Posts Tagged exercise

851 Days Of Exercise But No Burpees Yet

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Just did some barbell bent over rows on my 851st day in a row of some kind of exercise…not counting the 2-10 hours of tennis each week. A satisfying disciplinary achievement.

Also read about the benefits of HIIT: high intensity interval training. I was out of breath just yesterday doing some painful push ups—I really resist doing them. Here are some excerpts from this article , which suggests burpees as the best exercise to do.

I don’t do them, but I should start. Here are two burpee videos. The first shows a modified burpee that is less stressful on your back. The second one is amateurish, kind of sexist, but I included it because it was shot at Flamingo Park in Miami Beach, where I played as a kid, won tennis trophies at ages 11 and 12, and was just at the exact spot in the video, before competing on the tennis court last November at my high school reunion. So it’s pretty nostalgic for me.

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The secret to shedding fat fast is exercise intensity, study after study has found, including a recent one from the American Journal of Health Promotion.

In the study, investigators tracked 4,511 adults ages 18 to 64, assigning participants to four workout groups: high-intensity long bouts, high-intensity short bouts, low-intensity long bouts and low-intensity short bouts.

Both groups of high-intensity workouts lowered their body mass indexes, which lowers risk of being overweight or obese. Neither of the low-intensity workout groups showed the same benefits.

Additionally, each extra minute of high-intensity physical activity was linked to a decreased obesity risk of five percent for women and two percent for men.

This means that even if you’re short on time, you can still get a great workout — that may even help maintain your health over your lifetime.

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is the way to lose body fat, build lean muscle and increase your metabolism.

“HIIT is an all-out effort followed by a short period of rest,” he explained. “It should leave you out of breath and breathless, not like a slow, steady session of cardio.”

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790 Consecutive Days Of Some Exercise

12/29/13 after 30-min Florida gym session...more abs needed

12/29/13 after 30-min Florida gym session…more abs needed

Was celebrating the holidays with visiting family and also out of town over a week. So writing has been impossible. Catch up upon return is always a pressured and somewhat overwhelming challenge. But finally I can make time to visit my favorite web site.

In spite of being away from home, I was able to squeeze in my daily exercises…the hotel had a gym that I visited often. It has now been 790 days without missing even one 5-15-minute session of crunches or push ups, pec flys or barbell moves. It is now a routine part of my life…in addition to any tennis playing. An achievement I am very proud of after decades of inability to put five days of exercise in a row.

As I have said from the start: these little sessions don’t build much bulk, but it least they keep me a bit toned. You can see my abs are barely showing. Must be poor lighting…(hahaha)

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A Turkish Get Up

So my friend Tom just told me about a floor exercise called a Turkish Get Up that’s usually done with a kettleball. You can see what it looks like in the video above, which has about 77,000 views. I just tried it with just 10 pounds, and I could only do three on each side comfortably before stopping.

But someone else decided to substitute a woman for the kettleball, and she weighs a helluva lot more than that 10 pounds (125 pounds?). Hard to believe how strong some people are. This video below has over 20 MILLION views.

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Post-Pregnancy Photos Stir Controversy

this photo and title upset many women who felt bullied

this photo and title upset many women who felt bullied

It’s lonely at the top. Ask these two moms who posted post-pregnancy photos of themselves that created firestorms. Both are passionate about health and fitness, one has a fitness non-profit and the other is a fitness blogger. I am guessing they were challenging their viewers and followers to get or stay in better shape, and not use pregnancy as an excuse to go soft forever. But their efforts really backfired. It’s a shame that successful people in all fields are often envied, create jealousy and are scorned for their achievements. But that is show biz and human nature.

First Californian and fitness enthusiast Maria Kang generated hate mail from women who thought she was a bully rather than an inspiration, when she posted the photo to the right. Later she wrote, “(One letter) said I should be ashamed of myself and that I should take down my Facebook profile picture. It said I’m a shame to women. It was deep and hurtful.”

In what she called her “First and Final Apology,” Kang posted on Facebook September 25 that she was “sorry” her haters “took an image and resonated with it in such a negative way.”

“I won’t go into details that I struggled with my genetics, had an eating disorder, work full time owning two business, have no nanny, am not naturally skinny and do not work as a personal trainer. I won’t even mention how I didn’t give into cravings for ice cream, french fries or chocolate while pregnant or use my growing belly as an excuse to be inactive,” she wrote. You can read more on her blog.

she delivered a baby just three days earlier

she delivered a baby just three days earlier

Then Caroline Berg Eriksen, who is the wife of soccer player Lars-Kristian Eriksen and has the biggest fitness blog in Norway, posted a photo showing off her chiseled body and washboard abs just three days after delivering her baby.

“During the pregnancy, people kept telling me that my body will never be the same and I wanted to show everybody that’s not entirely true,” Berg Eriksen, 26, said.

