50 Things I Learned In 2011

2011 was THE year. If 2012 is supposed to be the-end-of-the-world-year, this past year was the biggest year I’ll ever have. I don’t even know where to begin so it’s best I just keep this sorta list random and chaotic.

In no particular order, here’s what’s been pumped into my brain this past year:

1. I’ve had more illness (colds, flu, etc) this past year than any I can recall before it. I’m 100% sure it’s related to #2:

2. I need more sleep (a blog to come of this subject soon)

3. I just did work, and it worked out really well. I’d like to say I made huge plans, wrote everything down, foresaw the challenges ahead of me and then implemented the plan but it just didn’t go down like that. I accomplished a great deal this past year but it all got done on a whim. The “sh*t, I really wanna do this…” so I did it method. I can’t say it wasn’t a good way to go; I just:

4. Need more organization in my life. As much as I got done this past year, I easily lost out on getting double that amount accomplished because I didn’t plan, write it all down and visualize it more.

5 & 6. Being the one-man army I am in my job (okay, my lady does a great deal for me), leaves me to be the janitor of my gym. Two important things I learned in all that cleaning: a vacuum picks up near double the dirt on the back stroke. So, cover each area twice and try going slower on the back stroke. The other thing I learned about gym cleaning is: chemicals suck. Mr. Clean is junk. The absolute best way to clean rubber flooring is a steamer (which removes all the dirt instead of just leaving a film of crap all over it) and in regards to spray jobs natural cleaners work just as good, if not better, with less harm to equipment than “regular” cleaners. My pick of the year (and I tried a half dozen others): IQ cleaner which you can find at any grocer (Superstore is cheapest).

7. Ensuring my personal minimum of 4L total fluid a day (today I hit 8L) has been one of the single greatest health things I could possibly do. Plus it keeps my energy high.

8. Q Energy Drink has done wonders for me. Seriously, I just get more done on this stuff.

9. Nick Tumminello is the genius of common-sense. Oh, wait, I already knew that. But seriously, his products are top-notch (I’m looking forward to review his latest: Secrets of Single Leg Training when it comes out) and after attending his seminar in Vancouver this past November I have an even greater respect for how he approaches his communications, training and education. Plus he did me the ultimate solid which means he cares about others, not just himself. His YouTube channel, products and blog are one of the sources I make sure to keep tabs on. If you’re into training, you should be following too.

10. The single greatest addition to my diet this year was hands down: Nutracleanse which I include in The Ultimate Breakfast

11. Would you take a $100,000 vehicle and put $250 tires on it? Probably not. So why are you not equipping your wheels appropriately for each action you put them through? Especially when it comes to weight training. I’m talking about your feet.

12. The Travel Roller is the best foam rolling/self myofascial release system on the market. I’ve tried them all. I use them all. But if I had to choose one, it’s this one. Using it as a system with the acupressure balls makes for an incredible SMR experience.

13. Self myofascial release(SMR) may be the single greatest action I can take in terms of feeling better, performing better and recovering better. Why people who know this keep ignoring that…I feel like a bobble head the amount I shake my head at you.

14. When your body just absolutely hates you, the fastest feel-good fix is a bath of this variety.

15. Training is best surrounded by a reset button which includes a solid pre-intra-post supplementation plan. Protein (whey isolate or hydrolysate), carbs, glutamine and possibly creatine monohydrate or creatine HCL (for power) and beta-alanine (for endurance) are my base (doesn’t mean you should be taking these; research things for yourself). I like pre-workout stimulants. VPX Anarchy will be missed, but I’m diggin this as a near on-par replacement.

16. I don’t know where I’d be without my chiropractor and his ART skills. Especially after my car accident last August which left my neck mangled. I’m near recovered (just a small range of motion limitation) and it was pretty much all him that did the fixing. A good dozen of my clients (including friends and family) I’ve referred to him and he’s provided some excellent results all around. Out of my area? Find yourself a good chiro or physiotherapist with superb Active Release Technique (ART) skills!!!

17. If I didn’t have plans on marrying the gal I’m with now, I’m pretty sure I’d marry deadlifting.

18. It’s impossible to have glute muscles that are too strong. In fact, 99% of people I’ve ever met or trained need to seriously work hard at improving the strength and function of the glutes. Doing that will make damn near any other ankle, knee, low back, posture, abdominal problem less problematic.

19. T-Nation continues to be a leader in the training world for training and health information from some of the top coaches in the industry. I have to be fair and admit a good half of everything I know about training came from T-Nation either via the articles or being introduced, via the articles, to the coaches who wrote them and then buying their products or following their online work. Plus T-Nation is owned by Biotest and they make some of the best supplements I’ve ever used.

20. Bamboo is better than cotton. One of the most comfortable, effective training shirts I’ve ever owned is this: http://www.jacoclothing.com/us/tenacity-performance-crew-black.html (I just happen to have a Performance University one, which I’m dying to get my hands on more of). Bamboo towels are also unbelievable. Seriously, cotton towels are a complete joke when you’ve tried a good bamboo/cotton blend. They’re not overly pricey, and they are naturally antimicrobial which means you (and the products) won’t stink over time.

