Fortis Fitness

Exercise

A Funny Thing Happens…

I am 47 years old.  I have had the pleasure of coming to know other fine folks my age and older at the gym over the last few years.  Like me, these folks are trying their hardest to get into better physical shape.  Within this group specifically, I have noticed a really interesting phenomenon.  

A funny thing happens when you apply physical training principles reserved mostly for elite athletes of a much younger age, to folks our age.  You would think that most of us would resist such a seemingly crazy notion.  Quite the contrary, I see folks our age seize the opportunity.  

I have personally seen many people; middle aged like me, or years older who tenaciously embrace the training means and methods of elite athletes.  

I have seen them change physically before my very eyes.  Months quickly pass and as they do bellies disappear, shoulders grow, and arms and legs become defined with new muscle.  Body fat disappears quickly as shapely muscle becomes apparent and burns it off continually. 

 Training progressions aren’t approached tepidly, rather they are attacked.  A solid low-bar back squat progresses to running with the prowler, with a few plates, than a stack.   Basic bench pressing advances to pressing off pins with supra-maximal weights and heavy chains.  Plyometrics, body weight exercises with added weight and chains, isometrics, they tackle them all as their strength and physical prowess improves.  

A confident clap of the hands fills the air with chalk dust just before they set yet another new 1RM record.  This is complete with involuntary, guttural expression signifying extreme effort and the loud clanging of a heavy weight into the rack that confirms a new level of physical strength and speed has just been attained.  
Real results fuel more intense workouts, exercises and more advanced progressions.  

These things in-turn create even better, never-imagined results.  Youthful or even higher levels of physical performance are back – with a fury!  People my age and older just need the opportunity.  We just need to be given the chance.  

This revelation of intestinal fortitude always seems more evident with folks my age or older than with younger people.  Maybe it’s the desperation caused by passing years that causes us to ferociously fight back.  These folks tend to train like fighters preparing for a championship bout. 

 They were never lazy or less functional due to creeping years alone.  Rather, their true physical ability was hidden, left unused.  Generally, in the fitness industry many folks our age are left in “physical fitness limbo” just because of our age.  

It pleases me to no end to see my age group and older people free to truly express themselves to the limits of their physical abilities and beyond.  

Many folks our age are sent out to the “fitness pasture” by most of the fitness industry.  Much of this patronizing treatment is for insurance and liability reasons.  That may be optimal for most big gym chains, but it most certainly isn’t optimal for us.  At our strength gym this is never allowed to happen. 

 Herding folks into low impact aerobics classes and slow, controlled movements in the comfortable gym machines cannot and will not happen.  Our programs involve squats, dead-lifts, bench pressing, Olympic lifts and all of their variations, speeds and applications.  

Advanced progressions are all there for the taking.  There should never be any limits, regardless of age or gender.  At our gym, there never will be.

My Pal Greg

A friend of mine, Greg Carver is an accomplished trainer and gym owner. His quote the other day on Twitter speaks volumes:

“I dunno?  I eat more paleo foods, I work out, and my blood work just keeps getting better”

Enough said!

Diet & fitness and Micro-Economics – Again!

I sit down with a lot of folks who are trying to get slim and fit. I ask them a standard question. What are your goals? The same answers usually come up: “tone-up” “get a little stronger” are probably the most common. Most guys want to “lose some fat but add muscle” and “get a little bigger”. I often go deeper and ask the question, why? That is, why do you want to get a little leaner? “…..so I can look a little better and my clothes will fit better.”

I continue to dig. Why? “So I’ll be a “little more attractive” Why? “So I can have GREAT SEX….! OKAY! I said it, now leave me alone!” If this sounds like a therapy session, it is (sort of). I have been hardest on myself though. Why? Why? Why? I’m 46, so for me, the goal is to hold on tight (with a vice-like grip) to every semblance of youth I can.

Specifically, I want to avoid hospitals, injury and illness as I get older. I want women to like the way I look! I want to chase girls (and not completely disappoint one if she lets me catch her), enjoy great dinners, drink wine, travel freely and be fully functional. I want to keep up with, or be even more functional than younger guys.

In short, I want to extend my youthful, happy, pain free, joyful time on the planet. I want to do all this stuff into my 50’s 60’s, 70’s and beyond! My own introspection has provided me with a true answer. Now I REALLY know why I want to eat the healthiest diet and exercise regularly. There are lots of guys just like me out there with the same underlying motivators.

