Posts Tagged ‘Fitness

20
Sep
17

Why we shouldn’t focus on Success

I have a very different definition of success. I have always believed in the oft quoted “Shoot first, what you hit, call the target” philosophy. As a coach, I have guided many athletes to great success by my definition and as defined by other people as well. I have always believed that if we focus on success, rather than growth, we often lose the biggest benefits from trying to do anything at all. Here are 5 things that we tend to lose when all we focus on is success as defined in a traditional way.

Setting goals and success

Ancient Wisdom

You limit Discovery

When we follow the laser focus of working to achieve a specific goal we will often lose sight of the many opportunities along the way. I drove to Illinois yesterday and ended up stopping at a great roadside market. If I would have only been focused on my destination, I would have missed some of the best sweet corn I have ever had. Not to equate striving for our goals with shopping for produce, but it illustrates the odd and interesting things we can find on our path to success.

You limit your ability to Grow

If we are only focused on one outcome we lose the opportunity to learn as we go. We need to embrace our shortcomings, our failures, and mistakes. By doing so we learn to adapt and we learn to overcome future mistakes by developing resiliency. Striving for our goals is a long-term commitment; persistence, resiliency, quick thinking, and wisdom are natural byproducts of the process if we commit to the long term effort and stay open to the process.

You fall into Black & White Thinking

When we are solely focused on a successful outcome we are quick to label those errors, misjudgments and mistakes as failures. If we do not achieve our stated goal then everything else seems to be a failure. There is nothing more untrue. We cannot, in any effort, be so short-sited that we only see black and white. The world is made up of shades of gray and there is not only much to be learned in the gray areas, but there is a lot of happiness in them as well.

You will have a hard time finding Happiness

“Shoot for the moon, that way, even if you miss, you are among the stars.” We’ve heard this thousands of times and seen it on bumper stickers and tee-shirts. I apologize for bringing out this old chestnut, but there is a lot of value in it. The notion that our moonshot is only valuable if we reach the moon devalues our position in the stars. I have had athletes set goals to win national accolades and, some do and some don’t. Those that don’t have to often be reminded that they attained much more in the effort than they would have if their goals were limited only to regional or statewide success. It’s the process, as I mentioned above, that gives value to the result. If any of these athletes would have considered themselves as failures, then all the effort, all the work, would have been in vain.

You miss the opportunity to be Grateful

My mom used to say Don’t be sad about the rainy days, without them  you wouldn’t appreciate the sunny ones. There is so much wisdom in that statement. We need to embrace our struggles and the hard work we put in to be truly grateful for our results; whatever they may be. Also, persisting through hard times gives us opportunity to identify the people who stand by us. The ones who lend a shoulder in effort or a shoulder to cry on. It’s the process, the effort, that helps us see our true team mates and friends.  All of this is so worthy of acknowledgment. I believe that, though It’s hard sometimes, we need to really look for the things in life where we can express gratitude.

In our society, especially in sports, we are led to believe that we must “win”, that “there is no room for second place”, that we must “win at all costs” and so on. This thinking is outdated and detrimental.

I don’t think we need to celebrate losing, or glorify failure either, but I do think we need to be open to the possibilities and options we develop during our efforts. I never believed that every child should get a trophy and I do believe that there is something valuable in explaining to a child that 7th place is reflective of a single performance, of their effort, of their current situation, and of the effort of others. What could a child learn from that explanation of the results? Sometimes an athlete not winning can bring more in the long run than if they would have taken home the trophy. Agree?

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30
May
17

Being Reasonably Fit

Being fit as a trend or short term is not healthy, in fact it’s just the opposite. We have to know the reason we maintain a healthy lifestyle. We should be able to have healthy pursuits in a way that our happiness is not impeded. This is exactly why “getting healthy” as a new year’s resolution never works; we obsessively push ourselves to be unhappy out of guilt and shame until we just give up and validate our poor self-image. Sounds odd for me to say, but sometimes chasing a healthy lifestyle is not what people need.

