a better life, accountability, asking questions, attitude, belief systems, better choices, change, change management, desire, dreams, Energy, Fitness, game of life, Goals, habits, hope, Imagination, responsibility, self improvement, you, your life

Everything starts with a thought.

Everything starts with a thought … I thought/dreamed/imagined being on the World Stage in natural bodybuilding 10 years before it became reality.
Belief in God and belief in myself helped me twice rank in the Top 5 in the world in my chosen sport.
No belief, nothing!
With your thoughts and energy channelled in the direction of your goal, don’t underestimate what you can achieve in ten years.
Vv.

We are told that mankind is living longer than ever before in our modern history. The question I like to ask is how much of this ‘extended life expectancy’ gives more joy, better quality of life? Or is it fuelled by the ever-increasing reliance on the many drug stores opening up around the place selling and hooking people on to the scores of products that are supposed to help people. Supposed to help people eliminate ailments such as stomach aches, relieve heart burn, stop diarrhoea, cure headaches, lose weight, overcome skin problems, bad breath, hypertension and fatigue. You name it – there is a drug that will ‘fix’ the problem.

Is this what the human race has evolved to? Is this how far we have come as a race, even after all the scientific and medical progress that has been made in the last fifty years? I wonder, sometimes, how we came to be the way we are now? When I take a long hard look around, I am not impressed. I heard on the news or radio recently, that for the first time in mankind’s history, the current younger generations are more likely to die before their parents do. This is very sad if you asked me.

Statistically, children – yours maybe, will not live to the age of their parents (you) will likely live, simply because of their inactive lifestyles and poor eating habits.

Here’s what I have learned after close to twenty five years of training and living a lifestyle of a natural bodybuilder: Good health and good intellect are the two greatest blessing in life. If you are born with health, as most of us have, you have one of the most important life-enhancing traits within you – HOPE! If you have hope, you have everything and you can quote me on this.

When people lose hope, they lose the will to live.

The essence of life is: vitality, the life-force of life!

Without health, where is the joy in life, I ask you? I have found that maybe due to the pressures of ‘the way things have always been done in the past’, everyone is forced in to doing things that they have been brainwashed to thinking they should do. People work very hard in whatever profession they find themselves in and try to know everything there is to know about the subject. They become ‘experts’ in their area of expertise. All for the purpose of making money, commonly making the mistake of thinking money is everything – the be-all and end-all!

Many strive to be experts at everything else external, and yet are not experts at the most important thing: themselves.

This is where I beg to differ on all levels – from the philosophical all the way to the practical. Money and the hunger for more and more of it at the expense of everything else is very unhealthy and leads to unwanted disaster, sooner or later. Unfortunately, many do just this to satisfy the insatiable desire to acquire valuables they have been brainwashed into thinking by marketers, they should get because it adds to them as a status symbol.

Remember this: there is no wealth like health. Your health and fitness are way more important. Wealth cannot buy health. Wealth without health is a mockery. The healthy labourer in my opinion is better than a sick millionaire.

But you can, you have a choice to do something about it. Not tomorrow, today – now!

Why? Because your life is the most valuable thing given to you. When you make the decision to prioritise YOU and your life, you have a change of thought. Everything begins with a thought. When you make that decision to help YOU and don’t take life for granted, you choose your health. And when you have health, you have that most elusive thing of life, that intangible thing that some people have, that thing that is the essence of life: vitality.

I think it was Samuel Johnson, the English literary genius that said –

“To preserve health, is a moral and religious duty, for health is the basis of all social virtues. We can longer be useful when not well.”

Great words. So true. Have you questioned how moral you have been to YOU?

I don’t care how old you are, it does not matter. Whether you are man or woman, tall or short, fat or thin, young or not so young, my advice from my heart, is I hope you generate the DESIRE TO CHANGE YOUR MIND – TODAY! Change your mind to help that person you see in the mirror, help him or her move towards the healthier, fitter person you imagine yourself to be.

Implant that desire with a thought, a thought to help the most important person in the world to you: YOU!

Here, Ex-Australian Rugby legend Phil Waugh using a ‘thumbless grip’ in a Smith Machine to do Bench Presses.
Become aware; Apply action: Adapt accordingly.

Look around us, it is estimated that all the knowledge accumulated in the 20,000 years to 2003 is doubled every two days since then. Information, technology and knowledge has increased exponentially and the combination of exercise/weight training and good nutrition is better understood than ever before. But why is the world suffering from an obesity epidemic? Well, I feel that, sadly, millions and millions of people are still not following a sensible path to ensure lifelong health and fitness.

People are creatures of habit and unfortunately it is more difficult to lose a ‘less-than-ideal (bad)’ habit then it is to adopt a good one. So much energy and effort is put in to hanging on to and justifying the need to retain a bad habit(s). If all that energy was transmuted in to focusing on and taking up good habit(s), we would have less preventable problems in the world.

Unfortunately, human beings are more reactive then proactive.

Why are millions not making the right choices given the knowledge and information available to them? A strong contributor is the increasing need for newer and modern technology and its use. These newer platforms of social media – facebook, twitter, text messaging, video games, increasing use of apps, all have one thing in common: they all encourage physical inactivity.

When I was growing up, I remember spending most of my waking hours after school with friends in the neighbourhood. We were always expanding physical energy with different games out on the streets.

Here’s another truth: what you eat today will be walking and talking on you tomorrow!

We’re all getting older by the second, yes, but some depreciate faster than others, mainly because of lifestyle choices. Today you may be relatively young but youth is always fading.

