Tag Archives: health

The Art of Aging Gracefully……Screw That!!!

I am going kicking and screaming all the way……just being real.

I agree with Tony Horton who recently proclaimed to CNBC that Aging is for Idiots .  I see no reason to allow Father Time to have his way without the fight of his life.

Now with that said, I have had some recent reminders that I am not the young guy I used to be anymore.  For example, just a couple of weeks ago I heard the following statement while visiting a BJJ gym in LA:

IMG_2457

“Yeah, you’ve got that ‘Old Man Strength’”

What!?!?!  Old Man Strength!?!??!!  How about just ‘strength’? Then I took a long hard look around the mat and realized, I was the oldest on the mat by at least 5 years (OK, maybe 10).  That lead to the realization that I could count on two hands how many folks I had rolled with this year that have me beat in age.  How did this happen?  How am I suddenly the ‘old guy’?

Oh, and then there is work……

family

“I can’t believe you have a child that is driving!”

Not quite sure how to react to this one.  Is it because you can’t believe I could be old enough to have a 16 year old child?  Or is it because you cannot believe that my gene pool would be able to produce an offspring with the mental capacity to control a motor vehicle effectively?  I really hope it is the prior although the later certainly is in question.

And then there is Facebook….

wife

“When I grow up I want to be like you and your wife!”

This coming from a thirty-something fitness enthusiast.  You see, Joy and were both presented with the opportunity to audition for the next Beachbody Infomercial for The 21 Day Fix Extreme program by Autumn Calabrese, an opportunity we both jumped at.  So just us and 11,000 other Beachbody super fans are a part of a Facebook group where we regularly post specific assignments and encouragement.   Looking at the feed in this group is inspiring, motivational and humbling as well as a gut check.  You see in this group, I am definitely raising the median age (my wife however is ageless so she is having no affect ).

Why am I sharing all of this?  Because while aging chronologically is inevitable, how you age physically is absolutely a choice.  Not much is within our control any more; politics, economics, job stability, Brexit and the thoughts of others affect us daily but we have zero control over them.  What do you have control over?

  • What you feed your body – are you giving it whole foods in the right portions?
  • What you feed your mind – are you reading regularly? Does the subject matter challenge you?
  • Moving your body – You know the First Law of motion…..a body at rest tends to stay at rest, a body in motion tends to stay in motion. Be in motion – whatever that looks like for you.
  • Effort – Are you giving it everything you can?
  • Consistency – see that whole First Law of Motion thing above

So yeah, we all grow older but how we grow older is a choice.  I choose to embrace Old Man Strength and to control what I can and not place undue worry on what I can’t.  Now if I can just find someone to help me with my old man wardrobe…….

Carrot Tortillas

In my house, tacos are considered a gift from God.  My wife is pretty much convinced that the manna that God provided the Hebrews had to have been collected and then pan baked into nice round shapes.  Seriously….tacos are a big thing in this house.

However, so is the consumption of refined carbs….or better stated, the lack there of.

So what is a family to do?  We love spicy goodness wrapped in an edible delivery system (ponder on the genius of that for a few moments…..pause….pause….pause…..).

Enter:  The Carrot Tortilla!!!

I know what you are thinking.  I was too but trust me on this one, these are the best we have tried yet.  Don’t believe me?  Watch the taste off here:

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So here is how you make them:

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 Cup Grated Carrot
  • 1/2 Cup Water
  • 1/2 Cup Shredded Parmesan Cheese
  • 2 Eggs
  • 3 Tablespoons Coconut Flower
  • Salt & Pepper to Taste
  1. Wash, peel & grate carrots – OR – buy the shredded carrots from the grocery store and give them a rough cut like I do.
  2. Place the carrots in a microwave safe bowl and add water (recipe is 1/2 cup but you are really looking to get them covered in the bowl, the amount really doesn’t matter).  Microwave on high for 5 minutes.DSC_0287
  3. Drain and dry the carrots.  Use a dishtowel or cheese cloth to squeeze extra water out.  The drier you can get these the better they will turn out.
  4. Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.  Tip: just use your hands and get dirty.  It is by far the best way to get the ingredients incorporated.DSC_0293
  5. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees and line a backing sheet with parchment paper that has been sprayed with non-stick spray.
  6. Spread carrot mixture into approximately 6 inch round ‘tortillas’ that are approximately 1/4 inch think (Note: these don’t rise or spread at all during cooking so however you spread them is pretty much how they will come out).
  7. Bake for 12 minutes, flip them once and bake for another 12 minutes.
  8. At this point you can eat them right away, lay them over a rack to allow them cool into the shape of a hard taco or store in the fridge for up to 5 days.  If you store in the fridge, I highly suggest heating them up again in a small frying pan to get them warm and a bit crunchy again.

