Wednesday, September 30, 2009

My 1000th Day of Exercise in a Row!

I hit 1,000 days in a row last Sunday of straight exercise. 1,000 days. At least 30 minutes per day. NO excuses.

While my workout Sunday was pretty vicious--1,000 kettlebell swings with a 24kg (30X30 format: 50 minutes=1000 reps @ 20 per minute), many of my previous 999 workouts were not very hard...some were even very slow and easy.

I've learned a lot about myself the last 1,000 days of exercising. I didn't think I could do it at times...the rain, jet lag, late night sessions, heat during summer, STRESS, work, family, my own head games and whining, etc., but I pulled it off despite the challenges along the way.

There are a few take home points worth mentioning. I'll probably be the only person you'll know that exercised 1,000 days in a row, so I hope it's worth noting and that it helps, because as a Wellcoach, I truly want everyone to play. :o)

  • Most of the days I did NOT want to exercise. ALL 1,000 days I was glad I did after it was over. This is a powerful statement regarding the chemical response of exercise and movement. Ever wonder why so many Americans are depressed and unhappy today? Maybe it's at least in part related to the fact we don't move enough! NOT ONE DAY did I say, "#@!# I wish I had not done that exercise for 30 minutes!" The power of the mind-body connection ceases to amaze me sometimes. I've talked to other people about this, and they say the same thing. They never regret the exercise once it's over--they are always glad they did it even though they didn't want to do it before they started! The mojo of movement!
  • I focused on "doing something" each day--not how hard, how long, or making it complicated. I never kept an exercise journal or used an organized "program" that I had to follow specifically--I just did something each day as dedicated exercise. Nearly 40% of my 1,000 workouts were probably just walking--SLOW! Sure--I did a lot of kettlebell work the last 1.5 years getting ready for my certification, but what got me in the place where I could even take a shot at the KB certification was my daily 30 minutes of exercise the previous months...walking, riding my bike, some yoga, gym workouts, hiking, running, and whatever else I felt like doing at the time.
  • 30 minutes per day of exercise is not unreasonable. 40+ years ago, all this might have been a mute point. We didn't need to "put activity back into our lifestyles" because daily activity was already there. Times have changed. Now most of us sit--most if not all day. The best thing you can do for your body and joints is to MOVE...daily. It's that simple. We simply have to start moving again if we are to have a chance at getting healthy again as a nation and controlling healthcare costs.

    What I hope people will realize is that 5-6 days of exercise per week for the rest of your life is pretty good deal--I can't really think of any significant negative side effects...pretty amazing when you compare that to medications, surgeries, and diseases. It's been an interesting journey the last 1,000 days. The stress relief alone was worth doing it--additionally I maintained my weight and stayed pretty fit in the process. At age 49, I can still run around and play with my children and do what I want to do. I'm still in the game not on the sidelines!

    If you don't exercise--start. If you exercise--don't quit! It's worth the effort to stay active and be an ACTIVE participant in your own healthcare.

So how did I get it all started? The Lean Berets 30X30 Challenge! Check it and report for duty yourself!

In health-ALWAYS!
Coach RJ

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Exercise Safety & Low-Light Conditions

Fall is here along with shorter days and less light. Just a reminder to be SEEN if exercising in low light conditions. I nearly hit two different people in my car the last two weeks--one was walking and one was riding a bike. Both had no lights and both were not properly in the lane.
The favorite color for exercise clothes with most people is probably black, but this is the hardest color to see in low light. Even when "walking" on the bike path like I was doing earlier this week with my family, there are safety issues after dark concerning collisions. Many people ride the bike path after dark on their bikes--most of them with NO headlamps, reflectors, or flashing lights. Walkers wear dark clothing and rarely have reflectors or lights. There are a number of street lamps that would reflect if a reflector was worn or clothing had built-in reflectorized materials (many shoes, shorts, and running tops now have this built into them).
A quick and simple item to consider is a reflective ankle band.

I've been using Jogalite Slimband ankle reflectors for years because they are small, light, and extremely reflective. I use this product during 24-Hour ultraendurance cycling events, and use them for routine bike rides, walks, and runs on public streets or along the bike path in low-light conditions. These lightweight bands are incredible! They even reflect during daylight hours. Simply Velcro the strap lightly around your ankle for added safety. You can purchase a pair for only $5.95 through Team Estrogen.

I've ordered hundreds of these reflectors for programs and corporate clients over the years. Local bike and sporting good stores will also have lightweight reflectors very similar to the Slimbands. They also make lightweight headlamps that strap on the head or even clip onto a visor--most are not very expensive--cheaper than a collision for sure! I went to a clip-on light for my running visor after colliding myself with another runner last year after dark on the bike path. :o( There are also predator issues after dark, so a little light can be very helpful for safety in many different areas.

