Thursday, August 31, 2017

Fitness Bands Do Break!

As an enthusiastic user of fitness bands for at-home workouts, I check my bands before every workout for signs of fatigue, wear, or splits. Even so, I had two fail on the same day recently. One snapped me hard in the hand rather than the face, for which I was grateful. I now face away from the band as much as possible as a further safety precaution. Manufacturers recommend bands be replaced after 90 days of heavy use, and I do heavily use mine.

For extreme use, such as the gravity-defying chest exercises Erik Janicki demonstrates in the photo above, I place chair cushions on the floor in front of me to land on just in case a band fails mid-exercise.

Another precaution I take is teaming up two (or more) lighter bands instead of using a single heavy band. This way the stress is distributed over 2 (or more) bands instead of all the stress being put on a single band. If one fails, the fallout should not be as severe.

I also make sure the mirror I am looking into is out of my reach so that I don’t inadvertently crash into it. YouTube FAIL videos have taught me how easily dangerous shit can happen that you never foresaw.

Amazon has many choices in fitness bands priced currently between $18.99 and $26.99. Replacing them 4X a year comes in at about $100, cheaper than any gym membership I know about.

I just ordered the $18.99 version due to the many positive reviews and will review this set in a month or two after I’ve put them to heavy use. Watch for it.

SALSA Is The Friend Of Fitness

When I read that an actor in training for a superhero role is existing on dry chicken breast, I go “Huh?”

Who eats like that if they don’t have to? It’s hard to gulp down food that isn’t enjoyable, and low-calorie and low-fat do not have to be synonymous with tasteless.

Salsa is delicious—for the two or three of you who have yet to discover Mexican food. Salsa is a very tasty low calorie accompaniment to all kinds of protein: chicken, beef, fish, pork, eggs. Salsa’s great on steamed vegetables and on rice.

Salsa is non-fat and low calorie, yet crammed with savory goodness as well as being very easy and inexpensive to make, and it requires no cooking. Google “authentic Mexican salsa” to view recipes, or buy a commercial brand, but check the label first for non-essential ingredients like sugar, fats or artificial flavors.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Save Yourself

Whenever you see anyone at the gym exceeding their limits, put as much distance between them and you as possible.

Amazing how many of these idiots have an expectation that others will jump in to rescue them even as they put all those around them in danger with their ego-fueled shenanigans.

Watching a few of the gym/crossfit FAIL videos on YouTube, it’s disturbing how many bystanders put themselves in harm’s way trying to save people who have no business being in a gym in the first place. Be smart enough not to endanger yourself via someone who’s willfully exceeding their limits.

There’s a clinical term psychologists apply to those individuals who arrogantly fancy themselves as rescuers of stupid people: they’re called “stupid people.”

Monday, August 28, 2017

Supplements Are Just One Example Of Distraction - Recognize and Avoid Distractions

My previous post on supplements hinted that, for many people, supplements are a panacea, a substitute for the actual work that has to go into the workout, a distraction. Those who are merely going through the motions at the gym or in their home workout will not reap the rewards.

A recent article in the Los Angeles Times Millennials are spending big on trendy places to sweat - LA Times
made me chuckle, especially after the Times changed the original title which stressed that this group was “bored.” With this wrongheaded mindset of being bored, or looking for the latest trendy thing, few of these hop-scotching people will achieve what they desire longterm because their head is not in the game. If you are going to the gym and getting results you will never be “bored.” Neither will you be looking around for the next trendy thing to jump on, because you’ll be too excited and preoccupied over your current progress.

As a personal trainer I understand that people get stuck for a lot of reasons. The first is lack of desire to acquire necessary knowledge. No matter what your goal in life—to be a better carpenter, to code better, to run faster and farther, to build a physique that matches your ideal—you have to educate yourself. You have to read, watch videos, learn from others, practice to become better, listen to advice (then accept it or discard it based on your particular circumstance), and above all you have to invest the time—ongoing time. No matter what you want to master, there is no end-time, there is no learning all there is to know about it. The process to become really really good at what you desire is ongoing. There’s always a new way of doing things, a new angle at which to attack a problem.