So there you have it, our solution to not being able to eat tacos without all the refined carbs!!

What others won’t tell you about living a life on the road

I always love having conversations with people who do not spend much time on the road, especially when they are on the road themselves.  And having just come off of the largest conference of the year for the apartment industry where literally thousands of folks who never travel have just spent the last week in City by the Bay, I have had a lot of those conversations recently.  Want to guess what the most common question/comment I heard in my various conversations was?

                “How do you do it?”

The answer is simple, one day at a time.  That is all I can do.

These conversations prompted me to write an article this time that I am not sure I have seen out there.  Everyone likes to point out the positives of travel, I would like to point out the challenges that RoadWarrior’s face so the next time you find yourself staring at a calendar with an upcoming road trip, you are ready.

Reality #1 – Staying fit is hard:

Gyms with broken equipment.  Overtaxed schedules.  Tired muscles and minds.  All of these are a normal part of the RoadWarrior life.   Combine that with the ease of finding food that is horrible for you and the scarcity of the food that will really fuel your body well and you have the perfect recipe for allowing your fitness to suffer.

My solution:  Plan ahead (more on this topic here).  You need to schedule your workouts.  You need to research where and when you are going to eat.  Winging it every once in a while is OK.  Winging it every trip is a recipe for obesity.

Reality #2 – Alcohol is everywhere:

Seriously.  Once you get any level of status on an airline or hotel chain, they are constantly making sure that if you want to be liquored up, you can be.  It becomes incredibly simple to have a cocktail in the lounge before your flight, a couple of glasses of wine on the plane and then again at your next hotel.  I lost count a long time ago of the number of people I have seen over served at the hotel bar.  I am far from saying don’t drink but definitely do so with intent and a consciousness about it.  Too much alcohol has done no one any good….ever.

My solution:  Be conscious about your consumption.  Set limits in advance and choose when/if you are going to consume and where.

Reality #3 – People expect you to work constantly:

This may be just my world and my own personal work ethic but if I am going to be away from my family, I am going to make sure I am as productive as possible (I do so with the intention of protecting my time when I am at home).  Here’s the problem, my coworkers now expect me to be available 24/7 when I am on the road.  You have to protect yourself on this one.  You prioritizing your time is different than others demanding your attention.

My solution – Create and stick to reasonable boundaries.  I turn off my instant chat function on my computer around 9:00.  I stop responding to emails about that time as well.  I don’t send out new emails after that point.  It is when I shut it down (or at least give that impression – truth is I am often working later but scheduling my correspondence to be sent the following morning).

Reality #4 – Reentry is hard:

You just got home from a long trip, your plane was late and it is actually tomorrow when you arrive home.  To top it off, you have been burning the candle at both ends all week and you are both physically and mentally spent.  All you want to do is climb in to bed and never get out.  Unfortunately, your spouse has had the same type of week shuttling around kids, making sure everyone is fed, doing their own professional job and trying to stay fit.  They have been burning the candle at both ends and all they want is to climb into bed and never get out…but thank God you are home to take over, right?

My solution – Suck it up cupcake, especially if you are a regular RoadWarrior!!  Your travel schedule created this dynamic and you need to do everything you can to make the reentry as smooth as possible.  Sorry I don’t have any additional sage wisdom here but sometimes it is what it is.  This is also why I tend to bring gifts…..like San Francisco sourdough bread!!

bread

Reality #5 – A life on the road is a lonely one:

I have written on this topic previously but it is very had to develop relationships on the road and very easy to hide among the masses.  There is a reason fish school to avoid predators, they can become an indistinguishable part of a larger massive organism.  Great for fish…..terrible for humans.

