Don’t be Alarmed!


I am quite certain that your alarm just went off. Yes, there is no denying it. Come on now. That’s definitely yours.  I see you staring at your cell phone. How are you going to react? This is not an emergency, but it happens to be a very important point in this stage of your journey toward optimal health and wellness. It does not require a choice regarding a snooze button. That moment of decision came earlier today. I have to say “good for you”, because you arose immediately from bed.  As a recovering “night owl,” your progress has been very noticeable. “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”-Benjamin Franklin  Those extra hours of sleep have provided you with a much needed boost of energy, but now it’s mid-morning and something more is required to sustain your momentum. You cannot pretend that you didn’t hear the catchy jingle. I know that this is still relatively new to you, but I also know for certain how you wish to respond. Of course, I am not referring to answering a call or any of the latest technology on your new phone. You’ve mastered all the nuances of that in no time at all. That quick learning was due to a couple factors. One, this isn’t exactly your first cell phone is it? How many now? Double figures! (And still counting!) Pretty impressive, I guess. I have owned only two in my life. I still don’t particularly care for the things. I consider them a necessary evil. But, I digress. Each time you were enticed to upgrade to another make or model, you brought with you the previous experiences of adapting to the earlier devices. So, it really wasn’t as challenging as it might be, for instance, let’s say if this latest addition was, in fact, your long awaited debut with cell phones. It might then be considerably overwhelming to learn everything about all the wonderful features and applications. Over the course of years, you’ve also accepted the help of others each time you welcomed one of these hand held toys into your life. These people knew a little more than you did, because they had already “been there and done that”. They aren’t more intelligent than you. Perhaps, at some point they read an owner’s manual. Imagine doing that! Perhaps, they experimented a bit on their own. Most likely, in the beginning, they too were educated by someone else. So, you have been programmed to respond to this alarming sound in a very specific fashion. Don’t be alarmed! Your mind is still adapting to this change in protocol. Your body is as well. This is all very normal.

So, I see you reach into your desk, backpack, purse, jacket, or bag and pull out something. I hear the tearing and rustling of a wrapper, or could that be that a small Tupperware container lid popping off, or even a Ziploc opening. Does it really matter? You have set your alarm to be in sync with your body’s natural “fueling clock”. It is time to eat. I am so happy to hear you munching on your “mini meal”.  Isn’t this new approach to eating made so much more manageable by applying a simple time-tested approach? Aren’t you elated that there is no required reading from a manual with directions printed in Spanish, French, and German. Much of the information you need to continue to be successful can be easily discovered. It is inherently a part of who you are. As you listen to your body, you will learn what no one else can teach you. As you listen to your health coach, you will learn to appreciate the value of genuine encouragement. The significance of a journey which is shared cannot truly be measured.

It’s alright to be a chronic clock watcher, as long as it is not too much of a distraction from your daily tasks. It is more than acceptable to listen for that alarm mode you’ve utilized on your phone. If you feel slightly uncomfortable that you need to be secretive about this at work, have a little faith. It will work out! Maybe you need to be discrete about when you eat. But, when you have to do it, you have to do it! Remember, this is an easy to consume “mini meal”. You are not breaking out a seven-course meal in front of everyone or laying out a buffet spread on your boss’ desk. The momentary anxiety you might feel regarding this routine will pass quickly. Talk to your support team, trainer, or health coach when you think you’ve encountered a stumbling block. I am positive that there is absolutely not a single concern that you have which cannot be resolved. I seriously doubt that you can experience anything new to the human condition. I say it again with greater emphasis this time. “Been there, done that!” You have moved well passed the “I don’t have time to eat” or the “I’m really not hungry” stages. You have accepted the challenge to implement a consistent eating schedule throughout the course of your day. This routine is exactly what your body desires. The more you successfully navigate your days and fuel up at your prescribed times, this will become progressively easier. You might not need the beckoning of an alarm to signal to you that it is once again time for sustenance. Some individuals just learn to be keenly aware of the signs their body is sending them. Like clock-work, without the bells and whistles, they stop for just a moment. They attend to their nutritional needs, and then pick up what they were engaged in without missing a beat. The actual alarm may come to serve the role of an insurance policy. Set every two, three, or four hours per day it ensures that you are off and running with this lifestyle change with few slip-ups. It is not to be viewed as a crutch. If you always have to rely on its unfailing consistency, then so be it. It can be a trusty companion. So, before I send you on your way, I offer one more piece of wisdom. Perfect practice makes perfect. Casual or randomly selected adherence to this program will not result in the benefits you are seeking. I hope that you believe that I would never promote or institute a philosophy, program, or set of structured rules which is not calculated in its very nature to promote that happiness for which we are designed, and which will not end in the greatest amount of good and the fullest of blessings to those who become recipients and followers of such ordinances. Hey, there goes your alarm again! Wow, time really does fly!

