Watch “Crank up your Pull-Ups by using the 3-Pause method” on YouTube All credit to Nick Nilsson.

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SHADOWBOXING VS. RUNNING: A COMPARISON

SHADOWBOXING VS. RUNNING

NOTE: This article is not a substitute for sound medical advice. Please consult your primary care provider for any and all health/wellness relating questions.

The other day, I was talking to a buddy who is wanting to get back in shape. His asking my advice about cardio is what inspired me to write this. This article is an appeal to all to consider shadowboxing as a viable cardio option (either in addition to or in place of running). First and foremost, shadowboxing is more about visualization and creating a mindset of success than weight loss. It creates discipline and gets your mind and body in good shape. It is a great alternative to running. Here’s why:
Shadowboxing is low-impact on your joints, thus eliminating debilitating pain from running.
Shadowboxing also sculpts, tones and develops the upper body in ways that running simply can’t (e.g. developing the major and minor muscles of the upper body and trunk).
Shadowboxing also creates a sense of empowerment and self-confidence- in the case that you would need to, that you could hold your own in a fight. You get a better sweat going in a shorter period of time, plus you can pace yourself a little better in shadowboxing in place of running.

Running has been around since man learned he can get to where he wanted to go faster (or to escape dinosaurs trying to eat him). Running is almost unbeatable in its weight-loss potential. It’s also unmatched in its overall health benefits. Running can…
Strengthens bones and tendons
Improves heart health.
As you can see, both shadowboxing and running have great benefits. In my opinion, both shadowboxing and running can be used to give “the 1-2” to fat and health problems. Or you can use them separately as standalone exercises that will get you in shape. It takes a while and it takes faith in yourself, time to prepare and to begin. Both shadowboxing and running takes guts and mental fortitude. It’s not pretty most of the time. It hurts. It is inherently challenging. It’s not supposed to be easy. Then again, anything worth having or worth fighting for is not going to be easy at all. You can find a few free workouts online if you’re interested, starting with the links below.
In closing, no matter which one you choose, you will be better off if you are active and doing it. You will be better off for making health a priority. For those of you who follow and read my columns, blogs and articles… here it is.
Be disciplined, hungry and humble enough to learn more about you and your body. Don’t rely on articles, gadgets and trends to get it done for you.
Be astute and savvy enough to take workouts and diets and tailor them to your needs. It’s your body… it’s your life. Take ownership of your health.
Reading, doing and preparing are just three of the basics that will help you win in life.
THE BASICS ALWAYS WIN.

SOURCES

http://www.indiatimes.com/health/healthyliving/running-top-20-health-benefits-of-running-236529-4.html
http://www.forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=1406809111&pagenumber=1
http://www.organicfacts.net/running.html
http://www.greatist.com/fitness/30-convincing-reasons-start-running-now
http://www.sharpenbody.com/benefits-of-shadow-boxing/
http://www.westcountryboxing.com/boxing-advice
http://www.benefitsofrunning.org
http://www.menshealth.com/fitness/fighter-fit-shadow-boxing

MENTAL TOUGHNESS

In keeping with The Total Self, this article is a continuation of an earlier article I have written about this topic.I have spoken about mental toughness on oregonsportsnews.com, my own blogs and other social media platforms. I have given speeches about this also. The number one thing I believe that is holding people back in life other than broken focus and a solid plan (plus the willingness to execute) is a lack of mental toughness. It is not necessarily a bad thing that most people are not “hard”. You need people who are a tad softer, normal people in this world. This world would be in bad shape if it were just “Type As” all over the place. But you can learn from the Type A. Learn how to not let things stop you, how not to be a victim, and how not to allow things that have tormented you for years have any more control over you.
Mental Toughness has many definitions and is not limited to athletic performance and pain tolerance. I have known many men and women throughout my life who I would define as “mentally tough”. From an 85 year old gardener to a high school football friend, who it seemed neither ever had a bad day. Much of mental toughness is simply attitude and self-determination. If you do a quick search online on the subject, you will see a variety of mental toughness techniques, articles, stories of remarkable physical performances to brave acts of heroism overcoming insurmountable odds and fear.
On a personal note, mental toughness is a way of life. It is quite simple to me. To not allow any voices, anyone or anything to stand in the way of my goals. To be able to withstand setbacks, controvesy and many other troubles that life throws our way.