So, it’s not the perfect physical state we are really after. Rather, it is the OTHER wonderful things that this physical state will allow us to have and to be!

Now here is where economics enters the picture:

We do not want the methods meant to get us the things we want to actually prevent us from getting them!

This can happen so easily when you use the wrong tools and methods. If I need to cut down a tree, I want to use a really good chain saw. A butter knife will not get me where I want to go. It will make me really tired, waste a ton of my energy and time but I will never achieve success. Eventually, after much work I may put a small scratch or tiny indentation in the tree, but that’s about it. In this case, the actual method is preventing me from reaching my goal – cutting down the damn tree!

The guy who sold me the butter knife, if he is anything like many folks in the fitness industry, would likely point out “look at that progress!” “That’s proof that this great tool is working really well…..but you’ve just got to work harder!” No doubt he would than try to “sell” me a book on “advanced butter knife tree cutting techniques” and then sell me another book on “improving will-power and positive thinking” so I’m sure to keep working hard with the butter knife.

The same thing is true if you are using bad, ineffective diet and fitness ideas. You see blatant examples of this all of the time. People spend hours and hours at the gym working out and using cardio machines. They constantly follow restrictive diets that involve large doses of denial and discipline.

They do this stuff with mostly limited results – thus they never attain those things that they are really after – the things they want to be and to do that attaining a new physical state will finally allow. Finally, they quit when the time and effort becomes so obviously miss-spent.

This puts them even further away from their original goals and desires. In the worst cases, folks become obsessive or fanatical with these inadequate methods. In these extreme situations mindless, repetitive exercises literally suck up any available time that the person would have spent enjoying the fruits of their new found state of health.

That would include doing other really fun stuff like drinking wine, shopping for smaller clothes, getting physically intimate, traveling, or generally having fun and enjoying life. Remember, that was the stuff they were trying to get into shape for in the first place!

Where diet and fitness are concerned, please apply the “min/max” principle of economics. That is, the minimum amount of time and effort, for the maximal results.

This blog, and the book it represents are humble attempts at introducing people to proven methods that truly deliver on this principle.

Personal Training-Muddied Waters

Many folks who go to big gyms have bought personal training packages. This is a major revenue generator for the big fitness gyms and the packages they sell can include 50, 100 or even more one-on-one sessions. At often $80.00 per session or more, you can see why the fitness industry tries to sell the hell out of these one-on-one personal training sessions. They even finance them.

What exactly are they selling though? What is the real value of this proprietary knowledge and its dispensing at close to $100.00 per hour? It is true that the science behind the best information on physical improvement is painfully scientific, clinical, and voluminous. As such, for the uninitiated much trust is afforded to personal trainers and their expertise. Unfortunately, these clear waters are often unnecessarily muddied.

I know for a fact that the correct knowledge is really quite elegant to communicate. Instructing someone on exactly what to do for great results can be surprisingly straightforward. As such, if you are trying to lose body fat and you are paying for personal training, I would strongly suggest you get a new personal trainer if any of the items on the following list prove true:

  • Permanent dietary change has not been thoroughly addressed
  • The dietary advice involves total/daily caloric restriction (this won’t work)
  • The dietary advice is meant to be followed temporarily to get you to a target weight
  • Workouts are boring
  • Workouts are well over an hour
  • Workouts are very difficult
  • Your trainer abides by the adage “no pain – no gain”
  • You are told to work out for hours on cardio machines or running – “like it or not”
  • You don’t see any results after at least 2 weeks, but have followed all instructions
  • Their long term plans for you invariably involve you giving them more money
  • Your trainer is not training you to train yourself (After about 10 sessions you should have a good idea of exactly what to do, and also exactly why and how)

Please remember that our contemporary fitness industry has one primary goal – to make as much money as possible. You succeeding and finally reaching your health and fitness goals would in no way be conducive to their goal because you wouldn’t need to buy any more of their crappy fitness training or products. In short, you wouldn’t need them anymore. Ever wonder why every day there are new books, programs and fitness gadgets that absolutely promise success? It’s strange though, how we just keep getting fatter and unhealthier.

