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The Pursuit Of Excellence

Posted by on 2:26 pm in Uncategorized | 0 comments

The Pursuit Of Excellence

The Pursuit Of Excellence   In this article, we continue the journey we began in The Pursuit Of Fitness, and explore the idea that there is a fundamental attitude that can improve our success not only in fitness, but in life.     We are always practicing something. The question is, what are we practicing? How? And, does it really matter?   How We Practice Matters   I contend that it matters a great deal; how we practice in large part determines the quality of our lives.  I’m not talking about setting time aside for skill development (though this is important too). I’m talking about our very attitude and approach to how we live our lives. “Your beliefs become your thoughts, Your thoughts become your words, Your words become your actions, Your actions become your habits, Your habits become your values, Your values become your destiny.” Mahatma Ghandi Here’s the crux of it: excellence. Excellence knows no bounds. Excellence is not constrained to any one domain of life; a pursuit of excellence encompasses all of life, all of our activities. It is a fundamental attitude which, if pursued with mindfulness and perseverance, creates extraordinary possibilities and fulfillment in our lives.   Excellence And Exercise   An attitude of excellence is the foundation for safe, progressive training. Without a commitment to excellence, we will accept mediocre technique, and mediocre technique performed under load and over time is a recipe for structural damage and injury. A less obvious risk is that we will fail to pursue mastery of the fundamentals, and advance our progression faster than we should, reducing our effectiveness and exposing ourselves to more risk over time. It takes more focus to pursue virtuosity in basic exercise technique than it does to rush into advanced skills, and will yield greater benefits long-term. Success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying the basic fundamentals.Jim Rohn As goal-getting activities, exercise and sport have no peers. They are the most direct, progressive, and reliable way to achieve physical goals. As such, these are powerful practices for building confidence and self-efficacy, which carry over into the rest of our lives. Thus, an exercise routine is extremely valuable as a keystone habit. Yet it can be more than that. Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence.Vince Lombardi Excellence Beyond Exercise   When we think of exercise, we commonly think of it as a physical activity, constrained to physical goals and results. Rarely do we consider deeper benefits, which extend into the mental, emotional, and even spiritual dimensions. The pursuit of excellence has been recognized through the ages as an inherently effective and valuable attitude for life, expressed beautifully in The Four Agreements as the agreement with yourself to “Always Do Your Best.” We cultivate humility as we realize our limits and the fact that our best, objectively, varies from moment to moment. An attitude of excellence motivates us to try a little harder, to do a little better; to learn, to progress and to grow. Our own experiences with challenge and failure, in this context, are not fundamentally negative; they are simply opportunities for learning and growth. At the same time, our striving through challenge provides us with empathy for the struggles of our brothers...

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Review of Tabata Pro Interval Timer

Posted by on 9:43 pm in apps, intervals, Recommended Resource, review | 0 comments

Review of Tabata Pro Interval Timer

This is the same interval timer I loved for its simplicity and ease of use when I used to have an iPhone. It beats the pants off its competitors in its clean visual layout. I’m no longer an iPhone owner, and in the gap before I got another Android phone, I needed a web timer I could use for my workouts. I was happy to find that the makers of the iOS app I loved have provided the same simple, bold user interface online – for free! The interface has a +/- button for quick adjustments in one-second increments; initially I thought this was the only way to adjust the intervals, but this is just a weakness of the user interface. By clicking the large + sign on the top navigation (next to SOUND: ON setting), you can enter the intervals numerically, and also name and save up to 100 presets. Excellent. Bottom line: This is a great free app, easy to use and visually appealing. For simple intervals, I haven’t seen better. I can also recommend the iOS version based on my previous experience, and suspect that the Android app would be a good bet...

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The Pursuit Of Fitness

Posted by on 8:09 pm in exercise theory, Life, Philosophy, principles | 0 comments

The Pursuit Of Fitness

The pursuit of fitness can be a joyless, grinding affair, beginning with a new year’s commitment and ending in disappointment, resignation, and wasted effort. Or, it can be an empowering, lifelong journey of realizing your unique human potential; looking, feeling, and performing better; and becoming your best self.   If you believe the extent of fitness to be boring machine-based exercise driven by ego-centric goals, or a joyless obedience to exhausting routines and calorie-restricted diets, please allow me to shatter your preconceptions and introduce a much greater possibility.     Fitness is much more than most people give it credit for. It encompasses performance, health, and lifestyle. It is about our brains, bones and immune system, not just muscle mass. It is about vitality, hormonal balance, and regeneration, not just weight loss. It is about cultivating self-knowledge, confidence, and a pursuit of excellence, not just physical skill.   In this multi-part series, I’ll share with you the core perspective and attitude which will elevate your pursuit of fitness from physical drudgery to a life-transforming pursuit. I’ll define functional fitness, and discuss the three major goals of fitness, as well as some important additional benefits. The final article in the series will outline the basic principles and practical components of an effective approach to exercise and nutrition.   What does it the possibility of extraordinary fitness mean to you? Tell me about it in the...

