Two Ways to Achieve Your Summer Goals

Summer Goals 2017When you think of setting goals what comes to mind? Do you think it’s a bunch of ‘woo woo’? Do you think it’s only for the ultra-motivated athlete or business person? Do you think setting goals sets you up for failure?

In my mid-twenties I landed my first management gig at a large retail chain. I was responsible for almost 20 people and a multi-million dollar operation. This position required me to set goals for the sales of our store as well as each individual team member. So, I read everything I could from Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits to Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People in hopes of leading my team and store to success. I learned a lot from books, my mentors and life. Thankfully I was able to string together some goals that we not only achieved but blew away.

Those lessons have evolved over the years and I’ve applied them to multiple areas of my life including my health. I’ve realized that when I set goals I’m more likely to try and achieve them. As Wayne Gretzky has been quoted over and over, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Having goals gives me something to take a shot at.

Over 150 days have gone by this year. Did you have resolutions 151 days ago? How are those going? Is it time for a reset? Is it time to renew?

There are hundreds and thousands of ways to approach goal setting. There’s a flavor for everyone and no wrong way; if it helps you then go for it.

Here’s how I’ve set and achieving goals.

Small Goals

This goes against my nature and probably your nature. A few years ago I would set the goal of losing 30 pounds in 30 days. I would say this is the week I’m going to hit the gym every day. My goal would be to not eat any sugar for the next 30 days.

The problem for each of those was that they were totally unrealistic. For 45 years I had developed habits that were totally opposite. Think about that; I thought that by setting a goal was going to magically turn around 45 years of bad choices. The goal needs to be realistic and 30 pounds in 30 days isn’t very realistic, especially if you are making a lifelong commitment to health. If you are making a lifelong commitment then the next 30 days are a drop in the bucket, they are important but they aren’t the end goal.

48 Hour Goals

I took the approach of making two day goals. The next 48 hours seemed much more achievable than 7 days or 30 days. Out of those 48 hours I would be sleeping at least 12-16 so that left only 32-36 hours that I needed to manage. It’s not that I didn’t have goals that were further out, it was that I was focusing on achieving more immediate goals.

Wins Create Momentum

Getting some early wins keep you motivated to go after more wins. Achieving goals can easily take on a snowball effect. And when you start getting wins you start creating momentum and that is priceless to your success.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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.

 

 

 

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!

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!

 

Your Employer Deserves Your Best Health

One of the top reasons I started getting serious about my health a couple of years ago was because I was becoming less and less effective at my job. My position is very demanding and requires a lot of mental and physical stamina. I’m involved in the online marketing world which requires you to continually learn and adapt to new things and if you aren’t totally engaged you fall behind. My employer hired me and was paying me to deliver, but because of my extremely poor diet and lack of exercise I was unable to keep my end of the deal.

I felt terrible and honestly had a lot of guilt because my choices impacted my employer in a negative way. My choices made me overweight with zero energy to perform my job.

Brain Fog

The effect that my diet and lack of exercise had on my brain was noticeable, not only to me but others including my bosses. For too many years I brushed off the impact that the food I was eating was having on my brain. For the majority of my professional career my days began with the ritual of stopping at a convenience store or fast food joint. I remember when I would begin my days with a slice of breakfast pizza and a Diet Coke. The initial taste and rush that food would bring was great. Seriously, the taste and feeling it would give me was amazing. But, within two hours I would crash hard, I was no good to myself or anyone else.

In a recent Harvard research study the following was reported

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate sleep and appetite, mediate moods, and inhibit pain. Since about 95% of your serotonin is produced in your gastrointestinal tract, and your gastrointestinal tract is lined with a hundred million nerve cells, or neurons, it makes sense that the inner workings of your digestive system don’t just help you digest food, but also guide your emotions.

When your digestive system is filled with the wrong foods it impacts everything. For me, my brain was in a literal fog by the time I would get to work. It was extremely hard for me to concentrate on the tasks at hand. I would sit in meetings and at times be in a stupor, not engaging or contributing because my brain was in such a fog.

