Category Archives: health

Do you exercise, work out or do you train?

Let me start off by saying there is no “right” answer to the question above but how you answer tells a lot about your attitude towards fitness.  It is actually a question that I have really struggled with recently.

“Why do I work out the way I do?” And more pertinently “How do I really want to train?”

Maybe it will help if I define the three options for you.

Exercise:

The person who says “I am going to go exercise” typically does not have a real plan in place.  They may be the one who hits the hotel gym and decides based on availability as to whether they are going to run or hit the elliptical that night.  Now mind you, they are still ahead of 28.3% of Americans, who according to the Physical Activity Counsel have done NO EXERCISE AT ALL over the last 12 months…..and they even included walking the mall as a form of exercise!!  The reality is this group is also the least likely to see any type of real and persistent results from their efforts.  It is also the easiest mindset with which to skip altogether and find yourself among the 28%.

Work Out:

These are the people who typically have at least a semblance of a plan.  They know the muscle group they are going to target or the cardio exercise for the day.  They are usually intentional in their workout and they may even have specific goals for the work out (for example, today my goal was 40 minutes on the treadmill at 7 mph).  They make their time for their work out a priority.

Training:

These people have a specific goal in mind.  For some it is a race (think marathon running), for others it is a competition (fighters and bodybuilders), others still it is an amount of weight to drop.  For me it has been various rank advancement in karate or the occasional grappling tournament.  There is a different intensity to the workouts but more importantly, there is a different intentionality.  You are there in the gym, or on the mat, or on the road with a specific goal and purpose all of which leads up to a larger result.

So why bring this up at all?

Because I find myself in a time of transition.  For the last 7 years I have had something to train for and right now, I don’t.  A random set of circumstances has really thrown my training off the rails.

  • Schedule changes at the dojo preventing me from getting in regularly.
  • Work obligations getting in the way of my lunch BJJ sessions.
  • Nothing on the calendar to run towards (although I am going to run a Disney Race at some point)
  • Traveling an average of 4 days a week

All of these have conspired to put me in a spot where I am not training for anything specific right now.  There have actually been moments over the last few months that I have found myself walking into the gym with absolutely no plan…..and it terrifies me.  The good news is I am still walking in the gym or pressing play every day though.

The reality is that people who have something to train for are more intentional about their exercise regime and far less likely to miss a workout.

No- I don’t have a study to back that claim up other than the anecdotal evidence and my own experiences but the bigger question is how do embrace that fact and apply it?

I want you to think back to High School Physics class and to Newton’s first law of motion.  Do you remember?

A body at rest tends to stay at rest unless acted upon by an external force. 

Intentionality is that external force to our stagnation.  The Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG for all of you Good to Great fans) is what moves people from exercising to training.  You have to have something you are working towards, or running from, that is so motivating that you not only exercise but you do so with intention.

I am on the hunt for mine now and I will be sure to share it when I identify it.  I am one of those weirdos that are not motivated by a number on a scale but by the things I am able to achieve.  That doesn’t mean that the chasing a number is wrong, it is just not what does it for me.

So what is it that will take you from exercising to training?  What is your BHAG?  Can’t wait to hear from you.

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.

Make the time!!

Every once in a while when I am traveling across the country, I land in a spot that is truly unique and when I do, I always try and dedicate the time to enjoy the uniqueness of the area.  Recently, that trip brought me to Buffalo, New York.  You see, Buffalo is a ‘stone’s throw’ from Niagra Falls, one of the natural wonders of the world.

So as this trip originally got booked, I started the researching where I could fit a visit to this natural wonder in.  The spot was obvious – morning before my appointment in the early afternoon.  Of course between when I first planned the whole thing out and the morning of, all that empty time got filled by all kinds of assignments, calls and follow-ups being scheduled (it is amazing what looks good on a calendar).  By the time I went to bed last night, the only way a visit was going to happen was if I got up early and headed up that way.

That morning was one of those ‘Steinbeck Mornings’ – you know, the kind with the best laid plans of mice and men.  Plans that I immediately wanted to ditch.

When that alarm went off at 6 AM – I immediately turned it off.  I had arrived after midnight the night prior, was tired and idea that I could sleep an extra hour was really enticing.  For whatever reason though, I could not go back to sleep.  I knew that if I did not take this opportunity to see the falls, I probably never would.  So begrudgingly, I arose, got dressed, had coffee and headed out on my 20 minute “stones throw” drive to Niagra, NY.

I am so glad I did!!

The falls are amazing.  To see that much unadulterated power falling over the precipice is simply breath taking.

image

Was getting up early worth it, unquestionably, yes.

So much so that it is really questioning one of my “Guardrails”.  When I am on the road, I try and pack as much work in as I can.  The thought process is if I get it done on the road, I am not doing it at home.  But at some point there needs to be a balance of effort vs. spirit.  Seeing something like Niagra Falls did more for my spirit and productivity than the extra hour of sleep (or email) ever would have.  It was awe inspiring, humbling, rejuvenating and uplifting.

It also reminded me we have to make the time to revitalize the spirit.

So make the time to recharge.  Will it always be in the overspray of one of the 8 natural wonders of the world?  Probably not but it is still important.

It also reminded me we have to make the time to revitalize the spirit.

So make the time to recharge.  Will it always be in the overspray of one of the 8 natural wonders of the world?  Probably not but it is still important.

Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day – especially on the road!!

