Category Archives: Family

No Skip – No Excuses – No Gain November

The month of November has become a rallying cry for men all over the United States to help bolster men’s health issues including Prostate and Testicular Cancer awareness and research.  For years now, men all over the country have shelved their razors for the month as they participate in either ‘No-shave November’ or ‘Movember’.  Both are a great way of promoting very important issues that men often tend to ignore.

However this year, I was going to pass. 

Not because I don’t believe in the cause nor because I think the charity organizations are not well run (to the contrary, I think they are very well run_.  Nope, this year I was going to pass for one simple and very self-centered reason,

I just don’t look good with a beard.

Beard

I know, it is completely narcissistic and self-serving but with the reaction I received last year, it is clear that the important people in my life prefer me sans beard.

However I wanted to give back and support the cause and I wanted to give you all an option also so I am hereby christening this month as No Skip November.  Evidently it is such a good idea that the folks over at Movember.com thought the same thing and added a movement challenge this year, so whether you drop the razor or not, you can participate.

So for every work out I complete in November, I am donating $5 to the Movember Foundation.  My plan is to not skip a single day in November, even rest days will be active rest days.  The side benefit of it all, it will also be a No Gain November as I .enjoy the holiday season.  However, I don’t want to do this alone.  I am asking for your help.

Nope – check that – I am asking for your participation

There are two ways you can participate:

Donate today:

Your donations are always welcome and appreciated.  You can make your donations here:  http://mobro.co/roadwarriorfit

Join me!!

I am looking to build a team of movers.  Pick the amount you are willing to donate to the cause and then register at http://moteam.co/road-warrior-fit-gives-back to join the team.  The goal is to raise $1,000 in total but just as importantly, the goal is to move.

The second best part about participating with me (the best is helping with awareness and research around men’s health issues) is you are setting yourself up for a No Gain November.  Ever wonder why eating better and exercising more are at the top of nearly everyone’s New Year’s resolutions?  What if you could focus on something else because you are already focused on your health and weight?  Well, you could.

In fact, my wife and I are hosting a No Gain November healthy living group beginning on November 9th.  It is 21-days of focused nutrition and activity and a great way to help hold yourself accountable and if you are so inclined, to help with a great cause.

So how about it, are you ready to join me in No Skip – No Excuse – No Gain November?

The best dates are Sweat Dates

Over the last 4 years, my family and I have dealt with a lot on the health front.  Four years ago, my son was diagnosed with a papilledema, a condition normally associated with a brain or spinal tumor (he did not have one).   I had a near death experience due to a heart condition (I made it obviously but if you want the full story you can read it here) and we topped it all off  with my wife’s battle with breast cancer, including the treatment, double mastectomy and reconstruction that comes with it (she has been cancer free for 2 years now and you can read her story here).  And that is just with those who live under our roof.

When you are confronted with these types of health crises you are forced to look at your health so to say healthy living is a priority with us would be putting it mildly.  It is woven through everything we do, everything we eat and in just about every conversation we have – my sons just love that part.

It also has led to a phenomenon we refer to as:

The Sweat Date!!

As we have traveled this road to health, we have begun working out together on a regular basis.  My wife and I are both BeachBody Coaches so often these workouts are conducted in our living room our outside on the deck but whatever the workout, we are spending between 30 – 60 minutes with each other pushing, motivating, teasing and sweating together.  They have become my favorite part of the week and when I really stop to examine the benefits of the sweat date, there are 5 key benefits that stand out to me in regards to working out with your significant other.

Feel better:

I know, obvious but true.  There is all kind of research out there about the effect of exercise on mood, mental health and of course, overall health.  More than all of that though, doing something with your partner for the long term benefit of you both is uniquely rewarding.  There is something to simply sharing the fight.

More Relationship Security:

In our BeachBody business, it is amazing to me how many men are insecure about their wife getting in shape.  Quite candidly, it blows me away.  Why would a spouse ever be against their significant other getting in better health?  But I can assure you, it is a real occurrence and happens way more often than you would expect.  However a shared journey to being fit builds bonds of security in a relationship as couples travel the road together.

