Halloween, Dia De Los Muertos, Wait, What?!
So, Halloween has passed, which is the universal marker of the impending end of the year. Which is always a recognition of how fast the year has flown by. In all honesty Halloween is really a pre-game to the overwhelming whirlwind holidays called Christmas and New Year’s which always occur WAY too fast, by way of a short semi-mindful speed bump called Thanksgiving. This is ALSO a mental recognition of the universal: holy crap how did I really just go another year, month, quarter NOT fulfilling on my short/long term goals?
Instead of being victim to the fall holiday anxt that involves the always infuriating questions of “How are Christmas ads out this early when Thanksgiving is still weeks away?!” and the “How many things can they add pumpkin spice to?”
Let’s instead punch all these gosh dang frustrating commercialization of human emotions right in the god forsaken face by mindfully taking a step back and saying, no more! I will not eat a tub of pumpkin flavored something or other whilst sobbing in front of Love Actually. I will not judge people spending more money on people they like than I have money in the bank. I will not drink eggnog….unless it has rum. I will not watch Elf on repeat on Christmas Eve…well maybe not that last one.
Anyway, let’s get a jump on these GD holidays. Let’s make a plan to be mindful, to work our fitness plan, and to love all of humanity.
14 day fitness challenge. Get in on this. Respond or email me if you’re game for 14 days, starting Nov 9th!
Spoiler Alert: Existence is Fatal
By Forest Melton
I’m up late as per usual and instead of listening to music whilst working, this time I choose to listen to YouTube videos, which isn’t unusual. A Greg Plitt video comes on, and he is saying something powerful around giving it your all. With my adrenaline pumping, an opposing emotion entered my psyche. I began to reflect on how young Plitt was when he died (mid 30’s, train accident, Jan 2015). Even though I’d heard his video maybe 20 times prior, I had a strange thought, “Holy moly, Gregg Plitt had no freakin’ clue that he was going to die that day. He was at the top of his game, peak of his life.”
And then I had another strange thought, “Whoa, we are ALL going to die, and none of us are going to have a clue when it happens.”
And another peculiar thought followed, “And it might actually be really soon!”
Wait, what!? This is completely unfair! And as if my brain wasn’t already riveting with critically high levels of new information, I pondered still, “If this is so, then why don’t we all live our lives to our own personal max? Why don’t I live MY life to my max.”
I have always been aware of the concept of us all dying someday, at least intellectually. But yet I lived life the same. With this new information, I immediately felt confronted. Naturally I thought others would be interested in hearing about this epiphany. In sharing this revelation with my friends these past few days, I got 2 responses. There’s the “Holy crap, that is so true I forget that regularly, thank you for the reminder!” and then there’s the “Yeah, we’re all going to die. Of course.” With the latter response I consistently found myself somewhat deflated, I wanted to say “This is a big deal! Don’t you see that this is a big deal!?”
And then it occurred to me, of course people ‘know’ they’re going to die. They also ‘know’ how to lose weight but that doesn’t change how they show up in the world, or whether they actually apply that knowledge.
“To know and not to do is not yet to know” -Confucius
“Knowing is not enough, we must apply.” -Bruce Lee
If we’re all going to die anyway, why do we waste time living a life we settle for? Why do we hold back on our expressions of love, gratitude, sadness. Why do we fear what people are going to think of us? Why do we play small and ‘hope’ for a good enough existence instead of giving our all always? We should kiss the girl, stand up to assholes, exercise hard, speak our minds, call our mothers, give our change to the homeless, laugh – like really really laugh. We should be exactly who we are called to be in every moment of existence. Or that moment is wasted. If you’re watching Netflix, watch the HELL out of that Netflix episode. Don’t just have it on in the background barely appreciated.
The bigger fear shouldn’t be in how people perceive us, it should be in living a life that we did not consciously choose. Going to bed each day having given partial effort, barely surviving our circumstances.