To clarify, it’s the chasing, the never satisfied, pursuit of being fit that is the problem. Fitness, like all things, needs to be balanced with being happy and living a satisfied life.

I try to stay healthy. I run a few days a week and as a former competitive athlete I sign up for a few races each season, just to add meaning to my exercise. But there are some people who go too far. Training 7 days a week, obsession with calorie free, carb free, flavor free food (that always seem to be posted in food photos online) that seems to add salt to the wound, but not really because the diet is also salt free. Geesh.

The right motivation

landscape-1445011678-rbk100115fitbitessay-002I have a friend that posts every run on social media. I always felt that social media was great for staying in touch with friends you don’t see every day, but having to review the training plan for old college pals seems weird. I’ll see him face to face in the future and we’ll talk, he’ll say, I saw what you’ve been up to online, and I’ll say, I see you can do an 8-minute mile. Perfect, all caught up. I often wonder if he, or countless others would continue working out if they couldn’t post a “Look-at-me” on Facebook. I feel that it’s like the gymnasts I train doing the sport just to hear applause at meets. The focus in fitness needs to be the same as the focus in the gym; pushing your own potential and maintaining a healthy and highly functional body.

Information vs. Obsession

I have been around label readers, calorie counters, sodium intake monitors, and fat analyzers before and I believe that sometimes it is valuable and necessary to compare products to make good decisions. I commend people, like my wife, who take the time to look and read before deciding. Our FDA has done a good job of requiring the labeling of ingredients and nutrition information on products even though most people don’t read it. However, though I commend those people who do make decisions based on that information, I also believe that, for some, it can go too far. Reading everything on the label, only choosing based off a particular quality often leaves out an important factor…. taste. I have long been a follower of the middle path, leaning toward neither extreme. Though I look at labels when comparing types of butter, I won’t avoid butter because it’s “unhealthy”. It’s also delicious and though I don’t slather it on everything-Paula Dean style- I do occasionally like to cook with it.  Choices.

There is more to life than working out

I’ve been around people who only seem to have conversations about their workouts and I can tell you, it’s boring. I’m even in the workout business, and I find it boring. There is so much that people can share that make conversations enjoyable, why stick to only one topic. It’s likely due to one of 2 reasons. Option 1; they are obsessed. Every waking thought is a delusional fear about how they will die instantly if they do not push maximal training, run faster and further, lift more weight and more times, take another boot camp or spin class, and even eliminate anything enjoyable from their diet. That type of obsession is not only potentially harmful but often really tedious to your friends who just wanted to order a pizza and watch a movie.

Option 2: they are insecure about their body or their training and they want you to validate that they are OK or that they look good. I make it a point to never comment on either thing. The closest they get from me is “Well, how are you feeling?”

Walking the walk

If we want to help other people feel healthy, and don’t get me wrong, that is one of my industry’s driving forces, then we need to lead by example. We need to walk the walk of the talk we talk. Being obsessed or shoving diet choices down other people’s throats will cause them to rear back from health rather than embracing it. Not to mention it makes our lives less enjoyable to be unable to occasionally have a treat without guilt. Your body doesn’t implode if you have a cheat day, or even a cheat week. If you have clear and precise thoughts on what is healthy and what is not, then your diet can be made on choices and smart thinking not binge, purge, and self-hatred. Diets in moderation allow a healthy lifestyle and an enjoyable life.

If you can discern between staying fit and obsessively working out, then you will not only feel and look great but others will see you as the result of healthy pursuits rather than the poster child for crazy obsessive fitness.

07
Mar
17

Shamrocks are not lucky (for your diet)

 A while ago, my team kids asked me if I had a Shamrock Shake yet this year. I explained that I read that the shakes at that establishment contain a chemical that is also found in leather softener and so, I don’t think I’ll be indulging in a minty green shake this year, unless I make it.  ( not to mention that many shake recipes contain a chemical called  Castoreum provides added sweetness, but it comes from the anal gland of a beaver. No kidding)

I wasn’t wrong. Much of the food at fast food establishments is laced with the least likely (and least explicable) of ingredients. But so are many other foods we frequently consume.

