Breaking down the definition of ‘busy’ and how it impacts your health

Just over a week ago I wrote an article about excuse making when it comes to your individual health (you can read the article HERE). The No. 1 excuse people make when it comes to not exercising, or just taking care of their overall health, is time.

There simply isn’t enough time!

It’s funny to me when I think about it, considering we all are allotted the same 24 hours a day, yet some make time, while others make excuses. But back to the task at hand, after thinking back on my other article I wondered what ‘busy’ was for everyone. Let’s be honest, it can take all different shapes, sizes and forms.

For instance, some people who are married, have one child and a full-time job consider themselves to be the busiest people on the planet. Not to suggest you aren’t busy, but is someone who has more children and works longer hours considered busier?

Put these two aforementioned people in a room together and you would hear a litany of reasons why one is busier than the other.

What spawned these thoughts were when I overheard a co-worker talking about her two children are the main reasons why she is too busy to exercise like she wants. Of course, my defense mechanism kicked in and I started thinking about my own life.

I’m married, essentially hold two full-time jobs, have four kids (and a fifth on the way) and have a 45-minute commute one way to work. On top of all that, until this year I was also a head coach in the spring sports season.

And I still found time to workout on schedule.

But when I put my own arrogance and pride aside, I seriously pondered what being busy really was. I’m busy, but I guarantee there is someone out there who is doing what I do, without a significant other around to help, and probably working longer hours. Now that is busy.

Whether you are a single mom working several jobs, or a family man just trying to make ends meet, the important thing here is to always make time for yourself. The tricky part of this equation is to figure out what time that actually is.

After the birth of our first two children, I struggled getting to the gym. I had always worked out in the afternoon, dropped my gym membership, and thought I could just do some stuff at home to stay fit.

Wrong. It didn’t work.

It wasn’t long before I had exhausted my options at home, maxing out on the 45-pound dumbbells I had at the house. I had to find a solution, and when we moved into a new home closer to the gym, I found my answer.

I had to start going to the gym in the mornings.

My usual workout time throughout college, and after, was the afternoon. I enjoyed the fact I was up and would be capping off my work day with a strong workout. I had attempted to workout in the morning before, but the workouts were dull and had me yawning throughout.

But at this point I didn’t have an option. After work I was either heading to practice, or needed to get kids from daycare. Early morning workouts were the only way for me to be able to get my workouts in without anything getting in the way. I have to be honest, it was tough at first. Waking up at 5:00am to head to the gym took time, but after a few months my workouts were getting better and better. Now working out in the morning is my preferred time to train. If I workout after 9:00am I find myself lacking the usual motivation I possess in the early morning hours.

This isn’t to suggest everyone reading this should be working out in the wee hours of the morning like me, but you have to find what works for you. Maybe you have to go to the gym after the kids go to bed, or you have to get a workout in during your lunch hour?

Just remember…we all get the same 24 hours. Some make time, while others make excuses. We are all busy in our own way, but everyone can make time to get healthier and put themselves first, for once.

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Gym Etiquette 101: Please, stop staring

It has been a while since I’ve done an article in my Gym Etiquette series, but a recent workout had my creative juices flowing in this regard.

Today’s topic: STARING!

The gym is a tough place for a lot of people. Good looking men and women, not wearing a lot of clothing, exercising and showing off ‘the goods’ at every turn. However, although the woman wearing a sports bra and tiny spandex shorts might want to draw the attention of the opposite sex, it doesn’t mean she wants you to stare at her when she is doing bent over rows in the corner of the weight room.

The same can be said about men. The guys who sport a shirt which resembles a spaghetti strap shirt more than a t-shirt are wanting to draw your attention, but not the stares which seem to dig deep into your soul.

Temptation is real in life, and this includes in the gym. We’ve all been there, but for my best advice on this topic I always reference one of my favorite TV shows of all time – Seinfeld.

When referring to someone staring, the general rule of thumb is to treat it like staring at the sun. You can glance, but staring isn’t good for you.

While this was said in pure comedy, the general theme is true in real life. We all look around at others in the gym, but staring might make people feel awkward while they workout, and no one should feel that way.

Just remember why you are in the gym. You are there to get a workout in, and to improve your physical health, not to take mental snap shots of the attractive people in the gym. Focus on the task at hand, keep your head, and mind, to the grindstone and bust your butt – without staring at other people’s derriere’s.

You don’t want to be “that guy”…

Seriously, just stop with the excuses as to why you aren’t in the best shape possible

I have been in the fitness game for a long time now. Whether as a personal trainer, fitness enthusiast or a Physical Education teacher, you hear a lot of the same old talk when it comes to reasons why people aren’t in shape.

Physical injuries aside, I feel as if I’ve heard every excuse in the book. For every excuse, there is a countering reason why you should be fitter than you currently are.

