Your Environment Impacts Everything

Surfside Beach, SCAre You Even Aware?

This week marked a significant new chapter in my life. Several “ingredients” changed overnight. I moved to the Myrtle Beach, SC area. I started a new job. Now I’m surrounding myself with new people. The foods I’ve been eating have not been my normal diet. The amount of exercise I have been accustomed too has been impacted, in a negative way, due to five straight weeks of travel and moving.

How to Handle A New Environment

Over the past 5 1/2 years I have made three VERY significant geographic and career moves and each time I’ve learned a lot of new things. And, in some cases, having to learn some lessons again. If you find yourself in the midst of an environmental change these things will help you.

  1. Dive in head first and go all in.
  2. Don’t second guess your decision.
  3. Don’t let the challenges of learning an abundance of new things overwhelm you. You will learn how to get around the new city. You’ll find a new dentist. You’ll figure out where Starbucks is. You will figure out your new job. You will find a new gym. Whatever you need to learn, you’ll find a way.
  4. Start new habits and create new mindsets. Just because you’re in a new environment doesn’t mean habits and mindsets change automatically. Use the new environment as a catalyst to making needed changes.
  5. Explore your environment and be adventurous.
  6. Be grateful for your previous chapter, from the place you came from but look forward to what’s ahead even more.

Don’t ignore your environment. Embrace and engage with those parts that add value to your life and walk or RUN away from the parts that don’t.

 

Disruptions and Transitions

At the beginning of this year, one of the words I chose to frame my year was DISRUPTION. Little did I know when I chose that word that it would raise its head and present itself so quickly and with such force.

When disruption shows up at your door it doesn’t knock and ask if it can come in. No, it kicks the door down and stands in the center of your living room with its head held high. Disruption is not considerate. It does not ask for your permission. Disruption isn’t aware of time – it comes and goes as it pleases. It doesn’t consider your current circumstance or comfort level. Disruption doesn’t care who it impacts or what kind of chaos it causes.

Disruption requires you to change and respond in ways that leave you feeling vulnerable and not totally in control of your life. Disruptions lead to and demand you to transition into something new.

For me, the disruption that recently arrived at my doorstep has come in the way of a new job. This week I’m in transition from a company I’ve thoroughly enjoyed to a new company that has me extremely excited about the future.

Ryan Holiday said, “Don’t be afraid to make a change, a big one.”

When you embrace disruption and change TRANSITION begins. And transition brings about its own unique experiences.

Even if the transition is a good one it will come with a variety of emotion. You might experience a level of depression as you leave behind relationships. It’s normal to be anxious as you transition into something new and in some cases unfamiliar territory.

Transition means one chapter or season of your life is ending and a new chapter or season is beginning. When you can mentally acknowledge and accept this you are in a much better place for the transition to go more smoothly.

Maintaining a positive attitude and looking at the transition as an opportunity for better things in your life is extremely important. You have to keep a vision for the good that the transition can provide. Having realistic expectations during a transition is also critical, don’t expect everything to go as planned. And while some circumstances are out of your control, your attitude and response are totally within your control.

When disruption comes into your life and transition happens to you, embrace it and look forward to the journey.

 

 

3 Behaviors That Position You To Win

Did you wake up this morning and think to yourself, “I want to feel worse than I did yesterday?” Or maybe you said to yourself, “I want to have less money in my bank account than I did yesterday” Or, did you say to yourself, “I want my relationships to stink?” My guess is that you didn’t wake up this morning, or any other morning, thinking any of those things to yourself.

Most likely you woke up saying to yourself, “I want to be healthier, wealthier and wiser.” There was some part of you that wanted to be at least a little better than you were yesterday.

Three years ago I found myself in the worst health of my life (you can read more of that story here). After a fateful trip to my doctor I realized I had to make changes. At that point a tiny fire was lit and I began to capitalize on it. I began to do many things that turned my health around but there have been three behaviors which have been major keys to success, winning and getting healthier.

JOIN A CHALLENGE

One of the most motivating things for me is being part of a challenge. When I’m competing, achieving milestones and working towards an end goal I’m at my best. And when there’s a reward at the finish line, even better.

When you intentionally put yourself outside of your comfort zone you have to find strength you didn’t know you have had. You have to dig deep and learn new things that help you rise to the challenge. Authors Adam Morgan and Mark Barden explain that authentic success is really about changing our stories from “We can’t, because,” to “We can, if.”

