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mindset

Screw the Scale

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Screw the Scale

I get this question a lot: “I just started exercising, so why am I gaining weight?” I’m pretty sure many of us have experienced this. We start a new training program and the number on the scale stays the same, or even worse, it goes up. Truth is, this is completely normal - and temporary. When we start a new exercise program and our bodies aren’t adjusted to that type of stress, our muscles may become inflamed. Most of the weight you see on the scale is probably not fat, but temporary water weight due to inflammation. However, it could also be an increase in muscle mass. Yay!

Again, one reason you may have gained weight in your first month of training is due to inflammation. When you work out a given muscle, you’re basically causing tears in your muscle fibers. This is usually referred as "microtrauma" and is why you feel sore the next day. But on the bright side, your body heals these little tears and makes your muscles stronger as you continue to lift heavy weights - essentially, your body adapts to the stress. That’s how you can get stronger and more fit: you create adaptation to whatever you’re doing, whether its cardiovascular training or strength training. During the first month of a new training program - especially if you’re new to fitness - there’s definitely going to be a lot of adaptation going on and these fluid build-ups caused by inflammation might show up on the scale. But don’t worry, once your body is adapted to this stress, the scale should go back down. Just keep working hard and trust the process.

Another reason why you might see weight gain within the first few weeks of training is that you’re building muscle faster than you’re losing fat. Muscle is more dense than fat, thus taking up less space. Next time, rather than stepping on a scale, measure your circumference instead. It’s often the case that, if you do gain muscle mass, the scale might go up, but you’ll probably fit better in your jeans.

Often times, we define fitness by body weight. I’ve seen so many people throughout their fitness journeys lose motivation because the scale wasn’t budging. But what does that number really mean? Does that mean they’re not progressing? Not getting stronger? Not becoming healthier? Chances are, the answer is no. Place the scale aside and focus on what really matters. Do your clothes fit better? Do you feel better? Are you happier? If the answer is yes, disregard the scale.

People may not consider the early changes to their bodies as a good thing. The key is to not let that number define your hard work and discourage you from working out or eating healthy. So, instead of weighing yourself, pay attention to what really matters: strength, endurance, health, how you feel, and most importantly, happiness. You’re so much more than just a number! Again, once you’ve been working out consistently, your muscle gains and water weight should stabilize. So keep doing what you’re doing and don’t lose faith. Be patient. Stick with your program. Don’t let any arbitrary number tell you how well or not you’re doing if you’re seeing positive physical changes. Like what successful people say, “Age is just a number.” Well..your weight is just a number, too.


 

 

 

 

 

 

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How "Why Not Now" Started

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How "Why Not Now" Started

When it comes to making fitness a priority, we've told ourselves, "We'll start on Monday," or "It'll be my New Year's resolution."  Well, why not now?  Empower yourself in the present and make it your lifestyle!

Movement

How many of us are in love with fitness, training, rehabilitation, or anything related to the word I try to avoid using: exercise? Okay, I like to call any of the previous terms “movement” because it’s more intentional and it’s something we all need to do not only to survive, but thrive. You don’t need to love to move, but you do need to commit to movement in one form or another. For some of us, it’s because we’re training to perform our best at something. For others, movement may be used to recover from injuries. For most of us, exercise is not natural or enjoyable but we know we need to do it in order to look, feel, and be the best versions of ourselves. Believe it or not, I don’t personally enjoy fitness unless I’m training for a sport or an event. There are a few unique specimens who are passionate and sometimes obsessed with resistance training, running, plyometrics, etc. because it’s fun for them and allows them to reach a state of flow. Flow, aka “the zone”, is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. We can discuss that next time as it’s a subject that I’m particularly interested in. For now, let’s stay on task - I’m here to talk about: commitment.

