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Category Archives for "fitness"

December 31, 2018

Get healthy and fit with commitment, strategy, habits, and tactics

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The following listeners have sponsored this show by pledging on our Patreon Page:

  • Judy Murphy

Thank you!

As we look to the new year, our health and fitness move to top-of-mind. On this episode, I discuss how commitment, strategy, habits, and tactics can help you reach all of your health and fitness goals.

As we close out 2018, I thought it would be good for me to do an episode that was geared towards helping you be successful. As we go into a new year, this is often the time of year where people want to really start bearing down on certain goals – be it health, be it fitness, be it wealth – different things that we put on our plate that we want to accomplish in the new year. And if being healthy and fit is something that’s on your plate, which for most of it is, these four words that I’m going to share with you today and how they apply, is going to be very, very important for you to be successful.

The words are: commitment, strategies, habits, and tactics. I’ll start with each one and then give a definition and some examples. After I’ve done that, I’ll talk about how each of these interplay and the order with which you must do them, because it is very important that you do all of them and that you do them in the right order.

COMMITMENT

The first one is commitment. A commitment is so much stronger than any other thing that you’re going to do for yourself. You could say you have a resolution, you could start a diet, you can say you’re going to use willpower, do things to improve your willpower; but in a general sense, all of those are typically designed to fail. What you need is a commitment.

When you commit to something, you just do it. It’s much more personal to you. It’s much more ingrained in your psyche to be successful when you have a commitment.

Commitment is comprised of two things. The first one is your “Why”. Your “Why” must be deep and emotional, and generally fixed. What I mean by that is, it needs to be something that you truly, truly care about. If you don’t care about it – like you say, “I want to lose 20 pounds so I can fit in a smaller size jeans” – that’s great, but you’re not committed to wearing smaller jeans. Whereas if you want to reduce your waist size because you know that will make you healthier and you’ll be around for your children longer – that’s a commitment. That’s deep and personal, because now it’s about family, it’s about something more important than just the jeans size that you’re wearing.

If you’ve been following me for any period of time, you know that my commitment, my “Why” is my daughter. It started out as my daughter, then when I got married to Tammy, it’s now my wife and our children, and then of course our grandchildren as they come about. My commitment is to them.

I don’t want to just be here for them; I want to be working with them. I want to be doing things with them. I want to be active with them. I want to be participating in their lives. So my vision is for me to be independent, fit and strong, to be able to do the things that they’re doing to be engaged in their lives.

So I put those two together: my “Why” – my children, grandchildren, my wife; and my vision is to be active in their lives, to be independent. That’s my commitment. My commitment is to do the work and do the things that are necessary to make sure that I am the person that I want to be for them. That’s my commitment.

STRATEGIES

The next word – strategies. Strategies are the things that we do to ensure that we’re going to be successful. And that only comes about if we really do a good deep dive exercise of self-awareness and looking at our lives and saying, “What’s realistic? What’s the most likely outcome if these things happen?”

So, strategies are the things that we do to keep us on track when something might have knocked us off. A perfect example for me is, every once in a while if I see M&M’s, particularly peanut M&M’s, I’m all over them. It’s very, very hard for me to walk past a bowl of M&M’s and not just eat them all. I know that’s a tendency of mine, so I just don’t buy M&M’s. I don’t have them in the house, I don’t have them in the cupboard, so I’m less inclined to do that thing.

Another one that I’ve talked about a good bit is, when I was going to an office, if I didn’t pack my gym bag the night before and leave it on the floor where I would almost practically trip over it on the way out, I would sometimes forget my gym bag or I’d forget to pack socks or shoes or something silly like that, and I’d end up missing a workout. So, for me to make sure that I am consistently going to the gym, I have to pack my gym bag the night before.

Now it’s a little different because I work from home, but I need to put my gym clothes out. Right after I finish recording this episode, I’m going to go down to the gym and do some work, because I already have my gym clothes on. They were the ones I left out for me to get into this morning when I woke up, so I have my gym clothes available to me and I’m ready to go work out. So, the strategies are the things that we do to help ensure that we stay the course.

HABITS

The next one is habits. Habits are the things we do without even having to think of them. One habit will be that you brush your teeth every evening before you go to bed. You probably brush your teeth every morning when you wake up. Habits are the way that you drive to work each day. Habits are the natural little things that you do in the course of living your day-to-day. The way we’re going to build a habit is by making it a part of each day regularly.

Just like brushing your teeth became like a ritual before bed – working out, eating well – those have to be habits. I talked about the strategy of walking around the grocery store. Now I don’t even think about going down any of the aisles, unless I specifically need something from that aisle. But in a general sense, as soon as I walk in the grocery store, I turn to my right and I circle the grocery store. That’s just my normal habit at this point in my life; I don’t even think about it. And that keeps me away from most of the foods and things that I don’t want to put in my body, and keeps me closer to the things that I do. So, I’ve developed habits that help me stay healthy and well.

TACTICS

And the final one that I want to talk about is tactics. Tactics are the things we do to get healthy and fit. I may ask a client when they first go in the gym and they want to start lifting, “I’m going to put you on a five by five program, doing these five exercises.” When I say “five by five”, that’s five sets, five repetitions of these five different exercises that basically give them a full body workout each time. So the tactic is the five by five.

As far as eating, some of my clients like to go low-carb. And when they go low-carb, that’s a tactic; it’s the style of eating that they’re choosing. They’re choosing a tactic of low-carb as a way of potentially losing some body fat, and yet fueling themselves.

So, as you look at the things that you would do, I want you to make sure that the tactics you’re using are the ones that are really going to move the needle. So the tactic of getting a B12 shot once a month – while it might boost your energy, that’s not a “move the needle” tactic so much as making sure you’re getting in a good amount of water each day, or making sure you’re working out and lifting and doing resistance exercise. The resistance exercise tactic or the making sure that you’re staying hydrated tactic – those are the tactics that are going to move the needle for you the most.

The B12, or wearing an altitude mask, or all these other little crazy things that are out there, are not going to move the needle nearly as much. Now, there might be a point in your fitness and health journey where those other tactics make sense to add to your repertoire, but you want to focus your energy and your time on the tactics that are going to do the most good for you. We don’t have unlimited energy and we don’t have unlimited time. Those are very limited resources and we want to be very careful about the application of those, so that we’re getting the most bang for the buck.

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

Now, I say commitments, strategies, habits, and tactics in that order for a very specific reason. The commitment lays the foundation for everything that you’re going to do. When you’ve made a good commitment, you have a good vision of where you’re going to go and you have a good “Why” that’s going to keep you going. So the commitment has to be the first thing, it has to be done right. Once you have a good commitment in your mind and you’ve written it down and now you’re going to practice that commitment, everything else will fall in place so much easier.

Now through self-awareness, through knowing the basic things going on in your life, you can start establishing the strategies that are going to lay the framework for how everything else is going to work. I’ll use myself as an example.

I said that I want to be independent and active with my children and grandchildren, and whatever they’re doing in their lives, I want to be a part of it. I know that if I want to live a longer life, I need to feed my body the types of food that are good for it. So my strategies have to be built around, how do I make sure that I’m getting good food? How do I make sure that I’m doing the right things to keep myself fit? And fitness in this context is very different than CrossFit fit or just wanting to be able to complete a particular task, like a race or whatnot. This is fitness to be the person that I want to be.

As we age we’re more likely to fall, and that fall is likely to put us in the hospital or kill us. I want to make sure that I don’t fall, so in addition to training my strength so that I can do the things I need to do, I need to train balance, so that I’m as balanced as I can be and I don’t fall as often. Those are two different things that I’m working on within my fitness, so I have to put the strategies in place to make sure that I do that.

Strategies I’ve talked about – leaving my clothes out so I know that I’m getting my workouts in. Strategies of making sure that I’m shopping for the best quality foods, going to the farmer’s market, or at least walking the perimeter of the grocery store.

Now, after you’ve done a strategy for quite some time, it becomes a habit. So going down into my basement gym and getting in a good workout each morning because I’ve put my clothes on – suddenly now it becomes a habit of, that’s just what I do. I wake up and I go down to the gym. And maybe I’m doing some strength training, maybe I’m doing some balance training, or a combination of both. But I know I have a purpose down in the gym because I have a vision, I have my commitment, I have my strategies, and now I’m developing a habit by continuing to do the things that I need to do. So, once I get down into the gym or once I get in the grocery store – that’s the point where now I can start applying tactics.

My tactics are saying, “Buy a whole bunch of vegetables. Just look for everything that’s fresh and organic. Get the best quality vegetables I can get and fill up my cart with those. Going over to the meats, look for the high-quality grass-fed meats.” And that’s what I do. Whether I’m at the farmer’s market or at the grocery store, I’m looking for the highest quality. So my tactic is high-quality food. My tactic is I’m going to do strength exercises, which are basically lower rep heavyweight, and I’ll do some balance work on a regular basis as a function of my workouts. Those are the tactics that are going to get me there.

SUMMARY

You see how if I try to skip the order, I never develop the habits? If I don’t have the commitment, I’m never going to get to the habits. And so many people like to start this journey with the tactics.

We’re rolling into January, so it’s like, “I’m going to go on a diet.” What does that mean? It’s like, “Well, no candy or cakes for me.” They’ve got a tactic – they’re cutting out cake, they’re cutting out candy. That’s great; they’re cutting down on the sugar a little bit, but they really don’t have the commitment, they don’t have the strategies. So what’s going to happen when they show up to work and it’s birthday day for one employer or another, and there’s cake?

Are they really going to have the commitment and the ability, the strategies to walk away and not eat the cake? Or are they going to make that a failure point in their plan and lose their diet? So, as you go through this, just remember, you need the commitment to make sure that all of this stays in place.

The strategies will be the ones that keep you on the road the most, keep you most effective. The habits are going to be the things that become automatic for you, which actually makes getting well very easy once you’ve developed healthy habits. That takes time, it takes effort, but if you have the commitment and the strategies in place, you can and will develop really good habits for your health and wellness. And then finally, the tactics. The tactics you choose need to be the best ones that are going to move the needle the most for you, where you are on your journey today. In that order – commitment, strategies, habits, tactics.

I hope that this has been helpful for you. If you have any questions at all about this – please, please, please, reach out to me. You can get in touch with me at allan@40plusfitnesspodcast.com. I love getting emails from you guys. Or you can go to the Facebook group at 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Group. Both of those are great places to interact with me. I love getting emails, I love having the discussions on the Facebook group, because that’s where other people can get the benefit of your questions and our comments and what’s going on there. So please do go check out the group or send me an email if you have any questions or want to talk further about this topic.

Alright. It’s that time of year when we all start getting a little bit more focused on goals, commitments, resolutions and all of that. So I hope you’ll take today’s lesson to heart as you do kick in for the new year and get your fitness stuff going on. It is very important for you to make sure that you’re committed to have the strategies in place, to develop the appropriate habits, and also to make sure that you’re finding the right tactics to make sure that you’re successful in meeting your fitness and health goals. This is the perfect time for you to hire a coach, and I would like to be that coach. As a coach you can have me for accountability, you have me to bounce any questions off of, you have me there to make sure that you get the most out of the time and effort you’re putting into the gym and into the kitchen. You can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Programs to learn more about what I do with my coaching.

I have two basic programs – very simple “Do It Yourself” programs; or if you really want me with you along the way, you can join the group fitness or apply for the one-on-one. I do have some slots open for one-on-one clients at this time. So if you’re interested in really kicking things up a notch, meeting all of your wellness and fitness goals for the year, I highly recommend that you hire a coach and I hope that you’ll choose me. Go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Programs today. Thank you.

Another episode you may enjoy

Wellness Roadmap Part 1

December 17, 2018

Agi Kadar | Are you a gym mouse?

Patreons

The following listeners have sponsored this show by pledging on our Patreon Page:

  • Judy Murphy

Thank you!

