Sunday, July 24, 2016

Make your mindset your weapon

When I work with an individual at the gym, I might get to see him or her for 3-4 hours in the week.  Just to be clear, that is only 2% of the entire week (168 hours in the week).  I can only do so much physical training with that time.  The time you spend training is important and a needed component to getting results.  But your mindset will ultimately create the connection that will guide you to achieving your biggest goals.  Your mindset is your attitude.  Your attitude dictates your entire life.  How you want to live, the goals you want to achieve, and the people you want to inspire are all directed by your attitude and mindset.  Many people come into the gym with a false perception of what it takes to get results.  “Isn’t just about working out and eating right?”  Those two components are definitely part of the equation.  But, in my opinion, your mindset is your main weapon.  You can use this weapon to catapult yourself into getting in the best shape of your life.  You can use this weapon when you are battling obstacles in your life.  You can use this weapon to hit personal bests.  You can use this weapon to push you through the last 5 minutes of a workout.  But just as this weapon can be your main asset, if you do not work to create mental strength and fitness, it can also be your toughest competitor.  

Here are a few strategies to implement to make your mindset your weapon:

·      Thought awareness.  Just as I have someone fill out a food log so they can be aware of their food consumption, I have people journal throughout the day to create an awareness of what is going on inside the head.  Ultimately, I want people to transform, not just their physical body, but their entire well-being. This takes conditioning.  Physical conditioning, mental conditioning and consistent practice.  Being aware of your thoughts is a big first step.  There are many people that dislike coming to the gym and working out.  They know they need to, but their mental mindset is pessimistic.  This will only take a person so far.  Once this person can redirect their thought process, and improve their mindset and create a sense of belief, I am telling you, many things become possible!  Listen and be in tune with your thoughts.  Write them down.  Then change if needed.  If the wrong thoughts are always coming into your head, ask yourself the question, what am I allowing into my head?  Books, TV, music, people, the Internet, all affect your thinking.  Choose wisely so you can strengthen your weapon. 
·      Surround yourself with the right people.  Leadership expert and business coach Jim Rohn says, “You are just like the 5 people you spend the most time with.”  Pretty simple here, if you aspire for specific goals, you should be spending time with people who have similar ambitions.  You support them. They support you.  You motivate them.  They motivate you.  It becomes a positive daily environment for you to work on your mental fitness.  Let me tell you from personal experience that when you are surrounded by motivating and positive people, you are much more likely to produce this similar mindset. 
·      Nutrients.  Nutrients provide your body, your brain and your entire system vital nourishment that is crucial for growth, health, well-being and personal development.  Poor eating habits do not assist your mindset.  You will not feel energized.  You will not feel strong.  You will not feel confident.  When you are loading processed and fatty foods into your system, plain and simple, your daily mental and physical performance will suffer.  Building this mental weapon and allowing it to do its job, you need to consistently consume nutrient dense foods.  This will give you a cognitive advantage, physical performance and a strong sense of esteem.  Some of my favorite “brain foods”: dark leafy greens, blueberries, broccoli, fish especially salmon, raw nuts especially walnuts and almonds, and healthy whole grains like brown rice and oatmeal.  Also, make sure to drink at least 70 ounces of water each day.  Hydration absolutely assists healthy brain function. 

When going after your fitness and performance goals, remember, it’s not just about the physical conditioning.  The mindset is your weapon and if conditioned properly, you can build this weapon to help you go after your biggest goals, get you the best shape of your life and ultimately guide you to live life to the ultimate fullest!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Reasons you are not getting results

Getting results in a fitness program is easier said than done.  And especially getting longer term results (sustaining a fit lifestyle for over 12 months).  If you are currently training, you may be making some of the below mistakes which is causing a plateau in performance.  A lack of improvement leads to a lack of motivation.  When you aren’t motivated, you stop working out and eating right and quickly your health is at risk.   Don’t fret though; I have also laid out ideas for you to work on to adjust your mindset and training regimen so you can keep getting big time results!

1.     Trying to overhaul your entire lifestyle overnight.  Fitness is a type of thing where many people gain extreme motivation for short periods of time.  Unfortunately these short time frames did not allow this individual to instill habits into their life.  Instead they tried to overhaul too many things in their day-to-day life.  Then the typical fitness roller coaster happens of being on a diet and going off the diet.  Or doing the workout program and then going off the workout program.  I have really been talking about this idea because our industry needs to hear it.  To me, fitness should be about “finding your way”.  But too many people go after unrealistic and unspecific objectives.  Just because your co-employee is an Ironman triathlete, doesn’t mean that you have to do that training.  If you desire to set a goal like performing a triathlon or running a marathon, you can get there, but understand that it takes months, even years to truly reach high fitness levels.  Do not try and do it overnight; it will just lead to an increase of you giving up on the lifestyle.  As a replacement, focus on 1 or 2 components that needs attention.  “I will train 30 times over the next 45 days.” Or “I will eat 4 servings of vegetables everyday for the next 8 weeks.”  When you start mastering these daily actions, your “lifestyle dial” will keep moving and before you know you will be in the best shape of your life. 

