What were you inclined to fill in the blank? It may be very enlightening.
"I think I can, I think I CAN, I think I CAN, I ... CAN ...." is often the mantra I repeat as I run the hills in my neighborhood, one small step at a time. These few focused words keep me in the moment and while each step may be hard, it is much easier to believe I am capable of the next single step forward than it is for me to tackle the entire hill all at once and with every step.
I recently came across the following quote while reading about the effort to complete a sub 2 hour marathon. The magnitude of the challenge is succinctly described by Herb Elliot and elaborated on by Bud Billanich in an article he wrote for Fast Company back in 2009. In case you don’t know Herb Elliot, he was the world record holder in the mile run from 1958 to 1962. He said:
“To be a world-record holder in the mile, a man must have the arrogance it takes to believe he can run faster that anyone ever has at the distance; and the humility it takes to actually do it.”
According to Billanich and to me as well, the dichotomies in this quote – arrogance and humility – capture the essence of self-confidence and realistic self-image. Arrogance: ego, belief that you can accomplish the goal you set for yourself. Humility: the willingness to do the work necessary to reach your goal. Both are present in successful people. And I might remind you that success has a very different meaning for us all and will often change in response to the environment, situation or people and will definitely change over time. Remember when success was riding a bike without training wheels. Soon thereafter it was stopping without finding the pavement. And even later it is getting on and going bike riding again. All of these were scary challenging moments in life. Moments like these occur every day. It may be as insignificant as hitting a golf ball over the water or as significant as moving from a wheelchair to the toilet without face planting. These moments take courage to get beyond the fear. Belief that we can overcome the seemingly unsurmountable gap between where we are and where we want to be is best achieved when we rehearse the possibility that it just might be possible for us to do the impossible today, this moment, now. My calendar has an awesome quote from Erin Hanson this month that may help you get this idea. Just promise me you’ll be at least practical before taking any leaps.
“What if I fall?
But, Oh my darling, what if you fly ?”
Breathing – a totally under-appreciated exercise. I, who value the glutes more than almost any other muscle group in the body, value the respiratory muscles even more. It may be why I say “BREATHE” more often than any other word in almost every training session I conduct and is often right before I say “activate your glutes.” I will bet that most of you do not even think about breathing as an exercise for your muscles. Maybe you do not think about breathing at all. Good thing it is an involuntary exercise for most of you.
Your respiratory muscles include your sternocleidomastoid, scalenes, internal and external intercostals, diaphragm, and your abdominals. See http://www.ptdirect.com/training-design/anatomy-and-physiology/pulmonary-ventilation-breathing for a visual of these muscles. Then do some voluntary controlled breathing exercises for a sensation of them. One exercise I have begun using myself (and with some of my clients) is what I call “four square.” It involves inhaling deeply for a count of 4, holding that breath in for a count of four, exhaling slowing for a count of 4 and holding the exhale. In this exercise, you may notice the diaphragm and abdominals become more active. I also encourage you to recognize the stability of your torso when you hold the breath. Now make note of what happens to the structure when you release the breath. Does it collapse? Next, work to maintain a strong and stable structure when you exhale. How does it make you feel?
BREATHING EXERCISES – do them everywhere and anywhere.
Next up – BELIEVING !!! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pN34FNbOKXc&spfreload=1
March is here. Today I continue to be focused on the nutritional needs of our body. Our food intake is not only about energy balance. Recently a new field of study has emerged called “nutritional psychiatry”. In an observational review of the data, Jacka (2017) notes that mood is not only effected by what we do eat especially during our emotional binges which are those times when we consume to excess (for both sad and happy occasions). Our mood is also found to be effected by what you do NOT eat. Once again, we are looking for a balance of macro and micronutrients and I have not found a better way to find that balance other than to track my intake. The brain needs carbohydrates. The digestive system needs fiber. The immune system needs all sorts of nutrients. “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” said Hippocrates in 431 B.C. After a bit of tracking my food, I have learned what I needed, what categories I often fell short in and most importantly I am learning how to read those labels. I cannot emphasize enough how valuable it is to take just a few days of food intake then read and record those details. I just purchased some whole grain wheat buns. One brand had less calories and yet more grams of sugar. It was not a significant difference on this particular food item by any means. It can be however and it can also be dependent on the serving size. I am not advocating you become obsessive about this. Trust me, I do not want to be running into carts stopped all over the grocery while everyone is reading labels. My suggestion is to do this on ‘some’ or a ‘few’ items as you go through the store with your grocery list. And pay particular attention when an item has the latest buzz word in large print! No offense to any of you marketing majors, but seriously – sometimes you can be evil. Not too long ago it was ‘low fat’ now it is ‘high protein’ and while both of these can be good things, being low fat is most likely full of sugar (a carbohydrate not a fat) and high protein can also be high in calories.
