Emerson, Take, And Calmer..

Some thoughts, and some music in preparation for next week’s column on change…

 

“Speak what you think in hard words and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said today.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Or,

“A man who views the world the same at fifty as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life.”  Muhammad Ali 

Blind Mellon, Change

I don’t feel the suns comin’ out today
Its staying in, its gonna find another way.
As i sit here in this misery, i don’t
Think i’ll ever see the sun from here.
And oh as i fade away,
They’ll all look at me and say, and they’ll say,
Hey look at him! i’ll never live that way.
But that’s okay
They’re just afraid to change.
When you feel your life ain’t worth living
You’ve got to stand up and
Take a look around you then a look way up to the sky.
And when your deepest thoughts are broken,
Keep on dreaming boy, cause when you stop dreamin’ it’s time to die.
And as we all play parts of tomorrow,
Some ways will work and other ways we’ll play.
But i know we all can’t stay here forever,
So i want to write my words on the face of today.
And then they’ll paint it
And oh as i fade away,
They’ll all look at me and they’ll say,
Hey look at him and where he is these days.
When life is hard, you have to change.

The 5 Most Effective Disciplines To Tone Your Arms And Glutes…

I’ve been chewing on something for quite a while now, and it’s not a protein bar.  Or maybe it is…  

 In a never ending plot to solicit more readers, to sell more subscriptions, and to sell more products boasted by these medium, fitness magazines and fitness websites work diabolically to hook people by bombarding readers each week with hypnotic eye-candy; these lists from the “experts” of the 5 most effective exercises to tone_____, or to shape______.  These, according to them, are the guaranteed best exercises for glute training, ab flattening, arm toning, etc.     

Always in lists of 5, always supported by pictures of smokin’ hot fitness models in immaculate condition, and always guaranteed to produce the “best results”, these lists of the 5 best grab people by the hope, and month after month swing them around until they’re dizzy, before they finally let go only to land not far from where they started.      

These lists of top 5 exercises do produce results.  That is, they do sell a great deal of promise along with all those subscriptions and all those products which are sold.  Rarely though, do they deliver much in the way of tangible results.  You see, these top 5 lists neglect some very important componants of exercise success; that the most critical and important elements of any shaping, toning, or strengthening exercises, are all the peripheral disciplines which need be applied in order to make those top 5 exercises effective. That is, the deeper consideration of the movement, the supreme effort required to make those movements work, and the food that be included to support the effort.      

 Yes, there are some exercises that are more effective than others for toning this, or for shaping that.  However, no one exercise is the exclusive remedy for toning bat-wing arms, making the pecs look tighter, or the ass harder.  Even the most effective exercises have limited utility unless practiced regularly, performed properly, done with some degree of intensity – all supported with above average eating.      

 So rather than bore you with a list of Roy’s top exercises, guaranteed to provide results (push-ups, pull-ups, free-squats, low-back extensions, and walking) here is my list of the 4 most effective disciplines that, applied to any exercise, can create the kind of change you are looking for in how your body looks and functions:      

    Saying “No”      

 Saying “no” is the most effective way I know to make progress in exercise. Since it is good eating, above all else, that promotes results from exercise, simply saying “no” to excess fats and sugars, too much alcohol, extra helpings, and extra calories in general, will go a long way in supporting whichever top 5 exercises you key in on.  Saying “no” to excuses helps too.         

Say "no" to temptation, and say "hello" to success...

   Taking That First Step     

   There’s a discipline for you, taking action. Take steps in a left-right-left-right kind of way, and actually do something rather than just placating your inner desire and dreaming about action.  Taking the first step is a discipline destined to help you help yourself. The ability to initiate the first step of the walk, the first weight lifted, the first stretch had, the very act of just getting out of bed or off the sofa and making exercise happen is a great discipline indeed – and without it, dreams of improvement will remain as such.        

Foot prints on the road to improvement offer and brilliant aestethic...

  Reflect On The Negative  

Take time daily to reflect on what you don’t want to look like and how you don’t want to feel.  This discipline can add serious enthusiasm to your exercise habits. Too often we look only at our lofty goals with glazed eyes and a numb head.  Sometimes it’s much more motivating to work yourself away from a lesser moment, than to work towards a greater goal.  Being aware of, and working away from, who you don’t want to be is where the true fire of fitness can come from – where mine comes from anyway.         

   

Spend time thinking about what you DON'T want to be...

