DO WE REALLY NEED MORE DISCIPLINE?

self discipline

I know all the right things to do . . . diet, exercise, etc. . . I just lack the discipline to do everything I should on a daily basis. Any suggestions?”

In one area or another, we have all felt like this.

We have all been disappointed with our efforts to “change”.

And most of us have then blamed it on our lack of discipline or will-power.

Self-Discipline, more or less, amounts to this:

Doing things we know we should do (but don’t really want to do).

Do we really need more of this? I don’t think so.

I think we just need to start finding reasons and ways to actually want to do them.

Here are 2 questions to ask yourself to get you started in the right direction.

WHY ARE YOU DOING IT?

I think there are 2 camps when it comes to this answer.

  • Camp 1 does it for others. They do it to please and to gain recognition. They do it, in large part, because that’s what they should do (or at least that’s what others keep telling us). The goal of getting healthy or fit, for them, is a means to “stay in the spotlight” or at the very least, to become accepted.
  • Camp 2 does it for themselves. They do it for the love and do not second guess their passions. They do it because they realize how limiting their unhealth is or can be. The goal of getting healthier, both in mind and body, is so they are better able to give their gift.

Let’s be honest, we all have been part of both camps.

We all have done things for other people. So how did that go? For myself, I quit football. I quit the military. And I quit a host of other things that I couldn’t find a real purpose in.

Camp 2 has been a totally different story.  I couldn’t quit writing, training, and helping others it if I wanted to.

Funny how that works.

Before someone can venture into camp 2, however, and use the pursuit of health and fitness as a means to give your gift / love, they have to get real on what the end goal is ( ie, what’s your purpose?).

“I want to get healthier / more fit because _____”

The answer will decide whether you are able to stick with your new behaviors or not.

HOW ARE YOU DOING IT?

Even if you have an awesome “Why”, you can still sabotage your “discipline” by making things tougher than they should be. Here are a couple of suggestions to help with that:

1. Make it fun

Boring exercise doesn’t last. Neither does eating flavorless food. If we want to make this a long-term thing, we have to find ways to make it fun and engaging. For this, find people, gyms, workouts, games/sports, food, recipes, etc. – that are all fun! It takes experimentation and seeing what is out there, but this is more than necessary.

2. Start small

Like I talked about in Advice For Resolutioners, chewing off more than you can swallow only makes you choke. Don’t try to change more than 1 thing at a time (I recommend establishing the exercise habit first) and don’t do something that is scary and extremely uncomfortable to you (go slow, take your time, and just do enough to be moving towards your goal).

3. Do it early in the day

In the morning is when we have the most will-power. If you are really finding it hard to “stick” a new behavior, make it priority #1. This may mean waking up earlier so you can do it before work, but if the “Why” is there, you’ll do it. .

4. Get enough sleep

Without proper sleep, anything becomes hard.  Don’t let this be your limiting factor. Shoot for 8 a night on average.

5. Harness the power of belief

As humans, we are our own self-fulfilling prophecies. Little placebos if you will. What holds more weight than some science, facts, or these words on this screen, is your belief in them. Think you lack discipline?Your future will show it. Believe in yourself and your abilities. You will, no doubt, become your thoughts.

do we really need more self discipline?

ARE YOU GOING TO DO IT?

Once you have the WHY and the HOW, nothing will be stopping you.

And with those, you will literally feel compelled to do it.

No self-discipline required…

BASICS OF FAT LOSS

SIG·NAL

Transmit information or instructions by means of a gesture, action, or sound.

At the heart of our efforts to transform lie signals.

These signals (or behaviors) are what make our mind and body what they are.

When we lose fat or gain muscle, it is because not only did we send the signal(s) that corresponds to that outcome but we allowed our body the opportunity to process that signal (by cutting out other noise, confusion, and competing signals).

There is a formula for this process: Stimulus (signal) + Recovery = Adaptation

Worded a different way, it looks like this:

EXERCISE + (SLEEP + NUTRITION) = BODY COMPOSITION

Let’s break it down.

Starting with the end product, body composition refers to the proportion of muscle and fat we carry. For most people, improving their body composition means adding more muscle while subtracting fat.

The signal that our body listens to for that to happen is exercise.  With this, there are essentially 2 different forms: One that sends a signal to our body to build (ie maintain or grow muscle mass) and one that sends a signal to break down (both fat and muscle).

In order for our body to hear that signal, however, we need to cut out outside noise (other stressors) and provide the means for our body to recover. During sleep is when our body gets to work repairing damaged tissue and making the hormones needed for us to thrive (both in fat loss and muscle growth) and food/nutrients is what our body uses as its building blocks to do that with.

So, as you can see, it’s pretty simple:

  1. Send the signal.
  2. Cut out outside noise so body can hear signal (through proper nutrition and recovery).
  3. Then reap the adaptation.