Time spent together:

My wife and I have a blast when we work out together.  It is between 30-60 minutes where we are sharing an experience, working towards a common goal and in many cases, have a common enemy (yes, I am talking about you Autumn Calabrese!!!)

Autumn

Healthier eating:

When you focus on health together rather than just exercise, you have to spend time on your diet.  This is so much easier when you are attacking it as a team.   Meals can be prepared for the family and not for an individual who is ‘dieting” (I hate how we use that word) and if you are going through the effort of putting in the exercise you are way less likely to want to compromise those gains by letting your diet go to pieces.

Side benefit of the Sweat Date:

Couples that play together……..well, play together.  Let me spell this out for you, you are exercising, building confidence and connection together.  When you exercise, endorphins are released improving mood as well as health.  You are sharing experiences together.  All of these contribute to a heightened sense of connection in all kinds of ways.  Yeah, we call them dates for a reason.

So there are my top 5 reasons to make time for Sweat Dates in your relationship.  I promise you, if you make your family’s health a priority together your relationship will grow in all of the right ways.

What’s on your Bucket List?

This past Sunday I had the pleasure of catching up with a friend at church.  His wife is currently training for her first full IronMan and was out training in the Texas heat by riding 65 miles.  Like I am sure the spouse of any endurance athlete feels every once in a while if they are being honest, he mentioned he was ready for the race to be done so the training could end and it would no longer be on the bucket list.  So I asked him

“Well, what’s on your bucket list?”

His answer was not what I had expected at all.

“I have pretty much done mine.  Martial arts – check.  Hockey – check.  Bass guitar – check.”

That got me really thinking.  If your bucket list is done, what is left?  Simple – adding more items to the bucket list.

Ok Andrew – what is on your travel bucket list?  What the things you want to accomplish around your fitness goals and keeping sane on the road?  So here are the top 5ons my RoadWarriorFit bucket list.

Swim in both the Atlantic and the Pacific on the same day.

I am never sure whether to cry or get excited every time I think about completing this one.  I am the kind of traveler that if I am in sight of the ocean, I have to get salty.  So much so that I have been known to take the last flight out of Miami just so I can hit the beach for an hour or even squeeze in a 30-minute run next to big blue.  I have had the opportunity to complete this one slip through my fingers on 4 different occasions that I can remember.  The challenge here is it usually means I am getting up way early to swim before meetings and staying up way late to swim after my plane lands.   Throw in a 5+ hour flight and that is one really long day.  Going to have to happen though.

Complete a RunDisney event.

If you are unfamiliar with these events, you need to check them out at rundisney.com.  I have registered and paid for 3 different RunDisney events over the last 5 years, including the Inaugural Star Wars ½ Marathon.  I have even gone so far as to train (including the long runs) to be ready and something has come up to prevent me from going.  EVERY.  SINGLE.  TIME.  I am so into this that I even know what my running costume will be if (when, I mean when) I will be able to check this one off.  For a great read on how to really maximize this goal, check out my friend Jennifer’s blog here.

Visit all 50 States:

Last I checked I think I am at 42 states that I have visited for work (43 in total).  I have the sick desire to visit all 50 on work trips.  I know it is a basic bucket list items but still, I want to make this happen.

Run the steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Yep, those steps.  The ones Rocky conquers in Rocky III.  The ones I went to run about 2 years ago and headed the wrong direction out of the hotel and never made it.  I can hear the theme music now and can almost taste the raw eggs.

Train at one of the top MMA gyms in the country:

I make it a habit to research, contact and train at the martial arts gyms in my destination cities.  Just this week I trained at Art of Eight in San Diego during my trip.  There are a few top gyms that I have the goal of training with (assuming they let me).  I am one of those freaks who likes to get kicked in the head and who better to get kicked by than those who train with the best?