BECOME PART OF A COMMUNITY

Laird Hamilton says, “A lonely place is an unmotivated place”

The first couple of years on my health journey were done without a lot of interaction with other people. I kept to myself and didn’t think connecting with others about exercise and diet would help much. But last year I was part of a few different health challenges that changed my perception on a community.

Last year I connected with a number of people who were at different points in regards to their health. I met coaches and trainers who have been helping people achieve their health goals for decades. My path crossed and I connected with people who had great insights on nutrition and supplementation. There were others that were in the same spot as me; they had been getting healthier but wanted to go to the next level. And then I met some who were where I had been, just getting started and needed encouragement to begin.

Throughout the year I got to know a lot of people and through those relationships experienced the best year of my life in regards to my health.

MAKE A COMMITMENT TO CHANGE

You will have daily opportunities to turn back to where you came from. If you are going to make long-lasting, long-impacting change it takes daily commitment.

When you are part of a community there’s accountability and encouragement to change and stick with the commitment. You have others around you, on the same journey and pursuing similar goals that keep your tank full. And when you have a “why” like a challenge, there’s a purpose that drives you and helps you stay on track.

Change takes time which is why you have to stay committed to the process. You have to be patient. And if you are looking to lose weight or change the composition of your body you have to change your thinking and know it will be a lot of work and effort. I found that taking pictures of myself along my journey helped me to see the changes that the scale didn’t reveal. In addition to the photos, I also took my body measurements every couple of months because those also revealed what the scaled did not.

SUCCESS AND WINNING IS YOUR DECISION

You are not at the mercy of your circumstances, body type, personality or anything else. Getting healthier begins with a decision to get healthy. Putting these three behaviors; challenge, community, and commitment to change into practice will help you maintain that decision.

 

 

 

Everyone Has Been a Beginner In The Gym

Have you let the fear of not knowing how to do something prevent you from trying something you’ve never done before?Have you let the fear of “being a beginner” hold you back from starting or learning something new that will benefit your life? This is where I was at with my health a few years ago.

I hadn’t been in a gym in years, actually, it was more like a couple decades, at least. Let me tell you, there were plenty of intimidating images that ran through my mind when I thought of what it must be like inside those four walls. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt it was full of beautiful buff people. Inside those doors were guys and girls that were ripped, shredded and bursting with amazing physiques. Elite bodybuilders and magazine cover models dwelled inside the iron shrine, not middle-aged dudes who could barely climb a flight of stairs.

Then there were the thoughts of how I would look. Forget about the beautiful people, how was I going to look working out? When I thought of getting on an elliptical machine or treadmill the only thing that went through my head were  YouTube videos of people ending up on their butt or face. And then I won’t even get into my fears of how I would looking lifting weights – ha!

When I made the decision to hit the gym and start exercising there were a couple of things that I had to face head on right away.

Fear of Not Doing it Right (And Looking Stupid)

Nobody likes to look stupid and the fear of not knowing how to work the equipment, do certain exercises and even stretch properly was a real deal for me. I didn’t want to look like the inexperienced gym-goer that I was. Obviously, from the way I looked, I had little experience in the gym, but still…ego played a part 🙂

The one thing I realized after walking through the doors was this; there were plenty of other people in the same place that I was. I wasn’t alone and there were others; men and women of all ages wanting to get healthier just like me. People just like me were learning how to use the equipment and when I saw that the fear of not doing things right or looking stupid began to fade.

Unrealistic Expectations

Having unrealistic expectations in regards to weight loss, becoming fit and healthier was, and still is sometimes, one of the biggest challenges I deal with. Everyone wants to see results right away. Everyone wants the magic bullet. But the uncomfortable fact is that it takes work. It takes eating right, using the appropriate supplements and sweating a lot to get the results.

Three Keys for Beginners

  1. Start at your own pace – don’t worry about what everyone else is doing. Don’t be concerned about how fast or long someone is running on the treadmill. Don’t focus on the guys or girls who are ripped because they’ve been working out for most of their life. The most important thing for you is to start and not give up.
  2. Set realistic expectations – make up your mind that you are in this for the rest of your life. For more than 20 years I didn’t eat right and didn’t exercise. You don’t turn around years of living unhealthy in a few weeks or even a few months. It takes time to get healthy so develop that mindset from day one.
  3. Connect with a community of people who share the same health goals as you.

Three Words for 2017

3 Words 2017

Happy New Year – 2017.

Over the past few years (here’s a link to 2016) instead of choosing to create a list of resolutions I’ve picked three words that create a theme or an outline for the upcoming year. As always, big thanks to Chris Brogan for turning me onto this idea!