Let’s get more specific.

SENDING THE FAT LOSS SIGNAL

Now I am NOT talking about weight loss (this is easy: just go to the bathroom). What we really want is not to see the number on the scale move, but for the fat in the mirror to disappear, right?  So how do we that?

We have 3 variables to work with: Exercise, Sleep, and Nutrition.

A        +         ( B    +    C)     =   Fat Loss

We can improve all 3 for optimal fat loss, but we don’t have to.

Here are the options:

OPTION A: MOVE MORE

So before I was talking about the 2 forms of exercise: One that builds and one that destroys.

Well, cardio and aerobic activities are the destroyers. Biking, running, walking, and swimming all fall into this group.

They send a signal to our body that in order to survive and become better at these activities, we have to get smaller. To do this (and depending on the intensity and length of the activity) they will break down both fat AND MUSCLE for fuel.

Most aerobic activities are not body-friendly for this reason, but they can still be used correctly.

Here is a guideline:

  • The less intense they are, the more we can do them and the more likely that a large % of the breakdown will be fat. An excellent example of this is walking.
  • The more intense they are, the more we should limit them as they will target a lot of our muscle for fuel as well. An example of this is training for a marathon or running 5+ times a week.

Another side effect of high-intensity aerobics is that they give us cravings in an effort to replace lost fuel. So this is why running to lose weight will literally leave us running in circles (as we run long distances and then gorge on food).

A better alternative is walking every or every other day and doing 1-2 runs a week (if you must).

OPTION B: SLEEP MORE

If you are sleeping less than 6 – 7 hrs a night on average, by increasing sleep to 8 – 9 hrs, your cravings will decrease, your energy will improve, and other aspects of health (such as digestion) will significantly improve.  This will all lead to fat loss.

Note: If sleep needs are not met, then exercise is out of the question.

OPTION C: BETTER FOOD

Dieting is the typical approach to fat loss. This is hard to do right as far too many people feel that if they are going to diet than they got to do it hardcore. What’s hardcore?  Taking what you used to eat and dropping it by 500 or more calories a day.

This sucks because:

In chronic calorie deficits, our body is going to eat up fat AND MUSCLE for fuel, positive hormones are not going to be made in sufficient amounts, and our metabolism is going in the toilet. In short, life (and your energy) will suck.

A smarter approach is to just eat better foods. With this, we will be getting the right nutrients so cravings will naturally diminish. Fat loss will be slower but so will be muscle loss.

OPTION D (BEST): RESISTANCE + ENOUGH SLEEP + GOOD FOOD  

A big problem with losing weight is the chance that a large % of that could be muscle.

We care about this because it is muscle that gives us our shape and curves.

If we lose 50 lbs of total weight (25 of that is fat and 25 of that is muscle), we are just going to become a smaller version of ourselves. But if we can manage to make that 40 lbs of fat and 10 lbs of muscle, we are going to come out with a sleeker, trimmer, tonier look.

So how do we tell our body to lose more fat while keeping the muscle?

  • =>> Lift weights
  • =>> Sleep 8 hrs
  • =>> Eat Better (and slightly less) food

For the first one, we do not have to do anything extreme. Simply lifting weights 2x a week for a full body workout will be enough. Keep the reps relatively low (2-15) and keep the workout short (within 50 min) and the signal will be sent.

We also want to tell to our body to lose fat. For this to happen, we need to create a teeny-weeny caloric deficit. To create this, try focusing less on numbers and more on eating better food (of course) and going to bed slightly hungry.

Lastly, SLEEP. This is obviously crucial for any positive goal.

If you are still really skeptical of strength training while attempting to lose fat, try just training the areas that you wouldn’t mind enhancing. For most females, this means the booty.

That’s it.

Now some pro advice: If your goal is fat loss, then focus on fat loss only. Trying to build muscle or train for a marathon will be competing signals that will only confuse your body (and take you further away from fat loss).

There is a reason runners don’t look like body builders and body builders do not look like athletes.

That reason is signals.

 

[When you have lost all the fat you wanted to lose, it will be time for building muscle (shape and curves). Read Part 2 of this series to find out how.]

YOU CAN’T SPELL INVESTMENT WITHOUT “VEST”

The following is a short convo I had with a friend recently:

Girl: So I started exercising at home and it’s been going really well.
ME: Oh yeah?

Girl: Yeah. I starting out not even being able to squat now I can do it 30 times without breaking a sweat.
ME: Awesome!

Girl: Yeah. That’s also the problem. It now takes forever for me to feel challenged. I have to do way more reps to feel the same effect that I did when I was just starting out. It’s getting boring.
ME Sounds like it’s time you made an investment. It’s time for the vest.