Our guest today has been in the fitness industry for over 19 years as a personal trainer and gym manager. She is the author of the book Are You a Gym Mouse? With no further ado, here’s Agi Kadar.

Allan (0:58): Agi, welcome to 40+ Fitness.

Agi Kadar (1:02): Thank you, Allan. It’s great to be here.

Allan (1:05): Your book is Are You a Gym Mouse? The title itself is cute and imaginative, and I really liked the messaging, taking it from being the gym rat to being the gym mouse. You covered a lot of things in the book that I see year in and year out in the gym. Someone comes in intimidated, they shun the free weights section. Often they won’t even go to the workout machines. They’re on the treadmills, on the ellipticals. I thought it was really good to put this kind of book out there for someone that knows they need to do the training, they just aren’t motivated to do it because of the intimidation factor, because of the lack of knowledge factor, all the different reasons that someone doesn’t want to go to a gym.

Agi Kadar (1:56): Yes, that was exactly the reason I wrote the book. I have been working in a gym for 19 years and have seen a lot of gym mice come and go. They are just too intimidated to do more than get on the treadmill or on a bike. And I want to show them that it is okay to be a gym mouse. You can still get all the benefits of moving, and get better, get healthier, get stronger, and not feel intimidated by others that might be fitter than them. They probably were a gym mouse at one point or another.

Allan(2:31): How would you go about defining a “gym mouse”? When you see someone, how do you say, “That’s a gym mouse.” What does that look like?

Agi Kadar (2:40): Someone who might actually take a while to even come into the gym and join. You can usually tell right away. Some people even told me that they sat in the car for 30 minutes before walking in. They’re usually scared of the machines, the free weights, especially heavy weights. They think they have to lift really heavy weights and be really fit to even start an exercise program. A lot of times I hear them say, “Okay, I will join the gym and I’ll get in shape on the treadmill. And then I’ll take a class or start using weights.” And even though they want to get stronger, feel better, look younger, they really lack the motivation to get over their fears.

Allan (3:28): I was an athlete in high school, so I was familiar with weight equipment and whatnot. But my first foray walking into a gym was, it was very broken up. You’ve got your treadmills, and nine times out of 10 those are going to be close to the door. And then you start working into the machines, and then in the back corner space – in this gym it happened to be a bigger part of the whole overall gym because it was more geared towards weightlifters and professional bodybuilders and that kind of thing – were the guys and the women in the back lifting the weights. I was 14 years old. I was in no way capable of doing what a lot of the other bigger guys were doing, and I can get that. You see this guy go over there, he’s got 500 pounds on the bar doing deadlifts or squats. And I’m thinking to myself, “I’m going to go do this bar, and that’s going to be enough for me.” But what I found was that they don’t care about me being in their space. It’s a shared space. We both paid for our membership. In a general sense, they’re there to get their workout and not to people-watch the mice, so to speak.

Agi Kadar (4:44): Exactly. I hear that from people: “I’m afraid to go back there with the weights because I just don’t belong there. People are going to look at me.” And it’s not true. If you look around in most gyms, you do find the regular people; a lot of gym mice out there. Even in the classes, not everybody is in perfect shape. They’re all there just to move, have fun and get healthier, and they really could not care less what you are doing.

Allan (5:14): We all started somewhere. I’m a trainer, and I’m into my workout, but if I see anybody, I’m only going to recognize one, people that are in the gym the same time every day and I see them every time, so I’m going to know who they are. And then I’m going to see the newbies, and the only reason I’m paying any attention at all is if I notice them doing something that I see the potential for them to really hurt themselves.

Agi Kadar (5:45): Yes. That’s one of the reasons I do recommend beginners to go to the gym instead of starting a workout by themselves at home – to get the guidance and get help and make sure that they do it right, so they can get the results so they don’t give up.

Allan (6:04): I have a book that just came out. In the book I talk about you can get strong doing body weight work. You can build a home gym, you can put things in your home and then add on equipment as you go. But there is the danger factor there because now you’re by yourself and if you drop weights on yourself, there might not be anybody else there to deal with that. The core advantages of the gym for me were the variety of equipment that you could never get in a home gym, the fact that you don’t have to pay to upkeep it, and you don’t have to pay to store it and keep it. I’m giving up half of one of my garages just to have my home gym, which works for me because my truck doesn’t even fit in my garage. So this is my gym. But what are some reasons why you think someone should venture? Why should the mouse venture into the gym?

Agi Kadar (6:56): My one reason – what you just said – not to get hurt. But a great, big reason is other people there that are just like them, so they won’t feel alone. They feel more confident, more motivated to actually do it,because if they see another person who’s maybe older or bigger or smaller or whatever their insecurities come from, and they see them doing it, they might feel better, that they can do this. Also, find another workout buddy that they can meet there and they can go together. So that will be, again, another motivation not to let someone else down. And another big thing is once you’re in the gym, chances are, you are going to work out. At home you might find another reason: “I’ve got to wash the dishes, I’ve got to do this, I’ve got to do that. I’ll do it later.”And then it never gets done. If you already made the trip to the gym, chances are, you will do something.

Allan (7:50): Yes, absolutely. Now, what I think a lot of folks don’t recognize is that not all gyms are created equal. There are some gyms that are dedicated to women alone, there are some that are dedicated to meatheads, and there are some that are all across the spectrum. Some of them are organized with all kinds of classes, some are not. Can you talk about how someone can go about it? With allt he choices that are out there, most of us, I think, live within a mile of at least one or two gyms. What are some things that I should look for when I’m looking at joining a gym?

Agi Kadar (8:28):That’s a great question. I do believe you have to find the right gym for you,otherwise you’re probably not going to go. I would definitely recommend that you look around first close to your home or maybe your work because it’s very unlikely that you will drive a great distance to a gym, especially if you are a gym mouse and that’s not one of your priorities. But definitely go visit the gym, find out what they offer, find out their policies. Look around, ask for a free pass. That’s I think the best advice I can give to anybody. All the gyms will give you at least a one-day pass, so go try it out. Take a class, or walkaround, talk to the members. See who is going to that gym. Look around and see if you feel comfortable. Go at the time that you would most likely go, so you see how busy it is at the gym. Some people like a busy gym, they like all the energy. So that’s great. Some people like a more quiet facility. Also, there are big, huge facilities that offer everything. If that’s what you like – great,then check those out. If you’d rather have a small boutique studio that specializes in certain things like yoga or Pilates or spinning, then check those out. Take a class and see if you like it. But definitely I would recommend visiting and not judging them by their price or their website or even a phone call. Just go there and feel it out. Feel the vibe, feel the whole atmosphere, because like you said, they are all different.

Allan (10:08): I think that first point you had – convenience is probably one of the keys. I had a membership with Anytime Fitness. And one of the reasons I kept that, even though I had other gyms… I had my own home gym, I had a gym membership near my work, and then I had an Anytime Fitness. The advantage of the Anytime Fitness was that they had gyms all around the world. So when I was in Calgary, I could go to the gym for free. When I was in Mississippi for a football game, I could go to a gym for free. So, look for some of those chains that will actually let you go in. And like you said, it needs to be close to your home. It needs to be something that you would almost have to drive by it on your way home.

Agi Kadar (10:55): That’s a good point. Or even close to your work, or whatever is more convenient for you. But definitely convenience will make it a lot easier to get there and stick to your routine.

Allan (11:09): Another thing to look at is some of the services they offer that might be those add-ons that are going to make this gym really special for you. Some of them have the special classes, so they’ll be doing some strength classes, some aerobic classes, spinning classes as a part of the whole service. Some of them have infrared saunas, swimming pools, those types of things. If those are services that you and your family would enjoy, those are really nice to have. And then the other is personal trainers. If they have a cadre of personal trainers available, particularly at the beginning when you’re trying to learn what these crazy-looking machines do and how you’re going to get over to those iron plates and the bars and how you’re going to do all that, it’s really good that they have trainers. In many cases the trainers will give you an orientation. They actually should demonstrate how to do the work. And if at any point in time you’re concerned about your form, typically you can go over and ask the trainer on duty, “Do you mind spotting me? Do you mind watching me and telling me if I’m doing this right? I don’t want to hurt myself.” And 99% of the time they’re going to be able to go over there and give you a hand and help you lift safer and lift better. So, don’t discount those add-ons, because even though you say, “I might not need to go to a gym in another town”, suddenly you’re going to visit your grandmother or your aunt and you’re like, “Do they have this gym there?” And when they do, it’s pretty cool that you don’t have to pay a walk-in fee for one of those other gyms.

Agi Kadar (12:43): Yes, definitely. That’s why I said just go to visit a couple of gyms and find out their policies. Like you mentioned, the chains – some of them you can just go anywhere. I work for a gym that’s a franchise, but you can still get a travel pass and go to other gyms and use them on vacation or anywhere in the world. And the other thing, like you mentioned, the trainers. When you go to a gym, find out if they offer a couple of free sessions to get you oriented with all the equipment and free weights or whatever else you want to use in the classes. We give two orientation sessions and we actually write up a workout routine for people to get started with.

Allan (13:29): That’s really cool, because a lot of people do go in and they don’t really have an idea of what they need to do. But sitting down with them and taking the time to show them the equipment and giving them something to get them started is really good. I think one reason that people get uncomfortable in the gym is it’s a foreign environment from their perspective, and it seems to have its own rules. We call it gym etiquette. To be honest, it actually changes from gym to gym, so some of them will be a little bit more stringent on these etiquette rules than others, and some members will ignore these etiquette rules, even when they’re experienced and been in the gym for a while. What are some of the etiquette rules a new person should know when they go in the gym?

Agi Kadar (14:18): Probably the biggest thing is, just like in life, be courteous and keep everything the way you would like to find it. Cleanliness; just clean up after yourself – that’s one big thing. And respect other people’s time and space. Some people are just there to work out and get to work, or they really don’t have a lot of time, so they don’t want to chat. They don’t want you to interrupt their workout, so you need to respect that. If you’re retired and you have the time and there are a lot of other people that stay for a while, that’s great. Go and talk to them at the juice bar or sit down and have a cup of coffee. But don’t interrupt others’ workout. I think that’s one of the biggest rules that people need to know. But at the same time, also share. Sometimes the gym mouse might feel like, “I can’t go over there, they’re using that machine.” But they’re just sitting on it and talking, or texting, or resting for a while. It’s okay to approach them then and ask them, “Can I share that machine with you?” Or that area. You can work in with others nicely. Sometimes it is also for the gym mouse to know their rights, not just the rules. That’s why I dedicated a whole chapter in my book to gym etiquette.

Allan (15:40): I think you could have written the whole book on it.

Agi Kadar (15:42): Probably. And I got a lot of feedback that I should print it out and post it inthe gym everywhere.

Allan (15:51): A few that I’ll mention that I think a lot of people miss, and it goes back to being courteous. If you pull a set of dumbbells or some equipment from a rack, return them to the rack. For the convenience of everybody, the dumbbells are typically laid out from smallest to biggest and lightest to heaviest. And that’s important because it keeps the big guys from having to stand over in your area if you’re using lighter weights, and vice versa – you’re not having to cross over. Typically if someone’s working in the heavier weights, they’re not going to be on the other end, where now you have the opportunity to work. So make sure you’re putting your weights away. Notice that a lot of people actually use the mirror to monitor their form, so try not to get between someone that’s working out and the mirror until they’re done with their set, because they’re entitled to that mirror for the time they’re doing the work. As soon as they’re finished with their work, you can cross over, but try to stay out of their mirror area. And then my biggest one is, we’re getting into the cold and flu season. If you have a cold or flu, this is a good time to actually work out at home.

Agi Kadar (17:00): Yes, definitely.