My solution – Be intentional about maintaining the relationships you have that are most important.  If I am not intentionally reaching out to my wife, my kids, my parents, it is easy for me to go days without communicating.  This may just be a me thing but I like to fade into the background (ironically, I am doing so right now in the Admirals Club as literally dozens of industry coworkers buzz around).  Below are some recent shots from a run I made across the Golden Gate with a couple of co-workers.  An hour of intentional interaction.

Reality #6 – It is really easy to get depressed:

Everything above can easily culminate in a feeling of depression.  You stop being active, you feed your body with a depressant, you are working constantly, you know when you get home there is going to be tension and you feel alone.  How could you not get depressed, right?  I would be lying if I did not admit that about once a quarter, I have a trip where it all bears down on me……and I don’t think I am alone in that feeling.  I am always amazed at how utterly alone you can feel in a sea of people.

My solution – Beat the depression out of me physically.  Seriously, this is why I work out the way I do on the road.  I will do double workouts – if for no other reason than it keeps me off of the computer.  I will start a blog just to vent about it into the abyss.  For others it may be reading their favorite book, knitting, researching menu plans.  Could be any number of activities but do something you love to focus your energy and attention elsewhere.

So there you go, the 6 realities that no one really wants to talk about a life lived on the road.   If you can be intentional about heading those 6 off before they start, you are in for a good trip.  See you on the road!

NAA is coming!!! Are you ready to put you first?

MY TOP 5 CONFERENCE SURVIVAL TIPS

As a part of my ‘real life’, I participate in the occasional conference.

Actually, I live in conference hotels from mid-June through the end of August.  

Over the course of the next 3 months I will attend, participate on the exhibitor floor, be a part of the host organization and/or speak at at least a half a dozen conferences.  In fact I will be packing this weekend to join 9000 other people from the apartment industry for the annual National Apartment Association Education Conference in San Francisco.  This season is a brutal but very necessary season for my industry and through experience over the last few years, I have developed a strategy to make the most of both the conference material and my health while I am on the conference circuit.  Here are my conference rules to live by:

Tip #1: Plan ahead:

I cannot over emphasize this one enough; Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail.  If your plan is showing up at the conference and getting a workout in ‘whenever there is time’……not going to happen.  How would that play out if you planned on getting together with your clients ‘whenever there is time’?  It wouldn’t.

Plan your day and block out your workout time.  How much time do you need?  Where is the gym?  Is the conference so far away from your room that you will be walking 20,000 steps each day anyways?  As I look at my calendar for this upcoming week, I know I have to get my workouts in in the morning or they are simply not going to happen, my afternoons are filled with appointments and evenings with industry events.  For me it means running  early (this year we are running the Golden Gate – so excited) and hitting the weight room in the early evening before dinner to accomplish Tip #3.

Tip #2: Stay hydrated:

You know you should normally be drinking 8 glasses of water a day.  Well if you are going to be in a ginormous conference facility, walking more than you normally do and potentially imbibing on an alcoholic drink or two in the evening, I am going to recommend you up your water intake from the standard 8 glasses.  Trust me, you will thank me when you are waking up on days 2 & 3 of the conference.  Now this is where planning comes in again.  I find that it is a very rare thing to find a conference center that keeps the water pitchers/bottles full throughout the conference.

                SO BRING YOUR OWN!!

You may not always be able to find a nice chilled bottle of FIJI but you can usually find a water fountain to fill up your own bottle.  And if you are anything like me, you find an empty water bottle strangely motivational..

Tip #3: Recharge:

This will look different for each of us but I find I need a point in my day to recharge more than just my phone.  For me, it is time in the gym.   I can get my head on straight and work all the kinks out that I am feeling from standing all day.  For others it is a power nap in the room.  Others it is 15 minutes in the sun out by the pool or on the deck.  Whatever it is that recharges and helps your re-center your mindset, make sure you have time built in each day to accomplish it.