Wrong Fuel In The Tank!

When you start to pay attention to the fuel (the food) you put in the tank (your body) you start to realize just how much it impacts every part of your life. I began removing sugars (carbohydrates) and processed foods and within days started to notice a difference. When I started to eat a “clean diet” I started to reap the benefits of more energy and clear thinking within a few weeks.

Three Reasons Your Employer Deserves Your Best Health

  1. They pay you to do a job and deliver results; poor health = poor results.
  2. They provide you with health benefits – the less you have to use your health insurance the better for everyone.
  3. They are connected with your current and future success – the healthier you are, the better you perform and the better their bottom line is and the more you are rewarded.

There are more than three reason, and I’ll talk more about those in the future, but for now those three will do.

So, what are you going to do? Are you going to become healthier so that your career and employer are better?

Your employer deserves your best and you deserve the results of doing your best.

So…do it!

BBQ Bacon Bomb – Oven Version

By popular demand here’s the recipe I created for my oven of BBQ bacon combs. The serving size that I made using the ingredients was huge, easily serving a generous size to 10-12 people. I split the ingredients evenly so I could make two bombs.

Ingredients:

6 lbs grass fed beef

2 lbs pork sausage

4 lbs bacon

Spices

6 large Jalapeno peppers chopped

6 large Chili peppers chopped

8 Banana peppers chopped

6 cups Spinach

6 cups cheddar cheese

BBQ sauce

Step 1: weave one pound of bacon on one foil covered cookie tin and weave another pound of bacon on another tin and bake at 400 for 15-20 minute. I used a thinner slice of bacon from Costco which ended up being 16 slices woven together on each tin.

bacon bomb weave

Step 2: place a rectangular piece of saran wrap on a flat service and create a rectangle with 3 pounds of beef

Step 3: season the meat with your favorite type of seasoning

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Step 4: brown the sausage

Step 5: cover the beef with peppers, spinach and sausage

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Step 6: place woven bacon on top

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Step 7: top with cheese
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Step 8: roll into log, the saran wrap makes it easier to roll
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Step 9: wrap in tin foil and refrigerate for a couple of hours

Step 10: weave the remaining bacon and place on tins

Step 11: remove the bombs from the refrigerator, remove from tin foil, place on bacon and roll

Step 11: bake for 60-75 minutes on 400

Around 30-40 minutes into the baking I took out and glazed with bbq sauce. I repeated this at 50 minutes and then again at 60 minutes

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Slice, eat, repeat!

How My Health Transformation Started

Change Begins In a Moment

The moment my change began was a few days after my 45th birthday. I found myself in my doctor’s office (the picture below) for an annual wellness visit and all was NOT WELL. I was busting the scale at mochris rainey 45 years old before picturere than 270 pounds. My 47″ waist was as round as my 8-year-old was tall. My blood pressure and cholesterol was out of control. I was never diagnosed with sleep apnea but when you wake up in the middle of the night gasping for air you don’t need a doctor to tell you something is wrong. My mind was in a continual fog. I wasn’t able to concentrate and focus which impacted everything from my personal to professional life. The list was long.

What Was I Thinking?

That wellness visit only confirmed what I saw in the mirror every single day – the guy I was looking at needed to make some significant changes quickly . But the biggest thing I struggled with wasn’t what I could see in the mirror. My biggest obstacle was found between my ears – my thinking. Food has always been my “go to” for comfort and quick relief in times of stress and challenges.chris rainey before

Life hasn’t been short on challenges and stressful situations to find lots of “comfort” in food. Late night snacks, early morning snacks, mid-morning snacks, afternoon snacks, fast food and junk food binges were the norm for me. Many mornings I swung by the convenience store to grab a slice of “breakfast pizza” and a large diet soda – yeah, I said diet, because you don’t want to add unnecessary carbs and calories, HAHAHA! And then, on the drive home, after a hard day at work, I would stop by the store again to grab a soft pretzel (my kryptonite), something sweet and of course a diet soda, HA! If you work hard you deserve to “treat” yourself – right?!