Bonus item – Workout aggressively in an airport

This one is just silly and I think it would be fun to have someone video other’s reactions while I was doing it.  I want to plan and complete a workout in the terminal of an airport.  And not some walking lunges, wall sit easily hidden workout, no, I want Shaun T/Insanity, sweat dripping,  “What is that freak doing?” kind of a workout.  The kind that would have to take place in another one of those airports with an Admirals Club with showers in it.

I have been blessed to be able to do a lot of really cool things while on the road, especially around fitness but there are a few that have escaped me thus far.  This was my top 5 list – would love to hear yours.  Let me know in the comments below and I look forward to seeing you on the road.

Styrofoam cups and old magazines

I hate them both.  With a passion.

Not because I am some hyper environmentalist nor am I on a green movement to stop the destruction of our planet’s forestation.  No, I hate them because of what they represent to me.

They are the very image of surgical and treatment centers.

This upcoming Saturday, September 5th will be my wife’s 2 year cancerfreeversary.  Yes – we made up a term for it and yes – we celebrate it.  Over the course of the last 2.5 years, I have spent a lot of time in the waiting rooms of medical centers.

What the medical team won’t tell you when a loved one is diagnosed with any disease that involves long term care is the amount of exposure you are going to receive to Styrofoam cups and old magazines.  They won’t tell you that you are going to spend days in waiting rooms.  Waiting for diagnoses.  Waiting for consultations.  Waiting for treatments to complete.  Waiting for recovery.

Waiting.

Helplessly waiting.

Waiting where the only refreshment is either coffee or water – served in Styrofoam cups.

Waiting in rooms where there are old magazines everywhere.

For the loved one of someone going through something like cancer, you will wait a lot and it is the hardest part!!!  Yes, you will be a shoulder to cry on.  You will be a punching bag to work out aggressions.  You will be the encourager when they think they can’t keep going.  You will be a nursemaid as they recover from chemo/radiation/surgery.  You will be all of those things at once but in all of those times, you are doing something.  You can take action.

Once they go back with the medical professionals, you are left to just wait and pray.

Wait with a Styrofoam cup full of coffee and an old magazine to distract you.

I hate Styrofoam cups and old magazines.

But back to something more positive – celebrating the gift that is the cancerfreeversary.

This year we are celebrating by having what we hope to be the final procedure in her reconstruction journey.  In fact, they just rolled her back to administer the anesthesia and begin the procedure.  So I am sitting in yet another waiting room, with my cup of luke warm coffee in a Styrofoam Cup leafing through old magazines deciding between an issue of Seventeen from 2014 or Sports Illustrated from 4 months ago (at least it is featuring Ronda Rousey but with my passion for all things MMA, I guarantee there is nothing new in there for me).

image

I hate Styrofoam cups and old magazines but I am so thankful for another opportunity to be here.  I am so thankful for the wonderful health care professionals who provide them and for their dedication to both their patients and their family.

I am so thankful to be celebrating her cancerfreeversary

Are you ready?

Look, if you had one shot, one opportunity, to seize everything you ever wanted. One moment. Would you capture it or just let it slip away? – Eminem

In life you have to be prepared to take advantages of opportunities when they pass by.

This past Saturday, I had an opportunity come and smack me in the face.  While training at the karate studio, the Master Instructor asked me if I was ready to test for my Second Degree Black Belt in 13 days!!!!

Thirteen days?  Are you crazy?  I trained for 8 intensive weeks to receive my black belt……and that nearly killed me!!! (You can read that story here). Thirteen days!?!?!  There is no way I can do that!!

Now up until that moment, we had not even discussed the possibility of testing. No commentary on what would be needed to be prepared, where he or the other instructors saw weaknesses in my game or even the structure of the new test.

Just a spontaneous “are you ready?” conversation.  There was only one answer I could give…..

“Absolutely!”

You see, I train with a purpose and so should you.