There are no guarantees in life, but if we choose well (health and fitness), we can live our days with healthy activities to get us near to perfect health, fitness and physique as possible.

If you have read this far, then it tells me that you are serious about making a change in your lifestyle. What I have always cared about with everyone that I have ever helped over the last two decades is their current physical condition and state of mind. This is exactly what I am concerned about with you, today.

To begin your change, your journey, you need to desire to change your mind as everything begins with a thought. But effort alone is not enough, you also need to dream, you need to liven up your imagination and set yourself some goals. What is a goal anyway? It is a dream with a deadline.

You need to sit back and take a few minutes out of your busy day and ask yourself if you’re worth it? Do you believe that your life is valuable enough so that the rest of your life (from this point on) could indeed be the best years. Can you picture, imagine your remaining days? Maybe you’re so busy in your daily life, you haven’t given it much thought.

One thing I have always been fascinated about is life but in particular – people. I am a watcher of people, always have been and always will observe others with burning curiosity.

Now, you may be asking yourself, okay Paul, where do I begin?

Well, you need to take stock of the most important thing you will rely on: your state of mind, in particular – your motivation. Being motivated is a wonderful gift and a lack of motivation is a hard nut to crack, so to speak!

Here’s what I tell most, if not all that have ever come to me for help: Find a quiet moment in a private room in your home that has a full length mirror. Lock the door and take all your clothes off. That’s right, everything. Now, just look at the image of you reflecting out of that full length mirror. Just stand there and don’t do anything but look. Absorb your full glory for 30 seconds. Don’t flex your arms or smile. Don’t even think about sucking in that gut. Relax that tummy and now….turn to the side. No sucking in, let it all hang out! Now, what do you see?

This is the REAL YOU! Happy?!

Need more motivation? Angry? Now, you have all the motivation you need. How could you let this happen to your body? You were born with the greatest gift of all: physical health.

Now, ask yourself this question: do you value YOU, do you value your life? Are you going to continue as you have to this point? Clogging your arteries, adding layers of fat to every part of your body, risking ill-health, aches and pains and an early grave – increasing your overall life risk?

Or … are you going to choose great health and fitness for the rest of your life?

Everything begins with a thought and where you end up in life, begins and ends in your thought.

Watch your thoughts. Choose well, my friend.

It’s your life, after all and the rest of your best years of your life depends on this choice.

All the very best in your choice.

 

Until next time,

Chris enjoying a well-deserved rest between sets.
A ‘set’ as I define it is: a continuous progression of 15 to 45 sec ‘focused moments’.
Effort + Focus + heart + visualization + simulation [Quality Plan + Quality Implementation] ===> Quality results.
Vv.

Standard
action, ageing, awareness, Beliefs, Energy, Fitness, game of life, habits, life, long-term perspective, needs, planning, time, Vitality, workout, you

Your CALL OF DUTY: Stand and deliver.

Here is Chris, approaching 50 and looking and feeling better than a young man in his 20s.  Here, Chris is demonstrating a "side-chest" pose (with a smile).  ** Photos taken by Robert Walsh Photography. Visit "www.robertwalsh.com.au" - Brillian Artist. Skilled Professional. Wonderful Person. Cheers Rob! Vv.

Here is Chris, approaching 50 and looking and feeling better than a young man in his 20s.
Here, Chris is demonstrating a “side-chest” pose (with a smile).

Assisting Chris in the proper execution of the exercise. Focusing on helping Chris, help himself towards the successful achievement of his body re-engineering goals. Focus!

Assisting Chris in the proper execution of the exercise. Focusing on helping Chris, help himself towards the successful achievement of his body re-engineering goals. Focus!

We have been told over the last five to ten years that there is an ‘obesity epidemic’ and it is somewhat influenced by the increase in consumption of fats in our diet.

This is a goldmine for food manufacturers. All sorts of products were forced on to the market that had ‘no fat’ or ‘low fat’ or ‘99% fat free” on the packaging. Wow, said the consumer who enjoyed the same taste but with almost no fat. How good was that?! Eat all you can and not put on any fat!

A great sales gimmick that fed in to the pockets of many manufacturers and companies that control and own and sold these supposedly ‘healthier products’. What a load of – you know what! Your body needs fat, your brain will not function without adequate levels of fat. Everyone that I have ever helped over the years know that ‘fat burns fat’. Period!

So, if you’re going to have fat, go for full cream or full fat. Your body metabolises it better and appreciates the genuine article, not some imitation. Enjoy your milk, ice-cream and other densely-packed fat products in full. You will enjoy it more and you will likely eat less. Your internal organs would be greatful and would add to your longevity.

You see, over the last 23 years in the gym (my lab), I have seen and helped a lot of people who suffered from back pain. One lady suffered from chronic back pain for 17 and half years before she met and started training with me. Read about her story in an earlier blog titled No belief, no nothing”.

I helped her help, herself.

I helped create more awareness in her being, in her mind. I helped her help herself to believe again. To believe in the most important person in the world to her – HERSELF. That is the power of BELIEF, my friends.

NO BELIEF, NO NOTHING. Remember this!

You cannot give a ‘band-aid’ treatment to a problem such as this. That only treats the symptom, not the cause. Unfortunately, a lot of today’s current medical focus is on short-term fixes (seeing only the 10% of the ice-berg we see above the water level. What is needed is a more sustainable solution that addresses the cause – the 90% of the ice-berg that sits under the water line and that we don’t ‘see’.). A preventative approach.

