blog entries

Let It Go

banana cheesecakeSo, you just consumed an enormously disgusting, yet at the same time, heavenly helping of your mom’s homemade cheesecake. Mmm, delicious, right? Only a few minutes have elapsed since you rather reluctantly gave in to your mom’s offering of the last scrumptious bite. Years ago, you might have been the one begging, “please mum, may I have some more?” Yet now, your feelings are something strongly akin to “eaters remorse”! Your initial thought may be why did I just eat that entire thing, which by the way probably would have fed a family of five for several days. But your mind has switched gears faster than a speedy cyclist approaching a severe uphill grade. You are pondering whether or not you need to dash off straight away to the gym to work off all those extra calories. Oh my, look what that seemingly innocent banana, walnut cheesecake has done to you. You’ve now reached the point of pacing around and talking to yourself, rather harshly I might add. Why? Apparently, it seems, for two reasons. One, it is preposterous to think that you’ll ever be able to turn down Mom’s baking. Secondly, you will swear under oath that you can actually see the cheesecake attached to your hips or abdominal area. The million dollar question burning a hole in your brain is should you do more exercise right now. You need not wait until that special report on the 10 O’ClockNews tonight for the correct answer. Do Not Go!

Exercising too much is a real problem. Quite obviously, frequent over-indulging on that cheesecake, lasagna, pizza, fast food burger, ice cream, chocolate or whatever your temptation is also a problem of considerable magnitude. Giving in so readily to that which tempts you so easily is inviting addiction into your body, home, and life. Thus doing so, you run the extreme risk of losing your ability to choose at all. “In order for us to make the correct decisions, courage is needed-the courage to say no when we should.” – Thomas S. Monson

There must come a point in time when you realize that enough is enough. When you have clocked out your proverbial workout card for the day, do not give it another thought, Leave your blood, sweat, and tears at the gym. Forget about it. You’ve been there and done that. You may cross it off the to-do list. Congratulations! A job well done! In the same sense, you must recognize the importance of exercising portion control. It is important to know how much is enough.

Your deepest regrets of tomorrow can be prevented by following a plan today. The perfect blueprint for you to follow involves a balanced approach which encompasses each of the following elements:

1. Restful sleep
I cannot emphasize enough just how crucial it is for you to get enough rest. Restful, rejuvenating sleep lays the firm foundation upon which you must build. Everything is influenced by your sleep patterns. Make no mistake, without it, you are going to struggle mightily to transform your body, not to mention your life.

2. Healthy Eating
There is no magic, one-size-fits-all meal plan. You have different tastes, different caloric needs, perhaps different essential vitamin or mineral requirements, a different metabolic rate than others. One thing is very clear, minor adjustments to your eating habits can be very rewarding. By making the effort to eliminate even one strictly calorie dense/nutrient deficient food item from your daily consumption you may in time notice that cheesecake drop from your body’s trouble area. You can do more to rid yourself of unwanted body fat by sacrificing in your kitchen than you could ever hope to accomplish by sweating in the gym.

3. Eliminate Negative Stress
As much as possible, you must strive to find inner peace and contentment. Negative stress affects most everyone in some manner. Consider that the unwanted stress you are experiencing currently may very well be the source of your sleep problem, which in turn may contribute to your overeating issues. Yes, there is a proven connection between lack of sleep and weight gain. Lack of adequate sleep and other unhealthy stressors cause the release of specific hormones which actually induce the hunger sensation. You will probably not have too much difficulty identifying the root problems resulting in increased stress. Wiping them out will not be as easy and will take a significant effort on your part.

4. Regular Exercise
Exercise comes in a distant fourth on this list of crucial ingredients for your improved health and wellness. Surely, you have to admit that it is great news to learn that you don’t have to workout nearly as much as you think to produced desired results. You exercise to improve the quality of your life. You exercise as a means of injury prevention.You do it to feel stronger and to look better and hopefully add a few more productive years to your life. If you chose to focus your attention primarily on the workouts, you are in need of a major wake-up call. Ignoring one or more of the first three elements, proper sleep, healthy eating, and negative stress reduction is simply sabotaging your work in the gym. Frankly, it won’t matter if you spend 3 or 4 hours exercising each day. You cannot dig your way out of the hole you’re stuck in. Exercise needs to be fun, safe, and efficient to be effective. Living an active lifestyle should be a priority, but not an obsession.

