Thursday, March 29, 2007

Short-term Mentality

True story.

I was teaching a client the benefits of a proper eating plan (frequent meals, proper food choices, portion control, etc.) and she asked me how long she would need to eat this way.

She obviously doesn't get it yet, but she's new the whole fitness thing.

I can't blame her.

The media where most folks get their information is filled with "short-term mentality."

Short-term mentality is the latest Hollywood actress-based diet, an article in a women's magazine touting a quick way to lose X-number of pounds in 4 weeks, or a TV news program announcing the latest scientific finding that some isolated behavior impacts weight loss.

It's all based on the short-term. Do this one thing and all your weight loss worries go out the door.

Of course, we know better.

It's about making relatively permanent changes in your lifestyle FOREVER, that makes the difference.

Don't worry no one expects you to be perfect with your eating and exercise program. Training and nutrition expert Dr. John Berardi states that we need to be at our best on all levels for about 90% of the time.

If you have 42 eating opportunities per week (6 meals x 7 days), getting 38 of them correct will get you where you want to be.

If you have 16 workouts scheduled in a month, if you miss 1 or 2, it most likely won't set you back. (By the way, that doesn't give you permission to intentionally miss them)

You only need an "A-" to pass, but if you strive for an A+. Your results are guaranteed.


P.S. The eating component of a fitness program tends to be the most challenging part when making such a lifestyle adjustment. To make is easier, achieve your goals, and still eat delicious and nutritious food, I recommend that you check out Dr. John Berardi's Precision Nutrition.

Monday, March 26, 2007

What are you reading...for?

"A dimwitted waffle house waitress came up to my table, saw me reading a book, and asked, "What are you reading for?" Not "what are you reading?", but "what are you reading for?"

"Well, I read for a lot of reasons, but one of them is so I don't end up a fucking waffle waitress."

Bill Hicks

You are the same today as you’ll be in five years except for two things: the people you meet and the books you read."

Charles "Tremendous" Jones

"All of the books that we will ever need to make us as rich, as healthy, as happy, as powerful, as sophisticated and as successful as we want to be have already been written.

"People from all walks of life, people with some of the most incredible life experiences, people that have gone from pennies to fortune and from failure to success have taken the time to write down their experiences so that we might share in their wealth of knowledge. They have offered their wisdom and experience so that we can be inspired by it and instructed by it, and so that we can amend our philosophy by it. Their contributions enable us to reset our sail based upon their experiences. They have handed us the gift of their insights so that we can change our plans, if need be, in order to avoid their errors. We can rearrange our lives based on their wise advice.

"All of the insights that we might ever need have already been captured by others in books. The important question is this: In the last ninety days, with this treasure of information that could change our lives, our fortunes, our relationships, our health, our children and our careers for the better, how many books have we read?

"Why do we neglect to read the books that can change our lives? Why do we complain but remain the same? Why do so many of us curse the effect but nourish the cause? How do we explain the fact that only three percent of our entire national population possess a library card—a card that would give us access to all of the answers to success and happiness we could ever want? Those who wish for the better life cannot permit themselves to miss the books that could have a major impact on how their lives turn out. The book they miss will not help!

"And the issue is not that books are too expensive! If a person concludes that the price of buying the book is too great, wait until he must pay the price for not buying it. Wait until he receives the bill for continued and prolonged ignorance.

"There is very little difference between someone who cannot read and someone who will not read. The result of either is ignorance. Those who are serious seekers of personal development must remove the self-imposed limitations they have placed on their reading skills and their reading habits. There are a multitude of classes being taught on how to be a good reader and there are thousands of books on the shelves of the public libraries just waiting to be read. Reading is essential for those who seek to rise above the ordinary. We must not permit anything to stand between us and the book that could change our lives.

"A little reading each day will result in a wealth of valuable information in a very short period of time. But if we fail to set aside the time, if we fail to pick up the book, if we fail to exercise the discipline, then ignorance will quickly move in to fill the void.
Those who seek a better life must first become a better person. They must continually seek after self- mastery for the purpose of developing a balanced philosophy of life, and then live in accordance with the dictates of that philosophy. The habit of reading is a major stepping stone in the development of a sound philosophical foundation. And in my opinion it is one of the fundamentals required for the attainment of success and happiness."

Jim Rohn


Thursday, March 22, 2007

You NEED to Listen to this

My good friend Alwyn Cosgrove was interviewed by Dax Moy recently.

Dax is giving it away for free.

There are some resources that are "must haves" and this recording is a MUST listen.

It will change your perspective of the fitness profession and make you better at whatever you do whether you are in the fitness profession or not.


Change Your Identity

Most people make choices based on how they identify themselves.

Many times these decisions are not congruent with their goals or desires.