If you workout at home, this is probably (unless you are super creative) something you have experienced as well. Ie, you get good, you have to start doing a lot of reps, and things get boring.

This is a common reason why many people discontinue with an exercise routine.

If we want to keep things sexy and new, however, we have to learn how to make things challenging and more intense. This requires an investment (both in time and money).

The first investment (after people hey have stalled) that I usually recommend is purchasing a weighted vest.

FAQ

Why use weighted vests?

  1. We need to add resistance and intensity if we want to keep progressing. Vests allow us to do this.
  2. They are also very safe. The weight is super close to our body and we do not have to worry about balancing a weight on our shoulders or in our hands.
  3. They take up little space. Thus, they are easy to transport.
  4. They are relatively cheap.

 

Who are they for?

People who are mobile enough to do basic movements and have a fair amount of strength in lower body exercises (ie, can do 20 or so reps for full squats, lunges, step ups, etc.)
How do you use them?

The 20 is great for running and jumping (fast!) and adding resistance to hard-to-do movements (such as pistols). The 60 is great for making lifts maximal (such as pushups and chinups) and for long walks (note: the heavy weight can bother some people’s traps). And the 40 is a great mix of both. This is my favorite.

The coolest thing is that I can put on all 3 of these vests (for a total of 120 lbs) if I need to go really heavy.

Note: I am at a different level than you. Gage your own strength before you purchase.

 

I am female. Will they squish my boobs?

My fiance doesn’t feel any discomfort with the #20, but everyone is different.

Here is a more comfortable (cheaper but less snazzy) version.

 

What is the alternative?

You can put weights in a backpack and snug it up real tight. Still, it might be easier just to buy the vest.

 

What do they cost?

As of 11/1/2012, ZFO vests on ebay.com cost:

#20 – $56.00
#40 – $60.00 ( best deal)
#60 – $90.00

 

 

THE 3 STEP PROCESS TO YOUR LOWEST GROCERY BILL EVER

how to save money on healthy food

“HEALTHY EATING IS TOO EXPENSIVE”

I’ve been there.

I, too, use to believe I had to spend X amount of dollars a month on “healthy food”.

After years of research (and periods of mandatory experimentation), however, I found that this health game has much more to it than what we put in our body.

Variables such as “how much we sleep” and “our outlook on life” should be improved long before we even think about purchasing organic blueberries or the finest cut of meat money can be. And even then, there is not a clear cut answer to whether purchasing these foods is worth it.

Like you can thrive without a gym, you can eat healthy on your own terms. For the past four years, I have done so with a $80-100/mo budget. In some instances, I even managed to drop it down to $50 (or under $2 a day).

Now, I am not a couponer.  Nor am I just loading up on ramen noodles. I buy what I want to eat and here’s how you can too.

cooking 1 1024x529 The 3 Step Process to Your Lowest Grocery Bill Ever

STEP 1: LEARN HOW TO COOK

To be honest, I could not survive on a fast food diet. It’s just too expensive. Consuming all my meals at McDonalds would, at the minimum, triple my budget.

Cereals and packaged goodies? Yep, those are out of my price range as well.

If you really are broke, you cannot afford to “eat like shit”. There is just no room for it. Instead, you must 1) figure out what foods are the cheapest in bulk (and are actually good for you) and 2) learn how to cook them so they taste good (and you actually like them).

Here’s my breakdown (in order of overall consumption):

green lentils The 3 Step Process to Your Lowest Grocery Bill Ever

Lentils = nutrition powerhouse

  1. Green lentils*
  2. White rice*
  3. Coconut oil
  4. Coffee (plus cream and stevia)
  5. Quick oats*
  6. Broccoli*
  7. Onions, garlic, and ginger*
  8. Potatoes*
  9. Reverse osmosis water*
  10. Magnesium citrate

* less than a dollar a pound

Some notes:

+ The top 3 foods meet my requirements for protein, fiber, carbs, and fats (this is important).

+ High carbs because: I am active and have muscle. The less you do/have of these two, the less you can probably get away with this. When it comes to cheap food, it pays to be active.

+ No fruit because: I am very sensitive to citrus (which is telling me something).

+ No meat because: Unless you spend a lot $$, you are getting crap (loaded with hormones, antibiotics, and grain). Best to stay away most of the time if you cannot afford the “grass fed, free range” variety.

Kitchen Talks Eating on the Go The 3 Step Process to Your Lowest Grocery Bill Ever

STEP #2: LEARN HOW TO EAT

Cooking is a luxury and not everyone has the time/energy for it.

Thankfully, getting health from food has just as much to do with how we eat it vs. what we eat. Reality is, you are going to run into “bad foods” and situations that are less than optimal.