For the purposes of this site and its readers, I will also say that through somewhat challenging workouts and introspection and study of this topic, you will cultivate a mentally tough mindset. Again, my philosophy works for ME. As I have often said in my articles, take what’s said and make it work for you. For example minutes of non stop punching in a boxer’s case. In my case, heavy lifting and running for miles will create increased energy levels and an increased pain tolerance through training in the pain zone. You really have to get the body to know what pain is so you can endure it longer. PAIN is not injury, but if you push too hard through pain you will be setting up for injury, so knowing your training limits is necessary as well. Studying mental toughness (or at least how others go over) will shed some light on what you may be lacking. On the days when you feel like crap and you have to WILL yourself to go to work or to hit the gym. THAT too is mental toughness. Persistence and determination are all factors as well. Other terms used to describe mental toughness is inspiration, self-motivation and confidence.

 

There are many examples of those who bring themselves out of horrible childhoods of poverty, neglect, and illness to become heroes, mentors, millionaires, and presidents. That takes mental toughness in MY book.

Mental Toughness! How do you get it? Are you born with it? Can you acquire it? Arguments to this question have occurred long before our modern world came about. I am of the opinion that through tough physical training, proper mindset, and a high level of maturity that mental toughness is born. This toughness is what propels you through the storms of life and all that brings How do you get that?

Take for example, the Tour de France winner, Lance Armstrong. He had endured one of the toughest diseases by beating testicular cancer. After his battle with cancer, he came back mentally tougher and was once considered the greatest cyclist ever. Maybe he had it all along, who knows? Mental toughness is not measurable and is completely internal. But I believe hard work will get you there. When Lance Armstrong was asked by reporters “What are you on?” referring to performance enhancing drugs. Lance stated, “I am on my BIKE – busting my hump (paraphrased)for 6-8 hours a day!!”

So the question is do you get mental toughness by attending special workshops, or by being in the military/police or by playing sports? Is it by going through hard situations in life and learning from them? I would say the answer is a comination of all that. You can definitely become mentally tough by training and overcoming the trials and tribulations life brings, but ultimately it will be by the determination you make to be unstoppable and make the world a product of you.

I have seen a lot of people not win at life due to cracking under pressure. These daily gut checks that tend to make cowards of us all is something to behold. The pressures we all face tend to beat us down, and send us to our breaking points- that will cause us to lose focus and that’s how we fail. Not because of lack of talent, but because of broken focus. The break in focus becomes a turning point in your struggle/campaign.
This is the biggest difference in those who win in life and who do not. Everyone will have their nemesis or weakness. The key is to BECOME someone who rises to the occasion. Someone who will plow right through very arduous situations and come out with their heads held high. To deal with setbacks and not let them affect you.
In closing, I would like to say that Mental Toughness is definitely one of the basics. One of the master keys to winning in life. THE BASICS ALWAYS WIN!!!

Help for Hardgainers

This article is dedicated to the ‘hardgainers’. You know those guys who cannot get any muscle size no matter how much they eat, no matter what they do. I have 10 tips that can help.
As always, see your primary healthcarre provider before starting any fitness regimen. This site and the advice given here does not relace sound medical advice or opinion. Now the list.

1) 60 Minutes or less. Keeping your training under an hour will defeat the killer of many hypertrophic hopes and dreams- you guessed it, overtraining. Overtraining is a killer. Destroyer of gains due to overzealousness. Keeping your training under 60 minutes is a sure way to make overtraining irrelevant to you.
2) Become a member of the ‘Clean Your Plate Club’. Yes… eating has everything to do with building muscle mass. No matter what you eat, for the hardgainer- eating is and should be a habit. Without those extra calories, how will you gain that extra muscle mass you long after?
3) Stop relying on supplements. We all know that suplements are great. Supplements get the job done in ways that you couldn’t on your own. In this case, however, lay off most (not all) supplements. It’s a safe bet to only focus on supplements that will help with your gains (more on that later).
4) Take it Easy. Aside from this being a truism of life, this shuld be a goal for those of you seeking to put on muscle mass. Cutting out stress triggers (situations, people) will help your central nervous system do its job better and more effectively.

