I was running on my treadmill, watching ESPN a few weeks back and was lucky enough to see the first round of the 2012 Crossfit Games, sponsored by Reebok. I’m a huge sports fan and was immediately drawn to the method by which athletes qualify (e.g. global, regional workouts to qualify, and I believe they went from about 70,000 to a final 50 cross-fitters to compete in the games). These supreme athletes don’t know which events are coming up, so they may have 24 hour notice that they are going to compete in a triathlon, can show up to an event that would have them compete in a graduated (ladder) dead lifting hundreds of pounds, or they could be doing some combination of pull-ups, sprints, etc. Watching the competition, you can’t help marvel at the fitness level of these individuals, the fact that they are all “functionally fit” (their muscle tone, shape, etc. looks healthy and allows them to dominate multiple challenges/environments), and the fact that they’re having a blast while doing it. Although I’m a bit slow, watching the competition, which is now a “record series” on TiVo in my household, it all started to come together and make sense to me.
Over the past year I have competed in 3 Tough Mudders, which are one of my favorite things to do. During those “mudders”, I have seen a large number of people (individuals and part of teams) with some reference to crossfit on their clothing. I thought that this was a brand or a certain chain of gym, bootcamp or other fitness company. I realized that somewhere above the branding, marketing and quick money to be made with P90X, the Insanity Workout, and other compressed, modular based fitness packages to kick-start a heightened level of fitness (and these workouts can be very effective by the way), is Crossfit. There is a brand, but Crossfit seems more about a goal, movement, mindset and way of life than a brand. I personally think Crossfit signals a new era in physical fitness, and am hoping that it takes off and changes how people get and stay healthy.
Here are a few resources for you to learn a bit more about Crossfit.
Find out more via the Crossfit Community, which defines Crossfit as “An evidence-based fitness program, where fitness is the ability to do real work.” You can even watch their “What is Crossfit?” video:
Check out the Crossfit Games on ESPN:
Check out the article by Jenna Bergon, in Prevention that specifies 8 Reasons Boomers Should Try Cross Fit. I’m not a “Boomer”, but the 8 reasons are good to consider anyway. Summary follows.
- You Can Start At Zero
- You’ll Skyrocket Your Metabolism
- You’ll Tone All Over (But Don’t Have to Get Bulky)
- You Can Start Slow
- It Will Give A Boost To Your Social Life
- You’ll Become a Better Parent
- It Keeps Joints Happy
- You’ll Reduce Your Risk of Injury
If you’ve read my blog before, I’m not striving to be the worlds greatest athlete, nor most fit individual. I am striving to continually take small steps that will lead to a healthier, happier, longer life. I’m hoping the scalable nature, variety of challenges/activities, and community aspects of Crossfit will help more people find 20 minutes a day to do something good for themselves.
Small steps add up!
Today is Jack Lalanne’s birthday. He was born in San Francisco on September 26, 1914 and passed away on January 23, 2011 at the age of 96. He was an amazing man and the ultimate fitness role model. He was true pioneer, and although he opened the USA’s first fitness gym in Oakland California at the age of 21 in 1936, I was always most impressed with the fact that he stayed so incredibly muscular and fit via a combination of classic exercises (push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups, etc.) and a healthy diet. The next time your on business travel and there’s no fitness center, just pull a “Jack Lalanne” and do as many push-ups and sit-ups as you can.
Some facts that place Jack in a “super hero of fitness” category all his own include:
- At age 41 he swam from Alcatraz to Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco while handcuffed.
- At age 45 he did 1,000 star jumps and 1,000 chin-ups in 1 hour 22 minutes. Give 20 solid chin-ups a try and then think about how it would feel to go for 1,000.
- At age 65 towed 65 boats while swimming in Lake Ashinoko near Tokyo Japan. He was handcuffed and shackled, and the boats were filled with 6,500 pounds (2,900 kg).
- At age 70 handcuffed, shackled, and fighting strong winds and currents, towed 70 rowboats, one with several guests in the Long Beach Harbor 1 mile.
He didn’t gain notoriety until he was into his 40’s and he continually proved “age is nothing but a number.” As someone currently in my 40’s I like the fact that jack proved that if focused and dedicated you can not only be in great shape, but you can accomplish amazing things in well into your 70’s, 80’s and beyond.