Let’s go ahead and do this regular song-and-dance…

“I just don’t have time to get to the gym.”

You don’t have time? I find that hard to believe. When you get home from work, is it necessary to binge watch a Netflix series? You have responsibilities after work/school? You know there are these things called alarm clocks which will wake you up early. Yes, it may require you to actually go to bed earlier, but getting your workout done before your day even starts is a way to ensure you never miss a workout session. This is what I do, and it does take time to get adjusted to those early morning workouts, but once you become accustomed, it is just another part of your day.

“I don’t have the money for a membership.”

Who said you need to go to the gym? Being physically fit doesn’t require a gym. Sure, in the winter months it is nice to get inside when it is ridiculously cold, but you can get some awesome workouts in your home and/or outside.

“Healthy food costs too much money.”

Buying strictly organic, Non-GMO, foods certainly are more expensive, but if you budget your money wisely, you will be surprised at money which frees up. For instance, rather than buying those two cases of beer a month, or multiple bottles of wine, you will be able to buy more quality foods. Do you really need to buy three lattes a week? Looking at your food purchases as what you want, and what you need, will help you prioritize appropriately.

“I don’t know what I’m doing.”

In this information age, I can’t believe people still use this excuse. Go to YouTube, type in “Beginner Workout” and you will see thousands of options. Need a workout for This excuse has lost validity years ago.

“My age is holding me back.”

Every month you see videos of people well past the age of 50 who are in the best shape of their lives. Women who are over 70 performing cross fit exercises. Some of these phenomenal human beings didn’t even start working out regularly until after the age of 40. So, if you are using your age as a crutch, realize it is never too late to get yourself moving and on the right track to better health.

“Going by myself is not something I am interested in.”

So, you don’t want to workout by yourself? There are multiple easy fixes for this. The easiest fix is to find a friend, coworker or relative who also wants to go to the gym and start working out together. Having similar fitness goals is important, but not necessary. Working out with someone is a great way to hold yourself accountable. Don’t know someone who works out? Try a personal trainer. Most gyms have trainers who aren’t ridiculously expensive, and knowing a trainer you paid for is waiting for you will certainly hold you accountable, and give you a great workout when you get there. Just do your homework when getting a trainer, they aren’t all good at what they do.

There are more excuses, trust me, but the reality of the situation is there is no reason why someone shouldn’t be doing everything under their power to get healthy and fit. Instead of thinking of excuses why you can’t, start to think about reasons, and ways, you can. Change your mindset and change your life…it is never too late.

What in the hell is a New Year’s Resolution?

After a Fall/Winter hiatus, I’m back and ready to spit some more knowledge about fitness, health and the like. While I’ve been away from the website, I haven’t been away from the gym and training, and if you haven’t noticed — it is now 2018.

I’m sure you all realize this, but in the fitness industry the start of a new year is kinda a big deal. Gym membership sales sky rocket, personal trainers are never busier and the overall gym experience becomes more congested. This is the norm, and what also is the norm are the moronic New Year’s Resolutions everyone makes.

“After the new year I am going to buckle down and start a diet!”

“Back to the gym…new year, new you!”

“Time to get serious…I’m starting the _____ diet on January 1!”

I’ve heard them all, and I have come to a conclusion: They are all awful.

Why? No, not because people want to get back in shape, but because people who let themselves get out of shape rarely are successful finding their way back on a regular basis.

This is why I never even understood why people make fitness goals for their resolutions. Being physically, spiritually and emotionally fit is not a new year thing, but a lifetime thing.

Let me give you an example.

Several family members I know decided years ago they were going to start the South Beach Diet. Of all the fad diets out there, the South Beach Diet isn’t the worst, notice I didn’t say it is good, but it certainly has its flaws. I watched as these family members dropped weight, looked and felt great, only to gain all of their lost weight back by the end of the year.

Why? Because the South Beat Diet doesn’t set you up for success. It sets you up for moderate-to-rapid weight loss, and when you finish the schedule it pats you on the back and says, “Good Luck!” (It doesn’t actually say that, but you get the point.)

To be successful when it comes to fitness, you have to be willing to make lifestyle changes, and these can be drastic. So drastic many aren’t willing to make the necessary changes, and fall flat on their faces year after year.

If you are someone who drinks regularly, good luck staying on track after you turn 30. Sure, in college you might have been able to drink 30 Keystone Lights and be buzzing around campus like a humming bird the next day, but when your body starts to slow down, you are the one who has to push harder. You have to be more meticulous with what you consume, how you train and how you take care of your overall health.

So, to bring this full circle: What in the hell is a New Year’s Resolution? I finally found the answer…it is a blatant lie to yourself. Rather than state resolutions, try lifestyle goals. Stop drinking alcohol or eating so much sugar in your diet. Start moving more, even if it is just going for a walk. Change your life…not just your new year.