Or better still, there’s always the current paradigm and practise – a drug remedy for all and every ailment you might experience. Thank God for the pharmaceutical industry, aye.

Here’s a little trivial information for you – did you know that Pharmaceutical companies spend over $100 billion on marketing their products, with a quarter of this – roughly $27 billion going to doctors in the form of gifts, meals and samples. Makes you wonder about the perception of independence and conflict of interest in the recommendation and dispensing of drugs.

Do you know what the main cause of back pain is? Well, I have been saying this for many years and I have deduced a very strong contributing factor.

It is simple: we are sitting more! There is an inactivity epidemic and an increased volume of sitting is a very high percentage of what constitutes this inactivity epidemic.

Back pain can be caused by many things but an increasing number of office workers are suffering from chronic back pain. Back pain, I believe, can be caused by too much sitting and no physical activity. Look around you, we are sitting almost all the time. We’re constantly sitting in our cars, sitting and watching computer and television screens. Sitting, sitting and more sitting!

Do you suffer from back pain?

What is the opportunity cost? You struggle to find time to use your bodies, the way it’s meant to be used. This appears to be the plight of the average Australian (based on the largest and most comprehensive health survey in Australia in 2011 – 2012 by the Australian Health Survey) and probably indicative of most countries in the developed world.

On average, Australians are spending between 45 and 55 hours per week SITTING – for work and travel and lounging around in leisure time. The study also shows that an average of 40 hours is spent on all other activities (which includes time for exercising).

Now, I think the medical industry recommend that you should move your body in a moderately intense fashion for about 30 minutes each day, which adds up to at least 150 minutes per week. Do you do that? Be honest now. I think Doctors refer to this as ‘sufficiently active for health” and associated lowers risks like: cardiovascular diseases, various forms of cancer, depression and other ailments.

Now, a common reason I have heard for not exercising or not going to the gym is “I just don’t have the time, Paul”. I’ve never bought that.

Here’s why I have never believed this excuse: the survey actually indicated that roughly 60% of adults did less than the recommended 30 minutes per day and of this, less than 20% actually engaged in daily exercise for an hour or more. Very small indeed!

So, can you see why I have never believed the excuse of not having enough time to exercise? It isn’t an issue of inadequate time because the study showed that at least 3 hours per day is committed to sedentary leisure like – socializing (in person and on-line), using the phone or the internet and watching television. It would be interesting how this percentages would change since the introduction of new technology and service providers like Netflix and Stan. More choices for consumers. More entertainment at our finger-tips. More chance of not exercising. There’s going to be an even greater epidemic of gigantic proportions – MORE SITTING!

It’s not helping society. It’s harming society, the social fabric of it. It’s harming every single one of us – no one is immune to it. It’s harming our children. It’s harming every adult or it will eventually.

All this inactivity strongly exacerbated by the arrival of new technology will supposedly ‘raise our standard of living’ but it will slowly suck the vitality out of every person. It will suck the very essence of what life is all about. This is the real opportunity cost to society. The study showed that children 2-4 years of age are spending almost two hours per day sitting in front of the television or computer ipad/tablet.

A frightening statistic was that overall, physical activity decreased and screen-based activity increased as age increased. This trend is at a very high risk of rising and rising fast!

Now, the solution is simple: to fight this epidemic, each and every one of us can do our part to reduce this alarming statistic. Reduce the risk of our nation becoming a nation of ‘seat warmers’. Keep it simple: DO YOUR PART.

And how do you do that?

Well, play your part. Play your part for no one else, but YOU. Stand up and deliver. Stand up and start moving. Start moving and may be everyone can unite in the moving and possibly create a ‘movement’ to MOVE. An ‘anti-sitting’ movement!

We’ve just had ANZAC public holiday commemorating the ANZACS 100 years. What a significant chapter in Australia’s history. I think we should all take a page (maybe a paragraph) out of the ANZAC book. They, who gave their lives, their freedom for freedom, for the life you and I live today. They stood up and fought for their future – where we are now. That was their CALL OF DUTY.

If you’re not an Australian, that’s ok, I’m certain you only have to look back in your country’s history to identify a point or points where your forefathers went to war and sacrificed their lives to give you the way of life you live today.

Maybe, just maybe, each and every one of us need to treat this inactivity, all this alarmingly increasing instances of sitting as a serious threat to our life and that of the future lives of the citizens of our country. Maybe, each and every one of us need to imagine how the ANZACS believed in our freedom and rose to the occasion. Maybe, standing up from your sitting position and moving with intent could be seen as your contribution to yourself and your health but more importantly for the health of our nation.

Maybe, this is how we all need to ‘take a stand’ against this very important health crisis – one of increasing levels of sitting. We need to take a stand against this by literally, standing. Standing and moving to stand and deliver.

Yeah, let’s all work towards a healthier YOU, a healthier society, a healthier nation, a healthier world, just by becoming part of the “Anti-sitting movement’. The health costs and damage caused to individuals and countries productivities by excessive sitting, I believe is far greater than any terrorist threat our world has faced or is facing.

The real terrorist rests within us – within our excessive sitting. It is killing the minds and bodies of man-kind slowly but surely. Incrementally killing you from within – a slow, invisible self-torture and most don’t realise the high risks associated with this, until it is too late. The real threat to each and every one of us is not an external threat from the caves in the deserts of some foreign country, no, the real threat is our personal habits, one of which is sitting.