21. My quality of life lessens when watermelon season ends. I have no idea what sorta magic this fruit contains but come next watermelon season I’m gonna go my usual buck-wild!

22. If you’re a meat eater, it’s best to eat various kinds of meat instead of the chicken, chicken, chicken, fish, chicken, chicken, beef, chicken, chicken diet. If you’re local, make the trip out to Heritage Meats in Langley and fill your freezer! They only sell no-drug/antibiotic based meats. Give ostrich a try – when BBQ’d it’s way more tender (and tastes quite similar) to filet mignon. The greater the spectrum of amino acids sequencing (meat choices) you make the better you’ll feel. Find the ones that give you the best recovery, least GI stress and help you put the chicken down. Poor chickens.

23. One of my best purchases of the year was the Novaform Gel Memory Foam pillow from Costco. When I was working through my accident neck pains, this pillow really helped. It amazes me still how this $35 pillow could be so good. I’m sure there are $150 pillows on the market that are better but I’m not going there yet.

24. I am still searching for the ultimate socks. It’s been 10 years. I really like these and get them at New Balance but at $20 a pop there has to be an even better performance sock out there that offers cushion (I stand all day), arch support, moisture whicking ability and stand up to numerous washing (most socks flatten after a dozen washes). Anyone wanna make a suggestion?

25. Lying curl bar tricep extensions (“skull crushers”) should be called elbow destroyers. I’ve given up on this exercise except for a very small population of female clients I train who the exercise still works for. I LOVE this exercise, I always have. But my elbows don’t. And after watching 2 tricep tear based injuries occur in guy clients this year and numerous post-set rubbing of the elbow or “ouch” comments I’m convinced this exercise is not worth it. The cable rope overhead tricep extension is the better option.

26. Back training is an art form. But I will tell you this one thing: the single greatest improvement anyone can make is ensuring 1/2 of all the back movements you do are unilateral (single arm). 1 arm lat pulldowns, 1 arm seated high rows, 1/2 kneeling 1 arm seated high rows, 1 arm seated rows, 1 arm standing low rows, contra-lateral variations, 1 arm squat-rows, 1 arm face pulls (especially with a towel), etc will do more to improve the thickness of the lats as well as the symmetry and strength imbalances more than any other change. I’m not saying to give up pull ups, chin ups, bent over rows, etc, but the other half of your training should be done single arm. That goes for shrugs and traps work as well!

27. Facebook is incredible. It’s entertaining. It completely steals your privacy away from you. It’s a vent for crazy people. It’s incredibly addicting. Oh, wait, that’s all the negatives. Positives for me are all related to my job. It allows the quick communciation. It allows me to keep tabs on what’s going on in the industry as all the good coaches post links to their blogs, YouTube videos and other education resources. It also happens to be the single largest refferer to this blog. Which means when people are bored, they’re going to Facebook to find something interesting. I’m happy you make the choice to come here from there. Other trainers in the industry need to get on Facebook if they are not already. You can (with great trouble) hide yourself from the world so no one will ever know you’re on there but you can still get info you want. Just know when you start checking your notifications at 3am, you’re officially addicted and may need to get a life.

28. I love end-of-the-world movies. I mean seriously, I don’t care how bad they are, as long as they have some special effects and a moderately decent plot, I’ve seen it! But 2012 freaks the shit out of me. Yep, so much it warranted the cursing. I mean seriously, I know the Mayian calendar ending was just a system of counting but with Nostradamus‘ recently found book which describes this coming year/time, the once-only-every-26000-year allignment with the sun in the middle of the milky way, all the bat-shit crazy leaders of nations that have died this past year (making world politics even more unstable), peak-oil production across the world most likely already having happened, magnetic pole reversal in progress, global warming, the “plastic soup” collecting in the oceans (Google that), the world wars/politics for fresh water that will become increasingly frightening, the economy, and the other 100 signs out there that this coming year is to be incredibly challenging and unique…how the hell are you not as freaked out as I am? F*ck it, I’m going out with a bang!

29. I’ve become the grammar police and people’s text message language is killing me. Hey, I may not be perfect either but at least I’m not making a complete abomination of the English language.

30. I have to remember that come November each year I am greatly affected by SAD (seasonal affective disorder). Upping my Vitamin D3 to 2000-4000+ IU’s a day was manditory in alieviating a good chunk of the problem this past year. I’m going to have to experiment with light therapy and other things next year. You know, if the end of the world doesn’t come first.

31. What the hell is with women and the game Bejeweled?!!??! Seriously, I know they’re jewels and all but the game has ZERO variety. And it’s killing me watching you all play it endlessly. Guys…ever want your wife to disappear just show her this (or the iPhone app version): http://www.popcap.com/games/bejeweled2/pc

32. I may have just stumbbled across the single greatest wifey pleaser. Well, it was actually my chiropractor hooked me up with this vibrating miracle (THANKS bro!!). I even brought it over to the fam’s house on Christmas day and vibed up moms and pops. They too claim “it’s magic!” Product review to come soon. But in the meantime, I’m telling you, this is as close to a piece of heaven as you’ll ever find.