Allan (17:02): You’re going to wipe down your machines and your equipment when you’re done with it. Almost every gym’s going to have a bottle or something that you can wipe that off. And by all means, you can wipe off before you use it and after. They don’t mind you using their paper towels. We really don’t, because we want to keep the equipment clean and nice. But at the same time, if you come into the gym sick, we’re in a small enclosed space, typically with a lot of people. We’re just going to get more people sick, and they’re going to get more people sick. So, if you have a cold or flu, stay home. If it’s a flu and fever, probably not even a good idea to work out. If it’s a head cold, you could probably still do some exercise, but try to do that where you’re not compromising the health of other people.

Agi Kadar (17:50): Yeah, definitely. I always tell people, if you’re in doubt, just think about what you would want somebody else to do. Do you want to go in there and have someone sneeze on you? Definitely, that was my other thing I was going to tell you too, that we point out paper towels, spray bottles to everybody, and that’s another courtesy. Wipe off your sweat, not just when you’re sick. Keep the machines clean so somebody that comes after you can find it the same as you did.

Allan (18:20): One of the cool things about the gym, and you mentioned this a little bit –there’s this effect that happens when you’re around other people, that it makes you work a little harder and it makes the workout actually a little bit more enjoyable. So, group classes are a great way to get started if you’re really uncomfortable and you want to build some fitness before you really dive deep. But when you’re in the gym, realize that we’re all trying to do the same thing. You’re surrounding yourself with other people that are interested in their health and fitness. So, sometimes we help each other. And what I mean by that is, I might be doing a lift and I might be concerned that I’m not going to be able to complete the last rep. If it’s a bench press or squat or something like that, it might be difficult for me to do that last one, and I might ask you for a spot. If someone asks you for a spot and you know how to give the spot, then by all means. If you’re uncomfortable that you’re not going to be able to properly spot somebody, then don’t be afraid to tell them that you don’t feel like you’re strong enough or you don’t have the spotting technique. But as you get into this, realize that we’re all there to kind of help each other out. So, don’t be afraid to ask for a spot if you think you need one, because it’s better for you to have that spot – someone there to catch the bar so you don’t drop it on yourself than it is for you to try the lift and hurt yourself.

Agi Kadar (19:40): Yes. People will be surprised how helpful others can be. Even some of the meatheads or gym rat-looking people are usually very welcoming to new people and they encourage them. That’s a great feeling, when you see someone who is in great shape and they say, “Hey, you’re here again! Great, good for you. Keep going.”

Allan (20:04): We like it, because the gym needs to have members to stay open. If it’s three of us that are going in to work out in this whole big gym, they’re going to have to charge us a lot of money to make ends meet. The trainers need to get paid, the gym manager needs to get paid, and the gym owner needs to at least have enough money to keep the lights on. So yes, we’re very happy to have people in the gym, and we want them to stick past that resolution period. So, when you go into the gym – yes, that treadmill is going to call your name. It’s like, “I’m easy. You know how to use me. Let’s go.” But if it’s not just cardiovascular endurance that you’re trying to build, then the treadmill’s only going to take you so far. If you’re wanting to build fitness and really do somethings for yourself, you’re going to need to do some resistance training. The machines tend to be easier to understand on your own. But again, if there are trainers around, if there are experienced people there and you see them doing the leg press machine and you see them doing bench press with dumbbells, don’t be afraid to ask them for tips and pointers on how to do a particular exercise. Now, don’t interrupt their workout every single time you want to learn an exercise, but to occasionally sit there and say, “I noticed you doing that exercise and that was very interesting. What muscle part is that working?” Just watch their form, and then you can with much, much lighter weights, replicate that movement when you want to work that particular muscle group.

Agi Kadar (21:40): Yes, totally agree. Or just walk up to the front desk and ask them, “Is there a trainer available that can help me?” Chances are, they are just walking around and they’d be happy to help you. They want to keep busy. They want to show what they know and they all want to help you.

Allan (21:55): And that’s a part of their marketing shtick. If I have an opportunity to show you something, then you’re going to understand what kind of trainer I am, how skilled I am, and other people are going to see me helping you. I can tell you managers want their trainers on floor helping people all the time. Even if they’re not a client at the time, they want their trainers helping people as often as they can.

Agi Kadar (22:25): Yes. I always tell people to just ask instead of hurting themselves or doing it wrong. It’s much harder to unlearn a wrong move than do it right in the first place.

Allan (22:34): And we’re over 40, so more likely than not, doing it wrong is going to lead to some form of injury. You really don’t want that. That’s going to keep you out of the gym, and now you’re going to be an injured mouse at home.

Agi Kadar (22:51): We don’t want that.

Allan (22:53): So any other gym etiquette tips or things that someone should know? We talked about how there are certain gyms that will fit them better, there are certain etiquette tips that once you get comfortable with how that gym works are going to work for you. Anything else?

Agi Kadar (23:09): Definitely if you’re not sure, just ask around what’s expected of you. Just little things sometimes people don’t think about, like bringing your gym bag to the floor. If only one person does it, it’s not a big deal, but can you imagine 10, 15, 20 gym bags all over the place and people tripping over them? It’s really dangerous. Another thing is bringing a cell phone into a class, for instance, and texting or making phone calls, disturbing other people. That’s really one of my biggest pet peeves that I try to encourage people, not just for the benefit of others that you don’t disturb the class or the instructor, but also for your own enjoyment of your time. You are here to work out. If there is an emergency, I can understand some people want to keep their phone on them. That’s great, but if you don’t need to, don’t do it. Relax, recharge.

Allan (24:09): A lot of times the gyms will be playing music, and it might not be the music that you want to listen to. So, have some Bluetooth headphones, listen to your music. There are also applications that you might want to use to log your weight because they’ll give you all kinds of cool graphs and information that kind of helps motivate you. They make it like a game sometimes, trying to score points from doing your workouts. So if you’re using those types of things, great. Even beyond the class, if you’re using a machine and you’re going to do three sets, don’t sit on the machine between sets, texting. If you’re logging your workout, that’s one thing. But if you’re sitting there having a phone conversation, there’s another gym mouse that’s sitting over there looking at that machine saying, “Gee, I’d really love to do the chest press, but it looks like it’s taken.” So, just realize that some people are not going to feel comfortable asking you to work in. Those of us that have been around for a while, we’re going to walk up and say, “Hey, do you mind if I work in?” If they do and you still need to do what you’re doing with your logging, just let them go. Because typically when someone’s working out on the machine, they’re only going to be on there for 20-30 seconds.

Agi Kadar (25:21): Yeah, definitely sharing is a very good rule.

Allan (25:26): It’s a skill. Working in is a skill. You’ll see it and you’ll get more comfortable with it. You’ll get more comfortable asking to work in because time is the one finite resource that we all can’t get more of. When we’re in the gym, we want to make the most of that time. The gym etiquette thing, I think once you have that down, you’re going to feel so much more a part of that gym and the gym culture. You’re not necessarily going to go from being a mouse to a rat, but that said, you can just be a very good gym mouse.

Agi Kadar (25:59): Yes, exactly. I like that.

Allan (26:05): You don’t have to ever become a gym rat. You could stay a good gym mouse and still enjoy the health and fitness benefits of being in a gym or a fitness club. So, a question I’m asking all of my guests now and I want to ask you, Agi – I define “wellness” as being the healthiest, fittest and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?

Agi Kadar (26:33): I’m really happy that you mentioned happiness because I think it’s a very big part of it, and very important. One of my strategies that I would recommend is,find something you like to do. Do not make exercise a chore. Especially for a gym mouse or someone who feels like that’s not their biggest talent or skill – to move, but they know they need to do it and they want to do it. Don’t try todo something you hate or you really dislike. Find something you really enjoy. Take a class. They all the classes, see which one you like. Or try out training with a trainer. Try out working out with a buddy. Just really find something you like. You like dancing? Put on music and dance around the house, or take a Zumba class or some other type of dancing class. But really, really important that you enjoy what you do. You will stick to it more, you’re going to look forward to it, and you’re still going to get all the benefits of the gym or just the movement. That’s one of my tips. The second one is, create a habit and stick to it. We are creatures of habit, so it is a lot easier to stick to a habit than keep stopping and creating a new one. Find a time that works the best for you and stick to it. Make it as an appointment. Just really think about it as a very important thing, part of your life, something that you do every day or every other day or so many times a week, just like brushing your teeth or washing your face.

Allan (28:16): Or picking up your spouse from the airport.

Agi Kadar (28:18): Exactly. Don’t leave them stranded there. Of course, if something comes up, where you get sick, you might miss your workout. But if it’s maybe a matter of time, that you usually work out 30 minutes and you only have 15 minutes – go for 15 minutes. You’re still going to keep that habit, so you’re going to feel that accomplishment: “I did it. It was a harder day today, but I still did my workout, even if it’s 15 minutes.” Or if you have to, just do a little bit or move at home: “Okay, I missed the gym today. I’m going to go home and dance around while I’m making the bed and washing dishes.” Just anything, so you keep that habit of moving every day or at least sticking to your workout routine. I really think it’s very important. Even if you get maybe injured a little bit. I had a client who sprained her ankle, and my advice to her was, “It’s only your ankle. You have a lot more body parts and muscle groups there that you can work.” And she said she kept hearing my voice every day: “It’s only an ankle”, and that got her over that initial shock of, “Oh my God, I can’t do anything.” She came to the gym with a cane for a while, but she sat on some of the machines or sat on the bench and did upper body exercises. She did core exercises, and she was so happy that she didn’t have to stop her routine. So, keeping that habit I think is very, very important.

And the third one, I think probably the most important, is to supercharge your motivation. Most of us know that we need to move, we need to exercise, and we probably know all the benefits of exercise – our health, appearance, weight loss, a lot of other benefits. But sometimes it’s not enough to get us out on a cold, dark morning to get up earlier and go to the gym, or after work when you just want to go home and curl up in front of the TV. So you have to find a personal, maybe a more emotional reason to do it. What I mean with that is something that you really want, and you need to be in better shape for that, or keep your shape. Sometimes we think when we’re younger that we’re always going to be like that. Like you said, Allan, this is over 40 fitness and some of us are over 50. I’m guessing the older you get it’s just going to get harder. It’s a lot easier when you have a personal reason to do it. For example, one of my clients who is in her 60s now – her reason was to play with her grandchildren on the floor and be able to get up. She would get down and play with them, but she needed someone else to pull her up. And she got scared. She said, “What if my daughter asked me to watch my grandchildren and I want to play with them, but I can’t get off the floor and nobody else is home?” That was her motivation to come to the gym. And this is a lady who I’ve been training for years and years, and she always had an excuse not to get up, or miss the training, or do this or do that. She is there two-three times a week, 6:30 in the morning, because she wants to be in shape and she’s very proud of herself that she can carry around her two-year-old granddaughter in her arms without any problems. She can get not just off the floor, but she can get out of a bean chair, which was the biggest, most evil furniture for her. When her daughter bought that for her grandchildren’s room, she said, “Are you kidding me? I will never get out of that.” And she actually can do it. So that’s a great motivation for her and that keeps her going. So, it does not have to be even your health, and we all know it’s going to benefit you. Or even an athletic event, that you want to run a race, or you want to walk a charity walk. That’s a great reason, don’t get me wrong. It’s a great motivation and if that will motivate you, great. But sometimes you have to find something else. I have a 95-year-old client who just wanted to be able to walk down the stairs and not be horrified that she’s going to fall down. I’ve been working with her balance and she’s amazing. She goes swimming twice a week and she walks up and down the stairs and just keeps moving. And that’s really the secret. I really think you have to find that little bit of a personal, emotional reason that’s important for you, and it will keep you going when you don’t want to go.

Allan (32:56): Yes, absolutely. Those are wonderful. Thank you for sharing that. Now, you said you have a special gift for anyone that wants to come and check you out. Tell us about the gift and tell us where we can learn more about you and the book, Are You a Gym Mouse?