Why Three Words?

Let me say this first, I like lists. Like most “list people” I love the feeling of accomplishment and checking off the items on my list. When I think of a list I automatically think of getting a task done and then moving on. So, when I think of resolutions they aren’t something I just want to “get done”. I want to create more than a resolution and a checklist, I want to do things that lead to a long-term lifestyle change.

As I look ahead a year from now what do I want my life to look like? What story do I want to tell and create?  To create that life story it takes more than a checklist, it takes a blueprint of sorts. By choosing three words I have a guide that I can apply to different areas of my life throughout the year.

For example, when I set a health goal for myself I will use my three words to guide me in my approach. I’ll use those three words in relation to the food I eat. Those three words will provide motivation in regards to my exercise. Hopefully, you get the idea.

My Three Words For 2017

Grit

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, grit is defined as “firmness of character; indomitable spirit.” Angela Duckworth (author of the book Grit), edited this definition to be “perseverance and passion for long-term goals.”

I’m wanting to develop a tenacity and a grit in my approach to the physical, mental and spiritual areas of my life.

Execute

Moving beyond planning and “dreaming” to executing on my ideas and plans.

Disrupt

Intentionally doing things that disrupt my life and my routines that lead to new experiences and lifestyle changes.

That’s it – those are my three words. Those are the three words that I’ll be thinking about and letting guide me over the next 365 days.

Let’s roll!

 

My Transphormation Starts Today – Final Week – Update 1

This has been an incredible year – plenty of ups, downs, twists and turns but being a part of the MyTransphormationChallenge has been a constant source of encouragement. It has pushed me to become better in many areas of my life, not just health.

So, as the final week is happening I wanted to share it with you through some videos. I’m going to share some of the highs and lows, what eating habits have helped me the most, what types of exercise have been the most beneficial, supplements that have helped and the power a being part of a community.

My hope is that this week will encourage you to end 2016 strong so you can head into 2017 and make it even stronger.

 

 

 

Don’t Give Up Just Because “Life Happens”

If you woke up today and are reading this then there’s a good chance that something happened OR will happen that you didn’t see coming. Your car breaks down, you trip on the stairs and twist your ankle, your computer crashes, your child is sick, you didn’t get the promotion, etc…The point is “LIFE” is going to happen, the stress of those situations is going to come crashing in and you have two options in how you respond and how you let it affect you and your health.

Option One: Let Stress Get The Best of You

Consider these facts as reported by WebMD

  • Forty-three percent of all adults suffer adverse health effects from stress.
  • Seventy-five percent to 90% of all doctor’s office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints.
  • Stress can play a part in problems such as headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, skin conditions, asthma, arthritis, depression, and anxiety.
  • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) declared stress a hazard of the workplace. Stress costs American industry more than $300 billion annually.
  • The lifetime prevalence of an emotional disorder is more than 50%, often due to chronic, untreated stress reactions.

Before I got serious about my health I was experiencing each of these to some extent. When I encountered stress my immediate reaction was – FOOD. Even today, as in just a few hours ago of writing this blog post, I faced a big serving of stress and I immediately felt the desire to go hunting for something to eat.

Option Two: Conquer Stress and Win

Stress definitely has it’s roots in the mind and there are a number of mental tools to deal with that side of stress. But, one thing I have found that help keep stress in it’s place is the dreaded E-word; EXERCISE. And yes, I get it and have been there – nobody wants to talk about it or do it but if you are going to conquer stress it’s going to take work. There will be a level of discomfort involved.

Exercise

My personal experience with exercise and the positive impact it has had on my ability to deal with stress has been incredible. Over the last eighteen months I have experienced a physical change in my brain, no just my mind and emotions. If I miss working out for more than two days I start to feel the effects in my brain. I will begin to feel slower in my ability to process things and will lose my mental edge.

The American Psychology Association reports the following:

Biologically, exercise seems to give the body a chance to practice dealing with stress. It forces the body’s physiological systems — all of which are involved in the stress response — to communicate much more closely than usual: The cardiovascular system communicates with the renal system, which communicates with the muscular system. And all of these are controlled by the central and sympathetic nervous systems, which also must communicate with each other. This workout of the body’s communication system may be the true value of exercise; the more sedentary we get, the less efficient our bodies in responding to stress.

How I Started Exercising

I love challenges. Over the past three years I’ve competed in several different health challenges. Even as I’m writing this post I am finishing a year long challenge sponsored by 1st Phorm supplements called My Transphormation Starts Today. But I love the competition and being in the trenches with a group of other people pushing towards a shared goal.