It gets even more confusing because even the nutritionists and trainers with good intentions are taught, programmed and borne out of this same industry – their incorrect methods and information doom us to failure.

Please, discover the true, elegant solutions which are the product of real science and human evolution. These truths have nothing to do with making other people money and everything to do with solving your diet, fitness, and health problems – for good!

Working Out, Micro-Economics, & A Couple of Beautiful Women

A buddy of mine introduced me to his friend the other day. You couldn’t really miss this lady. Joan was definitely physically striking, with what most people would consider a perfect body. She was wearing a summer dress and you couldn’t help notice the perfect feminine muscle tone of her arms and back – she simply exuded health and vitality. More importantly, she was absolutely charming and just a pleasure to chat with.

We were at my friend’s restaurant and it didn’t take long for the conversation to turn to food and then to fitness. Joan loved to eat, loved to workout and kept very busy trying to take care of her two infant sons. She described her workouts and the “cardio” program her trainer had recently put her through. This cardio exercise consisted of water skiing and wake boarding, beach volleyball, and just splashing around in the water swimming. There was no real time limit, these were just the activities her trainer put her and a small group of other ladies through daily during their previous week of training. They loved every second of it. She told us how “it was so much fun”. This guy also had the ladies doing short, intense bouts of resistance training with free weights a few times per week on an ongoing basis. Prior to all of this though, he had changed their dietary philosophies for the better.

When she told me who her trainer was I quickly realized why she loved working out and why she looked so great. I know him and he’s a fantastic personal trainer. He’s also a really nice guy, former Olympic athlete and I completely agree with all of his philosophies. He goes against the grain relative to workout regimens broadly prescribed in the fitness industry. I think the biggest difference with respect to the results his clients achieve is that they actually pass a finish line. Most people struggle with these issues, lost in confusion and effort, never achieving their physical goals. With this trainer though, there is no carrot and stick, just enlightenment. His clients actually reach their goals and are able to just maintain their great condition permanently. Joan was a perfect example.

I strongly believe the key is to introduce people to the basic physiological truths behind diet, exercise, and building muscle. Having a person fully understand the simple unity between all three areas and then applying them always delivers success. The key seems to be the successful explanation and then comfortable exposure to these principles. People then experience success without hardship, pain or sacrifice. The benefits always highly outweigh the costs. They soon become autonomous and are able to control their own physical destiny for good.

Joan reminded me of one of the ladies who started at my gym about a year ago. That was the first time she ever did free weight strength training exercises. Recently, she approached me with a question. Her dilemma was what to do now? She explained that she was now squatting, dead-lifting and bench pressing well over her body weight for repetitions. Her body had responded very well over the previous year and she had quickly become very strong. Like Joan, she couldn’t look much better. She is a physically stunning girl, tall, lithe and gorgeous.

My strong suggestion was to simply get out of the gym and do other physical activities that she really enjoyed. After a break from the gym, and to maintain her excellent condition and tone, I suggested one or two workouts per week at the most. I also suggested that she take off a week or even a month every now and then to do other stuff she liked. She had no plans on changing her dietary philosophy which was seminal to getting her into such great shape and health. Much like Joan, she too had achieved permanent control over her physical state.

In our conversation, Joan had also lamented, “I wonder, where do I go from here?” She had read in a fitness magazine that for her height and weight she should be at 12% body fat and that perhaps she should try and attain that. My buddy and I looked at her and just laughed. We knew very well that there was no additional “traffic she could stop”. She was already “turning every head” in the room. In other words, she shouldn’t give something as inconsequential as a body fat percentage a second thought. The mirror, her radiant health and vitality and anyone who laid eyes on her told her everything she needed to know. We strongly suggested that she simply maintain her healthy diet and active lifestyle and ENJOY HER LIFE! (Including taking occasional time away from the gym and enjoying cheesecake every now and then)

So, from a practical standpoint, both of these ladies had quite obviously “arrived”. No one I know would question it if they were told that either one of them had posed for Playboy. Regarding getting as toned, lean and healthy as possible – they had demonstrably achieved permanent victory. They had won.

How We Hurt Ourselves-Consider The Logic

The following metaphorical story may sound crazy, but I promise I am going somewhere with this.  Please stay with me!

