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Category Archives for "fitness"

April 29, 2019

Aligned for success with Brenda Shaeffer

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If you don't have your body in alignment, it is very hard to reach optimal health. Brenda Shaeffer is a physical therapist and the author of the book, Aligned for Success.

Allan: 01:50 Brenda, welcome to 40 plus fitness.

Brenda : 01:54 Thank you Allan.

Allan: 01:54 I have the specialty in corrective exercise and I see it myself. Someone will walk in and they'll start to lift and I'll be like, no, no, no, no, no. Let's do this right. I realize, okay, you can't lift weights right now. You need to get yourself fixed first because if you try to put load on the body and the frame, the way you're doing things today, you're going to break yourself. So I always go through with my one on one clients, this sort of evaluation just to see if there's any movement. I talked to him about any injuries they've had. But Yeah, you put together book pretty much will allow a lot of us to do that for ourselves.

Brenda : 02:27 That's right. And really over the many years that I've been a physical therapist, what I realized is that people actually limit themselves a lot more than they need to. And with our medical system, the way it's become over the, over the years that I've been practicing, which is over 40 years, what's happened is people have become defined by the diagnosis that they receive in their doctors office or as they've self diagnosed on the, on the Internet, and they've actually become very disabled. So I became very inspired by that and actually put together this book and actually have also developed a system of education that people can actually look at and learn to assess themselves and start doing corrections on their own in everyday activities and apply it to their every day activities to actually do more than they expect they should be able to be able to do. This is thank you to many of our good researchers and the technology available today that is proving what pain is and how our brain processes pain and actually how we move and also how the most common pain problems have happened in our muscles and bones.

Allan: 03:42 I'm really good about focusing on form while I'm doing the work, but, and your book, Aligned for Success. I kind of came up with this epiphany and I should have thought of this a long time ago. I was actually doing crossfit and I was traveling. So I was at a crossfit that I wasn't familiar with and the instructor came up to me and said, because we were doing one arm kettle bell thrusts. And so that's where you kind of squat down with the kettle bell by your side and you've only got one in one hand and then you basically do a squat and when you come up you thrust the kettlebell up in the air. When I was doing these thrusts, he said to me, he said, do you cross your right leg over your left leg pretty regularly? And I said, you know, I do that when I sleep. I said, my right leg actually goes behind an under my knees so I don't hyper extend my left knee. But I had never really experienced any pain. But that was kind of one of my original epiphany's and then seeing it in your book was just everyday normal things that we do can really affect the way our body moves, and then therefore later on particular if we put ourselves under load, we hurt ourselves, we feel pain.

Brenda : 04:49 That's exactly right and really again, the research that's now available. And again, thank you to the new technology that's available to measure how our brain is perceiving the inherent danger signals. What's going on is that what's most important for us as an individual to understand is that we need to be much more aware of what our alignment is, or another words, relative alignment of our legs, our core and our arms are during our everyday activity. That's actually as important or in my view, more important than when we're in the gym, when we're much more attentive to what our form is because that's, we're really in static positions where we're not getting as much circulation through our joints and through our muscles and our Fascia. And that's really where we're losing the battle and where we're creating the set up to have failures in our tissues. And that's where we're creating the problems that then we have failures in the gym. So that's kind of the message which we're looking at trying to teach people. And again, the body reset system, which is sort of the situational applications of how to learn how to use our bodies with proper alignment that the aligned for success book was a platform for that we've just launched, is actually going to show people how to to keep in proper alignment in everyday activities from texting, sitting around using your computer at home in a comfy chair. It shows you that you can be in proper alignment in everything that you do and that it's really once you learn a very easy three step method on how to look at yourself and make sure you're aligned from the ground up, from your feet, your shins, your thighs through your core and your arms, and then make sure you're supported in all of those parts of your body that you can sustain the best circulation and not have compression. In other words, have best health in both your structure, your circulation, your hydration, nutrition system, and also your electrical system, which are the three parts of your body. You can have best health so they can expect to have the best fitness level of your body at any stage, any age of your life.

Allan: 07:01 One of the things you said there that I think is really important for someone to understand, because a lot of people don't get this. They'll, they'll say, well, I feel pain in my hip or I feel pain in my neck. But it starts at the feet.

Brenda : 07:15 Absolutely. You have 26 bones in your feet and really you have to understand that unless you're in a very specialized job or you're a circus performer or something like that, most of us literally are always engaging with our bodies to move forward. We're doing things with our feet first and so when we're getting up to move, we're pushing. We're engaging with the ground first from our feet, so it's a chain reaction. Think of a domino effect. When you first hit the ground, the first thing that hits the ground is your foot, and then the chain reaction happens is the fancy word is kinetic, which means movement. The movement chain that happens is the first bone has the floor and then the next bone has to react to that and then it moves all the way up. So if one bones not in the right order, the next bone is going to have to react to that. But it's actually, it's all little sensors that are embedded in the ends of each bone. It's embedded in the ligaments, the tendons, the Fascia, everyone's heard about, which is just this sort of like a Saran wrap type tissue that's around every structure. Meaning when we're talking about muscles and bones and things, it's around the tendons, it's around muscles, it's around nerves that's also embedded in them little sensors that tell when things are stretching too far and it tells the brain that there may be danger if it stretched too far or there's too many toxins. In other words, there is a chain reaction of alert systems of information that go to and from your brain so the brain can make adjustments as needed. But at any rate, there is a chain reaction that starts at your feet and then your brain's adjusting muscles, circulation, and so forth as that chain reaction happens, it happens at your foot so that at the time it gets up to your hip, there was an adjustment. If you're hip has to be adjusted significantly by the time it gets your neck, there's even more significant adjustment. So you really need to make sure from the foot you have the best alignment possible. And if it's not there, then your neck will have to have an adjustment. Also, very often people say, well I just need you to look at my neck cause I just hold my stress in my neck. And I'll often say, well actually what you're doing is you're holding your foot up from your neck. So it really needs to be systematically a very, very much of a system that you're looking at yourself from the ground up. Are you in the best alignment? Again, to ensure that the information that gets to and from your brain and your nerves, your arteries and veins have the best position and they're free from compression and also from overstretching, so all that information and all the circulation, hydration, nutrition, and also the trash gets out back from your veins, get back in through your core to be processed. So all the systems of your body can be in their optimal function and again, so you can have the best health possible again at any stage. Any age of your life.

Allan: 10:06 Yeah. A couple things, I mean in general, as I looked at kinetic chain and I was kind of educating myself on this topic and then I saw it again in your book was I had an injury to my right ankle when I was 29. So a long time ago, it doesn't affect me in day to day life, but if I try to do a squat because my ankle is not functioning the way that it should, it's slightly tighter, my right ankle is slightly tighter than it should be, now my calves will compensate for that.

Brenda : 10:36 Correct.

Allan: 10:36 My calves get tight since my calves are tight, they're not allowing my leg to move the way that it needs to, which means my hips have to move differently. And then I ended up leaning forward on a squat and I have difficulty getting to proper depth on a squat. So what I end up doing is I end up spending some time before I'm going to do squats to really focus on loosening up my calves, getting my ankle as mobile as it will be under the circumstances. And then I'm able to safely do the work. A lot of people would go at this because if they start to feel pain, there's going to be this element of fear and then they're gonna move differently.