So, if your pacing and pondering for partaking of the forbidden cheesecake has morphed into a type of paralysis, you can be free at last if you choose to do something positive today. “If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl. But whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.”-Martin Luther King, Jr. Follow the road map placed before you on your personal journey. Food is to be enjoyed, but not used as a crutch for comforting you in a time of high anxiety, disappointment, confusion, or sorrow. You can literally eat every last crumb in your house and still be left hungering for that which you sincerely crave. You will not find that which you desperately seek with a spoon in your hand and your arm wrapped around a container of Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey. Nor will racking up serious overtime in the gym ever satisfy your desire for something more. So, what is my final word on your cheesecake/gym dilemma? Forget about the gym for the moment. It will still be there when you wake up tomorrow. Enjoy the time with Mom. Have a small sliver of her famous cheesecake just to satisfy you and freeze the remainder. Let it go! Mom will understand…someday. She will love you every day.

photo credit: scubadive67 via photopin cc

Fitness is a Journey, not a Destination

Great Wall of China

Great Wall of China

So, it’s that time of year you’ve been eagerly looking forward to, the season which brings with it the much anticipated long vacations, the spontaneous amusement and theme park getaways, the family reunions, and your best friend’s wedding. Yes, it is summertime. The parks and beaches are filled with the wonderful sounds of children laughing and playing. I know how much you love the smiling faces and lively conversations on front porches and in the back yard barbecues. They seem to go on from dawn until dusk. Is your participation dampened somewhat by your feelings of insecurity? Did summer creep up quickly and catch you by surprise? Are you frustrated daily because the personal goals you had set are lingering in your mind once again and remain as unfinished business? Instead of being thrilled to join in fun-filled activities, are you somewhat dreading the very thought? Could it be that your individual fitness quest had trouble getting started?

If you could let go of the anxiety over the way your work clothes fit, you’d do it in a second, wouldn’t you? If you weren’t slightly mortified about the prospect of slipping into that pretty dress or fancy tuxedo for that special occasion or donning the bathing suit you desire to wear at the pool, you’d be more excited, right? So, you happen to be a little bit off the original schedule. Do not panic! Just because there is no miracle pill that will transform your body in three weeks, please do not now adopt a “wait until next year” attitude. All is not lost.

But a word of caution, be very wary of anyone promising quick fixes. Celebrity chefs, athletes, actors, entertainers, and others may endorse a miracle drug to lose weight or build muscle. Don’t be fooled into wasting your money, your time, and your emotions. Your plumber or auto mechanic may have a simple, speedy, effective, and lasting solution for a problem you are experiencing, however, such is never the case, nor ever will be for someone on TV or in a magazine pitching the fast track to the new you! This journey you are on is far too important for you to exhaust any effort in the absolute wrong direction. Many people will fall victim to this ploy meant to deceive and misguide. You can take some baby steps today that will redirect your course in a safe and appropriate manner.

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” – Lau Tzu

Although this is the popular form of this quotation, a more correct translation from the original Chinese would be, “The journey of a thousand miles begins beneath one’s feet.” Rather than emphasizing the first step, Lau Tzu regarded action as something that arises naturally from stillness. To paraphrase slightly, we might say, “Even the longest journey must begin where you stand.” – Michael Moncur

Well, where do you currently stand? What is it that stands between you and your goals? Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, my hope is that you still have a positive outlook on your future. I stand with you and boldly declare that you must not let negativity from others or a defeatist attitude stand as a towering obstacle in your way. In the stillness of any moment, can you say that your desire to change is greater than your desire to remain in the same place? If “Yes” is your heart’s fervent reply, then that is enough! The smallest bit of desire is all that is necessary. With it kindling deep inside of you, that tiny flame of desire can start a reaction “beneath your feet”. I am not referring to an earthquake! You can take that first step forward in faith. “What lies before us and what lies behind us are small matters compared to what lies within us. And when you bring what is within out into the world, miracles happen.” – Henry David Thoreau

It is important that you feel good about the progress which you are making. It might be imperceptible to you right now, but it is happening “where you stand”! Love yourself right now. Don’t put off being happy until some point in the future, perhaps when you’ve walked a thousand miles. Don’t delay until your circumstances are different. Some things may never change. Decide now to be grateful for who you are and what you have. You have been blessed with certain unique gifts. In order for you to use these talents to enrich your own life and touch many others as well, you must trust that your desire will be nurtured and grow along this journey. I know that excitement you will have when you begin to see even the slightest physical manifestation of the effort you have been making. This will increase your capacity to continue onward, to “arise naturally” and do not look back. Your ability to function at your peak levels in every area of your life will be magnified. You deserve to smile this summer and throughout every season of the year. When you do, you will contribute to the happiness of others. “It is not enough just to be good. We must be good for something. The world must be a better place for our presence.” – Gorden B. Hinckley

So, don’t fret about the bathing suit, the vacation, the wedding, or the reunion. Enjoy the summer! You’re still you, and that is all that matters!