The bottom line is DESIRE. People who make excuses (pain, time, money, energy) but make no effort to solve their stated problem will of course fare less well than those who tackle the problems. If you want an impressive physique then you’ll find a way. Making excuses tells me, as a trainer, that you’d like the end result but will not commit to the steps required to achieve that.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

They’re Called Supplements, Not Substitutes.

Most of us have seen that guy at the gym who spends an hour or less just gabbing with people, who as he leaves, stops to spend $100 or more on supplements.

I see guys on Instagram mixing up batches of everything from pre-workout to post-workout supplements that they credit their gains to. I don’t buy it, and not just because of the absence of scientific proof.

The current mindset created by supplement companies is that what’s keeping you from attaining your desired result is the absence of their products in your nutritional plan.

What’s actually keeping you from attaining your goal is a lack of effort, both at the gym, and in your off-hours when you should be vetting YouTube videos rather than watching crap.

In my younger years I was guilty of thinking that “homework” was the last thing I wanted after spending a grueling 90 minutes at the gym, and thus I made little headway. It was not until I embraced the self-educational aspect of fitness, meaning learning from others, that I began to excel.

The only supplement you need is protein, as it is difficult to get all that your challenged muscles require just from conventional food. I have researched dozens of other supplements over the years, but nothing other than creatine makes any sense for me, as creatine allows your muscles to retain their vital water, making them fuller.

Spend your money as you wish, but nothing will benefit you more than learning and applying proper technique and good form to your chosen exercises.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

High-Protein, Cheap and Tasty - And Easy On The Calories.

Often now I’ve seen actors who play super-heroes in movies do interviews where they all lament how they were forced to eat little other than chicken breasts and broccoli during the months they trained for the role.

This unappealing eating regimen has become almost the default—and for no good reason. There are plenty of other foods, and even interesting ways to prepare chicken and broccoli, to make eating pleasurable again, rather than a chore.

The easiest and best of these is SOUP.

A basic soup would take no time at all: a carton of chicken broth, a can of chicken breast and frozen vegetables of choice. That’s it! It's never a good idea to allow others, whether it be some giant food corporation or your local restaurant, to determine what goes into your food.

You can increase the protein content and taste by adding to the above simple recipe a can of refried beans and a measure of uncooked rice, allowing the rice about 10 minutes additional cooking time to absorb the tasty liquid. Beans combined with rice make a complete muscle-building protein.

Consider also adding spices, such as herbs de provence, salt, Thai 7-spice, garlic powder, MSG, red pepper flakes and more. The spices at your local health food store that you purchase in bulk form - as opposed to pre-measured supermarket kind - are cheaper, usually fresher and of greater variety.

Make enough soup to last you a few days. Then, when you walk in the door famished, there you have an already-prepared microwavable meal ready to eat in literally two minutes. I make enough to freeze so I always have a meal on hand when I'm too lazy to cook or go to the store. Otherwise in my hunger-panic I might end up grabbing an unproductive snack food like cookies or crackers that distances me from my goal.

Here’s Your Instant MakeOver - You’re Welcome.

Richard Sullivan at age 60

As a professional photographer allow me to tell you that many of the photos you see online and in print of celebrities and everyday people are meticulously curated.
This means that despite the often casual, off-the-cuff vibe the photo exhibits, much care and thought has gone into its creation.

For a fitness blogger or Instagram star POSTURE is the number one most important detail of any selfie or posed shot. Most people do not display great posture 24/7 because… gravity.

Gravity is pulling us down always and good posture requires the ongoing fight against gravity. So, stand tall, shoulders down, back and relaxed. Chest out, forward, stretched a bit. Legs spread apart, knees unlocked. Stomach pulled in. Spine elongated, as in, standing as tall as your body allows. That’s a lot!

Readjusting our posture provides an instant makeover. Nothing we can do is so comparatively effortless and at the same time makes a HUGE difference in our physique. Working to improve and solidify good posture makes all the difference in our looks but also in the message we’re sending out: that we are confident and excel physically.