  Journaling    

  Nothing reinforces both the good and the bad of a given day better than journaling.  Writing down, and regularly reviewing your eating habits and your exercise patterns, can be a great way – perhaps the best way to stay connected to the discipline of change.  Change can be elusive when progress is not monitored.  Journal your way to success by documenting your fitness day – daily.     

   

Journal the fitness days, and create a written legacy from which to learn...

As it relates to these ever present lists of top 5 exercises published in magazines and on the web each month, I suggest that which top 5 exercises matters a lot less than which disciplines be applied to them in the periphery.  Wrap your arms around exercise, yes, but wrap your mind around it too.  These top 4 disciplines, among many others, will set you up for more change in how your body functions, feels, and appears, than any 5 exercises I could list; push-ups, pull-ups, squats, low-back extensions, and walking.  Discipline is the Swiss Army Knife of  change; it  is a very portable asset, and can be used as a tool to accomplish anything.  Be well. rc

Nine Inch Nails; Discipline…

A lyrical  prelude to this week’s column on; discipline.  Tune in Friday for more… rc

Am I
Am I still tough enough?
Feels like I’m wearing down (down down down down)
Is my viciousness losing ground (ground ground ground ground)
Am I taking too much?
Did I cross the line? (line line)
I need my role in this
Very clearly defined

I need your discipline
I need your help
I need your discipline
You know once I start I cannot help myself

Now it’s starting up
Feels like I’m losing touch
Nothing matters to me
Nothing matters as much
I see you left a mark
Up and down the skin (skin skin)
I don’t know where I end
Or where you begin

I need your discipline
I need your help
I need your discipline
You know once I start I cannot help myself

I cannot stop myself
Once I start I cannot stop myself

And you know
Once I start I cannot stop myself
And you know
Once I start I cannot stop myself
And you know
Once I start I cannot stop myself
And you know
Once I start I cannot stop myself

I need your discipline
And you know
I need your help
Once I start I cannot stop myself
I need your discipline
And you know
Because once I start I cannot stop myself

I need your discipline
And you know
I need your help
Once I start I cannot stop myself)
I need your discipline
And you know
Because once I start I cannot stop myself

And you know
Once I start I cannot stop myself
And you know
Once I start I cannot stop myself
I need your discipline
And you know
Once I start I cannot stop myself
I need your discipline
And you know
Cannot stop myself
Once I start I cannot stop myself

One Slow And Perfect Repetition At A Time…

 “Your cheatin’ heart will make you weep
You’ll cry and cry and try to sleep
but sleep won’t come the whole night through
Your cheatin’ heart will tell on you”

In his classic song, Your Cheating Heart, fitness trainer Hank Williams Sr. clearly had his finger on the pulse of modern gym culture.  He cried out to all violators of poor exercise form to change their ways.  He saw the risk of injury, of over stressing bones and joints, the potential to damage tendons, muscles, and ligaments, and tried to warn us all.  Still, many don’t listen and continue to use weights which are too heavy, and cheat their exercise form in the name of (perceived) progress.

Consider the lack of connectivity between these two terms; cheating, and progress.  Where else in life do we connect these two terms and expect a positive result?  Congress notwithstanding.

Cheating an exercise might (arguably) be necessary for competitive athletes to induce maximum growth in muscular size and strength, that they gain an extra edge over the competition.  Cheating applied to the workout of an every-day fitness enthusiast is a risk taken, with nothing to be gained.

Knowledge And Fidelity

It’s said that it is better to aim for success, and not for perfection. Since real perfection can never be reached, striving for it would be time and energy squandered.  I suggest that in functional strength training for general fitness, perfection should be pursued, and actually can be achieved. The perfect singular repetition of a strength exercise is simply a choice; the choice to raise and lower a weight properly.   If one makes even a reasonable study of what proper form is, one can simply do it properly and repeat – perfection had.

Performance By Roy; A Brief Seminar On, Momentum-Free, Execution of Strength Movements

1) No weight selected on a machine, barbell, or dumbbell ever be so heavy that perfect form could be not be obtained for 8-10 repetitions.   Your body will not know how heavy a weight is, it will only know how heavy it feels through the course of the exercise.

2) Concentric: With weight in hands, or at the ends of your feet, begin a slow raising of the weights.  This lifting phase of the exercise, when the weight, in whatever medium, is headed upward toward the ceiling, should take 3-4 seconds.  Regardless of the exercise or apparatus, whenever a weight is rising toward the ceiling, one should exhale slowly through the mouth as the weight rises.

