Bring out your inner athlete!

10krace1

My wife and I ran our very first 10K yesterday! Neither one of us are very good runners, but we really enjoy the atmosphere for these types of events.  This was the inaugural run for the FORTitude 10K race in Fort Collins, CO.  It was super fun!!  Although we have run several 5K races in the past, this was our first attempt at a 10K.  Besides the fact that we have not run this distance before and we did poor job of preparing for it, we came away with great memories!  Now, we did suffer from a lot of soreness throughout the rest of the day, but laughing at each other as we walked around like we just rode the worlds most feared Bull for an hour, helped keep our spirits up!

There was over 7500 participants in this event, and I must say, it was the largest one I have ever been a part of.  As I was running/walking the course, I was came across many different “fit” types of people.  There were runners that were older, younger, shorter, taller, heavier, thinner, and even some with obvious disabilities.  Events like this seem to bring people together with one common goal;  to have fun and do the best they can do.  I was passed up by people that were older and heavier than me. As they passed me by,  I could’t help but feel encouraged by them.  Here they are, giving everything they have, to accomplish something that can be viewed as “something only athletes can do”.  Which prompts the question; “What is an athlete. Really”?  In society, we tend to look at athletes as those we see on T.V.  No doubt Michael Jordan or Michael Phelps would be considered athletes.  I know I used to have that same perception.    The Dictionary has an athlete described as: “a person who is proficient in sports and other forms of physical exercise”.  Would we consider the 60+ year old person, that by appearance, seems to be at least 50 pounds overweight, yet can run a full 10K without stopping, to be an athlete?  I wonder if that person would consider themselves to be an athlete?  We in society tend to base our beliefs on the perceptions given to us by outside sources, which includes how we were taught growing up.  I too was always persuaded by the societal perceptions.  Being in the health and fitness industry, has definitely change my perception of who is an athlete.  The 60 year old, overweight person may not fit the “definition” of an athlete.  But to me, because they are participating in an athletic event, and because they are as proficient in that event as they possibly can be, at this point in time, that person is indeed an athlete!

I suggest that it is time for us to start changing our preconceived views of what defines an athlete, and start looking at the person, and the all the hard work that person put in to be able to do what they are doing today.  The battles they fought within themselves; their doubts and fears;  the negative comments and looks that were cast their way; the pain from old or unused muscles.  We need to embrace the fact that every one of us has an inner athlete.  Some of us may choose to ignore that reality and just go on living our lives with absolutely no changes being made at all.  But those of us that want to be more than we are now, I have one thing to say;  GO FOR IT!!!!  Don’t let anyone or anything stop you from being the absolute best YOU can be.  Push back the doubts and fears and pain, and push forward!  You can do anything you put your mind to.  Societal thinking cannot put you in a box.  There is an amazing athlete in you, just waiting to be let loose.  Let it loose!   Be free from excuses and negativity.  Live like you have never lived before!  Hold nothing back, and do not let anything hold you back.  You are an athlete.  All you have to do, is believe in yourself.


Rev up your workout!

Good morning and Happy Monday to you all!  I hope that your weekend was full of joy and great times.  As for myself, I had a great weekend.  My wife and I went for a long bike ride Saturday morning, around the CSU Campus headed for Old Town Ft. Collins where we stopped and had a nice breakfast at our favorite breakfast spot.  Then we headed back around the Campus again on our way home, but decided to go the looonngg way up to Spring Creek park and then back towards home.  It was a total of around two hours that we were out on our bikes and man did it feel good.  then Sunday morning we decided to do the Sprint class in the cycle studio at the gym we go to.  This was the first time we had ever done anything like that and man, did it kick our booties!  The class is set up as a 30 minute HIIT (high intensity interval training) session that is part high, as-fast-as-you-can-go, speed; and part heavy duty burn-your-quads-out-so-you-can-barely-move-them, speed.  It was an extremely challenging class, but man .. WAS IT FUN!  I had never done anything like that before, but I cannot wait to do it again.  We burned a ton of calories in that 30 minutes, and as we know, burning calories helps us to lose pounds, as long as we are taking in the appropriate calories to allow that deficit to help us lose those pounds.