I want that when my head hits the pillow, I know I left nothing behind. I did it all that day. I did the very best I could. And I can rest well, knowing that tomorrow I’ll do it again. That’s the difference in knowing that we’re going to die and acting as if.
How do we get more willpower!?
By Forest Melton
I woke up this morning to missed texts from my running buddy Devon, “We’re still meeting today, right!?” Oops! Unfortunately, I’m a failure, and sometimes it feels like my brain has no control in the battle of willpower, especially when my body is fatigued. And apparently this morning my body said, “Nope! I’m on strike, buddy! We’re going back to sleep“. Despite setting 3 alarms, and not recalling ‘snoozing’ any of them, I managed to miss our morning run date. Ironically enough, I’m reading a book by Dr. Kelly McGonigal called “The Willpower Instinct”, and it is awesome. I’m only on Chapter 3 of 10, but so far it’s been a great read! Dr. McGonigal talks about willpower being a muscle you have to train and build through practice. And much like a muscle, things that prevent muscular growth seem to prevent willpower growth.
It shouldn’t be surprising to hear that I had been sleeping for 2 hours when my alarm went off this morning, definitely setting myself up for failure a little bit there. One of the key ingredients in decision making is glucose. With sleep deprivation, the body has a harder time delivering glucose to the brain, which has obvious taxing effects. So, less sleep = less glucose delivery to the brain = less willpower, ouch.
As stated above, with less glucose comes less willpower, and low blood sugar has the same effect as sleep deprivation. When we starve ourselves, less glucose is reaching the brain, resulting in a reduction in willpower. Who knew a well-balanced diet effected so many aspects of life.
One of the most interesting things McGonial covered in this book, so far, was a study out of the University of Sydney where researchers found a ‘wonder drug’ that was massively effective in increasing willpower, the study found that after only 2 months of treatment participants had the following results:
- Improvements in attention and the ability to ignore distractions
- Reduced smoking, drinking, and caffeine intake
- Participants ate less junk food and more healthy food
- Participants spent less time watching tv more time studying
- Participants were saving money and spending less on impulse purchases
- Participants felt more in control of their emotions
- Participants procrastinated less and were less likely to be late for appointments
What in the heck is this ‘wonder drug’ and how do I purchase a life time supply!? …it was actually exercise, weird! Participants only exercised once a week for the first month, and up to three times per week by the end of the study. Exercise has been shown to be the single most effective tool in increasing willpower. Say what!? And you can purchase this ‘wonder drug’ for the low low price of Free!
In conclusion, for all of you, who like me, feel willpower deficient, here are 4 other ways to increase your willpower per Dr. McGonigal’s research.
- Exercise – because duh.
- Sleep – a full night’s rest, but also naps help.
- Meditation – 5 minutes to 20 minutes a day has been seen show immediate and lasting benefits. In fact, studies have shown that meditation creates positive physical changes in the brain (Taren 2013).
- Slow Breathing – in times of stress, consciously slow and deepen your breathing. It physiologically minimizes the fight or flight response, making you less impulsive and more intentional. An instant increase in willpower reserves!
- McGonigal, K. (2012). The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why it Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of it. New York: Avery.
- Taren, Adrienne et al. (2013) “Dispositional Mindfulness Co-Varies with Smaller Amygdala and Caudate Volumes in Community Adults”. Plos Journal. May 2013.
