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!!!

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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!!

AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE

Okay people… I just wanted to say one thing. I sincerely appreciate your support in my blogging and fitness endeavors. It means a lot to me that you like what I write (and repost). Those of you who follow me on wordpress– thank you. If you follow me on twitter @halcyonfg16… thank you. On the facebook version of this blog… vid.me… wherever… I graciously and humbly give you thanks for your patronage.

One of these days I am going to have to do something for you all. Real talk.

Thank you for your time.

Mediterranean Diet: A Delicious Alternative.

Healthy fats

The focus of the Mediterranean diet isn’t on limiting total fat consumption, but rather to make wise choices about the types of fat you eat. The Mediterranean diet discourages saturated fats and hydrogenated oils (trans fats), both of which contribute to heart disease.

The Mediterranean diet features olive oil as the primary source of fat. Olive oil provides monounsaturated fat — a type of fat that can help reduce LDL cholesterol levels when used in place of saturated or trans fats.

“Extra-virgin” and “virgin” olive oils — the least processed forms — also contain the highest levels of the protective plant compounds that provide antioxidant effects.

Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats, such as canola oil and some nuts, contain the beneficial linolenic acid (a type of omega-3 fatty acid). Omega-3 fatty acids lower triglycerides, decrease blood clotting, are associated with decreased sudden heart attack, improve the health of your blood vessels, and help moderate blood pressure.

Fatty fish — such as mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna and salmon — are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Fish is eaten on a regular basis in the Mediterranean diet.

Wine

The health effects of alcohol have been debated for many years, and some doctors are reluctant to encourage alcohol consumption because of the health consequences of excessive drinking.

However, alcohol — in moderation — has been associated with a reduced risk of heart disease in some research studies.

The Mediterranean diet typically includes a moderate amount of wine. This means no more than 5 ounces (148 milliliters) of wine daily for women (or men over age 65), and no more than 10 ounces (296 milliliters) of wine daily for men under age 65.

If you’re unable to limit your alcohol intake to the amounts defined above, if you have a personal or family history of alcohol abuse, or if you have heart or liver disease, refrain from drinking wine or any other alcohol.

Putting it all together

The Mediterranean diet is a delicious and healthy way to eat. Many people who switch to this style of eating say they’ll never eat any other way. Here are some specific steps to get you started:

  • Eat your veggies and fruits — and switch to whole grains. An abundance and variety of plant foods should make up the majority of your meals. Strive for seven to 10 servings a day of veggies and fruits. Switch to whole-grain bread and cereal, and begin to eat more whole-gain rice and pasta products.
  • Go nuts. Keep almonds, cashews, pistachios and walnuts on hand for a quick snack. Choose natural peanut butter, rather than the kind with hydrogenated fat added. Try tahini (blended sesame seeds) as a dip or spread for bread.
  • Pass on the butter. Try olive or canola oil as a healthy replacement for butter or margarine. Use it in cooking. Dip bread in flavored olive oil or lightly spread it on whole-grain bread for a tasty alternative to butter. Or try tahini as a dip or spread.
  • Spice it up. Herbs and spices make food tasty and are also rich in health-promoting substances. Season your meals with herbs and spices rather than salt.
  • Go fish. Eat fish once or twice a week. Fresh or water-packed tuna, salmon, trout, mackerel and herring are healthy choices. Grilled fish tastes good and requires little cleanup. Avoid fried fish, unless it’s sauteed in a small amount of canola oil.
  • Rein in the red meat. Substitute fish and poultry for red meat. When eaten, make sure it’s lean and keep portions small (about the size of a deck of cards). Also avoid sausage, bacon and other high-fat meats.
  • Choose low-fat dairy. Limit higher fat dairy products such as whole or 2 percent milk, cheese and ice cream. Switch to skim milk, fat-free yogurt and low-fat cheese.
  • Raise a glass to healthy eating. If it’s OK with your doctor, have a glass of wine at dinner. If you don’t drink alcohol, you don’t need to start. Drinking purple grape juice may be an alternative to wine.