spinning

Spin classes like these, are one way of getting that calorie burn using the HIIT type circuit.  The Challenge Circuits that we do on Saturday mornings, also use the HIIT format.  The key to these types of exercise programs, is to get your heart rate up to it’s maximum for around 20 – 30 seconds, and then bring it back down for a 10 second rest, and the bring it right back up again.  How high you bring the heart rate up and the speed in which you bring it up, is based on YOUR individual fitness status.  Always make sure that you are in a safe heart rate zone for best results.   One of the things I really like about HIIT is that you can take any exercise routine, whether it be weight training, biking, running, swimming .. etc and turn it into a high intensity interval training routine.  As long as you can get the heart rate up by increasing the speed or intensity of the movement, you can turn it into HIIT Training!  What ever exercise you prefer to do on a daily basis, if you have not tried HIIT Training, go ahead, give it a try.  Turn your workouts into something maybe a little more dynamic and challenging.  I am certain that your body will thank you!

DISCLAIMER: Always consult your physician before starting or attempting any new exercise program.


Circuit Training a Success!

Happy Monday everyone!  This past Saturday, July 8th, was the very first Change4Life Circuit Challenge, and it was a HUGE success!! (if I must say so myself..lol)  I was very encouraged by the response of those that that ran the course.  Each one of them, left everything  they had, out there on the course.  They pushed themselves to limits I am sure they have not been before.  I could not be more proud of them!  What makes this even more impressive to me, is the fact that their ages ranged from 38 to 50 years young!  Words will never be enough to express how grateful I am to be apart of their health journey’s.

This coming Saturday, we do it all over again.  There will be a new course set up to challenge the runners, and I am hoping to see even more participants take part in this event.  Thanks again to everyone that participated!


The family that trains together..

Good morning everyone, and Happy Thursday!  I am super excited about the very first Change4Life Circuit Training Challenge coming up on Saturday July 8th.  We did our first practice run with my wife, our niece, our daughter and son-in-law, and our 2 yr old grandson, Mikey.  He had as much fun as I did I think! (There is a video of him doing Mountain Climbers and push-ups on my FaceBook page. It is ADORABLE!)

I am not only excited about this Circuit Challenge, but I am also very humbled.  I have been dreaming about having this opportunity to reach out to my community and get more involved with fighting this disease of unhealthy living that is plaguing our society.  I know that I cannot reach everyone, and that I may not be able to impact  those that I do reach.  BUT, even if I can impact only one person, my efforts will have been a success.  Even as I think about this practice event with my family, I get emotional.  My daughter first started exercising in High School, when I was a Personal Trainer at a local fitness club, and has been exercising ever since.  She is so dedicated to being a fit wife and mom, and she continually sets an example to her son as he watches her exercise at home, and even likes to join in with her!  My son-in-law reminded me that day, that exercise is for everyone.  It does not matter how old or young you are; how in shape or out of shape you are; everyone, at any stage of life, can start on a health journey.  To see three generations of people, out there together, exercising and having fun, brings more joy to me than words can ever express!

Our health; our families health; and the health of our communities, is something I am committed to changing.  I encourage you all, to find a way to make a difference in your own health, that will allow you to be an example of health to those around you.  Imagine how many lives could be changed, if each of us were to commit to being the example of change for others!  What an amazing world this would be!


The workout bluueesss..

Have you ever felt like your workouts are just not “working” any more?  Like you are putting in the effort physically, but mentally you are bored, uninterested and even a little unmotivated?  Yes?  Well, that’s where I am at in my workouts right now.  I have been doing my workouts at home with my dumbbells and fit ball, but they are the same ole thing over and over again.  Because my workouts are not changing, I am not changing.  Our exercise routine is just like any thing else in our lives; if we get bored with it, we will stop being interested in it.  This is a reality, not only in the “exercise” world, but think about how this applies to the “relationship” world.  Don’t we like a little “spice” in our relationships?!  The good news here is, we have the opportunity to make change happen.

workoutblahs

There are so many different reasons as to why we exercise.  Some want big muscles; some may want to just be healthy; others may want to be more athletic.  Whatever your reason is, in order to make it work for you, it should always be FUN!    Way to many people look at exercise as a burden, or a box they have to check off for that day.  Exercise should not just be something you feel you have to do.  It should be something you love to do!  Now, I am not naive to the fact that there will be days where exercising is the last thing you want to do.  Trust me, I have been there before and will probably be there again.  As I am sure you will be to.  My reason for this topic today, is to get us thinking about how to keep days like that, few and far between.  What can we do, to keep our workouts fun and motivating??