3) Pause:  When the weight is at its highest point, that muscular contraction should be held a moment. Take an extra breath or two after each repetition.  This increased oxygenation will allow the set to be sustained longer.

4) Eccentric: The weight is slowly returned to its starting position.  This should take 5-6 seconds.  One should breath in and out (naturally) while the weight is being lowered.

5) Pause:  When the weight is at its lowest point, the extension should be held for a moment with the muscles involved fully stretched.  Again, take an extra breath or two after each repetition to increase oxygenation.

Risk

Exercise should make your life better, not worse.  Momentum (cheating) while performing strength movements increases the opportunity to become injured by taking stress away from the area(s) one is trying to effect, and placing it in areas which may not be prepared to receive that load.  Tendons, muscles, ligaments, and joints which are not prepared to receive that extra strain, become more likely to give way to injury.

The Utility Of Control

Moving weights perfectly, in a slow and controlled manner, will add value to your human experience.  Moving weights more slowly will make you stronger where it matters most; outside the gym in this ongoing challenge we call everyday life.

Practicing perfect form in the gym, lends itself to better lifting form outside the gym.  Being able to control a weight both in the concentric and eccentric phase of an exercise is a life-skill whether one is carrying a bucket of laundry across a room, installing a ceiling fan, or staying bent down to tie a child’s shoe.  Moving lighter weights more slowly is a different kind of strength; one you might actually need when you leave the gym.

The Limits Of Power

The human body will only get so strong.  Better we master the weights we lift in everyday life; the weight of grocery bags, the dog, backpacks, suitcases, etc., than to focus on hoisting big numbers in the gym.  I put a moratorium on myself years ago that I will not attempt to increase any of the poundages I use in my strength exercises.  So long as I practice perfect form, and do so consistently, all the benefits of my strength training will remain, both in how I function and in how I look.   Okay, so it’s a very garage video, but the camera don’t lie — you don’t have to cheat to succeed, nor do you have to lift successively heavier weights to benefit from your workouts.  I should be more agressive with my success.  Be well.  rc

Questions:

A) Will reading this change how you think about lifting weights, and how you lift them…?

B) Do you forgive me for my amateur video…?

It’s Not Momentum, It’s Cheating…

In preparation of this weekend’s column, I give you a message from Fitness Trainer, Hank Williams Sr.    More this weekend.  Oh, and if you want a hint, check out the tags at the bottom…

Your cheatin’ heart will make you weep
You’ll cry and cry and try to sleep
but sleep won’t come the whole night through
Your cheatin’ heart will tell on you

When tears come down like fallin’ rain
you’ll toss around and call my name
You’re gonna walk that floor the way I do
Your cheatin’ heart will tell on you

Your cheatin’ heart will pine some day ,
And crave the love,you threw away.
The time will come when you’ll be blue,
Your cheatin’ heart will tell on you.

When tears come down like fallin’ rain
you’ll toss around and call my name
You’re gonna walk that floor the way I do
Your cheatin’ heart will tell on you
Your cheatin’ heart will tell on you”

Homokarateus…

My brother, Mark, is now a black belt in Karate. More on that later…

 Brotherly Antithesis

 I met my brother when I was just a few days old; he is four years my senior. Our first dialog took place the day I came home from the hospital. It was a one way conversation, he calling me a “Puss”, me knowing better, but unable to respond. From that day, he has never called me anything else.

 My first reply to his name calling would only come years later, once I developed beyond simple words.  The first word I would permanently assign to him was, “Homo”, and I still direct it at him with a sinister precision every chance I get.  Since that time, Puss and Homo are the only two names we ever really call each other. Too bad, only one of us can be right.

Mind, Body, And Spear It

Karate has been the theater of my brother’s physical release for over 16 years. I don’t think of my brother without also thinking of Karate – it may be the largest part of who he is. Though some 4 of those 16 years were lost to injury, Karate has been at the front of my brother’s exercise mind since his first introduction into the art. Immersion and participation into the whole of Karate has enhanced my brother’s life in ways I never would have imagined. Sixteen years in, he has become an evolved and improved man – definitely for the better, and that’s saying something. Every belt earned along the way has been a mile marker on the road to the mind/body synergy that is the martial arts.