Berg Eriksen says she was amazed at how fast her body bounced back after gaining 22 pounds. Though she hasn’t worked out since giving birth, she says the purpose of the picture wasn’t to be cruel.

“I think all women should be proud of themselves, regardless of how they look after labor,” she explained.

Next the first mom above, Maria Kang, posted a picture of herself after SHE delivered a baby:

here is a more conventional post baby stomach

here is a more conventional post baby stomach

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Women Athletes At Peak Performance

peak athletes' different bodies

peak athletes’ different bodies

photos by Howard Schatz

photos by Howard Schatz

The images, taken by photographer Howard Schatz for his 2002 book, Athlete, recently resurfaced, reminding us of the diversity of women’s bodies.

What impresses me is how different body types are often needed to excel at different sports. (It reminds me of David Epstein’s book, The Sports Gene, which I will cover later…although here is an advance peek.)

Schatz interviewed and photographed hundreds of athletes for the book, a project he says was inspired by his interest in human variation and the musculoskeletal system. “I was also interested in passion,” he told the Huffington Post in a phone interview. “I was interested in what got them to do this. Because to become a champion, you have to put away so many things in life.”

You can read the whole article here.

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731 Days Of Continuous Exercise

On November 12th, 2011, I started a daily exercise program to see if I could be disciplined enough to stick with it. Just 5-15 minutes of push ups, abs crunches, weights, rowing, anything. EVERY DAY. No matter where I was in the world, no matter how many hours of travel, tennis, business, family. I was not able to exercise often before that time. Now I do it religiously. And as Jerry Seinfeld says, “Don’t break the chain.” Here is what I wrote a year ago.

I still can’t grasp that I do it. Two long years. It has wrecked my dinner-eating schedule, because I often procrastinate doing the daily drill for hours, and don’t want to eat until AFTER I exercise. But I am still willing to pay this price. It is often inconvenient and tiring and a real effort. But I am still sticking to this routine. It is not easy. Other people swim every day, or go to the gym four times a week, or run consistently. However I have no interest or discipline in those sports. I play tennis enthusiastically 2-4 times a week and also do my brief little daily workout. It keeps me toned. No muscles. But satisfied. You just have to find what works for you. And I have been very fortunate to have found something at all.

Some friends and family members have also started counting how long they could stick to an exercise routine. One was up to 50+ days. I don’t ask if that has continued…don’t want to make someone feel badly if they stopped. What’s most interesting is how annoyed people are that I do the drill every day. Maybe they are jealous, envious, pissed that they can’t do it. But I ignore their displeasure. I keep on slugging it out.

You ready to start doing anything? Doesn’t have to be every day…just do some exercise every week…

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A Moment On The Lips, Forever On The Hips

Un momento en los labios, para el resto en las caderas. That’s the phrase I bumped into in a Spanish language phrase book. The editor sure has a sense of humor.

I remember my capoeira mestre telling me he never ever drank a drop of alcohol. It was like taking poison. It would affect his athletic performance for sure. Yet just two days ago a friend who is considering expensive stem cell injections in another country stated that if he gave up drinking, he would grow more stem cells naturally. But he loves his wine or liquor too much.

I know former alcoholics (they would say they are never “former”) who refuse to take one drink for fear that their old compulsions will take hold. I understand completely how one little slip can lead to much bigger deviations. On a recent trip to Spain and France, it was impossible not to be served meat, cheese and cream in the food. It was everywhere, and these are three foods I gave up to keep my cholesterol low. I definitely miss chorizo sausage, so I had one little taste. Suddenly I was eating cured ham, salamis, lamb. Heavenly tastes. I tried cheeses I used to eat, had vegetables in cream sauce, and many flans with egg yolks. It was all delicious.

Of course I thought neurotically that I was on the way to killing myself. Ridiculous. But I started rowing again in a hotel gym on that trip. That kind of cardio really burns up the cholesterol. Thank goodness I left after 12 days of this food orgy. I was thrilled to get home and eat more normally for me. Much healthier.

But the idea of a short term deprivation for a longer term benefit is too difficult for most people. Whether the goal is to lose weight, be healthier, or save money. Humans want the immediate gratification. Just heard about a recent study testing whether people could give up some money in the short run to make more over time. If they had to wait a few hours or a day, they could. Wait a few days or a week…forget it. No wonder people can’t save money or invest in long term projects with payoffs years away. It’s how our species functions…maybe how we have survived for centuries. We will see if this pattern works when dealing with commodities shortages and climate change. In the short run, see if you can give up one food pleasure for a week. Catholics do it for Lent, right? Isn’t that 40 days?

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I Broke The Chain

It’s pretty obvious that I have not been writing regularly. In the words of comedian Jerry Seinfeld, I broke the chain…of consecutive (or even frequent) days in a row of writing here. I could blame it on my trip to Mongolia. Whatever. I came back jet lagging, then addicted to the US Open…then the America’s Cup…then debilitated by the fights in Congress…then depressing work on taxes…then someone ran over my wife’s little dog…still sad about a friend who died of a stroke…etc etc. Plenty of excuses.

