of Healthy Life:
Physical, Spiritual, Emotional, Social, Financial
- I'm not the first to define happiness this way, and I'm sure I wont be the last. Many religions, busness practices, self help books, personal advisors, gurus, poltentates, and other such sooth-sayers tout the balance of life. In the posts following, you'll find my comments on my balance - some will be related to exercise, some not - but as a whole, balance puts a smile on my face and drives me to encourage others to find the same balance every day.
The Five Aspects Defined:
Your physical self defines how your body fits within your environment. Your body should not only be visually pleasing to you (although that is part of it), it must also function well in the tasks you ask of it on a regular basis. Proper physical health requires appropriate exercise, nutrition and rest, but also humility and objectivism to understand that your physical self is not the embodiment of enyone else - your's is uniquely dependent upon you!
This is my recent favorite. Spiritual health is particularly fun for a person who thinks he is smarter than everyone else because when it comes to spirituality, you realize that you not only know nothing, but that fact doesn't matter that much either. Being spiritual does not necessarily mean your have to be religious. Spiritual health means you recognize that you don't know everything, will never know everything, and are comfortable with the unknown - particularly two things you will never know: what it is like to be someone else, and death. Spiritual health is mental peace and self actuated comfort which can be studied, but never taught.
Emotional health is mostly about your brain and your heart and how the two interract - or if they do at all. Do you feel like you have control over your life? Do you know what makes you happy? unhappy? Do you recognize that you cannot and have no business trying to make anyone else control their life in the same manner as you? Do you love someone for their emotional well being rather than their pecs, butt, wallet, or ability in bed? Emotional health is both the ability to love, and to accept being loved unconditionally - it's much more difficult than it sounds.
Humans are social animals. My belief structure leads me to conclude that we are all connected cosmically, though scientifically through mass and energy interrelatedness. If you are not physically, spiritually, and emotionally comforable with yourself, it is very difficult to be socially healthy because it is likely you feel yourself unworthy of trusting social interaction. Being socially healthy means accepting those around you for who they are, not who you want them to be and recognizing that those around you will accept you for who you are - not some amalgum of who you think you should be.
This is a modern aspect of health and happiness and it directly affects how we live our lives in the 21st century. One thing must be clear - financial health does not mean having lots of money! It does, however, mean being comfortable with your personal sense of value enough to recognize that when money is utilized as the exchange method for your self worth versus someone elses, that those two monetary values are close to equal. Financial health is also about responsibility to live within your means - recognizing the difference between that which you need and that which you want and putting appropriate priorities where they belong. Further, if you are lucky enough to have a lot of money, then you have the responsibility to manage your greater access to resources to help others advance their own self worth, rather than greedily hording.
At times I know these thoughts will sound "preachy". And they should. As trainers and fitness professionals, we live in a world every day where we get to go to work and help people play to make better lives for themselves - they want to hear from us, to know how we do it. I believe we have a responsibility to enlightent everyone we can to the opportunity that good health and happiness afford a person in their life. So here begins my blog, wrought though inspiration and perspiration to give you all an understanding of why I feel my life is so fulfilled - and everyone can have and deserves the same feelings...
PS: I welcome your comments, questions, and criticisms - the more you make me examine my understanding of the world, the more we both grow as human beings!