What’s your tribe? It’s bigger than you think….

Everyone has at least one.  That group of people you feel most at home with.  You can probably tell who they are because they are the ones the embrace your crazy.  All the things that drive others nuts make them feel at home and comfortable.  Now that you have those other crazy folks in your mind, think about all the folks who don’t fit that mold.

“Sure I’m crazy.  But at least I’m your kind of crazy”

You see, I have been training for my first ever ½ marathon.  What that means to those of you non-runners out there is that I spend a good deal of my Sunday mornings on my ‘long run’ of the week.  It is the time when I am out logging between 8 to 14 miles at a time.  There is no way I could do this on the treadmill.  I would shoot myself but being outside on the road lets the scenery change and interact with all the other crazies that are out there doing the same thing.  I have become a part of the ‘running tribe’.  That is when I noticed a trend…..

Tribe members acknowledge each other.  They encourage each other.  They commiserate with each other.

Walkers (no, not that kind of ‘walker’ all you Walking Dead fans) always wave and acknowledge other walkers.  I watched 4 different groups of cyclists acknowledge each other this morning alone.  Every runner I came in contact with was quick with a smile/nod/wave.  It was very encouraging…….but I also noticed a second trend.

Tribes do not acknowledge other tribes.

For example, have you ever noticed when one motorcycle rider passes another, they put out a quick waive?  Happens almost every time.  They are part of the same tribe and acknowledging each other.  I actually think it is pretty cool but have you ever seen a motorcyclist waive at a monster truck driver?  Or a mini-van?  Or a sports car?  Nope.  Doesn’t happen.

The same thing happens in the fitness world.  Of those walkers and cyclists I referenced above, only one group of cyclists acknowledge me and I had to wave first.

But what if we expanded our tribe?

What if our tribe was not cyclists or walkers or runners?  What if our tribe was fitness enthusiasts?  Think about it, that cyclist had the same struggle I did this morning getting out of a warm bed to put their training ahead of comfort.  Those walkers are putting their health above their comfort just like the cyclists.

We live in a world where people live in the virtual and pay more attention to the screen in the palm of their hand than the actual world around them.  Join me in the commitment to engage with all fitness enthusiasts you encounter.  Give a wave, a nod or a good morning (if you can still carry a conversation) to everyone out pounding the pavement.  The world will be a better place for it and it will expand your tribe.

And let’s face it, when the zombie apocalypse does hit and ‘walkers’ takes on a whole different meaning, we are going to need all the tribe members we can get.

It is just a number!!! Get over it!!

Lately in the Bowen house there has been a lot of focus around numbers.  Both my youngest son and I have celebrated birthdays, one a milestone at 13, the other ‘just another year’.  To say there has been a focus on age is putting it mildly.  I can still hear him begging for Facebook, his own checking account, etc. etc.  Add to that my wife’s clean eating challenge.  She is a Health and Fitness coach (read more here) and formed a group dedicated to clean eating.  This group has been obsessed with weight and weight loss.  They post on it almost daily, which creates a great sense of accountability and motivation but wow, numbers flying everywhere.  Last but not least, my eldest son is now a high school wrestler and is hyper focused on making a particular weight class.  Weighing in, counting calories….

Numbers! Numb3rs! Numb3r5!

So as I sit on yet another plane, obsessing over the status level this flight/mile/night will achieve, I cannot help but let my mind wander through the plethora of numbers we constantly obsess over.  If you are anything like me, you have one, one particular metric that you are constantly evaluating yourself against.  It is your bell weather as to how your health measures up…….and it is probably completely faulty (let alone unhealthy).  So let’s go through the most common metrics and debunk their ‘value’.

Age:  This one really is just a number, just ask any Facebook quiz that was ever made.  I am a relatively healthy 42 year old but next to some 42 year olds, I look like Adonis.  Compared to others I look like a slug.  Consider this, I share the same birth year as Willie Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame as well as Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.  Compare those two below and tell me age is anything more than a chronological number.

 Dwayne-Johnson Willie Robertson

Weight:  I have to admit, this is the one I track.  CONSTANTLY.  This is my go to ‘health metric’  I am on the scale literally every single day.  I have been known to weigh myself both before and after workouts to see how much water weight I lose in a session.  I have a problem.

‘Hi, my  name is Andrew and I am a scale-aholic’    ‘Hi Andrew’

The reality is that the 175 lbs. I weighed after getting out of the hospital 2 years ago is very different than the 175 lbs. I weigh now.  You can gain or lose lbs. in a matter of days just by controlling your salt and water intake.  Look at the comparison below of what a 5 lbs. of fat vs. muscle looks like.