A Karate Man and his Karate class. Mark's daughter Natalea, also his student, in front...

Mark was always athletic.  In our basement home gym when I was 10 years old or so, he taught me properly how to do bench presses, concentration curls, how to sprint, and how to punch our homemade punching bag, and how to jump rope like boxer – and he was scarcely 14.  He also taught me the ins and outs of crank phone calling, ringing and running, and how to jump from the roof of our house and land safely in the shrubs without spearing our ourselves on juniper branches.

Mark ran cross-country and track in high school; he had that fast-white-guy-thing going on that was very popular in the late 70s, ala Steve Prefontaine.  Simultaneously, he was a good dead-lifter, and proficient in the bench press. Later, in college, he boxed, played intramural football, and rugby. His nickname on his football team was, Bear. While in law school, in one of the nation’s earliest incarnations of the modern 10K race, The Boulder Boulder, Mark ran a competitive time and even got his name in the local paper. Mark has always kept himself in-shape.

Whitman College Rugby circa 1978-ish. Mark in back row under bandana...

Though he was always good in sports, he never excelled at any sport; not for his lack of discipline, but for a lack of priority with sports.  My brother’s passion was academia. If it came down to running 5 miles, or reading about philosophy, Mark would choose the read three times out of five. Despite his passion for both institutional, and independent studies, Mark has always made time to run, and has always participated in strength training, stretching, and general conditioning.

Sixteen years ago, Mark realized this was no longer enough to stimulate his exercise needs and he entered a local school of Shudokan Karate. This modern adaptation of ancient form of action, underwritten by thinking, captivated him.  Karate became a defibrillator of sorts, giving him the jolt that got his psyche and his body firing in absolute synchronicity for the first time. He was now free to move and philosophize – simultaneously, and he has ever since.

My brother is an amazing person, and if his name weren’t Homo, it might be Achievement. All before he turning 50, he has been a highly decorated military judge advocate, a municipal judge, a published novelist (http://www.pepperkeane.com/index.html), father of three children adopted from China, a business man, and a political leader in his community. Mark does things right; the type of man who identifies what needs to be done, and then  just goes about doing it.  

Pope John Paul II once told me the Fractal Murders was, "The best god damned book I have ever read." He might have been drinking...

Mark wrote to me last week to tell me that, after 16 years, he is now a black belt in Shudokan Karate. Even knowing him as I do, I remain awestruck that he accomplished this. Not that I ever doubted his ability to reach his goal, but I understand well the commitment of time and physicality involved in achieving black belt status — and he had so many other things to tend.  I ruminated on this for several days before I could finally reply to him.

I responded by writing back and congratulating him on, what I feel is his greatest achievement – above all the other achievements. To have achieved in the theater of physicality, is to know the joy of triumph over one’s own self. Mark may have been a judge. He may be a novelist. He may also be a great father and have accomplished many great things. Today, he is a black belt in Karate; a champion over his own self – and a homo.  It’s a coupple of days early but, happy birthday Homo.

Please follow the link to the right and read, The Flow Of Existence, the paper my brother wrote as part of his black belt testing requirement.  Be well.  The Puss

Not enough time…

Assuming the sun rises on a given day, we will be blessed with 1440 minutes to live, give, and to complete the tasks of our day. If but 30 of those minutes were given to exercise, you would still have 1410 minutes remaining to live, give, and to complete those tasks.

A calling to wake up, to live, to move…

Still, many say feel they don’t have time to exercise.

The average person sleeps for 460 minutes per day – a grand bank of time to be sure. Withdraw just 30 minutes from that account for your exercise, and you are still left with 430 minutes to spend on your sleep – nearly twice the sleep that the human body needs. Now add-in the increased energy and productivity that comes with daily exercise, and a more efficient day will be at hand.

What looks like a vault is actually a bedroom door. You have the combo, open it up, make a withdrawal…

Still, many say feel they don’t have time to exercise.

The average American will spend 360 minutes every day watching television, socializing, or engaged in leisure activities such as computer solitaire, XBox, knitting, or whatever. These may bring about relaxation and escape, but will do little to promote increased energy, self confidence, and improved health. Subtract 30 minutes for exercise from this time and you will still have 310 minutes remaining for your TV viewing, though I doubt you will find anything worthwhile to watch.

So much has changed in the last 50 years, including our girth….

Still, many say feel they don’t have time to exercise.