Here’s some ways to get the most out of those times:

  • Option 1: Fasting (for chaos and celebrations)

So you know you are going to overindulge at tonight’s corporate dinner? Prepare your digestive system, create a caloric deficit, and fast leading up to it. Or maybe you need to resist those 3 boxes of donuts that your co-worker just bought in this morning at work? Coffee fast until lunch. Now it’s not as easy telling someone to fast who has never done it (you’ll need experience here), so I recommend you play around with it a little bit so you’re ready for when that time comes.

  • Option 2: Low carb (for traveling)

 So you’re on the road today for 8 hours? The gas stations won’t have many options. It will generally come down to processed high-carb goodies (like burritos, candies, and chips) vs. less processed low-carb ones (like cheese sticks, jerky, eggs, and nuts). This latter group should keep your blood sugar (aka mood) more balanced, which will in turn keep hunger in check.

  • Option 3: High carb (traveling again)

I initially left this off because I am not a fruit fan but if you are, traveling should be a breeze. Simply load up on bananas, apples, and oranges.

  • Option 4: Prepare in general (for the day-to-day energy swings)

So you just worked 12 hours and don’t feel like doing more work over a stove? I don’t blame ya. Rather then wait until you’re at your lowest point (and vulnerable to any kind of naughty food), however, I challenge you to prepare when you are at highest (before work or on your day off).  At this time, shop for and cook/prepare the food that you will want to  have to eat once your willpower goes out the window.

Note: If you have to eat out, my vote is for Subway. Yes, it’s “carby”, but that’s your incentive to move.

lion1 The 3 Step Process to Your Lowest Grocery Bill Ever

STEP #3: LEARN WHAT HEALTH IS

So how do we know if this food is making us healthier or not?

Short answer: Look to your bowel movements.

If you are constipated, have diarrhea, and/or way behind on your poop schedule – these are all signs that something is not quite right. Meaning, your body is overly stressed and it’s response has left less resources available for digestion.

Now why are we stressed? It could be the food, it could be the sleep, and it could be even your thoughts. Your job is to play around with the variables to find out what is “off”. Failure here prevents the garbage (aka feces) from being taken out on time. Just like a real garbage, some bad things can happen when this occurs (like attracting pests called parasites).

Unfortunately, this is not as easy as “just eat healthy food”. If you have an allergy or sensitivity, a food that is organic, “natural”, or has an awesome nutritional profile will not make any difference.  You have to go with your gut on this one (literally).

Here’s how:

  1. Choose unprocessed foods
  2. Add one at a time (so you can see its effects)
  3. Pay attention to your poops

On this last one: If your insides are dieing, this is will you’ll see it first.

no fast food 1024x1014 The 3 Step Process to Your Lowest Grocery Bill EverCONCLUSION

Chill.

Eating is only like 1/7 of this health game.

There is little reason to spend thousands on organic food  if we are skimping on sleep and exercise. Along the same token, we can spend considerably less if we acing other areas of the test (like I do).

In the end, be judicious with your time, money, and energy. They are all the same thing, more-or-less.

 

THE NON-GYM VS. THE HOME GYM

HOW TO CREATE YOUR NON-GYM

WHICH DO YOU CHOOSE?

By now, you’re hopefully starting to see the need for a “exercise insurance policy” (aka purchasing your own equipment).

Like most people, however, you are wary about taking the first steps:

  • “Will it cost craploads of money?”
  • “Will it take up tons of space?”
  • “Will I even know how to use it?”

No, no, and probably not (hey, it’s not perfect).

Really, though, these answers will depend which route you go: Do you go big and build a Home Gym? Or do you keep it light and Non-Gym it?

Let’s compare…

 

HOME GYM

  • home gym 41 The Non Gym VS. The Home Gym For a home gym, the initial investment is high. Trying to build a set-up like off to the right can cost well into the thousands.
  • Squat racks, benches, treadmills, and other hefty machines/equipment are often mainstays here.
  • You will need a dedicated room (as well as a house) which these days means you are probably in your 30s (or still living at home).
  • Positives: Allows for heavier lifting + More focus

 

NON-GYM

  • The Non Gym VS. The Home Gym For a Non-Gym, the investment could be as low as $40 and as high as $400 (for all the perks).
  • A short EZ bar, Kettlebells, Weighted Vests and other light equipment are mainstays here.
  • Can be used on the road and/or in cramped spaces such as apartments.
  • Positives: Easy to store, travel with, and significantly cheaper.

 

WHICH WINS?

First off, both do.

In a world where everything else is at our finger tips, we need instant access to keep up. For this reason (and more), gyms like Planet Fitness and Anytime Fitness cannot compare to a good home or Non-Gym set up.

That said, most people (beginner to novice level) will want to go the Non-Gym route. This is especially true if you’re young, broke, and plan on moving a couple more times (because ain’t nobody want to transport a squat rack).