I DID continue to exercise every day. The links in that chain are still intact. I have done some exercise–no matter how late, no matter where I was on the planet–for 696 consecutive days as of today. It’s barely a source of pride anymore. It’s a regular part of my life. Inconvenient some times, when I return home from late afternoons of tennis, and I have to wind down for an hour before I exercise…so that I can finally eat afterward. I feel real hunger pains. But that’s my life now.

Writing is another story. I need to push myself more here. I have always been undisciplined about writing and exercise. Conquered the latter. Now time to work on the former.

By the way, I have started playing tennis more frequently after the summer games ended, and the indoor/winter games are just beginning. I will write about a major improvement…

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Rudy The Strongman

My high school classmate, Rudy, is 74 years old and was advised to try strengthening therapy, rather than surgery. He has a trainer come to his house twice a week to crack the whip and make him do exercises.

He is ALMOST up to 10 almost-chin ups. Pretty good for anybody…not just a guy in his 70’s…

and then he sent me this: “After that initial set that i sent you, I did three more. 17, 19 and 10. Plus the push ups, bozoo squats with 12lb ball, chin ups, 30 seconds of high speed pedaling on stationary bicycle, between sets of weight lifting, leg lifts, flutter kicks, crunches. And that is the hour.

“The endorphins make me feel great. Like a drug.”

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I Am A Couch Potato

After 3 1/2 weeks of not playing tennis and so much sitting on planes, in cars and watching the US Open while I de-jet lag, I have gone over to the dark side: I am now officially a couch potato. This is an awful feeling. It’s been years since I didn’t stretch my lungs and legs each week or even every few days, hitting squash or tennis balls one to five hours, climbing up hills or hiking through forests. And I am not as driven to exercise as others who must do some cardio or visit the gym every day.

It’s disgusting. Debilitating. I am groggy. I feel like sludge in plumbing pipe. GIVE ME DRANO to clean out the mush. I need oxygen…

Melodrama aside, I am completely spoiled. Exercise makes me feel good and energetic. Friends tell me not to worry…they know I will get back into it. And they are right.

But why anyone would accept feeling this way is a mystery. They must remember running as children with the freedom those little legs gave them. I need that active aliveness now. I was a guy who never exercised…less than a decade ago. Now I am practically a missionary for sport and health. What a blessing.

Get off your couches, people. You will be amazed at how much more alive you feel. It’s like fuel for the engine to take in some oxygen and stretch your muscles and your mind beyond the comfortable zone. Enough…back to the tennis court and the rowing machine…

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Chris Pratt Gains/Loses Weight And Abs All The Time

Chris Pratt gained 60 lbs over six months for a movie role

Chris Pratt gained 60 lbs over six months for a movie role

Here is another actor who has the ability to gain or lose dozens of pounds and create abs each time he is lighter. Chris Pratt was in Zero Dark Thirty and wanted to look good when he was hanging out with Navy Seals. Right after that, he gains 60 pounds for a role in Starbucks. Then six months later he is Mr. Six Pack again to play a super hero in Guardians of the Galaxy.

How do these people do this, when it is almost impossible for most people to lose even 10 pounds? Makes you wonder about will power and the motivational influence of being on screen and earning money. Maybe the solution to the obesity epidemic is to film everyone who is overweight and post their bodies in bathing suits on public billboards!

Chris BEFORE he gained 60 lbs

Chris BEFORE he gained 60 lbs

Here is Chris before he gained the weight.

The “Parks and Recreation” funny man showed off his massive six-pack during an appearance on “Conan.” Pratt displayed his toned abs by flaunting an iPhone photo of himself standing in front of a mirror flexing while wearing only boxer-briefs.

Pratt said his six-pack is the result of getting in shape for his role as a Navy SEAL in Kathryn Bigelow’s upcoming Osama bin Laden takedown film, “Zero Dark Thirty.”

Chris AFTER gaining the weight

Chris AFTER gaining the weight


are those abs still under there?

are those abs still under there?

To play a lawyer in the comedy flick Starbuck, the 33-year-old actor was asked to put on a significant amount of weight.

“I gained 60 pounds in about four and a half months. I just did it the old fashioned way: eating and drinking my face off,” Pratt shared on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno Dec. 10. “I’ve lost a little bit of it, but it was hard. It was probably just as hard as losing weight. You wouldn’t believe it, but it is. It’s these same principle: It’s all about pain.”

showing off his abs again 60 pounds lighter

showing off his abs again 60 pounds lighter

After gaining all that weight, the 34-year-old actor underwent a physical transformation for his part in the upcoming “Guardians of the Galaxy” film. Pratt, who stars in the sci-fi movie, showed off his ripped body this week, taking to Instagram to post a shirtless photo of himself.Pratt attributed the transformation to six months without beer, hashtagging “GOTG” to confirm that the makeover is for the superhero film.

