What I Have Been Up To

It is a new year and a chance to make a bigger, better more improved version of the self you have always wanted to create.  We all have goals and resolutions we want to achieve and strive for.  We tell ourselves this year is going to be different than any other year and we start off the year strong, sticking to our resolutions and keeping our promises.  Chances are our resolutions slowly start to fade out and before we know it we are back to our usual routine, not getting better and still miles away from our goal.  My question is why?  Why do we start out with so much hope, ambition and promise only to go back to our own ways?  Why do we not stick to our new changes and routines and go back to what we were doing?

My answer is comfort and drive.  We as humans do not like to be uncomfortable and will always resort to what is most comfortable to us.  Some of us are comfortable being overweight and stuck in a job we hate because the steps we need to take in order to get to where we want are uncomfortable.  It is uncomfortable giving up the foods we love to eat and for some it is uncomfortable to exercise so we are better off not trying and staying in our comfort zone.  Some of us may be unhappy with the jobs we have yet we continue to go to them week after week because we are comfortable there and anything new or different is scary and unsettling.  I heard a statistic the other day that 85% of Americans are unhappy with their jobs, 85%!  That means out of 10 people you talk to, 8 of them are unhappy with their job.  To me that seems like quite an alarming rate and brings me to my next point which is drive.  We have to be driven to make the changes, we have to be driven to get uncomfortable, we have to be driven to make the sacrifices necessary in order to get what you want to get and be where you want to be.  How driven are you to lose that 10-20 lbs, to get a new job, to make a million dollars, to find a spouse or start a new company?  What are you willing to give up and sacrifice to get there?  Life is hard and can beat you down if you let it but you have to have the drive and ambition to be better today than you were yesterday.  Write down your goals on paper, read them everyday and take action.  We only have one chance at this life so let us make the most of it and go after our dreams.  It is time to get comfortable being uncomfortable.

Before the new year was even upon us, I started doing things that were a little uncomfortable for me but would also greatly benefit me in the long run.  I have been working on improving myself and being the best I can be and taking the necessary steps every day to get me there.  Here is what I have been working on lately:

Chasing my dream.

For those of you  who are Frontdive Fitness readers, you may remember I posted awhile back about how I  am changing careers.  I am chasing after my dream of becoming a firefighter here in South Carolina.  After thinking about my past work history and talking with some fellow firefighters, I concluded I have all the necessary qualities to become a great fireman.  I have always had a passion for helping others and I figured what better way than helping people in a time of need by joining the fire department.  The journey on this process has been a long, ongoing, tedious and patience forming one to say the least.  I have taken several of the fire fighter physical and written assessment tests and have gone on a couple of interviews.  I have my goals set high and I will not stop until I reach my goals.  I will continue to grind it out and go on interviews until I get hired on.

Meditation.

I have to say, adding this to my daily routine has helped me tremendously.  When I wake up in the morning after I do my normal routine, I sit down and meditate for 10-15 minutes.  I focus on a deep nourishing breath in and a relaxing, stress relieving breath out.  Sometimes I think about breathing in for a 4-6 count, holding for a 2 count and exhaling for a 6-8 count and other times I think about joy, happiness or abundance on the inhalation and worry, stress or anxiety on the exhalation.  I found after meditating for a week, I am more patient, less anxious, less stressed and I can handle more stressful situation better.  I found my temperament has improved dramatically and I no longer get mad, upset or frustrated at things I cannot control.  Meditation definitely helps ground you and makes you become more aware of the mind, body  and spirit connection.  Also sometimes, I enjoy pulling up a guided meditation on Youtube and have someone lead me through this amazing experience.  I highly suggest adding this to your daily routine and you will be amazed how much it benefits you.

Brain Games.

