Numbers, Numbers

There are a variety of numbers which you need to be aware of in some manner or another.  You may commit some numbers to memory. Others you may record. You have cell phone numbers, credit card numbers, driver’s license numbers, and Personal Identification Numbers, house or apartment numbers, numbers representing special dates like birthdays or anniversaries, zip codes, and computer codes just to name a few. Some people absolutely love numbers. Statisticians, mathematicians, scientists, meteorologists, financial advisors, and accountants, for example. Perhaps, you are not exactly a big fan of numbers. You might feel the only need you have for keeping track of numbers relates to balancing your personal checkbook or adding up your golf score.

Nevertheless, how you react to certain numbers is always fascinating. Some numbers make you feel happy, sad, anxious, excited, frustrated, or depressed when you see them. Just face it, you cannot avoid them. You watch numbers on the clock all day long. From your morning wake-up time, to class time, to work time, to break time, to meeting time, to “quitting” time, to game time, and to show time, your day always revolves around numbers. If you turn on your radio, television, or computer you are bombarded with numbers. You hear everything from numbers involving stock prices to gasoline prices, to numbers indicating high and low temperatures for your local area, to lottery numbers, and the never ending flow of numbers from sports scores and various polls. There are poll numbers for just about anything you can think of.  Some people regurgitate poll numbers faster than we can possibly digest them.

So, I offer you a taste of my own survey to amass some polling numbers. What number of you exercise 3-5 days per week for 30-60 minutes? What number of you would identify red, black, white, or blue as your favorite color to wear during exercise? What number of you have a workout partner or personal trainer? What number of you have a gym or health club membership that you have not used in the past 6 months? What number of you prefer to exercise in the morning? What number of you don’t think playing golf is a workout? What number of you skip exercise to view the number one rated sitcom on T.V? What number of you define yourselves by a number? What specific number could I be referring to?

Well, it is neither your I.Q. nor the number of dollars sitting in your savings account. No, this particular figure is almost branded on the front and back of your body like your favorite athlete’s jersey number or a tattoo you wish you could have removed. I’ll give you a clue. How many of you step on a scale multiple times throughout the course of a day? You guessed it. The answer is that scalesometimes annoying, ever present, and perhaps, never changing number that you recognize as your weight. Have you ever considered the weight of this problem? I have pondered it. In my vast experience as a fitness professional, I have counseled many individuals who, like you, are stuck on a number. You’ve developed an addictive habit in which you cannot wait to check your body weight? I understand how it works. You jump on the scale before, during, and after you exercise. Perhaps you have a scale next to your bed, one in the bathroom, and one by the front door. It’s just another number. But not to you. You literally think that you are defined by that number.

Well, I am here to tell you emphatically that you are not! I don’t know the depths of your struggles, nor the specific details in your case, but I know it has not been easy for you. I believe that everything can change for you. But it will not occur while you are standing on that scale or because of the fact that you are obsessively monitoring your weight.  I believe in miracles! I have seen them in my own life and in the lives of so many people I have encountered. “Most of us have two lives; the life we live and the unlived life within us.”-Steven Pressfield

Please don’t let that number hold you back from enjoying your spouse, your family, your friends, indeed, your very life. Your days on this earth are numbered. That number is not one you can possibly ever know.  If somehow a number on a scale makes you feel unimportant, unattractive, or unworthy of attaining blessings, please do not procrastinate. With all of the genuine concern of my heart, I offer the following advice. Stop standing there!   “You don’t need an invitation before you start moving in the direction of your righteous goals. You don’t need to wait for permission to become the person you were designed to be.”-Dieter F. Uchtdorf

That special person is so much more than a number. I don’t judge you. Please do not be so hard on yourself. “Start by doing what’s necessary, then what’s possible, and before you know it, you’re doing the impossible!”-unknown  You don’t need that number to change dramatically before you begin to permanently change your world. Weighing yourself every day is not a necessary or crucial part of your personal fitness journey. Drop the scale from your life and you will be free to live.

So, what’s your favorite number?

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Practice? Are you talking about practice?