This isn’t the first time Chris, who stars in the sitcom, “Parks and Recreation,” has drastically transformed his physique. In 2011, Chris lost 30 pounds for the drama “Moneyball” and then, shortly afterward, gained 50-60 pounds for the comedy “Ten Year.”

“I went from 220 pounds that I cut down for ‘Moneyball’ to almost 270-280 pounds for ‘Ten Year,’ ” he said. “I gained like 50 pounds to play this fat, alcoholic character. I would drink dark beer every night.

“I would have a double order of pancakes every morning. Burgers for lunch. Fries, snacks, candy. I ballooned my weight up. It was probably very unhealthy, but it was so fun.”

Pretty impressive that he has so much control of his weight. Lots of discipline showing here!

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Over 600 Days Of Daily Exercise

Today will be the 604th day in a row that I have forced myself to exercise for 5-15 minutes. In the beginning I was impressed that I could stick to it. I read that Jerry Seinfeld made himself keep writing comedy routines every day by never “breaking the chain.” After years of thinking I had no discipline, I have proven myself wrong, changed my self image, grown in self esteem, kept some tone, can still see some abs…at least a 4-pack.

I might play tennis four times a week, but those games don’t count…I still do “my exercises.” I travel to France for a week…I do them there and before/after the flight. No matter where I am, no matter what I have to do, no matter how late—and sometimes it might be almost 2 am—I do my exercises: abs crunches, abs bicycles, bent over rows with weights, pec flys, push ups, planks (reached five min in Japan, four min the other day), wall sits…these are my regular tasks. Sometimes it is agony.

I heard this week that Novak Djokovic stretches two hours each day. But he is a professional. A former prima ballerina from the NY City Ballet told me that “anyone can find an hour-and-a-half a day to do exercises and stretches.” I thought she was naive. I barely had time to eat some meals when I started my own business and struggled to keep it going.

There were gym rats I met who had no girl friends or needed to get away from their wives. I saw them at the gym, when I went for two years. But I couldn’t keep spending 2-3 hours each visit, including travel to and from. So I gave myself the challenge of doing “anything for at least five minutes a day. 600 days is 20 months. I still can’t believe I did and am doing it. But it is one of my major accomplishments…if I can do it, maybe you can too.

The other day a friend complained that he joined a gym five minutes from his home and went a whole year WITHOUT EVER MAKING IT INSIDE! The owner gave him another year of membership. I told him about my daily routine, and I don’t think he felt 5-10 minutes a day was very impressive. However he said maybe he was setting his bar way too high. I’ll check in with him the next time we meet. Hope he is doing something…

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Goofy Prancercise May Be For You

Well I finally heard of Prancercise. I only went to France for a week, but one author said, “Wait, what’s prancercise? Have you been living in Pyongyang or something? It’s an exercise routine inspired by horses, featuring such moves as “the prancercise gallop” and “the prancercise box” as well as some incredible rhymes by its instructor and founder, Rohrback, decked out in a crisp salmon jacket and some very revealing white pants:

“We’re gonna really cut the noose and let it loose, with the prancercise gallop.” ”

Joanna Rohrback knows you are laughing at her, and she doesn’t care.

She’s aware that people think her exercise routine “Prancercise” is “goofy,” and that by extension its founder must be “spooky and goofy and weird and wacky. I say bring it on. I love it. Look at all the attention it’s getting me. If I wasn’t all those things, I wouldn’t be who I am.”

You can see the original routine below, and you can read more right here .

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Sharon Simmons Is Fit In Her Fifties

Sharon Simmons in pink (rt) trying out for the Dallas Cowboys cheerleading squad...at age 55

Sharon Simmons in pink (rt) trying out for the Dallas Cowboys cheerleading squad…at age 55

Saw this article about a 56-year-old woman, Sharon Simmons, who has worked out for over 35 years and started competing in fitness competitions just seven years ago, at 49. Of the 20 she entered, she came in first in nine and placed in two national competitions. She also wrote a couple of books about fitness, not letting age and others’ opinions hold you back, and at 55 tried out for a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader slot. You have to admire her spirit and fearlessness to take emotional risks.

No doubt she is exceptional with her physical abilities and looks at her age. Few grandmothers look like her. And even fewer women in their mid-fifties. But her attitude and life style are part of the reason. Check out her web site . And here are excerpts of the article, which includes eight of her lessons for aging and living well.

the Texas granny

the Texas granny

1. “It’s really not all about winning.”

Though Simmons has a long list of fitness competition wins, having a place in the winners’ circle isn’t what motivates her.

“It’s about getting there,” she realized after her first fitness competition in Las Vegas in 2006.

3. “Never allow anyone else to set your limitations for you.”

Over the course of her fitness modeling career, Simmons has had her fair share of criticism from friends, family and strangers alike, she said.