Agi Kadar (33:16): Yes. I created a “Have Fun Exercising” 30-day challenge that I recommend to every gym mouse to maybe commit to it. It’s just helping you get started and sticking to an exercise routine, just to commit to moving every day. And it doesn’t have to be in the gym every day, but just commit to even 15 minutes of movement every day. I included some tips, some fun and more unique ideas – how you can move even without going to the gym or doing a formal exercise, and little tips to motivate yourself and sticking to it, and then reward yourself for sticking to a 30-day plan. Once you stick to it, you will keep that habit going. And I’m betting on it that you will feel better and you’ll keep wanting those benefits. You can find my gift at GetFitGift.com. We’ll send you the free PDF and a surprise also with that, that I don’t want to tell you. You have togive that gift. And you can also find out more about my book and about me on my website at AreYouAGymMouse.com.

Allan (34:38): Awesome. This is episode 360, so in case you’re running or you’re out and about and you couldn’t write that down, just remember this is 360. So, go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/360, and I’ll be sure to have the links there. Agi, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.

Agi Kadar (34:58): Thank you, Allan, for having me. It was great.

So, are you a gym mouse? If you are, or if you aren’t – either way, why don’t you let us know? You can go and leave a comment on the podcast page. Go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/360, and there you can go ahead and leave a comment. Are you a gym mouse and why do you think that? Or are you not a gym mouse and why do you think that? A very interesting conversation with Agi. I hope you enjoyed it.

I wanted to let you know if you do enjoy the podcast and you’re interested in checking out The Wellness Roadmap book, it is available on Audible and iTunes. You can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/AudioBook. Actually, if you don’t have an Audible account yet, Audible will actually let you have the book for free. So, you can check it out and get it for free actually, by checking out Audible, going to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/AudioBook.

I also wanted to check in with you and see if you were potentially interested in helping to support the podcast. We do have a Patreon page. You can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Patreon, and there you can go ahead and leave a small monthly donation for the podcast. And I’ve got some levels in there. So if you want to get more involved with the podcast, learn more about what we’re doing here, really be more a part of it, a support for this podcast, it’ll help me keep paying for the audio production and the show notes. I’d really appreciate it. Go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Pateron. Thank you.

Another episode you may enjoy

December 3, 2018

Carol Clements on maintaining balance

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The statistics around falls for seniors is staggering. On todays episode, we meet Carol Clements and discus her book, Better Balance for Life. If we want to be well and maintain our independence, we must focus some effort on maintaining balance.

Allan (0:56): Carol, welcome to 40+ Fitness.

Carol Clements (0:59): Thank you. Happy to be here.

Allan (1:02): I was so happy to see your book that when I reached out I was like, “Yes, we’re not talking about this enough.” Everybody’s talking about getting stronger, building endurance, being able to do what we want to do in our lives. But in my mind, and I’ve even said this on the podcast a couple of times, my balance is not what it needs to be. And I’ve always known that; it’s only now that I’m in my 50s that I’m starting to say I have to start doing some work on this, because it’s not going to get better by my acknowledging the problem. I actually have to do something about it.

Carol Clements (1:47): Right. It’s definitely trending in media; there’s lots of scary statistics about falling and aging and balance. Then of course in the fitness industry there’s a big trending balance. You’ve got the BOSU training balls, you have stability balls, and Stephen Curry standing on a wobble board and shooting baskets. So everyone knows that this balance training edge is very productive because of the unifying of the body to become stable on unstable apparatus, which is what they call it at the gym. But I didn’t want my book to be about what you would do at the gym, so I had to create the instability in the person’s daily life that would be safe and they could practice balancing.

Allan (2:53): A few of the statistics I saw when I was doing the research on the topic of balance, it was something like one in four people over the age of 65 fall each year.

Carol Clements (3:04): One in three.

Allan (3:05): One in three, okay. So it’s going up, I’m sure. And then the other problem is they end up going to the hospital. I think it was 300,000 in the United States per year, and 29,000 deaths attributed to falls.

Carol Clements (3:25): That’s what I mean about the scary statistics. It’s a phenomenon that needs to be addressed as a preventative.

Allan (3:38): Yes. I tell people this, that your likelihood of falling over the age of 65 is just astronomically high. Why do we fall?

Carol Clements (3:49): That’s very complicated, because it can be inner ear issues, it can be visual impairment, it can be medication, or disease, a pathology of some kind – in the most extreme examples Parkinson’s or MS. Actually my book does not encompass that kind of reason for fear of falling or balance issues. It really addresses more a physical, more straightforward situation, where as the person ages they become less active and maybe they sit more, their balance system isn’t turned on because they’re sitting in a stable position too much of the time. I can’t cover all the reasons for falling, because they’re beyond what my book really addresses. But even if you had medication or a condition –neuropathy in your feet or something – you could still do a lot of these activities and improve your balance.

Allan (5:13): That was what I liked about this, because when I’ve talked to a lot of people about falls, it typically comes down, like you said, to those medical style conditions that we have. The second stage of it is that we’ve lost some strength, and that’s going to contribute to the fall. And unfortunately without the muscle mass, we’re more likely to hurt ourselves when we fall. Then of course there’s the fact that when we’re afraid to fall, we’re more likely to fall because we shorten our gait, we get tighter, we tense our body. I’ve lived in the south for a vast majority of my life, and whenever I travel up north and there was ice, I’m walking like a duck. I know that’s not the right way to do it, but I can’t help myself because I’ve fallen before and there’s this fear of falling that’s in there. And then the fact is that we just don’t practice.

Carol Clements (6:18): Right. So, all of those things that you said are right on. It’s lower body strength. In terms of predictors for falling, according to the research, and they do an arbitrary test where, say, you have to stand up from sitting without using your arms. And then five years later the people who couldn’t do that have fallen. The studies were in some ways a little arbitrary, like they would do a test for agility, and the agility test was how quickly you could walk around a chair.

Allan (7:02): I’m a certified functional fitness specialist. That’s still the test that they teach us, is to get up, walk around the chair and sit back down. It is not a bad test. The problem is from somewhat of a liability perspective, you don’t want the client to fall. So you know that they’re going to walk slower when their perception of falling is worse, and typically their perception is correct. So really what you’re looking for is for that person to give you indicators that we need to spend time on gait and balance because they’ve given some of that up.

Carol Clements (7:46): Right. Then you’ve got the lower body strength, you have the coordination agility factor, we’ll just call it, and then as you pointed out, the fear of falling is an enormous indicator of whether you will fall in the future. So I thought as I was writing, how can I help the reader feel more confident so that they remain active and they get the opportunities of being active that provide balance practice, strength, all the things we’ve talked about, and the confidence so that they won’t be so fearful? Those are really the three major goals.

Allan (8:36): You’re right. The question I have now, in the book, you use what you call the “five principles of a body in balance”. I think in a sense for me, that created a really good framework to explain what we’re going to be able to actually do at home. We’ll talk about those activities in a moment, but this set a really good framework. I thought if someone actually sits down, goes through and understands these five things, they’re going to genuinely know the things they should be adding to their activity level. Can you talk through those five principles, because I do think they are fundamental for our move forward in understanding this?

Carol Clements (9:22): They’re in some ways postural connections, so that when the reader gets to the 10-week plan, they have some kind of functional way of aligning their body. For instance, I start at the top, with the head, and compare it to a helium balloon. It’s really lining up and finding the arms and the back, and your neck and chest, which would be a curved-over, hunched position. And then ways to stretch the front of the chest so that you can get your shoulders to be part of your back. By that I mean the shoulder blades and the, you and I would call them “lats”, but you can think of it as the side of the back. And then there’s this very difficult one, which I was labored to write, because it’s hard, about the abdomen and how there’s a connection between your upper body and your lower body. I want for the participant reader to feel like that comes from the front, because as you age you begin to be more lax about what we call the front body core, and use the back to kind of hold you up and keep you in stance. So, it was difficult and I’m hoping the reader doesn’t get too frustrated with that section, but it was too important to leave out. Then I move on to the hip, because as you age, you begin to hinge at the hip forward. Imagine someone with a cane – they’re bent over and then they can’t access the glutes, the buttocks muscles. So I’m trying to get linked in front of the hip. And then the feet, because your feet and shoes sometimes become less active. You’re not really using the foot in an articulate way to push off. So those are the five; I wanted to make sure there was a consciousness about those body parts and how they work together, because you’re going to need that when you get to the 10-week plan and do the balancing and strengthening.

Allan (12:03): Yes. Again, that’s where the light came on for me as I was going through the book, was I know the shorter, tighter gait is a problem, but I had not really put together the entirety of the whole system, which I should as a personal trainer. Actually, that’s what I should be thinking about all the time. It is when I’m working with my clients, but I didn’t turn that same logic onto myself, that it’s about your posture and your ability to hold good posture. And so, looking at those imbalances: Is your head leaning forward? Are your arms collapsed forward? And as your waist is leaning forward, your hips are now in a bad position because you can’t use your glutes when you’re walking. And now your feet are not strong enough and nimble enough. I know that we say this all the time, and I need to start practicing. I do walk barefoot a good bit here in Florida. I could probably pick up a marble with my toes, but I couldn’t do a lot of the things that I should be able to do from the top to the bottom. That’s where the light came on for me, that this is a whole body posture thing. It’s not just a practiced balance thing. It’s all of it.

Carol Clements (13:29): All of those principles I felt like were going to give a foundation from which to build the strength, the coordination and the balance that we’re going to work on. You can’t think of everything at once; that’s why I said that about getting frustrated. But it’s just a process. I even said in the book, “Be patient with yourself.” The whole idea that not being able to maintain the balance at first is really a success, because the whole point is to be in an unstable position and to recruit, like I said, all these sensory, physiological and musculoskeletal aspects of what makes a person centered within themselves to balance, and practice that. So it’s okay if you fall – not fall; I don’t mean the bad kind of fall – that you teeter out of your balance, because that’s an experience that you’ll be able to use. Say if you step on a curb and you feel like you’ve lost your balance, you’ve had practice with doing that. Your body knows more what to do.

Allan (14:59): Yes. It’s like just about anything you do. When you first got in the car to drive, there was this fear. I know it gripped me the first time I got behind a stick shift. The Driver’s Ed teacher wants to put you up on a hill and have you do the clutch gas thing. I don’t want the car to die. And when you’re in town and it’s doing it, the car behind you is kind of laughing at you. It says “Driver’s Ed” on the car, so he knows what you’re going through. But over time, you practice being in that position. It’s not dangerous, but you get more comfortable and less fear.

Carol Clements (15:40): Right. The natural automatic responses of driving – now you don’t even have to think about driving, right?

Allan (15:54): Which can get scary in and of itself when you get somewhere. It’s like, “My brain was somewhere else while we were doing this drive, but I’m glad I’m here safe.”

Carol Clements (16:03): The body remembers and will do it, so we’re trying to get that automatic response going in the person’s body with balancing.

Allan (16:17): I was completely open and honest that I know my balance is an area that I need to put more and more focus on going forward. Now, don’t do this if you’re driving, but when you’re home or at a certain place. Always do your balance test in a safe place, so if you do actually lose your balance, you’re not going to hurt yourself. But if someone wanted to do the basic balance test, what would you tell them to do?

Carol Clements (16:46): The one that I use in the book is really more an assessment personally of the person, not like I’m trying to rate how good is the person’s balance, but how do you feel when you’re wavering? So I have the person stand behind this very sturdy chair and place your hands on the chair back, and then put feet right next to each other so there’s a very narrow base. And then gradually let go of the chair and cross your arms over your chest. If you close one eye, and if you feel okay, the other eye – you will feel the wavering of the body, the body balancing going slightly forward and backward and sideways. How do you feel about that? Is it scary? Does it make you want to suddenly go stiff, or can you relax into that wavering motion, the instability, and be okay seeing it from the inside, experiencing it? For me that was the better test. We can’t see what everyone’s doing that’s using the book, but they can experience and see for themselves how they feel about balancing.