Imagine a boy who is given a hammer and made to hit himself in the head with it.  Let’s say he is instructed to do this 3-5 times per day.   This is a generally accepted and required act of daily living.  It is just what everyone does.  One of the first things he would need is a good supply of bandages to help stop the continuous bleeding.  His head would begin to hurt and he would need to take aspirins or some form of pain killers.  These problems persist.  Years pass, but he just keeps whacking himself in the head every day.

Eventually a specialist makes him a metal cover for his forehead and a few months later even modifies it with padding to cushion the blows.  The specialist is heralded as a genius and wins a Nobel Prize.  Yet, this young man still gets headaches because of the thumping.  A couple of years later some more specialists come up with a smaller hammer, roughly half of the size of the first one, it’s expensive, but worth the money.  This is a great invention and really helps.  Nonetheless, as years pass and after all of that pounding, even from the smaller hammer he is becoming dim witted.

A new company has a great solution.  They sell you amphetamines to help stimulate your brain.  This guy still keeps banging his head with the smaller hammer but is plagued with these problems.  Not only that but one arm is twice as muscular as the other because of the constant swinging of the hammer.  Another large pharmaceutical company has come out with a wonder drug promising that anyone can hammer more and still live a normal life.  Their stock went crazy and they made a fortune.  Yet, after a few years on the drugs, he has continual bad side effects and the wonder drugs get pulled from the market.

Over the years, in his continual efforts to improve his situation he tries many programs and even hires people who have a plethora of ideas on how to swing the hammer so it doesn’t hurt you quite as much.  These experts also train him on the latest ideas and methods to counter the terrible side effects of perpetually hitting himself in the head.  They sell a great deal of programs and get much publicity.  He pays a ton of money for these training sessions over the years, but they help very little.  Still, every time he tries a new idea, he is convinced it will help because of the testimonials he hears on their commercials and ads.  Still, after paying to try them all, none of this stuff ends up working and his suffering continues.

As decades pass, he has developed terrible rashes and skin problems from the countless metal head protectors and the padding, open sores envelope his head.  He is also required to wear a neck brace due to the constant pounding.  Unfortunately, over the years this has resulted in a chronic sore back.  He is forced to increase the doses of pain killers, anti-depressants, anti-inflammatory, and antibiotic drugs and experiences all of their nasty side effects.  So he takes more drugs to counter those side effects.  Finally, he is forced to use a wheelchair.  Still, he keeps his banging his head with the hammer every day.  The small hammer was a life saver, though.  He probably wouldn’t even be here without it; worth every penny, saved his life.

A couple of years in the wheelchair and his situation has resulted in one final option – brain surgery.  It’s just something he must do.  Thank God he paid for only the best health care during his working years and can afford it.  His family must of course endure this along with him.  The surgery goes well.  In the recovery room he continues to bang his head with the hammer.  Unfortunately, he will be bed ridden for the rest of his life.  He is so ill that for weeks at a time the nurses must bang him in the head with the hammer as he is at times too weak to do it himself.

This poor guy lives two more years in absolute pain and discomfort.  He must take a plethora of drugs and has little quality of life.  His family goes along for the entire unpleasant ride.  Unfortunately, they had to mortgage the house they live in to pay for the last year of his life in the hospital.  Turns out the medical insurance only covered the surgery and one year of care.  Insurance coverage has risen immensely, since over two thirds of the population (and growing fast) are now stricken with the same hammer-banging related expensive health problems.  He dies in bed, exactly 17 minutes after the final bang in the head he gives himself.  Only then does the hammering stop.

If you think this story is ridiculous, I heartily agree.  If there is any real difference between the daily hammering and our daily intake of modern food that has been proven dangerous to our health I would love to hear it.  We have been marketed, socialized and fooled into eating dangerous, unhealthy and sick food.  The analogy I have made regarding this entire process may seem oversimplified, facetious and quite insane.  I stand by it anyways.  In fact, I openly invite any criticism of it not being directly analogous to our current, ridiculous predicament.  Just like the crazy example of a guy smashing himself in the head with a hammer every day, the modern food we eat relentlessly punishes our bodies with horrible consequences – yet we continue.

Obesity, diabetes, heart disease, heart disease, and hundreds of other maladies plague us at an ever increasing rate.  The physical, psychological and monetary costs are unimaginable.  Yet we continue when the problem and the solution are as easily identified as in the hammer story I just presented.

