Life Lessons While Mountain Biking Part 2:

This post is going to be less organized and more of a ramble, but nevertheless I hope it inspires you.

I’ve found myself to be a much more pleasant person to be around (my wife can vouch) when I get to ride my bike in the woods. I come back home with an ear-to-ear smile and nothing else in the world can bother me. My mountain biking “addiction” has been great for reducing my stress, even as a person who workouts regularly, exercising in nature is just different. Here’s a study to back that up: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3710158/.

I am not advocating to all my clients that they should go buy a bike and start doing what I do, but I do think you should make time to spend in nature. Here are examples of activities you can do in the St. Louis area to help reduce stress:

Besides one being outdoors and the other indoors, another difference between my mountain bike workouts and my regular resistance training workouts is that I put my phone away.  If I tried to get my phone out while riding my bike, I would for sure crash. Now that I hear my thoughts on this as I type, I should probably put my phone away except for music while I do my resistance training. I have had texts, emails or calls interrupt my workout, and effectively end it. Everyone is so connected all day, every day. We have phones, tablets, and computers, people can reach you pretty much whenever they need to. You should take a break from it. Those of you familiar with the “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” should know that exercise is part of the 7th habit. Don’t let your phone be the reason your workout sucks and you don’t effectively “sharpen the saw” to be your best.

20161208_133156My final thought: it is winter right now, and when the trails get wet around here, they are closed to bikers (sad face). It takes a long time for them to dry out because of the freeze/thaw effect.  When I can’t ride on my favorite trails, I still go out on the Katy Trail (which is gravel and doesn’t matter if it’s wet) and do intervals. Any workout is better than no workout. If you don’t have a full hour to workout, even a 15 or 20 minute workout will go a long way. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Progress is progress and keep working towards your goals.

Life Lessons While Mountain Biking:

As many of you know, I went off the deep end with mountain biking this year. What started with a nice bike as an early birthday present from my wife, turned into a really, really nice bike a couple months later, and I’ve been riding trails several times a week since. Thinking back to my first experience mountain biking this year, I came up with a few life lessons.  I’ll start with a picture of what I got to take home with me from that ride.

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That scar (8 months old now, so it doesn’t look as bad) is what’s left from a pretty good sized hole in my arm; thanks to this rock (pictured below) that also put a hole in the sleeve of my long sleeved t-shirt. It could have been much worse, because my arm saved my face!

As I approached this section of trail, I was uneasy, didn’t think I could do it, and had no confidence. It is very steep, very quick, and has a slight turn at the bottom right before you come back up a very steep climb over rocks on the other side. I went down it anyway. Rookie move. At the bottom, my front wheel got caught and I was thrown over my handlebars and hit this pile of rocks.

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Here is what I was reminded of by this experience:

  1. When you want to do something, commit fully to it. Had I not hesitated and believed I could do it, I would have had a better chance of success. I didn’t think I could do it and look what happened, I failed, miserably. Let’s look at this from an exercise and weight loss perspective. You have to commit to the plan and BELIEVE that you can do it.
  2. Start small, don’t jump in over your head. I should have started to progress my skills on less intimidating features of the trail. Same with exercise, beginners should progress in a manner that is appropriate for them. They shouldn’t start by doing the workout plan that JJ Watt does in his off-season workouts.
  3. Get back up and try it a different way. Isn’t the definition of insanity “doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result”? If at first you don’t succeed, figure out what went wrong, implement a different strategy and try again. Don’t quit because of one bad experience.
  4. Have a community of support. I got better by riding with other mountain bikers. They encouraged me and helped me tremendously by watching them. With exercise, hire a trainer, workout with a friend or spouse, or join a class, these are all ways that being around others can lead to your success.

If I had given up after my first try, and not asked to ride with other mountain bikers, I would never have been able to do this.

That’s the same spot I fell, now I have conquered it! Now I have an activity that I love, and can enjoy for many years to come.

Salsa Chicken + Tomato and Avocado Salad

Are you bored with your current go to meals? Do you lack extensive culinary skills? If you answered “yes” to both questions, you’ll like this recipe. Not only is it healthy and taste good, it’s easy to make.