“Fitness is a journey, not a destination.” – Unknown



Learn From What Tour Professionals Say After a Round

LPGA Golf Pro Natalie Gulbis

LPGA Golf Pro Natalie Gulbis

You may recognize a few of the statements below that are regularly issued by tour professionals at the conclusion of their round. Can you learn something from these standard remarks by the world’s best players? Can you apply any lessons to your individual game by giving heed to what these comments are teaching? The answer to these questions is of course you can! I believe that if you utilize a few basic principles found in these statements, you will soon begin to notice a positive difference on your scorecard. Let’s examine them more closely.

“I was able to stay in the moment.”

Distractions are everywhere. Yes, even on the golf course, they can be found in abundance. Avoiding their traps is key to your personal progress. If you are thinking about a job related issue, the yard work that you need to do instead of golfing, or whether you have time to pick up your brother-in-law at the airport then I would suggest that you will struggle with your concentration. This type of distraction, though nearly impossible to completely eliminate, nevertheless needs to stay away from the course. It becomes a ton of bricks in your golf bag, an unnecessary burden. During the course of play, it would behoove you to concern yourself only with those things pertaining to your group. Why worry about what is going on ahead of you or behind you or in an adjacent fairway? Unless you own your own course, there are always going to be other people out there. I know that you have it within you to be totally focused on the immediate task at hand.

“I took it one shot at a time and did not think ahead.”

In some ways this relates to the previous comment. Let’s consider the following scenario. You are having the best round of your life. You get overly excited in anticipation of an “easy” hole to come. That which you were counting on aiding your life time achievement just became a living nightmare. So, you can get distracted when you become a scoreboard watcher. You have heard it said before that a two foot putt counts just as many strokes as a 250 yard shot. There is great pleasure to be derived from executing every type of shot required during your round. Fixation with that bad swing you made on the last hole can be the worst kind of mental distraction. Forgive and forget! “Move along. Nothing to see here!” Remember, the next shot could very well be the greatest shot of your life. But it will not occur if you are thinking about your current total number of strokes in relation to par. Commit to each shot and live in the now. You must not think too much about what lies ahead rather focus on where your ball lies. The next hole will still be waiting to test your skills. It is not going anywhere. Patrick Reed, as the third round leader at Congressional Golf Club, said the following: “You can’t get ahead of yourself. If you think about having the lead or if you think about what you’re going to do coming down 18, you’re going to lose focus on the rest of the holes.”

“I came in with a clearly defined game plan and I stuck to it.”

If you are prepared, you should not fear anything. Deciding beforehand what you will do in any situation you could potentially face is essential. Through repetitions in practice and developing self discipline, you will greatly increase your ability to be able to once again make a correct decision at the course. I can not overstate this point. Many, if not all of these choices, have essentially been predetermined by you. Course management has as much to do with keeping your emotions in check as it does checking the yardage and pulling a correct club. You can make a choice to ignore the jeers from the “noisy gallery, which might just include your golfing buddies. They will tempt you to alter your actions. With the proper training, no one will be able to force you to deviate from your chosen plan. I suggest that you listen to your “inner caddie”. You have learned from your experience that he will not lead you astray. He will confirm to you the correctness of your decisions time and time again. Regardless of the particular situation, you can always stick to your pre-shot routine. This will prove to be very beneficial even if nothing seems to be going the way you intended. As you know, things can change quickly on the golf course. So, slow down and stay true to what you know. “First doubt your doubts, before you doubt your faith.” – Dieter F. Uchtdorf

“I played to my strengths and tried not to do anything crazy.”