photo credit: Improper Use via photopin (license)

Want to Relax? Get a Massage

Are you in search of something to help take your workouts to the proverbial next level? What programs and techniques should you choose and apply to your routine? Don’t fret. Just relax! Are you finding it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to bounce back from a challenging workout? Isn’t there a product that you could take that would help your body become more resilient? Don’t worry about this dilemma. Just relax! Do you feel completely drained after your workouts? You’re so accustomed to being utterly spent that you are not sure if you are doing something wrong? Hey, all workouts are supposed to be tough, aren’t they? No problema! Just relax! Despite your efforts to stretch sufficiently, are you having trouble loosening up? If you are actually being honest about the stretching, I don’t believe there is any serious issue. So, just relax! As someone who is new to exercise, is the soreness which you are experiencing a bit disconcerting? Well, relax! Are you slightly confused because your time in the gym does not appear to be as stress-reducing as you had hoped? Okay, really, it is time to relax! Are you at least slightly annoyed that I’m repeatedly telling you to relax? I am being totally serious. Relax!

Alright, I’ll calm down and explain. I had the pleasure of training a young man who is in school to become a message therapist. I have always thought that a monthly massage would be wonderful for everyone. I’m sure that it would be entirely appropriate and clearly not in the least bit foreign to you to hear the words massage and relax in the same sentence. In fact, no less than that stalwart source, Wikipedia, informs us that massage involves working or acting on the body with pressure, tension, motion, or vibration to promote relaxation and well-being. As I have pondered the term well-being, I do not conjure up thoughts solely related to our physical body. As young Gabe, the budding massage therapist stated, a massage isn’t something that most people consider to be a necessity, but rather a luxury. The continued discussions of the benefits of massage during our weekly workouts led me to conclude that I needed to amend my previous way of thinking. A message once a month isn’t nearly enough for anyone. Would making a healthy eating decision just once per month improve the results produced from your workouts? Would resting only one day per month provide the boost that you are looking to experience in the gym? Of course, the answer is “no way, Jose!”

For those who desire more detail concerning the many types and health benefits of massage, there is more information than you could ever dream of available online. I perused a couple sites such as,, after Gabe had peaked my interest. My conclusion is that massage therapy is an amazing performance enhancer that all should utilize. It is not just for professional athletes nor should it be relegated to the status of a vacation perk. Do you need to recoup before your next intense training session? Do you think that increased or improved circulation in the body sounds good? Are you desperately searching for a means of soothing your anxiety or even depression? Are you suffering from insomnia related to stress or physical pain? Would you love to improve your mental sharpness, possibly relieve those nasty headaches, lower your blood pressure, improve flexibility and range of motion, breath deeper and easier, and improve your posture? To all of these I say, consider getting a massage. Too often categorized as just another alternative form of medicine, massage therapy can be “just what your doctor ordered”!

My point is not to suggest that this will solve all of your particular issues. I do not believe I’m recommending a panacea here. But, I submit that you’d be doing your body a whole lot of good if you make the time to have a massage. How do you think your body will respond in the minutes, hours, or days following the massage? From a Swedish style, to deep tissue, to neuromuscular, to reflexology, to Shiatsu, to magnetic therapy, and so many more, there is something for everyone when it comes to massage. So, before you make another call to order the next magic pill to solve your exercise related problems, perhaps, you should consider letting some skilled hands, fingers, elbows, knees, forearms, feet, or device help you to relax!