Tip #4: Eat well & Eat often:

Make sure you take the time to eat like you should.  Do not sacrifice the quality of your diet because you need to rush somewhere.  Stop by the store on the way to the hotel and grab some snacks for the room (don’t get me started on the mini-bar options for $10 bucks each).  Put a bar in your purse.  Throw an apple in your bag for later in the day.  Your body needs fuel to thrive vs. survive.  Give it what it needs.

 Bonus Tip:  Most hotels that host conferences have pretty good gyms, gyms where they actual stock fruit for the taking.   

Tip #5: Have fun:

I just added this one to the list this year.  I usually enjoy myself at these conferences but this year I am being intentional about it.

So even if you are already on the ground enjoying the “fruits” of Napa Valley– these are little things you can do to set yourself up for a great time without feeling too much wear and tear.

Time for me to go pack and here is hoping to see you on the road.

The difference between success and quitting is GRIT

Let’s face it, starting anything is easy.  A new workout plan,  a new meal plan, a new book.  We all want the *NEW* thing.  Think about it, anything new has a sense of excitement around it.  There is a sense of adventure and optimism.

A *NEW* iPhone

A *NEW* car

A *NEW*  job

A *NEW*  vacation

The possibilities of a *NEW*  workout plan

Just imagine the possibilities!!! 

This excitement around *NEW* is why:

  • 95% of diets fail over a period of 1-5 years
  • Over 50% of marriages end in divorce
  • Only 6% of Boy Scouts ever reach the rank of Eagle
  • Less than 1% of all those who start a martial art achieve the rank of Black Belt (my own observation on this stat in full disclosure)

The point I am trying to make is that with any endeavor worth doing, at some point the “new smell” is going to wear off and it is going to look a lot like (please forgive me for saying it)……..WORK!!  Nothing can stay *NEW* forever.  Every *NEW* car gets its first scratch.  Every *NEW* career becomes a job.  Every *NEW*  workout hits a plateau.

So if everything new becomes old (and all of it becomes new again), why is it that some are able to achieve great things in these endeavors while the vast majority allow themselves to fall by the wayside?  And more importantly, what can we all do to ensure we are a part of the minority vs. the majority?

The minority decide early they are not quitting:

I cannot over emphasize how important this differentiator is.  If you go into an endeavor with the attitude of “let’s see what happens”, you are giving yourself the out.  There are certainly times that would be appropriate but if you are serious about achieving anything, decide early that you will succeed and never think about it again.

The minority learn to embrace the grind:

This is a term that I stole from Martial Arts and Wrestling training.  Training for these endeavors can be physically and mentally brutal.  I also call it “suck training”.  Suck training is different for every endeavor but learn to make this your favorite training.  You progress more in those times than any other.

The minority identifies the little things but focus on the one big thing:

In his book Good to Great, Jim Collins introduces us to the concept of a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal).  A goal so big that it inspires your endure all the little things.  Envision the end goal when you are doing the smaller, seemingly tedious, tasks that need to be completed to get you there.

The minority celebrate the small victories along the way:

If I had waited to celebrate anything along my martial arts journey till I received my black belt, I would have been waiting for nearly a decade.  There were plenty of smaller celebrations, belt colors, tournaments, techniques achieved.  Set small goals that lead to the larger BHAG and celebrate those (just not a Big Mac and ice cream for hitting a weight loss goal)

So there you have it.  My plan for becoming a part of the minority and developing a steadfast resolve.  So what are you trying to accomplish?  What is your BHAG?

I’ll start…..I want to end the trend of obesity in the US.  How is that for a BHAG?

Have Gi – Will Travel: Kaizen BJJ in Detroit, MI

I cannot tell you how excited I am to write this review.  When I first decided to start this series, my biggest fear was that the first review was going to be of a program that was sub-par.  Nothing could be further from sub-par than the experience I had while visiting Kaizen BJJ in Plymouth, MI.  I truly could not have asked for a better experience as a visitor.

Let’s start with the Instructor:  

Ali

For me, the vast majority of whether an experience is going to be good or not lies in the hands of the instructor.  When I visited Kaizen, I took a beginner’s Gi class that was led by a Purple Belt, Ali Makhlouf.  He ran a well-organized class that smoothly went from basic drills, to position specific techniques to rolling with specific intent to sparring.  He was sure to move through the class (about 20 students) to give individual attention and instruction to each student.  Great experience.

