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What’s it take to reach your Goals? Do you have what it takes to make a successful transformation?

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It’s all too common to hear people who are frustrated with their inability to successfully reach their goals.  When it comes to a transformation that means: They aren’t losing the fat.  They aren’t gaining the muscle.  Or they aren’t getting any stronger.  I’ve been asked many times, “What’s it take to reach your goals”.  My answer usually starts with, “the right mindset”.  “You have to be able to take control of your own mind”.

Obviously, most people know that it comes down to proper nutrition and a consistent exercise program.  But where most people fail is not being able to follow through with one or both of these.  People will lie to themselves to make themselves feel better.  I’ve done it myself.  I’ve told myself that I was going to stick with a strict diet, which I did.  Or at least claimed I did.  I would just ignore the box of cookies that I stuffed in my face on a Saturday afternoon.  There isn’t really a problem if there is a cheat meal once a week or whatever.  The problem comes in when there are cheats that you are not self reporting.

There is also a difference in putting together what might be more of maintenance than anything.  Someone is setting high goals, but when they get to the gym they go through the motions.  If I’m not killing it in the gym, then I am not making the gains that I expect to make.  The way I see it, is that if I get through a workout and don’t feel muscle exhaustion and don’t feel like I just got my ass kicked, than I didn’t put the work in during my workout.

In my workout today we did a couple of circuits.  Each circuit had  5 rounds of 8 to 15 reps with 3 exercises.  We do increase the number of exercises based on workout.  Our rest period was 1 minute in between rounds.  The weights weren’t real heavy but our legs were on fire by the time we were done.  We finished up with HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) on a rowing machine.  We went hard for 15 seconds with 10 seconds of rest and repeated it over and over and over again.

If you aren’t stressing your body than your body isn’t going to change.  If you are just going through the motions don’t expect your muscles to be getting what they need in order to grow.  If you were to go hard for 3 weeks, your body will change in order to accommodate the workouts that you are putting it through.  At that point what was hard 3 weeks ago isn’t so hard anymore.  If someone is lifting for strength, it’s going to be a different workout with heavy weight.  However, they still have to stress their body, so that it reacts and they make their gains.

Stay after it.

 

 

Don’t Look For The Easy Way Out

When I was in high school, I thought that I must be a genius because I came up with a new formula for some geometry problem.  The best part was that it was easy and I found my solution very quickly.  It worked out great for me until the day that I took the test and my formula failed to produce the correct solution to the problems.

Easy isn’t always better.  I still do like to think outside of the box, however I am not always looking for the easy way out.  In fact I find that the harder I work the bigger the payoff is for me.  When I workout, I am usually going in solo.  In the past when I had a team around me or even a workout partner or trainer, there is usually some kind of competition.  I don’t want to fail, give up or give less effort.  If I am doing someone else’s program I have to keep up. If I am leading the program, I want to make sure everyone else knows how hard it is.  So, when I go into the gym by myself, I know that I can’t make it easy on myself.  I know what it feels like to train hard and I know what I should feel like when I go through my workout.

When I train, I work more focus more on muscle endurance and activating my core and my stabilizer muscles.  For others, it might be more about having a 400 pound bench.  I’m more about increasing my overall athleticism.  I change-up my workouts every day.  I take exercises and make them harder.  When I bench, I might  pick my feet off of the ground or might do rows from a plank position or I might do dynamic push-ups (drop from an elevated level and push back up to it from the ground).Screen Shot 2013-04-19 at 3.39.50 PM

If it is an exercise that is too hard to do, I will work on it until I can perform it.  I am currently working on one-legged squats.  I’m using a TRX to help me keep my balance.  I’m planning on being able to do these unassisted, within a couple of weeks.

When I accomplish something that I consider hard.  And I continue to do it, I find that it actually becomes what I consider easy in many cases.  Increase the difficulty and conquer your next challenge.  Learn to S.W.I.M.™ 

Fighting Through The Pain

Midwest Spartan 8

Have you ever been a part of a team?  You workout together and you play as a team. You push each other.  You are giving it 100% so that you can become better and that you can succeed as a team.  Thoughts run through your head when you feel like you are being beat down and you’re pushing yourself as hard as you can.  You look around at your teammates and they are going through the exact same thing that you are and they are feeling the same pain.  You are thinking, “They can do it.  I know that I can do it too.”  Next you think about the competition.  “What are they doing to prepare?  Are they working harder than you?  I know that I can work harder than them.”   Thoughts like these run through your head.  This is your motivation.  The human body is a tool and it can withstand much more than the mind.  Take control of your mind.   Be strong enough to push your body further than you mind allows.  Let your mind know that you don’t have limits.  That is 110%.