Why is practicing golf so much fun? Don’t laugh! I pose a very serious question to you. So, you really don’t know the answer? Don’t throw the classic Allen Iverson rant at me, because I am, indeed, talking about PRACTICE! Let me explain why I love practice time and you should as well. My passion for the game of golf is not limited to the awe and wonder I feel as I behold the scenic beauty found on many courses, or the amazing, fun-filled camaraderie among friends displayed during a round, or the awesome challenge of playing each and every golf hole to the best of my ability, or even the applause from my own personal gallery when the last putt has dropped and the final tally is registered on the scorecard. No, I can also derive a great deal of satisfaction from simply chipping, putting, and hitting balls at a practice facility without feeling the need the head to the nearest course. This is made possible due to several factors.

At a practice facility, there are no pace of play issues. So, instead of having to practice patience, I need only practice my game. Driving range golf allows me the opportunity to “play” without having to wait for the group ahead to emerge from the woods and clear the fairway or the green. My length of stay at the range is not determined by anyone but me. I can spend twenty minutes with Driving Rangea single bucket of balls or an hour and twenty minutes with multiple buckets. Due to the fact that there is such a significant difference in the total time commitment, I am a tremendous advocate for range time. For those of us who lead very busy lives, the question “to golf or not to golf?” races through our heads quite often. Honestly, the solution is quite clear to me. The reality is that a round of golf can take a big bite out of both one’s day and wallet. To become an active player in this sport without compromising family, work, and other responsibilities and depleting your children’s college fund, I recommend that you consider the inherent advantages of making your investment in golf at the range. I continue to read reports regarding the declining number of participants across the country in all age groups. This trend does not need to continue in its current direction.

At a practice facility, it is extremely easy to develop a great rhythm and maintain it for the duration of my session. No pressure to speed up from the group behind bombarding you constantly with tee shots and inappropriate verbal shots, nor the frustration of coming to a screeching halt due to a twenty four cart pile-up on the seventh fairway, means you can stay in the “groove”. Whether it’s working on wedge play or smooth swinging with fairway metals and the driver, I love every minute in the golfer-friendly environment. Yes, road rage occurs on the course. I relish the chance to set the pace of play while I practice and avoid the dangerous antics of others golfing under the influence of selfishness.

The feeling of hitting shot after shot pure is the highlight of my experience. On the golf course, I strive for excellence. At the range, I have found that I actually can approach perfection. On the course, even in my best rounds, the reality is that I may strike a handful of golf shots which come off perfectly. After one such shot, I have been known to announce, “I can go home now because it cannot get any better than that!” At the driving range that unbelievable “go home” moment is easily repeatable. I know that I can hit the next one just as good or better and so can you. When you practice, I suggest that you use your imagination. Your mind has the incredible capability to create a golf course computer simulation between your ears. “Limitations live only in our minds. But if we use our imaginations, our possibilities become limitless.” -Jamie Paolinetti You can transform the most boring driving range landscape into your favorite course. On occasion, you can approach your practice just like a normal round of golf. Instead of simply pounding the same club over and over again, alternate clubs just as you would be on the links. Play out that round on the course you have programmed in your brain. The level of difficulty is up to your individual creativity. But, nothing should stop you from playing your absolute best. I personally don’t think it is possible to have a bad session at the range. On the course, however, anything can happen. I have both seen and participated in what I refer to as “the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”, a.k.a., Clint Eastwood golf. The moments of agony and ecstasy make golf an incredible game like no other. When I want to completely avoid any possibility of the mental and emotional roller coaster ride that a round can become, I just take my clubs to the range. There I find peace and calm through my routine and repetition. There is no pressure that I place on myself to perform. That in itself may be a reason for my success and consequently my passion for practice. I am never again going to have the time to play 18 holes nearly every day of the week as I did when I worked as an assistant golf professional. So, although I don’t regularly score as low as I used to, my practice is much more productive and fun than ever before. I never used to look at practice in the manner that I currently do. Perhaps, you can alter your view of it as well and embrace the inherent advantages of working on your golf game at the range. These days, I do cherish the few opportunities which arise to join my family, friends, and students on the course. There are times, however, when that actually feels like work. Again, I have concluded that is the case because there are so many factors which are out of my control on the golf course.