Check out the Jogalite Slimbands here:

"See you" in a workout this fall,
Coach RJ

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Biggest Loser & Exercise Safety

We've probably all been inspired by the transformations of people on The Biggest Loser TV show--myself included. However, the last couple of years the show has had some very questionable methods for fitness training. Once again the other week, one of the trainers demonstrated some very reckless kettlebell training that ignited a firestorm of criticism in the kettlebell world--this was not the first such incident. Beyond kettlebells, many of the biggest names in fitness are saying they now watch the show specifically to see what they will have to correct the following week after their clients see the reckless training methods and want to try them.

I feel obligated to comment on exercise safety and this show's methods. Some (not all) of their fitness training has become reckless and even at times outright dangerous. If you see something that looks really cool that you want to also try in your own workouts, please don't hesitate to ask a qualified fitness professional about any safety concerns you might have. I'll say this for sure--DO NOT duplicate any of the moves they are doing with a Russian Kettlebell!!! I've been really disappointed in a lot of their other exercises as well. They push people beyond what they can control in terms of joint strength and biomechanics. Kettlebells are the single most corrective tool in fitness today--but they have safety issues and require special training to properly engage with them. Once you know the safety of KBs, they will rock you and move you well. You won't get proper instruction on them watching shows like The Biggest Loser or looking at most of the stuff on YouTube. If you want to learn about KBs, find a certified RKC instructor near you.

Going hard core is fine. I enjoy it myself, but I would recommend that you only do what you can control. If not, more than likely your joints will pay the price in pain and injury...not good. Adding fitness on top of dysfunction is not efficient. You might get away with it for a while, but eventually your joints will take the hit. Prioritize joint mobility and safety FIRST then you'll move well with minimal risk for injury. Moving well and efficiently will enable you to also lose weight faster because you won't have as much or any downtime and you'll be able to burn more calories per minute because you can put the force where it belongs instead of leaking it out and breaking your joints. Exercise and safety really should go together.

Enjoy the show but with some reserve before trying everything you see. I've been inspired by the transformations. It's really great when people decide to take control of their own health and get their lives back. Power to them!
In Fitness,
Coach RJ

Thursday, September 10, 2009

1000 Days-1000 Reps

RJ & Tim Spencer @ RKC San Diego.09

1000 days straight of exercise? Quite a concept. Sounds intimidating. Only reserved for crazies or someone like Jack LaLanne. Think again! It's just exercise and moving around for fitness 30 minutes per day--nothing more. Our bodies are designed TO MOVE...DAILY!!!

Sunday, September 27th 2009 will mark my 1000th straight day of exercise. During this time, I exercised at least 30 minutes per day EVERY DAY-NO EXCUSES. Many days just a slow walk...others were moderate to hard...but always something.I will mark my 1000th day with 1000 kettlebell reps.1000 24kg swings in 50 minutes @ 20 per minute. Join me & other Lean Berets on the 27th in Ventura, CA for the Throw Down!

It all started with The Lean Berets 30X30 Challenge!

Want to get fit and stay that way year after year? Report for 30X30 Challenge Duty with The Lean Berets-Avengers of Health!
Leave the BS excuses behind. Become part of the real solution for health care...getting HEALTHY with DAILY exercise! In Sweat, Coach RJ!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Exercise & Weight LOSS?