Message to self: get a massage!

photo credit: Massage 2 b/w via photopin (license)

Water Works

Do you ever wonder if your passion for “pounding the pavement” is taking its toll on your body? What about your love for “pumping iron”? There is no questioning the awesome health benefits of regular cardiovascular and weight lifting exercises. But, have you ever wished that there existed an effective, safe, and fun way to supplement your training? Of course, you have. Have you pondered the possibility that there could exist a flip-side to all the many, long hours you’ve racked up in the gym or engaged in during outdoor exercise? I suspect that you have not even given it a passing thought. What if someone told you that those repetitive movement exercises you’ve been engaging in are actually associated with micro-trauma? You’d say that’s just sheer nonsense, right. You would be wrong.  Here’s an eye opener for you. Now, maybe the word trauma is a bit blunt in nature. However, I am a firm believer in using strong, bold terms when it is necessary to relay an important message. So, here it is. Your body is screaming at you for a break from the usual workouts. Up to this moment, you have not been listening. You are guilty of negligence. Your bones, joints, muscles, tendons, and all the connective tissues of the body are paying the price for your crimes of passion regarding exercise. It may not have manifested itself in the form of a noticeable injury, yet, but trouble is lurking. Significant damage may have already been done. At the very least, you are laying the groundwork for potential disaster. The time has arrived for somebody to do something to put an end to this terrible injustice. Your body deserves better treatment, and I for one am not going to stand idly by and watch this physical abuse continue. I’m not interested in reporting you to the local authorities to put you in the slammer. I want to see you get the water treatment. You’ve been torturing your body for too long. An appropriate punishment would be to have you thrown into a swimming pool!

Yes, you heard this verdict pronounced correctly! What are you afraid of a little water? Did you know that your body is made up of approximately 60% water? So it is not unreasonable to predict that you might just find some natural attraction to the pool. For those of you who are legitimately fearful of the deep blue; for those who do not know how to swim, your sentence will not be stayed. The water will serve you well as you serve your time in it. There are ways and means of learning the lessons which even enthusiastic pool-goers have come to embrace. What can you reasonably expect as a result of your probation in the pool? Well, my hope is that you come out a rejuvenated, reformed, and responsible individual. There is a very high probability that you will be surprised by the often referred to “meditative” and “healing” properties of the water. As strange as it may sound, the act of swimming itself can be quite relaxing. Activity in the water engages all of the major muscle groups of the upper and lower body. It literally is strength training in the pool without the physical abuse common to the gym or land exercise in general. For bodybuilders, I suspect that you’ll discover some of those tough to hit muscles are easily and effectively targeted in the water. How satisfying will that be? For those looking to exercise without discomfort, walking or running in the water will prove to be much more comfortable and therefore, more productive than on land. For those interested in weight loss through exercise, the pool offers a great place to begin. You can strengthen your heart, improve your endurance, posture, and flexibility simultaneously. As you serve your time in the pool faithfully, you may leave more than a little unwanted body fat in the water.

Though many have called swimming the most ideal form of exercise, doing anything in the water is extremely productive. Why beat up your body day after day? Why beat yourself up because you don’t feel confident yet in the gym? Water works for one and all! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirms that people who suffer from arthritis can notice significant improvement in the use of affected joints without worsening any symptoms. Spending time in the water can lift spirits, improve moods, and make a remarkable difference in one’s quality of life. It can also provide a wonderful opportunity to have some fun family time. My wife and I took our five year old son to an indoor water park for his birthday in early October. We had such a fabulous experience that I insisted upon returning for my birthday in January! Water works wonders! There is no time that is not a good time to find out just what water will do for your body and mind. So, get in that pool, or lake, or even that hot tub. Your sentence begins today!

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Shout Out the Doubt!