The real threat to you is lifestyle habits, a big one of which is excessive sitting. I believe it is now an epidemic!

So, don’t sit back any more than you have to and before you sit down to view more and more television/tablet/ipad screens, think again. Stand up and give moving a go, you only need 30 minutes per day. It will do you a world of good and you may just like it enough to develop a new habit. A habit that will help fight this current epidemic of inactivity and excessive sitting.

Make it your personal CALL OF DUTY each time you stand up and step out of your home for that 30 minutes of exercise. Imagine that each time you strap up your sneakers for your activity, you’re getting in touch with the hero within you.

Now, this is a cause worth believing in. Worth fighting for, don’t you think? This will not only give you freedom of movement in your old age but more importantly lay the foundation for the ‘movement to move’ for our kids and their kids.

Monkey see, monkey do as the saying goes.

Let your children see what you do. Let your children learn from you (as they already do). Let them see their hero (you) walk the talk. Let them see what you are doing for you and your country. You don’t need to carry a gun and ammunition for this. You don’t need to blow up things. NO!

You just need to stand up and start moving.

So, don’t sit down any more than you have to as your life and your children’s lives depend on this. Now, that is the ANZAC spirit in action. Make this your CALL OF DUTY – just stand and deliver.

Live it!

One step at a time. Keep moving. Let’s fight this sitting craze. Let’s fight for activity. For movement. You join and get your family and friends to join this new movement called: “the movement to move, movement”.

Individually, you’re strong but together, with everyone doing their little part , united for a common worthwhile cause – this ‘movement to move’ could have the power to make our dreams of a better life – BETTER for us and for our future generations.

It might seem like a small matter today but I believe this scary trend has the potential to cause more deaths and social costs than the deaths caused by malaria, propagated by the tiny mosquito. We need to take care of the little things because these little things grow to become big things.

A wise man told me once that Elephants don’t bite, mosquitoes do”. Very true indeed. A child dies from malaria every 30 seconds in Africa, caused by the little mosquito. Very sad indeed.

Remember to always take care of the little things in the important areas in your life. Little things have a habit of adding up to big things. Keep taking those little steps forward.

Become part of this movement TODAY.

Good on ya, ANZAC!

All the best in your decisions today for a better tomorrow.

Until next time,

Proving a little assistance with my finger....  Chris is 'feeling the essence' of the exercise he is performing. Feeling it in the worked muscles.  And the 'essence' ain't vanilla!

Providing a little assistance with my finger….
Chris is ‘feeling the essence’ of the exercise he is performing. Feeling it in the worked muscles.
And the ‘essence’ ain’t vanilla!

** Photos taken by Robert Walsh Photography. Visit “www.robertwalsh.com.au” – Brilliant Artist. Skilled Professional. Wonderful Person. Cheers Rob! Vv.

 

Paul V1

Standard
adaptation, awareness, change, life

Is it safe for children to weight-train?

Working the guns.

Working the guns.

I have been asked many questions relating to health and fitness and weight training over the last 23 years in the gym.

If I knew the answer to the question of when it is safe for children to weight train, I would be lying. However, after all that time and my love of deducing conclusions from simply observations of consistent trends around me, I would like to attempt to provide a solution.

I will use my powers of reasoning I have developed in my 40 years on this earth, so far.

Here we go ….

I am truly inspired by older generations who have maintained resistance training for most of their lives. Almost all of them look and feel like someone 10, 15 even 20 years younger.

Leading Legends” – that’s what I call them. They are great examples of making it part of lifestyle.

Some of them used to tell me about how perceptions have changed over the last 50 years in regards to exercise in general and in particular – the many myths relating to weight training.

There were and still are many myths relating to weight training. There was a time when people were saying that weight training wasn’t good for women. Before that athletes like rugby players were told to stay away from weight training as it would ‘slow’ them down – this wasn’t too long ago – even in the 70s.

And even further back, it was even questioned whether weight training was in fact good for anyone at all. Times change and myths get busted. Myths are just that – myths and are meant to be dis-proven.

It is only in more recent times that the general public has accepted that weight-training is of enormous benefit to women too. I am so happy about the increase in women attending gyms as I have seen this landscape change quite a bit over the last two decades.

Now, my question is if weight training is now believed to be of enormous benefit for men and women, why shouldn’t it be good for children? After all isn’t exercise good for everyone?

The truth or my version of ‘the truth’ in my straight-forward answer is that weight training can benefit any individual – young or old – who is healthy enough to engage in the activity. But that is just my opinion.

I have helped hundreds of people of all ages – kids under ten (including my children) all the way to people in their 90s. Human physiology is the same no matter what age. To weight train – you do one thing: work the muscles. To do this, you literally extend and contract that particular muscle under tension/force provided by the weight.

Simple. Right?

The very old and the very young and everyone in-between can do that. It’s what muscles are meant to do: to ‘work’ for you.

There are still myths relating to children training even in today’s world. The biggest fear amongst parents appear to be the possible negative effects on the development of children prior to puberty – that lifting stunts the growth of children.

If this was the case, the famous Arnold Schwarzenegger would should not have grown to 6’2” as he started lifting weights well before he hit puberty. I am not a Doctor but I believe this irrational fear is unfounded medically.

My question is if weight-training was a height depressant, why is it that considerable growth can sometimes take place in the ‘post-puberty’ years. And if this was a medical fact, then, everyone should only start weight-training when their full height potential has been reached. For some, this would be well in to their early twenties.

