Taking the Long Road

 

longevity

Most of us will be privileged to live on this earth for around 80 years or so, give or take a Zombie apocalypse or our politicians hitting the big red button in a temper-tantrum. The key word here is ‘live’. By live I mean to thrive, be strong, fit, healthy and absent of illness and disease. This is in contrast to just surviving which sadly we can observe in greater numbers in this, the 21st century.

While the great diseases of the 18th, 19th and early 20th century are all but non existent, we have growing number of people suffering heart conditions, diabetes, obesity and the cancers to name but a few.

This is not living – this is just surviving. 

We have a choice to lead a healthy life and these days we even have an abundance of resources and teachers who can guide us in the direction of a healthier life. It’s not actually that difficult once you decide to take ownership of your own existence; what you eat, what time you go to bed at and following a routine of exercise.

Living a monastic life void of all treats is not necessary but living a life of good, better and better(er) choices is achievable by everyone.

The simple choices can lead to many health benefits that in the long run, will add up to a better quality of life.

  1. Aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night.
  2. Eat mainly unprocessed foods comprising of proteins, healthy fats and carbohydrate foods that occur naturally.
  3. Walk every day for around 30 minutes. Not brisk. Just walk.
  4. Practice strength training 2 to 3 times a week.
  5. Daily, perform some form of stretching with a movement system you can enjoy. Just a few minutes a day can have wonderful affects.

You can choose to to just hang around until our nations health system has to take care us until death, or you take care of all the little things that add up to health longevity, living and thriving until our final day.

As my good friend Coach Steve Furys tag line goes – ‘Die Mighty’.

Steve Maxwell is another longtime coach with some wise words to share about longevity.

 

Got any thoughts?

New Year Promise

I was talking to a client this morning who mentioned that her local park run event (5km recreational running events held weekly) broke its attendance record and we dully laughed knowing that attendance will most likely drop within the next few weeks.

This will be the same observation in gyms, other recreational sporting events, slimming groups and other dieting support groups.

Why?

Dreams built off of lofty goals. Goals that are unreasonable, unmeasured, unhealthy and based on poor knowledge of how to achieve the goals. If you’ve had the new year resolution conversation, I’m sure you’ve heard something along the lines of, “I want to lose 5kg”, or “I want to get fitter”, whatever that means. I bet you’ll rarely hear, “I am promising to myself to get healthier”.

And that, ultimately is why anyone should start to exercise – to improve ones health.

Health goals could include:

  1. Losing fat.
  2. Lowering stress.
  3. Sleeping better.
  4. Lowering blood pressure.
  5. Lower risk factors associated with heart disease and cancers.
  6. Rebalancing hormones.

Here’s one interesting fact. Aerobic exercise carried out daily has repetitively shown to help ease or remedy all of the above. Additionally, addressing any one of the above items has been shown to help with the others on the list.

Wanting to exercise to improve your 5km run time or increase your deadlift should be queued behind having great health first.

So let’s clear up what great health is and what does that mean in relation to the above list.

If you are overweight, your health is at risk. It doesn’t matter how happy you are if you are overweight, the facts of the matter are that carrying around excess weight be it from extra fat or muscle (now that’ll rattle a few people) is or will negatively affect your health.

A simple way to measure if you are overweight apart from the obvious, is this guide.

If your waist is more than twice you height or BMI is over 25 then you are overweight.

Stress is pretty much self determined and heavily influenced by the the things we do onto ourselves. Not always of course, but the way we react to day to day stresses varies from person to person.

Some signs of stress:

If you are getting angry at people around you or at yourself, you are stressed.

If your sleep is affected by not being able to let go of your day to day difficulties, you are stressed.

If you are experiencing negative feelings or emotions about yourself, you are stressed.

If you are getting frequent headaches, chances are you are unduly stressed.

If you are experiencing stomach, gut and bowel problems such as heartburn, acid stomach, flatulence, diarrhoea, constipation and irritable bowel syndrome, then your body is under stress.

If your blood pressure is higher than healthy thresholds, then your body is under stress.

If you’ve just increased your weekly high intensity exercise by more than 20%, you are stressing your body unduly.

If you only perform high intensity exercise, you are putting your body under excess stress.

If you drink more than the recommended units of alcohol per day, you are stressing your body.

… The list could go on. For many of these, talking to your doctor is vital.

The presence of ill-health is a clear indicator too that hard exercise has no place in your routine.