2.     Nutrition blunders.  Building a healthy nutrition plan is an integral aspect to getting results in fitness.  But this component is also the most difficult for people to comply to.  Many people view “healthy eating” as bland, poor tasting, and a chore.  But, just like I made my point in #1, building a creative and healthy nutrition lifestyle takes time.  Full on meal prepping may not be for you, just yet.  Take small steps to eating better.  Drink more water and eat more vegetables.  It can be that simple at first.  Once you instill these simple nutrition habits, choose two more to focus on.  Going on an extreme diet is a nutrition blunder and a complete overhaul in your lifestyle. Thinking supplements will lead you to your results is a nutrition blunder.  Supplements can assist your nutrient and vitamin deficiencies.  But you should not focus on supplementation until you have mastered healthy food intake.  Not allowing for flexibility in your diet is a nutrition blunder.  Life happens and you will need to adjust on the spot at times.  Be ok with that; there are many healthy choices you can make on the go or spontaneously.  Just be conscious about your decisions.  Lastly, aiming for a “perfect diet” is a huge nutrition blunder.  It’s quite all right to splurge on foods you may be craving once in awhile.  Look at the big picture; if you are consistent, that is what matters. 

3.     Not recovering properly. You are consistently working out now.  First off, kudos to you for getting in the gym and being consistent.  That is a big step.  But now, you need to really focus on adequate recovery outside the gym.  If you are not fully recovering in between sessions, results can stagnate pretty quickly.  And then you risk overtraining, injury and stopping of the program.  Getting 6-8 hours of sleep a night is critical to recovery.  Eating nutrient dense foods is also in direct relation to ample recovery.  Let’s also look at your workout scheme.  If you are training daily, and doing nothing but high intensity and hard training, you will not recover properly.  You need to trickle in active recovery sessions and lower intensity training and balance them with your harder training sessions.  Smart training leads to bigger and faster results. 

4.     You are going at it alone.  By no means am I saying that you cannot get results training solo.  I have coached myself for many years and attained decent results.  But once I hired a coach, my performance soared through the roof.  A good coach will set you up to be successful.  They will build a program that fits your needs and individual specifics.  Also, a good coach offers motivation and positive accountability.  Truly, this is what keeps you, the athlete, going.  If you are looking to take your fitness and performance to the next level, go invest in yourself. 

5.     You don’t fully believe in yourself.  This is a critical message here.  Many people fall short in this department.  When you lack personal belief in yourself, you create limitations in your life.  When you have physical and mental limitations, you set your standards low and risk not becoming the best version of yourself.  I do not encourage this way of living.  Instead, I want you to work on your belief system.  Positive self-talk, positive notes and quotes around your house and office, daily affirmations, good books, encouraging people; these are just a few of the practices that are needed in your life to truly start believing in yourself.  Once you start breaking a few personal barriers, the possibilities become endless and the door opens for you to go after your biggest goals and dreams. 

Monday, July 11, 2016

Vineman 70.3 race report July 10th, 2016

“If it were easy, everyone would do it.”

Yes, this is the quote I start with, as it was a tough day for me at Vineman.  Not going to lie, I wanted to perform better than I did, but this sport is a beast with many moving parts.  It’s not easy to put together a great race.  You have to get things right, nutritionally, pacing, mindset, build up, etc.  Sometimes you perform very well and sometimes you fight just to finish the race. 

Going into the race, I was confident in my training.  I had built some solid speed and my legs felt sharp and ready for a big day.  The last few weeks were full of short but high intensity training sessions: track sessions, and short quick intervals on the bike.  The thing I was missing was those “longer” workouts over the last 2 months of training. 

I didn’t have the most ideal last 3 weeks building into this race, traveling a ton, drinking too many beers and not many longer training days.  But I understand endurance sports.  It’s the months leading into a race that matters, not just the weeks.  And I have been consistent.  Last year my build up to this race went absolutely perfect without many distractions.  This year was different, as I knew I had many social and family events to balance.  

Though I didn’t perform to my standard, I take away some valuable lessons from this race. 

Race morning went pretty smooth.  We arrived at the swim start early enough to get things together without rushing.  I had my wetsuit on 30 minutes before my wave went off and I sat around until it was our (35-39 age group) turn.  Once the gun went off, I went out at a hard but manageable pace.  In my head was “stay long and taught.”  This kept me focused on good technique; when your technique feels smooth, the speed will take care of itself.  Once the first 600 or so yards went by, I really started to get into a nice rhythm.  I felt smooth and in control in the swim and the turn around buoys came fast.  I kept my mind focused on good technique the entire swim.  I stayed relaxed.  Before I knew it, the finish was in sight.  Since I was not wearing a watch, I did not know my swim time.  It was a bit slower this year but my energy was strong and it was time to bike. 

Swim: 34:29

Transition 1 was fast.  Wetsuit off.  Sweat band on.  Helmet and sunglasses on and go!  I took my bike to the mount line with my shoes already on my bike.  This saved me 30-40 seconds and I had no problems getting in my shoes. 