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To Pace, Or Not To Pace?

Posted by on 10:00 am in Exercise Programming, exercise theory | 0 comments

To Pace, Or Not To Pace?

To pace or not to pace in your workouts? That is the question for the day. Pacing is an extremely valuable principle and skill which focused, high-intensity training helps to develop. I favor pacing for most metabolic conditioning efforts, and of course, pacing is at the heart of both long-distance endurance events and high-load strength training with defined rest intervals. In fact, all-out efforts are a very unique stimulus, and not to be used without a purpose. They are extremely taxing, and increase the burden of recovery. The role of pacing is to maintain muscular freshness (capacity for tension in posture, strength and power) throughout the workout, while increasing work density for metabolic effect (cardio). It’s a balancing act, no doubt about that. “Maximum pace” is another way of saying “maximum intensity”; but it’s useful to distinguish the kinds of maximum intensity. Note that these definitions can apply both to strength/power training and to metcon/endurance efforts. Type 1 Max: All-Out Effort Maximum subjective intensity from beginning to end of the effort. This will be a lower average power output, due to the fatigue and exhaustion generated early in the effort, but a higher peak power output at the start. Type 2 Max: Paced Max Effort Maximum objective intensity that can be achieved through intelligent pacing. This will be a higher average power than Type 1, but with a lower peak power output. To understand this fully, it will be helpful to clarify a few more terms: Average Power vs. Peak Power: Average power output relates to a defined workload/timeframe and is generally measured in minutes or hours. Peak power output refers to the momentary maximum power expressed. Subjective/Relative vs. Objective/Absolute Intensity: Relative or subjective intensity has to do with the percentage of your personal best, in that moment, on that day, in those circumstances. Absolute or objective intensity refers to measurable work output over time, in other words, average power. Where does that leave us for general strength & conditioning efforts? Here are my recommendations: Rules of stamina and recovery: You cannot achieve maximum work density by going all-out to failure early in an endurance effort If your goal is to combine results in both metabolic effect and power-endurance, your best strategy is to pace yourself. Avoid going to failure so you stay relatively fresh on your efforts. You’ll get more cardio and strength/power this way. If you goal is to maximize muscular growth and systemic hormonal effects, all-out efforts to failure may be a better method or important complement to pacing...

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A Good Starting Strength Guide by Fitocracy

Posted by on 12:14 am in Barbell, Exercise Programming, Recommended Resource, Strength, Things I've Read | 0 comments

A Good Starting Strength Guide by Fitocracy

This is an excellent synopsis of Mark Rippetoe’s quintessential barbell training manual, Starting Strength, written by Michael Wolf of Wolf Strength And Conditioning. Starting Strength is a must-read, in my opinion, for anyone into serious, lifelong fitness, because (in the developed world at least) barbell training is an essential component, or at least phase, of any complete physical preparedness program. Fitocracy’s Knowledge Center has just published a great synopsis of this important strength training foundation. I recommend it for anyone not already expert in barbell training, or as an overview of the text if you’re considering buying it. Read the article here: Official Starting Strength Guide for Fitocrats | Fitocracy Knowledge Center....

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Wisdom Is…

Posted by on 12:19 am in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Wisdom Is…

I once had a card I kept for a long time. On it was written the compelling phrase “Wisdom is knowing what to do next.” Having had plenty of direction changes in my life, it seemed wise indeed to know what to do next. However, I now identify more strongly with the wisdom of Socrates, the full-service gas station attendant and Dan’s enigmatic mentor in “The Way Of The Peaceful Warrior” (one of my all-time favorite books, see the review here). Socrates, in challenging Dan’s know-it-all attitude, asks him “Do you know how to wash a windshield?” to which Dan’s answer is a quick “Of course I do!” Socrates then tosses him the squeegee. “Wisdom is doing it.”   This take on the relationship of knowledge and wisdom speaks to me in my life’s experience. To say that knowledge is necessary yet not sufficient to achieve intended outcomes, and that wisdom is expressed in the doing of those things; this is a truth for me. Knowing makes no difference at all, if the knowing is not somehow applied. Whether this doing looks like training, getting into nature, doing my mobility work, eating properly, cleaning the kitchen, researching and reading online, or sitting in meditation – the thing that makes the difference ultimately is the doing. Knowing helps us do more effectively or efficiently; but a state-of-the-art GPS won’t get you anywhere if you don’t get in, fire it up, and go. Dealing as I am now with a fairly serious disc injury in my low back, developed over years of wear-and-tear and not a small amount of neglect, I ask myself “How would my back be different today if I’d actually applied my best knowledge about how to maintain functional core strength, mobility, and spinal postural integrity?” How would my life be different? And given the maxim that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, how much time, effort, resources and pain have been wasted due to my neglect of doing what was needed – my neglect of the wisdom of doing? What about you? Do you see any areas of your life where you know more than you do? Share your insights in a...