5 lbs fat vs 5 lbs muscle

Not all weight is created equal.  What you weighed in at this morning (unless you are about to qualify in a particular weight class), does not matter in the long term.

Body Mass Index (BMI): This one really is just a derivative of weight and is by far my least favorite metric.  The fact that almost all professional athletes, men and women who are at the peak of their physical fitness, are considered obese by this metric is infuriating to me.  As best as I can estimate, my buddy Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson (hey, we share the same birth year.  We’re tight!) has a BMI of somewhere around  31.1.  On the simple BMI scale, any value above 30.0 is considered obese.  Really? Obese? I dare you to tell him that!!

So if these are all bunk, what should we focus on?

How you feel!! – Ok, I realize that there is no easy scale to measure this against but it is the most important metric.  I definitely feel better at 175 lbs than I do at 180.  I feel way better at the 175 I am today than the 175 I was 2 years ago.  Don’t under estimate judging this.

Keeping Score – I don’t want you to walk away from this article thinking you should never know what you weigh or what your BMI is.  They actually do have value, but not as a static metric.  Track them over time.  Keep score and pay attention to the trends.  You will be amazed at what you discover about how your food choices and activities will show through allowing you to make better decisions down the road with how very specific things effect you.

How you measure up – literally:  By far a better barometer to health than just weight is your body fat% and body measurements.  If you know your measurements, there are plenty of calculators out there that will estimate your body fat %.  Look at the pictures of fat and muscle above again.  Replaciing 5 lbs of fat with 5lbs of muscle won’t do anything for the scale but it will sure make you feel better.

What’s your go to metric?  I would love to hear from you and how you use it (or if you are like me, obsess over it).

Variety is the key to consistency!!

“How do you do it?  How do you spend so much time on the road and stay in shape?”

It is a question I get a lot actually, way more than I would expect to.  I get it so often that I actually started a blog about just that (go figure!!).  The reality is it is no harder to stick with a fitness program on the road than it is when you are home (in fact, it may be easier).  The challenge is much greater than just being a Road Warrior, it really is about how do you make a fitness routine not feel like a……well, a routine?

Let’s take a couple of minutes to really break down what makes a good routine and how to make it stick.

Have a couple of unbreakable rules:

If you have read any of my previous posts, you know that being Road Warrior Fit centers around 5 key rules.  You can read all about them here but for summary’s sake, here you go:

  1. Do something, ANYTHING, every day
  2. See Fruit, Eat Fruit
  3. Don’t eat anything fried
  4. Workout first, then you can have wine
  5. Don’t eat in any restaurant that you could eat at at home

Then know when to break them:

No, I am not giving you permission to skip your workout today because there is a harvest moon or the fact that it is $0.25 wing night at the local watering hole.  However there are times that the best thing you can do for your body is rest.  So if you are sick or hurt, let your body work through the healing process.  You can read my own recent experience with fighting sickness while on the road here (don’t worry, I spare you the really gory details of my experience.  Trust me, you should thank me for that).

Variety is the spice of life:

Currently I am training for my first half marathon as well as the first Grappling Tournament I have done in several years.  Very different goals but it has added a variety to my weekly work out routines that I have really enjoyed.  The change in exercise and venue keeps my body guessing and brain engaged.  Although more than most will try and tackle, my typical week looks like this:

Monday – Lifting/TRX workout

Tuesday – Running and Kickboxing

Wednesday – Lifting/TRX workout

Thursday – Running and Kickboxing

Friday – Lifting/TRX workout and running

Saturday – Kickboxing/karate/grappling

Sunday – Lifting

The point being we are all creatures of habit.  We want familiarity in our lives.  We also get bored easily so having a familiar routine that is boring will lead to easy excuses to not follow through.  So plan to mix it up, cross train.   If you are a runner – mix up your routes/distances, speed, Interval train, etc.  Add in weight training at least one day a week (believe me, you will become a better runner).  If your chosen workout is cycling, find a set of Yoga videos you enjoy, the flexibility gains you will get will help with your cycling comfort and time.

Failing to plan is planning to fail:

Now before you think I am either insane for working out as much as the list above suggests or that I am just lying trying to make myself look good, that list is my options for each day.  If I am lucky enough to be home on a Tuesday or Thursday night, you can be sure to find me on the mat for Kickboxing.  If I am on the road, you will find me out on the road getting in a run.   Since I know my options, I am able to plan around the travel.  Variety is the spice of life but just like cooking with spice, you have to have a plan going into the preparation to come out with a dish worth eating.

So has your routine become routine?  Plan today to mix it up then let me know how it works for you.  Until then, I’ll see you on the Road.