Control Freaks & Injuries

It’s well-documented that highly productive people typically have exercise in their daily routine. After all, exercise keeps the mind sharp and provides Type A personalities the energy to get through their intensive days.

It’s also not a stretch to describe Type A’s as control freaks. After all, they know what they want and how to get it done. They want it done their way and they will seek to control all the variables. However, control is a mindset and that sometimes makes them stubborn and even irrational. They don’t like to be told what to do or that they are wrong. This is the same trait that makes them succeed at times and cause them to fail at others.

In context of exercise, stubbornness could result in injuries, or exacerbate an existing injury. This is where having a trainer is valuable. Besides getting you in shape, a trainer’s job is to keep you from hurting yourself. In the case of an existing injury, a trainer will know how to work around it and keep you in shape while you heal up. For some, ceding control–even if it’s at the gym–is difficult. But if you’re smart, you will know when to not be your own enemy. A good trainer will bring out the best in you, even if it’s to protect you from yourself.

Hello Summer!

If there’s any doubt that summer is here, the near triple digit temperatures in Los Angeles the last few days remind us that the heat is on. The high temperatures also remind us that we need to stay hydrated, in particularly when working out.

Dehydration is serious, as it hampers our efforts at best and cause harmful injuries at worst. Our muscles, tendons, and ligaments all need proper hydration to perform at peak levels. Moreover, the majority of the brain is made up of water, so it stands to reason that a lack of hydration would negatively impact brain function. When dehydrated, the nervous system cannot efficiently facilitate communication between the brain and the body, causing a wide variety of symptoms, including fatigue, cramps, headaches and nausea. Obviously, all these conditions affect your workouts.

So be smart. Drink lots of liquid. Maintaining electrolyte levels is a good idea, too, to prevent cramping. As temperatures rise, the rate of dehydration increases. But dehydration rate is not the same for everyone, as everyone’s body is different. Sometimes the effects are subtle and you might not realize you’re dehydrated.

Here’s a pro tip on gauging whether you’re drinking enough water: It’s the bathroom test. If your urine is a dark yellow, you’re dehydrated. Drink some water now. Consult the chart below and enjoy your summer!

Variety is the spice of life (and your workouts)

So you had a nice workout routine going for few weeks. You were disciplined and on point. You were showing progress early on.

Then you noticed you hit a plateau. After a couple of more weeks, you stopped seeing anymore progress. What’s worse is you might even see a decline. What happened?

What happened was your body acclimated to your new normal. What you need to do is shake things up once in a while. You have to add variety to the routine. We are creatures of habit. Our brain and body are wired and built to adapt. Our body responds to a new workout by getting stronger. Our muscle fibers grow due to increased activity. Similarly, our brain creates new pathways every time we learn something. It’s no surprise that exercise makes us sharper, physically and mentally.

The problem is our muscles and our brain need new stimuli to sustain growth. So you’ll benefit by varying your routines. Try something new. Add something new. Workout with a partner. Or, even better, work with a trainer.

Time is priceless, here’s how to make more

Time is the most valuable commodity we have in life. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Forever. You can’t turn back the hands of time.

What if you can make more time? What if there is something you can do to extend the clock, so you have more time to spend with family and friends, watch your kids grow up, and do all the things you want to do but seem not have time for?

What if that’s possible? I’m here to tell you it is possibly. The question is: Would you do it?
The secret is exercise. You probably knew the answer all along. But you were hoping for a magic pill or something miraculous. Here’s the thing. Exercise is a virtuous cycle. The more you do it, the more you want to do it. The more energy you expend, the more you have. Your brain secretes endorphin, a.k.a. the happiness drug, when you workout. Runners call it runner’s high. You get into a zone and you want more of it. 

The physical benefits are numerous. Exercise promotes healing, regulates digestion, and speeds up regenerative processes. In other words, it actually keeps you younger.

In addition, exercise makes you more focused, attentive, and sharp. In other words, it actually makes you smarter. 

You can’t put a value on time, but you could add value to the time you have. Normal people tend to waste time. Smart people try to use every minute they have. But brilliant people extend their time by taking care of themselves, specifically by exercising. In doing so, they stay young longer and they are sharper, which lets them better enjoy the things they do and the people they surround themselves with.

So what are YOU waiting for?

Your Work Ethics is Your Best Path to Success

You could get the best equipment money could buy, have the best shoes and most expensive outfits, but those things don’t guarantee success. Your family name and genetics will only get you so far. Whatever certifications, degrees, or titles you have are just paper. Whatever you look like, the car you drive, or house you live in are all just superficial materialism.

In your workouts, and as in life, success is a mindset. The secret sauce of success is work ethics. Having a work ethic means you understand the process. It means you don’t care about cutting corners. It means you don’t need to cheat. It means you never choose to do less when you could do more. After all, when you take the easy way out the only person you are short-changing is yourself.