Really, think about it.  This is just how ludicrous and bizarre our situation has become.   Ants, rabbits and squirrels are smart enough not to purposely eat themselves into horribly debilitating illnesses and often death.  As a society, we are so “smart” we have figured out how to deliberately and at immense cost to ourselves, our environment and fellow animals create and eat food that makes us chronically ill and kills us.

Enjoying Repetitive Exercise

My philosophy on cardiovascular exercise is simple:  if you enjoy it – do it!  Otherwise, don’t bother.  I have scientific proof to strongly reinforce this idea as a permanent solution to exercising.  Still, there will always be temporary situations when we want to move our bodies but for whatever logistical reason are unable to do what we love.   And so we must face the idea of doing some repetitive form of exercise we otherwise would never bother with.

I will use running as my example here.  Surprisingly, I have applied this philosophy to something as mundane as running with great success.  In the past I hated running.  Before I embraced my current philosophy, I considered running boring work that “needed to be done”.  I would count the seconds.  I would run 4 or 5 times a week for a few weeks and then stop because I just couldn’t make myself do it any longer.  Over time, and with some experience, all of that changed.

I love the smell of sea air, girls in bikinis and sunshine.  I love being around people having a good time, hearing people laugh and watching waves crash on a beach.  I also like the feeling of my feet in the sand and a gentle warm breeze.  I never grow tired of these things.  These other factors have overtaken the generic activity of “running” and turned it into something that I have really enjoyed for over 10 years.  I go outside and run on the beach at a pace where I never get uncomfortable or out of breath.  Here I can experience all of those things I love.  Sometimes I figure I am one step up from a fast walk.  I lean forward so that my feat must catch up to prevent me from falling down.  This creates a slow comfortable jog.  This makes my stride very relaxing and almost effortless.  When I get tired I stop.

I still hate running, but I love the other stuff.  So much so, that the running has become an incidental and virtually unnoticeable part of the exercise.  Running is like the empty glass and these things I love are the drink that fills it.  It’s funny, because my slow jog is now a relatively fast paced run.  I have been made aware of this only by others who I occasionally run with.  This happened slowly and without notice.  The keys are consistency and enjoyment – one feeds the other.  This I know because unlike years ago, I long to go for a run if I haven’t had the time for a week or two.  I contrast my current perspective to the generic act of running.  Even now, the most time I can do on a treadmill is 10 minutes and only if there is a television to watch.  If there is something very interesting on TV I can occasionally go for as long as 20 minutes, but that’s about all I can take.

Some people have challenged me on this philosophy.  They have indicated that I live beside a beach and that anyone would love running there.  Then they tell me to try living in Toledo Ohio, or Buffalo in January and enjoy my “sea air and bikinis”.  I reply by telling them not to sell this philosophy short.  The fact is, I live and spend the majority of my time in another big northern city and enjoy running there just as much if not more.  How?  The answer is real estate.

I love old houses.  I really love the ones that look like old castles, 3 stories high and covered with ivy.  The part of the city I live in is very old and half way gentrified.  There are endless streets of these beautiful old homes; some in need of restoration and some completed.  Many may be purchased for surprisingly little money given the area, but they need refurbishment.  Most of these houses have the huge original wooden doors and stain glass.  Some have spires and beautiful balconies on every floor.  Even though run down, the craftsmanship involved in the ornate hard wood trim and masonry stands out like a lost art.  They are from another time roughly a century ago.  When they were built, that part of town was the most exclusive area in the city.  Every one of these houses has a dramatic history.

Occasionally, one of the nearby stores in this run down area will have a front sign changed.  When this happens often an old sign will be revealed from a store long since closed up decades ago.  Like the nearby homes, to me this is a bit of history creeping out like a passage in time.  There are also beautiful old churches built entirely from stone.  Many stand dark and quiet, closed up; their congregations long since moved on or withered away.  I get lost in this stuff.  For me it’s like a hypnotic, haunting journey into the past.  At the same time my mind wonders at the future possibilities for these beautiful old buildings.

Sorry, I forgot for a moment, we are talking about my love for beautiful old buildings and the topic is supposed to be running.  That’s my whole point.  I actually forget while I’m running.  This happens every time.  For me it’s like running into history, or through a beautiful architectural museum.  It’s the same mental journey as on the beach, just different subjects.  I hope these examples help you to understand the pre-eminent importance of your brain in any form of exercise.