Allan (18:09): Absolutely. Like I said before, your general perception when you’re in a situation like that is probably reality. If you’re not comfortable on your wavering more than you feel like you should, and you had that urge to want to tense up and grab that chair – those are indicators that this is a modality that you can start working on.

Carol Clements (18:31): Right. And it’s good to grab the chair because we don’t want you to fall. But it just gives you the experience to say, “Yes, I do feel tense about this.” And then maybe try it again and go, “Okay, I can stay with this a little bit longer until it really feels too threatening.” But definitely, always opening the eyes, or coming off of one leg, or whatever the balance situation is. You want to trust your instincts that you need to come out of that challenge when you need to.

Allan (19:13): Yes. I guess the tagline of this book in some lines should be, “You can fix it. You can get better at balance.” Now, you talked about the implements that are in the gym, and honestly a lot of folks don’t want the gym membership, and they don’t want to go over into the corner with that odd-looking contraption and try to figure out some exercises. Because they’re on a padded floor they fall over, and that’s not fun in a lot of cases. But we can do things to work on our mobility, our strength and our balance. We can do that in our own home. And what I like is that in the book you made this, I want to say, functional, but not exactly functional, but if fits within the lifestyle of what we’re probably already doing. We’re just double-dipping by doing these activities at the same time we would be doing something we were already going to be doing. Can you go through some of the types of activities and things that you would have them doing over the course of the 10-week plan?

Carol Clements (20:26): If the person can associate the activity with, we’ll call it an exercise, even though in the book I try not to call it an “exercise”.

Allan (20:37): Nobody likes the word “exercise”. So I’m glad you used the word “activity”.

Carol Clements (20:44): The association is like a reminder. For instance, one of the very first ones is “kitchen counter flat back”. So when you’re waiting for the toast or the microwave or the water to boil, you’re in the kitchen – you do this activity, which is really just creating traction though your spine. I won’t describe it; that is described in the book of course. And that’s really going to help with body awareness and the feeling of links, and to understand the opposing forces, which are what a lot of balance is made of. For instance, in this “flat back”, you go out through your scull, but you go the opposite direction, through your tail, the very end of the spine. So you’re lengthening in opposite directions, and when you balance, you really have to do that. You have to go down through your leg that you’re standing on and go up through your spine and head. Otherwise you have no dynamic; you’re just standing on your foot without the opposing force that gives a connection and a dynamic for balancing. I don’t really talk about that so much because it sounded too technical. I just try to give the experiences. When it’s associated with an activity, like brushing your teeth, I have five different “brushing your teeth” balances that are progressively more challenging. Everybody brushes their teeth, or at least we assume they do. So, they get to the first week, do brushing teeth balance number one. In the second week… Or maybe that didn’t happen until the second week because you have some other things to prepare first, I forgot. So those associations with activities, like getting dressed and talking on the phone or texting – I made sure that it was something I thought that most people would do, so that they’d go, “Oh yeah, when I do this, I stand this way and I do this experience.” That’s for a week. And by the end of that week, you’ve mastered it or gotten better at it, and you can go on to the next week. And then there’s usually a new activity, or a same one like the “brushing your teeth”, just with a new progression.

Allan (23:31): I liked it, because as you said, you’re brushing your teeth, you’re at the counter, you’re on the phone. All of those are normal daily activities. With this book, there’s not a ton of them; we’re talking I think no more than maybe four activities in any given week. But you practice those things – so a certain way that you’re going to work your back, or manage your glutes, or you’re going to work with your feet, or look and pay attention to your head, or at this point start balancing on one foot in a supported position – slightly supported, and then you’re going to reduce that support. It’s this progression that over the course of the 10 weeks you’ll feel and see that you are improving because you’re practicing.

Carol Clements (24:16): And hopefully feel more confident, go out more and do more things and not restrict yourself according to what you think you’re not capable of doing. Besides those four activities, there are also these sidebars, and one of them is “Your Striding Gait”. Not every week, but some of the weeks there’s a “Your Striding Gait” sidebar, which is some cue to use while you’re walking, which is going to help connect and strengthen. For instance, one is that big toe push-off I was talking about. So you cue yourself while you’re walking to push off with your big toe to fall forward from one foot to the next. And just to be aware of that and practice it when you’re walking. The other sidebar is “Relax and Reward”. Some of the weeks have a “Relax and Reward”, where you do a very passive kind of stretch situation, like have your legs up the wall so that your hamstrings get a little feeling of spaciousness. So besides the four activities per week, there are these sidebars that crop up. All of that works together.

Allan (25:51): Putting your sock on while you’re still standing up – that was maybe one of my favorites, along with, you call it something else – when you criss-cross your legs as you walk side to side.

Carol Clements (26:05): You mean “tight rope walking”?

Allan (26:07): No, you were crossing over sideways. You’re moving sideways, so your right foot goes slightly over…

Carol Clements (26:12): Lateral, yes. People lose their ability to step sideways, because think about it – we’re always going forward. Then when you do have a stumble, you are so inexperienced in stepping sideways or having to step backwards. So again, it’s practice. There’s a little thing where every time you get to a certain hallway in your home, you step to the side, meaning laterally, and then you get more comfortable with that and you’ve increased your range of transferring your center of gravity sideways, not just forward like we do when we walk, as we’re accustomed to.

Allan (27:03): You talked about things you do and don’t do. If you’re walking through a grocery store or a Walmart parking lot, and the car just doesn’t see you and you’re walking forward, your only choice perhaps is to move to the side. And so you need to be generally confident and competent that you can take that side step so the driver hopefully sees you, but you don’t fall, because that’s maybe the worst case. We have these obstacles in our lives and we don’t want to limit our lives. This is great if you’re working on your balance, if you’re doing these exercises. Every one of them is great. Like I said, I had a couple of favorites. I won’t ask you what your favorite is, because I know people don’t like picking between their babies. But I do have a question I want to ask, and it can be from the book or it can be from anywhere. I define “wellness” as being the healthiest, fittest and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?

Carol Clements (28:08): I wish I had some cute slogan or some inventive quick fix, but really it’s about building a lifestyle around healthy living. If you wanted to be a farmer, you’d live on a farm. People think in theory, they want to be healthier, they want to have a better diet, or they want to have more activity. But if it’s a theory, you have to change the real circumstances of your life. For instance, if you like to dine out, find the healthier places to go; maybe not the salty, fatty pizza place or something like that, and make that part of even your social life. In the book at the end I give this little pep talk and say, try a marching band, try croquet. It’s a little tongue in cheek. Basically I’m saying, find something that engages you, that’s active, so that you can get your balance practice. Tai chi is the perfect example because they’ve done so many studies with tai chi. This improves your balance because you’re standing, you’re moving. It really doesn’t take much. Ping pong would be great. Just find something that makes a fun, engaging thing and then cultivate your friends and relationships around that framework. Really make a lifestyle change, if that’s what’s necessary.

Allan (29:58): Thank you for that, really. The book is Better Balance for Life. Carol, if someone wanted to learn more about the book, learn more about you, where would you like for me to send them?

Carol Clements (30:10): I’m having a meeting with someone tomorrow about creating a website for the book and myself. So I don’t have that yet. The book actually is released on November 20th. You can order it on Amazon or Indie Books or Barnes & Noble, but it won’t actually go out until November 20th, which is right around the corner. Right now I would say, wait a while and try the website or contact me through the publisher.

Allan (30:48): Okay. Carol, we’ll do this. We’ll stay in touch and when the book is available, I’ll have a link to the book for sure. When your website’s available, I’ll have a link to your website, www.carolclements.com.

Carol Clements (31:02): That would be great.

Allan (31:04): Go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/357, and I’ll be sure to have those links there as soon as they’re available. Carol, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.

Carol Clements (31:18): Thank you so much. Have a great day.

Allan (31:21): You too.

I hope you enjoyed that conversation with Carol. Balance is something that I’m going to be focusing much more time on, as far as my fitness routines go. And I hope you do too. Falling, hurting ourselves, the numbers are just astronomical. So it is something that you need to be aware of and something that we do need to focus on as we get older.

I wanted to give you an opportunity I had originally only offered to my mailing list and then to my clients, but I thought you might be on the fence and thinking maybe you want to try some online personal training. So, through December 25th, Christmas, I will be offering you an opportunity to train as a part of our group training for just $1. Yes, your first month is only a dollar. Normally $75, so that’s a pretty steep little discount there, a Christmas gift from me to you. I want to be a part of your health and fitness routines. I want to be a part of you getting well as we get into the New Year. And there’s no better time to start than now. So, go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Group-Training. When you click on the button to go to the signup page, there you’ll use coupon code: podcast. Again, you go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Group-Training, and then from there, when you go in to buy, use the coupon code: podcast. It’ll save you $74, so basically you’re going to get your first month of training for just a dollar. And that’s full access to everything that my group trainings have – the portal, the exercises, the programming, the weekly Q&A calls, all of it. You’ll be a part of that; just check it out. You don’t have to continue if you don’t want to, but I believe you’re going to see I’m giving you enough value that it’s well, well worth the cost, the investment. So again, 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Group-Training. Use coupon code podcast at checkout.

Also wanted to let you know that the book, The Wellness Roadmap, is just about to drop live. This goes live on December 3rd. The book will go live tomorrow. So you can go ahead and pre-order the ebook. You can order the other ones and get them as well. Right now there is hardbound and a paperback. The audiobook is submitted and it should be out there really, really soon. So you can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Book, or you can just go to Amazon and search for Allan Misner or The Wellness Roadmap and you can find the book that way. But if you just want an easy way to get there – 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Book. Thank you.

November 19, 2018

Breaking a Weight Loss Plateau

 

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I entitled today’s show “Breaking a Weight Loss Plateau”, but the lessons that I’m going to teach you today can actually be used for any plateau that you’re on, whether it’s a plateau on strength, on mass-building, on losing weight, or even a plateau on improving your diet, because every one of those things ends up in a plateau. I use an acronym called POPP, and I’m going to discuss that and show you how each element of POPP will help you pop your plateau. Let’s first start out with why we end up in plateaus.

It’s one of those things where we’ll start a diet, we’ll change some things and almost immediately we’ll see some reward, some benefit from making that change. I know when I cycle back into ketosis, literally I could lose six pounds overnight. It happens time and time again. If I’m a little bloated, a little inflamed, haven’t been taking care of myself or eating as well as I need to, I start that low-carb, and the next day the weight just washes out of me. I know a lot of that’s water. I have the head to know what’s actual fat loss and what’s just water loss. So I’m not getting all crazy about it, but there is going to be a point, even when you’re doing ketosis, where you are going to plateau. I know a lot of people think, “I’m losing 15 pounds a month. I want to stay in ketosis, but if I keep losing 15 pounds a month, I’m going to dwindle down to nothing.” That’s never going to happen, because your body is really, really smart. It does this thing called “homeostasis”.

Homeostasis is basically balance. It’s a fancy word that scientists like to use and it just means they balance out. So, you’ve gotten your body used to eating a certain amount of food or a certain type of food. Your body has adapted. It’s been using body fat for a while, but then it says, “We’re in a long-term bit of famine here. We’re not getting as many calories as we’re burning. We’re getting some great fat and we’re feeling full. Things are good, the nutrition is great. I don’t need anymore, so I’m not going to be hungry just for the sake of being hungry.” And then your body says, “Let’s stop shedding this body fat, because we kind of like it. We’re going to stay here.”

That’s what I call your body’s “happy weight”. It’s not your happy weight necessarily, but your body is happy with it. So, how do we break this weight loss plateau, or any plateau? That’s where the acronym POPP comes in. So POPP stands for Patience, Other measures, Persistence, and Progression. And I’m going to take a few minutes here to unwrap what each of those means and how you can use each of these and all of these to help you break this plateau.