When you’re ready for that experience, start here.

THE TRUTH ABOUT DEPRESSION

Depression.

Sadness.

Unhappiness.

Whatever you want to call it, this “down” state of mind is something that we all dread and hope to avoid.

Oddly, however, it’s often something that most of us recognize as one of the greatest drivers of our lives.

Stuff like bad relationships, working jobs we hate, and making stupid decisions teach us how to make the future ones better (or at least help us persevere) and, all-in-all, it is this unhappiness that gets us on a better track in life.

But… sometimes the future doesn’t get better. And sometimes the depression doesn’t leave.

Why this is, of course, is different for everyone.

I believe for the majority of us, however, it is because we seldom or no longer process our feelings and thoughts.

If we did, we would  be able to hear what is really being said.

But because we are too busy (or maybe we just never learned how), these unchecked thoughts are driving us to feel emotions (that we probably don’t want to feel) and to do things (that we probably don’t want to do).

A TRUTH

We all have to something we have to say and give to the world. When we keep it in, however, it slowly dies.

Deep down, the core of our being wants to keep it alive. So instead, it makes us depressed in hopes that we will change our ways.

So this is where the solution to our pain and sadness lies.

With giving.

When we focus on giving to others, we forget ourselves.

This is exactly what we need.

Before we can fully give to the world, however, we have to figure out what our core wants us to give. Trying to be something (or give something) that is not aligned with our core is futile and will be short-lived at best.

Here are 3 steps to help you with that discovery:

STEP #1 : LISTEN

Pay attention to the stream of thoughts and feelings that are coming out of your head. Don’t run or hide through various activities or substances. Instead, go find solitude. Bring a pen and notebook and track the flow.

Like I said in You vs. Your Mind, our mind says some crazy stuff. This isn’t necessarily us but a huge conglomeration of our past  (ie, our culture, our media, our parents, our religion, etc.).

There will be assumptions (that have never been tested) as well as beliefs (that are untestable).

Let them all out.

This is something we all need to do once in a while. We all need to take inventory on what is running us and understand the beliefs and feelings that are behind our depression.

If writing is not your thing, draw them or do a video log. Capture the emotions however you can.

STEP #2: ASK QUESTIONS

With time, you should have a good idea of your inner dialogue. With this you can start questioning your beliefs and why you want this or that or feel like you should do ___ .

How far you want to go down the rabbit hole  is up to you. Generally, after 5 Whys, we will be at our destination.

Before we jump to conclusions on why we are sad, I can already tell you this: We are not depressed because we are poor or that we are overweight (and to suddenly get rich and fit would only be a temporary fix).

I am not saying those things don’t matter (as having a well-functioning brain can certainly lead to better well-being), I am just saying they don’t matter as much we think.

We already have what we need to be happy (food, shelter, safety) so we definitely do not need anything more.

What we need is to get lost (in laughter, in love, in positivity, in giving ourselves to the world).

So the main question(s) we should ask are not “Why am I sad?” or “How can I be happier?”, but instead ones that are a bit more refined: “What can I offer to the world?” and “What is my purpose/gift?”

With this, we can take the focus off ourselves again, forget the mind, and truly get lost.

Some other questions that might help:

  • What did you want to be as child?
  • What is your personality best suited for in communicating/giving to people? (introverted vs extroverted)
  • Is there anything you would do for free?

STEP #3: TAKE ACTION

So you think you have your purpose/gift?

Pursue it.

You will find almost immediately that it’s not exactly your purpose. You will, no doubt, probably be in the ballpark.

Finding our purpose is a refining process and is full of trial and error.

I’ve heard it before be compared to the layers of onion. The more you peel off and deeper you go, the more it will leave you full (filled).

So once you have a [vague] idea of what it is, figure out what step 1 is and go from there.  With a thousand or so steps, you will be well into the onion.

In the end…

There are a ton of other things that contribute to happiness and beating depression (such as exercise and sunshine).

Without a purpose, however, we will sink (even with them).

Without giving what we must give and saying what we must say, we will always have those days where we feel without hope.

And like I mentioned above, the solution to this shouldn’t be about putting more focus on ourselves, but less.

Where should the focus go?  To what we can give others of course.

That’s the Truth.

Note: This “giving” … this should be something that we actually want to give (ie, it shouldn’t be forced). We all have something that we are good at, like doing, and can benefit others. Find it – Refine it – And Give. I just gave you this post, and I couldn’t care less how you use it. That’s a real Gift. Thanks for reading.

THE BEST SUPPLEMENT FOR GETTING BACK IN SHAPE

the best supplement for getting in shape

It’s not fish oil.

Or protein.

And probably not that caffeinated pre-workout you use that promises “gratuitous amounts of energy” (although, lets be honest, those rock).