5) Overload on Calories. For the hardgainer, caloric intake is the name of the game. In fact, it is something that will dominate this article (as it dominates the hardgainer’s thoughts). Eat, eat, eat some more.
6) Think Progress. As mentioned above, your workouts should really be under an hour if even that. The main thing is to make sure you are progressing at a workout.
Now some things will work for a while and you may see some results. But if you want to gain weight, you’re better off focusing on progressing in either the number of reps or an increase in weight lifted within your main program.
7) Rep Range: The Right Mix! Keep the rep range between 6-8 repetitions. Outside of that, you risk overtraining (that will decimate any gains you have made).

8) Use a Mass Gainer. Remember me saying earlier about how most supps are not to be relied upon? This is why. You have mass gainers that are made just for increasing appetite or simply packing on extra pounds. Mass gainers are fantastic for hardgainers because it will slow metabolism somewhat. Metabolism is the hardgainer’s ‘frenemy’.

9) Hit the Buffet. Once a week…. hit a buffet line. Load it up, eat, eat and eat some more. Besides, buffets are cheap and you can eat all you want.

10) Slow it Down! Lastly, is a concept powerlifters and strength athletes have been using for the longest. Slow the pace of your reps down and use frequent breaks in your sets. Also you need to focus on the big presses ( e.g. bench press and squats). The concept of slowing your rep pace down will have an effect of building big muscle, just not lean muscle. The breaks will give the muscle time to grow. Visualization is another great trick you need in your ‘gainer arsenal’.

In closing, the hardgainer has the metabolism the rest of us want. The trade-off for the hard gainer… a great metabolism, but he cant gain muscle weight/size/mass for anything. These tips will get the hardgainer on the road to mass and strength, just as he has dreamt of.

Postnatal fitness

NOTE: Consult with your primary care provider before beginning any fitness regimen. The advice given here is NOT a substitute for sound medical advice/opinion.

Pregnancy- a life giving birth to another life. It’s a beautiful thing. One downside of this is the excess weight that the mother packed on carrying the child to term. This article is about ways to shed these excess pounds and possibly regain the body you once had.
In today’s society, it is all about looks. For new moms, that is magnified to the Nth degree. While I’m quite sure many of you ladies who have carried a child to term are itching to get back to the gym to shed the baby weight… do not neglect your six-week window of healing. The six-week checkup is very important. Do not neglect this- it could very well mean the difference between life and death.

Here are a few tips to get going in the direction you feel you need to go.

1) Don’t diet too soon: You are going to ned all the energy you can muster to tackle the new and awesome responsibility of being a mom. As stated earlier, please wait until your six-week postnatal checkup to start dieting. Even then, seek the advice of your care provider..
2) Be realistic about your weight loss goals. We are all eager to “get in gear”when it comes to fitness. We all have to be realistic about our goals, our intents and our bodies. This is even more the case for new moms. All of us have to accept reality at some point of our limitations- that’s perfectly fine, natural and good that you do so. With motherhood, as in life things permanently change. New moms may experience having wider hips, softer bellies, maybe even a larger waistline. Acceting limitations for most is a somber reality to take, but it must be done. Please adjust your goals accordingly.
3) Embrace exercise. The reality of fitness for postnatal women is almost exactly the same as with all people- you have to put the work in, make it fun and be patient. There is no magic pill, elixir that will ever get you where you want to go fitness-wise. Exercise, then diet. Being more active is crucial. Even if it’s just walking you new bundle of joy around the block a few times a week, it’s much better than nothing.
4)Network with others. Networking is not just for businesspeople. The camaraderie, socialization and cohesiveness that comes with support groups and activity groups is absolutely necessary. It will do wonders for your psyche, your attitude and who can’t use some new friends? Don’t forget your family, friends and your spouse. Their support is crucial, especially your spouse.

HOW TO STAY MOTIVATED

Again, I must state, though the prospect of being a new mom is challenging (and perhaps intimidating), the same problems and challenges weave their way into all situations. Motivation is definently one of those. In my opinion, the issue of motivation is one that will haunt you if you don’t answer it. For new moms… and anyone else… my opinion on staying motivated is clear. Look at what you want out of life. Now, picture your fitness regimen in it. Now imagine your life without it. Does it fit your lifestyle? Can you put all of yourself in it? Is it fun? Will you be able to see progress? It’s things like this that can spur you to action or stop you dead in your tracks. Visualization of your achieved goal is paramount. Without a clear visual conceptof your desired goals… what are you doing it for?