The first one is patience. You knew this was coming. I’ve taught you already that homeostasis is just something that’s going to happen. It’s going to be there. So, just know that the journey to wellness is ever going. It’s your entire life. You’re always going to be in this mode. The first thing I hope that you haven’t done is that you haven’t looked at this whole process as temporary, as, “I’m going to go on a diet, and then I’m done.” Really to take care of your health for the long term, to include weight loss, which is really a side effect of living a healthy lifestyle.

That’s exactly what you want to do – you want to make it a lifestyle. Is this a way that you can live your life going forward? So, with the patience aspect of this, start exploring the things that are serving you and what are the things that maybe aren’t serving you. This is truly a good lifestyle that you want to maintain. As long as you’re maintaining a healthy lifestyle, then you use patience to say, “I know this is working. I know that I’m doing the right things for my body. If my body is at its happy weight at this point, maybe for the time being I need to be happy with that and accept that this is a long-term process. And over time I’ll probably see some progress, but I’m not going to see it at the rate I was perhaps expecting to.”

So, patience comes in regardless of how you look at plateaus, regardless of what you want to do about a plateau. You just have to recognize you’re going to have one now, you’ll probably have another one later, and another one after that, and another one after that. Before you get to your happy weight, your body’s going to find several of its own set points, its own happy weight, so just recognize this is a part of the game, a part of life. Make your eating choices, your workouts and everything you’re doing – make it lifestyle, make it sustainable for the long term, and you’ll see the benefits over time.

Now, that takes us to other measures. If I am looking at taking care of my health, then I’m going to see improvements elsewhere. So, maybe my skin looks a lot better, maybe your hair looks a lot healthier. Maybe some things that were happening to you before – you maybe had some eczema or irritable bowel problems, other things going on in your life that were making you uncomfortable and unhappy – and now because you’ve made a lifestyle change, you’re starting to feel a lot better there.

Maybe your waist size is going down. If you have a waist size over 40, that’s a strong, strong, strong indicator, direct correlation that you probably are at risk of cardiovascular disease. If you continue to see your waist get smaller, you’re onto the right track. A lot of women will tell me they get into this whole thing, they want to lose weight because they know if they lose 25 pounds, they’ll be able to fit in that dress that’s two sizes smaller.

But sometimes they’re not losing the weight. How are your clothes fitting? They’re fitting better. Okay, you’re getting smaller.

So, you can fit in that dress. Maybe the weight you thought you needed to be isn’t the weight you need to be, because now you’re shedding fat and maybe putting on a little bit of muscle, or maybe now you’re fully hydrated and before you were dehydrated. So, we’re not dehydrated; we’re in a healthy state. We’re seeing a lot of other markers, other health measures, other things going great for us. Turning your focus away from the weight and focusing on these other measures – my waist size getting smaller, my skin looking good, getting good night’s sleep, and maybe I’m not having problems going to the bathroom. All of those things matter. They add to the quality of our life.

Focusing a little bit more on these other health measures that are going your way will let you know that you’re on the right track. That goes back to patience. That’s going to feed your patience, because it’s going to say, “It’s working. I can’t get tied up on what that scale is saying to me right now. If my body’s at a happy weight, but other things are going good for me, I need to take that and accept that and understand this lifestyle is working. So I need to stick with it.”

The next one is persistence, and that’s the “stick with it” part. Sometimes it’s very easy to sit there and say, “This isn’t going to work. It stopped. I’ve lost it.” And many people do. They get frustrated and they regress. So, the persistence aspect of this is to keep going. It’s to not let yourself get deflated that things aren’t going exactly the way you want them to. It’s continuing to do your batch cooking on Sundays, it’s continuing to do your 30 minute walks each morning.

Maybe it’s continuing to keep your sugars as low as you possibly can and making sure that you’re drinking plenty of water. All of these healthy lifestyle changes that you’ve made that are now habits – you just need to be persistent and keep doing them, because they are working. If you’re looking at these other measures and you’re seeing improvement from where you were – that’s work. That’s good stuff. That’s what a healthy lifestyle will do for you, so keep persistently pursuing good health, wellness. Wellness is health, fitness and happiness. So, be looking for joy, be looking for the things that are going to help you. That’s the persistence of constantly taking this and going and moving and doing. Stay persistent in the battle, because it’s working.

And then the final P is progression. We talk about progression a lot when we’re looking at training, exercise, because we say, “I’m going to add an extra five pounds to my squat” or, “I’m going to add an extra 15 minutes to my walk” or, “I’m going to try to run a little bit faster, so my progression is to try to increase my speed.” All of these different progressions basically mean you’re adding a little bit more effort. Typically in training, like I said, it works out as volume. The way we explain it as trainers is your training volume increases, either because you’re working out longer, you’re adding more training sessions, or you’re adding more weight.

Whatever’s making that resistance harder, you’re doing more of that. So, progression is the adding more, and it needs to be done gradually. If you’re doing gradual progression on all the training things you’re doing, it’s time to maybe think about a progression for your food.

And here’s how that looks. It’s an approach I take when I go off of what I call my “seasonal feasting period”. And we’re just now about to roll out of that because we’re approaching Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving and Christmas end up being my feasting period. I’m in my feasting period, so what’s going to happen is I’m going to get into the new year and I’m going to say, “Not a special birthday; I don’t have to worry about it. This year coming up in February.

So now it’s time for me to go in my famine mode.” I’ll start into my famine mode with a very set approach of really, really low-carb, but the foods I like. I make sure I’m now doing my batch cooking and the different things I need to do to make sure I stay on plan. And then I start to shed the body fat. I’ll get to a point where the amount of fat I’m eating and the total calories I’m eating, I plateau. Like you, I will plateau. Now, I am much more focused on trying to add muscle and I’m much more focused on trying to lose fat. I might actually see my weight go up. So my measurement is not weight loss, but it’s the same concept – I’m trying to change my body composition.

Then I need to progress. And what that means to me is, I need to reduce my calories. What I’ll typically do is I will look to my percentages. I’m already fairly low-carb, so typically less than 20 net grams when I start. I look at my protein, and if my protein is where I need it to be and my carbs are where they need to be, then I slowly start trying to reduce the amount of fat in my daily intake. So I may cut another 100 calories off of my daily intake from where I was. Maybe I started at 2,100 calories and I’m going, going, going. I know I’m exercising, I’m going eat back some of those calories. On a given day, I might be eating 3,000 calories. If I had a really tough cardiovascular workout and burned 700-800 calories, I’ll eat those calories back. And then I’ll end up with maybe, like I said, close to 3,000 calories that day.

What’ll happen is I’ll say, “I need to tomorrow get it down to 2,900, or 100 less than what I would normally eat, plus what I would use.” That progression is just 100 calories. You shouldn’t think that 100 calories means that much, but 100 calories over the course of a year, is 10 pounds. So, it is a big number. It just doesn’t feel that big that day, because I’m not looking to say I’m cutting another 500, which I would typically then expect to see about a pound per week. My body’s going to plateau again really, really quickly. My energy levels, I’m not going to be able to do what I’m doing. For me, I just shave 100 off, and that 100 typically is enough for me to start seeing things moving a little bit more, not fast, but I see it, I feel it. It’s happening. That little bit of progression in my nutrition is typically enough to get me there.

The one thing I don’t sacrifice on or skimp on is, I still make sure I’m getting high-quality whole food, and I always try to make sure that I’m getting all of my nutrients. If I feel like my calorie load is not where it needs to be and I’m not eating as many carbs – so maybe I’m not getting as many vegetables or fruits – I may start taking a multivitamin supplement. I’ll probably start, because again, it’s typically in the early winter, late winter time period when I’m going through this plateau.

Often I’m not getting enough sun, so I’ll probably take a vitamin D supplement. I’m definitely taking some fish oil supplements and I’m calculating that as a function of my fat intake. As I look at all this, you can see I’m still making sure that I’m covered nutritionally. I’m only reducing a little bit of my fat calories and I’m trying to tell my body, “If you want that fat you enjoy, you’ve got to get it from the body. You’ve got to get it from me, because I’m not going to give it to you through my mouth.” And my body typically responds to that.

And now you wrap the whole POPP together, and it works like this: I’m patient enough to know that I can do this. I’m patient enough to know that my lifestyle is right and I just need to be there. I just need to have the patience to work with my body to get it where I want it to be – my happy place, not necessarily its happy place. I need to look at other measures to make sure that I’m on track with my health, and not just trying to chase after a single goal.

There was a time when I was training for a Spartan and I really wanted to be ready for that Spartan. So I was going to get stronger and I was working on my endurance. I had a strength coach; his name was Dave. And I was meeting Dave and my strength was just off the charts, going up. My deadlift when I started with Dave, was I think at 410. I was pulling 450-460 after about three months and I was like, “I could get to 500.” Suddenly I got this really, really focused mind on that singular thing, and I just started pushing. What happened was, my strength in my squat went down, my strength in my overhead press went down, and my strength in my bench press went down. My deadlift was going up, but some of the others were plateauing or stopping, and I just didn’t see it. Afterwards I looked at my journal and I was seeing over the course of a month 5% increase in strength in the deadlift, but I wasn’t seeing 5% in the other lifts, which told me I wasn’t balanced, I wasn’t focusing on the whole me. And I needed to be.

Unfortunately, during that period of time, that’s when I tore my shoulder – rotator cuff tore – so, some of the other exercises, like bench press, went down. I just dropped that. No overhead pressing. And I thought I’m still doing the deadlift, but after a while I realized I’m not there, I’m not going to make that 500. And I don’t need to be doing that 500, because now I need to be thinking about this Spartan race, and having a 500 pound deadlift is really not going to help me. I have a problem with my shoulder, and I need to make sure that I can get through this race without hurting myself any more than I need to. So, I got back on track. It took me a little while.

But you can’t get singularly focused on weight loss either. You need to be looking at these other health markers and making sure that they fit your life. Then there’s persistence, which means we should just stick to it. If you have good “stick to it-ivness”, you’ve made this a sustainable lifestyle, you now have the broad perspective of, you’re doing healthy things for yourself. That’s totally cool. Then you can sit down and have a basis for saying, “What’s the progression? If I really want to push myself out of this plateau, what are the things that I need to do to get out of that plateau?” So, you put all four of these together – POPP – Patience, Other measures, Persistence, and Progression, and now you have a model. You have a structure to approach every one of your plateaus with a plan – the last P here. So, have a plan. And that plan has to include POPP – Patience, Other measures, Persistence, and Progression.

The Wellness Roadmap is available now for pre-order. I’m offering it as a Kindle edition at a very, very steep discount price. You’re not going to get this book for this price after the pre-launch and the first few days of the launch. Once the book is live, I’m going to put the prices back up where they belong. But I’m basically giving the book to you. So if you’ll go to the Amazon page, look it up – it’s The Wellness Roadmap book, or you can look it up under my name, Allan Misner. You’ll find the book there.

The Kindle book edition is going to be as low as Amazon will let me put it, so basically as close to free as I could get it. I want it in your hands, and as soon as it goes live, you’ll be able to download it to your Kindle Reader. But I do ask one thing – once you’ve read the book, please do go give me an honest rating and review. Amazon loves those things. Amazon feeds off those things. Amazon will not show my book to anyone not looking for it, unless it sees these ratings and reviews are coming in, that people are seeing substance in the book.

All I ask is when you get the book and you’ve read it and you feel good about it, please do go out and give me an honest rating and review. It’s going to help propel the book and get it where it needs to be, which is in the hands and on the e-readers of people around the country and around the world.

Please do go to Amazon, look for the book The Wellness Roadmap, or search under my name, Allan Misner, and you’ll find the book there. Buy it at the steep, steep, steep discount. Like I said, it’s close to free as Amazon would let me put it. And then boom, there you go. Thank you for that.

Another episode you may enjoy

Wellness Roadmap Part 1

 

November 8, 2018

Gillian Goerzen – Elephant in the Gym

 

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The following listeners have sponsored this show by pledging on our Patreon Page:

  • Judy Murphy

Thank you!