Just like exercise is important for your body and health, so are games to activate and train your brain.  Fellow co-workers have turned me on to a game called Lumosity which you can download for free on your phone.  Lumosity is a brain game app in which it tests your memory, problem solving, attention, flexibility and speed.  One neat thing about the game is it gives you 3 different games to play each day and it tracks your progress so you able to see if you are improving or if you just don’t have it today.  Also, you become aware of different areas you are not so great in and try to improve on them.  I am terrible on any of the memory recall games and I know this so I challenge myself to improve.

Motivation/Success Videos.

If you have a quick minute or 10, I highly recommend listening to some type of motivational, inspirational or successful video or audio clip.  If you type in motivation, success or inspiration into youtube you will have a endless supply of clips to pump you up, engage you and make your mind strong/er.  We all need some motivation and think of this as a way to give yourself your own personal pep talk.  I usually like to walk on the treadmill for 20 minutes and listen to several different clips to inspire me for the day and to help me get on my path to achieve greatness.  The power of the mind is the most important and critical area to work on.  We have to believe in ourselves and know that yes, we can make a difference, we can be successful, we will be successful, there is no stopping us and we will not quit until we win.  A couple of people I would highly suggest taking the time to listen to is Les Brown, Zig Ziglar and Lewis Howes.  Les Brown is one of my new favorites and I enjoy listening to him everyday.

Gratitude Journal.

Everyday take the time to write down at least one thing you are grateful for.  You will be amazed on how great this make you feel, how thing really aren’t that bad, how blessed we really are and how much we have to be grateful for.  We are all blessed to wake up everyday with a roof over our heads, a bed to sleep in, clothes on our back, money in our pockets and food in our house.  Never take anything for granted, count your blessings and write down what you are grateful for.

Let us start to take the necessary steps to improve our lives.  The time is now, don’t wait, don’t delay, take action and start taking control over your life.  The path to greatness is a long, winding and bumpy one but it is worth it once you get there.

 

I Workout

I workout…..

Because I can

Because I am able to

Because I enjoy the challenge

Because it is my therapy

Because it is my stress relief

Because I want to be strong

Because I want to live longer

Because I want to be disease free

Because the weights do not judge me

Because I enjoy the freedom

Because I want to be active and able to do anything

Because I want to set a good example for my children

Because I love the feeling afterwards

Because I love to sweat

Because it makes my body feel better

Because it is good for my brain

Because it is a triumph over laziness

Because I love seeing my body change

Because I enjoy the battle

Because I choose to

Because I am a warrior

Because I can

 

 

What’s Your Workout Plan?

It is Monday and it is time to start the week off right by getting in that very important and always needed workout.  When you roll into the gym, what is your plan of attack?  Do you do some cardio first before hitting the weights?  Do you do some light stretches and hit up the machines?  Or since it being Monday, do you go right to the first available bench and start banging out your bench press routine?  What is your plan of attack when you workout?  Do you even have a plan or do you just ‘play it by ear’?  In order to get the most out of your exercise routine it is best to have a plan of attack.  Now everybody’s plan is going to differ slightly due to different goals, but irregardless everyone should have a plan.  What is it you are after?  What are the goals you are working towards?  Is it weight loss, muscular strength, muscle hypertrophy or just general fitness?  Establishing your goals will help you establish your plan and what you need to do in order to get the results you are after.

My plan right now is to get stronger on several of the big lifts like: squat, deadlift, weighted pull ups, overhead press and dumbbell bench press.  My plan for doing this is lifting 3 days a week and targeting specifically those lifts.  The only way to get stronger at those lifts is to perform those lifts(I know it sounds crazy).  Even with my plan, I have a plan inside my plan and that is the way I design my workout and the order in which I perform those movements.  I believe every great workout starts with a pretty good warm up session.  Your warm up should be part of your workout and your workout should be your warm up.

My warm up usually consists of: push ups, pull ups, overhead squat, mini-band walks, 1 leg reaches, side lunges, bridges, marching bridges, bird dogs, Turkish get-ups, farmers carry, suit case carry, overhead carry, chops and lifts.