I am looking forward to the late summer and beautiful autumn nights when I can practice at the driving range. Hitting balls under the lights is really unique. What a different environment! Watching the little white golf balls pierce the night sky is, frankly, just plain cool! So, what are you waiting for? It is time to play at the range.

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Quitting is not an Option

When your journey toward improved health and wellness leads you down a pathway which takes an abrupt and cruel turn, there is a powerful temptation to think, “Why me?”  While you are striving to reach a perfectly reasonable goal, it appears that all of the forces in the entire universe have combined to work against your efforts. I’m sure that you may think it’s strange that others who have been engaged in the same personal battle have appeared to emerge not only unscathed but also reborn. Your focus may waver. You might temporarily forget to count your many blessings. Instead, you count how many things have gone wrong with your plan and multiply that by the numerous times  you’ve  been inflicted with the deadly disease of doubt. “Why me?” you scream from the rooftops. You wish you could trade in your body for an improved version. If only you could order that new body online, then almost no one would know that you gave up on yourself and were seduced by a “quick fix”. You have become fixated on your frustrationflaws, perceived shortcomings, and the negatives in your life. You are, however, quite wrong about yourself and others for that matter. “If we were all to bring our misfortunes into a common store, so that each person should receive an equal share in the distribution, the majority would be glad to take up their own and depart.”-Socrates  A common practice, even among seasoned exercise participants, is that of self-incrimination. This, in spite of the fact, that in some instances you have had little or no control over the physical, mental, or emotional difficulty you now face.  Certainly, you cannot discern the light at the end of the long, torturous tunnel through which your journey has entered. Seeing with a bright lens of eternal optimism through that mist of darkness which you travel would seem to you to be pointless, even ludicrous. Unfortunately, your desperate response, the “why me syndrome”, has made your predicament even worse. Your natural inclination is to view your individual adversity through the cloudy, distorted prism called pessimism.  With you rides an unwanted companion, the extra pounds that trouble you to your very core. Their heavy burden is dragging you through that tunnel and forcing you to haul the disappointment of shattered dreams, unrealized expectations, the despair of vanished hopes, and even the pain of a broken heart.  The weight of your trouble seems as if it will last forever. To add to your grief, you may even face ridicule and seemingly unbearable criticism from others. Perhaps, your body just seems worn out or broken down. You are simply sick and tired of being sick and tired!

My dear friend, do you think that it is unfair that you must go through the challenges you currently face? Well, it is my desire that you should not let these things trouble you any longer. It is my desire that your journey lead you to a more abundant life where no tears, no fears, and no sorrow remain. I wish you to focus on the rescuing rays of each new day’s sunrise. The darkness will end. Quitting is not an option for you. Do not consider it for a moment. “You must become the rock the river cannot wash away.”-Unknown author  I am going to be honest with you. You may very well have to sweat out this particular challenge for a while yet. There might even be more repetitions required, as painful as that sounds. “You are stronger than you realize. You are more capable than you can imagine. Your destiny is not determined by the number of times you stumble, but by the number of times you stand up, dust yourself off, and stride forward.”-Dieter F. Uchtdorf  Despite the forecast of a potential reappearance, you can make it through the tests you face in that tunnel of personal misfortune, and reappear in the light of happiness and your true potential. The glorious feeling of attaining your goals is not only possible but probable! A healthier, stronger, fitter you is right before your very eyes. How is this attainable? You need only have the courage to believe in the promise. The promise to you is that the pieces of your life that have been lost or missing will be filled with peace. The promise is that you will not only cross your own personal finish line, but you will be filled with a new found desire to continue running. The promise to you is that your reward, the result of your steadfastness, your diligence, your determination, your hard work, will be worth any amount of despair, frustration, and disappointment you have been laden with.