Here’s how to make it:
1. Trim any fat off of however many chicken breasts you desire to cook. I like to cook several extra so I have meals ready for later.
2. Place the chicken breasts in a slow cooker and cover with a jar of your favorite salsa.
3. Cook on low for 4 hours. I find that any longer will make it too dry.
4. Wait 4 hours.

Side:
1. Cut 3 (or however you want to make) avocados into 8 slices.
2. Cut an equal number of tomatoes into wedges of similar size to your avocado slices.
3. Finely chop cilantro on a cutting board and add the avocados, tomatoes, and cilantro into a bowl.
4. Add lime juice to taste and toss until the lime juice and cilantro are mixed well with the avocados and tomatoes.
5. Enjoy

As you can see, this doesn’t take much skill, time, or ingredients to make. Enjoy!

At Home Dumbbell Circuit

Ever find yourself short on time and an hour long workout just sounds too overwhelming right now? Try a dumbbell circuit. You’ll build muscle, strength, and endurance while keeping your heart rate up. It’s a great way to raise your metabolism in 15 minutes or less.

2 DB Reverse Lunge

2 DB Single Leg RDL

Push-Press

Bent Over Row

 

To cut down time, use the same weight for all 4 exercises, using little to no rest between each exercise. Your weakest of the 4 exercises will dictate the weight you use. The number of sets and reps vary depending on your ability and your training goal. This can also be done as conditioning at the end of a longer workout, using lighter weights.

Workout Anywhere

With summer vacations coming soon, don’t let travel derail your progress. Even a 10 minute workout is better than no workout.  Your body will thank you.  Here is an example of a workout you can do in a hotel room with minimal equipment and get it done fast!

What you’ll need:

TRX Suspension Trainer + door anchor

Sliders (furniture movers)

A wide chair or a bed

How it’s done:

Perform 10 reps of each exercise (each side if there is a right and left), with as little rest as possible between exercises. Rest for 30-60 seconds between rounds and repeat for 3-4 rounds.

TRX Single Leg Squat

TRX Rotational Row

Single Leg Hip Thrust (use a chair or the bed)

Push-Up + (use the bed or a dresser if you can’t do a push-up from the floor)

Body Saw

Grilling Season is Here!

With the warm weather and longer days, it’s a lot more enticing to get out the grill.  Just because you’re grilling, doesn’t mean that it can’t be healthy.  Here is my latest creation from my little Weber grill.

No Bun Sirloin Burgers:

  • 2 lbs of ground sirloin
  • 2 tbsp of lite soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 medium red onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced (I used a garlic press)

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Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Form into patties, place on the grill. Cook until done. Top with whatever you want. I used slices of tomato, avocado, spring mix greens, and natural ketchup. Easy.

Grilled Mixed Veggies:

Cut up whatever veggies you like. Add some healthy oil (canola, olive, coconut etc.) and black pepper, toss together in a bowl. Place in pan and grill until done.

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Here’s what it looked like before I devoured it all:

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Note: If you worked out prior to eating this, you could include some good carbs, like a whole wheat bun a small sweet potato.

 

 

Time Management

Time Management

This year, I made a goal of reading 4 books on personal development. A huge goal, I know, but reading recreationally is something I have not enjoyed since I was in grade school when I read the Goosebumps series. I think reading some of the novels that were required in high school killed fun reading for me.

In February, I noticed that I still had not picked a book. I know a few people that listen to audiobooks, and I thought that would be more realistic for me.  I spend a couple hours a day in my car driving between appointments with training clients, so I switched from listening to sports talk radio, or the same popular songs over and over to listening to books.  Little did I know I was choosing quadrant II activities over quadrant IV (see below for explanation).

The first book I listened to was “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, by Stephen R. Covey.  It’s a best seller, and I am sure many of you have read it before I have.  He spends a good chunk in the beginning on dividing our time into quadrants. “Time management is a misnomer, the challenge is to manage ourselves.”