Brenda : 11:12 Correct. And again, this has been a long held misunderstanding about flexibility. I think one of the misunderstandings about flexibility, and this is coming from the world of training and physical therapy, particularly as we, I think in this field made people believe that flexibility is actually more of an exercise where flexibility is actually simply a measurement of how much mobility or how much motion we have at each one of the junctures of one bone to the next. And that's actually called a joint. And in your case if you actually had an injury to your ankle where you maybe never get full range of motion there or it's a difficult place to get range of motion or mobility. The concepts of, again thinking in threes, which is again a concept that I introduced in the book. One of the three things we think about is always having readiness before you do any of your activities. And in your case where you think about, “well, I really need to get the mobility that I need before I do activity.” You need to spend a little extra time and make sure you get that mobility with a little extra time and say, well, how much do I need to do my correct range of motion? And instead of being fearful of it and saying, well, I have pain. Remember pain's a positive alarm to make you pay attention and understand that tightness is even the warning sign before pain almost all of the time, you know what the injury was. So your expectation should be, oh well then I can expect that to be tight. And instead of thinking, “well I just need just stretch that” just know well if I just do a little bit of an active release, kind of one second on, have a little teeny bit of a stretch and a little bit off. Another second on a little bit off another little second on you'll notice that your brain says, okay, well I understand Allan, that I just need to let you move the little bit in a row release. I'm pretty soon you'll have enough mobility. There's no reason to be fearful when you understand that that tightness was just a little bit of a warning. If you didn't take that warning, you'll get a little pain and then your brain will understand that it's safe to move. It's just a new science that we know that that's what this means.

Allan: 13:22 And that self awareness is really critical when someone goes into a chiropractor because there's shoulder hurts or their neck hurts. Just kind of paying attention to the way you move and what what's going on with your body. Now you have this three step method that allows someone to kind of do that kind of self awareness assessment.

Brenda : 13:42 Right, and actually have a, what's called a flexibility. I still use that word because people tend to like it, it's actually a mobility checklist. Were really from the bottom up, I'm using sort of a general checklist that can get more specified in this. The book is actually an introduction to for a general, again, the question that that I think we've all missed in the past is, how much flexibility do we need or mobility for general activities. And the question is how much mobility do you need? And then I know we'll talk about this possibly in a in a minute, is what are your goals? What are you trying to do? Are you trying to be a gymnast or are we trying to be a Cirque du Solei performer? Or are we just trying to go out for a walk?

Allan: 14:25 Or walk down the stairs without pain.

Brenda : 14:28 Exactly! What are our goals? But say, if you're just going to get through a day and just, you know, go to the grocery store and make dinner and take care of your kids, you don't need, you know, a whole heck of a lot of mobility. So what I've introduced in a line for success, my book is just a general mobility check for everyday living. You know, just get through your day and mow the lawn and go to the grocery store and maybe go for a bike ride. But it's a mobility that checks to make sure that you have enough mobility for walking and picking things up off the floor and reaching overhead to get things out of your closets to fix dinner and load the dishwasher and so forth. But it's checking for side to side mobility of your legs, of all the joints and how much mobility you have to reach down and get things off the floor and look overhead and reach overhead and reach behind your head and reach up your back. But it's looking for a sequence of motion and that's also been missed. And secondly, can you do that motion with the speed force and finally the endurance that you need to move it. But within that, there were also looking for can you attain and maintain the proper alignment of all three parts of the skeleton structure that we have. And when we're looking at the skeleton part of your structure, there's also three parts. It's your leg, and then your core, which includes the three parts of your pelvis and includes the actual core, which is the lumbar and thoracic spine, which literally have almost no movement. And then finally the top part of your core, which is also three parts, it's your two sides of your rib cage and your breastbone. And finally the parts of your arms that you then have your hands hooked on the end, which have three parts, which are your arms, your shoulder blades, and finally your collarbones.

Brenda : 16:17 It's again looking to see can you maintain proper alignment and the method teaches you how to use your own hands to consistently and become confident and competent and being able to look and see if you can maintain, attain and maintain your alignment in both still possessions, in other words, still postures and also in basic movement patterns.

Allan: 16:44 Yeah. One example I really liked from the book that I think will give someone a really good visual of this. As you have someone sitting basically with their feet on the floor, they've got what you kind of call the three points of contact, effectively their butt and their feet, they're sitting comfortably, their arms are at a comfortable distance, a little bit away from the body. And then you have them put their hands on the kneecap with their middle finger basically pointing down the Shin Bone. And the idea is that your third toe should line up with your middle finger.

Brenda : 17:13 Correct.

Allan: 17:14 And so what this is saying is if you, if your feet want to splay out for one reason or another, then you're going to have an improper movement form. And that's going to go all the way up the kinetic chain. And so you can start training your brain to keep that foot where it's supposed to be starting originally when you're just sitting down and that's going to make it more comfortable to walk, it's gonna make it much more comfortable to run. And so a lot of the activities we want to do, we can start doing even static just sitting. We can start assessing to see if there's these things that aren't moving in the way that they were functionally designed to move.

Brenda : 17:49 And right away, I had a woman this week, she literally couldn't stand from her chair and her husband was there to help her get up. She said, well, I just can't do it. I said, well, you know what? Here's what you do. if you're sitting there, and we'll just joke sometimes, say there's that foot sticking out to the side again. If you put your middle finger right there in the center of your kneecap and it's aiming down, and it's not aiming at the bottom of your third toe, just lift the front of your foot up a little bit and move the front end a little bit. So now it's aiming at the the center of your third toe and I see we're going to call him a name, whatever, it's some sort of crazy guy moving back over there and it's just your brain has had to adapt over time for whatever reason. At some point, maybe she had sprained her toe and or maybe she had had a broken ankle at some point. Your brain is designed to help you survive at some point just to keep you going and if you don't reset your brain, your brain just continues to adapt. It's a positive thing. I've stopped using the word compensate because it's actually, there's a lot of research behind it, but it's actually in the English language. The linguists have figured out that the, the “c” sound is actually a negative sound to your brain and an “a” sound is more positive. We need to be positive and talk about things in ways we know our brain responds better and it will help enhance improvement in pain recovery. But if we actually know that it's a good thing, our brain has adapted. Speaking of adapt, by the time we're in our forties we'd be army crawling if we never got over it. I mean it's really cool how we actually can recover if we, if we allow our bodies to heal they will heal. So if all we have to do is lift our foot up and that makes our three parts of our leg lineup better, actually, if we go to stand up and we really just, instead of sitting there with one foot sticking out to the side and I have our knees together, we literally just put our heels out, the width of the chair lineup, our knees so we look down and go, oh wait, let's make sure we're aiming our middle finger towards our middle toe. Lean forward a little bit, keeping our core length, the right length and quickly stand up. Most people in stand up right away and they don't have pain. So that's something you do right away and you can become pain free almost immediately and feel strong. Alignment always comes before strength and you don't have to have perfect alignment.

Allan: 20:12 Well, the cool thing, alignment is going to help you avoid painful situations if you are doing something active. Alignments also going to help you properly apply strength. So as you're trying to come out of the chair, now that her feet are square, she has the base of support on the ground to actually get out of the chair. But it also helps with balance. So as we get older and people want to change, I'm going to use the word compensate.

Brenda : 20:39 Right! Adapted

Allan: 20:42 We adapt because of fear that we're going to fall. We changed our gate, we changed the way our feet sit on the ground. Those changes now go up our entire kinetic chain and actually are a problem. So taking some time to focus on this alignment from the ground up is going to do a lot for making sure that you maintain strength, maintain balance, and avoid pain.

Brenda : 21:04 Right?

Allan: 21:04 So in the book you had something that I thought this was, this was actually really, really good because most of us will go to a healthcare professional and the main goal is, oh, my neck hurts, so I'm going to go to a chiropractor and the goal is for my neck to stop hurting. But you agree we should set goals but not that kind of goal.

