2015 Brain Gains and Gym Gains too

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Wow, it has certainly been a while since I last checked in on my blog. Just about two months into the year and its about that time to see who stuck to their resolutions. I am batting two-for-two with resolutions this year, and both are polar opposites.

My fitness resolution was to do more cardio and to change my workouts to high intensity bodyweight exercise circuits. Blah blah. Done deal. After two months I am satisfied with my vitality, endurance, strength and appearance. A little bit of will and a lot of attendance and fitness goals are met. No big secret there.

My crowning achievement of the new year has been the overwhelming success of reading more books. What good is a physical victory without a moral or spiritual victory? Thats a quote from one of the many books I read. Eight books in January and four in February. My favorite place to read is walking on the stair-stepper. Those pages and 20 minutes just seem to fly by.

After two months I love my training and love the books that I read. I am looking to make my workouts better and looking for book recommendations of things I’ll find interesting. There is no exact science to how long it takes to form a habit, but with book reading I have certainly found it in these first two months of the year.

I think the key to being successful at any resolution or self-improvement is to find a way to make it interesting for you. I love fitness so it isn’t difficult to make drastic changes, just as long as I am being active. The books I chose to read seemed to be interesting to me, so it didn’t feel like a chore to read them. If you are clever enough, anything can be made more interesting.

I am going to start focusing my blog more on the books that I am reading and have read because I feel like there is more I can say about literature than exercise and health. I will still keep my fitness posts in there but there is going to be a shift in my writing on this blog in 2015.

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Halloween Workout- Whats Scarier, Your Body or Your Costume?

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Halloween is the time of year where pretending to be something is encouraged and celebrated with parties, candy, and a host of other things. Themed group costumes are fun. Wearing less is more on this day. This holiday can also be very scary. Haunted houses, horror flicks, and the dreaded body image that comes with a costume that doesn’t fit well.

Besides being a great time to celebrate, Halloween ushers in the fall and winter festivities in the near future. After Friday, all talk will be geared around Thanksgiving plans. Then its only a matter of time before Christmas shopping begins.

The best part about revealing costumes is what they reveal to the wearer. You are either happy with what you see in the mirror, or you decide you need to change to a costume you can pull off. Let the costume be a third quarter report on health and wellness. No complaints on the costume, have fun! If the costume makes you want to get in better shape because of body image issues, keep that in mind as the holiday season approaches.

You have the right to feel however you choose to feel. I prefer to love the way I look. That comes at a price- one less beer on a night out with friends, an extra day in the gym, no eating after 10 pm etc. Women want to feel sexy on Halloween; they should. Men want to feel strong in their outfits; they should.

Showing skin in your Halloween costumes isn’t my message here. Rather a person shouldn’t feel restricted about costumes because of body image issues. This is the perfect time of the year to get into shape.

No excuses about gaining extra weight on Thanksgiving and Christmas if changes are made now. Getting in shape can be scary, but if you are not taking care of yourself, imagine what you will look like this time next year; I bet it’s scarier than your current situation.

Cold Weather Training

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If I had the choice between working out outdoors or indoors, outdoors would win most of the time. The only times indoors would win would be if it was too dark, bad weather, or too cold outside.

Winter is on its way and the lower temperatures are already here. My frequent outdoor training sessions are not as frequent, and my excuse is the good ole, “I don’t want to get sick”. It is easy to become like a bear by filling up on food and hibernating all winter. How do you beat the cold?

If you are one of those people that love cold weather, stop reading. You already won. Go out and have your fun.

The easiest option is to go indoors. Join a gym or workout inside your home. If you are working out in-home, try your best to create a space that will motivate you to workout. That could be away from a television , near big mirrors, close to the fridge. Whatever works for you. I’ve worked out in every room in my house except the kitchen and the bathroom.

For those that much prefer to stay outdoors I have three words for you- cold gear compression. Whenever I wear my cold gear compression, I never have issues keeping those areas warm. Gloves and hand warmers are always great. Exercises are fast, usually less than 30 seconds a set so if you can bear a few seconds in the cold, you will be able to stay outside much of the winter.