In closing, these pointers for those of you who are new moms (and anyone else interested in reading) should be a good starting point for new moms and their friends and families to start with. No one wins without executing a well thought out gameplan. This will hopefully help new moms get fit in a more practical, healthful manner.

Here is a sample workout for those interested.

Is Fitness One Size Fits All?

With all the science, rumor, old wives tales and nonsense in and about the fitness world,  I feel as if fitness has been neglected. I have to ask, where does the individual fit in? All of the advice, all of the diets, workouts and all that- where does the individual fit in? Why is fitness all about looks? This fitness thing should be about health. It should be about wellness- being well-adjusted, physically centered and so on. Fitness should not be what it is  represented as today. It is not what fitness should be. In my opinion, fitness is not one size fits all. The fitness industry has people believing that if you’re not looking like some fitness model, you’re not healthy. That is wrong. EveryBODY (no typo there) is different. Fitness is not one size fits all. Unfortunately, people put way too much stock into looks and not enough stock into being physically, mentally and spiritually fit.

With the obesity epidemic in America today (stats later on in paragraph), shouldn’t the focus for fitness be on weight management and overall health?

STATS

  1. More than 1/3 of all Americans (38%) are obese.
  2. Non-Hispanic Blacks have the highest obesity rates (48.5%), followed by Hispanics (44.5%).
  3. The cost of obesity (as of 2008 CDC reports) is/was $148 BN USD, with the average cost of healthcare for the obese being $1429 more than those not obese.

With all the stats I have laid out, where does this fit in?

Image result for fitness model pix

In my view, the fitness industry needs a reboot. The focus should be on the individual and to focus on making fitness fun again. Too much attention is given to junk science, gadgets, extreme workouts and all sorts of things that people will not buy into. Fitness should be all about feeling good and making yourself the best you can be. So many times, we have seen obese people in the gym getting mocked by some nubile kid who is posting selfies and facebooking. This is the kind of thing that hurts the image of the fitness industry look very, very bad.

funny picard meme why would you make fun of a fat person at a gym who is trying to do something about it

For fitness to be about the individual, there must be a cessation on junk science, all the gadgets, tips, tricks and bad advice. I contend there must be more of a customer service driven point of view. To have the trust of people and to (most of all) make people healthy and to change the world. We at the Halcyon Fitness Group are committed to bringing this sort of change. People need to have fun in this world, more now than ever- why not make fitness fun and more relaxed?

In closing, there needs to be a reset for the fitness industry. Fitness as we have described… does mean a “one size fits all”. People are different and that fact needs to be recognized. Fitness should mean different things to different people. Fitness does not have to mean one size fits all.

15 Ways for Success with Your Fitness Regimen

It’s now June… how many of you have kept with your New Year’s pledge to lose weight, perhaps turn your life around? If you’ve fallen off track, that’s no big deal (over 85% of Americans break their New Year’s pledges in under 45 days). In case any of you all need a refresher, or a plan to get over the hump (or just to stay the course), here is my list of 15 ways to have success with any fitness regimen. This is by no means a comprehensive list… but hopefully it will work for you. Now, the list.
There is no shortcut to ideal health (whatever that is for you), no magic pill that lets you hit your five-a-day target and no single exercise that gives you a shredded physique in minutes. It takes time, hard work and an educated approach to get in shape and stay in shape. Following these tips will make your fitness quest (and life) a whole lot easier.

1. Prepping for Success
The better path to a sound diet is found by using your weekends wisely. Use the extra time you have on your weekends to make large batches of healthy meals that you can portion up to cover at least a couple of midweek lunches and dinners, avoiding the certain death of your fitness goals via fast food.

2. Mix Up Your Exercise

Variety is – cliché alert! – the spice of life, and many sports and activities support each other in ways you won’t realise until you try it. For example, strength training for your legs and core will make you a better runner, while those addicted to dumbbells will find Pilates works muscles they’d never even considered.

3. Calibrate Your Fitness Technology
If you invest in a fitness tracker, don’t just sit back and assume that following the preset targets will lead you to glory. Adjust the steps, active minutes and calorie targets regularly to build on your progress, or make them more realistic if you never get close and have started to ignore them. If you don’t engage with your fitness tech, you’ll quickly discard it.