Brenda : 21:23 Correct. And that's actually approved by, it's not me, again, it's the researchers in the science labs have figured out that actually pain is not actually the goal. And I know that seems kind of mean of me to say the patients are also kind of surprised by it. So I kind of see why by having a little bit by having resources and references. It's not that pain is not important, but it's actually not, it's not measurable. It's measurable in each individual. But here's the thing, you need to actually have a goal that's measurable when relating it to pain. So you're much better doing an activity relating what you're doing when you have pain. So it's actually a activity related pain score. So I've included that in the book and that again is referenced, it's a researched scale where you actually just say, okay, if I have an activity that I have pain with, then you can actually start seeing if you have improvement and then you can start developing and adjusting what solutions you're actually attaching to how you're trying to solve your problem.

Brenda : 22:36 In other words, if you think, well, my friend Susan told me to go to doctor so and so the chiropractor instead of just going every single week, what you should see is if ahead of time you said, well, I'm going to go to doctor so and so, and the goal is get rid of my neck pain because I have neck pain every time I sit at the computer within 30 minutes. Well, if it's going to be a successful solution, you should notice that if you've said my goal is to get rid of my neck pain in four weeks and I'm going to go see this doctor so and so, you should say, well what's a reasonable time when you see doctor so and so that I should get rid of my neck pain cause I have neck pain within 30 minutes? Well he should be able to tell you how long it's going to take. And so first of all, if he can't tell you that. I would question why you're going to that person. But also that'll tell you A, whether he's the right person, but B, if you're not getting any results, why are you going back to that person? Because either one, you're not actually, maybe you don't have the right diagnosis or again, maybe that's not the right person. So you have to know whether you're, you're using the right tool to get better. It's why people don't get that, or either they don't have the right diagnosis or they're not applying the right tool.

Allan: 23:48 Well, the chiropractor is helping you from the perspective of dealing with some misalignment for a moment. If they're focused on your neck, they're going to fix that misalignment, but the next time you sit down at your computer, you're probably going to run into the same problem because you haven't found the root cause.

Brenda : 24:06 That's what I'm saying. Do you need to go to the chiropractor? That's actually a question.

Allan: 24:11 Or bring the ergonomic specialist in to say, let's look at my desk or can I get an adjustable workstation so I can sit part of the time and stand part of the time. And that might be part of the solution to get you in proper alignment.

Brenda : 24:23 Well, but again, you have to remember, and there's lots of stats on that and I've included quite a few of those in the book, but also in a lot of those are available and I've given references for that. There are a lot of statistics that prove that having the solutions in just changing equipment only takes care of 20% of the problem. Having a person learn how to change themselves, it takes care of 80% of the problem. So when you're looking at spending your dollars correctly, there's a huge benefit and learning how to take care of yourself. So I think one of the take homes needs to be to understand that you, the individual are the only thing that you personally own control and can adapt. So remember that ergonomics is only a field. It's a field of study and field of engineering human for humans that actually develop equipment and supplies for an average size person that is completing a task. So for example, if you're going into a public building, the architects and the designers for those buildings are designing the doors, the desks or whatever's being used for an average size person, it's called anthropometric measurements. It's still in this country because we have huge variances and people in sizes. Those measurements are still only be made for people between five foot five and five foot eight. So again, none of this equipment is alive. So it's not able to say when you sit down at something, it's not alive.

Brenda : 26:00 It's not going to change. It's still up to the individual user to be able to determine when and how to make changes. So again, in the book it talks about how to change that, and again in the body reset system, it provides you the participant in that system some examples on how to again change your use of the equipment. And it's kind of the next step of the three step method on how you then can reassess yourself and make the changes. But the statistics are quite clear. Again, it's your responsibility to learn how to become confident and competent that you can look at your own body with your eyes, your eyes tell your brain or the brain senses that tell your brain 80% of the information your brain needs to know how to assess the environment, about looking down and seeing, oh, is my body in the right position. The other sense that uses is touch and all the little sensors that are embedded in your, in your ligaments and your joints. And finally you memorize things by how things feel. So it's very cool and the new part of the information is so cool because it makes the next generation that are under 40, hopefully not have to suffer the need to have to have all the total joints and all of these things that the people now over 40 in particularly the groups that are in the 60s and over, that have had to have total joints. That's where regenerative medicine hopefully won't have to happen anymore.

Allan: 27:31 It's kind of staggering how many people are getting hip and knee replacements these day?

Brenda : 27:36 Well, I'm hoping, I'm hoping it's not going to have to happen on the under 40 group anymore. If we embrace this, this stuff is going to make it so good for the next generations. If we just understand that we can get control over our bodies and in this 85 to 95% of the musculoskeletal disorders, and this is a world health organization number, they are preventable. They're predictable and preventable. We just literally need to rethink what's happening. Understand that if we goal set differently, we recognize what's going on. We then reset our bodies and learn that we need to get ready to use our bodies differently. We need to recover and give time to repair. We can use our bodies optimally for a lot longer than we think we can. We have in the past.

Allan: 28:25 And I like that. I liked it that you have kind of this real true proactive approach.

Brenda : 28:31 Oh, its very exciting!

Allan: 28:32 So one of the other big things in the book that I thought was really, really important was that by empowering yourself to say, okay, I am part of the solution here, you're going to develop a team.

Brenda : 28:43 Absolutely.

Allan: 28:43 And so talk a little bit about the solutions team, what we should be looking for, how we should approach developing this team and evaluating this team to see that they're still serving us.

Brenda : 28:53 Well again, and I touched on it earlier in the book it comes on an electronic version or print. But anyway you do it I would highly suggest that first you really sit down and be very honest and goal setting. And that's also available in the book, and again, in the e-version or print, but really sit down and get very honest with your calls and depending on the stage that you are, where you're really ready to make a change. If you're not quite ready to actually figure out goals, still maybe start with a solution team and what in the stage one of solution team, you literally can just sit down and say, I already know what I want to do, but just sit down and write down every single person that you have been using for advice, whether it's paid or not, so it can include your best girlfriends or your book club friends .

Allan: 29:41 Or your book.

Brenda : 29:43 There you go. Anybody, whoever it is, or you've been going to a chiropractor or a naturopath or a card reader or whoever it is. I had a friend today go, I'm really embarrassed to tell you, but I've been calling this guy and in West Virginia and I didn't know any of his credentials, but he was sending me some stuff to put on my tongue. I'm like, Oh for God's sake! But at any rate, whoever it is and the way it's set up is to write down who it is, and you're the only one looking at this, but at least it will start telling you who it is, what their credentials are, and meeting credentials, anything you know about them. So you get a reality check on A, Do they have credentials or is this just literally somebody doing snake oil? Are they licensed somewhere? Have they had any validated education of any kind of, but most importantly, what kind of results have you had from this person and then does it match any of your goals at some point. And then the other thing is there redundancy. Sometimes people will just put down this person as, for example, bodyworker. Well, what is a bodyworker start saying? What are they doing? What does a body start specifying what they are? Because again, good for you if you have endless money, but at some point, what else do you want to do with your life? People come in and say, well, I just want to come in and work out. And I said, well, do love to work out in they're like not really. I mean that's fine if that's what you want to do, but if you want to do something else, like you want to play with your kids or you want to travel, then if you're having to work out all the time and go to all your appointments all day, what else are you doing with your life for the next 10 years?