“People think that people over 50 should be on a porch in a rocking chair… Where would I be if I listened to them?” she said with a laugh. “We are in control of what we do to a certain extent. There’s this stigma that ‘Oh, they’re grandparents, they should really start slowing down or retiring.’ Well, why? We’re only just beginning!”

7. “Don’t lose sight of your goals. If you get sidetracked, get back on.”

Don’t beat yourself up if you find yourself veering off course from your goals, Simmons advised. Failing to get back on course is worse than dusting yourself off and trying again. “[Figure out] how do I get there and then establish those steps,” she said, “because it will be small steps that get [you] to that goal.”

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Love This Doctor!

He gives great advice

He gives great advice

A friend sent me this advice from a doctor he met. I love the insights and contrarian views.

Q: Doctor, I’ve heard that cardiovascular exercise can prolong life. Is this true?
A: Heart only good for so many beats, and that it… Don’t waste on exercise. Everything wear out eventually. Speeding up heart not make you live longer; it like saying you extend life of car by driving faster. Want to live longer? Take nap.

Q: Should I reduce my alcohol intake?
A: Oh no. Wine made from fruit. Brandy distilled wine, that mean they take water out of fruity bit so you get even more of goodness that way. Beer also made of grain. Bottom up!

Q: How can I calculate my body/fat ratio?
A: Well, if you have body and you have fat, your ratio one to one. If you have two body, your ratio two to one.

Q: What are some of the advantages of participating in a regular exercise program?
A: Can’t think of single one, sorry. My philosophy: No pain…good!

Q: Aren’t fried foods bad for you?
A: YOU NOT LISTENING! Food fried in vegetable oil. How getting more vegetable be bad?

Q : Will sit-ups help prevent me from getting a little soft around the middle?
A: Oh no! When you exercise muscle, it get bigger. You should only be doing sit-up if you want bigger stomach.

Q: Is chocolate bad for me?
A: You crazy?!? HEL-LO-O!! Cocoa bean! Another vegetable! It best feel-good food around!

Q: Is swimming good for your figure?
A: If swimming good for figure, explain whale to me.

Q: Is getting in shape important for my lifestyle?
A: Hey! ‘Round’ is shape!

Well… I hope this has cleared up any misconceptions you may have had about food and diets.

AND REMEMBER:

Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways – Chardonnay in one hand – chocolate in the other – body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming “WOO-HOO, what a ride!!”

AND…..

For those of you who watch what you eat, here’s the final word on nutrition and health. It’s a relief to know the truth after all those conflicting nutritional studies.

1. The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

2. The Mexicans eat a lot of fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

3. The Chinese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

4. The Italians drink a lot of red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans…

5. The Germans drink a lot of beer and eat lots of sausages and fats and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

CONCLUSION: Eat and drink what you like. Speaking English is apparently what kills you.

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Thoughts On Motivation And Living By A Military Amputee

This amazing story by Derick Carver—the amputee in the video above— was sent to me by a reader in Japan and is very inspirational. It’s also a good kick in the butt or take-your-breath-away punch in the stomach about how to live your life. Coincidentally, I also served at Fort Bragg, learning to jump from planes and becoming Airborne, and also spent time—a month—recuperating in Walter Reed Hospital, after I returned from non-combat, military duty in Korea with hepatitis. Other than that, of course, there is NO comparison…

In early 2010, I was serving as a Platoon leader in the 82nd Airborne. On a dismounted patrol my platoon was ambushed by the Taliban and I lost my leg in combat. I flatlined 3 times, I endured 47 surgeries, would need 52 blood transfusions. I fought through them, and I continue to fight every day of my life. I will fight until the day I die. I am an American Airborne Ranger…that is what I do.

People always ask, “What motivates you?” This question comes up at least 3 times a week while in the gym. I can only assume someone sees me, my leg and other injuries and imagines how difficult it must have been to recover from such a traumatic event. My response is always the same, “What the hell else am I supposed to do?” Three years ago I was an Infantry Officer with the 82nd Airborne, had a Ranger Tab, and I was jumping out of airplanes and leading men in combat. Now, because according to your standards I’m “disabled,” am I supposed to be a different person? Sit around and feel sorry for myself? That’s not in my nature; it’s not a choice I’m willing to accept.

Motivation or the lack thereof is a choice. Just like everything else in our lives Read the rest of this entry »

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Unbelievable Exercises To Challenge Any Human

This demonstration of 44 bodybuilding exercises is beyond belief, if you are like me and have never seen or heard of some of them. Unfortunately they are not do-able if you are a mere mortal. I suspect gymnasts could do some of these, but not many ordinary humans. There is one of them I might take a crack at. I will let you know if I break or tear any body parts…I did it, and I am sore all day…

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Physical Activity Feeds Your Brain

Two weeks without tennis wasn’t SO bad, because at least I was walking and climbing steps each day during sightseeing in Japan. My first week home, I played tennis four different days, and though I am still jet lagging, and almost collapsed in the third and fourth sets two days after returning, my game and energy improved greatly by the end of the week.