The other day, I went running with a very competitive friend of mine who I hadn’t seen in quite some time.  I know this guy well and for him this was a battle to see who was in better shape.  In the end this little challenge clocked in at over an hour and we had run over 7 miles.  For me, this was an unusually fast and physically taxing pace.  I kept up with him the whole way, but it was hell.  This served well to jog my memory.  I remembered why I hated running!

Let’s suppose one of your true joys in life is simply watching television for hours on end, movies, news, soap operas or just flipping from channel to channel.  Let’s also assume you have fully embraced what is primarily an evolutionary diet.  Try this; replace your easy chair with a very comfortable seated recumbent stationary bike.  Recumbent bikes are the ones where your legs are out in front of you and you can lean back into your seat.  Get a few cushions or some foam padding and make it super comfortable.  Put it on its lowest resistance setting and carry on watching television while doing this extremely slow and passive aerobic activity.  If you love reading, simply replace the television with a book stand.  Remember, you are not losing your breath and perhaps not even breaking a sweat, but your heart will beat faster, oxygen will fill your lungs and you will simply feel better.  Even this extremely low intensity activity will produce results since your diet has ended the source of your body fat problem.  Now you are chipping away at the prior damage and watching as your body visibly improves.

I strongly believe those sports, hobbies and physical activities we are passionate about should always define our “exercise”.  Nonetheless, hopefully these thoughts will expand the possibilities to include some of the stuff we normally wouldn’t consider.

Please Summarize the Underlying Reason Our Society is becoming So Fat and Sick!

Sure!

No problem…here ya go!

The food and agricultural industry, the diet and fitness industry, and the medical and pharmaceutical industries all REQUIRE YOU TO BE AS FAT AND UNHEALTHY AS POSSIBLE. Otherwise, they will have fewer “customers” and will make far less money. Unfortunately, these immensely powerful industries highly influence – they pretty much buy, sell and control – our government. They also fund and highly influence most of our major schools, universities, colleges, and health related institutions and organizations. The result is that YOU and your children are going to be as fat and sick as they can possibly make you.

That’s right, our government – laws, regulations, and guidelines, the media, schools, many of the institutions we rely on for facts and advice, and even our cultural norms all work to ensure that we will continue to be fat and sick. Even most of our confused dieticians and fitness and health professionals (many of whom actually wish us well) unknowingly keep us fat, sick, and confused by promoting foods and ideas that simply perpetuate our problems.

I can promise you that this is the underlying reason we are so fat and sick and getting worse every day. I can also promise you that if you take the time to tediously uncover the facts you will reach this same, sobering conclusion. It’s just money – your money! It’s nothing personal. This situation isn’t going to change any time soon. In fact, based on statistical estimates regarding diet and disease it’s going to get much worse. Our society will become increasingly fat and ill with diet related diseases because these industries employ a huge percentage of our population, are a massive part of our economy and have immense global power and influence.

THAT is the underlying reason why we are becoming so fat and sick.

Who The $#@! Cares?

There are literally thousands of novel “fitness” alternatives out there that are marketed to us every day. Working in the fitness industry I see them all of the time. We are all bombarded with these offers just by turning on the television or checking our mail. When I was 40 pounds heavier, the question of which one of these activities to choose was as confusing as picking one of the thousands of diet books available. We are told that these activities are solutions to our physical problems. Whether they are some form of aerobics, new type of fusion fitness class, a new type of treadmill, elliptical machine, spinning classes or some new fitness “program”; each one screams out to us that they are the promised way to get us slim and attractive. These activities rarely if ever address the underlying problem of our excess fat which is: THE FOODS WE ARE EATING! As such the idea that these activities and their promises will solve our problems is an illusion. So, it’s like you have a bad leak in your ceiling. Instead of fixing your ceiling and permanently stopping the problem, when it rains someone just keeps handing you attractive buckets of different styles and colors that you keep putting under the leaking water. Each bucket quickly overflows and you need to keep using new buckets because the damn leak hasn’t been fixed! I want to move my body! I want you to move your body. Constantly putting these mostly trivial and silly alternatives in front of us tends to obfuscate our view of the far more useful, rational and effective exercise choices available. By that I mean sports or activities in which you will actually enjoy participating. How is it that these other choices are more effective?