Decide to Fight!

The “moments of change” continued to take place. I began making the right decisions and saying NO when I wanted to grab fast food to “comfort” myself. I made continual decisions to fight to change my mindset and I do mean FIGHT! I knew if I didn’t change how I thought about food, exercise and overall health the future was not bright.

I was not willing to let the middle of my life become the end of my life because of bad decisions and stupid habits.

Challenges & Transformation

I started making changes with my diet and began to exercise. Over the next two years I lost over 50 pounds and almost 10% of my body fat.

70 Pounds Lighter - January 2016During year one I started to make small changes in my health. I participated in a weight loss challenge and placed in the top 20 of almost 1000 participants. This challenge was a catalyst for me and as the year continued I made several small changes that added up.

Year two was pivotal. I got serious about my eating habits and embraced more of a paleo, ketogenic, low-carb lifestyle. I got serious about exercising, hitting the gym 5-7 days per week and working out for 1-2 hours each time. Half-way through the year there was a psychological shift and I started to crave working out. I could literally feel a change taking place in my brain; the fog and unclear thinking started to disappear.

Even in the midst of a handful of sports injuries throughout the year, I didn’t stop. At times I had to take some days or weeks off to let my body heal. But, as soon as my body was feeling good enough to resume workouts I was back in the gym.

Now I’m in year three of this three year transformation.  To kick off this year right I joined four different health challenges; The 2016 Golds Gym Challenge, Bodybuilding.com 250K Challenge , a challenge with co-workers and then a year long challenge sponsored by 1st Phorm called My Transphormation Starts Today.

I’m more motivated than ever to continue to transform my life. I’m not settling with where I have been. I know I’ve got more and I am determined to grind and do whatever it takes to live my life with NO REGRETS! I don’t want to stop with changing my life but I want to inspire and challenge others that transformation is within their grasp as well.

2016 is the year of MY TRANSFORMATION!

My 3 Words: 70 Days Into the New Year

Several years ago I started following Chris Brogan. At the beginning of each new year he encourages his readers/listeners to choose three words to focus on over the course of the next year. For some reason this was the year Chris’ encouragement sunk in and as 2013 ended and the sun rose on January 1, 2014 I contemplated three words I would focus on over the next 365 days. 

The three words I chose were: intentional, bold and generous.

During the first few weeks of the new year I thought about the areas of my life these three words could be applied  – spiritually, emotionally, physically. I thought about how to apply them to my relationship with family, the team I lead at work and my health. I went a little deeper and thought about the “why” behind each of these words and the areas of my life I would apply them too.

So, I had come up with the three words but it wasn’t until after listening to a Chris Locurto podcast that the scales tipped and I put things into motion. On this particular podcast Chris was interviewing Rory Vaden and talked about Rory’s book Take The Stairs. I immediately downloaded the book and consumed it within a few days. This was the fuel I needed to push forward.

My health was first up because it impacts every other area of my life. Because I’m a reader and information addict I started identifying resources and tools that would help me achieve my health goals. I’m also competitive so I joined a couple of challenges to gamify my efforts including a citywide challenge – LoseToWinSTL.

My current Top 5 list of health and fitness blogs and podcasts :

Then I tracked down some tech tools and equipment to help me along the way:

  • FitBit is a bracelet that tracks my daily activity, including sleeping if I want. It syncs with my iPhone and I can also connect with others in the St. Louis area who are using FitBit so it adds a bit of competition to the equation.
  • MyFitnessPal is one of the best apps to track what you are eating along with your exercise (it syncs with FitBit) and your progress.

After 70 days I have lost more than 30 pounds, brought my cholesterol to normal (at least according to traditional medicine) standards and lowered my blood pressure to a normal, healthy state. My energy and mental focus has increased significantly. And although there have been challenges thrown in front of me – sickness, injury, stress – I haven’t let those things keep me back – I’m still climbing the stairs.

The journey continues.