Do you take your health for granted?

May 28, 2011

Do you just wake up every morning and assume you’ll feel good, or be able to get out of bed?

I used to. Until Sunday May 15.

I’ve been working out very consistently since the beginning of 2008. Dropped 60 lbs and feel as good as I have in years. Yes, sometimes I’d overdo it, be a bit sore for a few days. Or, go play around too much with my High School Sunday School guys and pay for it for several days. 5/15 was different. I did my normal Saturday barbell workout with deadlifts and millitary presses. The ONLY thing I did different was change my grip. I woke up about 3 am Sunday morning and my left shoulder ached. Not out of the ordinary if I’m sleeping on that side, but my left side was up. Hmmm. When I got out of bed that morning, my shoulders ached, not the muscles, but the joints, as did my knees, my back, my hands, and my neck was stiff. I didn’t know what the deal was.

Obviously trying the VO2 max protocol was out of the question as it hurt to even lift my kettlebell. Over the next week the joint pain changed into muscular aches, getting a bit better each day.  Now, 2 weeks later, I’m back to normal, as it were. My forearms and hands took the longest to recover. I did go get some bloodwork drawn, which isn’t back yet. It almost a week before I really could lift again and almost two before my hands completely stopped hurting. Maybe I did do something with the grip change, I don’t know. Maybe I never will. It caused me to step back and think about things.

What would happen if my health went away? I assume that I will always be able to chase my kids,  clown around with my High School guys, lift heavy stuff. All things I take for granted. It just makes me more thankful for what I have been blesssed with, especially my health. We’re not guaranteed or promised another second past this one right now. Things can change, permanently, just that quickly.

Learn from the past, Plan for tomorrow, Cherish today!


Starting a workout program

December 5, 2009

It’s not easy beginning an exercise program. Whether you’re getting back in the saddle or starting from scratch, where to begin can be overwhelming.

Let’s back up 21 months and 45 pounds ago. I’m 250 lbs and STRUGGLING. My eating was completely trashed and I hadn’t exercised consistently in years. I had gotten a grim look into my future the past year and a half with some health problems my Dad developed. I was heading down a slippery slope and had to make changes. Changing your eating habits takes discipline and time, so does developing the habit of exercise. I didn’t get where I was overnight and I wasn’t going to get back overnight either. That is the most important thing to remember. So, I made some small changes. Eat a little less, start making better food choices, and slowly start exercising.

 I picked up a copy of Combat Conditioning™, by Matt Furey. Matt is a HUGE proponent of bodyweight exercises. The big 3 of what is does is the “Royal Court” and involves Hindu (fast paced bodyweight) Squats, Hindu (divebomber) Pushups and a Wrestling Back Bridge. I started a morning routine of the squats, pushups and stretching. Sometimes I’d do the bridge, sometimes I’d use a stability ball for a nice back stretch. Now, I’ll say this, the bridge is tough and should be attempted with caution. For how to do these, you can google them and get good form examples. I’ll say this also, doing the bridge correctly will stretch you from your head to your tailbone.

 Here is the breakdown –

               Squats 15-20

               Divebomber pushups 10

               Stability ball stretch or bridge 1min

Repeat 2-3 times, for a total of 3-4 sets, resting a minute or two between sets

That circuit can be done in less than 15 minutes. It was a start to consistent exercise and I slowly worked up to sets of 30 squats and 20 divebomber pushups. I started seeing results and I wasn’t killing myself to do it. The main reason why exercise programs fail is people expect too much, too soon, try to do too much too quickly and either get too sore or too frustrated, or both. Start slowly and let your body adjust to the new workload.

 That was definitely a beginner’s circuit. It can be taken a bit further.

                20 bodyweight squats

               20 pushups

               30 second plank

               10 jumps

               10 incline pushups

Repeat the circuit, resting as necessary, as many times as you can in 20 minutes. It’s great if you’re traveling and don’t have access to any equipment, or if you just don’t have much time to get to the gym.

One of the main concepts of this blog is to help busy people get the most out of their workout time. A workout like this will use a lot of your large muscle groups with each movement, better known as multi-joint exercises. This means that you can stimulate a lot of your muscle fibers in a short amount of time. An advantage of these types of exercises is that the movements are more applicable in real life as compared to the isolation exercises that most people do in a gym. Oh yeah, they are also more effective at increasing muscle size and strength. Ladies, don’t worry about getting too bulky. With your genetic makeup, most of you will really have to work at getting bulky. Adding a bit of musculature has another nice benefit. It increases your metabolism, so you burn more calories even when not exercising. Check this link from ask Men, multi joint exercises and see what you think.

Back to time, we only have so much of it each day. Think you don’t have the time to go workout, even at home? I would suggest this – Yes, 30-45 minutes of exercise each day is great and necessary. If you don’t have 30  or 40 minutes and can break it up into two 15-20 minute sessions you’ll make some headway, especially if you’re just starting out. Plus, its way better than not working out at all and you can do it like this. Do a circuit like what is outlined above for 10, 12, 15 minutes first thing in the morning, if that’s all the time you have. If you can find another 10 or 15 minutes at the end of the day, then BAM, you’ve got 20 or 30 minutes of exercise time. Plus, if you know you’re only going for 10 or 15 minutes, then you can up the intensity on each session which will take us to another post on High Intensity Intervals and Kettlebells at another time. In short, high intensity training can take your workouts to a different level and mixed into a normal routine can spice it up and keep your workouts fresh.