As an individual you may not have a team around you to push you.  You might or might not have competitors.  But you can still compete against yourself.  If you really want to make yourself better than you will push yourself knowing that you haven’t reached your limits.  You can dig down deep and find that extra 10%.  In order to reach the finish line, you may need that extra 10%.  You will suffer, but in a good way.  Your results are worth giving it 110%.

The pain from your hard work only lasts a limited time but the feeling of accomplishment lasts for a lifetime.  Learn to S.W.I.M.

Changing Atmosphere Can Give You The Edge That You Need

Xtreme Jeff CLay

Sometimes you need a change of atmosphere.  When I first started my transformation, I had already been working out.  My biggest change would be my nutrition.  But I really wanted to feel like I was starting over and wanted someone else’s input.  For that reason I decided on a change of atmosphere.  I wanted to make sure that everything around me was positive and that it was all about accomplishing goals and training.  My decision was to train at Emerge Fitness for my change of atmosphere.  Once I reached my goals I went back to my old gym.  I was revitalized and continued with a great workout routine and even incorporated some of the things that I picked up at Emerge into it.

Next I decided that I wanted to train at a higher level so I went to Xtreme Speed in Plainfield, IL.  I trained there for about 10 weeks 3 days a week.  The atmosphere definitely breeds success.  The opportunity to train with other people who work hard every day and train at a high level of intensity, not only motivated me but opened the door to a different style of training that I was not use too.  I thought that I knew what High Intensity was until I met these guys.  Trying out different types of training is great for developing the body and it is also a great way to stay engaged.

Around the holidays I ended up back at my gym and was incorporating Xtreme’s training methods into my own workouts at home.  A couple of weeks before the Super Bowl I was feeling like I was overtraining.  The overtraining was not due to what I was doing in the gym, it was due to the amount of cardio that I was doing.  I set a goal of running 1,000 miles this year.  I was running about 25 miles a week which wasn’t really something that I was use to.  It was close to 10 miles further than I had been running a week.  I got to the point in which my joints were sore, I was running slower, I was losing strength and my mind did not feel right.  My memory was not what it had been a few weeks before and I was feeling agitated.  I knew what was going on but I was hoping that I would work through it.  I finally smartened up and decided to take a break.  The way I finally saw it was that my Cortisol levels were too high and the only way that I could get them under control was to take off.  Initially it was going to be one week but I decided to take a second week off.  I listened to my body and it was telling me that I wasn’t ready.  I almost worked out at the end of the second week because I started to feel like I needed to be in the gym.  Kind of like I was getting withdrawals.

Two weeks off after a couple of weeks of lame workouts. Now what?  Do I start-up slow?  Nope, I left on Sunday for Plainfield, IL and would workout from Monday to Wednesday at Xtreme Speed.  Once again I wanted to fire it up again with the right atmosphere.  It’s not like I hadn’t fallen out of shape again so I felt great getting back in there.  They still kicked my ass.  First and third day are upper body days and the second day is a leg and cardio day.  After the second workout it felt like a fog had lifted.  I feel awesome and my thought process seems like it getting back to where I was before I was losing my mind.

Although I needed the rest, I also needed a change of atmosphere.  That atmosphere has to be positive.  It can be the physical place and it can be the people that you train with.  It can even be the workout.  Finding a group of people with a high level of intensity is what works best for me.

I also learned that if you set a goal that is not going the way that you wanted like I did then you better change it before it is too late.  Don’t let your pride get in the way of a mistake.

For me healthy life style is not an ongoing battle.  It is about getting in tune with your body, learning and reaching your goals.  I have a passion for this new phase of my life, so I choose to spend the time on myself and also on helping others figure out what works for them.

Some People Believe That The More Time In The Gym, The More Muscle That They Gain.

Couldn’t Be More Wrong.

Working out too much or to long could lead to overtraining.  The body releases Cortisol (a hormone) which increases glucose release from the tissue into the bloodstream.  In turn it generates energy.  Cortisol reduces physical and mental stress and also prevents the release of substances that cause inflammation in the body.

If someone has chronically elevated levels of Cortisol, it can cause muscle loss as well as an increase in body fat, fatigue, degenerate bone, cause joint problems, affect brain and kidney function.  Elevated levels of Cortisol are caused by stress.  Both physical and mental. To much exercise will result in overtraining and will elevate Cortisol levels.  The same goes in dealing with work related stress or even the loss of a loved one.  On the other hand working out in general can reduce mental stress due to a normal release of Cortisol.

I laugh every time someone tells me that they don’t have time to train as much as I do.  They assume that I spend all day in the gym.  My response is, “You don’t have an hour to spend at the gym?”  Honestly, you can get everything that you need out of your workout in 25 or 30 minutes.

Signs of over-training include: fatigue, loss of power, loss of strength, loss of speed.  Some people can train for longer periods of time than others.  Listen to your body.  Train  smart.