Commitment

“A commitment is falling in love with something and then building a structure of behavior around it for those moments when love falters” - David Brooks’ lecture “The Next Big Challenge In Your Life”

I’m currently falling in love with the idea that I will be a parent soon, but I refuse to have a “dad bod”. My love and commitment has evolved, changed, and failed me several times - and that’s fine. I don’t have sporting events to train for, and I have no interest in training for a recreational event at the moment. In 2016, my commitment was to avoid having surgery to repair my ACL (yes, not having the surgery is an option). My focus was training hard to build the strength and body awareness necessary to have a fully functioning knee without a fully functioning ACL. Life is full of twists and turns and you don’t always have time to prepare for them, and that’s where motivation comes in. Your motivation is dictated by the current challenges you face. Motivation will keep you committed, and most importantly, keep you disciplined enough to keep you moving forward.

A Winning Mindset

Prior to the 2013 season, Russell Wilson inspired the the Seattle Seahawks with the phase “why not us”. In February of 2014, they won their first Super Bowl. Inspired by Russell Wilson, Justine and I came up with P4L’s slogan of “Why Not Now?” Why wait until tomorrow, next week, next month, or next year to focus on your fitness? Or better yet, why wait to commit to something you love? We all have a love for something, and that love will motivate us to stay committed to reaching our goals.


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Reflecting on 2017 | Bryant's Journey

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Reflecting on 2017 | Bryant's Journey

As I reflect on my energy and health over the past year, I’ve found that I’ve definitely made improvements in some categories, but also realize that I need a lot of improvement in others. Justine and I recently attended a seminar at the Small Business Administration. At the seminar, we took an Entrepreneur Energy Assessment, which evaluated each person in 4 categories - physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. I’ll go into more detail about each category, and start off with the one I feel strongest in.

1. Physical (My Biggest Improvement in 2017)

When it comes to sleep, my goal for 2017 has been 8 hours per night. I’ve averaged about 7.2 hours, which is a definite improvement from 2016 when I averaged 6.7 hours - yes, I’m a data nerd. Over the past 6 months, my exercise has evolved to include more strength training (3-4 x a week), 1-2 days of plyometric and agility training, and only one day of steady state cardio. The changes I’ve made to my exercise routine has had a noticeably positive impact on my day-to-day energy levels. I’ll readily admit that my diet in 2017 has been all over the place - there have been months where I barely cooked a single meal at home. Although I was in the moving and home-remodeling process, this isn’t an excuse. As our home remodeling was winding down, I’ve been back to giving my body the foods that it wants - and that I want. The biggest difference between eating out for every meal and preparing my own food is knowing what I’m putting into my body.

2. Mental (Needs Improvement, But Look Out 2018!)

An important part of mental health is the ability to quiet your mind, one of the main teachings of mindfulness practices. My mind is always going, going, going. I’ve tried meditation, but always  stop and make excuses for not continuing. I will, however, give myself credit for taking more walks this year than I have during any other year since living in San Francisco (thanks to Justine for convincing me to make this a habit). I’ve used walking as a way to take breaks from work, deal with stress, and most of all, to calm racing thoughts. After 10-30 minutes, I can go back to work feeling refreshed and ready to tackle my to-do list, which brings me to the next component of mental hygiene…my worst enemy, taking breaks from technology. I feel like I, along with many others, have been getting worse at this over the years. I don’t know if it’s the increasing amount of tech in my life - like my Apple Watch, which alerts me of things even when I may not want to be alerted of things - or that I’ve just become a full-blown addict. Sometimes I feel like I need to go to cell phone rehab (this actually exists...). I’ve been more aware of my attachment to electronics, so I’ve begun setting my phone on Airplane Mode whenever possible. If I can manage to consistently unplug from technology, and especially my phone, I can improve what I believe is the most critical element of maintaining my mental health: staying present. Living in the moment is something everyone should strive for, but it’s always going to be a work in progress. We just have to find the things that will help us achieve this!