You have a “go to” shot, use it more frequently. If your relationship with your driver is on-again-off-again, then here is some good advice. Don’t hesitate to utilize your fairway metals off the tee or anything else for that matter. Your strength is in keeping the ball in play with something other than the big stick. So, give your driver a leave of absence and do not concern yourself with the distance your playing companions are hitting the ball. Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of a stress free round. You don’t have to search for your tee ball when it is sitting comfortably in the middle of the fairway. Happiness is always finding your ball. You know exactly what results from not losing one brand new Titleist, Nike, Callaway, or Bridgestone for 9 or 18 holes. You will have a lower score! Perhaps you feel that you don’t have a strength to your game at this point. You will find a strength through your preparations. Weaknesses, well, we all have them despite our best efforts to hide them. In golf, as in life, they are intended to humble us. Only then are we in a state where we a ready and willing to be taught. Don’t be afraid to admit you need help. You can’t figure everything out on your own and were never meant to. Seeking to make progress is a noble undertaking. I’ll give you just one example of doing something crazy. I have seen this so many times. You are attempting, in vain, to hit a fairway club from the thick rough. Despite your delusions of grandeur, this strategy will not prevail. You need a machete, my friend! Go to your bag and pull out a shorter, much more lofted club. You will not regret this move as you shall extricate the ball from the deep stuff and be in good position for your next play.

“My goal was to avoid big numbers.”

Yes, snowmen do enjoy making special appearances during golf season. Recording a double-bogey or worse does not mean the end of your day. However, it is important to right the ship soon before the “snowball” effect takes control of your game. If you cannot refocus, you may end up needing the services of your accountant to review your scorecard. Each hole gives you the opportunity to begin anew and essentially restart your round. It is never too late to do something great! I suggest spending a little more time working on your short game. The ability to scramble due to confidence in your wedge play and putting can be your saving grace. In truth, all it really takes is one good shot on virtually any golf hole to give yourself an opportunity to make bogey or better. You can do that!

“I just went out there today and decided to have fun and not think about anything.”

After all is said and done, if you cannot just go out and enjoy yourself, perhaps you need to reassess your attitude or your overall approach. Remember why you love this game. It isn’t because you get paid to play it, right! There is more to it than simply the final tally on the card. It is hard to beat golfing on a beautiful day with friends or family at a picturesque golf course. If you desire to improve, do not procrastinate developing some type of consistent off-course practice routine. Practice, in whatever form it takes, is your dress rehearsal. The golf course is your stage and the performance must go on. So, it goes without saying, then, that there is clearly danger is delay. The danger is that you will discover that you have run out of time. You have rushed to get yourself to the first tee only to discover that you do not have a game plan, you are already distracted by a dozen things, you are lacking in confidence, you are nervous because you have no idea where your tee shot is going to end up, and you are resigned to accept a big number before you’ve hit your first shot. With this warning sound of procrastination, I bring you this good news. There is even now still time for you to prepare yourself for your next trip to your favorite golf destination. You don’t have to remain the comic relief for your foursome. By sincerely pondering these remarks from very accomplished golfers, and by taking action today your golf life will change for the better.

photo credit: Joits via photopin cc

Don’t Compare Your Beginning to Someone Else’s Middle

Are you constantly comparing yourself to other people? “Oh, how I wish that I looked like that person!” As I ponder the hundreds of times that I’ve listened to such expression of one’s displeasure with their body, I wish to offer some insight – no one is completely happy with their current physical state!

Perhaps you have never considered that the same individual who you are staring at, subtly of course, is actually having the same wishful thought about someone else. And, yes, that person has his or her eyes on yet another who is deemed to have an absolutely perfect physique. Do you see how this could be never ending? In the quest for perfection, all of us will be left seeking for more, and all of us will fall short in this life. Reality teaches us that no one is immune from illness, injury, or simply the ebb and flow of life events. Circumstances beyond our control can put a temporary damper on the attainment of any personal physical fitness goals.

You might perhaps feel as if you are spinning your wheels in the mud and progress seems unlikely to occur any time soon. What are you to do if you face such a set-back? Since there exists no inoculation to shield you from trials, you must simply accept them and carry on.

As my intention is to be encouraging, I must tell you that you can rise to meet you own personal challenges. Remember, be strong, you never know who YOU might inspire through your efforts, because as we have already established, people are watching, wishing, and waiting. Even you, who currently may not be exactly thrilled with yourself, may be just the person someone else needs.