Vegetarian Diets

Vegetarians and vegetarian diets have been around as long as man has been around. I recently read about the late radio personality Casey Kasem (Shaggy on Scooby-Doo) and his aversion to meat as a child. My personal experience with vegetarianism was to see if I could do it. So for two years (2002-2004/5) I adopted a vegetarian lifestyle. I shed a TON of weight (going from 292 to 160 in 13 months). I think vegetarians get a bad rap. Vegetarianism is great. It’s a great alternative to eating meat, GMOs and who knows what else they are putting in your food. It’s great for kids (teaching portion control and discipline) plus it’s just plain healthier for them (with all the unnatural health ailments hitting children now).

Historic obesity rates across the spectrum for Americans (by 2030, 45% of Americans will be classified as clinically obese), diabetes spiking, even a risk for autism by obese pregnant females. Now more than ever, vegatarianism and vegetarian diets deserve a second look.

Did you know that there are different types of vegetarians?

With these levels of this lifestyle, there are a lot of varying outcomes. Personally, as stated earlier, I think vegetarianism is fantastic. I also hold the opinion that humans definitely benefit from vegetarianism. All the processed foods, all the GMOs, all of the junk we eat and drink is crippling us (and I am just talking about Americans). Combine that with a declining activity rate of most of us… you have a whopping obesity rate (over 67% of Americans are overweight) that will cost taxpayers TRILLIONS by 2028 (healthcare, transportation, clothing).

In closing, more attention should be paid to vegetarianism as a viable lifestyle. This should be brought to light on television, social media, etc. I am definitely in favor of more attention being paid to vegetarianism. It’s definetly cost effective, saves money on healthcare, prevents diseases, disorders like autism.

I would like your opinions on this article. Any and all will be appreciated.

 

2017’s Best Supplements for Women Over 40

As promised this is my comprehensive list for the best supplements (in this case, multivitamins) for the ladies who are 40 and over. Please use your best judgment when considering taking any of the products mentioned in this article. As always, listen to your body and shop smart. Now, the list:

The ESSENTIAL vitamins for Women over 40

Strontium:

Women over 40 with a family history that includes osteoporosis, or risk factors associated with bone loss should take 340 mg of this mineral supplement daily. Clinical studies has proven that strontium has been shown to be almost twice as effective as osteoporosis medications in improving bone density without any side effects. Later studies concluded that women who had strontium supplements experienced an increase in bone mineral density in the lumbar spine by around 15 percent during a three-year period.

Ribose:

Ribose is usually left out of the mainstream vitamin supplement industry. It is the dark horse among nutrients. It has been known to enhance energy levels by close to 60% in three weeks. Researchers observed that close to 70% of the subjects who ingested ribose supplements exhibited mental clarity, restful sleep, less pain and more energy. Scientists have also discovered that ribose stabilizes diastolic blood pressure in patients with a family history of heart disease and arteriosclerosis.

 

Vitamin D3:

Vitamin D3 is another recommended vitamin for women over 40 that has many benefits. A disturbing trend is that even in countries with a good amount of sunshine, people suffer from Vitamin D3 deficiencies.  Research has shown that adequate levels of vitamin D3 can help maintain a healthy weight, reduce risk of osteoporosis and even ward off depression.” It’s also worth noting that Vitamin D deficiency can cause pain in various parts of the body. SAD (seasonal affective disorder) is a disorder that is characterized by low Vitamin D serum levels.

 

Folate:

Folate is one of the most important B vitamins. It has long been touted as a great cure for depression by psychiatrists and behaviorists alike. Researchers also state that birth complications prevalent in expectant post-40 mothers can be curbed by restoring healthy folate levels. Subsequent studies have shown that sufficient levels of folate have been linked to a reduced risk of cognitive degeneration associated with aging, including dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Calcium:

Popularized by various TV commercials as the go-to vitamin supplements for women over 40, calcium is one of the most important minerals. Taken along with vitamin D, its absorption increases. Just remember not to take your calcium supplements with iron or caffeine, as they are known to hinder absorption of calcium, relegating it to the gut. Although there are many calcium supplements available, you should consider leafy-green vegetables as a viable alternative.

Hydrochloric Acid:

Hydrochloric acid and pepsin are the two chief digestive juices in the stomach. As you age, HCL (hydrochloric acid) levels begin to diminish. This causes indigestion and bloating. Thus, the best way to combat this condition is to take HCL supplements. HCL has even been mooted to promote healthy-looking skin. Low HCL levels result in poor absorption of B vitamins. Recent studies conclude that in skin diseases associated with B complex deficiency, there is also a deficiency of hydrochloric acid.