3) Emotional and Spiritual Health (The Most Important Player in Your Energy and Health)

This is the secret sauce. Without this, you can’t have the motivation or commitment to improve in the other two areas. Why do I say this? Well, it starts with the work you do because that’s what we spend most of our time doing! If we’re not enthusiastic, passionate, and committed to the work we do, how can we be spiritually and emotionally connected to ourselves or others? For some of you reading this, you know what I’m talking about. I’m proud to say that I love what I do, and I know I’m making a difference in my industry and in others’ lives because my work is connected to my values. My core values are social connection, movement, camaraderie, and balance. I get to live by my values every day in my line of work, and I’m grateful to have had that opportunity. The one area I need to work on is making sure I consistently make time for activities outside of work. I plan on making an improved effort by assigning myself days of the week to enjoy things that are not work-related, like golf, hikes, and concerts.

What this all boils down to is: reflection. Take some time to reflect on these categories, or come up with some of your own. Allow yourself to simply observe where you can improve, set a straightforward plan to do so, and most importantly, give yourself credit for what you’ve done well! Use this to make an even better plan for 2018.


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4 Tips for Rehabilitation

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4 Tips for Rehabilitation

Many people who have pain from injuries, accidents, disease or just the activities of everyday life seek help to solve their problems. Often times, they’re able to see a physical therapist or another health practitioner who will diagnose what’s causing the pain, perform appropriate treatment, and give directions on how to proceed with rehabilitation. The practitioner may guide the patient in person through his or her rehab or may assign exercises for the individual to do at home at a certain frequency or for a specific length of time.

Physical therapy and rehabilitation are fantastic and help many people in pain, but they can at times be very monotonous and frustrating because being in pain is hard. Tasks and movements that were simple and taken for granted before now cause suffering and may even be impossible to do. Additionally, the rehabilitation process can be quite lengthy, especially if there is severe damage from injury or disease. Patients with pain often go through many emotional battles not just from the physical pain itself, but from the impact it can have on their lives.

But with diligence in rehabilitation, a strategic approach to the body, and the right mindset, most people can come out of pain. If you’re in pain, seek help from a health practitioner for guidance on what to do. And if you’re in the thick of recovery, hopefully, these tips can help you on your way.

1. Celebrate every victory, no matter how small.

If you were bedridden yesterday, be grateful that you can now get up. If you could barely stand yesterday, be excited about the fact that you can now jump. If you could slowly walk yesterday, be proud that you can now run. Even if you get up slow, or you don’t jump as high, or you don’t run as fast, progress is progress. Okay, we don’t usually heal overnight, but my point is that celebrating victories is about appreciating the details - maybe it hurts less when you try to touch your toes, maybe it used to hurt as soon as you lifted your arm and now it only hurts when you reach above your head. Manage your expectations and set realistic goals so that you won’t be disappointed and will stay motivated to keep pushing forward.

2. Don’t fight through the pain.

We’ve all heard the phrase, “no pain, no gain.” Maybe in the past, we’ve been pushed and pushed by coaches while we work out to “Fight through the pain!” Understand that (hopefully) these are references to pushing through challenge and muscle “burn” and not the literal pain that we feel as sharpness, numbness, or tingling. If an exercise is causing pain, stop doing it. Pain is our body’s way of communicating that we’re putting ourselves at risk of harm, so if an exercise is causing pain, don’t do it, or regress the exercise. Do an easier version that doesn’t trigger symptoms and master that movement before attempting a harder progression. If an exercise is challenging and you feel your muscles working hard, then that’s great - you should practice that, and make sure that you’re getting plenty of rest and recovery as well.

3. Balance the injured and uninjured.

Lots of patients, very commonly, have an injury on only one side. For example, you might have sprained your ankle and then seen a practitioner. He or she recommends that you allow for some rest for healing and so that inflammation can go down and when that’s better, to do mobilization and strengthening exercises, then maybe some balance, stability and even plyometric work. This is all great and it helps with recovery, but what often happens is the formerly injured side heals and becomes better - stronger, more mobile, and more stable - than the uninjured side. While you do your rehab exercises, give both sides, including the healthy side, some love so as to ensure balance and symmetry.