Brenda : 31:16 So it's a way of sort of sorting that what you want to do and then get your goal specified. And then as you sort of work through actually what your goals are. And I have people write down their goals in three categories. Every day activities, what do you really want to be doing? And then in that section they also write down what they're doing now. And it has to be in specific measurable goals that can't just be, I want to get rid of pain again, we talked on that earlier, but I have them do it in three categories, everyday activities, things like driving, putting on my shoes, whatever it might be in recreation. Leisure activities. Whether it's you know, your high level sports person or or whatever it is, leisure activities, what do you want to do, knit, whatever it is. And thirdly, work related activities and if somebody is retired, I still make them write work activities. If you know anybody that's retired that the joke is, Oh I do more work now than I ever did before, so I still have them do work related activities and then the thing is that I have people then prioritize their goals and then when they do that and then they really figure out what's going on, they prioritize the goals. And then when they get those prioritized then they go back and redo their solutions team. Then they start figuring out what their actual solutions might be and what tools they might use. That way you get started on what you actually do want to do to get to your goals and put timelines on it. So as you get started, you put timelines, then you can start figuring out and reassessing if your solution team is actually helping you get to your goals so you can get the right team and not get redundancy.

Brenda : 32:48 And there's been a lot of studies about how many people should be on your solution team and you really want to make sure per the research that you keep your solution team down to about three people is really what the recommendation is. If you get more than that, you're getting too much in most cases, too many cooks in the kitchen. So again, you want to prioritize and try to get down to the smallest number of people on the team and you really want to get people that are really on your team and are really willing to work with each other. My advice to most people is if you get people sort of trash talking, others, you know, it's a big giant red flag. The too good to be true things, again, giant red flag. People that just say, trust me, or I'm sure you don't, can't understand this. Again, big red flag.

Allan: 33:33 You're on your solutions team too, so they have to listen to you and what you need and if they're not, then there's someone else out there that is.

Brenda : 33:42 That's exactly right.

Allan: 33:43 Brenda, I define wellness as being the healthiest fittest and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?

Brenda: 33:53 Well again I think in my view it's again getting yourself back in the driver's seat and being most honest with yourself and getting out of waiting for everyone else to give you advice. And I think I touched on most of them. I think in, and I'm in the Musculoskeletal business I guess is more what I'm speaking to today and when I start writing this book, I started to go more into whole health but in my career of over 40 years I stayed mostly with musculoskeletal stuff because that's what I do. And in that, I think if you can continue to stay with understanding the body is interacting in all three systems and if you can continue to stay, as I talked about before, is when you are listening to your body and staying current with actual research and stain and understand that nothing is static in the body, it's very dynamic and understand you've been given a huge gift of a body and of a brain and I think understand that the whole thing will, the whole body will continue to heal itself and continue to operate if we continue to rethink and stop, rethink and continue to recognize what we need and then continue to reset and think of our life in chapters and keep us balanced as we can and then we will be able to to reach our optimal fitness for a lifetime.

Allan: 35:11 Awesome. I like those. Brenda, if someone wanted to get in touch with you, learn more about the book, Aligned For Success, where would you like for me to send them?

Brenda: 35:20 My regular website is www.brendashaeffer.comif you'd like to go for a little free giveaway at of the top 10 mistakes that people make. They cause pain and it's at the bodyresetsystem.com that's site and the book can be gotten on Amazon and it's an anywhere at this point. Again, it's electronic version and also print version. I'm always available to chat with anybody when they need to.

Allan: 35:50 And it's not just a book its a complete workbook section. It walks you through this whole process to get aligned and figure out what you need to do for yourself. So Brenda, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.

Brenda : 36:04 And thanks for inviting me. Thank you.

If you're enjoying all the great guests that I bring on the show, the solo episodes and everything that I'm doing here on the 40+ Fitness Podcast, I really would appreciate your support. You can go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/support and become a patron of the show. Just $1 show is all I ask. If you're getting value from the show, please show me by becoming a patron at 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/support. I do appreciate each and every one of you that's become a patron, so please do come on to the patron site. You can get there through the podcast website, 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/support.

Another episode you may enjoy

April 1, 2019

Choosing the sloth life for better health and fitness

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

  • Judy Murphy
  • Randy Goode
  • Debbie Ralston

Thank you!

Tammy and I decided to move to Panama as an opportunity to slow down and reduce stress. On this episode we discuss why we chose the sloth life.

Allan: 00:47 Hello. Today's podcast is going to be a good bit different than anything else that I've done on the show. We are actually recording in our little bitty apartment in Bocus del Toro, Panama. So you're very likely to hear the sounds of chickens, cars, kids, music, all kinds of stuff going on in the background with us, roosters for sure. You know, the thing about it is this is kind of our new lifestyle. We're not going to necessarily live in this town as we go forward, but there's going to just be some differences in the way that we live our lives and the things that we let stress us. So I wanted to actually take you through the story of the move to Bocas del Toro and I couldn't think of a better way to even do this show without also letting you hear from my very special guest today. My wonderful wife, Tammy.

Tammy: 01:37 Hi everyone. I'm glad to be here.

Allan: 01:39 And so as we, as we got into this move and, and the reasons we were doing this move, I thought it would be a great lesson for us to have on the show. And there's been some people that have been fairly curious about this move and each time I talk to a guest and I remind them that they're very likely to hear sounds in the background, that they wouldn't hear any normal recording studio, definitely wouldn't have heard in Pensacola where I was recording the show. There's going to be quite a bit of that now, and I think you'll see as we go forward on the show, even during some of my interviews, you're likely to hear some of the sights and sounds of what's going on here, uh, in Bocas town. So I want to give you just a little bit of the history of how this all came about because you may or may not know me that well, you may not have been a longtime listener, but I was in corporate America for over 25 years. And at the end, you know, I was pretty high up in the rankings as far as executives in a business and the business I was in, uh, well, we were on a pretty healthy downturn. And by healthy, I mean straight down.

As a result, the company was doing layoff after layoff, after layoff. And as you can imagine, being the boss of quite a few people, it fell on me to have those, “You're, you're not needed anymore” conversations, and the goodbyes and all that goes with that. So to say that this was a stressful job, I think would just really be an understatement. It was, the stress was almost debilitating. It was something that when my name finally showed up on the list and we finally went through that and I was sitting at my home in Pensacola and it just occurred to me that I really just didn't want to go back.

This was not a financial decision. This was just a, I know that job is killing me and if I go back and do it, I am effectively sacrificing my health for the job. I decided that I wasn't going to do that anymore. I wasn't going to let making an income be something that was going to detrimentally hurt my health. It wouldn't be fair to me, and one, I think I'd be disingenuous to you if that's how I lived my life. And so I made the decision to not go back to work and to effectively figure out a way to make an income.

That's when I kind of ratchet it up and started doing a little bit more personal training. Uh, and I decided to start working on a book. And there's other things that I had in the works, but because of the current state of healthcare in the United States, one of us had to get a job so we could pay for health care. And uh, Tammy was nice enough to take that on. So she did get a job. Uh, just really just for health insurance. There was no other reason for her to have a job. We didn't need her to work. We just needed the health insurance. It was just far too expensive. I think I got quoted $1,600 a month for health insurance, but I'll, I'll let Tammy tell you a little bit about her taking the job, what that did for her and against her and how she felt about it.

Tammy: 04:46 Well, first of all, I didn't work for like, I dunno, five years before that I took a job here and there doing different things just because I was bored and wanted to do something. And then when it came down to where he decided not to go back to work and we need he insurance, because in America you have to have medical insurance. Getting the job was a little stressful, but at the same time I was kind of excited to go back to work, just to get away from Allan because he's in the house all the time. But, um, I took a job that something I didn't know, but it was interesting job. It was just basically for the insurance.

I also met a lot of nice people and had a good time working there. However, I was not really wanting to work, who wants to work really, you know? But the only reason why I didn't want to work with more because of having to have a boss to deal with or having to watch what I say or do. And you can't really be, I wasn't really comfortable, I guess I got used to being at home for the last five years or whatever it was, taking care of the house, the dogs and Allan and doing what I wanted to do. But going back to work, you know, it helped us for for wha, about almost a year. And it was, the insurance was great and then we decided we were watching TV and decided to take it a step further and I'll let Allan go ahead and start that conversation.