10 Gadgets for Getting Fit at Work
Who doesn’t love technology!? Here are a few items we can use on a daily basis to reverse the effects of a sedentary lifestyle! …of course a well balanced diet and an active lifestyle are the largest contributors to health, but these make the journey a little easier. Some of these prices are crazy, but great article here:
1) Dumbbell Alarm Clock
Start your workout from the instant you wake up with the Dumbbell Alarm Clock. When the alarm sounds at 6 a.m., you’ll have to do 30 reps before it will stop. Use your rage and groggy frustration to draw on strength you didn’t even know you had. Soon, your arms will be strong enough to hurl it out of the window with ease. $16.49 — Lightinthebox
2) Tato commuter bike
Instead of driving or taking public transit to work, get your cardio in by riding a bike. The Tato bike even has the added convenience of a cage that snugly fits many briefcases or laptop bags in the center of the frame. You could even add on one of these Travel Trac Book Caddies to get work done while you ride. Actually, on second thought, you might want to skip the book caddy if you are concerned about staying alive. $1,500 — Tato via CubicleBot
3) Withings Wi-Fi scale
When you arrive at the office, the first thing you should do is analyze your progress by consulting the data collected by the Withings Wi-Fi Scale. When you weigh yourself at home on the handsome glass and aluminum scale, it automatically beams your weight and body fat analysis to own your private stats page on the internet via Wi-Fi. Now you can review the data breakdown on a work computer or an iPhone at your convenience. Just don’t leave the page up on your computer for your co-workers to see. You should be extra careful with your iPhone, too. I mean, losing data is one thing — but you never want strangers and cellphone thieves knowing how fat you are. $164.99 — ThinkGeek
4) GymGym chair
The GymGym chair doesn’t look too far removed from popular Herman Miller style office chairs (or some sort of torture device), but it provides a complete workout in addition to an ergonomic design. Resistance bands positioned in several areas on the chair provide a full range of exercises for the arms, back, shoulders, legs and core. So, yeah — I guess you could say it is a torture device. $599 — GymGym via CubicleBot
5) Champ sofa
This piece of concept furniture from designer Tobias Fraenzel would be an excellent addition to the decor of an executive’s office. By lifting up the red cushion in the back and fixing it into position, you transform the Champ sofa into a punching bag. It would be a great workout, not to mention great for relieving stress, but explaining why your clients have a footprint on their back when they leave the office might be problematic. Price not available — Tobias Fraenzel
6) Balance ball chair
If the GymGym chair is a bit too much but you would still prefer a seating solution that provides health benefits, the Gaiam balance ball chair just might do the trick. By sitting and balancing yourself on the stability ball seat, you can improve core strength and posture. Then again, you could just pick up one of those hopper balls we all used as children and use it to bounce around the office. What employee wouldn’t respect a boss riding a smiley face hopper ball at work? $71.99 — Amazon via Nerd Approved
7) Springflex UB
According to the product page, attaching the Springfield UBE resistance arms to your desk allows you to perform up to 120 exercises just about anywhere. I ‘m not sure about all that, but I’m pretty confident that it’s not a good idea to go shirtless with short shorts in the office. $89.95 — Skytel
8) Gamercize PC-Sport Stepper
The Gamercize PC-Sport works like a little elliptical machine that you place under your desk, only it will hijack your mouse and keyboard when hooked up to a PC or laptop if it detects you are slowing down to unacceptable levels. In other words, you need to keep moving to stay productive. Additional software can be included to help you keep track of your workouts, but I suspect you’ll know that your endurance is improving when you start getting your work in on time. $187 —Gamercize
9) Hand Fitness Trainer
If you suffer from arthritis or repetitive-motion injuries as a result of your job, the Hand Fitness Trainer might be of help. It slips on like a glove and provides resistance when you open your hand — strengthening the extensor muscles in your hands, wrists and elbows, which is said to reduce the symptoms associated with maladies such as carpal tunnel, tennis elbow and tendinitis. Plus, you can freak people out when you try and give them a high-five. $39.95 — Hammacher Schlemmer
Chances are you’ve heard several reports throughout the years that discuss the health risks associated with sitting down for long periods. One way to combat that problem and get some exercise in the process is to use a Walkstation. Basically, the Walkstation is a walking speed treadmill that’s integrated into a desk — allowing you to work and keep your body moving at the same time. Like a traditional treadmill, it also shows your progress on a console with the distance traveled, time, speed and calories burned. However, I’m not sure if this is appropriate for a suit-and-tie kind of office. It would look weird, for one thing, you might sweat and, most importantly, if you fell and got your tie caught in the belt the results could be disastrous. On the flipside, it could be hilarious for anyone in the office with a cellphone camera. $4,199 — Steelcase
Why Being Skinny Doesn’t Mean You’re Fit
By Dr. Arthur Agatson from active.com. It’s what I’ve been saying all along! He writes:
Remember when a total cholesterol reading of under 200 was the standard for judging cardiovascular health? Today, of course, we know that it’s the components of cholesterol (LDL, HDL, the size of those cholesterol particles, and triglycerides) that are much more predictive of heart health. Well, our understanding of total weight and its effects upon your heart has evolved in similar fashion. It’s not your total weight but the characteristics of that weight—how much is fat and where it’s deposited—that matter most.