Now here is an article suggesting an emerging scientific view of human evolution: we are clever today in part because a million years ago, we could outrun and outwalk most other mammals over long distances. Our brains were shaped and sharpened by movement, the idea goes, and we continue to require regular physical activity in order for our brains to function optimally.

Later on, the author writes, if physical activity helped to mold the structure of our brains, then it most likely remains essential to brain health today…Recent studies have shown that “regular exercise, even walking,” leads to more robust mental abilities, “beginning in childhood and continuing into old age.”

Well looking at Buddhist temples and gardens for six hours a day in 40-degree weather sure took its toll on me…I was often exhausted. And I suddenly became aware of all the people behind store counters standing all day to earn a living. I basically sit a lot, writing or reading on the computer. Tennis stamina aside, I am definitely not used to being on my feet for hours and hours. However real physical body movement is now a regular part of my life. It’s good for health and stimulates my brain. Are you keeping active? And fiddling with a TV remote or game controller does not count as useful physical activity!

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Amy Serfass’s Fitness Camp For Women

Amy Serfass (left) leads her Booty Camp

I met Amy Serfass at a Tough Mudder obstacle course she was traversing and wrote about her abs. Now it’s Amy’s turn to write about her views on fitness, diet and health and especially her group training program for women.

Ladies—Make group training your new gym membership and avoid becoming an overweight statistic.

Two thirds of women are trying to lose weight at any given time, but 64% of women are still overweight and unhappy, according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention). Even if you’re not in the fitness industry, the average female acknowledges obesity is on the rise and, in-fact; more women (35%) are obese compared to men (32%). This had me thinking. What is truly keeping women from working out? I polled fellow females and found these common reasons:

Amy is always ready to get tough with her ladies

1. I don’t have time – #1 reason!!!
2. I don’t have anyone to exercise with
3. I don’t feel comfortable working out at a traditional box gym
4. I don’t know where to begin or what to do
5. I don’t have any motivation or energy

I got into this industry and became a certified personal trainer because I wanted to help women from becoming an overweight statistic. I wanted to motivate them to exercise while making them feel better about themselves and their bodies. That’s why I decided to specialize in women and weight loss and create group training experiences specifically for females.

Group training for women provides a platform to meet other females with similar health and fitness goals. In a group setting, you find the energy and motivation that one-on-one training can’t always provide. It eliminates the need to know where to begin or what to do, because you’re following a professional that has your best interests in mind. Group training also reduces the risk of boredom, helps you avoid exercise plateaus, and provides much needed exercise variety to keep you coming back.

Most importantly, you are part of a positive community, creating lifelong friendships, and accomplishing goals you never thought possible. I have had clients complete their first 5k together, their first mud/obstacle run, organize marathon parties, or attend social events as a unit. All of these events have been accomplished from meeting other females at a group fitness program dedicated just for women.

Achieving or maintaining a healthy weight is not just about fitness. Weight loss is at least 80% nutrition, 20% fitness. With my group training program, known as Amy’s Booty Camp, I focus on nutrition by providing guidance from a certified nutritionist. Members are also required to log their food, which keeps them accountable and disciplined. One rule of thumb is cutting carbohydrates past 3pm. It’s necessary to have good carbohydrates in your diet, such as whole grains, because they act as your immediate source of energy for the body. Your brain uses about 450 calories of carbohydrates every day. However, if eaten in excessive amounts, the body changes them into fats and stores them in that form. By eating good carbohydrates before 3pm you allow your body more time to burn them off, so they are less likely to be stored as fat.

Offering nutrition expertise while working out at least 2 days per week has led one female to lose 27 lbs and 14.5 total inches in just 2 months with Amy’s Booty Camp!

group support helps the inches disappear

Many of us feel that we don’t have time to work out. The women in Booty Camp MAKE the time to commit because they are unable to get the results on their own. Booty Camp also provides personal time away from work, family, and the daily stresses of life. By making the class fun, friendly, and full of variety, I am able to keep members continually enrolled. Booty Camp is also for the early risers. We train two days per week for 5 weeks at 6:15 am for an hour. Statistics show that 90% of people who work out in the morning stick to their exercise routines.

After each 5-week Booty Camp program, we take no more than one week off before starting the program over again. I stay in touch with the ladies via email and Facebook during their week off, continually offering them healthy tips and guidance to stay connected and keep them motivated. The program runs exclusively in the Upper East Side area of New York City at a studio on 67th Street & 3rd Avenue.

For more information on my growing Booty Camp program please visit my web site.

Amy Serfass
NASM Certified (National Academy of Sports Medicine)
Master Trainer at Australian Institute of Fitness

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Decision-Making Can Be Treacherous

digging out of a 30-inch-high snow drift

This little adventure is a lesson in decision-making.