Trust me, you won’t regret it.

Gym Etiquette 101: Please keep your shoes on…

For those who don’t know, when Arnold Schwarzenegger was in his prime, and also ridiculously juiced out of his mind, he often did several exercises barefoot in the gym. Squats and deadlifts were two of those exercises he chose to go sans footwear, and the trend has continued into 2017.

It seems almost like a daily ritual I see some guy walking around the gym in his socks. I, like many in the gym, are wondering where in the heck this guy’s shoes are. As I watch where he goes, I see him head to the squat rack where he is blasting out a one rep max of 185-pounds, and thank goodness he was barefoot to fully engage all those tiny muscles in his feet and ankles.

While Arnold swore by squatting and deadlifting barefoot, it doesn’t mean this has to occur in today’s gyms. At Arnold’s time, there was very few choices in footwear. Chuck Taylors, which actually have the flat sole many lifters long for, were popular, but many just chose to ditch those for nothing. In today’s day and age, there are a ridiculous number of training shoes which can help give people the feel they want without the the risk of not wearing anything on their feet in the gym.

You might be reading this wondering just why it is such a big deal if someone wears just socks in the gym?

First, the gym floor is a disgusting place. People sweat and track dirt all over the gym. That is hardly a place you would want to even wear just socks, let alone bare feet, something I’ve seen only once in my time pumping iron.

Second, shoes provide some, albeit little, protection for your feet. Ever witness someone drop a 25-pound plate on their toe from chest height? I have, and it shattered their big toe, while were wearing shoes. Most injuries in the gym are to the fingers and toes, so why increase the risk of injuring a toe and putting yourself out of the gym for the long term as the appendage heals?

Lastly, no one, and I mean no one, wants to be around someone without their shoes on while they workout. If you are working hard, and sweating, your shoes and socks will likely be producing a rather pungent smell. One which will only deter others from getting the workout they want at the same time anywhere close to your repulsive feet.

If you see someone in your gym participating in this practice, you can handle it a couple of ways. You could politely ask them to put their shoes on, you could ignore it and move somewhere else in the gym or you could notify the staff and see if they could post a sign, or talk to the person, about how hygiene is the utmost importance in a public facility.

Either way, save the barefoot working out to if you are on a beach, or…well, really that is the only place you should be working out barefoot unless you are taking yoga. Otherwise, keep your damn shoes on!!

A picture is worth a thousand words, and sometimes those aren’t good

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

Such simple words which have been uttered a ridiculous amount of times since parents have tried to help young children realize the simple reality that what other people think doesn’t mean more than how they feel about themselves.

However, sometimes how we feel about ourselves is often the worst opinion of them all.

Whenever any of us start on a fitness quest, we are our harshest critics, hands down. We will meticulously realize whether we have lost, gained or maintained our weight, and will come down with a swift gavel as we judge just how we look in the mirror.

Come to think of it, the aforementioned quote about beauty being in the eye of the beholder is certainly true, and more accurate than you may know. The biggest difference? We are the beholder, and often see every minor issue with our bodies, rather than the bigger picture and how far we’ve come.

Let me deliver an analogy which I feel will help drive home my point…

I am a golfer. I love golf, and have been golfing since my father taught me to play when I was about seven years old. Golf didn’t always come easy, but I have worked at it and am now a single-digit handicap. In other words, I’m above average, but far from elite. However, every time I go out on the golf course, I mentally want to shoot the best round of my life. Not a bad goal, but rarely do I achieve this goal. Whenever I am frustrated, I realize how the average golfer shoots in the 100s, and it makes me realize my consistent scores in the high 70s are pretty darn good, but it doesn’t stop me from the frustration and anger which accompany my golf game.

The same can be said about anyone who is striving for something from a fitness standpoint.

From a personal standpoint, I realize I am in pretty good shape. Above average, but certainly not elite. I realize there are a lot of people who would kill to have the body I have, but that doesn’t stop me from looking in the mirror wondering what I need to do to have my abs pop more, what exercises I can do to help carve out my shoulders more or what dietary changes I can make to improve my overall appearance.

Before the readers of this article think I have some type of body image disorder, I would suggest almost everyone has some type of body image disorder, it is just how you deal with it which truly tells the tale. Some force themselves to stop eating, or to make themselves be sick, while I am someone who gets a sort of hyper focus with how I treat my body.

It is all about the quest for perfection. How you define perfection can determine how you handle the success, or lack thereof, of your fitness goals. Some people just want to drop some weight and feel better about themselves. Others will want to be perfect. Maybe that is dropping some weight, or maybe that is really focusing on your physique. It changes for everyone.

The one thing people need to realize is sometimes what we see in the mirror is anything but satisfactory. Reminds me of a poem I once read:

I look in the mirror and what do I see ?
I see my reflection look back at me,
Sad expression on the face,
WHO IS THIS ?
Who looks at me ?
It’s not the face it used to be,
I don’t know this person.