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McDonalds fries vs KFC fries after 3 years.

Did you know that a fast food burger will remain unchanged for approximately 14 years if left uneaten? There is such a low content of water and natural ingredients that the “real beef” burger doesn’t even spoil.  Oddly enough the French Fries at most fast food establishments are also resistant to age. They usually rot out in about 3 years, but you have to ask; if bacteria won’t eat away this “food” why would I?

Did you know that due to the high levels of High Fructose Corn Syrup the soda we drink at fast food places will damage our stomach walls, debilitate our vital organs, and strip our teeth of enamel? In fact it may be safer you nuzzle up to and eat straight an entire bowl of sugar rather than suffer the consequences of the substitute. HFCS also keeps us from quenching a thirst, that’s why we can finish off that “Thirsty-Two” ounce pop and still be…. Well… thirsty.  But it does satisfy our consumer bone. We feel that there is value in being able to refill a drink for free, when in truth, that might be the worst thing you can do.

And don’t get me started on the dispensers. Most places that have “serve yourself” dispensers have been found to have trace levels of fecal e.coli evident on their surfaces. That means that most places have nozzles touched by people who don’t clean their hands after using the toilet. Mmmm. Still thirsty?

Did you know that breakfast is just as bad as a shake? We have, in the past, often traveled to meets and had to resort to a quick grab and go breakfast at a fast food stop. But we hardly will ever do that again since we found that most places substitute eggs with something called Premium Egg Blend, a chemical mixture that has many of the same ingredients as my soap and shower gel, namely glycerin. Though eating glycerin won’t kill me, it’s good to know that if I’m really late, I can eat half my breakfast and shave with the other half.

Did you know that when you eat beef from a fast food place, or even a large chain family dining restaurant, that you are likely filling up on ground up bits of over 100 different cows? Usually the less choice cuts are ground and combined with fat and chemicals, then shaped into patties and sent off.  I have had friends tell me that they would rather eat at this fast food place than that place because at least this place uses “real” beef. It may be real, but it’s not any more appealing when you know the process.

Did you know that in Wisconsin, we have access to real cheese? Unfortunately, you won’t find it on you McBurger or Whopper. Fast food cheese is less than half dairy product and mostly oil, chemical and preservative. I recently went to visit a gymnast that graduated into college and we went to eat. When my food came out I looked at the cheese and asked “what is that?” We here are pretty spoiled by having access to real cheese, when the rest of the country has to eat that mystery orange square they call cheese. But don’t be fooled, it’s still mystery square at the corner fast food place.

Did you know that we are tricked into eating sand when we order spicy fast food? It’s true, most fast food chili’s or Tex-Mex menus use and ingredient called silicon dioxide in their recipes. It makes the taco or chicken nugget taste a little peppery and manufacturers don’t have to use as much real food, higher cost, ingredients. Now, I’ve gotten sand in my mouth before, but never once did I think “mmm. Chalupa!”

Ok, I’m grossing myself out, and probably you too. So here are a few more remaining thoughts to leave you with:

Did you know that most fast food chicken nuggets are not chicken but comprised of fats, bone, nerves and “additional tissue”.

Did you know that fast food salads are usually laced with saturated fats and high levels of sodium. The intention is not to offer a healthy option, it’s to make to thirsty enough to order the free-refill-extra-large soda.”

Did you know that much of fast food is laced with coloring and dyes that have been shown to change behavior in children. Kids frequently exposed to these chemical colors often become irritable, hyperactive, and bad-tempered.

Did you know that the caloric intake from one small meal provides us the equivalent of what we would burn on a 4 hour hike. So to maintain a healthy balance or intake and output, remember to allow for 4 hours of activity following the consumption of a small burger, small fries, and a small pop.

Did you know that honestly, I have been no stranger to the ordering queue at fast food places. I grew up on McDonalds, Burger King, Arby’s, and others. But as I grew and became educated I have made more informed decisions. I am a firm believer in the philosophy of moderation. I don’t eat fast food 6 times a week anymore, maybe once every other week. But I stay away from the pop, the chicken nuggets, and the shakes.