We were stuck in the snow the other day. It was 30 inches deep in some places, but who knew? It’s like walking through a puddle and discovering it’s over your head.

My buddy and I were stocking pheasants for the next day’s hunt…you know hiding the birds in the bushes, so the hunters and their dogs would have the challenge of finding them. And we came up to this snow-covered road with truck tracks that stopped in the middle. But the storm had only dropped 3-6 inches. How deep could this drift be? We saw that it was around a foot, so my friend felt his truck could make it. He shifted into 4-wheel drive, hit the gas, and I said to him, “You sure have balls.” I always admire courage and the willingness to take chances.

free after half an hour

Within seconds we were stopped. Too much snow to push, the wheels spinning, the undercarriage completely clogged in white. Fortunately we were just a 100 yards from the barn, where there were shovels to dig us out. It took half an hour at least to clear the truck and then about 50 feet of road. I was hoping that this could count as my exercise for the day and that I wouldn’t die of a heart attack. While we were digging, my friend told me of a 60-year-old guy he knew who just last month had been dragging a deer he shot out of the forest and dropped dead of a heart attack. Just what I needed.

I often think of how one poor decision can be so costly. The actor who played Superman, Christopher Reeve, took one horrible jump on a horse and became a quadriplegic for the rest of his life. How he must have hated that decision for the nine years he lived after it (he died at just 52).

I met a man who owned one of the most well-known public companies in America, and told me his big mistake was buying another well-known department store chain. It put the combined operation into bankruptcy, and cost him almost $100 million personally.

Digging out of the snow is not in that league. I wasn’t in a hurry and took breaks when I was tired. I didn’t strain my back, because I was careful…after straining it two days earlier, when my car wouldn’t start, and I had to push it out of traffic. Small decisions for me so far. I have made much bigger ones that were good ones, like marrying my wife, starting a business, relocating to a farm. No guts, no glory. I love taking chances. Some people hate uncertainty and play life safe. How about you? Made any giant choices lately? How do they feel?

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365 Continuous Days Of Exercise

On November 20, 2011, I wrote that I had exercised nine days in a row and wondered how many more continuous days I could keep on exercising. This was a difficult challenge, because my whole life I have been totally undisciplined, when it comes to even five or 10 minutes of exercise any one day. I can pass on foods not healthy for me, I can save money, I can return phone calls…but I can’t make myself do some push ups or crunches.

But I changed. Somehow. I wish I knew what made me able to do it.

This week a friend told me that I have become “a fanatic” about this daily exercising. It was said as criticism, not as admiration. Yet just now, at 11:30 pm, after dinner and two hours of tough tennis this morning, after almost three hours of business and conference calls on a Saturday, I completed my 365th day of continuous exercise. I didn’t miss one day the whole year. Although I just noticed that 2012 was a Leap Year, so there is one more day to go this particular year.

So how does it feel? I certainly don’t feel crazy. I have certainly been proud to report my progress and describe what a huge accomplishment this is for a guy who was only able to dream about such discipline for at least…55 years? Since I was a teenager and wanted to have a better build. Other guys could lift weights and bulk up. No interest. Other guys went to the gym 2-4 times a week for decades. Not me. I stopped that after 2 1/2 years. But somehow frequent tennis playing and just 5-15 minutes a day of exercise have proven satisfying enough and felt good enough to keep at it.

Many of the days I procrastinate for hours before my little exercise sessions. I delay dinner, or I wait for hours after dinner. I have even risen from bed after midnight, when I realized I had forgotten to do some crunches or push ups, lift some weights, do planks or quad lifts. But I am doing them.

Every single day. I did it. I am doing it. I am a different person. How did I get to this place? Maybe I will figure it out and let you know. I am proud. Surprised. Confident. Amazed that it is now a part of my everyday life. It is who I am. I feel special…not just compared to others who don’t do this, but compared to earlier versions of me. I am smiling. This is a fun journey. Where am I going? I will let you know…

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Paul Ryan Stays Fit With P90X

Paul Ryan works out often

It’s 1:30 am, after the Vice-Presidential debate, and I have been procrastinating doing today’s exercises. So in reading the post-debate analyses, I bumped into this story about Paul Ryan’s interest in fitness and working out. Once I post this, I will do some of my own exercises…

When TIME named Paul Ryan a runner-up in the 2011 Person of the Year issue, many were familiar with his proposed budget, but few knew that the Wisconsin Congressman stayed fit with the now best-selling P90X workout plan.

Ryan says he keeps his body fat between 6 and 8 percent. At six-foot-two, the congressman says he weighs about 163 pounds and tries to get his heart rate to 165 during cardio. He says he wears a heart pulse monitor while working out. “I’m kind of a skinny guy,” he told Politico. Ryan held down three jobs right after graduating from Miami University in Ohio in 1992, one of which was as a personal trainer. Ryan’s father died of a heart attack when Ryan was sixteen, one reason, for Ryan’s dedication to fitness.