Ryan

Now the school is owned and run by 4th Degree Black Belt Ryan Fiorenzi, who was at the gym while I was there but not rolling that evening.   He provided me with the experience that impressed me the most while I was at Kaizen.  At one point when we were working butterfly sweeps, he was invested enough in me (an outsider) to call me by name and give me specific feedback that I could apply immediately.  If he shows that much interest in an outsider, who is there for only one class, a class he was not teaching no less….I can only imagine how much he helps his own full time students.

Next – The attitude towards outsiders:

I was not on the mat for more than 2 minutes before I had people coming up and introducing themselves to me.  I have done back to back classes at schools where no one talks to me other than if we are drilling together.  I felt completely welcomed, didn’t sense any animosity at all and really felt like this group was there to get better.  Loved it.

Culture – What am I getting into?

If you look on the www.kaizenbjj.com website, they preach that they train “Leaving your ego at the door”.  I can tell you they practice what they preach.  Remember, I took a white belt class.  During that class I rolled with 2 Blue Belts, a Purple Belt and a Brown Belt.  As the higher belt ranks came in before open mat, they were quick to work with the White Belts.  Not destroy them….work with them.  It was awesome.

Additionally, Kaizen BJJ focuses on real world Jujitsu, not tournament Jujitsu.  Everything they did had a self-defense bent.  Nothing against tournament BJJ but I prefer the more self-defense oriented approach.

Facilities:

The mat was huge, in great shape and clean.  For those interested,  the facility is dual purpose with not only the mat but also a CrossFit gym next door.  The only thing I would improve if they had the opportunity is to have a locker room.  I arrived straight from the airport and changed in the restroom.  Really not a big thing but if I get a magic wand, I am adding a locker room.

Overall Experience:

From my initial contact with the owner Ryan over email, to my arrival, to the training everything was handled with professionalism and efficiency.  I can honestly say that if I was relocated to Detroit, I would make the commute to make this my home gym.

Thanks to Ryan and everyone at Kaizen BJJ for a wonderful experience.  If you are in the Detroit area, I highly recommend you make a trip out there.

Have Gi – Will Travel

Welcome to my new series, Have Gi – Will Travel.   Let me warn you in advance that these posts really are for a very specialized audience.  The traveling martial artist.  More and more as I travel, I am contacting dojos in my destination cities to inquire about training at their facilities.  The good news is you are the beneficiary of my experiences.

This first episode of Have Gi – Will Travel will detail out the rules of the traveling martial artist.

Always disclose your purpose:

Every Martial Arts school that I have ever come in contact with has some type of “Hey – come try us out” special.   My goal is to train every chance I get, not to bilk the system.  If I like a school, you can be sure I will want to come back.  Thus, I will contact all schools in advance and not only ask permission to train but also if there are any appropriate mat fees.

My opinions are always my own:

I am not (currently) sponsored in any way.  I get nothing other than knowledge, comraderie and physical fitness from training with any of these folks.  There is no bias (other than my own) to my reviews.

Every opinion I share here, I also share on social media:

My goal is to promote martial arts and martial artists.  The reality is that reviews on Facebook, Yelp, Trip Adviser, etc. make a real difference in the success of these small businesses.  I am more than happy to share my opinion so they can gain exposure and in the end, more business.

I realize that different schools have different goals:

I lie much more on the martial than the art of martial arts.  With that said, I can learn from both the yin and the yang.  Especially with me, the school should not adjust to the pupil, the pupil should adjust to the master.

I will stay humble and open minded:

It is really easy to fall into the mindset that ‘X’ martial art is the best….or ‘Y’ technique does not work in real life.  While I will certainly focus on the arts that interest me the most (Karate, BJJ and Mui Tai) if I stumble across the occasional Kung Fu or Aikido class, I am not going to shy away.

So come along with me on my journey across the US and the Martial Arts scene.  The first few posts will be of my favorite schools across that country that have been generous enough to let me train with them.  From there, we will experience this journey together.