So, no on the shamrock shake this year. But I did find this yummy, healthy, natural substitute that I made at home. I plan on bringing it to the team and fooling them into loving spinach shakes. If you are interested in the outcome of my switcheroo, comment below.

07
Feb
17

Training Confident Kids (part 1)

I had some people ask me questions regarding a past post discussing motivation and it’s relation to confidence.  Here is the first of a 2 part post on Confidence and how we get kids to be more confident.

As coaches, we always want the best for our athletes. We train them physically to be strong, flexible and powerful. We train them cognitively to know the skills, routines, and rules. And we train them emotionally to be strong, brave, and confident. Or do we?

For our discussion lets explain confidence in relation to our comfort level in doing things. Our comfort levels are depicted by a box. Within the box we have everything that we are comfortable with, things we do easily, people we know, experiences that range from typical to mundane. Right outside the box are new and different things.  Experiences that put us on edge, make us a little uncomfortable, new places, people, and things. Far away from the box are the things we are very unsure of; things we feel very uncomfortable with, things that make us stressed or nervous.

Confidence is developed by knowing we can perform or interact with the world in a way that is comfortable to us. Things we do that are within our comfort box can be done confidently and things outside might be done with less confidence.

While the majority of our lives occur within our comfort box, it’s only when we reach outside the walls of the box  that we can truly grow and learn. Our comfortable box is where we wish everything to be, but sadly, that is not reality. In the box, we often operate by rote memory, we do our routines and our day to day existence just seems to happen. Chicken or egg? Are we comfortable in that “box” because we do things there easily, or are things easy because we have the confidence to do them? The answer is both.

I remember as a young baseball player, I played 3rd base, shortstop, second base, and catcher. Our coaches rotated us, what seemed at times to be, randomly. It’s likely that they were trying to find our ideal position, the place where we were comfortable playing and where we would be the most effective for the team. But what it also did was allow us to “try” other positions; positions outside of our comfortable little boxes. This was imperative for expanding our proverbial comfort zone as players and as kids.

We are always being advised to “step outside the comfort zone”, or “think outside the box”. When we are confronted with occasional challenges, it allows us to expand our acceptable “zone” or, put another way, our “box” gets bigger and more of the world outside comes within.

When we are no longer afraid of stepping outside the comfort zone, we find that the space within, where we feel in control, becomes bigger. When our coaches moved us around, often unexpectedly, we found that we became a more confident team. I know personally that I gained a lot of confidence because I knew I could handle more than I originally had thought.

For another example, let’s take a gymnast learning a new skill. At first the skill is new and requires focus and a lot of effort. After practicing it for a bit it gets added to the repertoire and becomes “just another thing she can do.” It no longer causes her stress or discomfort, it has become “easy.” But, that same gymnast no longer trains that skill, it is possible for her to “lose” it. That’s obvious. But also, if that gymnast is not challenged with performing the skill in a new combinations, on a new apparatus, or in a performance situation, like a meet or a public demonstration, the skill again may equally be lost. Coaches have to allow that gymnast to perform the learned skills under pressure so that when that skill is needed in a meet performance  it falls within the skills in the comfort box. When it does, it reinforces confidence in performance and positions the athlete to seek more new skills and more growth.

Confidence come from challenges

Confidence come from challenges

Sometimes we can be asked to reach far away from the box; this is when we have greater discomfort over a task or skill. When we feel that we are over our head or incapable of performing, it manifests as a lack of confidence and the feeling can be so strong that we believe that we cannot be successful without the help of someone else.

When an athlete  has rarely been challenged to step outside their comfortable box and are then confronted with change or challenge, they often cannot adapt. Usually this person must rely on others to carry them or assist them through their tasks. I have seen this situation in several scenarios: kids who freeze up, suddenly cannot do more simple skills, or devolve progressions for new skills. There are other reasons that these outcomes may occur too, but it’s often the lack of confidence is the culprit.