If you’re reading this, I hope you’ll give the ideas a try and see how it works for you. As always, I appreciate any comments and thoughts you have.

The WHY of why I’m doing this

November 14, 2009

Why am I doing this? Several reasons, really. Most importantly, accountability. Accountability to myself. I’ve spent the last 21 months getting fit (I’ve lost 45 pounds and gone from size 40 jeans to size 34’s) and improving my health. I’m not done yet, but I’m heading in the right direction. It’s a fact that you become what you spend the most time thinking about, so it’s important that my fitness is towards the top of the list of things I think about a lot. Otherwise, I’ll backslide and get back into the shape that I was in at the beginning of 2008. I know, it’s happened before. I cannot let that happen. I won’t do that to my family or myself. I’m also writing this for people like me. New parents, people who travel a lot, or people who want to improve their fitness and don’t have hours to spend in a gym to do it. I’ve learned a lot about fitness over the last 21 months from different sources and I’ll point you towards them and share as many tips and insights that I can to help out. Where I’m going with this is- You don’t have to spend hours in a gym to get the results that you’re looking for. My hope for this blog is that two way traffic happens on it. I’m looking for encouragement and fitness tips. Please feel free to post them and I hope you find them here as well.

Pick a study. Experts say anywhere from 20 -60 minutes a day, 3-7 days a week is essential. That’s a pretty wide range if you look at it. My take on it is do something physical as often as you can. 20 minutes a day 3 days a week is better than nothing. 30 minutes a day 5 days a week is better than 20 minutes/3days a week and so on. You get the picture. The better you plan your workouts, the more likely you will be to have success and reach your fitness goals.

As a Husband to a fantastic wife and Father of 2 wonderful kids, one of them brand new, I don’t have time to drive 20 minutes to the gym, workout for an hour, then drive 20 minutes home. Throw in 10 minutes to get into the gym and 10 minutes to leave the gym and that’s 2 hours. That’s why I turned to working out at home. It’s a 40 minute savings right there, just in drive time. I’ve also changed the way I workout, doing exercises that involve multiple muscle groups, upping the intensity of how I’m training and mostly trying to be more efficient in my workout time. The goal is to get more out of every second that I spend training. I’ve found ways to get in a great workout in less time than it would take me to drive to the gym in Longview and back. I’ll outline a few here and come back to them in other posts.

  1. Kettlebell training – nothing will give you a better workout that builds muscle and skyrockets your heart rate at the same time like kettlebells. They’re awesome – ‘nuff said.
  2. Interval Training – Cardio schmardio. Doing intervals with a your cardio work can produce better results in less time. I learned this from one of the people I get a lot of tips from, Craig Ballantyne. He’s the author of Turbulence Training. It’s an awesome way to work out and get the most out of your time. Click on the above link. You can get some great tips.
  3. Superset training involving large muscle groups. Again, you can incorporate a lot of your muscle groups at one time in your workouts. This can really rev up your metabolism and get you the results you’re looking for.
  4. Endurance events – It’s good to have goals. I’ve rediscovered cycling and rode in several distance events this year. I don’t plan on stopping. Cycling really clears my head. It’s very therapeutic. I’ve also started running. Didn’t ever think I’d say that willingly. I’m doing a 5k in February and another one in May of 2010.

What I’ll start out with is MOST important. It’s also one of my weaknesses, but I’m not alone in this. It’s that four letter word we all fear – DIET. Most people view diet as a verb, an action, something that we go on when we need to drop a few pounds. I think it should be thought of as a description, a way of fueling ourselves, how we eat. I think that can give us more control over what we eat, rather than having our food control us.

I’ll put this post. It’s a you tube video from Craig Ballantyne. It’s one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen, but it a stunning picture of just how important diet can be. It shows how you cannot out train a bad diet. Click on this link – Diet vs Exercise Please take a look at it, it’s shocking how just a few seconds of bad eating can derail weeks of training.

Fixing your diet isn’t that complicated. It takes practice and discipline. It’s a matter of what you eat and how much you eat. Both are important. We all know, if you consume more calories than you burn, you’ll gain weight and the reverse is also true. Creating that calorie deficit is important, it’s how you lose weight. What I’ve found works well is planning and setting yourself up for success. I don’t plan my meals like I should, but I do try and keep a lot of fruit and healthy snacks around the house. If they’re visible and easily available, then they’ll most likely be what you grab when a bit of hunger strikes. Also, it may not look sheik, but taking my lunch with me to work has been great. Outside of the financial savings (about 8 bucks a day) It’s easier to pack a healthy lunch, than to stop somewhere and see what you end up with.

Eating is a struggle for me at times. I’ve had a bad month with my diet. I don’t think I’ve given up much ground the last few weeks, but I don’t think I’ve made any progress either. The most important thing to remember is don’t beat yourself up too badly if you stumble. Have a bad day, week, month with your diet or workouts? Get past it and get back on track. You can’t do anything about what you did yesterday, but you can do something about what you do from this moment forward. Get back upon that horse and ride! We can make our food choices work for us, or we can let them work against us. If your diet isn’t what is should be, make the changes. Start with small changes. If you eat a lot of fried food, burgers and junk, making an overnight switch to salads and fruit will be difficult. Make a gradual transition to better, cleaner, healthier food and less of it. Over time the better choices will become the norm and easier to choose with regularity. The goals of change will be easier to achieve if they’re manageable.