Allan: 06:18 So yes, we were watching Netflix and we came across a show called Death In Paradise and it's an interesting show where they take basically a British detective and they put him on a Caribbean island and he's living in this little bungalow and obviously he is a Londoner through and through wearing his suit every day, obviously uncomfortable in the 90 plus degree, 90 plus percent humidity environment. But he's really good at his job and they decided to keep him. And that's what kinda started the series. And we were watching the series as it went through and I think they had like seven series. They went through three different detectives, each kind of bringing a different feel to the show.

What was consistent about it was the, you know, the location, the beauty. And this guy lived in a non air conditioned open shack, basically a little bungalow on the beach, but it was beautiful. It was beautiful and they made it work and they were comfortable they are. And that got Tammy and I to talking about how we could change our lifestyle, we could reduce our stress, we could reduce our expenses, we can reduce our environmental footprint, uh, if we went somewhere and did something like that. And that got us to searching for different places.

Tammy: 07:38 And I started thinking that I was wanting to go to Belize. So he checked out Belize and all Allan got attacked by mosquitoes and not justattacked but like a swarm of mosquitoes. And then we went during the time that the season wasn't very pretty, the beaches weren't very nice. I guess the seaweed came in and it just wasn't as nice as we thought it was going to be. I mean, it is a beautiful country, beautiful place. Not saying anything bad about it in that way, but we really, you know, we're thinking something along the same line. And then I came home from work one day and Allan told me to keep an open mind and he mentioned Panama and I'm like, well, what's in Panama? And he goes, well, there's no hurricanes. And then there's also the Caribbean island. Cause, I mentioned, I said, well, we want to live on the Caribbean. And he said, well there's, there is a Caribbean side and it's Bocas del Toro. He'd been there before with his daughter 10 years ago?

It's changed a lot since then, apparently. And it's changed a lot since we came here in July. But when we got here in July was only here for a few days. And I knew the beauty of it was there and it was very pretty here. And I'm looking at the beaches and just the possibility of living on the water and off the grid, basically, rain catchment and solar for your energy and power and with lights. And why not go for something different and do something in a different change in life and uh, get out of our comfort zone and make an adventure of it.

So we decided to open this up, this idea up to a Panama and we've been here for almost a month over just over a month and make it, making a lot of new friends, and people here are very nice. The culture is different, just the Indian villages that are around. It's been an amazing month so far and we've learned so much about the people here. Um, and the expat community as well. And then, um, you know, we, we decided that this might be where we want to be. So we've been looking at places here to make a footprint here for ourselves.

Allan: 09:48 Yeah. One of the cool things about Panama is that they, they make it fairly simple. And I say fairly cause it's, it's not actually simple, but it's much simpler to be an ex pat and live here to get your residency here, uh, than it is in a lot of different countries.

Tammy: 10:03 It's still not simple.

Allan: 10:04 Not simple, but, uh, with some help from an attorney and you got through a process. They do want investment here. They do want people here. Uh, so they do value, uh, ex pats and, and they make it, uh, make it a way for you to get here. And as long as you prove that you're not going to be a draw to their society, you're going to help improve their society, they're very much amenable to allowing you to have residency here. So we're currently working through that process.

I am actually looking at buying the gym here. There's a gym on the island and I'm in negotiations with the current owners, to sell me their shares in the company. And, so I will be a gym owner here. And we'll be living what we refer to now as our sloth life. And I know, you know, the term sloth often gets a lot of bad reputations, but if you see a picture of a sloth there, they're pretty damn cute with the exception for the claws.

Tammy: 11:01 Allan is afraid of the claws.

Allan: 11:03 They'll slowly claw your eyes out. But uh, anyway, the sloth life in my opinion is this, this concept of finding the right size for you, finding the place and finding the people and finding that connection, the thing that's going to give you the lower stress level give you the more connectedness to not just the people, but the place.

Tammy: 11:29 Just slowing down a little bit even in life and not having to rush and worry and think about everything that's going around it's just, it's just stressful with regular life like that and living this life life is what we're calling our slough life is being laid back more and relaxed and, and just living at slow walking down the street slow and taking things a little slower. We don't need to rush through life. Life is here us to enjoy.

Allan: 11:55 And so that's, that's kind of this concept of 2019 for me. Uh, and for Tammy is how do we find that place where we have that connectedness where we have this, uh, this more relaxed environment and where we're able to basically just be, be ourselves and not worry about punching a time clock, not worried about the deadlines at work. Uh, be our own boss. Um, so that we can make what we need to make and be who we need to be. You know, if you've read any of the studies on the blue zones and people living the longest in the world, they live in places like this. Uh, they live in places where they walk, they eat locally grown foods.

Tammy: 12:36 There are no fast food restaurants here. Thats a great thing!

Allan: 12:41 And don't bring any please. Uh, yeah, there are no fast food restaurants here. There's some really nice restaurants here with really fresh food, so it's a really cool place to be. It does have water catchment for most of our water, and you know, a lot of the places are completely off the city grid um, so the electricity is generated by solar. So there some feel good about that. And uh, you know, the, the island is looking at recycling programs and a lot of other things. A lot of self sustaining places are building up around here. So it's, it's, it's becoming a really cool, cool thing.

Tammy: 13:14 We should probably back up a little bit Allan about Bocas del Toro. Where is that? What it is? It's an archipelago of nine big islands, I believe with a bunch of little islands all around it. And we're in the main island of Isla Colon in Bocas Town right now and the other islands where we've been trying to explore a few of the other islands around us as well, there's so many islands out there, there's no way to explore them all, but we would like to try and do that. So anyway, Bocas del Toro is just an archipelago of islands out here. For any of you who were curious.

Allan: 13:51 Yeah, it's not the easiest place to get to because you have to connect in Panama City. And you actually have to fly out of a different airport if you were coming in from the international airport. So there's a little bit of a task to getting here, but once you're here, you know, you have access to everything you need for the most part and you find you don't need a lot of the things that you think you need. Uh, but Amazon does deliver here.

Tammy: 14:14 After about two weeks!

Allan: 14:16 But they do deliver if we needed something.

Tammy: 14:18 I have not tried yet, but I might.

Allan: 14:21 And so I talk about in the wellness roadmap that, you know, as you're looking at stress, uh, you know, probably the best thing you can do for something that's chronically stressing you is to just eliminate it. And I think that's what we've been able to accomplish with this move is I don't have to worry about laying anybody off again.

Allan: 14:42 I can come in and I can run the gym and I can have employees and I can make it fun for them. And I'm the boss of the, boss of the boss. And so, you know, I can make the things the way they need to be, uh, to fit where we are. Uh, you know, Panama as a culture is very laid back and I like that, you could be challenged by it if you don't understand that, that's the nature of the people. But you know, they tell, tell you when you come here, don't think you can change Panama. You have to change for Panama if you want to be here. And so that's really the crux of what this, this move was all about. I know some folks have been curious about it. Uh, I'm glad to be able to get my wife on the show for the very first time.

Allan: 15:26 And this is episode 375. I'll try to get her on this show a little bit more often here and there. But I think the key of it is and the takeaway that I want you to get from this is that you really do have a lot more control over your life than you think you do. We let stuff, we let jobs, we let things imprison us because we have this innate belief that we have to have these things.

We have to order that, uh, that shirt from Amazon. We have to order those shoes, we have to, and so our closet gets full, we put weight on and then we can't even wear the clothes we just bought from Amazon, so we go buy more clothes and those sit in our closet and we know we're going to get into those skinny jeans one day. So we hold on to them and, and I'm just here to tell you that you don't have to be locked into that cycle.