In the gym, as in life, let us not be so quick to judge others. We assume too much as we peer across the health club at our idol. Do not make the mistake in presuming that everything comes easy to this particular person. We are not aware of his or her own struggles. Nothing lasting and worthwhile comes without a price to be paid. Are you willing to offer a small portion of that cost each day to improve? “You have not failed unless you quit trying.” -Gordon B. Hinkley

Merely gazing at someone’s large biceps or nicely sculpted legs or shoulders is not going to instantly transform your own body parts. Can anything good come from your wandering eyes and dare I call it “body envy”? By seeking to find a fitness role model, you can attempt to emulate some of the healthy habits which are put into practice. You might acquire that little extra motivation or even precious knowledge from the one whom you admire at the gym.

However, here is where I caution you to be careful. Please read the following warning label:

1.) Some of the people who look as if they should know what they are doing, actually do not. Indeed, improper form too often accompanies the exercise practices of those who appear to fit the ideal role model.

2.) There is no perfect approach that will work for everyone. So, mimicking every move another makes is not necessarily a recipe for your personal success. “If you are still looking for that one person who will change your life, take a look in the mirror”.- Roman Price

I stand ready and willing to help, but ultimately you are in control of your destiny. We are all at different points along our fitness journey. “Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.” -Jon Acoff   There exists no end, only new beginnings. So, believe that you are in the very midst of becoming the amazing person who you were intended to be, and stop staring at other people. Make today the day you decide to change your attitude toward yourself. You have been you for a very long time. You are unique. I am inspired by you. Keep up the great work!

The Outdoors are Calling

Do you find yourself spending an inordinate amount of time inside? Are you so wrapped up within the confines of your hectic lifestyle? Have you have deprived yourself of the freedom found though the act of “stopping to smell the roses”?

the great outdoorsWithout even realizing it, we can become prisoners stuck in our busy, daily routines. Many have sentenced themselves to spend the majority of their days and nights inside. They are inside their automobiles, inside the place of employment, inside their vehicle again, inside an entertainment hot spot, inside a restaurant, back inside their car yet again, and inside their house. I don’t think that anyone is immune from being caught up in the craziness and complexity that would appear to be a natural part of life these days. There is a sense that being busy in and of itself, brings some sort of sense of accomplishment. I believe that our minds, our bodies, and our spirits long for something much different. We naturally desire to be released from this societal captivity. While racing around just to complete a long list of tasks may be appealing to some, I believe most people wish they could be released from the complexity of lives spent inside “jail cells” of their own creating. “Today’s complexity demands greater simplicity.” ( L. Tom Perry)

I have a simple solution which is applicable to all.

Stop and get outside!

I don’t think I need to remind you of what you’ll find waiting there. Remember the fresh air and sunshine or gentle breeze blowing through your hair? Recall the extraordinary sights, sounds, and smells of the great outdoors. Some may agree, yes indeed, happiness is being outside. Others may contend that becoming one with nature is the key to a longer life. I would offer to you that creating opportunities to spend more time outdoors with family and friends, or just by oneself, greatly enriches the quality of our lives.

Think back to the days of your youth. Did you ever want to be trapped inside? If you were anything like me, the answer is a resounding “No!” If recess or playground time were considered a class, it was my favorite as a kid. I think back with great fondness on long days of playing anywhere, biking everywhere, and never wanting to go home. Well, except to eat my mom’s delicious cooking, of course. Sure, I also enjoyed engaging in outdoor sports.

For some of you, the connection to the great outdoors may have been found in fishing. For others, it may have been simply been going barefoot in the lush grass. How about strolling in the sand on the beach near the lake or ocean? Remember how peaceful you were and how awesome that felt. Still others may recall the fun of swimming in those bodies of water. Perhaps it may have been a backyard pool that transformed you into a fish. I’m certain that many of you spent fun-filled times camping. Far removed from the city, there was so much to discover. Looking up into the night skies at the stars comes into my mind. My eyes were opened to the stark contrast which the woods or country offered compared to the city life.

We cannot exactly bring back our youthful experiences. However, we need to build some new outdoor memories. I know that if we spend just a little bit more time outside today our minds will be more clear. I believe that we will all feel so much better if we attempt to find something outdoors that we can do on this day, regardless of our age or current physical condition.

If you agree with my advice, yet feel that you are being held back, let me help you to discover an activity in which you can participate today. Let me help to break those chains which bind you to that sedentary, indoor lifestyle that has inflicted many in the world. Getting physically fit does not require all your time to be spent indoors in a gym. Let’s get moving outdoors!

photo credit: Micky** via photopin cc