Magnesium

Magnesium helps regulate blood pressure which is especially important for women 40-plus, who are already at risk of high blood pressure due to aging. Deficiencies in magnesium have been linked to heart disease, diabetes, and inflammation. Plus, it helps the body absorb calcium and plays a role in muscle, nerve, and heart function, as well as blood glucose control. Your doctor can test your magnesium levels if you think you might be deficient (and would need a supplement). But if you’re eating a healthy, balanced diet, you’re likely to get all the magnesium you need (320 mg a day for women 40 and up) from food since it’s found in dark leafy greens, beans, soy, nuts, seeds, and avocados. Too much magnesium does not necessarily pose health risks, but may cause diarrhea, nausea, or cramping.

Potassium

Potassium also plays a key role in regulating blood pressure regardless of age.  In postmenopausal women, research has linked higher intake of potassium from food to decreased risk of stroke—though “high” intake was considered approximately 3.1 g, which is still lower than the recommended 4.7 g per day. And the benefits were seen in those getting as little as 2 g per day. Potassium is definitely a nutrient you want to be getting enough of, but unless your MD prescribes it for another medical condition, I strongly caution against taking potassium supplements. Too much potassium can damage the gastrointestinal tract and the heart, and can cause potentially life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias. Most people can get the potassium they need by eating a varied, healthy diet that includes bananas, sweet potatoes, chard, beans, and lentils. You’re highly unlikely to get enough potassium in your diet to be dangerous. If your doctor does prescribe supplements, then the doctor should carefully monitor how they affect you.

Probiotics

Probiotics are not technically vitamins or minerals either, but they’re important essentials for women 40 and up. Mounting evidence suggests probiotics play a role in keeping the gut healthy and weight down, and even in lowering risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke—all of which is especially important around 40 when muscle mass starts to decrease, making it easier to put on weight and develop insulin resistance. And though you can get probiotics in some dairy and fermented soy products like seitan, foods typically will not contain as many strains as a supplement—and each strain comes with its own benefit, some for helping to

control weight, others for helping prevent diarrhea. Plus, because probiotics are actually live and active cultures, you won’t be able to get them from foods that are cooked or heated.

Omega-3s

Technically not a vitamin, omega-3 fatty acids still deserve a place on this list because of their myriad health benefits, and especially because they help counteract some of the negative changes that come with aging, like increased heart disease risk and cognitive decline. Research has shown that omega-3s help lower blood pressure and LDL (“bad cholesterol levels”), reduce the risk of heart disease, and play a role in keeping memory and thinking sharp.

In fact, a recent study found that people with higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids in their blood had larger brains and performed better on memory tests, planning activities, and abstract thinking, compared with individuals with lower levels—which suggests that omega-3 fatty acids play a role in maintaining brain health in addition to the other known benefits.

Lastly, though you can get omega-3s from foods like fish, walnuts, flaxseeds, and leafy vegetables, taking a supplement is a good way to make sure you’re getting enough. Either way, aim for 500 mg if you’re healthy, 800 to 1,000 mg if you have heart disease, and 2,000 to 4,000 mg if you have high triglyceride levels. And be sure to ask your doctor about the right dose if you’re taking anticoagulant drugs, which can have serious side effects

Things adversity and iron has taught me

In life, we face adversity and even some brick walls. Things unspeakable at times. I can honestly say the gym has been a sanctuary for me at times, keeping me out of trouble and even saving my life. A few things iron have taught me:

  1. Anything is possible. While things don’t happen how you want them to, or even when you want them to… you keep plugging away at things, and you will get there.
  2. The only one stopping you is you.
  3. Have faith. While life can be arduous (like how working out can be at times) at times, don’t give up on yourself. If you don’t believe in yourself, who will
  4. GOD AIN’T PLAYING… NEITHER IS THE DEVIL… so why are you? Life is too short to be down, too short to dwell on the past, etc. Life truly speeds by (especially in our high-paced, ultra-competitive world). As Outkast (Andre Benjamin and Antwan Patton, ATL rap group) once famously quoted, “Get up, get out and get something”.

In closing, I will say this: though life can/will be tough and frustrating, you need to know that this will only work if you choose to stay positive and seek success.

 

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