This winter I want to dedicate one day for training outdoors. Like the first Iron Man film, I will have to solve a freezing problem, but instead of it being a metal suit it will be my feet. I’ve never had great luck keeping my feet warm in the winter, but I will find a solution this winter. Mark my words.

Harvin’s Audition for the Jets

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In the AFC LEAST, the Jets find ways to lose winnable games and now find themselves out of the playoff hunt unless they pull off a Disney-movie style miracle second half of the season. In all likelihood, Rex Ryan is getting fired at the end of the season. Idzik is now a Woody Johnson fearing man,  desperate to pull out all the stops to keep his job another year. If Woody’s bottom line takes a hit, trust that Idzik won’t be far behind Ryan.

Desperation brought Percy Harvin to the Jets. Fans want to see more points. The offense needs to score more points. Harvin has the most unique and versatile skill-set that makes this dynamic playmaker a home run waiting to happen. After a crushing Thursday Night loss to rival Patriots, that featured more Nick Folk field goals than Geno Smith touchdowns, its time to roll the dice on a player that defenses fear.

Harvin comes to New York with a lot of question marks. Health is a concern- he missed last season aside from the Super Bowl game with a td and a game against the Saints where he got injured. Rumors of fights, refusing to come into games, are at the top of the concern list. Remember free agent Desean Jackson wasn’t targeted by the Jets because of similar concerns. Desperate times call for desperate measures right? This trade doesn’t fit Idzik’s plans for the East Coast Seahawks, but Geno needs more weapons on offense to develop the offense.

A healthy and productive Harvin will open up Decker and Amaro because he stretches the field; a factor Jets receivers didn’t bring to the table. Harvin’s contract, though hefty, is friendly enough to bring back Wilkerson, Harrison, and more with the amount of cap room we currently have. If Harvin can’t Perc-vere with the Jets, he can be cut at the end of the season without killing the team’s cap.

Jets fans want a player that can produce. Harvin can be that player. So this is his auditions. the second half of the season can show the Jets and the rest of the league that he was worth the expensive valuation from his Seattle deal.

Geno has the arm strength to hit him anywhere on the field. It will come down to decision making on Smith’s part, offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg’s play-calling, and of course Percy making plays.

If Percy wants keep making big money in this league, he needs to start producing. These last nine games will be a good audition for him and the show if the Jets can develop a better offense.

Getting Back in the Gym

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The fall season is my favorite time of the year. Pumpkin flavored everything, changing colors of the leaves, and football every week make it easily a season to enjoy. This fall for me has also come with injuries and time away from the gym.

Without getting into specifics, I have found myself away from the gym and regular exercise for about a month.This not shell shock a lot of people, but going from at least five workouts a week to zero in 30 days certainly shell shocked my body.

My  return to the gym workout was a very basic, a feel good about yourself push-pull workout. After about seven exercises and about 30 total sets, I decided my body had enough for one day and called a quits. Hear a some of my takeaways from this workout and getting back into shape:

Work your way back up slowly. A month isn’t an extreme lay off, but I certainly didn’t have the same strength or endurance I had before the 4 week layoff. Its been said that it takes about half the time to come back from a layoff. So for me, 2 weeks of training to make up for 4 weeks off. This isn’t a science by any means. Injuries and special conditions can take very long times to recover from, but as far as just being inactive or lazy, the half the time guesstimate seems sufficient for me.

Less is more. Your body has to readjust to the stress you’re putting on it through exercise. Just like a car tuneup, take it easy the first couple hundred miles so that your body can become that fine tuned machine it once was.

Remember its a marathon not a sprint. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but it could be destroyed in one. As cliche as that sounds its true. It’s easy to get frustrated but you have your whole life to get back and get better.

Commit to the return. I am making it a point to not miss extended time from exercise. I feel better when I exercise, its just a matter of juggling time and priorities.

Find a way to get things done. Its so much easier to find an excuse but that won’t get you where you want to be.