 

In her book, The Elephant in the Gym, Gillian Goerzen helps us understand how our mindset can make or break our fitness goals.

Allan (1:14): Gillian, welcome to 40+ Fitness.

Gillian Goerzen (1:18): Hello. Thank you so much for having me. What a delight.

Allan (1:23): Your book is called The Elephant in the Gym, and I had two thoughts when I first saw the title. One of these, I don’t like the connotation, and the other one I was like, “That would actually be a good book.” I’m glad you went with the good book route.

Gillian Goerzen (1:42): Yay! That was one of my biggest concerns when I came up with the title. I was trail running actually and I came up with this title. We were having this conversation and it’s like, “The elephant in the room that nobody’s talking about. Hey, it’s the elephant in the gym!” I was with my running mates, and the first thing that comes up was, “Am I the elephant in the gym?” Of course I was like, “No, no. Oh gosh, the subtitle’s going to have to be really clear that they are not the elephant in the gym.”

Allan (2:12): I do want to talk to that for a moment, because I think a lot of people are going to find this podcast probably in January when they’re making these decisions, and they’re going to go into the gym and feel a little uncomfortable with it. The people in the gym – other than the fact the gym gets really crowded in in January, so the people that are there all the time might be a little frustrated that they have to wait on a machine they’ve never had to wait on – but they want you in the gym. They want the gym to be successful, the gym owner to be doing what they’re doing and changing lives. And more than likely that person you see over there by the weight rack that somewhat intimidates you – at one point, they either walked in there as a scrawny 14-year-old kid, or they came in there feeling like they were an elephant. And now they’ve done this hard work over a period of time and they’ve changed. So I would look at that. I would hope people going into the gym for the first time – I know you feel intimidated and I know you want to run over and get on that treadmill – fight that urge. Get into the culture of the gym. It’s a culture of change. It’s actually a culture of comradery. The gym is a wonderful place to be once you get over that hurdle and you start getting comfortable in your own skin.

Gillian Goerzen (3:30): Really finding the right gym for you. You might come into one facility and think… We’re all so caught up in our own stories, in our own head, we make up these stories about what we think other people are thinking about us, but they’re 99.9% of the time wrong, because we actually are perceiving things that aren’t there. Most people, when they see other people just getting started, they think, “Gosh, way to go! Good for them. I’m so glad to see more people coming in.” So one is, get past that idea that we have in our head, but secondly, finding a facility that really resonates with you and has a similar philosophy to you, that you feel really welcomed in. I always like to say that we want to find that Cheers experience. You come in and everybody knows your name, and you feel really welcomed. It’s that community and collaboration that you were talking about.

Allan (4:27): And that happens; it’s just going to take a little bit of time, because when you first walk in the gym, we kind of expect that you’re only going to be there for three weeks and then you’re going to be gone. A lot of people aren’t going to invest. And people are not staring at you. They’re just watching to make sure you don’t do something to hurt yourself, because they’ve been there and done that. Fortunately though, that’s not what this book is about.

Gillian Goerzen (4:51): No, it’s not.

Allan (4:53): This is about the conversations that you have with yourself, and how we actually get in our own way.

Gillian Goerzen (5:02): Amen. Sure do.

Allan (5:07): You start out in the early part in the book and you told this story of the two wolves. Would you mind sharing that? I really think that if people can wrap their head around this story and remind themselves of this story on a regular basis, this is going to solve a lot of problems.

Gillian Goerzen (5:27): I agree. It’s a beautiful story. It’s a First Nations story, for those who aren’t familiar with it. And as the story goes, a grandfather is telling his grandson about a battle he has going on within himself. So there are two wolves – there’s one good and there’s one evil. And the grandson asks, “Which one will win, Grandfather?” And he replies, “The one I feed.” As the story goes, it’s not really about eliminating the evil wolf; it’s about nourishing the wolf you want to thrive. So if we take that metaphor into the health conversation, into how we treat ourselves, it’s not about getting rid of the struggle; it’s about nourishing the ways that we’re being successful. It’s about nourishing the ways we are building ourselves up. It’s about nourishing what we need to grow, shift and develop. So instead of fighting against the things that aren’t working, focusing on the things that are working, the wonderful things that we are already doing, because there’s always some. When I talk to clients, it’s always that we tend to focus on the things we aren’t doing instead of the things we are doing. And when reframe and turn people around to the, “But tell me about what you are doing. What did you do this past week to help yourself, to move yourself forward to health?” – there are always way more things than they even realized. And once they see those, they’re like, “I actually did quite a bit for myself this week. Awesome. Let’s build from there.” And that’s what creates more momentum. That magical motivation that we all seek is seeing that we’re actually already doing things. And you get to develop belief in yourself, the self-efficacy, the self-confidence in your capabilities.

Allan (7:18): I think when you’re going through something, you need to take that slight step back and say, “Is this a good wolf or a bad wolf?” More than likely, if you have a negative feeling, if you’re feeling down, if you’re not feeling good about yourself, you’re probably feeding the bad wolf, and it’s time to stop. So, take that step back and say, “There’s a reason why I’m not satisfied with what’s going on with my life, or my health, or my fitness.” You’ve got to take that step back and figure out what’s the wolf you need to feed to move this thing forward.

Gillian Goerzen (7:52): Absolutely.

Allan (7:54): You have a concept in the book that I really, really liked and I think a lot of people will. Again, we’re getting close to January, so people are probably getting into that premise of thinking, “I’ve got to set a resolution. I’m going to go to the gym five days a week and I’m going to cut out processed foods and try to sleep eight hours a night.” They set these standards of what they’re going to do, and actually some of them work for about three weeks, and then they miss a day at the gym. And that missing the day at the gym, they feed the bad wolf and they say, “Well, I missed Thursday. I may as well just skip Friday.” So, you have this concept called the “health zone”, which I think is going to set people into a really good state of mind, to constantly be feeding the good wolf. Can you talk about the health zone?

Gillian Goerzen (9:01): Totally. You really hit it on the head. Why I developed the health zone was that I kept having these conversations with my clients about, they’d map out this criteria for themselves, this very black-and-white, very binary relationship with what they needed to do to, in their heads, be successful with their health – whether that was going to the gym three times a week, whether that was not eating processed foods, whatever. It’s similar examples to what you were mentioning. What I noticed was when they made one choice that took them out of that very black-and-white, very binary criteria, they decided that they’d failed. And when they decided that they failed and fed that evil wolf, what ends up happening is this domino effect, but not in the direction we want. We skipped the gym, so then we think, “Today’s kind of a write-off. I’m going to have an indulgent lunch.” And then indulgent lunch leads to mid-afternoon coffee with a special treat, it leads to drive-through for dinner, it leads to not getting to bed on time, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. And then start fresh tomorrow. That domino effect leads us down a path that’s not really conducive to our health, when all it was was that we maybe needed to sleep in a little bit that morning and skip the gym. One workout off doesn’t negate the two workouts that person had already done in the week.

So the idea of the health zone was to get people out of that binary, black-and-white thinking, was to really look at our lives and give ourselves more flexibility, more room, more grace to live in a range of activities. For example, instead of having a quota of, “I’m going to exercise three days per week for this much time”, or whenever I’m going to do – saying instead, “I’m going to move my body two to four days per week for a minimum of 15 minutes, and I’m going to be happy no matter where I fall in that range. No matter where I fall in that range, I’m actually still being successful.” So, it comes down to looking at that whole health range and thinking what are our, I call them, “non-negotiables”. The bottom of the range is this idea of, what are the non-negotiable health habits I’m going to maintain no matter what? Think brushing your teeth. No matter how busy we get, most of us, 90% of the time, brush our teeth twice a day. We don’t even really think about it. It’s a health habit we maintain because we see the value in doing that. So, what are the other health habits we can maintain at the bottom end of that health zone no matter what, and engage and feeling successful, and feeding the good wolf? And then at the other end of the range would be your optimal habits. Not like the sunshine and rainbows optimal habits, where it’s not going to work with your actual real life, but what’s going to work with your real life if things were swimming along in a reasonable fashion – no major bumps in life, but regular life. What would you be doing on the other end of that spectrum? And so, finding that kind of range and no matter where you fall in that, feeling really successful about the choices you’ve made.

Allan (12:31): The thing I like about this is, if you’re doing anything positive, even a small step in the right direction can make a huge difference over time. We don’t realize we were potentially living very, very unhealthy lives, and now we’re not doing that anymore. We’re better. But if you set this bar and say, “I have to be at this level” and you don’t reach that, is that going to be the thing that knocks you off permanently? And so, it’s just a function of setting that bottom level and that top level, and then trying to make sure that you have strategies in your life that keep you accountable and successful within that range.

Gillian Goerzen (13:12): Totally. I always tell my clients, something is better than nothing. If you can even do 10 minutes of a workout and just go for a 10 minute walk, isn’t that better than doing nothing? If we actually step back and objectively look at it, we’re all going to go, “Of course.” Isn’t two servings of vegetables better than none? Yeah, absolutely it is. One glass of water is better than no glasses of water, or three is better than two. All of these steps in the right direction help us, and again, doing them consistently, of course, is what is the big, big clincher.

Allan (13:52): With the book, The Elephant in the Gym, you set 10, what you call “Super You” principles, and you have a chapter about each one. We have a lot of information about each one of these so we can’t dive deep into each one. But I would like, if you don’t mind sharing the ten, and just giving us a general overview of what that means in context to our health and fitness.

Gillian Goerzen (14:15): Absolutely. I really wanted a way to wrap up each chapter, and the key message I want you to walk away from the chapter with. It becomes, in essence, a summary of the book. The first one is really about, be you. You’re unique, and so is your health, is the principle. The big thing I always want people to take away is, there’s no other person on the planet that’s exactly like you. There’s no one right way to be healthy either, because everybody is different. We all have different genetics, interests, priorities, values. We need to find the way that works for us and our lives. That’s the first one. The second one is to really embrace our humanity. There’s unfortunately this misconception that there’s a “perfect” out there, that if I just follow this program perfectly and I will do this, then I will be healthy. But it doesn’t work that way. It’s about really focusing on being human, embracing the fact that you are human, and that you will ebb and flow and you will make mistakes. It’s about learning to give yourself some compassion in those moments and learning from those changes. The third one is to show up, to really trust the process, whatever process you choose, and actually take action and move yourself forward. The fourth one is to unlock your potential. That one’s really about knowing and acknowledging that you are both your loudest critic and your biggest cheerleader. Again, that’s that evil wolf, good wolf. You can feed the loudest critic or you can be your biggest cheerleader. But part of that is that mindfulness, becoming aware of where you’re being very hard on yourself, and then how you shift that tide. And I talk about some really tangible strategies in that chapter. Number five is practicing patience and perseverance. One of guiding things in the fitness industry and the health industry is, everybody wants that quick fix, but quick doesn’t usually equal sustainable, unfortunately. We all want that dramatic result, but the dramatic result usually requires extreme measures, and those are rarely sustainable in anybody’s real life. So, understanding that things will take time, change isn’t easy. Be willing to put the work in and acknowledge that it will be tough, that there will be a struggle, and it’s very human to struggle and that’s okay.