Tony Horton, the stand-up comedian turned P90X creator, says the rigorous workout has been boosted from both sides of the aisle. “I think Paul Ryan’s been very good for P90X, as much or more so as Michelle Obama,” he says. “I’ve worked with the First Lady and her Let’s Move campaign. Some of the Secret Service came up to me and said, ‘Hey man, we’re really loving the P90X.’ I’m well aware that they’re using it in the White House.”

According to Horton, you don’t need a lot of equipment to get fit. Ryan likes to use weights, but they aren’t a necessity. “You need the human body, Mother Earth and Sir Isaac Newton’s law of gravity,” Horton says.

TIME asked Horton to suggest a get-fit regimen that could be implemented alongside the presidential campaign but still leave time for careful consideration of the issues. He recommended an upper-body exercise, a cardiovascular interval exercise, a core exercise and a leg exercise.

Confusing the electorate is unwise, but according to Horton, confusing the muscles is a plus. This involves changing the routine often so muscles don’t get accustomed to any one exercise. To get the full benefit of this regimen, you’ve got to make like the party and diversify. “Do a different push-up every time,” suggests Horton. “Add kenpo karate or jumping jacks or whatever on that second move. On the crunches, modify your position to engage the abs or core directly. You can do squats with your feet wide, your feet narrow. It’s a workout that might also give you a bounce. As few as two rounds of that will release norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin.”

Perfect for when the poll numbers aren’t going your way.

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Jerry Seinfeld’s Success Formula Applied To Exercising

Jerry gives good advice

A reddit member posted a link to an article about comedian Jerry Seinfeld’s secret to writing. But the author says it can be applied to anything, and he has used it for himself in many areas. It will even work in getting people to exercise with some regularity, and I will vouch for the concept. It’s what happened to me in terms of transforming myself from a dreamer who avoided the gym and couldn’t force myself to do even five minutes of exercise a day into a guy who now hasn’t missed a day of exercise in 11 months. An astonishing achievement for someone as undisciplined as I am—or used to be—when it comes to making myself stretch, push or lift. So here are some excerpts:

He told me to get a big wall calendar that has a whole year on one page and hang it on a prominent wall. The next step was to get a big red magic marker.

He said for each day that I do my task of writing, I get to put a big red X over that day. “After a few days you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain.”

“Don’t break the chain,” he said again for emphasis.

Over the years I’ve used his technique in many different areas. I’ve used it for exercise, to learn programming, to learn network administration, to build successful websites and build successful businesses.

It works because it isn’t the one-shot pushes that get us where we want to go, it is the consistent daily action that builds extraordinary outcomes. You may have heard “inch by inch anything’s a cinch.” Inch by inch does work if you can move an inch every day…

Skipping one day makes it easier to skip the next.

This reminds me of a friend who drank and drugged for years, then joined Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous and has now gone almost 20 years without a drop of booze or dope or coke. He always says that it’s impossible to “just have one little drink” and then go back to abstinence. So he never “skips a day” of sticking to his routine. I feel the same way about my exercise chain. So I make myself do it to keep the chain going.

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Sari Keeps On Changing

Sari Max is a new person

Sari Max is just melting away, and it’s having a huge effect. She wrote earlier in March about how she’d lost over 60 pounds. Now she has dropped another 15! And she has brought fitness and athletics into her life. She is biking for the first time in maybe 15 years, kayaking, which she hadn’t done in at least 20 years, and sometimes adding running spurts to her fast walking.

Sari with son Ben

She is a changed woman, with her new hair style and a bit of color. “I am full of vigor, she tells me proudly.”

I know it takes a lot of discipline to exercise when you haven’t been. But Sari is even doing floor exercises at home, including push ups and 25 sit ups at a time. Way to go, Sari!

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Back At The Gym For A Tension-Relieving Workout

After 14 months of avoiding the place, I finally made it to the gym. It was a minimal workout, just 30 minutes, but it really felt great to be pumping up. But knowing I was going to be near the gym after a friend’s afternoon lecture, I thought the gym visit would be easy.

In fact it was absolutely necessary. At the lecture, I saw an acquaintance who told me his wife had died just three months after learning she had cancer. They had been together almost 30 years, had both recently retired and were planning “a decade or two of travel and relaxation.” I was so stunned I could barely stand up. I became a bit dizzy and thought I was going to fall down, that my legs wouldn’t support me.

So I raced to the gym to burn off my fear, anger, tension, adrenalin, whatever. It was a welcome relief from a horribly upsetting encounter. I feel so bad for this man who is struggling with his new and unexpected circumstances. And for his deceased wife, who had almost no time to prepare. I didn’t ask any questions about lifestyles and health habits. It just reminded me yet again how fragile and unpredictable our health and living is. It’s a constant gift that needs to be appreciated, treasured and cared for…

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