If you feel this way, and you have yet to do anything about it, realize it is never too late. You can always change your lifestyle to help change your life. If you are someone who has tried, and failed, and tried, and failed at getting fit, don’t quit. Don’t give up! There is so much more you can do to attain those goals you have set for yourself.

You may look in the mirror, or at pictures of you, in absolute disgust, but realize you are still in control of your life. There are steps in place to help you get there in a safe, and quick fashion.

My wife and I are currently on a ‘Whole 30’ nutrition plan which is all about eliminating negative foods from your diet as you get back to basics. There are no cutting carbs, or eliminating entire food groups in your diet, but instead just eating whole foods again. You do this for 30 days, and then you can start to re-introduce other foods as you please.

Is it easy? Heck no it isn’t easy! But I’ve always felt anything worth having will take hard work. Your physique, or fitness goals, are no different.

So, the next time you look at a picture, or in the mirror, instead of noticing all of the flaws, look at some of the positives. Maybe that pair of jeans which hadn’t fit for months finally fit again. Maybe you start to see the outline of your abs. Either way, success is success. I realize I need to do this in my own life as well, and if we all just take a more positive outlook on out fitness goals, we will start to see more positive results on a daily, weekly and monthly basis!

Join the revolution today!

A letter to my future self

Future Jeff,

You may be reading this thinking things are a little backwards. After all, people typically write letters to their past selves, memos of how they wish they would have done this, or done that, but I thought it was more appropriate to speak to my future self. You know, considering the future is ahead of me, and not in the rear view mirror.

Nonetheless, I want you to know what I’m doing now, this very day, to make your life better in a lot of ways.

First, I am working my tail off to help you function better. Yes, from a physical standpoint. When I turned 30 I realized my focus should turn from working out for my personal self, into I should work out to help better my quality of life today, and down the road. I truly hope you are reading this and are enjoying a life which has no physical boundaries. If not, then you must have messed up somewhere along the line! I’m kidding.

In the gym, and with this physical body, is not the only area where I am working hard. Depending on when you read this, my teaching career, although strenuous at times, has been one which has led me to a great deal of fulfillment. Sure, there are obvious pitfalls with such a vocation, but the job has done more than just pay the bills, it has given you a chance to be a huge part in many people’s lives.

On top of that, the ability to support your family has always been paramount. At this stage, I’ve done a lot just to keep things copacetic from a financial situation. Working full-time as a teacher, managing a major sports website, and even cutting grass on the sides…all to provide. Hopefully as you read this letter, the appreciation is evident from the family, and kids, for the work I’ve done all these years — for them. Hard work pays off, and hopefully my hard work now has allowed you to relax more than I am currently.

Speaking of kids, the four children you have should be treasured, if they aren’t currently being appreciated. No, it isn’t always easy, but each one of those kids has been their own joy and pleasure in your life. At this point, they are likely grown, but whenever things get rough, or you get frustrated, just remember those days when they were little. When their innocence and wonder dominated any bad attitude or smart remarks you could possibly experience. You come from a family of stubbornness, but don’t be that way with your children. Be quick to forgive and forget, but more importantly, always be willing to show your love to all of those four children, both publicly and privately.

Children are treasures which should be enjoyed. Don’t wait too long to realize just how precious and special they are. Time goes by way too fast.

Now for that ring on your left hand. And by that, I mean your wife Nicole. Regardless of which stage of life you are reading this, please understand just how important she is in your life. She is the rock you have built your house on, and without that rock the house could have been swept away years ago.

Even at 34, the age which this article is being written, don’t ever forget what you’ve been through together. The key word there is together. You’ve experienced death, divorce, unbelievably difficult medical emergencies, foreclosures, as well as purchases and selling of property, all of which you can put into the giant bag of “been there done that”. It hasn’t always been easy, but would you have had it any other way? I realized long ago it were these trials and tribulations which brought us closer together, not further apart. Keep that in mind if the waters get rough. Cling to each other to stay afloat, not drift away from one another.

In summation, I hope I have done my part, at this time, to set you up for success. Success is a word which often times has extremely rigid borders and boundaries. For instance, success in sports is usually only measured by whether you win or lose, but in this case, it is about so much more. It is about building a life. Not just a life worth living, but a life to be proud of. I know I am proud right now, and you should be proud too, if by chance you forgot how good you have it somewhere down the road.

Lastly, and certainly not least, never forget how good God is. He is the one who blessed you with that wife. He is the one who gave you those four beautiful, albeit ornery, children. And He is the one who breathed life into your body. Until that breathe leaves you, never forget all we have, and all we have built, is because of, and to honor, Him.

All the best,

34-year-old Jeff