The issue as I see it relates to the formation and growth of bones. I can understand the parents’ worries, including my family Doctor’s. From what I understand about what I have read about bones, the process of bone formation and growth is hopelessly complex and wonderfully simple at the same time.

If I recall correctly, Tiger Woods picked up and was training in golf from the age of 2 and was coached by his dad. Leytton Hewitt began playing tennis around the age of 3. Some top swimmers were undergoing stringent 4am early-morning training programs from a very young age, where parents were driving them to and from swimming pools. I know because I had good friends that were doing that when we were in Primary School.

Not many made the Olympics.

Is this any different to subjecting a child to some gym training under supervision in a gym? How is it that the perception of risk of a child in the gym is greater than that of a child on a soccer field, swimming pool, golf course or rugby field? What about a child playing tennis or netball? How are these risk assessments done?

I believe the risks to a child and his or her growing bones and muscles is higher with the other sporting activities compared to the risks associated with supervised structured weight-training.

In my opinion the risk to bones, joints and muscle development and overall health risk (injuries from knocks to the brain and head in Rugby or other contact sports) is greater to the young kids playing most sporting activity outside the gym, compared to structured activity in the gym.

I believe proper muscular development assisted by a well-structured weight-training program, complements whatever sporting activity a child/person chooses.

It simply makes them a better athlete. A better athlete gets better results.

The risks to the joints of the other sporting activities – like golf, tennis, netball, swimming, running etc is HIGH. The wear and tear to the joints is very high.

The joints are over used, and there is accelerated wear and tear and it shortens the effective useful life of your body. Just like any other machine of value you possess – say a car, for example. Depreciation rates can vary depending on how you use and service your machines.

Most individuals then suffer from premature ageing (from over-use) of joints and really suffer uncomfortable daily living later on in life. However, the risks to the child’s self-esteem; sense of self-worth and interest need to also be monitored too. Participants can be severely negatively affected because of the constant expectations of tolerance levels.

Weight-training done safely and under appropriate supervision is a safer and more beneficial to a child’s whole-self development then any other physical activity there is. Weight-training complements and helps make a child better at whichever sport they choose to participate in.

It is only now that tightening of regulations are being implemented to address not only some current risks but also long-term risks sustained by athletes.

My children are as comfortable with a set of light dumbells, not dissimilar to young budding soccer players or tennis juniors with footballs and rackets in camp and sporting academies. In this controlled soccer environments, no one appears to question the deliberate practises these children are forced to undertake in non-weight-bearing activities and how safe it is.

Just because a big majority of people are sending their kids there does not mean it is the safest or have the lowest risks.

Or how many instances of injuries are sustained by the very young, many of whom are regularly seeing physios and chiros at an age that is unheard of only a few decades ago.

What does this tell us? About the risks these kids are putting themselves under, the full extent will become evident in their later years.

People are only too quick to place gym training as a high risk but this is yet another myth and here is where I believe the problem is:

It is the inability of parents and administrators of sporting activities to initially correctly assess the level of risks. Yes, self-limiting beliefs unfairly bestowed on to children by parents who know no better.

Maybe they just need to adopt a new thinking paradigm that assists in the development of the ability to assess risks of activities and whether or not the risk is acceptable to them.

Time will bust these myths. Big Truths will always beat Big Lies.

Believe in BETTER.

Make better choices with the life that you have left, with the lives of your children. Time on this planet is all that we really have anyway and one day … that will be taken from all of us.

This is one of those BIG TRUTHS or is this a BIG LIE? Anyone believe this is a MYTH?

All the best.

Until next time,

VVc_logo_cropped

Standard
action, awareness, belief systems, Beliefs, body, choices, Energy, game of life, Imagination, life, long-term perspective, mind, muscles, perspective, planning, respect, self-image, truths, workout, you

Top 3 Keys to a successful workout. Key #2: Elegance.

February 2015. At my old school gym, just about to do a set of barbell biceps curls or  what I would sometimes refer to as 'loading the guns with ammunition'.  Hope you're wearing your bullet-proof vests, take cover!

February 2015.
At my old school gym, just about to do a set of barbell biceps curls or
what I would sometimes refer to as ‘loading the guns with ammunition’.
Hope you’re wearing your bullet-proof vests, take cover!

One of the many things I have learned early in life is that the “big truth” will always beat the “big lie”. The truth is we are more than meets the eye – but having a physique sure makes a difference in how people treat and react to us.

What is that saying that we’ve all heard growing up – “Don’t judge a book by its cover”.

Well, it is lovely and idealistic but the truth is we all do. The whole world does, every single day in everything we do. Matter of fact it is how one of the many public games is played on this planet. That is one of the many less than ideal characteristics of most human beings – we all judge things we ‘see’ by how they ‘look’.

That is just how we are wired.

Packaging for products is vital to the successful sales as it directly influences consumer purchasing behaviour and ultimately the ‘bottom-line’. Manufacturers know this and marketers get huge dollars for helping them do this.

Now, another thing I have learned in over 23 years in the fitness industry is that Self-perception or how we see ourselves, greatly determines how we look.

You see, “Inner image creates outer image”. Now, I know there are some idealists that may disagree, and that is fine. On the whole, this statement runs true for all of us. But here is one of the interesting things, one of the encouraging possibilities – it is one’s perception of one’s self that creates greater possibilities.

Drop your past when need be, when it does not serve you any longer. Let go of beliefs and belief systems that does not add any value to your current phase of life. Remove beliefs that limit you, beliefs that do not allow you to reach for your best self.