After all that, my body is ready to begin the meat and potatoes portion of the workout.  Now I strongly believe every workout can strongly benefit by starting with a big lower body lift like squat, deadlift, snatches or cleans.  Performing these first is best because you are fresh, have the most energy and they recruit the most muscles.  Start with a warm up set and then start to get into your routine.  Good rep schemes I really like to use are: 3 sets of 8, 3 sets of 5, 5  sets of 5 and 5 sets of 3.  The rep scheme depends on how you are feeling and what you are trying to accomplish.  If you are looking to put on some size then 3 sets of 8 is great and if you are just looking to get stronger then 3 or 5 sets of 5 is perfect.  Once I am done completing all my sets on that lift, I shift to an upper body to lower body superset.  Then I go into a 3 exercise set circuit and into a 4 exercise circuit.  Always focusing on strength and trying to get the major movements in.

An example of this is my workout today:

Straight Bar Deadlift: 225lbs (5 x 3)

Straight Bar Overhead Press 95, 105, 115 lbs(3 x 5) / Back Squat 95,105,115 (3 x 10)

Seated Cable Row 160, 170, 175 (3 x 8), Incline Chest Press 60, 65, 70 (3 x 8), 1 leg squats off the box (3 x 8)

Kettlebell Squat Clean & Press 30, 40, 40 (3 x5), Double Kettlebell Swings, 30,40,40 (3 x 10), TRX Row (3 x 15), Rotational Sand Bag Back lunges 40, 50,50 (3 x 20)

Cardio Finisher: 3 rounds of 100 meters on the rower for time

If you look at the example you will see, I covered pretty much all of the basics lifts and movements and not a lot of filler work in between.  I would perform each circuit all the way through before taking a rest.  Your workouts can be more effective and productive too if you have a plan.  Start it out with a big lift and then add in all of the other movements like push, pull, press, squat and lunge.  Try to think of ways to move around a little more at the gym and different ways to do mini circuits.  You will get more out of your workout in a lot less time. And always remember to do a cardio finisher, something you can go all out in and get your heart rate up fast such as: sprints, rower, battle ropes, sled, kettlebell swings.  Whatever you want as long as it does the job.

Have a fantastic Monday everyone.  Remember to go out there and do something great!

 

 

Updated Goals

 

 

deadlift

We all have goals in our lives, whether it be in the classroom, at work or at the gym.  Goals keep us motivated, keep us focused, fuels the fire and gives us a target to shoot for.  We should always have something to shoot for to strive for to help us get to where we want to be in life.  There is no need to settle for complacency, always keep striving for excellence and being as successful as you can.  What are your goals in the gym right now?  What are you training for?  Are you training to lose weight?  If so, how much weight and when do you want to lose it by?  Are you training to build muscle or get stronger on a specific lift?  Then what are you doing about it and how much stronger do you want to get?  Goals need to be as specific as possible.  The details and the dates are extremely important motivators which help you both consciously and subconsciously.  Instead of saying I want to lose weight, try saying I want to lose 10 lbs by December 31, 2015.  Write your goals down on a piece of paper and put them somewhere you can read them everyday because this will help you achieve them.  You will continue to make the necessary choices to get you one step closer to your goals.  I have been taking some time off with this blog and heavy lifting and now I feel it is time to set some goals and go after them.  I am still going through the process of my lifelong goal of becoming a firefighter and I am putting a lot of time and energy into that and will continue until I succeed.

In the meantime, here are my lifting goals I will try to achieve by the end of the year:

  • Trapbar Deadlift: 405lbs
  • Straight Bar Deadlift: 315lbs
  • 100lb Chin Ups: 10 reps
  • Overhead Press Body Weight: 170lbs
  • Dumbbell Bench Press 100lbs: 10 reps
  • Body Weight Back Squat (170 lbs): 20 reps
  • Weighted Sled Push/Pull: 600 lbs
  • 100 meters on the rower: sub 17 seconds

Set your goals high and go after them.  Train hard, do your best, give it all you got and don’t worry if you fail.  Some of these may be to easy and I will adjust accordingly and super-succeed my expectations and some will be painfully difficult.  Either way I am up for the challenge.  Go out there and do something great!