Sure these may all help, but if you are not deficient in them then they are unlikely to make that big of wave.

The main purpose of supplementation is to first fill in holes caused by our lifestyle and genetics. These holes (or deficiencies in “building blocks”) can leave us without the means to not only perform optimally, but may leave us unable to perform entirely (aka shit just doesn’t work).

When it comes to getting fit, it is critical for our lungs and breathing to keep up with our ambitions.  If you have a “hole” here, however, exercising will be the last thing you want to do…

magnesium The Best Supplement for Getting Back In Shape

THE MAGNESIUM HOLE

For the past +6 years, I’ve had a slight magnesium deficiency.

This deficiency isn’t really debilitating and if I go about my normal day, it’s hardly noticeable (aside from worse quality poops and sleep). When I exercise, however, the devil presents itself.

What it looks like when I do anything with moderate intensity:

  • My breathing power gets cut in half (and the “wheezing” starts)
  • My recovery (aka “catching my breath”) goes from minutes to hours
  • My workout ends early (because hey, this sucks)

In short, it feels like I have asthma.

This makes sense as magnesium  is actually used to treat asthma and low levels of it are associated both with decreased lung function and accentuated allergic reactions.

Some sources indicate that 50 – 75% of us are deficient in this mineral (higher if your an athlete), but not everyone will have it to the same degree. This will depend on how “stressful” your life is.

Here is list of stressors that deplete magnesium:

  • Allergies (to pets, mold, and food)
  • Sugar and other processed foods
  • MSG
  • Coffee, Alcohol, and other drugs
  • Exercising
  • And a host of other things that trigger cortisol release

That’s just the icing on the cake. Since Magnesium is the 4th most abundant mineral in the body and because it is used in over 300 reactions, it is likely that a lot more other food stuffs, drugs, and  thoughts are using it up.

anxiety depletes magnesium The Best Supplement for Getting Back In Shape

HOW TO FILL IT 

So you think that “getting in shape” is supposed to suck (which it is a little bit), but maybe it’s possible that you have a magnesium deficiency as well?

2 options if you do:

  1. Eat more magnesium rich foods
  2. Supplement with it

Now, obviously it would be more beneficial if we didn’t have to rely on supplements and could just eat the food. Through my own n=1 experience, however, it doesn’t work. Some say it is because our soil is depleted, others say it’s because certain chemicals in plants (see: phytates) prevent it from absorbing, but I say it’s because our life is just too stressful.

Mine is anyways. If your in the same boat (allergies + avid exerciser), then this advice could benefit you:

But Magnesium Citrate, through capsules or powder (I prefer the latter).
Take 3 capsules or one spoonful right before bed.
Combine with Zinc Citrate for positive synergistic effects, but do not combine with Calcium (they compete).

Give yourself 2 weeks.

If you don’t see any positive effects within this time then you probably don’t have a deficiency.

If you do, however, man will it feel good…

YOUR RESOLUTION: THE 3 STEPS YOU MUST TAKE

[FITNESS GOALS]

Are you sick of people telling you how to make these yet?

I sure as hell am.

Sick of bloggers discussing “smart goals”, gurus discussing “passion and motivation”, and especially sick of marketers proffering the idea that I can do it “quick and painless”.

So sick that I felt I had to write this (oh, the irony).

Now, this isn’t common knowledge (I wouldn’t waste your time like that) nor is this your typical strategy. I even had one commenter who called me a “masochist” (really? haha).

If you have a big hairy audacious goal this year, however, then this will be for you.

Below are the 3 steps to dominating goals (the Non-Gym way). Once you know what you want, here is what you do:

Click those links above to learn more or just go here.

Good luck.

PLANKING GONE WILD

You’ve no doubt done planks (also called bridges) or seen someone rocking these as they are nearly ubiquitous in the “core conditioning” world.

They are a great tool due to the fact that pretty much any level can do them. Their strength, however, is also their weakness  as they can become  very easy to master (and with mastery comes slow results).

Some people (like my mom) can easily pull off a 1 minute plank without any training. With training, she could probably work up to a 3- 5 minute plank.

This is good for an endurance exercise, but what strength? And what about muscle growth?

Our abs are just like any other muscle. The bigger they are, the more they will show (in spite of how much fat we carry). To achieve this we must provide the right stimulus. Planking between 20 to 60 seconds for 3 – 5 sets will generally do it.

To achieve that, however, we need to make the plank more wild.

Here’s how:

1. MAKE IT A RKC PLANK

This is a more advanced version that produces much more ab (rectus abdominus + obligues) and glute activation than the standard version. The video is HERE, but it basically breaks down to this:

  • Move your feet and elbows into a more narrow stance
  • Move your elbows further away from yourself
  • Squeeze your butt and legs

2. ADD MORE RESISTANCE

While using the RKC form, add external weight or remove a limb from the equation and go 1 arm or 1 leg (or both) to up the intensity. If your abs are not crying the next day, you may be superhuman.