33. We’ve yet to have snow this year (yep, global warming and the end of the world again…) but we’ve had some frost and with that comes the lovely task of scrapping windsheilds. I can’t believe how freaky-well this works and it’s like $8 at Canadian Tire. You HAVE to buy one!!!

34. Stop reading this number if you can’t hack crude words. Go to number 35 instead. Google is awesome and weird. Have you ever been in a dinner or car conversation and all of a sudden have the need to look something up? This happens to me a good dozen times a week. Google rocks for this reason. But what I wanna know is who’s running the show when it comes to Google and my blog. I have some of the strangest Google search results referring to my blog. Makes me question what sorta blog I’m running here. Now, some of them make sense. When someone searches “Rumble Roller vs The Grid review” somewhere down the list my blog will pop up on the subject; cool. But these are the top WTF how did you get to me, what kinda mental are you Google searches my blog stats have revealed (I’m not making this stuff up!): 1) “My porn” (okay that’s fair, I did name one of my blogs that but what are YOU people searching for?) 2) “States with the highest level of pornography” (Two people searched this. So my question to those two is are you looking to avoid those States or move there?) 3) “Numb foot and pain after rumble roller” (Um, you did it wrong! Maybe you should watch these videos instead) 4) “Ultimate breakfast to see you through the day” (Oh, wait, I have the answer for you here) 5) “PVC underpants” (Really? For support or…) 5) “Women naked at work” (It’s called a strip club and maybe they’re hiring. Probably in the State with the highest level of pornography) 6) “Dorky leprechaun” (How did my 4th grade nickname come back to haunt me? Noooooooo) 7) “How to suck woman’s breast” (Um, dude, pretty sure that comes in the Instinct 1.0 software you were programmed with) 8) “Do women have more curvature to low back than men” (Not really, unless a T-Pain song is playing in the background and you be ferociously “booty poppin'” to it) 9) “Sexy nude women bound and tortured with sex” (Again, I’m not making any of this up. I don’t even know what to say to this friggin weirdo. But get some help) 10) “Human hamster wheel” (It’s called a treadmill these days) 11) “Marriage Adrian Crowe” (Okay, which one of my ex’s be checking up on me now?) 12) “Cold sex man” (WHAT?!) Seriously Google, get yourself in order.

35) I get such a shock value out of people when they see me in anything other than gym clothes. I mean, really, is it that weird to see me in jeans? I’m going to have to show up in a suit and tie to train people for a day. Really freak you out.

36) Going online was the best thing I did this year. And it was/is an insane amount of work keeping it all up. A word to the wise for other trainers (or any other job) who are thinking about making the move: it’s going to cost you WAY more time than you think. For me, it’s been worth the 20+ hours each week it adds. I’ve had a huge response. What kind? My sessions based business has increased 40% since September. Its all referral based so I’m not sure why the change. Maybe it’s become easier to say “just go check out his website” and that leads to the call. I’m not quite sure. In the 3.5 months I’ve been online I’ve had: 1000+ views on my website; 11,500+ views on my YouTube videos and 3800 views on this blog (it’s been steadily increasing to this month being my best at 2100 views). I get positive comments and feedback from people in person, by email or via comments on the blogs and videos. It also makes it easier to help my clients stay informed on various subjects. Often I find myself saying “Oh, I just covered that in my last blog, go check it out.” It allows me to cover something far more in depth and thought out than I can do on the spot. I just want to say thank you for tuning in!! I’m going to keep doing my best to put out quality stuff for y’all. Any special requests, I’m all ears!

37) Common sense is not common. Why the hell did they call it that? And why don’t I do the things I know work, more often? Like downing chicken soup when I’m sick? Like upping my Vitamin D dosage when it’s cloudy outside for a week at a time. Like making sure I take my Elite Pro Mineral supplement every single night instead of every second as it turns out. Like getting to an infrared sauna every couple of weeks for that huge muscle recovery and toxin removal (I swear I’m gonna do what I can do buy one; I’ll make room for one in my living room dammit!). Like ….

38) I can’t escape the common sense of fasting. I’m convinced the single greatest thing a person can do in terms of weight loss is some form of fasting. The hardest, and possibly most effective version is laid out in Brad Pilon’s Eat, Stop, Eat ebook. Famous nutrition dude John Berardi put out this free ebook on his experimentations with intermittent fasting. T-Nation/Biotest came out with a very interesting (and expensive) way to do this with supplements which may actually cause you to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time. I was exhausted last night and passed out at 8pm (not the norm for me) and woke at 7am. I was visibly leaner due to the 11 hours of not eating. There is a fine balance between eating (“fed” state) and fasting. You need to eat a lot of volume but appropriate caloric intake for your goals and best if in small, frequent meals to keep blood sugar stable and then add in whatever level/sort of fasting can work for you and your goals. Simply starving yourself is a very bad way to “fast.” Don’t call it fasting if you’re just starving and depriving your body all the time.

39) The single greatest thing you can tell your friend (guy or girl) is “I miss you.” Try this: message (email or text) a friend you haven’t seen in a while (and do miss spending time/conversing with) and tell them quite simply “I miss you.” See what comes of it.