You can make changes. Is it a sacrifice? Absolutely. But the trade offs can be quite substantial. I don't have the income I had before, but I have the life that I want and that to me is worth any amount of money that I could have been paid. So I doubt very seriously that you're going to ever see me in a corporate boardroom again. I have no desire whatsoever to go back to corporate life. I'm going to do my own thing and that means I'm going to be giving 100% to my clients and making sure they get the results that they deserve. I'm going to be giving 100% to this podcast and making sure that I'm bringing on the best possible guests to teach you and give you the information you need to find your health and wellness.

I'm going to be doing the things with the gym and others just to help people here be healthier and more fit. So, My life now is, is dedicated towards wellness. Uh, but not just yours, mine as well. But if there's anything that I can do to help you on your wellness journey, please do reach out. If you go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/15min I'll give you a free 15 minute consult. We can talk about your health and fitness goals. We can help set strategies for what will work for you. If stress is something that's really affecting you. We can talk about strategies for stress management and where you can, I'd encourage you to completely eliminate the stress. I know that's not possible for everything, but you know, I think I can help you get through some of these stressful moments or eliminate these stressful moments through just this little console.

So go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/15min and that will take you to my calendar. You can set up a 15 minute consult with me absolutely free, no obligation. I want to help you reach your health and fitness goals. So please do get your free consult. So before we cut out though, I wanted to say bye to Tammy and thank you for being a part of 40 plus fitness.

Tammy: 18:21 Thank you for actually having me for the first time. He's never asked me, by the way.

Allan: 18:25 I haven't. I'll be honest. Yeah, I haven't asked her before this, but I felt like it would just, it would not be the complete story of me telling about the move to Bocus without having you on.

Tammy: 18:37 No, it wouldn't be. He needs me.

Allan: 18:39 Okay. So thank you for listening today and I'll talk to you next week.

Speaker 4: 18:44 Bye.

Another episode you may enjoy

Lyn Lindbergh takes us from couch to active

Patreons

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

  • Judy Murphy
  • Randy Goode

Thank you!

Our guest today is so much fun! Lyn Lindbergh is a health coach and the founder of the Couch to Active community.

Allan (1:10): Lyn, welcome to 40+ Fitness.

Lyn Lindbergh (1:13): Hello, Allan. Thanks. Good to be here.

Allan (1:17): I always like interviewing podcasters, because I know, one, you’re going to make it very, very easy for me from a sound and quality perspective.

Lyn Lindbergh (1:27): Or will I?

Allan (1:29): Or will you? Remember, we’re doing mine first and then I’m going to record on yours.

Lyn Lindbergh (1:35): I’ll be good.

Allan (1:35): It goes both ways. But the cool thing is, your book is called Couch to Active and that’s also the name of your podcast. I really, really like that. I think so many people today get locked into this concept of, “I’m not going to look like that person, so maybe I shouldn’t even try.”

Lyn Lindbergh (2:04): Yeah, that’s it. That’s a tough thing for people because I think we all have that image in our head of either the bikini body or the sweaty, ripped six-pack abs. Most of us will never get there, even if we do train exactly by the book and do everything by the book. But the thing about Couch to Active is, that’s not the point. And we recognize that for most of us, that’s not even what we want.

Allan (2:33): I agree. I’ve always tried to tell my clients, because some of them want that look. And I say, “If it’s a look you’re after, that’s great. You can aspire to that, you can work towards that and I’ll do what I can do to help you get there.” But what I’ve found is in the end, when I start really digging in with them, it comes down to, what do you want to be able to do? That’s where the “active” concept to me comes in. Active in your mind could be being able to run around with your grandchildren at the zoo, whereas active for someone else could be they want to go do a Spartan.

Lyn Lindbergh (3:11): Exactly. I found that at the core, I want to live a life I love. I want to love my life. If I’m going to the gym for an hour a day, doing a workout that I hate and dread every day, just so I can look a certain way, that doesn’t make me happy. That doesn’t make me find any joy at all. That’s where it falls apart for most people because really, it’s that internal feeling that we want of joy and peace and happiness.

Allan (3:48):  think the other side of this is, you’ll see a training program, like Couch to 5K or something like that that’s put out there. Someone will get out there and start doing it and then all of a sudden something gets thrown in their way. It could be a health issue, an injury. How do you coach, how do you talk to people about dealing with those health issues that just pop up and get in our way? It’s never going to be a straight line, but we want it to be a straight line. How do we deal with that?

Lyn Lindbergh (4:19): I want it to be a straight line. If you find it, call me. I’ll give you my number. That’s the interesting thing. There are, as we know, a gazillion workout programs, pills, potions, lotions, gyms, you name it. Anything that you can give your wallet to, it’s out there for you. In and of themselves, for the most part, there’s nothing inherently wrong with them, but most of them are designed for when life is going good. The problem is, like you just said, what happens when the cart gets upset? What happens when you have chronic illness or surgery, or God forbid, we age? I have found that a lot of times one of the big things that we forget about is compassion, and compassion for ourselves. Part of my journey was I got a couple of chronic health issues that I’m really public with. I’m missing 30% of my lung function and I’ve got fibromyalgia and another mysterious disease we’re still trying to figure out. It keeps me in the back of the pack all the time. And I had to pause and really look at it and say, “Why am I beating myself up trying to get the faster 5K time when I can’t? Why is this so important to me?” I redefined success as doing what I can do today and honoring what my body can do today. And if today all I can do is a 30-minute walk and maybe 20 seconds of jogging, and I do it – that’s success. Or if today I’ve got a big flareup and all I can do is grocery shop and then take a 4-hour nap – if I honor my body and what it can do one day at a time, one hour at a time – that’s my new success criteria. For me and for tons of people I’ve worked with, that becomes so freeing and so liberating. Then you can begin to really have that incremental success and gain strength, because you’re not torturing yourself over the things you can’t do that you used to be able to do, and instead you’re focused, or I’m focused, more on that positive what I can do. It’s just a better, happier place to be.

Allan (6:59): Yes. I like how you started that out with the word “compassion”. I’m in the process of reading a book that’s set up so that each day there’s a verse and it’s based on stoicism. It’s called The Daily Stoic. Each day there’s a little passage from Seneca or Marcus Aurelius or one of the original stoics, and then he writes his little blurb, his little bit about it to get you thinking about things. The first section of that is clarity. As I’ve gone through it and then I read in your book, I hadn’t really given a lot of thought to how much negative self-talk I have.

Lyn Lindbergh (7:44): Oh, it’s huge.

Allan (7:45): I called myself “fat”, and I guess I was fat. I considered myself to be fat, so I used that word. And every time I noticed myself slip up, the negative self-talk would kind of step right back in. What are some things we can do to get that compassion back for ourselves?

Lyn Lindbergh (8:08): Just push the “Happy” button and you’ll feel happy.

Allan (8:12): Where is that button?

Lyn Lindbergh (8:13): I’ve been looking for it. It doesn’t exist. I won’t give up hope, I’ll find it someday. No, you’re exactly right, Allan. That compassion piece is huge, because our generation – when I say that I mean 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s – we were just drilled with that concept of “No pain, no gain. Grit, self-discipline. Try harder, try harder. Live like you’ll die tomorrow.” We’ve all heard these thousands of times and it just puts more and more pressure on us and we end up feeling bad. Like you said, we feel fat and out of shape and ugly. So, part of it is to really start paying attention to what that brain is thinking. When you put on the pants in the morning and you look in the mirror, what is that brain saying to yourself? For me, a lot of it has been just talking to people about body image. If we talk about body image, for example, it’s an issue for – I’ve discovered and learned because I hang out with a lot of bodybuilders and a lot of women that you would call “tens”. We all have body image issues and we all are hard on ourselves. It’s really that awareness of, “I am beautiful. I am handsome.” The reason I’m dancing around this is the work is just huge to do around it. One thing that helps me is to realize if I ask myself the question, “Who are the best friends in my life? Who are the people that I have the most respect for? Who are the people I most admire?”, none of them fit on the cover of a Cosmopolitan or a Vogue magazine at all. When I bring that back to myself, it helps me remember this body external thing really isn’t that important. It helps me give myself compassion. That’s the external piece of it.