In my experience, another key element that makes up a successful workout is – elegance. I think this is attained if you’re natural and genuine, searching for an artistic approach (sculpturing as opposed to just lifting weights) and having a great appreciation for “balance and symmetry” (another definition for beauty).

Not many people ever get to this level and truly experience the ‘essence of each and every rep of each exercise’. Just as not all golfers ever play as effortlessly as a Tiger Woods or a professional on a golf course, instead with constant frustration of under-performing handicaps.

Just because you can hit a ball with a club does not necessarily mean that you will hit it in the direction of the hole. This is the same as lifting weights in the gym for the majority of people – you see, anyone can lift weights but only a few ever learn the art of body-building and choosing the right exercise (club) for the right moment (set etc).

Elegance in your workouts or the ‘search for balance and symmetry’ is hard to describe but I find it easy to recognize when I see it. You see it when top sports-persons play for example – Roger Federer gracefully hitting returns on the tennis courts or Jonathan Thurston having all the time in the world to kick in rugby league and effortlessly creating a play out of nothing. Or Maria Sharapova gliding across the courts or Usain Bolt bolting like lightening on the 100m track.

It is sheer beauty, ultimate elegance displayed before your eyes. Very few things can beat the feeling you get from witnessing ‘elegance in action’.

Making elegance part of you or what you do is a reflection of attitude combined with aptitude but taken to the HIGHEST LEVEL with the ambition of being the BEST. To achieve this takes the gifts of Energy and talent harnessed with a magnifying focus towards BEING THE BEST YOU CAN BE.

It requires hours and hours of not just practise – but deliberate practise with sustained FOCUS over many years.

Elegance fascinates me because I believe there is something eternal about it.

So, a successful workout for me is elegant (efficient, effective and a little sophisticated). This is similar to what we call –

  • FREEDOM … in dancing
  • SELF-EXPRESSION … in relationships
  • Being in the ZONE … in sports
  • EXCELLENCE … in work
  • NATURAL … in family
  • Looking HOT … in Sex
  • MAKING A DIFFERENCE … in Society
  • Getting the JOB DONE …. in business

So, there you go. After 23 years of working out in the gym, and my love of reasoning from and making deductions from patterns observed, my 2nd key to achieving a successful workout is simply: Elegance.

Strive for this if you haven’t already done so.

It is more efficient, effective and reduces the risks of injury giving you longevity and more years of enjoyment.

Learn to learn, again.

Strive towards the new man (or woman) that resides in you, with elegance in mind.

All the best in your journey.

 

Until next time,

Side Triceps. Australian Natural Bodybuilding Championships. Lost by 2 points. Final placing: Runner-up.

Side Triceps.
Australian Natural Bodybuilding Championships.
Lost by 2 points.
Final placing: Runner-up.

With my friend and coach at that time - 2 x World Number 1 (natural bodybuilder).

With my friend and coach at that time – 2 x World Number 1 (natural bodybuilder).

Standard
action, awareness, belief systems, choices, Energy, Goals, long-term perspective, long-term strategy, muscles, planning, risk, Strength training, Vitality, workout, you

No Brain, No Gain.

_MG_9779-1

I love a lot of old school training philosophies. Most are simple, to the point and cut out a lot of irrelevant stuff – things some of us refer to as ‘BS’.

While I adopt some of these fundamental training principles in my training I always assess the relevance of anything towards my goals and my needs. For example, assessing the legitimacy and relevance of a saying I have heard over the years:

“No pain, no gain”.

Put simply, I don’t fully agree with this. While I agree in simplicity for most things, I think this statement is too simplistic and too ‘black and white’. There are many ‘grey’ areas that should be considered especially in regards to the “risk-to-benefit’ ratio of exercises chosen.

It’s working out with your ego not in check. I have always believed that if one of your aims is to train in such a way to get the most benefit out of the time invested in your workouts, then you should leave your ego at the door.

Also, I think it is quite a negative slogan and should be replaced by something that is more positive and relevant to today’s every-day-person – like maybe:

No brain, no gain. Don’t train.” for the thinking bodybuilder.

I believe everyone who ventures in to this world and lifts any weight to assist themselves towards a better version of themselves, is by definition, a body-builder (whether you’re a grandmother lifting 1kg weights or a powerlifter squatting 200kg.

Everyone should strive to be a ‘thinking body-builder’.

To truly benefit from this, one should learn the basics of old-school training techniques with selected exercises that give optimal results, with safety in mind.

You must choose the right system of training for your specific goal in order to get the most benefit from your workouts in the shortest time. Ask yourself what is your top 3 goals and then narrow it down to the most important goal. Is it strength? Is it power? Is it a combination of strength and muscular growth?

You see, what I have found in over 23 years in the gym is that most people don’t have a plan, no, most people have what I refer to as a ‘goal’ or objective and their training program is haphazard at best. They try so many things at the same time, while all the while, hoping that they will strike it lucky. It is quite evident that similar patterns of behaviour happens in other areas of life too for some. For example, you see this in the popularity of games of chances – like lotto and gambling machines, despite the extremely low probability of hitting a jackpot, people still participate, losing more and more of their finances.

I have asked many gym enthusiasts over time, questions regarding why they have adopted a new ‘fad’ of training. I might ask them why they work out a certain body part first or do certain exercises before another in their routine, or what their goal is in doing 50+ repetitions on an exercise they either have an illogical answer or no answer at all.