Lalanne said that his two simple rules of nutrition are: 1) “If man made it, don’t eat it.” and 2) “if it tastes good, spit it out.” I personally don’t believe in the second rule, because I think there are some pretty tasty and nutritious options out there, but I can’t argue with the underlying logic.
He was a guru, and a role model for “small steps 2 health”, and he was an all around stud. We miss you Jack!
Small steps add up!
I’m a huge fan of anything with Chick Peas, or as I prefer Garbanzo Beans (because it’s just fun to say). Hummus is one of my favorite dips, and I think the most under utilized dips in America.
In this video clip, host Judy Greer and Chef Aida demonstrate how to make delicious Chick Pea Snackers. High in protein and fiber, and low in fat, they make a great substitute for croutons, and a great addition to your afternoon snack strategy. Click on the Garbanzos below to watch the video:
Small steps add up!
I have a place in Mammoth Lakes, California in the beautiful Eastern Sierras. Known for world class skiing, great mountain biking, fishing and outdoor play year around, Mammoth is an amazing place. It’s also the training ground and home to may Olympic Athletes including Meb Keflezighi, who benefit from altitude training and inspiration from the Sierras. The town has recently broken ground on a new sports training complex, so that it will be a destination for world-class athletes who want the benefit of training at 8,000 feet plus.
I do train when I’m up there, and it’s pretty rough, but I’ll save some of my chronicles for a future post. In the meantime, here’s an article that the Town of Mammoth posted today on a few mistakes “newbies” make when training at altitude. I think their tips, while more important at high altitude, are are good advice if you’re working out at sea level.
Small steps add up!
Over the past few months my schedule has been extremely chaotic, my workload heavy, my meeting calendar packed, and many of my interactions higher on the “confrontation/conflict” index than I would like. Mix in some air travel, the fact that my wife works/travels as well, that I have two busy kids, and it adds up to a difficult few months. Many years ago, I would have just tried grind through it, keep on moving, and attempt to to smile and enjoy the ride. However, I noticed this week that I was feeling tired, kind of sad and uninspired (oops Thompson Twins lyric alert) and my behavior was a bit more terse and edgy than usual. On top of that I had a lot of people coming up to me and saying, “you look tired to day, are you alright?” Of course I said, “I’m fine”, but when I took a few minutes to reflect a bit more deeply, I came to the conclusion that “maybe I’m not alright.” I realized that what I was experiencing were “early warning signs / cries for help” from my mind and body. I wasn’t doing what I needed to provide myself with a minimal amount of simple, calm, focus (one thing or less to do), tranquility, peace – – aka ZEN. Over this same period I have been driving fast (metaphorically speaking), but haven’t pulled over to refuel once. I needed to take a moment, listen and act.
In the spirit of small things add up, and understanding that my schedule, workload and other life demands (husband/parent) would not necessarily let up or “flex” in the near future, I made a couple of decisions.
- Block Some ‘Balcony Time’ & ‘Doing Time’ On My Calendar. Hard to do, but I did it. I blocked out a few hours each week into the new year, where I will not take meetings or 1:1’s. The idea was to ensure I had some time to reflect, develop strategy, plan/prioritize, and accomplish a few things based on those priorities. In a sense, even though this sounds busy, if I’m actually in control of the time, can work on one thing at a time (and focus) it feels a lot less stressful and a lot better.
- Get a Good Night’s Sleep. I’m actually a night person, so I had to make it a point to be in bed at a reasonable hour to ensure that I had at least 8 hours. Sleep is the ultimate “recovery time” and often what I start cutting into when I’m really busy and stressed. No mas. Sleep is good.
- (Tough Love) Prioritization. We all have to prioritize all of the time, and rarely is a hard “No” the answer in a professional setting. Thus, I made it a point to take my own prioritization to the next level, to ensure I was spending enough time on the top, most critical priorities. This meant telling a few colleagues, project stakeholders, etc. things like “I would love to meet with you, but it will need to be next week – vs. today”, or simply holding off on meetings/actions that don’t have a time-based deadline, or aren’t critical to the business. Folks don’t always like this last one, but if you share your logic, and they trust you won’t simply discard the action/meeting forever, I find most people are reasonable.