The point is, if your body is not operating as it normally should, it is under stress. Taking on extra and ‘intensive activities’ has no place in your weekly routine until good health is restored. Hard exercise is a stressor on the body so adding more stress to an already stressed system should clearly be seen as unwise.

The picture being painted here so far is that hard exercise has no place in the life of an unhealthy person that includes one who is overweight, overstressed and under sleeping.

If you are a beginner and overweight and maybe exhibiting some other health issues and you want to improve your health and fitness, going out for a run, carrying out some random HIIT workout from Youtube is NOT what you should be prioritising.

Remember at the start I mentioned the health benefits of aerobic activities? That is where you should start. It might not be the most exciting or stimulating, but you know what, getting injured, having a heart attack or stressing your body to throw up after your run is not much fun either.

Every new endeavour must start with reasonable actions that are repeatable for the rest of your life. Yep, you’re in that body for a very long time and it is your choice whether you thrive or barely just survive.

How about starting with a 30 minute walk, every day. You don’t need a membership or even fancy workout clothing. Just stick on your shoes, open the door and go walk. Do close the door behind you of course 😉

Over a week of walking you’ll expose yourself to a bit of sun, increase your Vit D, breathe and stimulate your heart and lungs and start to switch on some muscles that have been inactive for a while all with a low intensity form of exercise that you were born to do.

Forget the high intensity stressors. Feed and love your body and promise to yourself to do so every day of your life.

 

Online Membership is Open

💣3… 2… 1… 💥

… “And the FitStrong Online Membership is Here” 🎉😍

Yep, there’s been heaps of chitter-chatter from yours truly recently about the start of our New Online Membership – the place where all of our training programs will be hosted. Whether you want to move better to get less stiff and achy or you want a pure kettlebell program or maybe you’ve got no equipment and prefer quick bodyweight only workouts – they are all inside awaiting some attention.

So, here’s a run-down for ya’ll:

👉🏻 Monthly training programs
👉🏻 Bodyweight and Kettlebell focus
👉🏻 Efficient 10 minute workouts
👉🏻 6 – 12 Week Challenges
👉🏻 Mobility tips to get less stiff and achy
👉🏻 Teaching videos for all the major exercises
👉🏻 Access to all the big successful programs we’ve delivered over the years and my 22 years experience!!
👉🏻 Q&A opportunities at the tap of a button
👉🏻 Live training sessions 😀
👉🏻 Nutrition and Lifestyle guidance
👉🏻 Accountability Calls

What else can you get for $1 a day?

fitstrong membership subscription

Click above to go directly to the New Online Membership Site

Thrive to your Final Day

What a title – how dramatic! But if I had to sum up my message with just 5 words, that’ll do it.

Today I want to touch on a subject many cry away from completely or conversely, drive headlong straight into but crash and burn!

Toughness

In a time when we can utilise tech to do lots of the hard for us, when we can have food delivered to our doors within 15 to 30 minutes, when we can outsource many of the mundane physical tasks to others and again, technology, you can see how it could be easy to say it’s not our fault – the system allows us to become lazy.

So much of modern living has done away with having to deal with discomfort. Physical occupations and past times that we had to do up until the 1970s and 80s have now largely been made redundant. You can easily spend a week, a month or many months not having to undertake anything remotely physically demanding or causing discomfort.

You think that’s a good thing? Think again.

For the most-part, most people for most of the time want to avoid physical discomfort. What happens then when a situation arrises that demands just that from us…. gulp!

I am not implying that you should go out of your way to make everything difficult. Don’t. Enjoy the luxury of modern living but at the same time, practice toughening up a little bit.

How?

As you’d expect, my response as a trainer is, well, ‘exercise’. Whilst a lot of our time in the FitStrong gym is dedicated to learning and practicing great technique, there are times too when we program pushing the boundaries of comfort, expanding our comfort zones. This in fact forms the premise of how we progress. We have a session of light stress, a session of medium stress, then a session where we stretch the comfort zone.

Here’s a quick story of member, Michael, who is a champion of toughening up and thriving.

 

Final thought. If we spend our lives wrapping up in proverbial bubble wrap to avoid discomfort and physical effort we will end up frail, weak and feeble in our later years. If we spend a little time every week getting a little out of breath, lifting some weights and moving around to develop better mobility and agility, we will thrive to our final days.

Got any thoughts?

Foot and Knee Width Whilst Squatting

If you frequent your gymnasium every now and again (hopefully more often than not) you may have worked on your legs. I sure hope you do cause these things have to carry us around for a good while yet.