The average American spends 330 minutes doing little things each day such as eating, drinking, shopping, and general dilly-dallying. I’ll bet with a little planning these could be done in less than 300 minutes, and you could eliminate dilly-dallying altogether. More exercise time has just been made.

From simple math, we can see at least 90 minutes of time from which 30 minutes of daily exercise can be had.

Still, many say feel they don’t have time to exercise.

There is time to exercise – lots of time. It can’t be found though, it can only be made; taken from the bank of time you use for other aspects of your life. I say so often, what you are looking for is not to be found, but to be created. Your exercise time will not take you by the hand and lead you to the workout. You must take your own hand and lead yourself to the time that you choose to use — to make your life better with daily exercise.

Though we feel time controls us, I think we have the potential to control time…

And ah, if the sun doesn’t rise? Don’t sweat the calories from that caramel frapacinno – it will be the least of your worries.  Be well.  rc

Type and be heard…

The Setup

Somewhere in Nebraska there is a meandering two lane road.  The road winds between hills formed from wind-blown sand and held together by wild grasses through the ages.  The road rarely sees traffic; the occasional farm truck, big-rig, or lost tourist.  Its broken shoulders are adorned with heartland rust.  Between two sections of a fading yellow line that divides the road is a weathered aluminum can which has been crushed and re-crushed by countless truck tires.  That can, between those two yellow lines, on that meandering rustic road, might be the only object on earth that doesn’t have its own blog.

Even the can left the road to start ww.canblog.com... Its a joke, don't look for it.

The Future

When I was 8, I thought the future would have flying cars which could turn into a briefcase at the push of a button.  Perhaps I might push a button in my kitchen and a steamed lobster would appear on demand.  Another button still, might be pushed and my dog would be walked for me.  Regardless of my need, in my future, button pushing would be important – the Jetsons told me so.  More on that later. 

My dad promised this would be my future...

The Axiom

“When followers choose to lead, leaders will be forced to follow.” Perhaps the greatest opportunity for the manifestation of this conviction exists in the sum of blogging and reciprocating commentaries.  That’s what makes blogging and social networking so miraculous; that they not only give a voice to the human constituency, but they may just give it a chance. Voices can be shared with other voices, forming stronger voices still.  Awareness spreads, ideas grow, possibilities increase, and change becomes more probable.  Though this also applies to all opposing ideas, opinions, intentions, and declarations, in this age, many more are included in the discourse.

My Little World

I write what I guess would be called a fitness blog.  Really it’s not.  Fitness is the guise I use to share my own opinions, ideas, and intentions, including this one.  I write about everything from faith, to business, to politics, government, and family values – all in the name of squats, broccoli, and a better resting heart-rate.  Even if what I share affects few people, and influences fewer issues, I feel like I have more of a voice and a greater opportunity than ever to be included in the conversation.  That voice spreads further as I participate in the conversations of others who’s blogs allow me the opportunity to respond. 

Frick!!! If only I could shut off my brain...

Social Networking Critics

I’m not suggesting that all blogging and social networking carry some degree of merit.  There is a great deal more crap out there than substance, and I am supremely guilty of feeding the crap machine.  But even that, the sharing with dozens or hundreds of people at a time, which soup I had for lunch, or that I just picked my nose and it was ‘kinda gooey’, is a release for me – and apparently it is a release for tens of millions of others. 

Many suggest this fodder is an enormous waste of time; perhaps it is.  I am suggesting that most of us are just longing to speak, if not be heard.  Social networking allows us the chance to speak, even if nobody is listening.  That we may get a response is a cherry on top of the shout-out.

Blogging Critics

To those who suggest that information blogging isn’t real journalism; take a look around – it is the new journalism and the evolution continues.  As the roots of this kind of information blogging continue to spread, to choke out, and to take market-share away from traditional journalism, I will suggest that the followers have chosen to lead, and the leaders have been forced to follow.

An Unfolding Reality

Our time is one of an unfolding blossom of increased intercommunication and an increased interdependency; individuals rising to what they feel might be a higher purpose with their voices and their finger tips.  Where I once thought blogging and social networking were a bridge to not very much, it now appears to me, they just might be a bridge to anyone and to everywhere. 

 The future is here, and though button pushing  does not turn my car into a breifcase, button pushing is central in this age.  A majority of the button pushing that is done, by a majority of the people it seems, is done on keyboard keys just like these — and for good reason. Be well.  rc