That is enough for today. If you get a chance, do a double take on a label this week and let us know what you find.
In the meantime, eat what your body needs today.
The first place to start is “Serving Size.” I know many of us have heard about using your fist or your palm and that is all well and good when it comes to meat. The serving size I want to discuss involves packaged food, any kind of packaged food. Let us start with breakfast. This is an easy one and it makes my point very clear. The serving size is on the nutrition label. And note that changes are forthcoming on these labels.
The FDA has all the information about these changes at Nutrition Labeling
But let us return to breakfast. Did you know your cereal bowl is a 2 plus serving size? Seriously! The serving size for Honey Nut Cheerios and Honey Bunches of Oats is ¾ cup. It is not even a cup of oats. For a while, it is imperative you pull out those measuring cups and see what a single serving size is. I had never realized I was eating so many servings of Cheerios until I did this. So now, I am thrilled my cheap set of dishes had all those extra ‘little’ bowls because I find it very challenging to only fill half a bowl with cereal. I can now have a full bowl of cereal that is only ¾ of cup and my bowl overflows, especially when I add blueberries. Okay, I admit, sometimes I add a bit of extra to use up the last of the milk. I would have done this with the big bowl too though. And note the milk adds to the calories although on the Nutrition Label, they are often using Skim milk which has the least caloric content.
I know. It is not a big difference to have another ¾ of a cup with a cup of say, 2% milk. Yet, over a week’s time you could be talking another 1,000 calories. And that is just breakfast.
The salad dressing at lunch. What is the serving size for that? 2 tablespoons if from a typical bottle and that equates to 80 – 120 calories. Those packets that come with the salads at restaurants – those are closer to 200 calories or more.
I am in no way saying any of these things are bad. I am trying to say pay attention and spend energy considering what you are going to eat. Spending time and energy on what you have to avoid is exhausting and absolutely no fun whatsoever.
You do have to eat. It is an absolute necessity to life on this planet. So again, I urge anyone who is trying to lose weight or not gain weight or just ‘eat healthy’ to begin with becoming mindful about what it is you are eating. It is the best way to make positive changes with regard to balanced nutrition become a part of your life without harboring resentful feelings from what you have denied yourself.
Hello everyone. I am ready to admit I was a little harsh last week. Nutrition is in fact very much like rocket science. The body is a lot like a rocket. It goes places we only once dreamed of. Now, the question is, “what do we want to do moving forward?” I think it is first very important to recognize where I am at. I once was given an exercise by a dear lady friend of mine that has been ever so important to growth in my life since. I was to look in the mirror, directly into the eyes of the image in the mirror – yep – into my own eyes – and I was to say nice things. It was remarkable to me how difficult that was at first and how long it was difficult. So now, when I find myself upset about what I ate or how I look today, I revert to that exercise. It helps to shower myself with kindness in order to do the next right thing.
The next right thing when considering what food to eat is to start recognizing what food is being eaten. The U. Department of Agriculture provides a number of excellent resources for us. You can start at
To determine how much food and what the contents of that food should be, remember that our car needs a number of different fuels, I recommend using https://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/interactiveDRI/
Armed with this information, set up an account for recording what is going on at
A couple things about Supertracker. It is not as easy as some other food logs because it does not have a bar code reader. I am inclined to think that is a good thing though as I have found I am more aware of the contents when I have to check to see if I am selecting the correct item from the list. I can save favorties and make combos of things I regularly eat such as my morning oatmeal with blueberries, cinnamon and walnuts.