4. Add In Extra Activity
This one of the oldest tricks in the book: take the stairs not the escalator, or get off the bus a stop early and walk. Any activity is better than none, and will only encourage you to do more. And if you really want to up the ante, try sprinting up the stairs (safely) each time you take them – clinical studies found that short bursts of high-intensity stair-climbing can make a significant difference to your cardiorespiratory fitness.

5. Keep Tabs On Your Visceral Fat

You can be skinny on the outside (at least your arms and legs), but fat on the inside. Visceral fat is the type that builds up around your organs and often results in a pot belly. It’s linked with heart disease, several types of cancer and type 2 diabetes. Check your waist-to-height ratio (WtHR) to see if you’re at risk. Grab a piece of string and use it to measure your height, then halve it. If it doesn’t fit around your waist, get exercising – visceral fat is the first type to go when you start a health regimen.

6. Value Your Rest Days
When you start on a fitness kick, it’s tempting to exercise every day while motivation is high. This is a bad move, and one that may see your motivation flame out within weeks, because you’re always exhausted and won’t see the massive improvements you expect for your efforts. Why? You’re not giving your muscles the time and rest they need to recover and grow.

7. Up The Intensity If You’re Short On Time
Health and wellness experts still promote the 150 minutes of moderate activity a week minimum, but now offer an alternative option of 75 minutes of vigorous activity a week. That’s running or singles tennis, for example, rather than cycling or walking, which count as moderate. You can also mix the two, so 60 minutes of vigorous cardio plus 30 of moderate will do the trick also. Bear in mind the guidelines also demand strength exercises on two or more days a week alongside your aerobic activity.

8. Treat Your Body Right
Nothing derails a health kick as quickly as injury, as many serious injuries will start out as small ones- you may think it’s OK to push through. Scaling back the intensity for a few days is better than having to shut it down for a few months. If you have an urgent desire to hit the gym, target a different part of the body from the one that’s bothering you.

9. The Drive for Five
Eating at least five portions of fruit and veg a day should be at the cornerstone of your healthy diet plan. What’s not wise is getting in a rut and eating the same five every day, because different types of fruit and veg contain different vitamins and minerals. A good way to vary your five-a-day is to eat different colors, as the hue is a decent indication of the nutrients they contain.

10. Don’t Undervalue Your Sleep
There is tendency for people who sleep very little to brag about it, as if it’s an indication of their commitment to life. However, getting the full seven to eight hours is vital to a healthy lifestyle, as it provides the energy for your exercise and even influences dietary choices – a 2016 study found that in the day following a night of limited sleep, people ate an extra 385 calories on average. You don’t snooze, you lose.

11. Increase Your Cadence On Your Runs
If you are consistently picking up injuries when running, one change it’s definitely worth trying is to up your rate of strides per minute (your cadence). If you overstrike, thus taking fewer steps, you put extra pressure on your knee and hip joints. Try and take more steps, which means your feet will land more beneath your body, reducing the impact on your joints.

12. Give It Your All or Turn It Loose
The first time you try an exercise it’s very hard, but at least quite novel. The second time the novelty is gone, and it’s still hard, leading to the temptation to quit. Try it at least once more, as the third time is often the charm – when a sport or workout starts to become as enjoyable as it is tough.

13. Count Reps Backwards
This is a mental trick that might make resistance workouts a little easier. Counting down the reps means by the time it’s really hurting you’re at the 3,2,1 stage, which feels closer to the end than 8,9,10 or whatever target you’re going for. It won’t work for everyone, but it’s worth a try.

14. Make Full Use Of Your Street Furniture
Exercising outdoors is a great way to ensure you get your hit of vitamin D (if it’s sunny) as well as a good workout, and it doesn’t have to be all cardio. As well as the exercise machines that litter many parks, you can nearly always finds a bar or ledge for pull-ups, or a bench or wall to do dips on. Rarer treats can even include chains to use as ersatz TRX ropes.

15. Record Stats and Progress

Nothing builds motivation as efficiently as seeing signs of improvement, so make sure you keep some kind of record of your activity. It can be as simple as noting your record five-rep max or fastest 5K time, using either one of the many excellent fitness apps available or old-fashioned pen and paper.
In closing, these tips and tricks will help in your fitness goals. Knowledge is power. Knowledge is a fundamental building block in fitness and in life. Knowledge (alongside hard work and dedication) is the most essential of the basics. THE BASICS ALWAYS WIN!!