  Urgent Not Urgent
Important

 

I

–          Crisis

–          Deadlines

 

 

II

–          Exercise

–          Faith

–          Personal/Professional Development

–          Family time

Not Important III

–          Emails

–          Some phone calls

 

IV

–          Facebook

–          TV

–          Time wasters

 

His biggest point is that we spend too much time on things that are urgent, rather than important. We need to dedicate more time to the things in quadrant II.  The things that fall into quadrant II are what help us grow.  I really like this quadrant because it includes what I do for a living! “Sharpen the Saw”, is the 7th habit. He claims we need to spend time on things that help renew us in each of physical, emotional/social, spiritual, and mental categories. These relate back to quadrant II on the time management chart.

“The key is not to prioritize your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” One of the biggest things I took away from the book was that we need to make the important things happen. They renew us, they help us be the best version of ourselves. It is so easy to fill our day with things that don’t really matter. Why not exercise for 15 minutes in the morning, instead of spending 20 minutes wasting your time on Facebook, or watching the same news stories 3 times through about the shootings or robberies that occurred overnight?

We are all guilty at one time or another of wasting our time.  If exercise is important to you, schedule it.  Still doesn’t happen? Hire a trainer for more accountability.

 

 

 

 

 

Home Gym Essentials

Whether you need to accumulate equipment over time, or money is not a concern, you can make a nice home gym on just about any budget.  In my opinion, this list of equipment is a must:

TRX Suspension Trainer

This is where I would start.  You can get the most versatility out of this “gym in a bag”.  You can work your pulling movements, pushing movements, squats or lunges, and work your hips and core with this.  You just need a good place to anchor it to.  You can get away with using the door anchor that comes with it, but as you get more advanced, you will need to have it anchored where you can be directly under the attachment, or go beyond the attachment point.  In my house, my basement is unfinished, so I use an I-beam.

PowerBlock Dumbbells

You pretty much need some form of external load to use with your exercises, so you need these. These are pricey, but think about how much money and space you save if you buy these instead of several pairs of dumbbells. Regular dumbbells are at least $1.00 per pound. If you are a woman, you can probably get away with buying a pair that go up to 40 lbs. per hand.  If you are more advanced, buy a set that can go heavier. If you are a man, you can start with a 50 lb. set, and then buy expansion kits that can make them go to 70, 90, and even 125 lbs. per hand.

Adjustable Bench

You need a bench.  It should adjust from flat to a few different angles for incline. You don’t need to get a commercial grade bench; it’s just going to be you using it so you won’t have to worry about meathead kids tearing it up doing stupid stuff. Just make sure it can handle a decent load. I’ve seen benches with stickers on them saying they could only handle 250 lbs., I weigh 200 lbs., so I could only use 50 lbs. when laying on it!?! I think that company is trying to keep you weak. I personally use the bench PowerBlock makes, it gets the job done and can hold 550 lbs. You’ll be able to do a variety of pushing, pulling, single leg squat variations, and hip thrusts with a bench.

Adjustable Kettlebell

Same reason as having adjustable dumbbells, you’ll save money and space if you have one of these.  Regular kettlebells average $1.50 to $2.00 per pound when you buy them.  Exercises that you need a kettlebell for are swings, goblet squats, and Turkish Get-Ups just to name a few.

Medicine Ball

These are a great modality for power development, and very versatile. If you have a concrete wall to throw against, you can do chest passes and rotational throws, or just use a partner. You can also slam them on the ground.

Adjustable Plyometric Box

For people more advanced, you can use a plyometric box for box jumps, single leg hops, and depth jumps. Just about anyone can use a box for step-ups. You’ll want something that at least goes as high as your knee.

Resistance Bands

If a cable machine is out of your budget, you can use resistance bands to do most of the exercises you would do with cables. These are also portable, so you can take them with you on business trips and vacation to get in your workouts.

Sliders

You don’t have to buy the official “val slide” that was marked up because it’s fitness equipment. Just buy the set of 4 sliders at your local hardware store for $8. You can work your legs and core very well with sliders, and just like the resistance bands, they’re portable to take on your trips.