For instance...I'm a smoker, but I want to quit (not me, but the figurative guy).

A smoker who wants to quit smoking but still identifies himself as a smoker will not be able to quit. His decisions are based on the fact that he is a smoker therefore he will always have the desire to smoke. Sure, he may be able to not smoke for a while, but because he sees himself as a smoker, he will smoke again.

The same goes for achieving your fitness goals.

Change your identity and become that person you desire to be.

Make all your behavioral decisions that influence your fitness goals based on the fact that you are a certain type of athlete or fitness enthusiast.

When faced with food choices, what choices do I make to support my goals?
How often should I train to achieve my goals or prepare for my sport?
What type of training should I be doing?

Answer every question based on your "new" identity.

Become who you want to be.


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Isaac Newton, Certified Personal Trainer

“If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.”

Isaac Newton (among many others)

I would hazard to guess that I’ve had few, if any, original thoughts (I don’t even think that that statement is original).

I therefore give credit to all that came before me for any intellect and/or creativity that I may demonstrate to those who came before me in my chosen fields of interest and, well, life in general.

Having parents, mentors, and reading and listening to countless others probably saved me years of mistakes and regrets (I still had to touch the hot stove to see if it really would burn my hand) even though many times I decided that I was smarter than those before me.

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a “How to/Success” manual for everything?

What if you could just speak directly to those who were already doing what you’d like to do or were already at the top of the field?

You would never make the same mistakes that someone else made. You’d do things right the first time. You’d be more successful in a shorter time period than everyone else.

That’s what Nate Green figured out.

So he started asking successful trainers questions. He learned and he applied.

The result?

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

Nate interviewed some of the top names in the fitness field (and me too) and recorded them so up-and-coming trainers like himself can benefit from the trials and mistakes and successes of those who came before him.

Interviewees include:

Ryan Lee
Jim Labadie
Alwyn Cosgrove
Mike Boyle
Lou Schuler
Susan Hill
Pat Rigsby
Nick Berry
Craig Ballantyne
Chris Schugart
And myself

I’ve listened to these interviews myself and ended up with about 20 pages of notes. It’s a must for anyone looking to build their business.


P.S. Today’s no muss, no fuss spinach recipe: Spinach Popeye Style

Take a large handful of spinach.
Pack it into a small ball.
Shove it in your mouth, chew, and swallow.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

JP Fitness Summit...Be There!!

A word to the wise, get signed up for the JP Fitness Summit 2007.

Every year this thing keeps getting better, and this year things have taken a quantum leap.

I am honored to be a speaker once again this year, but check out who I get to hang out with in Little Rock:

Alwyn Cosgrove - international martial arts champ, top trainer, and author of Afterburn and The New Rules of Lifting

Robert Dos Remedios - author of Men's Health Power Training and NSCA Strength Coach of the Year

Lou Schuler - Co-author of multiple fitness books with Alwyn Cosgrove, Ian King, Mike Mejia, Jeff Volek, and Adam Campbell

Charles Staley - creator of the EDT training system

Chad Waterbury - author of Muscle Revolution and frequent contributor to

Zig Ziegler - former top collegiate athlete turned biomechanics expert and founder of Motion DNA

Mike Roussell - top nutritionist and frequent contributor to T-nation

Dave Schmitz - physcial therapist, athletic trainer, and flex band training expert

The thing that makes JP's Summit so different is that not only will you get to hear the best of the best provide you with applicable, "use it tomorrow" information. You also get to spend plenty of time in smal groups or even one-on-one time with the presenters. Not to mention, you also get to enjoy the social life in Little Rock (You can sleep when you get home).
You'll be sorry if you don't get to the JP Fitness Summit 2007.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Hot Fakes, Ultra-scam and Chronic Low Back Pain

I've never been a big fan of passive physical agents in the treatment of chronic low back pain. I just don't think they have much to offer (for the record, short of cyrotherapy [ice], I don't think they have much to offer in just about any case. I've done one ultrasound treatment in the last 7 years and only because I was "ordered" to do so.).

Sure a little ice or heat can certainly reduce pain and temporarily increase mobility in the pre or post-exercise period, but as far as making a huge impact in reducing symptoms or increasing function...well, it just doesn't happen.

On the other hand, exercise is typically the "fix".

Oddly enough, aerobic exercise tends to be quite successful in this regard.

In the most recent Physical Therapy journal (Phys Ther. 2007 Mar;87(3):304-12) there was a pilot study that showed just that.

They compared a passive physical agents group (diathermy, ultrasound, electric stimulation, and laser treatments) who did no exercises to an aerobic exercise group. The aerobic exercise group progressively increase exercise time to 50 minutes at up to 85% of their heart rate reserve.

They then compared pre-study scores of subjective pain and disability to post-test score for each group.

Guess what?