Now your purpose is probably not the same as mine.  Not many people are actively training in multiple martial arts and focused on being able to go 10 rounds or stop multiple assailants on a plane if needed (yes, I really do think like that).   However everyone should put a purpose behind their health goals.

It is easy to skip a workout, or multiple workouts, when you don’t have a clearly defined purpose.  It’s easy to order the chili cheese fries when you don’t have a goal staring you in the face.  It’s easy to have that extra glass of wine when there is nothing to focus on.

Without a big goal to command your focus in the long run, the decisions you make in the short run lend themselves to the easy rather than the best choice.

So what is your goal?  Is it…

scale

Weight loss:

You know this is a simple matter of calories in, calories out.  You also have to understand that it is the marathon of goals, not the sprint.  Set a weight target and a realistic date to hit it and then track your ongoing progress (there are lots of great apps and calculators out there to help you do this).  Put that number everywhere you turn so it is constantly reminding you of the real treat, seeing your number on the scale.

Blood pressure

Lowered Blood Pressure:

Talk to your Dr. About what you need to do specifically in this area but I know for my family it is keeping salt to a minimum and making sure we are exercising.  Skip the salt shaker and get your 20 minutes in everyday.  Believe me you will feel and sleep a whole lot better.  Track it regularly and celebrate small incremental decreases.

energy

More energy throughout your day:

Foods high in refined sugar and carbs lead to spikes in blood sugar and corresponding crashes.  Remind yourself before indulging in those cookies of how you will feel an hour later.  Is the short term burst worth the crash later that day.  Sometimes the answer is ‘yes’ but work to make ‘yes’ a rarer and rarer answer.

headshot

Fitting in your clothes better:

When I started this fitness journey about 5 years ago, this was a major goal of mine.  When I am on the mat I am often wearing a rash guard/compression shirt.  They show every ripple, bulge, love handle, muscle or lack there of.  I was embarrassed enough of my body that I would wear a t-shirt over the rash guard until it was time to step on the mat.  Vanity was, and still is, a major motivator for me.

Interestingly, I fill out t-shirts and rash guards much better now but I still am in the habit of wearing a t-shirt over them for the most part, even in the gym.  I guess some habits are really ingrained.

But let’s not lose sight of the bigger issue here, you have to have a long term goal to help you make good short term decisions.

G2G

Jim Collins in his book Good to Great defines it as a BHAG -Big Hairy Audacious Goal.

If you have a clearly defined BHAG, and you keep it front and center, when the opportunity arises for you to make a choice that either gets your closer or moves you further away, the answer will be clear for you too.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a test to go train for.  Time to go spar, roll and practice katas.
See you on the road.

The upside down life of a RoadWarrior

Everything is always changing.  When it comes to life (and particularly your health), there really is no such thing as homeostasis.  So after this long holiday weekend, I decided it was time to review my rules for traveling fit and in the process realized the application of one of them was not producing the results I was hoping for.  You can read all about all of my guardrails here but for this post, I am going to focus on just one:

“Rule #3:  Don’t eat anything fried – For the most part I avoid anything fried while on the road (there is a wonderful place in Fort Lauderdale that has lobster corn-dogs that I make an exception for though…unbelievably good and you can check them out at http://www.coconutsfortlauderdale.com).  What this also means is I do not do ‘cheat meals’ on the road as my cheat meal usually involves something fried.  Those are saved for being at home with the family where we can enjoy it together.”

When you spend 60-80% of your time on the road, you find that some of your world gets completely turned around.  Most people see travel as a reason to let go, have fun and not pay quite as much attention to what they are putting in their body or how much they are exerting themselves.  I have found over the recent months that this relationship has flipped itself on me.  I am hyper aware on the road but not giving it the same attention at home.

Dessert every night? – No problem, it is a treat that I am home.  Besides, I made it so how bad could it be?

Cooking with rich ingredients? – No problem, I am not home to do this every day.