Use What You Got

My daughter Hartley pushing an ab wheel while wearing a mini band as a belt

My daughter Hartley pushing an ab wheel while wearing a mini band as a belt

 

If you are remotely into fitness, which assuming most of you who read this blog are, then chances are you have some old exercise equipment lying around your house.  It may be buried in the basement, in the back of your closet, somewhere in your garage or perhaps it is used as the world’s most expensive clothes hanger.   Whatever the case may be, take inventory of what you have and what you have available to you and chances are you do not have to go very far to get in a great workout.  Maybe you have an old jump rope somewhere, a pull up bar, a few sets of old dumbbells, a mini trampoline, a pogo stick, an ab cruncher, an old treadmill or Aerodyne bike(like my dad has) or even a thigh master, whatever it is gather it together and see what you can use to get some work done.  Sometimes the biggest limit to our workouts is imagination.  If we could find ways to use what we have then we would all get great workouts in all the time and would not be stressed for time.  My workouts consist of about 20 minutes in my back yard using the limited amount of equipment I have.

Now, I am a trainer and I have collected a few items over the years but mostly the things I believe are extremely valuable, universal and ideal.  My list of equipment consists of:

  • 35lb Kettlebell
  • 53lb Kettlebell
  • 5 lb dumbbells
  • 8lb dumbbells
  • Green, Red and Blue Mini Bands
  • Orange JC Band
  • Yellow JC Band
  • Ab Wheel
  • Ab Wheel for your feet
  • Jump Rope
  • TRX
  • Rings
  • 12lb Body Bar
  • Push Up Bars

Like I said before, we should also use whatever we have in our surrounding areas and environments.  You live close to a park or big hill? Great, think about ways to incorporate those into your workouts.  Parks are great for monkey bars, pull ups, swings and even just a bench or picnic table.  And don’t even get me started on the benefits of hill sprints, yes they are hard and yes they punishing but my God are they good for you and worth it.  Have stairs at home?  What about some step ups or push ups or bear crawls up and down your steps.  I am fortunate enough to live right around the corner from a park and I am always messing around at it when playing with my kids.  I probably bang out at least 30 or so pull ups every time I am there.  Fitness and exercise can be right under your nose if we just open our eyes to see what is available.  Don’t be afraid of looking foolish or silly or what others may think of you.  Just move your body the best you can because our body is by far the best machine ever created.

Here is a list of things around me I use in my workouts as well:

  • 2 foot high log stumps
  • Mini tramp
  • Pogo Stick
  • Golf Club
  • Grass
  • Longboard Skateboard

My workouts currently are in a maintenance phase.  I am trying to maintain what I have and continue being as fit and active as I can.  I do not have access to a gym and I do not like to do heavy lifting in the summer time anyways, so my workouts are mostly body weight, circuit style training.  My circuits consists of:

  • Jumps on the log, step ups on the log, squat rows with the band, push ups off the push up bars and recover with jumps on the mini trampoline for about a minute
  • Kettlebell swings, kettlebell squats, squat push with the band, lunge stance alternating pulls with band, side lunges, band rotations and recover with chipping 10 golf balls
  • 1 leg jumps on the logs, 1 arm band punch, 1 arm band row, alternating hand kettlebell swings, lunge jumps, burpees and finish with mountain climbers

Generally I try to never repeat the same circuit or exercise and always keep my body moving.  If I did push ups last time, I may do push ups with rotation the next time.  If I did double arm row one time, I will do alternating the next, if I did squat push then I will do lunge push.  Variety makes a world of difference on even the simplest exercises.  Finding ways to mix it up and keep it fresh makes the workout go by faster and is more enjoyable because you are not dreading the same circuit again and again.

Take inventory of what you have around and find creative ways to incorporate them into a workout, chances are you have more than you need right at your disposal.

“If you give a half assed effort, half the time, you end with a quarter of the results.”