Even if we are self-proclaimed “gym-rats“, there are several ways to get motivated and keep your mental energy flowing.  How about getting outside and using nature as a way to exercise.   Or, maybe even trying group fitness classes.  How about doing outside group classes..??!! What a concept!  Being outside adds such a new and fresh perspective to things.  Don’t you think?!  Mountain biking, trail running, obstacle courses, playing different sports like sand volleyball.  Man, there are so many options out there, and honestly, I bet you would not even have to try very hard to find them.  Now, obviously, we all have our own way of being motivated, so these may or may not work for you, but the whole idea here is to get creative in order to not allow ourselves to get bored.  If keeping the workouts in the gym is what keeps us focused and inspired, then there are several ways to keep the workouts fresh and alive for us.  How about trying some of these simple ideas:

Changing your rest day;  Changing the time of day you workout; moving muscle groups to different days; Combine different muscle groups that you normally would not combine together;  Using different angels for more resistance;  try unbalanced moves to focus more on the core muscles; change the number of reps on each movement; reverse the order in which you do the exercises.  These are literally just a few of the ways to keep your workouts fresh, and keep muscles form getting bored.

Being physically fit depends a lot on how fit we are emotionally.  If we are bored and unmotivated to exercise, then our bodies will feel that negative energy and our workouts will suffer.  We can keep the positive energy flowing by changing our routine and experimenting with new things!  Being fit should be fun. Don’t give up on your dreams.  Be strong; be positive; and have FUN!!


Outdoor Circuit Training Challenge.

There are so many reasons to get outdoors and enjoy the beauty that surrounds us.  Whether it be going for a walk or run with your loved ones around your neighborhood, or getting the bikes out with the kids, or just sitting on your porch enjoying the cool evening breeze.  There is something about the outdoors that brings a calmness and a feeling of contentment to our souls.  I love being able to feel the warmth of the sun shining down on me during the day, and the glow of the moon and stars at night!  Ahh .. the GREAT outdoors!

Another great reason to get outdoors is .. EXERCISE!!  WooHoo..!!  We love to exercise outdoors!  One of my dreams is to create an outdoor circuit training obstacle course.  And I have to say, it is about to happen!!  I just have a few more pieces of equipment to get together, and then do a few practice runs, and VIOLA..!!  We will be in business!  My target date for the first Official run, is July 8th.  ANYONE can come join us.  I will be using this BLOG and my FaceBook page to announce the date when it is set in stone, and if any of you are in the area and want to come join us, please feel free to do so!

Now, some of you may be asking; “What on earth is an ‘outdoor circuit training obstacle course'”?  Well, that is a great question.  Below is an “example” of what it may look like.

circuit

The course will be made up of anywhere from 10-12 different exercise stations.  Each station will have different types of exercises that target different muscle groups and will  also challenge our speed, agility, and strength.  The course runner will spend anywhere from 30 to 60 seconds at each obstacle.  The goal is to get the heart rate up at it’s maximum exertion rate, and then bring it back down between obstacles, and start all over again.  This is referred to as HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) training.  It is an extremely effective way of burning maximum calories while increasing heart and muscle strength, and increasing our speed and agility skills.  It is an overall body workout for maximum results in a short amount of time.  The course runner will spend about 30 minutes total on the course.  If you are looking for a new way to challenge your body, and even meet new people, then this will be the place to be!

I am SUPER EXCITED about getting this dream of mine in motion.  Thank you all for your continued support, and I can’t wait to see you on the course!


Exercise while at work!!

Many of us out there work in an office; sitting in a chair, in front of a computer; and rarely are able to get up and move around, (unless we have to use the restroom).  This, unfortunately, is a very common scene for way too many of us.  I have been working in the corporate office environment for more years than I care to count.   Not that there is anything wrong with working in an office, there is a need for white collar workers, just as there is a need for blue collar workers.  The issue for us office workers is, we tend to not move around enough during the day to keep our bodies active.   This then slows down our metabolism, and we tend to start gaining weight because, well, we are not moving and the vending machine keeps calling our name.  So, since there are so many of us that work in this environment, I though it would help if we talked about how we can get our bodies moving.  Even while sitting at our desks!

One of the easiest fixes for getting your body moving, is changing what you are sitting on.  I personally use a fit ball to sit on everyday.  I have used this for many years now, and it allows my body to focus on the core (abdominal) muscles that are used to stabilize my body.  When you put yourself in an unbalanced position, you are forcing your body to use the core muscles to keep you form falling over.  The fit ball is a perfect way of activating those muscles all day long.   The advantage to forcing your body to use those stabilizer muscles is, they keep your metabolism active, allowing your body to keep burning calories throughout the day, which in turn will help keep the excess weight in check.  Now, the disclaimer here is, you still have to maintain a good nutrition plan.  Eating processed, unhealthy foods, will still put the unwanted pounds on you, even if you stay active.