Allan (10:35): I’ve found that it really comes from a practice called gratitude. You sit down and you think about the things that make you happy, those moments of joy when you can sit back and say, “This was good.” And what I’ve found is if you are eating the right foods, you can be grateful that your body’s using that food to improve your health. Like you said, you go out and do that 30-minute walk with 20 seconds of jogging. When you’re done with that, that’s something you should celebrate. You should be happy that you had the capacity to do that and that you’re doing something to improve yourself. And when you find yourself starting to go down that negative thought path, that’s when you want to turn it on and say, “Okay, I might not have eaten very well today, but I kissed my wife in the morning, I called my daughter and told her I loved her.” All those different things that you do, you can feel gratitude for. And if you keep practicing gratitude and keep looking for joy, a lot of that negative self-talk goes away.

Lyn Lindbergh (11:45): It really, really does it. And then possibly too is to take inventory of who’s in your social circle. They say you’re the composite of the five closest people around you. Whether that’s true or not, everyone’s saying it, so it must be true, right? So, what are those folks around you saying? Are they helping you with a positive mindset?

Allan (12:12): And it’s not on Facebook. Everybody’s presenting their best front side image in Facebook and filters and all the other stuff. Just realize that you don’t have to keep up with them; you just have to keep up with you.

Lyn Lindbergh (12:27): Yeah, what do they say? Don’t compare your inside life to everybody’s outside life or public life. Absolutely.

Allan (12:35): Exactly. Which is also why I’m not on Instagram. I might be the only personal trainer that’s not on Instagram.

Lyn Lindbergh (12:43): I’m barely on Instagram, because of the peer pressure.

Allan (12:48): I can’t do it. Plus it’s a phone thing. You can’t do it on a browser. I’m too old for that.

Lyn Lindbergh (12:55): Yeah, what is that? Okay, good thing. 40+, not too many of us are on Instagram, so we’re good.

Allan (13:05): Now, as we go through things, I think this is where a lot of people start to struggle, and you talked about it a little bit with your lung issue – we’re going to hit these barriers. And they’re natural barriers, because if we were all meant to be six-pack abs, bikini body people, then everybody would be, if it was easy. But it’s not easy. There’s an overabundance of food and there’s overstimulation where it’s easy to sit on your couch and never leave. Literally if the pizza guy would walk in the house and put it down in front of me, on the coffee table, I would never leave the house.

Lyn Lindbergh (13:50): I’ve got teenage boys. That’s exactly the life they would love.

Allan (13:54): “Hey, come on in!”

Lyn Lindbergh (13:56): “Right here, Mom. Just put the pizza right here, I’m good.”

Allan (14:00): So there are all these things that are going to distract us and keep us from getting where we really want to be. How do we break those barriers?

Lyn Lindbergh (14:09): When it comes to breaking barriers in fitness, one of the things that I like to share a lot is when you think about your biggest barrier, it’s not a gym membership. It’s not cash to throw at a personal trainer. It’s not all kinds of things. It’s the couch. The couch is our biggest competitor. Then we look at, what are our barriers to getting off the couch? And I say that metaphorically, because I know some people are listening to this and saying, “But I’m not on the couch. I’m just so busy.” One of the things that we do and teach, we call the “breaking barriers list”. The reason this exercise, the “breaking barriers list”, is important and impactful is because it helps you get crystal clear on what your real barriers are versus imagined barriers. And then it helps you get really laser focused on what you can do that requires the least amount of work to have the biggest impact on your ability and motivation to exercise. So, this is what I do to get people there. You could even start this right now. You just get any old piece of paper, or if you prefer to type on your computer, and you think of every single barrier to exercise that you can think of. And there are the big barriers: “I broke my leg”, “I got really sick”, “I have an aging parent I’m caring for”, “I have a job that I can’t quit”, “I can’ just quit my job or retire. I’m not there yet.” And then there are all the little, tiny barrier, like “I’m just busy” or “My kid called and I needed this this afternoon when I was going to work out.” This happened to me once – I showed up at the gym with two right tennis shoes. I forgot my left tennis shoe. List them all out; then go through that list and really ask yourself objectively, “Of all of these barriers that I see, which ones can I actually impact today, or which ones can I impact in the future?” You take the ones you can impact today, pick one and say, “Of all these barriers…” Take this stupid example of two right shoes. I can pack my gym bag earlier and leave it in the car and it’ll be there for me. Pick one and just work on breaking that one barrier, and let all the rest go. Maybe the next day or the next week, pick another one and let all the rest go. And just work through that list. Then the next question that always comes up really naturally is, what do you do with the barriers that are here to stay? So myself, for example, missing 30% of my lung function – that’s there to stay. It’s probably only going to get worse the rest of my life. You’ve got to make peace with those. That’s the real hard work, and it goes back to that compassion piece: “What can I do, given this barrier?” Sometimes it’s really easy to try to think, “Life should be perfect, life should be perfect. I’ll never give up, I’ll never give up.” And it’s not giving up; it’s just facing reality head-to-head and getting yourself in a real positive mind space and a positive mental space around it. So, that’s the whole “breaking barriers list” piece that we work through in a nutshell.

Allan (18:10): To me it comes down to self-awareness. If you can do this exercise, this is groundbreaking for getting you on track to really accomplish some great things, because once you start understanding what those barriers are, you eliminate them. I learned the same thing. I had to pack my gym bag the night before, or invariably I would forget my shoes or my socks, or just forget the bag. I literally packed the bag and set it by the door, so I’d almost have to trip over it in the morning to get out the door.

Lyn Lindbergh (18:46): You and a million people every day.

Allan (18:49): And I’d double check. You have to put those little strategies in place for the things you know are going to trip you up. I walk into the office on Friday and I see the sharks chumming in the break room. I know they brought donuts. I’m staying away from the break room.

Lyn Lindbergh (19:06): That’s a hard one. That’s an advanced skill.

Allan (19:14): It was funny. These were particularly weird – they were called Spudnuts. They were made from potato flour, so probably even worse than regular, from a sugar high. They put your blood sugar through the roof. And I loved them too. Then I was like, “Okay, I’ve got to get away from that.” So, I’d have nuts in my office and I’d see them be just like sharks chumming. I decided I can’t go there. I’d go to my office and sit in my desk and not go into the break room until lunchtime, because they would usually be gone by then.

Lyn Lindbergh (19:51): That’s great.

Allan (19:54): That was a practice of self-awareness and understanding what the barriers are that are going to keep me from getting what I needed. That was one that would come up every once in a while. I can’t keep them from bringing donuts in, but I have to know myself to deal with it.

Lyn Lindbergh (20:13): Absolutely. It’s funny how this moment of shame is coming back, which I must let go. When I worked in a corporate office for 20 years, sometimes I would even be good at leaving those donuts alone until everybody was gone and it was only me.

Allan (20:35): When nobody is looking, it doesn’t count.