- Focus on Health/Fitness. I find during these tough times, when it’s easiest to let workouts and healthy eating slide, that it just feels better mentally to know you’re doing something really good for yourself. So it’s part sublimation and part making yourself a priority – and both are good things. There have been more than a few evenings recently when the thought of my weight training routine or a 5 mile run sounds almost unfathomable. However, about 20 minutes into the workout, when the muscles are loose and getting rid of all those toxins, endorphins kick in, all I’m focusing on is counting out sets, or the sound of my running shoes hitting the ground – – I feel an energy, strength and sense of well being I wouldn’t have believed possible earlier in the day. Of the psychological defense mechanisms to cope, at least sublimation can help increase your personal stock!
The bottom line is that by taking these small steps, taking control, and listening to my body, mind and other signs that I was pushing too hard, I started feeling a bit better. I have had fewer people say “hey Mark, you look tired today” (which by the way is never a good way to start a conversation), my energy level is up, and my stress level is trending in the right direction. I know that these are extremely busy and challenging times for everyone, so I hope that you will also take the time to listen to the subtle and not-so-subtle signals that you may need to take actions to FIND YOUR ZEN, refuel, and stay healthy.
I’d love to hear from you, particularly if there are things you do to effectively manage through and cope with all of the demands that define your days/weeks.
Small steps add up!
I don’t think this is the answer, but interesting nonetheless.
New York just passed into legislation to ban the purchase of more than 16 ounces of soda at one time. This means that restaurants, movie theaters, street vendors and other establishments are not allowed to sell more than a medium sized drink. As this is great news to help take control of the major obesity issue that America is facing, what will stop buyers from simply going back to the venue and purchasing another beverage?? Will this hurt businesses financially due to restricting their sells on product? How will locals of New York city feel about this?
What are your thoughts on this legislation? We have freedom speech but no freedom to purchase now. And still we can walk into a store and buy as much as alcohol and beer as we want…..
Whole heartily I understand the reasoning for this ban however there are other ways to take control and help people to eat and…
View original post 102 more words
I’ve blogged before about the double-cross of the diet soda (Soft Drinks May Just Be Evil), and a recent post in Yahoo!Health from Prevention Magazine summarizes it into 7 reasons to “just say no” to that diet beverage. Just picture most people you know who walk around with a 32 oz Diet Coke in their hand, and ask yourself “Do they look healthy?” and you may not need to review the list.
- Kidney Problems
- Metabolic Syndrome
- Direct Link to Obesity (not just a correlate)
- A Terrible Hangover
- Cell Damage (this accelerates the Keith Richards look)
- Rotting Teeth
- Reproductive Issues
Check out the full article via the link below.
7 Side Effects of Drinking Diet Soda | Yahoo! Health.
Small steps add up!
In addition to the vast research on “good nutrition” in general, that has greatly modified what has been reinforced in schools for the past 50 years, there is a depth of research emerging in the area of “Super Foods.” The term Superfoods, which as become much more mainstream lately, is used for those foods that not only boast sound nutritional value, but also help protect you from, and in some cases counteract, disease. Thus, in addition to helping you feel and look better, your diet can help actively protect you from free radicals, carcinogens and other “bad guys” that cause our bodies problems. While foods like dark chocolate (>62% cocoa), raw almonds and red wine have been highlighted in the media for their cardiovascular benefits for years, there are many other super foods with the ability to bolster health and fight specific diseases. Examples include blueberries, spinach, black beans, red bell peppers, tomatoes and yogurt. Lately, it also seems that the avocado growers and marketeers for a few restaurant chains have decided that being a Superfood is something worth highlighting to consumers. I like this, because I love avocado. Just note, this doesn’t mean adding 5 ounces of avocado to every meal will be good for you (use your head).
I’m not suggesting a Superfood only diet, because that’s not realistic for most (and certainly not for me), and I wouldn’t call that a “small step.” However, by simply increasing the proportion of Superfoods in your diet, you will not only positively impact the number of calories and fat (and what type of fat) you take in, but also give your body an edge to fight of sickness – and perhaps you’ll even feel “Super Charged.”
- Superfoods Everyone Needs (WebMD)
- 7 Superfoods Demystified (RawPeople.com)
- East More Superfoods to Lose Weight (CNN.com)
…or if you really want the low-down on Superfoods and how to get the most from them, read Super Foods Health Style by Pratt and Mathews (Amazon).
Small steps add up!