Confident people have a larger comfort box and  it affords them a expanded ability to adapt and feel adept.  Also, by occasionally being challenged it allows for a greater tolerance for uncertainty, which means that the areas that cause panic are minimal. However, people with confidence are not fearless. They do experience fears but the fear is often mitigated by both feeling that they can accomplish things with a little  effort, and/or with minimal help. Confident people have either made choices to be challenged or had life throw them enough curve balls that they have learned that they have the capacity to hit any pitch. Or more easily put; they’ve learned, by adaptation, to figure out problems and conquer what once seemed daunting.

Next time: 5 things we can do to create more confidence in our kids.

25
Feb
15

The benefits of ol’ Sol

Oy, I’m tired of winter. I need a little sunshine and fresh air that doesn’t hurt to breathe in. I brought up my feeling of missing the sun with a few friends and I was surprised that 2 of them said they would rather remain inside, even during warmer weather. What?  They believed that the sun could be so damaging that it wasn’t worth the risk. What?helenkeller120988

Helen Keller was blind and even she spoke about the benefits of the big happy light in the sky. In fact, there are even medical reasons TO go out in the sun.

Did you know that the sun was used to treat several skin disorders as well as having a benefit to strengthening the skins ability to be a barrier against germs and disease?

Did you know that before antibiotics it was the treatment for tuberculosis, and it’s still used to treat jaundice?

How about the fact that it treats Seasonal Affective Disorder? (yeah, I got that).  It helps regulate your body temperature, enhances biorhythms, and may be a treatment in treating T Cell Lymphoma. It may even help fight cavities. Really.

Click here to read more about the value of the sun from a post by Dr. Joseph Mercola.

So let’s hurry up to summer and get some rays. Are you all ready for a warm up?

31
Dec
14

Resolve for a better life by moving

Another year and another reason to start working out. Right? Will it be another year where you do it a few times then you hear the siren call of extra sleep, or worse, the beckoning of the couch and TV remote? What you need is a good sound reason. A reason that resonates with you and covers the attraction of the couch’s lure.My son asked me the other day, why I was going for a run when it was so cold outside. Usually not at a loss for words I stumbled around to justify changing clothes, different shoes, and bracing for the cold to and sweat outside until little icicles form on my cap. I think I had a hard time because I too was wondering: “what the heck am I doing?” But now I have had some time to think and a chance to sit inside and warm up a bit: so here are some reasons for you. I am writing them as I should have said them to my son (s). Maybe visualizing talking to your children will help. Find one that motivates you and get yourself moving.Winter runner1. Why are you going to run when it’s so cold outside?  And I say “Well, you know how sometimes you still feel sleepy when you get to school? After a run, my body is awake and alive. I get so much more done on days when I run.”

In fact, research has shown that people who exercise are more productive than those who are sedentary. Whether you exercise early in the morning, in the mid-day, or even late at night; your body becomes a more efficient machine.

2. Why are you going to run when it’s so cold outside? And I say “Sometimes I feel like I need a little time to get myself feeling better. When I exercise I feel good about myself. Sometimes the best cure for feeling down is to get yourself up and workout a little.”

Exercising hold many benefits when it comes to enhancing self-esteem. Being more fit makes you feel good inside. Even if you lose a few pounds or inches, or maybe you don’t; internally hormones are triggered to provide a feeling of happiness. Just like some people find with a beer or a candy bar but this is free and it has a longer lasting positive effect. That’s win-win.

“There are sometimes when I also just need to burn off some steam. Maybe if I had a stressful day or it’s a rough week, it helps me to deal with feeling overwhelmed by stress. I don’t like feeling like I have no time to do everything I need to do, and weirdly enough, when I spend some time exercising it seems to make more time for me during the day. Then I’m not so stressed out.”

Exercise releases endorphins that not only make you feel better, but help your mind prepare for stressors that might arise later. One of the best strategies to alleviate stress is to get up and move. From executives to laborers, exercise outside of normal activity gives you the strength to deal with stress.