Cortisol is needed for normal body functions but with elevated levels could cause problems.  Ways to help reduce this are:

Don’t overtrain.  (Both aerobic and anaerobic training do help control Cortisol levels).                                                                                                                                               Don’t overdo Caffeine (It can spike Cortisol).                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Stay away from low caloric diets (they increase Cortisol).                                                                                                                                                                                                       Eat low Glycemic Carbohydrates (Oatmeal).  Take EFA’s (essential fatty acids), vitamins and minerals (through food – fruits and vegetables).                                                                                                                                      Get enough sleep (7 or 8 hours).  It is needed for recovery.                                                                                                                                                                                             Reduce Stress (Yoga and meditation may help.  So will laughter).                                                                                                                                                                              Consume simple carbohydrates (Fruits, Raw Honey) immediately after a resistance workout.  This will spike insulin levels and may minimize excessive cortisol levels.  

You can also try taking the following:
L-Glutamine
Green Tea
Zinc

Remember that it’s not how long you work out but how efficient you are combining both resistance training and cardio training.  Your nutrition is a huge part of transforming your body.  Rest is another important factor.  Train smart.

Extreme Shake Weight Workout

Once you view this you will realize that it is a joke.  I will have actual workout videos on my blog and hopefully you will learn something. But what is LIFE without humor?

Training: It doesn’t take as much time as making up the excuse not to do it.

During my transformation I did cardio between 5 and 7 days a week.  Part of the reason that I ran so much was that my dogs Bailey and Riley are my running partners and they pretty much demanded that we went almost every day.  It was also their job to motivate me to run every morning.  I would not say that I am big on running, however, I do love to run outside instead of on a treadmill.  I would rather have some scenery instead of a TV or something else indoors.  My normal running route is through my neighborhood and out to a cornfield surrounded by woods.  The dogs love it because it gives them the opportunity to chase deer, rabbits and other wildlife on a daily basis.  In some cases the wildlife were chasing them.
As far as my workouts went, I did hire Matt McCarthy from Emerge Fitness to help me achieve my goals.  I decided that I wanted to get an outside perspective and wanted to train in a new atmosphere.  Somewhere, where it was all about training.  Listening to someone else was kind of tough for the first couple of weeks because every day I wanted to open my mouth and say let’s do this instead, I realized that I was paying him to put my program together, not to listen to me tell him what I thought I needed. I never said a word.  After working out so long on my own, I must have been getting lazy and was blowing off certain exercises that I should have been doing because I didn’t like them or was having a problem with them. Now I had to do them. I was also cheating myself on certain exercises by using bad form to get through the exercise. On top of that there was the positive reinforcement from the motivational aspect of having someone work with you.  My workouts changed frequently but all of them were High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).
I can honestly tell you that I spent less time on my workouts and cardio during my transformation than prior to it.  I currently spend more time around my training.  What I mean by this is that not only do I enjoy it but people have told me that I have been making an impact on their lives by providing them with information involving training and nutrition.  It took me less than 46 years, but I have found my true purpose.

The following is program that I have used and have found very effective.  It is perfect for the person who says that they don’t have time to workout.  It also fits in with the type of training that I do with both weights and cardio which is High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).  This type of training is very intense (figured that I would point the word intense out.   It’s not like the word is in the name of the method), high reps, low rest, sprints and walks.  HIIT is awesome for conditioning. It helps speed up recovery and burns fat more efficiently.

Bill Phillips created this specific program for Transformation :  5:25   (that’s 5 sets 25 minutes)  I would personally recommend doing at least 3 days of each a week.  Days 1, 3, 5 would be weights (Upper Body on days 1 and 5 and Lower Body on Day 3) and Days 2, 4, 6 would be cardio.

Cardio (Spin, Run, or Bike) 5 Sets
Slower pace for 2 minutes Jog for 2 minutes Sprint for 1 minute (repeat 5 times)
If you are on a bike or do spinning start with low resistance (6-10), increase (10-14) and increase again (14 or higher).
Make sure that you increase your speed each time as well.
During the sprint you want your heart rate up there
140 to 160.  Don’t go higher than 160
Take a pulse when you end the run and then throughout the walk.  You will recover during the walk.  Your heart rate should end up going down below or around 120 during recovery.

Weights (Change your exercises up in future workouts)
You will do a complete circuit before resting.
10 reps per exercise and 1 exercise per body part
5 sets with a 2 minute rest between sets.

Upper Body

Chest  (Dumbbell Press)
Shoulders (Shoulder Press)
Back  (Lat Pull Downs)
Biceps (Preacher Curls)
Triceps (Kickbacks)
Rest
Repeat 4 more times

Lower Body (5 exercises, mix in quads and hamstrings and something for Calf)

(Squats)
(Lunges)
(Stiff Leg Deadlift)
(Step ups)
(Calf Raises)

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