But, so many people do not carry out leg work like deadlifts and squat or their variations due to some prior experience with pain. This does not mean deadlifting and squatting are bad for you, it just means you haven’t found the particular set-up for you.

What do I mean by set-up?

Most times you read about squatting or deadlifting you’ll read about generic foot and knee width or set up. Mostly it’ll say to place feet hip width apart or something like that.

However, it’s just a general statement. We are all special snowflakes and will all have quite different biomechanics.

In the video below I talk about how to find your own ideal knee width, foot width and then foot positioning. Did you know that both of your feet may be angled totally differently to achieve a comfortable squat?

 

Got any ideas? Agree? Disagree? Want further details or advice?

Just get your fingers tapping below.

Getting Back to Old Fashioned Health Values

Attaining optimal physical health in the year 2018 is probably a little bit confusing. Do short-cuts exist? Can you hack a boost with a magical coffee and fasting for 3 days? Is there a wonder food? Is there one exercise that’ll do the job and is strength training all you need to lead a wonderful and fulfilling life allowing you to thrive into old age with grace and all your human facets in place?

If anyone tells you ‘just need ____’, they are most likely full of cr@p!

To get a grasp of how and what is means to lead an optimally, healthy life as a human, you need to grasp what it means to be an optimally, healthy human. What is our system designed to do?

Thankfully the impartial and unbiased side of the medical and sports science world has outlined this for us on numerous occasions. We’ll delve into this later on.

For the purposes of physical health, strength, wellbeing and seeing results from training, I like to focus on the following areas:

  • Recovery
  • Nutrition
  • Cardiovascular exercise
  • Resistance exercise
  • Movement practice

Here’s a wee infographic I’m working on. Eventually it will have links to resources for each area.

Screen Shot 2018-09-20 at 1.04.21 pm

For a very long time (until recently) people have included the above ‘agenda’ in their lives out of lifestyle necessity.

Until the 1950s and 1960s people had lifestyles that promoted:

  • moving more than sitting,
  • activities that kept them strong,
  • eating mostly unprocessed foods,
  • sleeping a good 7 to 8 hours rather than binge watching TV until they fell asleep.

Standards and values of basic human performance have dropped dramatically. Waist inches have climbed and even though we are living longer, we are just delaying death rather than prolonging life. Let’s read that last sentence again.

Waist inches have climbed and even though we are living longer, we are just delaying death rather than prolonging life.

There is no doubt that we will never return to a lifestyle that demands more physical living unless war and famine dictates it!

If you value old fashioned physical standards of health, attaining a good balance of physical living, what do you need to do?

At the start of the blog I mentioned that medical and sport science has informed us what we need to do. Let’s recap on what is promoted:

Sleep: 7 – 8 hours is optimal despite the fact that some people tell you that 5 hours is all they need.

Nutrition: No diets are required. Just aim to gradually reduce processed foods and meals and snacks and instead target fruits and vegetables that are in season NOW. Three to four fist sized portions a day. Eat unprocessed sources of protein, roughly the same size of 2 to 3 palm sizes. Eat unprocessed (read – natural) sources of carbohydrates like rice, potatoes and other root vegetables. Roughly 2 to 3 palm fulls a day. More information from Precision Nutrition. 

Cardiovascular: The targets have been made clear. Walk 30 to 90 minutes a day. You do not have to get seriously out breath, just get up and walk for at least 30 accumulated minutes a day. Simple really. Once this standard is met, then an additional 2 higher intensity sessions can be added a week – 30 minutes of effort that take you pulse to 180 – your age. Not flat-out death chasing stuff! Read more here.

Resistance Training: Two to three times a week undertake a strength training program that includes all the essential human movements. These are the most common physical movements we are required to perform and designed to perform frequently. These can be labelled as Squatting, Pushing, Pulling, Bracing (our torso), Hinging / Bending at the hips and Carrying weight. A well structured plan can be simple and undertaken in as little as 20 to 30 minutes. Need a hand, just ask.

Movement Practice: This is probably one area that should increase compared to strength training as we age. As a goal now, if you spend 30 minutes strength training, you should spend up to an hour on a movement practice. What do I mean movement practice? Yoga, Animal Flow, Original Strength, whatever flexibility techniques you like but in any case, you gotta get looser. As we age our hips, biceps, chest, hamstrings and other areas develop and hold onto more tension due to fatigue, posture, lifestyle. Stretch, move – get all loosey-goosey.