BECAUSE THERE IS A CHANCE IN HELL YOU WILL KEEP DOING THEM WITHOUT REQUIRING WILL-POWER OR DISCIPLINE.

Why would you keep doing them? BECAUSE THE BENEFITS OF DOING THEM OUTWEIGH THE COSTS OF DOING THEM. I would ask you to answer the following question (start by answering this yourself) when you are considering engaging in some form of exercise:

WHO THE @!%#% CARES IF YOU ARE ENGAGING IN, OR IF YOU ARE GOOD AT THIS PARTICULAR FITNESS INDUSTRY ACTIVITY?

Do you care that you just did an hour on the elliptical machine at your local gym on the “fat burn setting”? You just did that yesterday. You also did that the day before yesterday. The day before that you did an hour on the stair climbing machine and the day before that you attended the spinning class. Do you really care that you completed any of these activities? Other than generally burning less than the caloric equivalent of 3 Oreo cookies for an hour of your hard work and valuable time, what else was accomplished here? Did you get better at the activity? Does it even matter if you get better at it? Did you enjoy it? Honestly? Was there a new and useful skill learned? Were there people involved who were equally excited and passionate about this activity? Please consider the following examples:

  • I was at an Argentinean steak house one night a few years ago. I noticed the staff was moving tables and chairs off the floor and I figured they were getting ready to close up and start cleaning. Actually, the owner of the restaurant was clearing a space on the floor and encouraging one of the patrons to do an impromptu performance. Suddenly, a slender lady in a red dress stood up with her partner and began to dance. She and her partner danced the Tango – exquisitely. The owner turned up the music a little and everyone who remained in the restaurant was fixated on these two people; completely awestruck. Watching this woman dance was like experiencing liquid, physical poetry. When the dance ended everyone in the restaurant erupted in applause. I will never forget that evening or that woman. Her fitness activity was dancing, specifically the Tango. I cared; everyone at that restaurant that night cared and by the look of elation on her face I’m quite sure she cared.
  • A friend of mine’s father one the World Hockey championship in his division in a huge international “old-timers” tournament in Denmark. He was almost 60 at the time. There were actually some ex-NHL players in this league. He was now a “world champ”. His team cared, his wife and kids cared, his friends cared, the fans cared, and he absolutely cared.
  • A friend of mine named Dianna volunteers at an inner city homeless shelter 3 times per week. She has been doing this for many, many years. Despite the season, the temperature in this place is always high and it can get very hot for the 2 hours required. Close to 400 people per day are served a free meal. The work is very physical and very fast paced. It includes cooking, preparing and serving lots of food and the constant cleaning of the premises. As a long term volunteer, Dianna is not only appreciated, but truly needed for her exceptional philanthropy. Over the years she has made hundreds of friends associated with this shelter who look upon her humble, saintly behavior with great reverence and respect. Regarding her work – they all care, the thousands of homeless people she has helped care, the other volunteers care, and Dianna most definitely cares about this important form of exercise. She is over 70 years old and never misses a day.
  • A friend of mine’s brother, after many years of practice and learning recently achieved his black belt in Kenpo Karate. His brother and family cared, his girlfriend cared, the other members of his dojo cared, and he absolutely cared. Anyone who tries to pick a fight with him in the future will likely also take notice.

In these and thousands of other examples the activities have meaning. They have relevance on so many levels. Of course, this relevance is most dear to the person undertaking the sport or activity. Remember, as long as the person’s diet is under control then the activity – like all the other fitness activities relentlessly pushed on us – is burning off the same fat calories! Earlier I posed the question as to whether we or anyone cares if we are undertaking any of the mundane fitness activities we are typically offered by the fitness industry. If you can honestly answer “yes” then you have indeed found your way. I know there will always be some people who will really find value in these activities. For other folks they will represent valuable assistance work for endurance sports. I honestly believe though, that for the majority of us, the answer will be a resounding “NO!”

Why I Love My Job

Imagine living in a world filled with disease. This is horrible, chronic debilitating disease with seemingly no escape. Worse, imagine that endless promises to set you free from this illness just cause you more hardship and make things even worse.