It seems to a greater extent than ever before in my professional career, I find myself engaged in deep conversation with people regarding the pernicious plague of self doubt. Sometimes this disease strikes seemingly without any warning. You believe yourself to have been rendered paralyzed, incapable of following through on that commitment to yourself. Like a tall oak tree having been toppled over by a powerful bolt of lightening, you feel as if you shall never be able to proudly stand upright again. For others, this affliction has been a serious, long-time struggle.The wondrous hopes and dreams of youth have all been erased from the memory banks. In their place have been stored only visions full of fear and inadequacy. “One of the greatest weaknesses in most of us is our lack of faith in ourselves. One of our common failings is to depreciate our tremendous worth.”-L. Tom Perry  If you don’t believe that you are of inestimable value, then no significant effort will be employed to attain anything greater in life. You who doubt your worth will settle for less than you truly deserve for you must believe that you actually deserve little at all. What a tragic, false narrative you have written regarding your own existence. No matter what your experience, you can alter that mindset. However real your situation, you can change your self-image. Regardless of the depth and magnitude of your adversity, you have the ability to rise above the negativity and see yourself for who you really are.“You have within you the strength, patience, and passion to reach for the stars and change the world.”-Harriet Tubman   That, my friends, means that what you do, or do not, is important. You matter significantly!

You are so much more than what you see today! You are so much more than how you feel today! This affliction, whether completely self-induced, or provoked by the unkind words and actions of another, or even just aided by the every day rigors of life, has caused much damage. But, I tell you that nothing is irreversible. “To those who are wounded in spirit or who are struggling and fearful, we say, Let us lift you and cheer you and calm your fears.”-Thomas S. Monson  So, you recently talked yourself out of taking that all important step forward in the areas of exercise and proper eating. Perhaps, you didn’t show up for the first couple training appointments which you scheduled. Maybe, you received the first order of food today for an exciting new program and you just panicked. The thoughts of self-doubt begin to pop up inside your head like lottery balls in the hamper. This is not uncommon. Look, it is after all, the easy way out. You know it and I know it. Hey, neither a deflated or bruised ego, nor a singular moment of doubt, nor a lifetime of unbelief can pass as appropriate justification for giving up on yourself. It boils down to this: every single difficulty which you could possibly face must be surmounted. Understand that the helping hands that have been offered are outstretched still. Trust in the sincerity of those who have walked this lonely road before you.  Though you may be shy, nervous, anxious, or downright scared to death, you must not retrace the steps of your past. There is a means to vanquish your foe. You can triumph over your own fears. You are not alone.

“Sometimes the best people have the worst experiences, because they are the most ready to learn.”-Neil A. Maxwell   Being completely and utterly broken is often necessary to drive one into a state of preparedness. In this condition, one is more likely to find the humility required to be taught the way out of despair. Your health coach is wise as to the pitfalls which have trapped so many others. He or she can provide an awesome support system. You will find an ever present friendly voice of compassion and encouragement. Your personal trainer is forgiving. So, please forgive yourself. Then seek the guidance and protection from that reliable resource.

Just this evening, I shared some thoughts with a woman who had never formally exercised in her life. She expressed just how nervous she was feeling about the entire concept. I was impressed that she showed up on such a cold night. I was more impressed that she listened intently to my counsel and followed my instruction fearlessly. Upon completion of our time together, she exclaimed in a rather surprising manner that this had not been nearly so bad as she had expected. These are my goals: to make the uncomfortable task bearable, to help you see that the improbable is, actually, possible, and never to leave you comfortless.

Indeed, the trials of yesterday may have been extremely overwhelming. You felt weak and weary. How grateful I am for this new day dawning. It is not too cold or too hot. It is not too crowded. You have not ruined everything. It is not too late. “We become what we want to be by consistently being what we want to become each day.”-Richard G. Scott  With caring companions on this journey, you can shut out the doubt. Heck, if you must, “Shout out the doubt!” Scream away at the top of your lungs! I would recommend a secluded spot for that cleansing. “Faith and doubt cannot exist in the same mind at the same time, for one will dispel the other. Cast out doubt! Cultivate faith!”-Thomas S. Monson

Why Ask Why?