40) Due to the amount of water I drink I’m in the bathroom often. Which means I’m washing my hands dozens of times a day. I’m also cleaning mats and other gym stuff with a spray cleaner all the time. Needless to say, my hands hate me. I’ve tried every hand lotion on the market. For a real fix, applying this stuff 2-3 times a day has been a little miracle.

41) It may just be the best place to discover who another person really is, lies somewhere between what they say and what they do.

42) I have a hunch, which will be the biggest experiment on myself this coming year that gaining quality, lean muscle for guys long term works best as they train hard during a slow phase “bulk up” until we hit 20% body fat and then a sharp “cut/diet” down to 10%. Cycling back and forth. It’s just a hunch but I’m gonna find out.

43) I’m angered and frustrated with the epidemic, of which I find myself suffering from, in these damn mid-back muscle knots. I’ve had one single knot for over two years that chiro/ART, IMS, acupuncture, physiotherapy and every exercise, self myofascial release and stretch I know have done nothing for. The therapies and such all make it less sometimes but it never turns off, not once. Not in two+ years!!! It’s incredible the frequency of people I meet, train and discuss with that have these same issues. It can be debilitating and I will, this coming year develop a system or protocol to help us. I’m sure it will include a multitude of steps as this problem is a postural, fascial and strength issue. But there HAS to be a fix.

44) The top 3 training equipment purchases I’ve made this year: 12″ and 18″ plyo boxes. What the hell did I do before I had these? An Airex Balance Pad is magic. Space age foam magic. The Power Wheel scares me. I’m dead serious. What the hell was I thinking with this purchase. First day I had it I did this. WORST abdominal muscle pain of my life. Then I saw this video and the sick and twisty part of my brain has made it my summer goal to match the challenge.

45) I can’t possibly recall every article I’ve read this year but I’m certain this one has made the greatest impact. This idea of a fascial system superseding and being as important as the muscle system may revolutionialize my training world.

46) You can’t win the lottery if you don’t play. Just don’t be a crazy person who starts calling it their “retirement plan.”

47) Joe Rogan is the man! His comedy CD’s and DVD’s are absolutely hilarious. His podcasts are enlightening and a great, life changing waste of time! Try this one: http://blog.joerogan.net/archives/4037 (want more you HAVE to watch the best documentary I watched this year: Collapse which you can view here for free: Part 1 and Part 2 or go surf around www.collapsenet.com)

48) I’m FAR too removed from how food comes from the ground and ends up in my belly. I’ve even fallen away from the preparation of food, which I’m relatively good at, because of my focus elsewhere and my woman is so damn good at making tasty meals. I trade snuggles for food. She’s okay with the deal. It’s never too late to learn.

49) If you’re anxious about a workout, to the point of dread 3 days out (such as I am about the workout to be had in about 3 hours from now) it’s going to be one of the best you’ve ever had. If you’re not a little worried about what sort of torture your personal trainer has in store for your next session, well, you should probably get a new trainer.

50) When I was in high school I went to a friend’s birthday party which was way outta town by a lake with no city light around. I’ve never, even to this day 15 years later, seen a sky so full and vibrant of stars. There is something wrong with that. I will take a vacation this year, the destination matters not, the ability to see a sky full of stars like that again does.

There you have it! 50 things I picked up on this past year. Hopefully it brought you a laugh or two, a path of information to explore further and I’d love to hear what you learned this past year in the comments below!!

Happy New Year!!

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Life Altering Wisdom (“If something is important, do it every day”) – Part 14

If you’ve not already checked out the previous entries to this series go here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11Part 12 and Part 13.

There’s a laundry list of stuff we do every day that is completely useless. Like television. Is it really enriching your life that much? Sometimes I think so. Other times I come to the realization that it’s an escape from my busy day. An hour before bed calms me down and shuts my overactive mind down.

Have you ever thought or said to someone “you know, that whole reading thing you do is such a waste of time.”

Probably not.

Reading, daily for enjoyment

 

There are two things I don’t think I do near enough of in life: sleep and read for enjoyment. I’ll get to the mega sleep topic later in this series. But along the lines of writing every day, improving your vocabulary, ability to communicate and making  you smarter in general this goes hand-in-hand with reading.

Now somehow I doubt reading People magazine or any other mind-smut really counts in what I’m talking about here. If you want that crap go try: www.wwtdd.com (not safe for work!)

Now, along the lines of my last blog, re: buying your intentions, last year one of my best purchases was the Kindle 3 (now called the Kindle Keyboard). Now there are about 5 viable ereaders on the market so we’re starting to see even the most avid of readers making the switch from paper to eink type technologies. Why? Why not? You can store 100+ books in one small space, it’s uber easy on the eyes and if you’re a little ADHD you can easily have a dozen books on the go at one time. And with most ereaders going between $75 and $200 it’s affordable to most.

But shame on me, it was one of those intentions I bought and just never got around to. I read a few books and that was it. I just got “busy” doing other stuff. Here’s the really scary part: I have upwards of 500 ebooks already in my library just begging for a read by yours truly. It damn right pisses me off every single time I cross that folder where they’re all sitting on the proverbial shelf collecting dust.