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Factors Of Intensity

Posted by on 2:17 pm in Featured Post | 0 comments

Factors Of Intensity

A new infographic I made to answer the question “What was the limiting factor in this workout?” This is part of my development of a new workout program builder and exercise tracking app. I’m working on advancing the Quantified Self movement in the area of functional fitness. This should also help in understanding and teaching training...

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Inequalities of Knowledge

Posted by on 12:39 am in getthefitness | 0 comments

Inequalities of Knowledge

I’ve spent a fair bit of time over the years researching the inequalities (and inequity) of wealth distribution. A new idea for me today is that, in the same way that we have wealth inequalities, there are also skills & knowledge inequalities. Part of the reason is financial, as professions have material incentive to keep their knowledge silo’d and exclusive. Another part of the reason, probably the larger, is that the barriers to entry for the layperson are just too high, based on tools, resources, and accessibility of the expertise. These barriers can be lowered by intelligently and generously designing curricula and making available tools which start at the beginning and build intuitively and efficiently towards full comprehension, teaching all the correct principles along the way. This is exactly my intention with Get The Fitness; to make accessible – to spread far and wide – the skills and knowledge of how to use fitness and nutrition effectively to improve our lives. It’s been a heck of a challenge teaching myself web design and development; I didn’t even know where to start at the beginning of May. The idea of “skills & knowledge inequalities” occurred to me in the context of someday being able to lower that barrier to entry by delivering a truly accessible and comprehensive “web entrepreneurship” curriculum and toolkit. What can I say, I love to systematize things and teach...

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GTF Milestone Update: Live Site Structure

Posted by on 2:33 am in getthefitness, milestone, update, website | 2 comments

GTF Milestone Update: Live Site Structure

Just a quick one here, to highlight the noteworthy milestone I hit this weekend. It took 30 out of 36 hours this weekend – with a Saturday evening break for my 33rd birthday dinner – but after an intense all-night/all-day sprint, I got the site structure live on Sunday evening 10pm. It is a novice effort from a design point of view, but then that’s appropriate, as I’m a novice web designer. The point is that I learned a lot, got the site live by my planned launch date, and worked my butt off to get a design I was at least satisfied with before I did. So that’s that. I’m already making site design & layout improvements, and work will continue in parallel on content and mechanics – the web apps side of things. I’m seeing amazing potential for this “fitness toolkit”. I’m seeing it facilitating exercise and nutrition improvements for millions of people; I’m seeing partnership with respected industry leaders, and I’m seeing eventual integration with physical sensors and an open data/open science initiative. But these are long-term visions; in the next 1-3 months I have concrete awesomeness to deliver via interactive curriculum, fitness assessments, workout routines and exercise database, interval timer, exercise and nutrition tracking. So many good things coming… Stay...

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This TED Talk Challenges Convention On Metabolic Disorders

Posted by on 11:19 pm in health, macronutrients, macronutrients-metabolism, metabolism, nutrition, Uncategorized | 0 comments

This TED Talk Challenges Convention On Metabolic Disorders

Kudos to Peter Attia for having the courage and compassion to voice this so humbly and sincerely – and to challenge convention to rethink this. It takes courage and great humility to speak the way he did, especially considering his audience – a room largely dominated by very successful doctors and scientists, at TEDMED 2013. Check out the video here:   As a fellow human being, my gratitude to him for opening his heart.  As a fellow health professional (despite my being a “layperson”), my gratitude to him for opening his mind. And as a global citizen, my gratitude to him for sharing better knowledge. However, I disagree that we can’t prescribe better today.   Dr. Attia says it will take more research to find definitive answers: “I know it’s tempting to want a prescription right now – eat this, not that.” “But if we want to get it right, we’re going to have to do much more rigorous science to write that prescription.” Not so. I want more hard research for sure – many of the studies to date have glaring holes in them at least – but we know enough. It appears from my research that the science on fat metabolism has been clear since the 1960’s at least. What’s been screwed up has been assumptions, interpretations, and the politics of it. As a health and fitness professional, and even moreso as a human being with a scientific and engineering mindset, I have a prescription to offer. Here it is: My Prescription to reverse/avoid metabolic syndrome/diabetes(II): FOOD: 1. Feed the lean body mass: Favor protein in your diet over carbs – Practical advice: shop for protein by price/unit – Aim for protein:carb ratio around 1:1 (as a guideline, with plenty of flexibility per-meal) 2. Favor whole plant-based foods 3. Avoid processed and refined fats, sugar, and starch 4. Source matters: eat organic whenever possible; animal sources naturally-raised free of hormones, antibiotics, GMO feed – grassfed matters to the lipid profile and vitamins EXERCISE: 1. Exercise hard enough to stimulate muscular and metabolic adaptation – Recover well: 1. Utilize immediate post-workout window for recovery nutrition favoring protein 2. Drink plenty of water 3. Sleep well and sufficiently ENVIRONMENT: 1. Avoid toxins (plasticizers, artificial sweeteners, GMOs, pharmaceuticals) That’s my general prescription. What’s yours? Anything to add, amend, or disagree with in this? I’d love to hear about it, please leave a comment...

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