For years we have all been hearing about how breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  We could probably get together and sing the jingles from Saturday morning cartoons of our youth together.  So why is it that the older we get that the more we neglect this uber important start of the day?  I even see it in my own kids.  For years I made them a complete breakfast before school (seriously, the USDA could have taken a picture and used it as the cover to their brochure most mornings) but now that they are teenagers I am lucky to get them to grab a bowl of cereal.  Really makes me wonder why I am surprised when I travel with folks and they do not grab breakfast in the mornings – and no, a Venti-Triple shot- non-fat, no whip macchiato IS NOT BREAKFAST!!!

Now I could certainly make a strong argument and point you to all kinds of resources as to why you need to eat breakfast.

Like this study from John Hopkins University

Or this one from LiveScience

Or even this one from WebMD

Are you getting the point?

Instead, I want to address the reasons why you as a RoadWarrior (or anyone who finds themselves on the road) need to pay special attention to making sure you start the day off right.

Accomplishment: 

This one may just be me but I feel better knowing that I got up and started getting things done.  I dislike feeling rushed in the morning more than I dislike the alarm clock.  Allowing of the extra 20 minutes making time to stop by the breakfast buffet starts my day off with a sense of accomplishment.  It may sound trite but you are literally starting your day off with a victory and victory is contagious.

Mind Set/Focus: 

I use this time to get my mind focused on the tasks that are at hand that day.  I can eat, have the calendar open and review the appointments, to do list and travel plans for the day.  I spent this much time and effort getting there, use the morning time to make sure you are prepared to execute.

Nutrition:

The beautiful part of most hotel breakfast buffets, whether in the lobby or the concierge lounge, is they typically offer some great nutritional choices.  Unlike most evening fare that consists of heavy pastas and fried finger foods, breakfast options tend to include eggs, oatmeal, fresh fruit, non-fat yogurt, juices and coffee (wait – did I just put together a complete meal!?!?!)

Sneak in a Vegetable:  

I have come a long way since my days of only eating canned green beans but I still struggle to make sure I eat enough vegetables.  However one of my favorite ways to eat vegetables is in an omelet.  Load that bad boy up with all kinds of veggies and then you can even smother it with salsa (did you know that as long as there is not added sugar that cooked tomatoes have the same nutritional value??)

Availability:    

Most hotels of repute these days have some type of breakfast buffet.  It seems to be a standard amenity these days – which is a wonderful thing – so it does not take much extra effort to start the day off right.  I make sure I get a good breakfast because often, it is the only great meal I get.  From running to meetings, to calls, to shuttles, to airports to hotels I often find that I am grabbing fruit and/or a Protein Bar and calling it ‘lunch’.

So listen to common logic and make sure you start your day off right….WITH BREAKFAST!!!  I’ll see in you in the lobby in the morning.

A Tale of Two Lists – What makes a good RoadWarrior Restuarant

Earlier this week my wife forwarded me a great list that Men’s Health had put together listing the “Coolest, Healthiest Restaurants in America”, a summary of the top 18 restaurants around the country that are not only dishing healthy eats but food worthy of top praise.   You can read their recommendations here

Suddenly – I have a new To-Do List!!

I am a sucker for lists like this.  Give me the top 20 or so ‘place experience here’ and I am all about trying to get them checked off as done.  This latest list reminded me of another that at one time I had the goal of working my way through and just how much things have changed over the last 6 years.  That old list?  The top 50 burgers in the State of Texas (you can find that one here and I really cannot recommend Dutch’s burger highly enough – it was phenomenal).

I used to be so bad about eating burgers that my boss stopped checking my expense reports:

“Andrew – why would I check your report?  Wait – let me guess.  Cheeseburger and a beer at Pappa’s Burgers in the airport for $18.68.   Shocking.”

It was one of those wake-up call moments in life.  I think I made it about ½ way through the burger list before getting serious about my health and focusing on what I put in my body when I am traveling.  It has become such a focal point that I made it Rule #5 of getting and staying RoadWarriorFit.

Finding the local burger joint is easy –the good, healthy and appealing alternative is usually not quite as ubiquitous.  This new list makes me ask the question – what makes a good RoadWarrior restaurant?

Local Flair:

One of the very few perks to traveling across the country every week is I do get to experience some great food.  With a little preparation and/or a trip to the concierge desk of the local full service hotel (you know you don’t have to stay there to ask a question, right?) you can find fantastic options to meet every taste preference.   Skip the familiar chains and head to a locally owned treasure to support the local economy.   Most of the time you can practically taste the love in the food in the local hot spots.  Oh, and don’t forget to ask the wait/bar staff of your hotel where they eat after getting off shift, I have found some of my favorite dining eating experiences that way.

The smell of smoke:

Grilled is always better.  Period.  (Says the guy who grills just about every day I am home).  Yes, there can be arguments made for specific dishes as to their health benefits vs. grilled but in general, grilling is a safe way to go with your meals.  So if you are standing at a crossroads and one way smells like smoke – head that way.

A bent towards whole foods:

We all know that the less processed the food, the more likely it is to be better for you.  We focus on buying the best for our families when we are at home, why would you change on the road?  Check the menu for the preparations and techniques (you know how I feel about fried foods on the road already).  Heck – take a walk through the restaurant real quick and just glance at people’s plates.  See lots of brown and white?  Keep looking.  Plates look like rainbows?  Time to have a seat.

So there you go.  That is what I look for when I am evaluating restaurants on the road.  Hope it helps and look forward to seeing you on the road.