It’s knowledge my brain could use, hours of enjoyment abound and enlightenment one step at a time. And it’s all just waiting for me to do the easiest thing: turn the computer off, turn the tv off and go read for a half hour before bed.

Give it some thought, what are you wasting time on right now? Oh, yea, reading my blog. But when you’re done with that, what’s next? Looking for a good read? My top 3: The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, Hagakure: The Way of the Samurai, and The Angel Inside (or any of Chris Widener’s books; try Twelve Pillars too). I don’t care for fiction, but if I had to pick try this series: The Giver, Gathering Blue, & Messenger.

Life Altering Wisdom (“If something is important, do it every day”) – Part 13

If you’ve not already checked out the previous entries to this series go here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, and Part 12.

Okay, it’s post-Christmas and I have a serious food hangover. Who knew chocolates and turkey doesn’t mix; two nights in a row none-the-less. Go figure. I was spoiled by friends and family this year with presents, fantastic meals and some super fun family time. I learned something I’d always sorta pondered anyway. We, every day:

Buy Your Intentions

We do the whole secret Santa thing for Christmas presents. It’s great. You hand in your wish list, take the wish list of whomever’s name you drew and come the big day it’s a lot of fun watching all the wrapping paper fly about.

I drew my gal’s brother’s name (let’s call him D) and on his wish list was the latest video game: Skyrim. It’s funny, a few weeks ago I read someone’s Facebook post about the game to the effect of “if you value a social life, don’t buy Skyrim.” At dinner the other night my brother and I got on the discussion of the new 80″ television on the market. 80 friggin inches!!! Who the hell has eyes that bad? I’m blind as a bat and still would never buy a television that big. Other friends got PVR’s for gifts. Some got clothes. Some bought skiing and snowboarding gear. Some got kitchen appliances.

 

Does what we buy say something about our intentions? Of course it does! How could it not.

The person who sets out on boxing day to scoop up a brand new 60″ television intends to sit on their ass and get lots of use out of it. The dude who went out and bought all new snowboard bindings, gear and boots plans to get on the sloops and carve out some serious powder. The couple that bought each other the wicked Travel Roller, plan to improve their health and athletic performance and find yet another way to take care of their bodies. I watched D play his new Skyrim game last night for two hours (without remotely realizing that much time had passed) and he’s got about 500 more hours worth he’ll be spending playing it. My bro hooked up a sweet Boxing Day deal of $24 for the latest Norton Antivirus software package for himself and me too. Guess it means him and I intend to spend more time on the internet.

What about everything else in life? What about that trip to the grocery store? Is what I put in my cart not a complete representation of how I intend to eat? So if it’s all crap, does that not mean I’m intending to eat crappy?

Maybe I should have made the trip down to Heritage Meats  (for the yummy ostrich steaks) and the farmer’s market for veggies instead? If I bought more gym clothes or nutritional supplements does that not mean I intend to workout more? What about buying a gym pass? Or personal training sessions? Or signing up for a 1/2 marathon in Spring? Or the Spartan Race coming up!?

Every dollar you spend says everything about what you intend to do, eat…become.

Spend it wisely!

Me, and my Christmas wish list? I scored this:

Damn right! I plan on setting a whole bunch of PR’s this coming year!

Life Altering Wisdom (“If something is important, do it every day”) – Part 12

If you’ve not already checked out the previous entries to this series go here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10 and Part 11

What’s not to love about the holiday season? While I’m definitely against endlessly going on with “Merry Christmas” daily since December 1st (you women are crazy), I am definitely down for good food, some down time, some family time and the cheer that just seems to come with this time of year.

Want to know what my favorite part of the holiday season is? The kitchen table.

And no, not just for the yummy food. I love sitting back each year listening to the conversations to be had. And it’s here I bring about the wisdom of listening:

Listening, Really Listening

I was always the shy kid growing up. My addition to the kitchen conversation (and my goal) was to make everyone laugh. If I did that once, I’ve succeeded. These days I’m forced to be the one leading the conversation, instructing people what to do most of the time in my job. That’s why I still love the holiday table. I just sit back and listen to everyone else’s conversations. No, I’m not grumpy or disinterested, quite the opposite in fact.

 You get to hear about where people are in their lives, what’s happened to them in the past  year, what they’re looking forward to in the New Year and other amusing stories. The only way to get to know someone is to listen to them talk about themselves and their lives. So I conclude my best addition in being more involved and tying the bonds stronger is to listen.

Now, obviously this concept of listening, daily goes far beyond this holiday season. For this, again, I consult the wisdom of the Hagakure:

“When you are listening to the stories of accomplished men and the like, you should listen with deep sincerity, even if it’s something you about which you already know. If in listening to the same thing ten or twenty times it happens that you come to an expected understanding, that moment will be very special. Within the tedious talk of old folks are their meritorious deeds.”