Lyn Lindbergh (20:37): Exactly. And part of that mindset and self-awareness, one of the things to break through that usually gets people really excited and helps them feel young and alive again – it’s really looking at your stereotypes. When you’re looking at breaking barriers, really challenge your stereotypes about who does what kind of exercise. So much of the time we think yoga is for the skinny girls and aqua aerobics is for fat and injured and out of shape. That’s so, so wrong. If you can break through your stereotypes of what kind of exercises you do as a person and try something new, it’s amazing how creative you can get. I had one woman who came to me and she was so excited. I had no idea how this came about exactly, but she said, “I was listening to your thing about breaking through stereotypes, because I’ve never exercised in my life.” She was almost 50 and she’d never exercised in part because she didn’t see herself as somebody who would exercise. And she said, “I finally found it and I love it. I got a treadmill. I put it in my dark basement downstairs with no windows. And every morning I read a book on the treadmill.” I just had to laugh because I told her that would be torture for me. I would hate it. She loved it though. She said, “I can do this.” So what if everybody else hates a treadmill in the dark by yourself? She loved it and that’s what got her to make a breakthrough.

Allan (22:36): I think what’s really cool is that you’ve got to find your place. I could tell you you should be doing all this lifting and you should be doing some cardio. We can go through the “shoulds” and there’s a valid reason for each one. You should be working on balance, you should be working on mobility, all those different things that we do need to make sure we’re maintaining. But how you get there can be your own unique joy, your own unique path.

Lyn Lindbergh (23:05): That’s really where the “smile” factor comes in in a big way. I’ve got folks who back country ski, folks who sword fight. For real, that’s a real thing.

Allan (23:18): I know, fencing. I envision this old lady beating the crap out of somebody with a sword.

Lyn Lindbergh (23:28): She just turned 50 and she’s so excited. “You won’t believe what I’m doing.” But we all know body doesn’t know or care if you’re on a treadmill or walking. To your body it’s movement. So, if you’re moving and it’s exercise, it counts. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a gym or not.

Allan (23:49): Very much. Now, every once in a while something is going to come along – a car accident, you’re out going for a walk or a run and you slip on some ice and you twist your ankle or mess up your knee or break an arm, and now dealing with this setback. And a lot of times it’s, “I can’t use my leg because I twisted my ankle.” So they stop exercising. They figure since they’re not exercising, they’ll just eat what they want to eat, go back to their old ways, and they end up with this setback. What was an unplanned detour now becomes a, “Let’s turn around and drive back home” kind of thing. How do we deal with that?

Lyn Lindbergh (24:35): The setbacks is a really interesting, tricky one. One of the things I love that you said, Allan, is “when” you have a setback, not “if” you have a setback. I think that’s an important piece, is realizing that setbacks are normal, they happen. They happen to all of us, they happen to me. Some of the setbacks that really trip us up the most is a lot of times we get in our mind that we’re going to finally be a person who exercises, and now all of a sudden I’ve got my plan and it’s all perfectly laid out. But that’s not the way it is; life changes. Those are the tricky ones, when like you said, you’re moving to a new home. So, new routines, new everything.

Allan (25:23): The gym on this island that we’ve moved to is not really a gym. They have some dumbbells, they have a leg press. I would call it more of a fitness studio. They do classes. I’m thinking if I go there I’m probably going to have to do the classes until I get my equipment here, which is going to take me a little while because you have to put it on a container ship, it has to go on a boat. It’s going to be a while before I see that stuff. So, that routine is completely thrown out; I have to come up with other things. I even asked if they have tennis courts. There are no tennis courts on this island. Unless I want to build my own. I could build one and then charge people to use it. That might not be a bad idea. A lot of the things I was thinking my lifestyle was going to entail when I move down here, it’s not here. So I have to change and I have to adapt. I’m doing a lot more body weight stuff, I’m doing a lot more walking. Those types of things are the things I’m putting into my regimen. I’ll probably lose a little bit of muscle mass because I’m not lifting like I was lifting. I lost a little bit of strength, but I can do what I’m going to do until I get my equipment down here.

Lyn Lindbergh (26:42): That’s exactly it. I would say for any of those setbacks – whether it’s a broken leg or moving to an island with no tennis court or, quote, unquote, “real” gym – one of the pieces to start out with first and foremost is that compassion piece again. Start first from a place of compassion for yourself and realizing this is normal. Setbacks do happen. And when you get there, which it could take you 10 seconds or two weeks, it depends, then you can start talking. If you live with someone, talk to them about your goals and your desires. If you make a new friend, talk to them about your goals. You’d be amazed at how people can help you find resources to make it happen. Really, at our core, most of us want to be exercising. Most of us want to have a buddy to work out with. That’s where I usually have folks start. And again, back to breaking through that stereotype of, what kind of an exerciser am I? What do I do? I can get massively creative to start really focusing on what exercise is going to meet my goals and make me smile? And those three things really are that sustainable piece that helps you stay in a good mindset for it all. Because again, Couch to Active – I’m all about living a life you love more than just creating out workouts you hate.

Allan (28:22): Yeah. I define “wellness” as being the healthiest, fittest and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?

Lyn Lindbergh (28:37): I would say for me in my life, because getting and staying well has been complicated and I know I’m not the only one – education is huge for me. I’m an avid reader, constantly reading. I tell you, for anything, if I Google “Is keto good for you? Is keto bad for you? Are oranges good for you? Are oranges bad for you?” – the amount of data out there is just ridiculous. The more education you can have on everything, the better. The second one for me – a huge piece of physical wellness is also mental wellness. I think our generation has been raised with a lot of anxiety, a lot of pressure to perform and a lot of that negative self-talk. So I think a huge wellness piece of that is to not be afraid to crack that door open. If something inside of you is saying you need to look at mental health, look at it. And then the more simple one is, get the junk out of your kitchen. That’s what I had to do. If it’s there, I want to find the “Happy” button and the “Unlimited Willpower” button. If you find those, let me know, Allan, because junk’s got to stay out of the kitchen.

Allan (30:09): I’m pretty much the same way. My wife bought some Life cereal the other day and she was like, “Don’t judge me.” I’m like, “I’m not judging you.”

Lyn Lindbergh (30:18): Food shame!

Allan (30:20): But at the same time I knew I would end up in that box at some point. I knew myself. I almost said I’ll just eat it all so it won’t be here anymore. I didn’t go that far, but I did actually eat some of the cereal. Lyn, I want to thank you for being a part of 40+ Fitness. If someone wanted to learn more about you and learn more about the book, Couch to Active, where would you like for me to send them?

Lyn Lindbergh (30:54): Just have them Google Couch to Active and head over to the website, www.CouchToActive.com, and everything’s there.

Allan (31:04): Excellent. You can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/374, and I’ll be sure to have links there. Lyn, again, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.

Lyn Lindbergh (31:15): Thank you. It’s been a ball.

I hope you enjoyed that interview with Lyn. Really fun character, very goofy, but has a lot of fun with life and that’s a big, big part of the wellness formula. You have to be happy with what you’re doing. I love how she brings that to the table and it bears in her podcast and in her book. Do check those out.

Spring has sprung. As this episode goes live, we are into just the spring season starting up. And you know what that means – that means we’re going to be wearing a little less clothing, revealing a little bit more of our bodies. This is a perfect time to really start working on your health and your fitness. So if you’re looking for a coach and you’re interested in getting things done in the most efficient and effective way, without injury, I’m available to be your online coach.

You can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Programshttp://40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Programs, and from there you’ll be able to see the various programs that I offer. I have group, one-on-one, and I do have some “Do It Yourself”, if you are so inclined to push yourself. I do have programs that have been proven effective for losing fat and for gaining muscle. So if you’re interested in training with me, go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Programs. Again, that’s 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Programs.

Another episode you may enjoy

Finding your balance between health and a life with Nathalie Botros

December 31, 2018

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

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  • 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?

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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.

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