Okay, now imagine that in this sea of despair, you found a solution that permanently cured you. Then, you were able communicate this cure and free others from the same disease that you were stuck with. Imagine that you were able to do this over and over and over again. That world is, unfortunately North America. The disease I am speaking of is the collection of related, chronic health maladies caused by the generally accepted North American diet. This is the diet that is making us so fat. This is a diet actually sanctioned by our health professionals, institutions and even our government.

It’s really fun being iconoclastic, but also having science and the truth on your side. It’s also really satisfying being able to prove these convictions every day. So, am I some kind of genius? Nope. I really wish I was, but I’m afraid I am simply a messenger. On the other hand, the great doctors and scientists responsible for the wonderful principles I communicate would very likely be considered geniuses. Every day, I pass on a simple plan that invariably unshackles those who embrace it. The folks I talk to are tired, confused, and desperate (just like I was). I ask them to do 3 things:

1. Eat primarily (at least 80% of your calories):

  • naturally raised meats
  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • some nuts and seeds

2. Move your body doing something you love

3. Build some muscle via the most efficient, proven successful methods possible

I tell them that to control the speed and intensity of their fat loss and improvement in health – simply do more of the above 3 things. I wrote a book to provide the scientific proof and detailed instructions on exactly how to do these 3 things. I wouldn’t know anything about failure, because it’s never happened. This plan has only resulted in success.

Sometimes when I tell people about this plan, the conversation goes like this:

“That’s it?” “Yup”

“You are kidding, right?” “Nope”

“Can you prove it?” “Absolutely!”

“Wait a minute….no pharmaceuticals, no boot camps, no “no pain, no gain”, no hardship, no yelling, no starvation, no calorie counting, no surgery, no dietitians, no expensive pre-packaged food plans, no diet drinks, no secret herbs, no fitness gadgets, no running, no aerobics, no treadmills?”

“…an emphatic NO to all of the above. Try it, for 3 days to a week. You’ll see.”

Fitness Nonsense

I’m sure you have heard the old “take the stairs” adage. How about, “walk to work”, or “don’t take the car, ride your bike”. To me this advice is well intended, but rarely realistic and not an answer to your problem. It’s part of the idea that you should squeeze in physical activity whenever possible in your regular daily routine. The problem here is the implication that hardship and discipline, even in little bits should be sprinkled into your life to help solve your fat loss problems.

Running a mile on a treadmill will burn approximately 100 calories. 3 little Oreo cookies contain of 210 calories. So, you would need to run on treadmill for over 2 miles just to burn off those 3 little cookies. Worse, if you are hungry from the run, depending on what you eat afterward you may actually end up adding more calories than you burned off.

These realities show clearly just how negligible the effects of taking the stairs or walking to work really are (especially without first correcting your diet). Yet, they weigh on your mind every time you step into an elevator or get out of your car. Guilt – you’ve been bad, you are lazy. Nonsense! Sorry, but I am not climbing the damn stairs! I have a hot coffee in my hand, I’m carrying a briefcase and I’m wearing a fresh pressed suit, why the hell would I climb 5 flights of stairs? Furthermore, I always run into my friends on the elevator. I love seeing who will be on the elevator every morning, joking around and saying hello. I will not climb stairs for the same simple reasons will not take my 10 speed bike to work. I just got up and I have a meeting. I am going to get in my comfortable car, turn on my favorite jazz station, stop at Starbucks for a coffee and collect my thoughts for the day.

Don’t get me wrong, I always take a walk at lunch. I never drive anywhere for lunch. The difference is that at lunch I long for some fresh air, to move my body a little, get outdoors and say hello to some people other than those that I work with. It’s simple, effortless joy, not work or denial that gets me to move my body.

A great part of this answer is to simply move with your natural harmony and flow, not against it. Almost every ill-conceived thought on exercise involving work, denial and discipline breaks this rule. Even worse, these negative thoughts thwart your natural longing to exercise by falsely causing your mind to associate moving your body with hardship. Punishment as a method for getting anyone to repeat a task breaks all rules of behavioral psychology. This is one of the underlying reasons for our repeated failure to exercise regularly. Please do not fall into this trap. Find the things you naturally enjoy doing that move your body and you have found the answer. You must apply this philosophy to everything you do.