4. Consistency, consistency, and consistency.

At the end of the day, successful rehab comes down to consistency. As with working out, you don’t get results with one good workout. You have to work out consistently, eat nutritious and healthy food consistently, and sleep well consistently to see results over time. You have to do rehab exercises daily because often times you’re trying to break strong compensation patterns, rebuild atrophied muscle, restore stability to important joints, and generally fix biomechanics. It takes great treatment, smart rehab prescription, careful but effective integration and a lot of diligence and commitment to healing and movement to get a worthwhile, long-term result.


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What Are YOUR Priorities?

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What Are YOUR Priorities?

Everyone has a choice. In a given situation, your choices may be limited, or it may be unreasonable by most standards to choose certain options, but the choice is always there. If you are being robbed at gunpoint, you can choose to acquiesce and hand over your money, or you can resist. For most people, it is not worth the risk to fight for your money, but it is still a choice you have to make in that situation.

I have heard the words “I can't” more times than I can count in the context of discussing an exercise or diet regimen. Almost always, this is completely untrue, and not just from a semantics perspective. Typically, it's a matter of prioritizing other things instead: relaxing after work, doing work, family time, going out on the town, etc. It is not my job to judge people for the choices they make and how they prioritize their time. Rather, it is my job to help people understand which choices make achieving their goals more likely, and simply to help them realize that it is, in fact, a choice they make.

One of my first clients I worked with after I moved to the Bay Area is the CEO of a company that was acquired for about a billion dollars. He has a lot of employees depending on him to keep the company successful, and I doubt anyone would suggest that his job isn't demanding. However, he really enjoyed exercise, numerous times providing unsolicited feedback about how happy he was with the changes he saw both physically and mentally. In the 2.5 years I worked with him before I left that facility, I think he cancelled our session for work reasons only once or twice on short notice.

My former client flat out told me once that he prioritizes going to the gym more highly than his job, and that proved true the vast majority of the time. Again, it is a choice, even when it seems unreasonable to follow certain paths. In this case, a lot of people might deem his priorities as unreasonable, but ultimately that is completely a matter of opinion. In the end, it even proved beneficial for his work, as increased productivity is something he cited as a benefit of the regular exercise he was doing.

Next time you set a goal for yourself, be realistic about what you want, and what it's worth to you. For example, let's take the goal of having a visible six pack. Some people might think they really want this goal, but thinking about it this way has its issues. Most importantly, it ignores what you give up or change to get there. Make sure having a visible six pack is worth those changes to you.

If I told you that to get a six-pack you would have to eat out infrequently, prepare your meals in advance, stop drinking alcohol almost entirely, get 7+ hours of sleep every night, eat a specific number of calories each day, and work out most days of the week for months, would you still want to reach that goal?

For some, the answer is still yes, they want to reach this goal at all costs. For others, they realize that they don't want a six-pack as much as they think they do. More specifically, they prioritize certain behaviors more than having a visible six-pack. Either choice is fine by me, as long as you understand that you are making that choice.

Next time you make a choice, phrase it as such in your mind when you make that decision. For example, don't think to yourself “I want a six-pack.” Instead, think to yourself, “I want a six-pack more than I want that third piece of pizza.” Next time you want to skip a workout, don't think to yourself “I really want to go home and watch Netflix.” Instead, think to yourself, “I want to watch Netflix more than I want to get in shape.” Once you pose the question or idea to yourself like that, you can truly make your decision. Maybe you choose slice #3 over the six-pack. Fine by me, as long as you realize that's what you're doing! Just don’t keep saying you want something, but instead choosing a different path whenever an opportunity arises for your actions to reflect this desire.

To wrap it up, this isn't really an article about how to help you achieve your goals. Rather, it is an article about being honest with yourself and choosing goals that make sense for what you want. Special thanks to my former client referenced earlier; a conversation we had largely inspired this article. Until next time… choose wisely!


 

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