The really great part is that Supertracker provides a wealth of information for free. The food you consumed is evaluated against the values you established in your profile. The reports note whether you are OK, Under or Over in all areas of nutrition from the macronutrients of carbohydrates, fats and protein to the micronutrients and vitamins as well. All or part of these food details can be downloaded to a pdf, excel or word document.
I highly encourage anyone who wants to go on a diet to rethink their food intake by recording at least three days in Supertracker. A week provides an even better story but three days is a worthy picture.
If you started the year out with plans to diet, I urge you to rethink it. I’ve been there. I’ve gone on diets, I’ve done cleanses of sorts, I’ve trained for and run four marathons, I’ve taken supplements marketed to enhance fat loss, diuretics to remove ‘water weight’…I barely managed to stay within the weight standards my entire military career! I was absolutely convinced the standards were unfair to women and to short people. My point is that I wanted to change the way I looked by changing the mirror rather than focusing on what was reflected in the mirror.
In order for my body to be different, it needed something different. In order for me to provide it something different over the long haul, I had to consciously consider what it actually needed. I like to think of a car at this point. Or any complex machinery for that matter. Our body is an amazingly complex machine you know and we just trust it is going to work with whatever we put in it. We are asking it to deal with a lot of excess. Back to the car though. The car needs gas and when the gas runs low, it needs more lest you want to be stuck on the highway. The car also needs brake fluid and coolant in the radiator. The car doesn’t do very well if you choose to neglect these things like a ‘low brake fluid diet’ or a ‘let’s go without coolant for a while’ or for some weird reason just randomly replace them with a supplement. You wouldn’t do that for the very thing that transports your body right? So there it is. Simple. Why do we keep expecting our own body, our machine, to work well with anything other than what it actually needs? I have learned that nutrition is close to yet it is not rocket science and this was the key to my loss of 40 plus pounds ... over a patient and persistent period of 3 plus years. I am now well within those military standards and all other standards including my own. More on how I got here as we continue our journey thru 2017.
In almost every batch of headlines that come to my inbox, at least one is still related to 'New Years Resolutions.' I personally have never been a resolution kind of person. I am not sure what that means. How does the day January 1st differ from what was a good idea on December 31st? Or November 20th for that matter? Nonetheless while many of us are talking about resolutions and goals for the year, here are a few points you may want to consider before jumping into the latest 'fix' -
Hello everyone. We are one week into 2017. It is our first friday. The gyms are more crowded. The energy is everywhere. It is going well so far. At least in my little corner of the world. I am thrilled to share that my clients are inspiring me to do much more than I would do on my own. Those who know me are fully aware that I like to push myself although I do not believe I would be nearly as committed as I am to my exercise and nutrition if it were not for those I work with. They are amazing. So yes, the buddy system works even if you don't call them your buddy. Look for inspiration - it's everywhere! Be the change you like to see. Put the carts in the stalls at the shopping center. That may be those extra few steps the remote control took away from us. Pick up trash that other people threw on the ground for an extra squat or a deadlift. Do good things for yourself and take a mental note of them. Know that you are AWESOME!
Two things are important if you are going to make exercise a regular part of your life. 1) you must find something you enjoy whether that be the activity itself, variety, the outcome, the trainer, the group, the benefit, whatever it is - take note of it. Acknowledge it. 2) you must accept that today is the only day you have to do it. Tomorrow's another day and you can deal with that then.
Enjoy the moment. WOW yourself or someone else if you can.
The late season 2016 'holidays' - all three of them (Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years) are a part of the past. While they were only three days in themselves, there were weeks of holiday living. We enjoyed friends and family while also being saddened by the loss or emptiness left by the memory of others. We ate, yeah, we ate and drank. It wasn't "too much." It was plentiful maybe. We weren't bad. We may have a bit of extra fuel to burn now. Maybe. Beginning here and now we shall treat ourselves to a good night's sleep, healthy food, lots of movement.
We shall work to be the change we want to see (Gandhi.)