Have you ever snuck out of the office after finding out that the boss has sprung for pizza? Do you ever attend a “lunch meeting” without actually feeling pressured to partake in eating lunch? Do you habitually bring some form of sustenance with you wherever you go, and can be observed pulling it out of a jacket pocket or purse? Or, are you the first one to dive into the tempting feast delivered to the work place? Do you look forward to those frequent get-togethers, business or pleasure related, because they typically revolve around restaurants and food? Furthermore, are you chronically ill-prepared for those situations that seem to pop up regularly and which leave you stuck without any chance of fueling your body?

If you answered in the affirmative to the latter three questions, you probably cannot understand how anyone would choose to act differently. Perhaps, you may consider the behavior described by the initial three inquiries as awfully strange at this juncture of your life. You might even view them as being somewhat rebellious or displaying rather anti-social behavior. Please do not judge those who, you may see as crazy non-conformists. Stereotyping them as some form of health-freak is a result of simple misunderstanding.  “Everything we see is a shadow cast by that which we do not see.”-Martin Luther King Jr. There is certainly more, here, than meets the eye. These are good people just like yourself. Those who you might deem to be particularly picky eaters choose to refrain from specific items for a very specific reason. Those who don’t happen to eat on your schedule have discovered a  more effective means of structuring their personal eating time-tables. Those who are able to sit and converse with friends or colleagues without the need to reach for food actually do have a method to their “madness”! There are a great deal of misconceptions regarding decisions about one’s health. There are so many differing approaches, often resulting from the ever growing onslaught of theorizing concerning human health. It can be confusing to say the least. However, there is no reason to remain in the dark. There is trustworthy information available for you.

Why be content with just being a spectator and witnessing the developing mental discipline and on-going physical transformation of others? Somewhere inside your soul longs for something more. To discover that more abundant life, some changes will be required. I am not suggesting that each of you has to alter your entire lifestyle this very day because you have gone horribly wrong somehow. “I may not be like them but that’s okay. I can only be me.”-Madilyn Paige  I am not hinting that you must become a carbon copy of that person who you think to be peculiar. Admit it though, there is something about that peculiarity that intrigues you. Knowing a bit about human nature, I sense that you could be experiencing a combination of a little self-doubt and jealousy. That is perfectly understandable. You call that friend, brother, sister, spouse, next door neighbor, or boss by the same name as you have always done. Yet, that person is the same in name only. I propose that you be not afraid to ask “Why?” but also “How?” and “What?”. How can you have that glow about your countenance that those around you now possess?  What prompted the desire to change, what fuels the discipline, what is the catalyst for remaining steadfast in these ways, and can I possibly attempt this journey as well? What do I have to do? You need the answers to these questions. The outward changes that you see in one’s physique and behavior are truly just a small part of an even greater transformation. I promise that if you ask, you shall receive an answer. If you seek greater knowledge, you shall find it. If you knock, a door to a bright future shall be opened. That person you are thinking of right now is eager to share what he or she knows. That person has been hoping that you would approach with a sincere interest. He or she is ready and willing to help you. Why would this be the case? My friends, if conversion to this new way of life is complete, a decrease in one’s waistline will lead to an increase in the heart’s capacity to give. A man or woman will not be content with blessing his or her life alone. Maybe that is peculiar. But, “in order to make a difference in the world, you must be different.”-unknown

You can learn to resist temptation. You can learn to be better prepared. You can overcome the doubt. You can combat complacency. You can turn the feelings of jealousy into admiration and inspiration. You can still walk to the beat of your own drum while following the same, safe path as others. A road which will lead you to optimal health has been blazed before you. All you have to do is open you mouth; not to put food into it, yet, but rather, to ask and inquire! “The only thing that stands between a man and what he wants from life is often merely the will to try and the faith to believe it is possible.”-David Viscott

Trust that we are here to help you try, and that we believe in you! You can do it!