“Life is full of twists and unexpected bumps, but the rough patches are meant to help us grow. When life is hard, remember, we are not the first to say, ‘Is there no other way?’.-Jeffrey R. Holland  To my students in the gym, I teach the principle of overload. This is the application of more resistance during an exercise than a particular muscle or group of muscles is used to. The purpose is simple: stimulating the development of strength. One definition of strength is the ability to exert muscle force against resistance force. It is most often measured as it relates to the amount of resistance that is overcome. For my students to notice any positive change in their bodies during training, their muscles must reach the point of complete exhaustion or momentary muscle fatigue. Notice that I used the term momentary. This type of fatigue is literally the point at which one can no longer perform even one more repetition of any exercise movement without compromising the good form that is necessary for safety. When you wake up tomorrow and are faced with opposition or resistance, understand that you are just like your muscles which must withstand some degree of pain in order that they might grow stronger. You desire change in your body shape and in your life in general. Well, there is a necessary requirement for your progress to be made manifest and your strength to be measured. By now, you know what it is. Your journey absolutely must take you through those tunnels wherein extremely intense struggles will occur. So intense must they be, that you will feel alone, abandoned in the darkness. So painful must your experiences be, that you will feel there will be no end to the pain and fatigue. But, alas, it too is only momentary! Your muscles recover from their trial and so will you.

“When things go wrong as they sometimes will; when the road you’re trudging seems all uphill; when the funds are low and the debts are high; and you want to smile but you have to sigh; when care is pressing you down a bit; rest if you must, but don’t you quit. Life is queer with its twists and turns, as everyone of us sometimes learns; and many a failure turns about; when you might have won had you stuck it out. Don’t give up, though the pace seems slow. You may succeed with another blow. Success is failure turned inside out; the silver tint of the clouds of doubt. And you never can tell how close you are; it may be near when it seems so far. So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit. It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.”-Edgar A. Guest

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You Had a Bad Day

Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy

So, your most recent experience on the golf course was a disaster. You played far beneath your potential. You “misplaced” four golf balls in nine holes. Your tee shots visited Sherwood Forest so frequently that you are considering joining Robin Hood’s merry band. The holes just seemed to slip by so quickly before you were able to generate any momentum. Where did it all go wrong? How can you rebound from, frankly, an embarrassing performance? Knowing that you are capable of that exhibition in futility, do you even want to go out again any time soon? Well, my friend, I do hope that you answer in the affirmative.

I am going to ask you to do a little analysis of your round. I know that this was an aberration and not at all the norm for you. However, with a closer look at your day, perhaps, you can avoid that strange sensation of watching yourself participate in too many reruns of the “Nightmare on the Fairways”. It is really simple, actually. “Believe you can and you’re halfway there.”-Theodore Roosevelt How would you rate your level of concentration? Did you warm up before playing? If things do not go according to plan off the first tee, sometimes it sets the stage for an epic struggle. Producing conditions that are more conducive for you to succeed is the goal. Without even a short practice session before you tee off, you are unlikely to be as mentally “into it” as you would desire. The risk of you subconsciously thinking about the water hazard to the left or the trees guarding the entire right side of the first hole is greatly increased if you have not struck a single, solid practice shot. You need to be able to visualize your ball heading down the middle of the fairway. With no prior prep work to give you some confidence when your name and starting time are announced, you are relegated to worrying about the worst case scenario. “What consumes your mind, controls your life”-Unknown So, you tell me there is not a driving range at the golf course or you cannot arrive until minutes before your designated tee off. Improvise! Thinking only of priority number one, besides paying for the greens fees, you must take some quality practice swings with that initial “real” swing in mind. Don’t be counting on a mulligan or breakfast ball to bail you out. When you are ready to play, you never want to reload, especially on the first hole with the largest gallery observing your every move. So, just relax, take some deep breaths, and repeat that same smooth swing you rehearsed 10, 20, or 30 times off to the side prior to the big moment. Choose the club you believe will give you the best chance to position your inaugural tee ball in play. Now, you have placed your tee in the ground and it’s time for action. So, I recommend two more practice swings, find your target, and move directly up to the ball. Look at the target one more time. Count to three in your head and swing.