Exercise and weight loss has been in the news a lot lately. There was a study cited a few weeks ago the media picked up which basically said that exercise does not have a significant effect on weight loss. This created a lot of controversy within the exercise community, and once again, a lot of confusion with the general public. Exercise DOES have "some" benefits for weight loss but more for weight "maintenance." Allow me to summarize.
  • Over the years, I have worked with many of you on weight loss. I have always emphasized "eating behaviors" over exercise in terms of weight loss. If you have read my Top 10 list for permanent weight loss, you know that exercise is way down on the list. Why? Because if you are not eating properly, your workouts will never be enough to lose significant weight. For the record, dietary experts say that THE most important thing we can do to lose weight as a nation is to just EAT LESS. They don't even emphasize what we are eating as much as that we are just eating too much of it. Start here if you need to lose weight--eat less of whatever it is you're currently eating. Sure--eating better and exercising will help, but the MOST important step is to eat less.
  • Can exercise help you lose weight? Yes. But only if you use the right programming, intensity, etc. However, please note the above on how your eating relates. Studies show that an adult working "hard" for 60 minutes of exercise will burn around 600 calories per hour. But guess what? Most adults in America are not in good enough shape to exercise hard for 60 minutes straight! Many cannot even exercise easy for 60 minutes in a row--some not even five! In reality, the amount of metabolic work many adults can produce per hour will be far under 600 calories of burn. Have you looked at the calorie content of a couple of cookies, fancy cup of coffee, bag of chips, or sodas lately? What about a restaurant meal that can be in excess of 5,000 calories? If you're only burning 250 calories (an hour of slow walking) and eating too much or poor choices like the junk food like above, you're still going to gain weight! Again, eat LESS as a primary strategy, then better, then have "quality" exercise on a daily basis.
  • On exercise quality vs. weight loss, there has been a trend developing for a couple of years downplaying the role of cardio exercise and cardio equipment. I've been watching it and evaluating, and now I am also coaching people away from endless cardio that is not very productive. Most of the people I have known over the past decade that use cardio machines day in and day out don't change from year to year. They don't lose weight, and they don't increase much fitness--nor do they fix injuries or joint dysfunctions hacking away on cardio machines. Think about the "quality" of your cardio. Will it have enough metabolic effect to enable you to actually LOSE weight if this is your goal? Will the cardio activity enhance your health and safety in terms of joint function and whole-body balance? Probably not. Here are a couple of related points. If you do cardio machines, pick a protocol that will actually produce weight loss and metabolic enhancement. If you have joint issues or need to balance your body better, get off the cardio equipment for a while and into something that can correct these imbalances so that when you go back to your cardio, you will have great quality with improved safety--which basically means you'll be able to lose more weight faster. If you just want to do cardio at a slow to moderate pace, this is fine, but be realistic--it's not going to help you lose weight or even get you that much more fit.
  • Cardio Weight Loss Protocols? There are many different plans or protocols out there. The only one that I have seen actually work with dozens of my own clients are the Sprint-8 Intervals (by Phil Campbell-Ready, Set, GO!). I also use other intervals, but the Sprint-8s are the easiest to adapt to multiple populations and body types. We have a few tricks to using the Sprint-8. We have used speed to accelerate the heart rate and preferred the elliptical trainer with NO resistance because we can transition quickly in and out of the intervals. Stair steppers, treadmills, and some other cardio equipment types will not allow the quick transitions required for this workout. My suggestion is that if you move well enough to move FAST with an interval, that you look at the Sprint-8. Some of my colleagues make fun of the elliptical trainers, but I have seen them help more people than hurt, so I'll stick with them when used properly.
  • If you don't move well enough to move fast, then fix what is broken or dysfunctional. My optimal tools for doing this are merely using body weight or the Russian Kettlebell. If you can't move your body well, you don't have any business using equipment to further load a bad movement pattern or joint that is not working properly. Kettlebells are very corrective when used with the RKC "Hard Style" protocols--they truly fix people better than any other fitness tool I have ever seen (but don't use them unless you know what you are doing). There are other methods of course--sometimes clinical help is required with surgery, physical therapy, or at times medications; however, most of the problems I see with people and their movements can be fixed on site with no or minimal equipment. Tip of the day by physical therapist and sport rehab expert Gray Cook, "Don't layer fitness on top of dysfunction!" What does Cook mean? You can get more fit if you go hard enough, but it won't necessarily make you move better. Eventually, you'll just get fit enough to hurt yourself--not good!
  • Summary! If you need to lose weight--first and foremost EAT LESS. If you want exercise to help you lose weight--do something metabolically efficient. If you do not move well enough to do the "faster" movements required with intervals or ballistic kettlebell exercises, etc., then emphasize correcting your imbalances and improving your joint function so that you can do the metabolically efficient workouts that will torch the most amount of fat off your frame in the least amount of time.

I love fitness and exercise! Daily exercise is awesome with dozens of great health benefits--just not the "best method" to take off significant weight when compared to how much you are eating.
References: (RJ's 'Top Ten' Weight Loss Tips) (Intervals & Sprint-8 Protocol) (Kettlebells) (American College of Sports Medicine response to exercise and weight loss myths)

In health,
Coach RJ

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

RKC Success!

Pavel & Ron Jones @ RKC in San Diego

I passed my RKC in San Diego Comrades! Whew...15 months of busting my ass paid off finally! It was a great experience. VERY hard. Even more rewarding. I'll write in more detail later about what worked well and what I still needed but wanted to at least tell everyone that has been wondering.
My friend and training partner Tyler Saso passed too. We prepared HARD style--and succeeded with HARD style. Special thanks to Delaine Ross, David Whitley, Dr. Mark Cheng, John Spezzano, Anton Summers and everyone at KBLA! YOU Rock!
Peaceful strength tonight from a SMOKED SoCal, Coach RJ.