Perhaps more important is from the same book: The art of getting through to a person so they can listen and hear you:

“To give a person an opinion one must first judge well whether that person is of the disposition to receive it or not. One must become close with him and make sure that he continually trusts one’s word. Approaching subjects that are dear to him, seek the best way to speak and to be well understood. Judge the occasion, and determine whether it is better by letter or at the time of leave-taking. Praise his good points and use every device to encourage him, perhaps by talking about one’s own faults without touching on his, but so that they will occur to him. Have him receive this in the way that a man would drink water when his throat is dry, and it will be an opinion that will correct faults. This is extremely difficult. If a person’s fault is a habit of some years prior, by and large it won’t be remedied. I have had this experience myself. To be intimate with all one’s comrades, correcting each other’s faults, and being of one mind to be of use to the master is the great compassion of a retainer. By bringing shame to a person, how could one expect to make him a better man?”

There are a few people who come at me like this. I tend to keep them close in my life. The best friends are the ones that are straight with you, even about the hard topics, but know how best to put it. No one likes a brash person.

When I am speaking with someone who I care about such subjects I do my best to keep the above Hagakure selection in mind. That’s when I find people listen to me.

Teach To Learn

I firmly believe the single best way to learn is to teach. HUH? How does that make any sense? Well, think of it like this: someone out there knows more than I do, so I go to that guy or gal to learn from. In turn I teach it to someone who may know less on the subject than I do. It is by far the best way to make something stick. For when a person gives you the puzzled “what the hell did he just say?” look, you find interesting ways of explaining the same thing. Teaching is witnessing another person listen. In learning how people listen best you learn a great deal about a person and your own abilities.

One of my favorite songs: Water Pistol Man by Spearhead (Michael Franti is an epic lyricist) said this:

“…but my friend Billy told me that sometimes/ it takes a grown man a long time to learn/ just what it takes a child a night to learn/ and my son proved his words”

I look forward to that. I look forward to the dinner conversations. And I always look forward to my friends (and strangers) that can tell me things about me I may not have realized or known. Funny thing is that the wisdom may come at the most random of times. So I’m really listening, daily.

And sometimes when my people aren’t around, I turn to music such as this:

Another fantastic song about listening and conversation is this quite witty song by life-affirming lyricist Tina Dicohttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJN-no5OMWQ

Life Altering Wisdom (“If something is important, do it every day”) – Part 11

If you’ve not already checked out the previous entries to this series go here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6Part 7, Part 8, Part 9 and Part 10

Obviously, this is something near and dear to my heart (figuratively and literally!):

Exercise Daily

My job is exercise, period. On average I deadlift, push up, pull up and do countless “core” exercises frequently during my day, all while talking about how and why to, which those in the business know, is way harder than just doing the exercise. So maybe I should join the ranks of unfit personal trainers? Doesn’t make sense to you?

So why are there scores of labour workers, nurses, and any other job where someone is “active” using this stupid compensation of their job being enough exercise to not need to perform any other exercise.

Look, don’t get me twisted, last Wednesday I worked 6am-9pm (literally!) and saw 11 clients. I didn’t workout. But that day was not the norm for me, it’s actually a lot closer to 8-12hrs usually. And I was destroyed after being on my feet that long, demonstrating, talking, cleaning and outpouring energy. There wasn’t anything left for exercise so I didn’t; so I understand that you may have tough days, but the excuse you can’t fit in 30 minutes of exercise into your day is absurd.

Don’t worry though, you’ll have time to exercise when you’re dead, and if you keep skipping out you’ll be getting there a lot faster too!

What Type of Exercise

 Step 1: think 30 minutes a day. Step 2: what can you actually do? Step 3: can you motivate yourself to do it? If not you need a workout buddy or to hire a trainer. Step 4: Slowly but consistently increase intensity over time to a level you can fully recover from. For me personally, I can do insane workouts 3 times a week for 1.5-2 hours and the other 3-4 days it’s about 30 minutes of high intensity circuits like this or this. Any more than that and I don’t have the capacity to do my job, be a good other half, and get other things done that matter. Step 5: Repeat, Assess.

Repeat, Assess

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve built a take-away program for someone to follow and for about 3 weeks I see that person coming into the gym working it like a badass. And then they disappear.

I made the mistake many times earlier in my career where I would do a consult with a new client, hear what their goals and motivation levels were and proceed to create the program I felt would best suit them. I would take the client through it 1-2 times before they went on their own (to do at their own gym usually) and the client would love it. “It’s exactly as hard as I wanted to be pushed!”

So when I’d contact the client 3-4 weeks later to ensure everything is on track and see when they feel they could use a change (the boredom gradient each trainer must consider), too many times the answer was “well, ….. {insert any excuse you’d like here}…”

I had to learn to either dumb down my programming or make it slightly easier than what the person’s initial desires were. Something new trainers would save themselves a lot of frustration in considering as well.

So…coming back to the point…

Repeat your workouts as often as prescribed (or self committed to), but every week assess if your energy, mood, focus, and goals are the same. As variables change in your life, many a time it will throw you off track.

Now, most of the time the answer is “Buck up, stop being a wussy! Just get it done! Sacrifice for what you want in your life!!”

For the times that doesn’t fit the bill and your assessment tells you that you misjudged some factor previously unseen, change, adapt, grow, continue putting in work! It’s no secret that those that work the most consistent over time achieve the most. Those that work hard for short periods of time and then fall off regularly achieve little  over time. I know that story all too well, it was once my own.