Building this into a week as a beginner

  • Walk every day for 30 minutes (3.5 hours a week)
  • Strength Train twice a week for 30 minutes (1 hour a week)
  • Stretch / Get Mobile 4 times a week for 30 minutes (2 hours a week)
  • Start a habit of eating mostly natural foods
  • Sleep every day for 7 to 8 hours

Yes, you read that right. Exercising for 6 ½ hours is essential for a beginner. Any less and you really are leaving a lot on the table. Any less and your lifestyle will be underpowered to assist you into old age.

It’s a serious matter but think of it this way. Do you want to spend the final years of your life in assisted aged care, unable to clean your own bum or do you want to thrive until your dying day.

To quote Steve “Coach Fury” Holiner, ‘Live Long, Be Strong, Die Mighty’! 

I know I’ve laid out a handful of information here. If you want to start to thrive now and you’re not sure where to start, get in touch and I will happily steer you in the right direction. Not a sales pitch, I just want to help.

 

 

How to Get Lost When Goal Setting!

I can proudly say that I can write up good training programs but ONLY if I know where the destination is and also, where the starting point is.

Starting out into exercise as a beginner or taking a change of direction or starting with a trainer will always take into consideration the goal. The end point at a particular time-frame perhaps or more wisely, when the goal is achieved.

Most People Get Lost before they even start

Picture this example (and it can be any example). Could you really start to train for a 5km park-run right now if you struggle to put on your shoes most mornings because your back’s stiff? Or, is it realistic to join a 60 minute exercise class after work when you wouldn’t normally do more than 60 minutes of exercise per week? Do you get lost trying to plan your own exercise goal or do you just stumble into ‘something’ and see where it goes?

There are plenty of rhetorical situations we could consider but the point is, you must know your starting point before planning your goal. Once you are fully aware of AND acknowledge your Point A, your limitations and strengths then you can start to plot your path to Point B.

This year I wanted to work on getting a hand stand. Why? Why not. It was a challenge. What I needed first off was to get my Point A down. Shoulder stability, mobility, confidence and a plan to get there, to the handstand. I’m still working on it but I am still on the program path.

So, whats your Point A or whats blocking you from getting towards your Point B?

 

Got any thoughts or questions? Just ask.

Go on, let me help You!

What do you need to thrive in your fitness, strength and health plans?

I’m just a passionate trainer, standing in front of you, asking how can I help?

That’s my goal as a trainer, as a business owner and just plain ‘ol me. My drive and what I want to spend my time doing is helping people, but only those who want to thrive, not just survive.

Watch the very open and honest video below and talk to me.

Let talk briefly about stretching

Warning: this is not a jargon filled post with sprinkles of science. It is based however on evidence based practice.

photo-output

First off, I’m not going to bash stretching. I’m going to suggest a better way for most people to initiate a stretch that will last longer and improve muscle and movement range.

Most people who stretch use a static stretch. A position is assumed and held for 10 seconds to over a minute. But, many will report no lasting affect and indeed when returning to the same stretch again, they’d be back where they where in the previous stretch session.

Why? Therapists much smarter than I would inform you that no lasting stretch is achieved because the static stretch affects the muscle and the local nerves but not the brain. (Simplest description I dare write) The stretches benefits will last only a short time.

Simply put, the act of stretching the muscle for a period informs the nerve of no further threat and in course, the nerve allows the muscle to relax. However, no learning or adaption will be incurred without the message going to the brain. Intent movement initiated by the brain telling the nerves what to do are learned reflexes. We develop these as babies, toddlers and onwards.

As much as intentional strength activities cause a learned adaptation, the same applies to progressing a muscles range of movement or mobility or flexibility.

So how we do get our brains involved in a stretch? We move into brief moments of muscular stretch with intent. You intentionally move your muscles to take you into the stretch albeit briefly.

There are a few methods that utilise a therapist helping you to tense and release muscles, you can also do this yourself ‘or’ you can just move and have fun.

I prefer the latter.

This wee video below is not a technical demonstration. The rules are simple, briefly move into a hamstring stretching position (in this case) while moving around into and out of various mobility drills or positions you are familiar with. Heck, you can make up moves. It doesn’t have to look pretty or flowing – just move.

Number one rule though, use muscles to pull and push and manoeuvre you into each position to feel a light stretch and do not go to pain.

 

Final word. If you like stretching and it makes you feel better then do it. Make it a frequent practice. I did for years until I found an alternative that helps me achieve some of the physical activities I want to pursue.

Got any feedback, just fire a message off below.