Or, they are just doing it because their friends are doing it. Very sad indeed as they may not have considered the risks they are putting themselves under by following blindly.

Most people go about their training in a manner similar to someone who tries to bake a cake without any recipe laid out for them. They know bits of information, for example they know they need some sugar, some flour, some butter and need to put in in the oven. However, they have no clue about the temperature they need, how long they need to bake it for and other smaller, but important ingredients that go in to a beautiful looking and tasting cake.

Chaos results in the kitchen and frustration and higher risks of injury prevails in the gym. Not smart at all.

The human body and mind is a very sophisticated machine and to re-engineer it without a plan from an informed person is like building a house or an extension to a house without an Architect’s plan. It is fraught with higher risks.

Wasted effort. Wasted time. Very inefficient. Ineffective and unsafe. Not ideal indeed.

What you need, and what most people around the world need is a ‘working plan’. This is what smart training is all about. Increase your awareness of yourself, determine your needs and then seek help.

Here is a check-list of my 9.5 key factors to consider when you are selecting a type of workout or workout schedule:

  1. Your main goal.
  2. An honest assessment of where you are at – key KPIs on your health and fitness status.
  3. The duration of the program (3 months, 6 months, 6 weeks?)
  4. The rigidity of exercise execution (what emphasis is there on strict form).
  5. Rest time between sets.
  6. Total number of sets performed (per exercise; per muscle group and per workout).
  7. The amount of weight to be used (start, during and end of exercise).
  8. The tempo (speed of individual sets – at the start, during and end).

9.5 The number of reps (per set – at the start, during and end).

So, let me say it again, before seeking help from a suitably qualified and experienced professional, make sure you at the very least, think about what your main goal is. The professional could help identify your destination and help you formulate a plan that would give you answers to the above key variables.

And why would you want to do all this?

Well, you would not go and see or get advice from a plumber if you needed help with your tax return now, would you? I would hope your first port of call is an experienced qualified Accountant.

Become a thinking body-builder, no matter what age you are or how experienced you are.

And remember…. No brain, no gain – no train.

All the best!

 

Until next time,

VVc_logo_cropped

Standard
body, Body shape, diet, Energy, game of life, Goals, habits, life, mind, muscles, needs, risk, Strength training, truths, Vitality, workout, you

Drink ‘til you float.

_MG_9779-1

The title does not refer to what some of us did in our youth with beer and the various other types of alcohol. No, I am talking about: water, and consuming more of it.

As part of my effort to prove to you that eating well takes less time than you think, here is my 2nd tip in my series of blogs that will outline my Top Ten Tips.

TIP # 2: Drink a minimum of 3.0L water per day.

When you wake up, go to the toilet and relieve yourself first thing, drag yourself from the bathroom to the kitchen sink and pour 12 glasses of water (approximately 250ml per glass) in to a larger flask or water bottle. The water bottle should be able to hold 3.0L of liquid, in this case – water or H2O (for the chemistry inclined).

Approximate time needed to do this: 3 minutes or 180 seconds.

Can you take 180 seconds out of your ‘busy’ day to do this very important task? You bet you can! This is the 2nd Tip to “Tip-Top” shape and all it takes is 3 minutes.

So, back to my previous blog, when we add the 3 minutes to the time it took to do the first habitual tip (which was less than five minutes), you have an accumulated total of 8 minutes. Yep, eight minutes to invest to a more healthier – YOU.

What to do after you’ve filled the water bottle? Put it in the fridge to cool. Why? Because, you are going to take it with you to work and be ready to drink from it throughout the day until you finish it.

Why is this tip valuable to your body and worth your time investment?

Water makes up more than sixty percent of your body’s mass. It is vital to your health and vitality and without sufficient water intake, you could put your life at risk. If you didn’t know this, sometimes when your body tells you that it is hungry, a lot of times, it is actually asking you for more water. It is telling you, you are thirsty.

Why? Well, if you are not aware of this, the body does draw a lot of its water from the food you eat.

So, when you constantly sip water throughout your work day, in addition to its health benefits, you will feel fuller. And when you drink before, during and after every meal, it reduces your appetite, especially during the rest of your day.

There are many studies done on what the recommended daily amount of water an average person requires and generally, there is a consensus that a person should drink anywhere between 8 and 10 glasses (250ml) per day. Great!

The question I would like you to ask yourself is this: are you currently drinking that many? Be honest. I am certain that many (maybe you included) are not drinking anywhere near the recommended daily allowance.

If you’re staying physically active (and I am presuming most of you reading this are active), having a little bit more (12 glasses) is wiser, giving you a little buffer for the additional energy output you expand during exercising.

Most of you know that the moment you realize that you’re thirsty, it’s a little too late. The body, by that stage has already lost approximately 4-5% of its total water. Now, you should note that your energy output is heavily dictated by the amount of water or hydration level you have at any point in time. Losing just 1 percent of your body weight in water (approximately 1kg to 2kg) can decrease your overall energy output by as much as 20 to 30 percent.

Now, that is a significant reduction in potential energy output. It will affect your vitality. You will notice this lack of energy in your training sessions. You can see that dehydration puts unnecessary stress on your body, on your organs. Your body goes hunting for water in other places – within the body itself. Where do you think it will find water? Yep, you guessed it – your kidneys, your stomach, colon and also, where you least want to lose it – your hard earned muscles.

All that muscle you have been working hard in the gym for months. Years, perhaps. Being catabolised. Not good. Not what you desire. You want to work hard to build muscle and then hang on to whatever muscle you have. Muscle is precious. Preserve it as best you can from it been cannibalized by its own body.