Surprised? Thank the scientists at the Mayo Clinic, who are behind this recent discovery. After comparing various health markers with the weights and body mass index numbers of thousands of adults, they found that more than half of those with normal weights and BMIs actually had “high body-fat percentages as well as heart and metabolic disturbances.” In other words, they had the same risks of coronary disease, diabetes, and other chronic illness as people who weighed much more.
This research, and its sobering implications for millions of Americans, led to the establishment of a new condition called normal weight obesity (NWO). This is more than just the latest fat phobia. It’s worth paying attention to because the accumulation of fat in the body, especially in the belly and around internal organs, causes low-level inflammation that gradually damages tissue and blood vessels. (Think of it as metabolic rust.) So even though your weight or BMI may be within acceptable limits for your height and age, don’t be lulled into a false sense of security. Do your own analysis, starting with these steps:
1. Stop being preoccupied with pounds. As with total cholesterol, total weight is just one general assessment of your health. Yes, people who are trying to lose weight are more likely to succeed if they weigh themselves often. But seeing numbers that are within a healthy BMI range may actually disguise your heart disease risk. Keep them in perspective.
2. Measure your body fat. For a quick estimate of this key factor, wrap a cloth measuring tape around your naked waist just above your belly button. If your weight is fairly normal but the number you see above your navel is 35 inches or more (40+ inches for men), you may have NWO. For a more exact reading, ask your doctor (or health club) to measure your body fat. This can be done using a variety of noninvasive methods. If it’s higher than 30 percent (20 percent for men), you likely have NWO.
3. Get a blood test. Ask your doctor to order a thorough blood analysis at your next physical. Warning signs of NWO include low HDL (total cholesterol and LDL may be normal), along with elevated triglycerides, blood sugar, and blood pressure.
4. Target belly fat. If you’re diagnosed with NWO, take aim at visceral fat. Despite how entrenched it may seem, you can lose it. The keys are: Avoid the white stuff (white bread, rice, pasta, and other refined carbohydrates). Add monounsaturated fats, which target belly fat, to your diet. And do interval exercises to burn more fat and strength-training to build lean body mass.
5. Keep tracking fat. Just as you hop on the scale to keep tabs on your weight, do the same with your body fat. Have it measured periodically at your doctor’s office or health club. Or just observe the notches where your belt buckles.
Conversely, if you’re considered overweight by current standards, there may be some good news here. If your body-fat percentage is lower than 30 percent (20 percent for men) and your blood chemistry is normal, then you are among the “fat and fit.” (Many athletes are in this category.) Continue to eat smart and exercise, but accept your body for what it is and know you’re not unhealthy because of it. Feeling fat and feeling healthy are no longer mutually exclusive.
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March 26th Boot Camp
Come take strides toward your health by becoming a leaner, more energetic you! Our next 4 week boot camp is scheduled to start March 26th at McCormick Park! The weather will be a high of 82 degrees! Come play with us as we support our favorite philanthropy, Ben’s Bells!
Register by clicking the “Programs” then “Boot Camps” icon at the top of the page.