Why You Should Exercise Each Day

Now, I was going to drop you about a dozen facts about health, exercise and how it’s all tied together but I ran across a video (gotta love YouTube and Facebook for stuff like this) that just does the job better than I could ever hope to. And it will resonate with a much greater audience than just my fitness savvy niche (show your grandmother the video). Everyone should watch this video!!!

So without further ado, take the 9 minutes to watch this (and if you’re smart you use your smartphone to do so while walking)!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUaInS6HIGo

“I Want To But…”

I get it. It’s my job to get you through this phase. Just trust me here: start anywhere (even a 30 minute walk each day). Want to feel instantly better follow along with this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l5ez8uALRDM

Want more, just subscribe to my YouTube channel (or visit back often) for workout ideas, including free full programs you can do in your home with little or no equipment!! I put a couple up each month at least!

Go there now: www.youtube.com/acathletictraining

If that’s just not easy enough for you, shoot me a comment or question below and I’ll do my best to help you out!

Life Altering Wisdom (“If something is important, do it every day”) – Part 10

If you’ve not already checked out the previous entries to this series go here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6Part 7, Part 8 and Part 9

I’m not known for getting straight to the point. I’m not known for my brief emails. I’m not known for my hieroglyphic style text messages (praise the iPhone as I can essay the hell out of any conversation). I would apologize for wasting your time but you know what, I guarantee you when the time comes that I need to explain something important, communicate something effectively or really let you know how I feel (I can be life-altering blunt when appropriate)…I’m that guy.

And that’s where this post leads:

Writing is important every day!

Here’s the thing: Let’s just say I happen to be the smartest person in the world (I’m not but go with me), how would anyone know unless I could communicate whatever the subject was that I was supposedly genius with? See, speaking and writing are quite simply the process of thinking something, finding the words and well…speaking or writing it. So, if I were better at finding the words, then I would naturally be better at both tasks, no?

To me, personally, there is nothing more frustrating than being unable to communicate exactly what I have in mind in the moment. We’ve all been there, replaying a conversation or email after-the-fact wishing we would have said this instead of that. I’ll tell you that this exact circumstance is what drove me to teach myself how to write. Since a teen my chosen method was journals and poems. For some it’s books or novels. Even for some it could be those English classes you took in University. For some it’s the inverse of this: the easy to love bookworm. Have you ever spoken with a well-read person? They’re incredibly talented at finding those unique words that put POP in a conversation.

Grammar Police

I’ll admit, I’m a word cop sometimes. I’m all good with unintentional spelling mistakes, stuff happens. I’m sure there’s more than a few lurking in my blogs even though I proof read it and have others help me there too. Who cares. Learning to use the correct word however is important (to the appearance of not looking dumb or ill-educated; whoops that’s my inside voice). The person who keeps talking about how “there dad is so controlling and how when she moves out of there house it’s going to be so much better with there’s and everyone else’s world”. Is it just me that goes crazy over that level of vocabulary?

The cool thing is if you correct someone without making them feel dumb, they usually change their ways. And there are times when that’s actually important – like job resume’s for example.

It’s not about fancy words. I can’t stand those people who over use big words to sound smart. This isn’t a dissertation, it’s a conversation, chill out. Just use the right ones.

Texting and 1984’s Big Brother

Oh, the text message. I have far more text conversations than I’d care to admit. And while I’ll slip an “lol” “lmfao” “wtf” and such abbreviations in there every once in a while I REFUSE to adopt “Kk.” AHHHHH! I can’t handle it. Look, the O on the keyboard your iPhone, Crackberry or any other phone you use is so very close to the K. Why must you do this? I know more than a few who have reverted to text language so esoteric I’d swear they took it off the Egyptian pyramid walls. Would you please send me the magic decoder next time you decide to talk to me like that.

Guaranteed this kid gets the worst present from Santa imaginable:

It just reminds me of 1984 and how words were removed from the language to keep everyone ignorant. My generation’s kids and grandkids are simply going to grunt at each other to communicate. I hope I’m dead before that happens.

Practice Makes Better (never perfect)

Has anyone ever commented on your bad spelling, grammar or lack of communication skills? No, cool, keep reading and doing your thing. If you just put your head down in shame, look, it’s not gonna get any better unless you start somewhere. Use the proper “Ok” instead of “Kk” for one. Try talking to a friend about a single subject for longer than 10 minutes and having it become more interesting as you go on.

Has a boyfriend/girlfriend/partner ever said you stink at talking with them? Or worse…in the bedroom? How will you ever learn your significant other unless you can learn to ask the right questions? The deeper the subject, the greater the vocabulary required to pinpoint the issue or subject as things tend to get vague (or worse, dodgy) at some point.

Ever had to tell a friend he’s being an idiot? Ever had him become uber defensive immediately? Guess what – your fault! You didn’t know how to approach it properly via your words to create the result you originally sought.

Forget Reading and Writing

While some musicians can become great without ever having to learn the language of music (chords, for example), this doesn’t follow suit for the spoken language. It’s the equivalent of going on a trip to Japan for 3 months and before leaving you learn only to speak the language. Great, now you can ask someone what that sign says. There’s a major disconnect there.