 

Final Word

Remember, sore abs are good abs. This is a good indicator that they are damaged. If let to recover, they will come back bigger (and thus, more visible) than before.

The days of endless crunches and hour long ab workouts are over.

All we need to do is make the planks more intense…

TURNING ON THE MACHINE (AND THE ART OF ACTIVATION)

Our body is machine.

Just like a car, it runs on fuel, needs maintenance once in a while or else it breaks down, and has a set speed it can achieve. It also has buttons that you can push (like cruise control) that help make the trip easier and more efficient.

These buttons (or switches), in our own machine, dictate how well we are able to move and often mean the difference between pain and non-pain.

If we can turn on these buttons, we can turn back on the machine.

With this, we’ll be [once again] cruising.

 

THE 3 BUTTONS

  1. The glutes (booty)
  2. The scapulae (shoulder blades)
  3. The vmos (inner part of thigh next to knee)

In almost all people, these areas of the body will be turned OFF. When left off, other areas of our body will need to be turned ON to compensate. With time and practice, these buttons (or switches) that are always on will eventually fail. Just like you can only leave a light on so long before it burns out, the same is so of the muscles and joints we use.

If we can learn to turn on other areas of our body, however, we will be able to give these “overused, always on” ones a break. With this, we can prevent and/or fix dysfunctions (and the pain that follows.).

THE GLUTES.

The gluteus maximus is the largest muscle in the body (as well as one of the strongest). Sadly, however, in a lot of us it has become inactive. Due to large amounts of sitting, the glutes have shut OFF while the hip flexors have been [chronically] switched ON.

In order to correct this imbalance and get our glutes back in the ballgame, we first have to shut off the hip flexors.

This is how it goes for a lot of muscle and joint relationships. First find the tight, overactive, and weak area and shut it off by stretching and lengthening it. Then, and only then, activate (through focus and repetition) the area you want to turn on.

Step 1: Hip Flexor Stretching

 

Step 2: Glute Activation

 

THE SCAPULAE.

In Warmup or Die,  I briefly went over stability-mobility continuum and how in order for our shoulders to be healthy and do their job (mobility), then our shoulder blades have to first do their job (stability).

Another way to think of this shoulder – scapula relationship is to imagine trying to jump or run in a sand pit. Our mobility will be severely lacking because the surface is just not stable enough for us to produce any real movement.

So in order to be mobile, we need stability. When that stability is lacking in the scapula, the shoulder is more likely to pinch and rub against structures (which leads to weakness and pain).

And just like we lose connection with our butt because the hip flexors are always on, we lose connection with our shoulder blades because the muscles that contribute to thoracic flexion (ie computer posture) never get a break.

So first, we must turn off the “poor posture” muscles. For this, we look towards doing the opposite movement.

Step 1: Thoracic Extension.

 

Step 2: Activate Scapulae

 

THE VMOS.

The VMO (or Vastus Medialis Obliques) is a small “tear drop” thigh muscle located right inside the knee. It plays an important role in correct patellar tracking and prevention of patellofemoral joint syndrome (pain below the knee).

When it’s OFF and the muscles on the outside of the leg are ON, the knee tends to get pulled out of its little home. When this happens, so does grinding, clicks, and pain.

The solution, once again, is to ease the tension of the outside leg muscles (by lengthening) and using activation techniques to get the vmo back in the ballgame.

Step 1: IT Band/ Quad Foam Rolling

 

Step 2: VMO Activation

 

SOME TIPS

So with flipping the switch on those 3 muscles, you’ll be well on your way to Beast Mode (as well as cleaning up some pain and dysfunction in the process). If you are still having a tough time with this, here are some ideas and tips that may help:

– This turning ON and OFF of muscles and joints – while you can do this in one session – will not stay like this.  It will take daily practice, preferably twice a day for weeks before you can get your glutes or your scapulae to stay ON.

– You know a muscle is activated and working when you can feel it (if you are doing high reps, you should be able to feel the rush of blood to that area).

– Glutes are an athletes best friend as they are used for almost every big movement. Become friends with deadlifts, squats, pressing, and sprinting.

– It is possible to have chronically ON glutes and scapulae that can cause their own problems. Only athletes, however, will have to worry about this.

– Research and read about the intricate details of the stretching, mobility, and activation drills you will be doing. Watching videos is a part of learning but you may gloss over something important (like flexing your glutes during all hip flexor stretches).

– VMO strengthening isn’t sexy by any means. Here is a fun exercise though.