I don’t have the mental energy to be totally aware at all times of my posture. The worst posture for me is when I am working in the kitchen, a room which, because I rarely eat out, I constantly inhabit. When I’m not cooking or eating I am prepping or cleaning up - which I don’t enjoy and thus find myself rushing through the task to get it over with - and that’s when my posture goes to hell. When I catch myself I immediately go into good posture mode, but I don’t always become aware right away or remain aware as I am preoccupied with the kitchen tasks.

Another poor posture time is while driving. I wasn’t even aware of this until I came across a YouTube video by a video blogger that pointed this out and offered solutions. Go to YouTube and search “driving posture” for the many videos on this overlooked subject.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

What Is It That Drives The Food Nazis?

The Control Freaks who scream and evangelize about the supposed dangers of various foods—and the lists of their enemy foods are endless—meat, grains, vegetables, carbs, gluten, fats, sugar, salt, dairy, and on and on—need some serious therapy.

People who are so obtuse as to not recognize their own dysfunction and who, despite no evidence, present themselves as all-knowing experts on things such as nutrition or fitness whose goal is to harass and troll others are just begging to be ghosted. So do it.

It’s actually fear that makes the world go ‘round, rather than love. People are incredibly complicated as we all know, and it’s a waste of time to try to figure them out. The best option is to reject and ignore those who preach and divert all their energy into trying to convert you to their ways.

Recognize toxic Control Freaks for who they are when they come barging into your life, and for your own sake get rid of them. Shut them off, unfriend them, move on. Allowing toxic people space in your life leaves less room for the healthy, positive, supportive people we all require for a happy, balanced existence.

The compulsion to convert others—whether it be to food, fitness choices, religion, politics—illustrates an urgency to seek validation. People don’t put energy into converting others unless they’re insecure about their own choices. The philosophy being, if I can convince you to come over to my side, then that alleviates some of the nagging doubts and questions that I’m having concerning my choice. 

Going to extremes is without exception a troubling behavior, and those who go to extremes are quite openly telling the rest of us how unbalanced they are. To paraphrase Maya Angelou, when people tell you how unbalanced they are, believe them—the first time.

Friday, August 4, 2017

“Body Acceptance" = Giving Up

Fat people it seems have given up on losing weight. Now they are evalgelizing about "body acceptance" which is code for giving up.

 “Accepting” your circumstance is no different when it comes to your poor physical state than “accepting” your poor mental health, or the poor state of your finances, the poor state of your marriage, the poor state of your career.

It’s called Giving Up.

We do not have millions wailing in protest over “undue pressure” to better their relationships, or their income, or their parenting, or their financial or career success. So what is it about losing weight that so rankles people? I’ll tell you: In order to achieve all other forms of success you need the cooperation of others, therefore, when things don’t go your way you can place the blame on them. Not so with eating.

You need other people’s cooperation to buy your product or service, to have a successful relationship, to get a promotion, to provide you with money for whatever reason, and thus when you are not successful in these areas, you can blame others.

However, when it comes to obesity, no one is shoving fast food down your gullet. No one is duct-taping you to the couch. There is no one or nothing else to blame, though people valiantly try: genetics, metabolism, thyroid.

Fat: it’s all on you—literally.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Fitness Bands Provide A Unique Result

I used to scoff at fitness bands. I mean, really? The Rubber Band Workout? How absurd. To me it reeked of 1 a.m. infomercial material. 

Boy, was I wrong!

Fitness bands are unlike free weights, unlike machines, unlike cables. Fitness bands, because they keep the target muscle under constant tension provide a unique feel and a unique result.

For decades I’ve made fun of those people who without any proof whatsoever argue that “real” muscle can only be built using free weights, and that gym machines were a cop out—stated with authority as if science had conducted a double-blind study to back their ridiculous conclusion.

As those of us who have dramatically changed our bodies well know, ALL resistance training builds and shapes muscle, and arguing about which is superior is a waste of time and intellect.

“Mix it up” is the advice I’ve taken. Keep your muscles guessing. Don’t fall into the rut of a habitual unchanging workout. Keep your workout interesting. Experiment. There is no one answer or method to building muscle or pursuing fitness.