Through my challenges I have learned a number of things.

First, I’ve learned NOT to set unrealistic goals. If you haven’t exercised in quite a while don’t expect to run three miles within ten minutes your first time out. Don’t expect to lift like Arnold your first time slinging the barbells. Set your expectations high enough that you are going to need to sweat and work hard, but not high enough that you become discouraged fifteen minutes into your first workout.

Second, you need to be consistent. I started exercising three times a week and doing 30 minutes on the elliptical machine. Over the course of the first six months I worked up to three times a week at sixty minutes per session. But, by the end of my first year I was hitting the gym five times a week and doing a variety of cardio and core exercises. During the second and third year of my health journTrust the Processey I began to lift weights in addition to my cardio. But the key was staying consistent and committed to working out.

Third, trust the process. Eric Thomas says you have to fall in love with the process. And when you fall in love with the process the results will come. You have to take a long term outlook with your health. If you are looking for a quick fix and not a lifelong change then give it up now. You will need patience and when things are tough and you aren’t seeing a lot of change you will have to trust the process and know that your persistence will bring the results.

Life is always going to happen but in the midst of it you have to stay committed to your goals, remain consistent and trust the process. Don’t give into the temptation of justifying poor choices just because “life happens”. Push back against “life” and run towards the prize of a healthy and productive life.

 

Obese and Depressed Was Not My Purpose

Before and after weight loss and depressionHave you ever found yourself waking up each morning with a feeling of depression and defeat? Have you experienced times where you felt your health habits were out of your control, that you were a slave to your appetite? I found myself in that position, at some level, for more than two decades.

On the left side of this picture you see a guy who was spiraling into depression and dealing with increasing health issues with each passing week. On the right side you see a guy who took control of his health and now takes on each day (well, most days – ha) with optimism and positive expectation instead of dread.

Being overweight has plenty of physical challenges but it also has many mental and emotional challenges. For me, the mental side of things was significant. I didn’t even realize how bad it was until I started to lose weight, exercise and get healthier. I thought the way I was feeling was just the way it was.

Studies have shown that obese people are about 25% more likely to experience a mood disorder like depression compared with those who are not obese. Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys reported that 43% of adults with depression were obese, and adults with depression were more likely to be obese than adults without depression.

Because of the depression and lack of motivation it wasn’t easy to go to the gym. It wasn’t easy passing by Taco Bell and the convenience store on the way to and from the office to pick up my favorite comfort food. But, the more I said ‘NO’ to staying in bed and eating the wrong things and started saying ‘YES’ to the gym and better food choices the more the depression lifted and the more motivation I had.

Five Things That Got the Ball Rolling

  1. Community – I joined a health challenge that was organized by one of our local hospitals. This 12 week challenge required weekly weigh ins and connected participants through social media. Because of the community, encouragement and accountability it was much easier to start my health journey.
  2. Goals – In the beginning I didn’t set realistic goals and because of that I was easily and regularly discouraged. But, when I changed my mindset from a “quick-overnight-weight-loss” view to a “entire-long-term-lifetime” view it allowed me to start setting more realistic and achievable goals.
  3. Education –  I found blogs, books, podcasts and YouTube channels that taught me about exercise and diet. With everything I was learning I tried to keep an open mind and discover the approach that worked for me.
  4. Food – Understanding the impact that specific types of foods had on my health, specifically my emotional health. I realized that there were foods impacting my emotions as much as physical body.
  5. Supplements – I experienced there were supplements that helped me mentally and physically. Over the course of time I tried several different supplements and discovered the best ones that helped me achieve my goals.

Three Ways Exercise Helps Your Depression

The Mayo Clinic reports the following ways that exercise helps.

  1. Releases feel-good brain chemicals that may ease depression (neurotransmitters, endorphins and endocannabinoids)
  2. Reduces immune system chemicals that can worsen depression
  3. Increases body temperature, which may have calming effects

Make The Right Decision TODAY!

Overcoming poor health begins with making the decision to change today and then making that decision again the next day and the next day and the next. I love what Tim Bauer, or as he’s known by his fans, Tinier Tim says when talking about his incredible weight loss. Tim says, “I didn’t lose 225 pounds, I lost 1 pound 225 times.”

As you make the decision to exercise each day you’ll feel better emotionally. When you make the decision to eat right, even it’s just a little bit each day, you’ll feel better emotionally. Don’t believe the lie that exercise and diet don’t affect how you feel mentally.