The next one is to really explore the science and practice the art. I come from a background of a degree in Kinesiology, and I’ve done a lot of work and study over the years of the science, the physiology of exercise and how do we be healthy. There’s a tremendous amount of science to all of this – to health and to fitness. And how you apply it in your life is an art. So I say, “Explore the science, practice the art.” It’s about acknowledging what the actual science is – not the pseudo-science, the actual science. And then understanding how you apply it to your life is an art. The next one is to reclaim your relationship with food. Of course, I couldn’t have a health book without an acknowledgement around the nutrition piece. Again, nutrition science – super complex topic, but I think we’ve overcomplicated it in a lot of ways. I have 10 tips that I offer in that chapter to really reconnect to our relationship with food. We talk about, “Fly the white flag.” Let’s stop having this really intense battle with food. Food is what we need to nourish our bodies, but also to nourish our souls. And then, yawning your way to success. The other piece that we often don’t talk about in this health conversation is sleep. I call it the “unsung hero of health”. We need to be as a culture shifting our conversation and really putting more value back to sleep, because it’s really huge. And I talk about the science behind that as well. And the final one is, own it – your health, your fitness, and your life. Own that you’re going to have a unique vision, and then create that for yourself. Create a plan and an approach to health and fitness that really feels good and grounded in your life right now as it is, so that you can evolve and grow your health and wellness throughout the course of your life. Because what my health and wellness looked like when I was 20 is different than it looks like at 40.

Allan (18:56): Absolutely. I think anyone that’s hearing these “Super You” principles that you have, that resonates with us. That’s the message that I’ve had on this podcast since the beginning, almost three years ago, and this is episode 350. We’ve been having this conversation, so these principles are not new to us, but the base point is, we have to take that step back and remind ourselves why we’re doing this and what’s going on. Each of these principles is addressing a different part of both our mental reflection of our lives, and then the actions we take after we have made these decisions and we’re making these choices.

Gillian Goerzen (19:44): Absolutely. I would say the first part of the book is really addressing what you’ve been up against – all the struggle that we’ve been facing and what’s actually holding you back. And then the second half of the book is really about, where do we go from here? Where do we go now that we’ve become aware of this? We see the elephant in the gym; now, how do we address it? How do we move forward in a powerful and empowered way, so that we feel we are in the driver’s seat in our own life? And not feeling like we’re looking outside of ourselves to someone else to tell us this magic solution, that if we just follow this magic solution that this individual with lots of likes on Facebook is going to tell me what to do; and really putting the power back on ourselves. It’s like, “I get to choose. Actually, it’s up to me to choose what’s going to work for me.”

Allan (20:34): Yes, absolutely. I do want to take one step backwards. You have all kinds of actionable tips, so I don’t want anyone to think that this book is just principles-based. The principles are important, but you follow up each of the principles with some homework, action items, some things we need to do. Again, I’m very action-oriented. Give me something and then tell me what to do. You can pick and choose how you apply these things in your life. But you’ve got to take it back to this one seed, and the one seed is that you have to have a desire to change, because if you don’t truly have the desire to change, then when you actually start going up against the work ahead of you… I know this might sound strange, but getting better sleep is hard work. You’ve got to say “No” to some things that you probably don’t want to say “No” to, like Words With Friends or Netflix. It’s time to go to bed. So, it’s not going to be easy. I would love to say that it’s easy, but it’s never going to be completely easy. It gets easier, but it’s never going to be easy. So, with that hard work in front of us, can you talk a little bit about that thing we need, the desire to change and how we can embrace that?

Gillian Goerzen (21:59): I think one of the pieces around that that I really want people to hear is that we have to choose our “hard”. When you’re feeling uncomfortable in your skin, when you’re not happy with the level of health you currently have, when you feel like there are things you can’t do with your body that you’d really like to do – the example I give in the book is, you watch your child on a ride at Disneyland that you’d really liked to be in, but you don’t fit in the seat – my gosh, that is hard. So, It’s really embracing the fact that that work is worth it, because the alternative is hard too. It’s about choosing which hard do you want to live with. Do you want to live with the hard of feeling uncomfortable in your skin, not feeling like your body is in its best shape for you, not being able to do the things you want to do, not feeling vibrant, vital and alive and able to live your life the way you want to live it? Or do you want to make the other hard decision, which is to make a few sacrifices, to have to say “No” sometimes, to put yourself first, to say “Yes” to yourself and say “No” to others? I think that is hard too, but understanding that the thing that’s going to push you through is really that reverence for the alternative, which is also hard, and knowing what’s in it for you on the other side of hard.

What I talk about a lot is really connecting to, not the, “How I want to look in my body”; “How do I want to feel in my body?” What’s the “Why”? What’s in it for me to do this work and get past the hard? And that’s connecting to a really powerful, really deep, meaningful “Why”? What’s in it for you? Why do you want to do this? Not just because I know I’ll fit in my clothes. That’s nice, to fit in your clothes, if it’s about weight loss, or to be able to run a 10K – that’s also great. But what’s in it for you to be able to do those things? I talk to a lot of moms and a lot of parents. For a lot of them it’s, “I want to be a great role model for my kids. I don’t want my kids to feel like this in their body.” Okay, now we’re talking. That’s a more powerful and more motivating “Why”. So when that alarm goes off in the morning and you want to stay in bed, but you know you should get up and go and do your workout, or go for your walk, or make time to make a healthy lunch – you’re going to think of that reason and it’s going to give you the impetus you need to get out of bed and go and do it.

Allan (24:26): Yes. Part of what you’re talking here, like I said, does resonate with us. I’ve always talked about it in terms of what I call “commitment”, and that commitment is the combination of your vision – what does a healthy, fit and happy person mean to you personally? Because what it means to me is something entirely different. And when I get older, I’ve used the phrase, “When I’m 105, I want to be able to wipe my own butt.” I say that because I know how many people get into their 70s, 80s and 90s and they lose their independence, and I don’t want to be that person. I know I don’t have to be that person, because I have role models I see that are 80s, 90s, 100, well into their 100s, still living active lifestyles. I just know I need to do the things to do that. Today, my vision is, I not only want to enjoy time with my kids or grandkids, when they come around. It’s if one of them tells me they want to go do a Tough Mudder, I want to be able to go do that with them. It’s not that I want to do a Tough Mudder for the sake of saying I did a Tough Mudder. I was like that when I was young and competitive. Now it’s just I don’t want my daughter to be waiting on me. I want to finish the race with her, and I want to enjoy myself and not hurt myself while I’m doing it. So, I train that way. That’s your vision. And then the “Why” part is the quality time with my family. It’s knowing that if I want to be around, I’ve got to take care of myself. I put it in slightly different terms, but it was funny as I went through the book, I kept seeing my words in your book.

Gillian Goerzen (26:13): You’ve got to love it when find that, which gives me so much hope, because I think the more of us that are having these conversations, I see the shift in the tides of the conversation around health and fitness. I see things shifting and it gives me a lot of hope because I think for a lot of years it was the blood, sweat and tears, and look a certain way. There’s still a tremendous amount of that; and still, I’m hearing more and more people having these conversations, more and more people saying, “I just want to be able to wipe my butt when I’m 90.” One of the common ones I hear from my clients with grandkids: “I want to get down on the floor and play with my grandkids, or I want to be able to take them to the park and actively play with them.” That’s really empowering, when you start talking about that vision, as opposed to being able to look good in a bikini, which is neither here nor there at the end of the day. What did you do in your bikini? That’s what I want to talk about. Did you go surfing? Did you go play with your kids in the sand and feel fantastic? Because that’s what the people in your life are going to remember. Nobody gets to their deathbed and thinks, “Gosh, I wish I’d looked better in a bikini.” They think of all the things they did; they think of all the relationships they had. Again, it’s that step back – what’s important to me, what do I value? At the end of the day, what do I hold close to my heart? That’s the core message here.

Allan (27:42): Cool. Now, I’m introducing a new, I guess I’ll call it a “segment”, for lack of better words, to this show. I’d like to ask you, what are three strategies or tactics to get healthy, fit, and happy, which is what I define “wellness”? What are three of your strategies or tactics for wellness?

Gillian Goerzen (28:06): Okay. So number one – before you embark on anything, the first thing that always comes to mind – are you willing to do this for the rest of your life? I just got a message from a client earlier today and she was curious about a supplement. And I said, “From a scientific perspective, here’s some information about it. But I want you to take a step back. If you take this supplement, are you willing to take it for the rest of your life? Is this something that resonates with you and feels like it connects to you?” Trust your instincts around, is this something you want to do for the rest of your life? If the answer to that is “No”, what’s the point of doing it short-term? Is this a sustainable thing I can do? So, trusting your instincts, really asking the questions before you jump all in. So that’s number one, is really listening to that. Number two – I really, truly believe whatever you choose to do around your health and fitness – do it, and do it consistently. There is no magic pill, there is no magic solution or program. It’s just the things we do with consistency that really add up to creating more impact in our lives and more change in our health. And the third thing is to not judge failure. So when you fall off that blessed wagon, to not look at it as you failing. If you fell off the wagon or you keep falling off the wagon, maybe you’re just on the wrong track. Maybe you just need to find a different wagon to be on and find a different way of doing things. The other analogy I like to use is, before you wipe the slate clean, take a look at the chalk marks. What can you learn from what you tried there? Get up and try again. It’s the whole, “Failure isn’t falling. Failure is choosing not to get back up.” So, get back up, try again, learn from what didn’t work. Those are higher level mental strategies, not tactical strategies, but there you have it.

Allan (30:10): That’s totally cool. That’s exactly what I think we needed to hear. If you haven’t caught it from me, I love your message.

Gillian Goerzen (30:18): Thank you.

Allan (30:18): If someone wanted to get in touch with you, learn more about the book, where would you like for me to send them?

Gillian Goerzen (30:25): There are two places they could go. They could go to ElephantInTheGym.com, all one word; or they can head to SuperYou.ca. I have those two places that they could head, and they’ll be able to find me in one of those.

Allan (30:40): Excellent. This is going to be episode 350, so you can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/350, and I’ll be sure to have those links in the show notes. Gillian, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.

Gillian Goerzen (30:54): Oh, such a delight. I’m brand new to the 40+ club, and I’m really happy to be here.

Allan (31:01): Welcome! We’re glad to have you.

Gillian Goerzen (31:04): So many of my friends were nervous about turning 40 and I’m like, “Bring it on. I just feel like this is going to be the best decades of our lives. It’s great.”

Allan (31:13): Cool.

I hope you enjoyed that conversation as much as I enjoyed having it. Gillian’s a pretty special person, and her book, The Elephant in the Gym, is a really cool book. I love the cover, I love the concepts in the book. As I was reading the book, it pretty much mirrored what we’re doing here on this podcast and what I’ve done with The Wellness Roadmap. It was really nice to see that this conversation is starting to make a good role, that more and more people are starting to recognize that the mindset we take into the gym, the mindset we take into the food choices, the mindset we take into all of our health choices, really does drive how successful we’re going to be. So, The Elephant in the Gym is a great book. I do encourage you to step out and get that.

If you do enjoy the podcast, I want to ask you, if you don’t mind, helping to support the podcast. A lot goes into making a podcast and putting it together. I pay for audio processing, so I can get the most decent quality my voice will let me have. I pay for someone to do the transcripts and put them out for show notes so you have that available to you. If you thought you misheard something, you can always go out to the show notes and read it for yourself. It’s always going to be there on the website. I pay for hosting of that website, so again, that content is always available to you. All the back episodes are available to you through the website. I pay for audio files to be stored, so there’s a host for that. And then all the other costs that go into the making of a podcast; it’s a lot more than I thought when I first got started. I thought this would be a pretty cheap endeavor. You start looking at those $5 here, $10 there, $100 there, and after a while you realize this a lot more expensive, and each of these episodes does cost a good bit to put out. I want to keep doing that and I’m just asking for a little support. A few dollars a month is going to go a long way towards helping me cover the cost of the show and continue to work to improve it and invest in it and make it better. You can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Patreon. There are multiple levels of support you can provide there, some with really, really cool add-ons, some pluses that you’ll get for being a part of the podcast, for being on the team and helping us get this podcast produced. So, go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Patreon, and that will take you to the Patreon page, where you’ll be able to read about the benefits and the different things you can get by being a part of the team. I really do want you on my team. I think this podcast is a team sport. Fitness and health are a team sport and we need to be in this together, trying to get our message out there. I want you to be a part of that. So go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Patreon. Thank you.

 

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