Moreover, having a work ethic means you understand that all the hard work you’ve put in could be wiped out by just one bad decision. All those weeks of building muscles could be negated by deciding to binge eat on junk food one night. All the cardiovascular endurance you’ve developed could be wasted by excessive drinking one night out on the town.

A work ethic is self-motivation in the present with a vision of success for the future. So keep your eye on the prize and enjoy the process. 

The importance of sleep to your workout

Last week, we discussed setting up a workout routine and complementing it with a sensible eating routine. Today we will talk about the third component to a healthy lifestyle: sleep.

Sleep is important for mental alertness, controlling stress, and maintaining the immune system. The brain needs it. So do the muscles. Sleep is often overlooked in the context of your workouts. It’s great that you put in a terrific session at the gym, but without adequate sleep your workout would be wasted. You need sleep for muscle recovery and growth. Eight hours of sleep is optimal, as is a consistent circadian cycle, meaning that you go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning. The body and mind thrives on consistency and routine.

Lack of sleep will result in stunted muscle recovery and you won’t see those muscles that you worked so hard for. Consequently, the fatigue means higher risks for injury during your workouts. So help your muscles out by getting a good night’s sleep. It will make a big difference for your workouts.

Get your diet back on track

In the last post, we talked about the merits of routines, as it applies to workouts. It also applies to diet. However, we are not referring to what or even how much to eat. Rather, an eating routine specifically is about when to eat.

Ideally, you should eat 5 to 6 small meals a day. Of course, the busyness of life often does not allow us that luxury. The conventional three meals a day routine — breakfast, lunch and dinner — is feasible for almost all of us. Of the three meals, breakfast is the most important. The first meal of the day modulates our appetite for the rest of the day. In addition, eating protein after waking will give us the fuel and nutrients to sustain us for the whole day because takes the longest to metabolize. This controls mid-day hunger. Conversely, skipping breakfast is detrimental because we tend to overcompensate later in the day. The worse thing to do is to eat a lot of carbs before bed. Since our metabolism slows down when we sleep, those carbs are stored as fat.

Eating a hearty breakfast, moderate lunch and sensible dinner — and doing so at the same time each day — will create a routine that would help our body function optimally. So even if you happened to eat late the night before, get your diet back on track by eating breakfast the next morning.

The benefits of routine

Almost every successful leader, executive and entrepreneur value routine in their lives. That includes exercise or a form of physical activity. Workout routines foster consistency, which develops habit. As we know, exercise keep us mentally sharp. Routine keeps us structured. It’s a virtuous cycle.

But successful people are not simply content with rote repetition. Rather, successful people employ deliberate practice in their routines. A good routine incorporates a feedback system. Having a routine allows for measuring progress. It provides for tracking what works and what doesn’t. Then you would know how to adjust the routine to achieve improvements.

In the big picture, a routine is a tool. It is a lifestyle tool that we could use to help us accomplish goals we set for ourselves. In fact, it is one of the best tools we have in life. It is likely you have routines of some sort in many facets of our lives, whether it’s work, school, chores or anything else. You already know the benefits of routine. Now just apply it purposefully to your workouts.

Beware the Friendly Saboteur, Part 3

As previously mentioned, the friendly saboteur is likely a friend, family member, or significant other. He or she will be someone close to you. So how do you counter a friendly saboteur without sacrificing the relationship, assuming of course that you want to keep that relationship?

The first step is mindfulness. Be aware of your workout goals and the work you’ve already put in. Then make sure the people around you have that same awareness. Let them know what you are trying to achieve and enlist their help to get there. This serves a dual purpose. First, you will preemptively deflect that offer of dessert or suggestion for another drink.

The second, and more important, reason is that you’ll know who is your true friend. By telling people your goals, you give them a chance to either help you or not. Those who know what you want and help you are people you want to keep close.

Those who don’t… well, oftentimes it’s about them more than about you. And that will be a topic for another day.

In the meantime, good luck with your workouts and stay on track!

Beware the Friendly Saboteur, Part 2

How do you recognize the signs of a friendly saboteur? How do you know if a friendly sabotage is happening?

There are two times when you are most susceptible to friendly saboteurs. We have already alluded to one of those times. When you are having a good time it is easy to lose sight of our goals because our guard is down. When you are enjoying the company, it’s easy to accept another drink or take an extra slice of cake.

The other time when you are most susceptible to friendly saboteurs is when you’re having a bad day. When things go wrong, we get dejected. That leads to depression, which causes us to drop our guard, which in turn makes us susceptible to a friend’s offer of another drink or another bite of dessert.

So being too happy or too sad are times when we are highly suggestible, easily swayed. These are times when we must be mindful. Being balanced is a good metaphor for working out and for life.

Stay tuned for Part 3, when we offer counters for the friendly saboteur.