My Thoughts on Nutrition

As I continue to learn more, I have changed my thought process on things related to training and nutrition, and in some cases, I’ve changed my mind more than a few times.  I’ve used websites like myfitnesspal or the dailyplate to track food and count calories, trying to get people to stay under the recommended calorie intake for what their needs were calculated to be.  I’ve even used services that generated meal plans for my clients, breaking it down to what and how much to eat for every meal, and generating a shopping list to take with them to the grocery store.  That all sounds great, but none of those methods worked long term for ANY of my clients.

I’ve learned that it is best to keep it simple.  Most importantly, I’ve learned that there is more than one way to fix someone’s nutrition habits.  Not everyone needs to eat 5-6 small meals per day.  Not everyone is hungry in the morning. It’s also ok to eat late, it doesn’t all turn to fat when you go to bed. In fact, eating some protein, especially with casein in it, can help you recover when eaten close to bed time because it breaks down slower and lasts while you sleep. You can buy casein as a powder, or it is naturally in foods like cottage cheese.  To be honest, I was probably doing the whole square peg, round hole thing. Everyone is different. If you aren’t hungry in the morning, I’m not going to tell you to eat a big breakfast. If your schedule is crazy and you can’t stop every 2 hours to eat, then 6 small meals a day probably won’t work for you.  I want my clients to learn to be intuitive with eating, listen to their bodies, know when they are actually hungry, and learn to stop at feeling 80% full. Sometimes when you feel tired, you might actually be dehydrated. Instead of grabbing a donut or an energy drink, maybe you just need to drink water.

I think the best way to start making changes is taking what a person is doing currently, and coach them to make small improvements over time.  Behavior change experts have figured out that people who make drastic overhauls all at once, are less likely to still be doing those behavior changes one year later, versus people that change one behavior at time.  If you want to see awesome results ASAP, like if you are getting married in 6 weeks, then short term fixes are ok.  Just realize that you’re probably not going to keep that up.  I want to help coach my clients to do the little things, so that they don’t end up yo-yoing.

“Practice daily to build skills. Build skills to achieve goals.” Success is the sum of several small victories.  Try to think of process goals instead of just outcome goals.  For example, focus on how you can get to your goal, instead what your goal may be.  Keep the end in mind as your vision to keep you going, but the process is what you can control every day.  Here are some examples of small changes/process goals:

  1. Practice eating slowly
  2. Recognize when you are actually hungry, not just bored or stressed
  3. Drink more water and less fruit juice, soda, and alcohol
  4. Eat more lean protein at each meal
  5. Eat vegetables at every meal
  6. Eat less processed foods
  7. Make your own food, rather than dining out.

All of the above are examples of process goals that will lead to you losing fat, gaining lean muscle (if you are weight training), and feeling better. Focus on eating slowly first for two weeks. Reevaluate to see if you are actually doing that. If you’ve mastered that, great, if not go back until you can master that one skill. Once you’ve mastered that, move on to the next skill. Keep working on these skills, and build your momentum.  You’ll get on a roll and get one step closer to your goal every day.

Salmon Fish Tacos

I haven’t posted a recipe in sometime, so I thought I would share what I made the other night. Every month, I set a budget, and I like to stick to that budget, especially with food.  I had some frozen salmon fillets to use up, and my wife Kelly, hates how the house smells when I cook fish. So I thought that spicing the fish up a little would tone down the smell, as well as opening the kitchen window and putting the range on full blast. So this was inspired out of concern for my wife’s overly sensitive sense of smell and trying to use up what I had.  I found a recipe online and made a few adjustments.

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  1. Cut 1 lb of salmon into cubes, and toss the cubes into a 1:1 mix of cumin and chili powder.
  2. Dice up 1 small yellow onion and cook in a large pan until they are translucent.
  3. When the onion is done, add the salmon cubes and cook for a few minutes, do not overcook, chewy salmon is no good. Turn down the heat.
  4. Open 2 cans of Rotel with green chiles, drain them a little and to the pan. Continue heating until the whole mixture is warm.
  5. Add some lime juice over the pan.
  6. Scoop out some of the salmon taco mix and fill a couple low-carb soft tacos. (You’ll have enough for a few meals with 2 people)
  7. Chop up some cilantro and top off each taco for more flavor.
  8. Add some avocado or guacamole, and some good salsa and there you have it!