The below picture is what this would look like for you.

fitball

That takes care of the core muscles, but what bout the rest of the body?  Great question!   You can literally do a full body workout, just using your desk and your chair.  The only thing that will hinder you, is your “comfort zone“.  NOT THE DREADED COMFORT ZONE AGAIN..??!!  Yes, I’m afraid so.. You see, we can do everything from squats, to push-ups, right there at the desk.  But, will you do them, is the only question  you have to answer.

So, instead of trying to explain every single exercise available to you, I am going to post the image of each of them, so you can visualize what they look like.  Here we go!

To continue our ab workout, we can do another form of crunch, which targets the lower abs, and the twist crunch that targets the obliques, or outer abs.

For legs, we can do leg extensions, which target the quadriceps (the 4 large muscles right above your knee).  Make sure you squeeze those muscles all the way up to a full extension.  There is the chair squat that targets your quadriceps and glutes (booty muscles). For the chair squat, do not sit all the way down, keep some tension on your legs  and glutes(if you have to sit all the way down, build up to a point where you do not have to!).

The arm exercises, may be a little more challenging, but are doable none-the-less.  Tricep dips are a very good exercise and can be done in a few different ways.  For the bicep, this particular move is more of an isometric move where you are basically just squeezing the muscle, and not really extending or moving it.

deskpushups

Push-ups against the desk are a fantastic way to utilize the chest, back and even shoulder muscles.  This move works pretty much the whole upper body.  you can extend your legs back even further to challenge yourself even more.

So, as you can see, there are several ways for those of us who work in an office, to still be able to exercise our muscles.  There are different variations to these exercises that you can research, but this will give you a good start towards your work exercise program.  Always remember, no matter how much you exercise, you still have to eat healthy in order for your body to become healthy and efficient for your active lifestyle!  Good luck, and get to work!!


Muscular Endurance.

As we now know, having lean muscle mass in our bodies is absolutely essential to the process of losing body fat.  Some people take that as the need to have super huge muscles like, say, a  body builder would have.   Others interpret this as just needing to have strong lean muscle; not necessarily anything big.  Is one of these interpretations more correct than the other?  No, not necessarily.  There is nothing wrong with wanting to have big muscles.  To some people, having big muscles makes them feel better.  They feel more confident and attractive.  Some people just want to have lean muscles; enough to allow the to do the things they love to do without feeling week and out-of-shape.  Women, I would venture to say, just want to look and feel attractive or sexy.  Whatever your motivation is, the fact remains; we all need to have some form of muscular structure in order to have an over-all healthy body.  What we need to figure out as individuals, is, “what does that mean for me“?

I have always been one that likes to go into the gym and lift as heavy as I can and try to build the big muscles.  Growing up, I was always kinda scrawny, so, having big muscles made me feel more confident.  The down fall to this is, having big muscles, does not necessarily mean that we have muscular endurance.  Think about swimmers or long distance runners and bicyclers.  Would having big muscles make them better athletes in their particular sport?  Probably not.  The reason for that is, muscle mass can start to weigh a person down if they continue to add massive amounts.  Think of a body builder.  These guys usually weigh around 250 lbs (this is not specific, but a generality).  Now, imagine Michael Phelps weighing in at 250 lbs.  He would probably sink as soon as he hit the water!  Or a Tour De France rider trying to push 250 lbs around the mountains of France.  The one thing a person like Michael Phelps or Missy Franklin do have is, muscular endurance.  They have trained their muscles to be able to sustain a certain movement for a long period of time.  Or, as defined: “Performing multiple repetitions of an exercise“.  Swimmers, long distance runners, bicyclers, even soccer players;  are all involved in sports that would fit this definition.  Athletes that train specific muscle groups in order to accomplish a single goal, to be the best they can be, are examples of people who train for muscular endurance.