3.  Why are you going to run when it’s so cold outside? And I say “You know I have to be sharp. I have a lot to know for my job and sometimes I have to make split second decisions. Plus, being your dad it’s important for me to stay on my toes. I always want to be there for you if you have questions or need help with your homework. When I exercise it keeps my mind functioning well.”

Not only does exercise prevent memory loss but it aids in production of cells in the hippocampus, which is responsible for memory and learning. You could say that exercise not only reduces memory loss, it reverses it. Also, research has shown that your chances of dementia are drastically reduced. Exercise is a “smart” thing to do in more ways than one.

4. Why are you going to run when it’s so cold outside? And I say ” Exercise makes me happy. What do you do to be happy? Maybe your Legos or playing with your friends makes you happy, and running just makes me feel good.

As I mentioned; exercise releases happy juice in your body. This creates a feeling of euphoria and can make you feel pretty good.  When you feel good, your days are better and you get through life with more smiles on your face than frowns. There is great research that shows the correlation of exercise and feeling fulfilled in life.

5. Why are you going to run when it’s so cold outside? And I say ” Well, I want to be healthy so I can be with you a lot longer.  If I make sure my body is healthy and working like it should I won’t get sick as much and I will live a lot longer. Maybe I can be around long enough to see your kids and I’ll get to hear how you answer these kinds of questions.”

Regular exercise is shown to reduce the amount of cellular damage to tissues and organs that lead to many chronic diseases and even many acute sicknesses like colds and flu. A system of regular exercise makes you less likely to have heart disease, Type II Diabetes, Hypertension, and a myriad of other ailments that our US sedentary lifestyles have blessed us with.

There are studies that link extended life expectancy to exercise (This is just one study, there are literally thousands).  So out of all the reasons that I stated here: feeling energized, reducing stress, better self-concept, better brain function, and a happier life, this one may be the most important. Whether you have kids or not, the fact that you could contribute to our world for a longer period of time is paramount to a fulfilled existence.  Knowing that I may someday see grandchildren, or that I will get to see my team kids grown up and be successful, makes the temporary discomfort of a cold weather run well worth it. 30 minutes of exercise and icicles on my hat is a small price to pay to feel good, think better and still be around to play human for another 50 years. Honestly, is it too much of a price for you?  

29
Oct
14

Hmmm, that is interesting

File this under “Hmmm, that’s interesting” but you have to say it with one of your eyebrows raised.

I was chatting with a friend the other day and we were talking about how many people could be described in certain ways in reference to the world population. Like, how many people take gymnastics, what percentage? What percentage of people cannot swim (couldn’t find a reasonable answer for the world)? How many own cars, bikes, houses? Etc. So, of course, being nerdy we both pull out our phones and begin researching.

The world just tipped the 7 billion mark but  it’s hard to grasp things when contemplating such huge numbers. We found a really cool graphic that asks “What if the world were only 100 people?” So we battled each other on finding how many of the 100 would do various things:If the world were only 100 people

Of the 100 people, 50 are male, 50 are female, 26 are “children” and 8 are over age 65.

Of all these (100) people only 5 of us speak English. 5 others speak Spanish but 12 speak Chinese.

17 People cannot read.

23 have no shelter to rest their head.

51 live in the city.

13 have no access to water.

21 are overweight, and 15 are undernourished.

31 don’t get any exercise outside of their job or their daily living.

15 of the 100 are smokers.

13 people own cars.

Sadly, less than 1 does gymnastics. (sad face)

Side note: If the US was only 100 people; 80 (vs. 31 worldwide) would be sedentary, still less than 1 would be a gymnast (still sad face) and only 44 could swim.

I know it’s simplistic, but maybe if we saw the world as a smaller number, a number that could fit into one room, we would do something about the problems that the world faces. Maybe we could get 13 people a drink of water, we could convince 15 people to stop smoking, we could give 17 the gift or literacy, or we could motivate 31 of them to get up and move. When the numbers are easier to grasp the problems of the world should become harder to accept. I know that if the whole of the world’s people were only 100 that I could get more of them doing gymnastics, that’s for sure.




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