You Determine the Results

You have what it takes to exercise tomorrow. You can choose to eat healthy and not let the cravings control you. Make the decision today that you will start, you will take steps forward. And then make the decision that even if you stumble and fall off the wagon you will get back up and start moving forward again.

If you have questions or just need someone to encourage you, I’m here for you!

Where My Food Journey Began

Before I tell you what has worked for me let me give you my perspective when it comes to any approach to diet. What I’ve learned is that it’s easy to become dogmatic, start judging others on multiple levels based on their way of eating and in some cases alienating and sacrificing relationships because of the way you eat or don’t eat. So, I’m sharing what has worked for me and thousands of others and what my body responds to in a very positive way.

Dazed By Diets

On an off throughout my life I have done what all good overweight American’s do – I dieted. I tried dozens; low calorie, low fat, small meals 6-8 times a day, the Lemonade diet, the cabbage soup diet and the list goes on – you know what I’m talking about. With all of the dieting I had done I felt like I had a pretty good handle on how I needed to be eating. But when I got serious about my health in 2013 I started to explore, read and study even more because I  I realized that when I ate certain types of food like grains and sugar I felt tired, sluggish and had “brain fog”.

Paleo Got Me Going

Because there were a number of foods that impacted me in a negative way I wanted to find out if there were others that I hadn’t tried that may help me. One Google search led to a blog that led to a podcast that led to a book that led to YouTube that led to…you get the picture. Where I landed initially was with a Paleo diet and I stayed there for about a year and half. If you aren’t familiar with Paleo there are hundreds of sites but a few of my favorites are; Mark’s Daily Apple, Robb Wolf, Primal Potential, and Abel James.

Keto Keeps Me Going

After a year and half of experiencing some good success with Paleo I came across the Ketogenic Diet or as a lot of people refer to it, the Keto Diet. As a quick side note; I hate to use the word diet in relation to Paleo or Keto because both are really a lifestyle. I say lifestyle because it’s a way of eating that you are committing to for the long term, not just a few months or a year to lose some weight. You are committing to these approaches because they are best for your long-term health.

I’m not going to go deep into the ketogenic diet/lifestyle in this post (plenty will come) but here’s the quick definition to give you an idea. A ketogenic diet is a very low carbohydrate, moderate protein and high fat based nutritional plan. When you are following this plan you are training your metabolism to run off of fatty acids or another term that is often used is ketones. In this state your body becomes fat adapted and is running off of fatty acids/ketones instead of carbohydrates being your main fuel source. If you’d like to dive a little deeper right now, a couple of my favorite sites for ketogenic learning are Dr. Jockers and Keto Talk. And one of my favorite videos that help explain what keto means is right here.

 

2016 Transformation Update

2016 Fall Update Pic

Left Picture (2012) Right Picture (2016)

Wow, I just noticed that the last time I provided an update on my 2016 health transformation was more than a few months ago. The past eleven months have been solid and I’m headed into the final weeks of the year with more determination than I began the year with. My fourth and final health and fitness challenge of the year (My Transphormation Starts Today) ends on December 31st and I’m pumped.

Highlights

When I started this year I was still facing some pretty significant health issues even though during the previous two years I had made some great strides. A few of the highlights from this year include:

  • In 2011 I was diagnosed with fatty liver disease, NOW IT’S GONE
  • Cholesterol levels are NOW NORMAL
  • Blood sugar is NOW PERFECT
  • Lost SIX inches around my waist
  • I’ve continued to trade pounds of fat for pounds of MUSCLE.

Struggles

Over the course of the year I’ve had my share of sports injuries; from lower back pain to joints, muscles and tendons. There were also a couple of run ins with the flu early on. But, each time I felt good enough to get back into the gym and back on track I did it right away.

Then the middle of the year hit. After the first three challenges were completed I took my foot off the gas a little. I never quit hitting the gym but my intensity lessened. I never fell off the wagon with my diet but I became more relaxed and not as diligent with what I was putting in my mouth.

3 Things That Helped RE-FIRE Me Up

As the summer ended I hit the reset button and got back into the routine I began the year with. There were three things I focused on that helped push me and poured fuel on the fire to focus on finishing the year strong.

  1. Refocused on my why – understanding why I began my health journey almost three years ago.
  2. Filled my mind with podcasts and information that educated and motivated me.
  3. Looked for people to connect with that would be a positive influence on my transformation.

Don’t let a few (or many) struggles keep you down. Take one, two or all three of things that helped me and give them a try. You and your health are worth it!