THE FITNESS EQUIPMENT EVERYONE SHOULD OWN (CHEAP EDITION)

MIR-ZFO-20-40-60 WEIGHTED VESTS

“How can I exercise at home without any equipment?”

My first question is why would you want to?

I can understand why one would want to learn body weight workouts for when they’re away for vacation or at the office but if we are doing the majority of our workouts at home (aka our “Non-Gym”), we will want to invest in some equipment. If not for psychological reasons then for physical ones.

The truth is, “body weight only” programs are not for everyone as they tend to be either:

  1. Too hard for most (so they need a easier option)
  2. Too easy for others (so they need a way to bump it up a notch)

Even gymnasts, the ultimate bodyweight warriors, rely on a system of beams and poles and other pieces of equipment.

Below I list the equipment I have used for years. Do you need it? No, but you will need to find a way to make your exercises harder. Whether that’s by using a 40 lb water jug or the equivalent on a bar, that’s up to you.

 

THE 3 ESSENTIALS

non gym fitness essential equipmentw The Fitness Equipment Everyone Should Own (Cheap Edition)

1) EZ BAR, DUMBBELL HANDLES, AND WEIGHT

The biggest concern of the Non-Gym used to be, “How are we going to place lots of load/stress on ourselves?” (aka lift heavy ass weight). This is our solution (especially for those that struggle at body weight exercises).

The Olympic EZ bar is smaller and lighter than a traditional bar (by 20 lbs) and can easily fit into a car or closet (as can the weight if positioned correctly). To get started, 100 lbs will work for most women and 200 for men.

Used for:

  • Clean & Press
  • Front SquatThe Fitness Equipment Everyone Should Own (Cheap Edition)
  • Deadlift
  • Goblet Squat
  • Floor Press
  • Bent Over Row
  • Curls
  • Extensions and Pullovers
  • Lunges
  • Turkish Get Up (to the right)

Buy:

Amazon The Fitness Equipment Everyone Should Own (Cheap Edition) (because of free shipping). Expect to spend $25-70 for the bar and a $1/lb for plates.

 

2) WEIGHTED VESTS

Eventually, you’ll get to a point where standard planks, pushups, and pullups is just too easy for you. When that happens, these vests will be waiting for you.

These are especially awesome for exercises that are traditionally unweighted such as isometrics and conditioning (you haven’t lived until you’ve done hill sprints with them).

Women will want to try out the #20 and the men the #40. If you consider yourself slightly more advanced, add 20 more pounds to that.

Used for:

  • Pushups
  • PullupsWEIGHTED HILL SPRINTS The Fitness Equipment Everyone Should Own (Cheap Edition)
  • Planks and plank walks
  • Wall handstands
  • L sits
  • Back Bridge
  • Adding more weight to front squat
  • Lunges
  • Pistols
  • Jump rope and hill sprints
  • Burpees
  • AB Rollout
  • Adding more weight to farmers walk

Buy:

Current prices of ZFO weighted vests on Amazon: #20 The Fitness Equipment Everyone Should Own (Cheap Edition) – $33.96. #40 The Fitness Equipment Everyone Should Own (Cheap Edition) – $59.95. #60 The Fitness Equipment Everyone Should Own (Cheap Edition) – $79.99.

 

3) RESISTANCE BANDS, CHINUP BAR, AND SOME BALLS

A Non-Gym is not complete without a chinup bar. Now aside from the obvious fact that you can now do chinups, you can strap resistance bands onto them for assistance or do mobility exercises.

The balls (softball, lacrosse) are here to help release tight spots. Not everyone will need these but they may offer instant relief for those that do.

Used for:The Fitness Equipment Everyone Should Own (Cheap Edition)

  • pullup assistance
  • shoulder mobility (retraction, protraction, skin the cat, overhead shrugs, internal and external rotation)
  • glute medius activation during squats
  • straight arm pulldowns
  • curls and extensions
  • SMR (neck, back, pecs, feet, calves, butt)

Buy:

Golds gym pullup bar at Walmart, softball at a sporting store, and resistance bands at EliteFTS (these last guys are constantly having sales so just wait until their bands are 30-50% off and stock up)

A QUICK WORD ON PROGRESSION

As we adapt, our workouts must as well. If you are into this strength thing (as well as physique thing), this means tacking on more weight with time. The above equipment selection works well for this.

For instance, if we want to level up our deadlift we can do so by throwing on 5 lbs, a weighted vest, or strapping on some resistance bands (for Beast Mode do all three).

If our primary weight source is kettlebells or non-adjustable dumbells, however, we are going to find it extremely difficult to progress (i.e. the weight is often too high or too low). Because of this, I’d try to stay away from this equipment (unless someone gives it to you) and instead go for the glory (adjustable weight).

This may mean more money up front, but in the long run it will pay itself off ten-fold.

Good luck.