2500 Calorie Breakfast? – No problem, it’s a treat.  Besides, when I am not here the boys are eating cereal if we are lucky.

Portion Control? – Are you kidding me, we never eat the leftovers so it needs to be eaten now.

Snacking late at night? – I never do this on the road so this should not be an issue, right?

I realized this weekend that the mentality that most people have on the road when it comes to calories I have adopted at home.  The idea that the small splurge will not hurt the long term plan is actually a valid one.  The problem for any RoadWarrior is that you need to be disciplined both on the road AND at home.   Couple all of these excuses with a strong desire to serve my family and my love of cooking and basically every weekend has become a ‘Cheat Meal’.  Heck, just this weekend I made both Chocolate French Toast for Breakfast and Inside Out Apple Pie for dessert on the same day (pictured below but man were they good).

image  image

My idea of a splurge is turning into a habit of rich meals when home and deprivation on the road.

Not good for anyone.

So as we are half way through this year, I am reassessing how my road habits can become better home habits.  What are you evaluating?  Where are you strong and where do you need help?

Just a bit of musing for a Monday.

Looking forward to seeing you on the road.

The ‘Dad Bod’ Myth

“The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world that he didn’t exist” – Keyser Soze – The Usual Suspects

So lately there has been a lot of chatter around the ‘Dad Bod’ and how it is actually more attractive than a lean physique.  This all started from a Blog post (the pesky bloggers ;-} ) by a student at Clemson University, Mackenzie Pearson, who was commenting on the interests of her roommate when it came to the male physique.  To give credit where credit is due, you can read her post here.  Since this was posted back in March of 2015, I have seen it covered by MSN, The Today Show, Health, GQ, ABC, CBS and CNN.   Ms. Pearson should give a clinic on how to pick a topic to go viral.

But Seriously??  This is a thing?!?!?

Pearson defines the Dad Bod as a ‘nice balance between a beer gut and working out’ – I call it a medical tragedy waiting to happen.

AAAARRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

Where do I even begin?   It is especially troubling to me that the men she is describing in the blog are not even dads.  They are young men who should be in their prime.  I can confidently say that the majority of the people that I see on my Facebook feed look considerable different now than they did in high school/college.  I know I do.  They call it your physical prime for a reason.

Dear Frat Boy – Your ‘Dad Bod’ is trying to kill you!!  Literally.

Now I am not at a single % body fat, I enjoy my wine and beer but I also know that I cannot allow myself to have any excuse to carry extra weight around, especially around my mid-section.  You see, that fat that is around your middle is known as Visceral Fat – and it is the most dangerous to carry around with you.  It actually directly increases your chance at developing heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke and even sleep apnea.  How?  According to WebMD, here’s how:

  • Abdominal fat breaks down easily into fatty acids that are processed by the Liver and your muscles. Neither of which likes the material it is breaking down.
  • When the liver breaks down the fatty acids, your LDL levels (the bad Cholesterol) spikes.
  • When your LDL levels spike, insulin becomes less effective – causing blood sugar levels to spike (read: increased chance of developing diabetes)
  • Hormones released during the processing of the fatty acids also create constriction of the vasculature system – leading to heart disease and potentially stroke.
  • Even the sheer weight and volume of the fat can push against your diaphragm and result in difficulty breathing and if severe enough, sleep apnea.

Now ladies, I have a specific message for all of you.  Do not let us get away with this excuse for not taking care of ourselves.  This is not about getting to the point where we will be staring in the next installment of Magic Mike but we should want to be around for as long as possible.  Besides, who said all dads were soft and pudgy?  Last I checked, Hugh Jackman, Jean Claude Van Damme, Chuck Norris, Bradley Cooper, Daniel Craig, Matthew McConaughey, Ryan Gossling and even Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson are all dads.  If we are talking about their examples of ‘Dad Bod’ – then I am all in.

I think my sister in law put it best “This is just an excuse for Frat Boys to party on the weekends”

Happy Father’s Day and I will see you on the road!!