From a health point-of-view, your organs are put under unnecessary stress than it already has and does not work at its most effective and efficient selves. Your brain requires adequate water to allow you to focus and think at its optimum. A lack of water can also relate to recurring headaches and migraines. I have seen a reduction in these ailments over the years with my clients, the frequency and intensity of such drops.

From a muscle point-of-view, muscles that don’t have sufficient water will mean that your lifts in the gym due to a reduction in your strength levels. This would mean a less than your best effort which would translate in to less potential for muscle growth. No growth means no progress. No progress ultimately leads to an empty, unhappy feeling in your gut. This remains true not only for muscle but for almost all areas in our lives – not experiencing a step-by-step progression towards whatever goal you are working towards.

No progress – you get de-motivated. Progress – you feel motivated. The latter feeling is preferable, I believe.

We are all ‘goal-seeking’ animals, so make this 2nd Tip of my Top Ten Tips to a healthier you a part of your daily life. Take action and start making this habit a part of your life. Today. In a week, see how you feel.

There is power in habit.

It takes approximately 8 minutes of your day to carry out these two habits. Give your body, your life what it needs. Simply, because you’re worth it. The compound effect of making these two tips habit is contribution to a better quality of life in your future.

You’re now Aware. Apply Action. Adapt accordingly.

 

Until next time,

 

Standard
ageing, body, body weight, Energy, Fitness, life, workout, you

Sticking with what works, doesn’t always work.

B&W3324-1 A few years ago, a member of my gym came in for his usual once a week gym session like he had always done. I could not help noticing that he did the same training routine for the last three months, so I asked him what his goals were. He said that he was just doing it to ‘maintain’ his level of strength, health and fitness.

He was doing maintenance.

I asked him when he started this training program and he told me that he started it over twenty years ago. I was shocked. He did the same thing for twenty years. Wow! Familiarity, I agree, is one of the comforting things about life. I guess it gives us a sense of certainty and steadfastness in a world that is ever changing. We all try to cling on to something that is familiar and seemingly unchanging.

However, doing the same training program for twenty years for ‘maintenance’ may not be serving his purposes now. Yes, the program may have served his purposes when he was younger and in his twenties for a brief time, but for a brief time only. You see, it is common knowledge now that your muscles adapt to any exercise within five to six workouts. I told him that if his goal has been maintenance than working out with the same program for that long may not be aligned with that goal.

Studies show that after the big 3-0, your metabolism – the rate at which your body burns calories to function daily, begins to slow down, causing you to store more excess calories as unwanted body fat. A lot of men start storing a lot of ‘blubber’ around their gut and women tend to deposit it in the butt and legs. Not what many people want.

What you want and what you get can be poles apart because of this metabolic reduction.

Your metabolism drops for several reasons, one of them being that you progressively lose lean body mass (muscle) each year and your strength levels drop as you get older. That is why it is so important to ‘off-set’ this ageing effect or rate is by doing strength training and promoting protein synthesis and muscle growth. For optimal health results you would try combining it with some sort of cardiovascular exercise.

What qualifies as cardio or aerobic exercise? Any activity that elevates your heart rate and trains your lungs to become more efficient at delivering oxygen throughout your body.

Back to our story – familiarity is important for us all. It was important for my gym pal. I get that. However, getting stuck in a holding pattern and doing the same workout for years which is not aligned with the goal (in this case ‘maintenance’), could imply that they are too scared to stray from a routine that works. People who do this though are forgetting that the routine may have worked once, yes, but in the past. It may not necessarily work now. The truth is, sticking with what works doesn’t always work. It could be holding you back.

The above could apply to many areas of life too, but in this instance, I am relating it to the successful achievement of your physical transformation goals. Whether your goal is to burn fat, build a stronger, bigger chest or put on mass. All these achievements is just your body’s physiological and biological response to the various stimulus you place on your body’s muscles in your exercise routine.

It is through adaptation that the body morphs or changes. These adaptations eventually cease as your body handles the stresses or stimulus more efficiently. The result? Well, the body’s response to the workout you have been routinely doing for twenty years or so is not doing you any good. Your body ‘knows’ your workout so well now. Basically, you are getting less for each successive workout.

Because your muscles are not being forced to adapt, your metabolism or ‘engine room’ drops and you start burning fewer calories. You wonder why you’re not losing weight or fat or putting on muscle like you used to. You use fewer muscle fibers during your workouts, and this would leave you an unsatisfying taste in your mouth as the results you get is less than what you desired. Not motivating. Very frustrating!

So, sticking with what works is not always the best when it comes to achieving exercise goals.

How do you break this awful cycle, you may be asking?

One word: variety.

In a future blog, I will give you a few alternative exercises to the basic average beginner’s training program outlined in an earlier blog “How much time do you have for a workout?” This will add variety as change is needed.

You don’t need to make wholesale changes. Sometimes, just replacing one key exercise with an alternative can feel different enough to make your body think its trying something entirely new.

Be brave. Embrace change.

Change is always part of a good exercise program. Managing change is important.

A good workout program is like life: life is about change – if you’re not changing, you’re not living. So, don’t always stick with what works if maintenance is your goal. Instead, spice it up with a little variety. A little change.

Train SMARTER!

Until next time,

 

Photos below: in the thick of contest battles in the recent past.

You win some. You lose some. One thing’s certain, you have to be prepared to lose – to win! IMG_4647DSCF9304

Standard