Let me examine your previous play from another angle. Do you get a little anxious if you play with someone for the first time? If so, it is natural to want to do your best and even impress your new playing companion. But don’t stress out too much. Chances are that you will have more opportunities to showcase your skills which may have for one round appeared to be on hiatus. I hope that you don’t have friends who would disavow any knowledge of you upon witnessing you at your worst on the golf course. “As long as we are willing to rise up again and continue on the path, we can learn something from failure and become better and happier.”-Dieter F. Uchtdorf  This is a game in which EVERYONE has less than desirable results from time to time. If it is any consolation, Rory McIlroy, one of the top players in the world has recorded 14 rounds in 2014 in which he has carded a score between 4-8 strokes above his scoring average. But he will bounce back and so will you.

Golfers really do need to have very short memories. Over analyzing your round is not at all necessary. You did not all of a sudden forget how to swing a golf club or chip and putt. You definitely don’t need to go out and purchase more new golf equipment. You can gain confidence by changing up your pre-round routine even slightly. This will help you avoid the early hole debacles that you experience on occasion. Remember, please never let your less than stellar play affect your attitude so severely that you can’t enjoy a wonderful walk in the park. “You had a bad day. The camera don’t lie. You’re coming back down and you really don’t mind. You had a bad day. Sometimes the system goes on the blink and the whole thing turns out wrong. You might not make it back and you know that you could be, well, oh, that strong. And I’m not wrong.”-Daniel Powter My wish is that you determine to make tomorrow a better day.

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The Real D.I.E.T.

buffet“I just don’t have time to eat.” “I am really not hungry anyway.” “I’m not permitted to eat that type of food.” “I can’t eat after 7 O’ Clock.” “I am looking forward to Saturday because that’s my cheat day.” “Seriously, I can go several days without needing to eat anything.” “Remember, I’m on a diet.”

Forgive me. I forgot. I assumed that everyone is on a diet. I seem to recall that none other than the stalwart Webster’s Dictionary set forth a relatively easy concept to understand regarding this deceptive word. From its Greek and Latin 13th to 14th century origins, diaita or diaeta, we find clear advice. The word literally means one’s daily regimen and manner of living or more succinctly, food and drink regularly provided or consumed. Interestingly, one can find additional, illuminating revelation from the Greek derivative, diaitasthai, whose translation directly counsels “to lead one’s life”. Thus, I concur with the ancients who saw merit in both an appropriate daily and long term perspective concerning one’s eating habits. Yes, of course, we can find early historical references to “dieting”. They, indeed, indicate that men and women have been fascinated with this weight loss craze for many centuries. Used as a verb, the word’s beginnings set forth a noticeable pattern for us today–“to cause to eat and drink sparingly or according to prescribed rules.” I wonder what those strict rules may have been for some of the earliest dieters. Where they more sensible than the majority of the suggested approaches today? Could they have been more healthy and productive than what we are offered today? Unlikely. We don’t have to go back centuries to discover that most of the fad weight loss plans of the day are simply recycled versions of an old model. Anything which focuses on the immediate or short term is rather ill suited for success.