The exercise group recorded reduced pain and disability after the 12 weeks, and the control group who just received the passive physical agents didn't change at all. They also reported reduced feelings of depression and anxiety (so much for you think there's a connection between the number of folks on anti-depressants and the ever increasing sedentary lifestyle of Americans??).

A couple things to keep in mind. The subjects who were successful in this study progressively increased the intensity of the exercise. I think this is an important point.

They weren't walking casually. They were eventually running on the treadmill for 50 minutes at a good clip.

Intensity is the key to most forms of exercise. We know that higher intensities of activity promote greater fat loss AND promote higher levels of fitness overall over a shorter time period.

Now there's evidence in that it'll help your back pain too.

Perhaps we need to adjust our mindsets to "Work harder, not smarter."


P.S. I'd like to see the results with some strength training and even higher-intensity intervals thrown in.

Monday, March 05, 2007

The Thoracic Spine and Shoulder Health

Question: Why the big concern over upper back mobility in regard to building heathly shoulders?

Answer: Poor mobility of the thoracic spine (upper back) is often associated with a slouched, or more specifically, a kyphotic posture. This altered spinal alignment prevents the scapulae (the shoulder blades) from tilting backward as you raise your arms. This lack of tilt narrows the space in the shoulder joint that the rotator cuff runs through (the subacromial space) and makes it more likely that your rotator cuff will get pinched, called impingement. Over time, if you impinge frequently, you'll most likely end up with some form of rotator cuff injury.

The mobility of the thoracic spine also directly affects the strength of the lower trapezius which is an upward rotator of the scapulae. If the thoracic spine lacks mobility the lower trapezius will test weak, thus limiting upward rotation. A lack of scapular upward rotation also narrows the subacromial space making impingement more likely.

There's actually more to it, but you can see in just these two instances why thoracic spine mobility is so important. That's why Mike Robertson and I included exercises specifically designed to improve throacic spine mobility in our Inside-Out: The Ultimate Upper Body Warm-up.


Sunday, March 04, 2007

False Barriers

I was emailing back and forth with my friend Alwyn Cosgrove last night. We had both enjoyed the UFC fights on pay-per-view mainly because of a comeback of unexpected and unbelievable proportions.

Randy “The Natural” Couture came out of retirement to defeat Tim “The Maine-iac” Silvia and take his 3rd UFC Heavyweight title.

Now you may not be a big fight fan, but get this…

Tim Silvia has had more wins (25) than Couture had fights (15-8).

Tim Silvia stands 6’8” and weighed in at 265 which meant he was probably close to 280 by fight time. Randy Couture is 6’2” and weighs a lean 222.

Tim Silvia is 30 years old. Randy is…get this…43. That’s not a typo. He’s really 43 years old.

Randy wasn’t supposed to have a shot. He won like he was spanking a 280 pound baby.

Getting back to our email exchange.

In one email Alwyn stated, “Age is meaningless now. It really is.”

He’s right.

It’s a false barrier.

Roger Banister understood false barriers when he broke 4 minutes in the mile in 1954.

Eamonn Coghlan ran a sub-four minute mile in 1994. This obviously isn’t a big deal since it was 40 years prior that this barrier was broken until you find out that Eamonn was 40 years old when he ran it.

My friend John Gesselberty recently deadlifted over 400 pounds for the first time.

He’s over 40. Actually he’s 58 (that's not his physiological age by the way).

I’m inspired.

As of today, I’m about 40.75 years old.

If you need me, I’ll be in the gym at 4:30 am, warmed-up and ready.

Age is meaningless now. It really is.


Thursday, March 01, 2007

Evidence-based Fitness

Everyone wants evidence for everything these days.

In the PT world, the hot topic is evidence-based treatment even though a large portion of the techniques and methods that many PT's learn in continuing educations courses and utilize every day haven't been scrutinized in double-blinded, peer-reviewed research.

In the fitness and sports training world, I think the best evidence-based methods come from the coaches who've been training clients and athletes for a long time and keep accurate records of what worked and what didn't.

Nothing beats real-world experience.

It's been said that exercise-related researchers tend to be exercise historians because they research those methods that successful coaches have been using for years only to find out why they work.

I can't entirely disagree, but I don't think we can just ignore the research because it is not performed in realistic environments. Knowing some of the "whys" allows us to make better training decisions.

With that in mind, I want to give you a "heads up" on a new blog by Bryan Chung. Bryan is a PhD (with a strong rehab background) who also happens to be one helluva researcher and critical thinker. He's also not a total geek as he has some "under the bar" and a broad athletic experience.

He's just getting started with the blog and he's quite busy as he continues his education, but I'd put his blog on your favorites list. Whether you agree with him or not, he's going to stimulate some thought.

Check him out here Evidence-Based Fitness.