Tough Mudder Aftermath

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One thing I learned from doing the Tough Mudder this year was that you should never compare this race to a previous Tough Mudder you have completed. Last year’s race was sunny and beautiful. This year’s race was cloudy, windy, rainy, and a lot more challenging to me physically. By mile marker 7 there is a sign saying, “no whining,” so rather than complain about the rainy weather, I’ll tell you about the amazing time I had at the race and the aftermath my body is experiencing.

It is worth mentioning that I am writing Sunday, day 2 of the Tri-State Tough Mudder and the weather is absolutely gorgeous. It was breezy and rainy when I hit the course. The beauty about the rain was that it gave my group a sense of urgency on the course. Two of my teammates were flying past me in the first couple of miles, screaming for me to catch. They were first-timers, unaware of the awaiting challenges and unfamiliar with the length of the race. As we approached mile 5, I was lead dog the rest of the race.

The course was methodically constructed. They flipped many of the obstacles from last year, and in my opinion, made the course harder because of it. The many mud hills I sprinted up last year felt so much more challenging than this year because the rain made the traction even worse than what I had done in previous races.

Some of my favorite obstacles on the course were classics like the funky monkey bars, walk the plank, and for legionnaires, the rings of glory. While I was on the funky monkey bars I ended up kicking a guy off of the bars next to me as I swung from bar to bar. Sorry brother! You were going to fall off anyway since you were stuck on the bars for a while! The rings of glory were fun because they felt like an obstacle you would find in American Ninja Warrior.

By the time the race was complete, my body was hurting a lot more than compared to the last year’s race. The day after I am sore everywhere. A good portion of my joints are sore or sprained from the many falls I had on the course, and my muscles and lower back are dealing with major soreness. I paid to be there, and the soreness adds to the sense of accomplishment I get from completing the race. It was all worth it for the finisher’s t-shirt, headband, and beer at the finish line.

There were moments on the course where I had wished that I had prepared better for the event, but my team was there for me every step of the way. There were plenty of times where I needed a helping hand and gave a hand to a person in need. I feel closer to my teammates because of the dedication we had to each other on the course.

The aftermath of the Tough Mudder- soreness, t-shirts, headbands, and a lot of great stories of what went down on the course.

Work Versus Working Out- How to Pay Your Bills and Stay In Shape

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I’m considered by almost all that know me as a gym rat. Many people are under the impression that I can’t go a day without working out. For a long time, these people were absolutely right.

Nowadays, I don’t have the luxury of going to the gym every day and performing long methodical workouts. More responsibilities mean less time for the gym. Thats a fact of life for everyone that isn’t working in a gym full-time.

I always believed I wouldn’t be the person that would stop exercising because of work and other responsibilities. Now that I am at the crossroads between fit and funk, I have a new found respect for those who have fallen out of shape because of work and personal obligations.

There is no be-all-end-all solution for work versus workout. The no excuses cliche left out the part that says, “No excuses for unpaid bills”.

Here is my personal solution for dealing with the work versus workout dilemma:

1) Figure out how many days a week you can work out and add the appointments on your calendar. My e-calendar is stuffed with appointments, important events I must attend, and reminders. I want to work out 4 days a week but 2 days is more practical. 3 if I am lucky.

2) Take your gym bag with you. This sounds obvious but its a lot harder mentally to go back home for your bag. When you go home you will more likely want to relax and put exercising off for another day.

3) Do total body workouts. Congratulations! You made it to the gym! Get the most out of this session because you don’t know the next time you will be able to go this week. There is no wasted movements in total body workouts and with limited days in the gym you don’t want to skip out on training any part of your body.

4) Make up days at home.My plan is to do 2 total body workouts a week no matter what. If I miss a day but I have free time at home, I have to get my workout in. Even if its a quick total body circuit, hit it hard and hit it fast so you can maximize the time constrained workout. Working out at home may take some time to get used to. Many people treat home as a place of total relaxation and can’t picture themselves doing strenuous activities in their comfort place. It takes times. Work up to it little by little.

Life has a habit of getting in the way of things we want to do. But life’s obstacles are meant to be overcome. Pay your bills.Pay your dues. Because if you don’t, ultimately you pay the price.