So, those common “dieting” remarks which you might be well acquainted with need to be slightly altered so as to reflect the correct perspective. “I can’t afford not to eat.” You derive energy from food. The last time I checked, you are not a plant. Oh, if only you could go outside and absorb some rays from Mr. Sun then you wouldn’t need any solid sustenance. Of course, if you were a plant, you’d also thrive on rainy days. Yes, you’d look and smell great, particularly if you were a flower. But, alas, you need to replenish your energy and download your nutritional requirements from food. You need to make time to eat properly. It doesn’t matter what you do for a living. I have heard people say repeatedly that they just cannot eat healthy or at all while on the job. Nonsense! Where there is a will, there is a way. “I am really not hungry, now.” If you are observing healthy eating habits, you might find yourself turning down an appetizer or lunch run on occasion. Please, do not let others dictate what you do. When someone tells you that your goal of modifying your habits is impossible, ignore that person. “Impossible is just an opinion.”-Paulo Coelho “I choose not to eat that particular food for a specific reason.” You don’t necessarily have to explain your newly formed habits to everyone you meet, however, it would probably be wise to inform your inner circle. This way you unequivocally establish your personal standards. They should respect your desire to adhere to these standards, and you never know, you may find that you positively influence a work associate. I am not promising any converts, so just focus on being a good example. “Late in the day, I am careful not to consume fatty, calorie dense foods.” Who started this incredibly foolish notion that anything you eat past 7 P.M. will be stored as fat on your body? What if you eat at 6:59 P.M., are you in the clear? Your body does not in any way shape or form go into total hibernation mode while you are sleeping. No, I am not giving you permission to have a seven course meal at 10 O’ Clock tonight. “I am looking forward to Saturday because I have fun plans with my family.” I don’t believe in cheat days. Unless you have already developed tremendous discipline, one cheat food item turns into two and one cheat meal into an all day event full of binge eating. Certainly, it then becomes even easier for one such day to become another, then once again, yet another day of dishonest eating. Let’s face it, nobody likes a cheater! You are lying to yourself if you think this is an effective dietary strategy. “The choices you make will make all of the difference in what you want to achieve.”-L. Tom Perry “Seriously, why would I want to go on a hunger strike?” No, you should never go several days without eating! However, fasting once a month is good for the body, mind, and spirit in many ways. “Remember, I am on a D.I.E.T.”

I highly recommend adopting a new recipe for your daily consumption of food, the D.I.E.T. method. This is an acronym which you may not be familiar with, Don’t Ignore Eating Time. The groundwork for this concept was developed by a brilliant woman named Michelle Collins Detrick.  It is much more than simply not skipping meals. At the core of this practice, is knowing and understanding how your body functions as it relates to eating. Let’s face it, who knows your body better than you? No one. You can become in tune to the sweet music your body is playing. Listen to it closely. Commit it to memory. Sing along with it. Hum if you must, but the melody beckons to you. It calls you to eat when YOU need to. This means eating on your personal timetable. It has been said that your metabolism is as unique to you as are your fingerprints. Weighing this along with other such factors as age, physical activity level, caloric requirements, and specific nutritional needs and personal goals, does it not become clear that you must disregard old style traditions pertaining to food consumption? You were programmed to accept these traditions since your childhood. Gee, thanks Mom. Although your approach has been adjusted throughout your life, it has not been because you have seized control of your D.I.E.T., but rather due to acceptable societal practices. High school schedules, college eating habits, (Wow, remember those days!), workplace ebb and flow, meals on wheels, (the habitual consuming of food on the run in one’s vehicle), the current manner in which you eat at home, and the strange obsession you have with the food table at social gatherings all have brought two common elements into your D.I.E.T., inconsistency and confusion. Why are you so willing to accept the status quo? It hasn’t worked for you or for many at all. Your relationship with food is quite a peculiar thing to say the least. What you think you love so much often causes you to hate yourself. “We either make ourselves miserable or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.”-Carlos Castenada

I believe that you can become very strong in your conviction to change your world be altering your D.I.E.T. You are going to be required to do some work. There will be a measure of experimentation daily. This is not an approach that one figures out completely in a single over-night crash course. You will be eating more frequently throughout the day, which will include healthy “snacks”. You will be consuming food to fuel your body for your active lifestyle and to regulate your blood sugar levels. You will not simply be on the prowl to satisfy your cravings. So, preparation will be a key ingredient to your success. Vegetables? Absolutely! Should you “go organic” and avoid dangerous GMOs? Of course, as much as possible! Will this be expensive? It does not have to be. Always keep in mind that this is for the long haul, the remainder of your life’s journey. This is partly why you will never be able to find your personal D.I.E.T. written down for you in a magazine. You will be its author. That’s the beauty of it. Exciting, isn’t it?

It is an on going process. Yes, I am aware that you dislike that word, but nevertheless, it is a wonderful process of fine tuning your listening skills. Be patient! Be confident! You have the ability to grasp absolute control over what, where, when, how much, and why you eat. That in a nutshell is what a D.I.E.T. is all about. For more details, stay tuned. Meanwhile start

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