But, what about regular Joe’s like you and I?  Would it beneficial for you and I to have muscular endurance?  Well, in my personal opinion, the answer would be an absolute, YES!  My wife and I have recently started doing a “Les Mills BODYPUMP” class at the local gym we are members of.  The goal of that exercise program is, to build strong lean muscles, using a system that uses lighter weight, more repetitions, and different speeds and variations of movement for that muscle group.  We have been to four different classes and each time there has been a variation of exercises and each time we have come away form the class with tired muscles!  In case you were wondering, tired muscles is a GREAT THING!  That means, we were using our muscles in a way that will allow them to keep growing and changing and strengthening.  If we can keep getting those same results, our muscles will get leaner, stronger and we will be able to keep burning body fat!  So, to answer the question; “would it be beneficial for us to have muscular endurance“, I would say, if your goal is to be stronger, healthier and more active without getting tired so quickly, it is an absolute YES!

The bottom line is this:  each of us will need to make the decision to get healthy, strong muscles, however we choose to do it.  The important thing is, we do it.  Lean healthy muscles, means a leaner healthier body.  With that in play, we will be able to do immeasurably more than we ever thought possible!

 


I don’t feel good. Should I still exercise?

I have been sick for the last 3 day’s and I gotta say .. I am soo over it.  It just so happened that I got sick the day I started my plan to eliminate all sugars.  Although one did not have anything to do with the other, it is frustrating none-the-less.  So, I was faced with the question “should I exercise while I am sick“?  What a great question that is!  Many of us have had to ask that same question at times in our health journey.  I know that in the past, I have exercised while sick, but many times, because of the head pressure and the coughing, I have sat the exercise thing out and allowed myself to heal first.  To answer this question, I had to go the “experts” and see if this is as simple as a “yes” or “no“.

During  my research I found some interesting answers.  As you know, I am a HUGE believer in the concept that every body is different, and you know your body better than anyone else does.  So, the answer to that question, basically comes down to how you are feeling and what you think your body will allow you to do for exercise.  Now, with that being said, there was a general consensus in my research that, if the illness has settled in the respiratory system and there is congestion and coughing, then exercising should be the last thing on the agenda.  Rest and recovery would have to take priority here.  The same thing goes, if there is a fever involved.  Exercising will only increase our body temperature and since our body temperature is already increased, then exercise would potentially make the illness worse.  On the other hand, if the illness is merely a cold and there is no fever or respiratory issues, then YOU make the decision based on how you feel.  You know your body better than anyone.  It really is as simple as that.

We exercise because we want healthier bodies.  Exercising and proper nutrition will certainly help us live healthier lives.  But, we cannot control when mother nature decides to get involved and place a speed bump in our health journey.  Living a healthy lifestyle, includes taking care of our bodies when they are under the weather.  As long as we eat right, exercise, and keep our mental state in balance, life will take care of itself and we will be able to inspire and encourage others to make the life changes they need to make to live long healthy lives as well.

 


GO! Enjoy life.

I finally got my Mountain Bike out this weekend!  It has been over a year since I have had it out, (probably closer to two years) and I have to say, it felt great!  Now, since it has been so long, I have to confess, I was struggling.  After just the first 8 minutes, I felt like I wanted to turn around and go home..lol  But, I kept at it, and around the 20 minute mark, I got my second wind and the rest of the ride was fantastic.  It was a beautiful, sunny day with white-capped mountain views that were absolutely breathtaking.  One of the things I loved about that ride, was that I saw so many families out enjoying the weather together.  Kids playing, running around, riding their bikes.  It just warms my heart to see families spending time together like that.  Exercise isn’t always about being in the gym pumping iron or running the treadmill.  To me, it should be about having fun, doing the things you love to do.  I am blessed to be able to enjoy the outdoors in this beautiful state of Colorado.  There are so many outdoor activities, from road biking, mountain biking, hiking trails, mountain trails up to the mountain peeks, swimming, running .. etc.  You name it, it can be done here.  Now, I also find lifting weights a lot of fun, but when I can get outside and enjoy the blue skies and sunshine, and still get good exercise, then sign me up!  So many people, when they here the word “exercise“, automatically turn away.  In their minds, it is something they have to go to the gym to do.  My hope is that people will realize that exercise is all about moving your body.  It is about having fun, playing with your kids, taking a walk or hike with family and friends.  My wife and I love to exercise together.  Our daughter and her husband are also into fitness, and we do things with them as well.  Fitness should always be fun to you. Other wise, it becomes a burden and an inconvenience, and you will not want anything to do with it.  So, make it enjoyable!  Think about the things you love to do and go do them?  Take a friend or loved one with you to help them get out and enjoy life with you.  Life is to darn short and stressful to not enjoy it.  GO! Enjoy life and have fun doing it!