T1: 2:11

Going into the bike, I knew my legs were explosive due to the hard intervals I had been doing leading into the race.  I wanted to be aggressive the first 10 miles because it’s a fast first segment.  Once my heart rate settled from the swim, I put my head down and got into a nice pace.  This year, I have been racing without a watch and completely by feel.  This is how I like to race; it keeps me intuitive with how my body is feeling throughout the day.  The first 15 miles seemed to go by very fast.  That’s a good sign.  I got my nutrition in and stayed positive.  Right at about mile 25, I noticed a glimpse of a side stitch in my stomach starting to surface.  I knew I needed water with the amount of calories I was consuming so I did my best to hydrate (you will see later that I did not drink enough water).  Miles 22-35 of the bike was a grind!  I lost my momentum here.  The headwind and false flats slowed me down and I just felt flat. I did my best to stay positive and keep my mind in the game.  I knew that if I were to get back into a zone, I would need to refocus.  Miles 35-42 are full of rollers and fast sections.  I pushed hard and felt my legs coming back.  Mile 45 is Chalk Hill, which is a 385-foot steady climb.  I wasn’t too worried about this climb and once I hit it, I stayed steady and pushed to the summit.  Once I hit the top, I knew that the last 10 miles were fast.  Last year I crushed this final segment.  This year, I can’t say the same.  I was able to find some power in my legs, but my stomach was still knotted up and I was trying my best to manage that issue.  I was also uncomfortable on the bike the final 10 miles.  Lacking some longer rides on my TT bike made for this discomfort the final section of the bike course.  But I was coming to the end and it was time to put together a solid run.  I told myself, “Stay positive and find that strength.” 

Bike: 2:42

I was out of my shoes while riding to the dismount line.  This makes for a quick and easy transition.  Nothing too exciting here, just got off my bike smoothly, and ran my it to the transition area.  I quickly put on my socks and running shoes and grabbed my nutrition and got out. 

T2: 1:56

Immediately into the run, I felt that deep side stitch and it slowed me down.  I just couldn’t get air into my diaphragm so my heart rate stayed high and took a little longer for it to stabilize.  I had a side stitch in Hawaii right off the bike but it went away after the first mile, so I was hoping the same for this race.  I took it easy the first mile, just seeing if this darn thing would subside.  I told myself, “just be patient, it’s a long run”.  My legs felt good but I couldn’t put the hammer down due to the stomach issues.  I stayed focused and in the moment the entire run.  I kept the calories coming in, I would drink sips of water at every aide station and I was doing my best to manage these stingy stomach cramps.  My energy and state of awareness were good.  I knew I wasn’t running the pace I am capable of but now it was a game of salvaging somewhat of a decent race.  I kept my form; I kept the calories coming in and stayed positive.  It’s easy in a race that’s not going your way to completely crash and start walking.  But I was not going to let that happen.  “One moment at a time” is what I kept telling myself.  Once I hit mile 6, I actually found a nice rhythm.  My leg turnover increased, my heart rate was in control and I regained my composure.  The side stitch was still there but I worked through the issue by taking deep breaths and taking in fluids.  The final 5 miles were about managing my stomach and finding the strength to keep pushing to the end.  I would walk fast through the aide stations to drink water and take in calories.  And then I would get back into my groove.  Once I hit mile 10, I took another gel, and I knew the race finish was close.  My goal over the final 3 miles was to stay consistent and focused.  I knew I didn’t have the type of finish in me like I did last year, where I was coming down the final stretch at 6:10 min/mile but I remained determined to finish as strong as I could.  I ran through the finish chute and was happy to be done. 

Run: 1:42

Total Time: 5 hours 3 minutes

Lesson #1: You will have good races and bad races.  How you respond is what defines you as a person.  If it were easy to put together a top performance every race, everyone would do it.  I am satisfied with my mindset throughout this tough race.  Sometimes it’s the tougher races that grow you as a person more so than a PR type day.  How will you respond?

Lesson #2: Throughout the race, I drank approximately 60-80 ounces of pure water.  That equates to 12-16 ounces per hour.  Not enough!  I need to be around 20 ounces per hour to keep hydrated and soak up the salt I was consuming.  Talking with my Coach (Jim Lubinski), we feel that is something that created the stomach cramps. 

Lesson #3: During a tough race where things are not going your way, you can still salvage a decent performance by keeping your mind in a good place and managing the things you can control.  Don’t give up.  Refocus.  Get the calories in.  And keep pushing yourself.  Quitting is not an option.  Stay positive. 

I am grateful for the support.  Thank you to Coach Jim for the guidance and mentorship.  Thank you to my 559Multisport teammates for making this entire weekend a blast (no matter the outcome).  Thank you to my staff at CFA for covering and holding down the fort when I am gone doing these crazy things.  And thank you to my wife and my daughters for loving me and supporting my ventures. 

My motivation is high and I am ready to come back with vengeance!  

Past writings