 

 

Career Change

After over 10 years in the fitness industry, I have recently decided to switch careers from a personal trainer to a firefighter.  Please let me explain.  I have been passionately devoted to fitness ever since I got turned onto it back when I was a teenager around 13 or 14.  Fitness has played a key role in my life, my journey, my athletics and my career and I owe a lot to the health and fitness world.  It has been quite a journey of 10 plus years and I have evolved quite a bit since my first personal training job.  I enjoy helping others and caring for others and watching them succeed and achieve their goals with my help in their exercise program.  There is no greater feeling then knowing you helped someone, somehow and in someway whether it being losing weight, moving better, feeling better, having more energy or being out of pain.  Helping others is the biggest reward there is with this job.  However, working as a personal trainer is and can be a grind.  We are constantly battling hours, switching clients around and watching our paychecks take big hits when several of our clients decide to go vacation at the same time, which is usually the case.  As much as I love this industry, it dawned on me one day: Do I really want to be doing this for the next 20 plus year?  Do I want to be grinding it out and helping others workout in the gym when I am 55- 60 years of age?  Always worrying about clients, hours and a steady paycheck, I think not.  I am not fulling giving up on fitness either, I do believe I will always be training and finding those special clients to train as well.

When I moved here to South Carolina, I started talking to a lot of the firefighters at the gym I worked at, gathering as much information as I could and asking as much questions that I could think of.  I never really planned in my life to become a firefighter but quite honestly I think it is extremely fitting for me.  I am extremely into fitness and health, I was a lifeguard for 3 years, I have been doing high diving shows climbing ladders 80 feet in the air, I love helping other people and I want to be able to give back to my community.  I have been filling out applications, talking to Captains and getting information on the fire academy and what are my best steps to take to start on this journey.  I know the journey is not going to be easy and it is going to be tough at times but I am a true warrior and will not stop until I accomplish my goal.  At first I was hesitant to even post this and tell this story to all of you but I am firm believer in the law of attraction and making your goals known to all in order to help you achieve your destiny.  If you throw it out to the universe, the universe make things happen, open up doors for you and throw it back to you.  I am being as patient as I can for I know good things will come to those who wait.

I am aware it is a higher risk job and I am aware it has life threatening capabilities but you know what, so does driving your car down the highway.  I look into the positives more of what the job has to offer like helping others, caring for others, a steady paycheck and flexible hours.  The way the shift works as a firefighter (as in 24 hours on and 48 hours off) gives me more time to spend with my precious little girls before they get older and start school.  I am excited to start this new chapter in my life and will keep you all posted and updated as I continue on this journey.  Wish me the best of luck.

My Favorite Maxims Continued

Continuing the list from coach John Wooden:

 

Do not permit what you cannot do to interfere with what you can do.

Be more concerned with your character than with your reputation.  Character is what you really are; reputation is merely what you are perceived to be.

Love is the greatest of all words in our language.

Much can be accomplished by teamwork when no one is concerned about who gets credit.

Never make excuses.  Your friends don’t need them and you foes won’t believe them.

Never be disagreeable just because you disagree.

Be slow to criticize and quick to commend.

Be more concerned with what you can do for others than what others can do for you.  You’ll be surprised at the results.

The more concerned we become over the things we can’t control, the less we will do with the things we can control.

Don’t permit fear of failure to prevent effort.  We are all imperfect and will fail on occasions, but fear of failure is the greatest failure of all.

Being average means you are as close to the bottom as you are to the top.

The time to make friends is before you need them.

We are many, but are we much?

Nothing can give you greater joy than doing something for another.

Material things are not gifts but apologies for gifts.  The only true gift is a portion of thyself. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

You cannot live a perfect day without doing something for another without thought of something in return.

Do not mistake activity for achievement.

You can do more good by being good than any other way.

Forget favors given; remember those received.

Make each day your masterpiece.

Make friendship a fine art.

Treat all people with dignity and respect.

Acquire peace of mind by making the effort to become the best of which you are capable.