Learning to find the right words is everything in communication! In my opinion, the only way to improve that skill is via writing.

Journals Are For Wussies

Fine. Cool. Whatever. Try this: every time you get into a time and energy worthy conversation via text, email, Facebook debate, or memo do your best to not cheat the language. Truly think about what you’re trying to say. Think about how the other person may interpret it. Think about the impression you are trying to leave that person(s) with. Because somewhere along the line you are being judged based on your ability to communicate. You might lose the respect of the recipient, you might lose the job, you might lose the girl (or guy),  you might lose everything based on not finding the right words for the moment.

I’m going to leave you with a quote that really sank this subject home for me, it is from a favorite book of mine: Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai which said:

“Moreover, according to what the priest Ryozan heard when he was in the Kamigata area, when one is writing a letter, he should think that the recipient will make it into a hanging scroll”

Life Altering Wisdom (“If something is important, do it every day”) – Part 9

If you’ve not already checked out the previous entries to this series go here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6,  Part 7 and Part 8

My apologies on the delay in continuing this series, that last blog post really took a TON of energy to put out and I’m very happy with the result. I’m thrilled so many have found it helpful and I thank all those that made the effort to share with your people! It just so happens the putting out of energy is exactly on track for this entry’s topic:

The Art of Giving

I’m incredibly disheartened by the epidemic of radio commercials I keep hearing that run along the lines of: “while you’re out shopping for everyone else, make sure you don’t forget numbero uno; buy yourself a treat too this holiday season!”

Really? Is this what Christmas and this holiday season has come down to?? Marketing is just getting more sleazy, and by extension, the brainwashing it counts on…leaves us (society) more sleazy.

Before I begin this rant of sorts, I’ve been up front about this series being one based on my opinions which tie into this idea that:

“If something is important, do it every day”

Give: Every Day

Anyone who knows me, knows that I take gifts, compliments and help like a hole in the head…I’m just not good at it. It ties into the topics of listening and receiving which I’ll be covering in this series soon. I’ve just always been a giver. It’s not to say that I’ve not received a tremendous amount in my life, as I have, but again, it’s not my focus.

“Guard well within yourself that treasure, kindness. Know how to give without hesitation, how to lose without regret, how to acquire without meanness.” – George Sand

Here’s some thoughts for you, from me (a gift I hope):

To a stranger: The grandest gift you can give a stranger is quite simply a genuine smile. At one point, each person in your life was once a stranger. Look what became of that!

We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.” – Mother Teresa

To a spouse:  The share of burden. Help out with those daily tasks one must go through. If we are to build a life together am I not supposed to help you as you’ve helped me? Could I not give you that much every day?

Great opportunities to help others seldom come, but small ones surround us every day.” – Sally Koch

To a sibling: The art of patience and the simple phrase, “I appreciate your presence in my life. It’s brought me great joy.”

“Every gift which is given, even though it be small, is in reality great, if it is given with affection.” – Pindar

To a friend: The gift of the never tiring, mindful ear. There is a time and a place to stop a friend who’s spinning his/her wheels over the same subject endlessly…but how would you know it unless you spent enough time listening in the first place? Some of the greatest insights in my life have come from those quaint conversations about some of the most trivial life stuff between my buddies and I. I absorbed the frustration, the lessons to be learned. It became a part of me, just as they have.

Consider the hour-glass; there is nothing to be accomplished by rattling or shaking; you have to wait patiently until the sand, grain by grain, has run from one funnel into the other.” – John Christian Morgenstern

To co-workers and other acquaintances: If I can offer expertise, an opinion that I feel may help, or perhaps even something tangible, I’m happy to have done so. Even better are those times you forget it happened because it’s just second nature. Nothing is forgotten on some level.

It’s important to give without expecting anything in return, rather than keeping a tally of whom we’ve helped and who has helped us. Silence and service go hand in hand. Random acts of kindness, particularly those anonymously accomplished, reflect a healthy non-attachment to deed or outcome.” – Chelle Thompson

To family: Some of the greatest sources of both frustration and the intense sense of caring come out of the family system. I’m not sure we can control too much in either regard, nor should we on the receiving end; instead focus the energy on the giving end by lessening the frustration we cause and showing the caring and gratitude instead. This holiday season is not best for the iPhone 4Gs you’ll be receiving but instead, even if that’s what happens, that someone took the time, resources and care to attempt to make you happy. Thank them not for the item, but rather the action.

“Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.” – Benjamin Franklin

I will admit, when I was in my early twenties and discovered the power and amount of return investment in giving I began to make it my way of being. But I kept tabs on it and when the “I gave this, and this, and this, and this too…why have I not received this and that…” became frustrating, I knew something was wrong with the equation: expectation and assumption.

I do what I can to forget the score. It’s when I best accomplish that, my best and most frequent attempts leave me with the greatest sense of joy.

To give and not expect anything in return; to give for no special time or season; to give, not for any particular recognition; to give, not for a substantial tax refund; to give for the sake of giving — often just between giver and receiver — has a life of its own — an elevated one.” – Glaceta Honeyghan

I shall leave you with this Japanese proverb:

“One kind word can warm three winter months.”