Category Archives: Healthy Mind

Once More into the Fray – What It Means To Me

Have you ever watched a movie and be so moved that it help make a lasting imprint on your life?  I’ve been emotionally moved by a movie, but never until only recently has one moved me to the point where I felt compelled to actually move forward with change.  Excitement is one thing, but excitement followed by action is another.

A movie that I had mixed feelings on the first time I watched it has grown into a favorite of mine.  That movie is “The Grey” starring Liam Neeson.

I won’t pretend to be a film critic here or even go into dramatic detail regarding the plot of the story, but the point is Neeson has a choice to make in the film as most of us do at some point in our lives; dig deep inside of himself and reflect.  Is he going to fight or just lay down and die.  That is the age-old question isn’t it?  Will you stand up to fear, look it in the face and move forward?

As he is presented with several near death experiences he recollects on his childhood and a poem written by his stern and at times quite unloving father.

Once more into the fray

Into the last good fight I’ll ever know

Live and die on this day

Live and die on this day.

To me this poem means that every day we are faced with two decisions:  Are we going to live and make the most of each day or are we going to slowly die and not search for or carry out plans to live our dreams.

Blended with this poem is an image of his now passed-on wife.  They lie side by side in a bed, the camera pans out and there is an image of an IV drip for his wife.  She’s beautiful, stunning really and they lock eyes.  Fear washes over his face but there is an acceptance of fate in hers.

“Don’t be afraid” she whispers.

This is the part that really got to me. When I see this I pictured my own wife lying beside me, telling me not to waste anymore time and fulfill my own dreams; SEO marketer, writing and becoming a leader in the massage industry with my own ideas.  Then the questions started.

What kind of life could we have had if I had acted on this sooner?

How much happier would we have been?

Now even if I do accomplish these things I won’t be able to share it with her.

Why the fuck did I wait this long!

My effort definitely started changing the day I saw myself in this situation.  Things began to move more quickly, I started to move more purposefully.  I say find your dream, chase it. There is no certainty in any of this life, but that at some point we will have no more life to live.

Once more into the fray

Into the last good fight I’ll ever know

Live and die on this day

Live and die on this day.




Being sick and water weight | over reacting to waterweight gain during sickness

Everybody will get sick eventually.  No matter how hard you work to take care of yourself it is inevitable that a cold or the flu will sneak through. The body can become extremely efficient and fight off most of it, but you’re not perfect.  So, you get sick, your body adapts, fights it off and regains its strength or even comes back stronger.

My first thought when I get sick isn’t about what I’ll do about missed appointments at work or meetings I won’t be available for.  One of my current jobs (that shall remain nameless) isn’t really one I care that much for so a few days off is pretty sweet.   I welcome the break from work. My apprehension comes when it comes to what it will do to my body. I think, “Oh my god. I’m going to miss my gym time!”

Being very active and regularly exercising, I enjoy the benefit of rarely getting sick.  Unfortunately when I do get sick its usually quite significant.  This past winter I had come into contact with what I thought was for sure some version of the bubonic plague.  It was terrible.  Rundown, congested, a cough that would not stop and lasted over 2 weeks, and constant fluid in my lungs causing me to wheeze day and night.  I had previously had a couple bouts of pneumonia so that also crossed my mind.

Is this going to be another bout of pneumonia? Not even kidding but people die from stuff like this, don’t they?

The wheezing would annoy me so much that the mere sound of it would prevent me from sleeping.

What in the hell is that noise?..Oh, wait..its coming from me.

While getting my body healthy, drinking plenty of water and missing several workouts for 2 weeks and then some, I noticed that what I had lost in strength seemed to be replaced by water weight.


I thought my diet remained the same.  If anything I had been eating less, but my weight grew 6 lbs in a very short time.


Part of this was just how I react to sickness.  Some people lose weight, others like me seem to want to retain water.  Some doctors told me it was a result of inflammation, others said it was just the excess water I was taking in.  When I looked at things closely I think it was mostly diet.

No. I was eating less, but I was consuming a lot more carbohydrates and specifically a lot more breads and a ton more sweets.  When I looked back at my actual diet log I saw that there was a daily sugar fix, sometimes less sometimes more but it was a weight gremlin plotting, adding pounds to my diet.  I simply craved simple sugars.  I took in these simple sugars, spiked my insulin, craved more sugars, took in more sugars and the cycle continues.

Was all of this a fat gain?

Every 1 gram of carbs holds roughly 3 grams of water.  1 gram of water weighs 0.00220462. lbs, seems like a very small number right?  You can easily have a favorite ice cream treat that is in the 100-150 grams of carb range.  Lets say you eat clean all day but indulge at night and have this treat.  Now lets say you go over on carbs about 150 grams for 5 days in a row.  All of a sudden you are at 750 grams.

Each of those grams (750) holds 3 grams of water.

3 * 750 = 2250 water grams

2250 *0.00220462 (lbs per gram of water) = 4.96 lbs.

You could easily show a 5 lb gain on the scale in one week.  Some days I ate less, some days I ate more, but most of those days I ended up eating something super rich in simple sugars.  Of course I would eat it quickly, further aiding my insulin spike.

My sickness did eventually stop.  I got better and I got stronger.  I took my time, did not panic and resumed my workouts.  Slowly but surely the weight came off.  I think it was about 3 weeks and I was back to normal weight.  I could have probably done it in half that, but I had no urge to rush it.

So if you find yourself in a similar situation, you are not alone.  Take a deep breath, step back and look at the entire picture.

  • Are you truly staying on your diet?
  • How has your sleep been?
  • What is your water intake?

All of the above can drastically change when you’re not feeling well.  Don’t let temporary weight gain stop you from your long-term weight goals.


Be OK with BeingTalented | Accept your ability, accept your talents

Why would anyone have a hard time with being talented?

What does ‘talented’ even mean?  Who gets to decide this?

I have always had no problem with the talent of others, I could always see that.  The problem I had was   the definition of “Talented” for myself. There were conflicting ideologies here.  Everyone was talented, I of course was part of everyone, but I did not consider myself talented.  I could see the tiniest bit of potential in almost everyone and I had set an unrealistic expectations for myself as far as what I needed to do to be considered talented.

Previously when I thought of someone being talented I thought immediately of someone very well known, famous.  Not just anyone with a slightly better than average ability at something, but I thought of those that were stood out worldy in their profession.  Actors, musicians, billionaires, people with a star on the Hollowood Walk of Fame.  These people were talented, I was not.

Ridiculous, right?

If I consider my mom talented for her meatloaf (and she definitely is), how could I not consider my massage work and growing writing ability to have some sort of

I can say from personal experience that this is a hard thing to get over.  It’s hard to be OK and secure with the idea of something that you cannot see, you cannot feel.

For me it feels as though I am a part of a featured artist opening in an art gallery, walls lined with magnificent paintings and sculptures.  I can see the work of others.  I can marvel at the beauty they are trying to capture.  I can see their ability and message shine though.  It’s just so obvious.  Then I come to my wing of the gallery that is also on display.  It is just as full of on-lookers and fans as any other wing.  Others give tremendous compliments on what I have done.  I look and strain my eyes.  I look at it sideways and frontways, a little closer, a little further back maybe, but from all ways all I see is a solid white canvas.  How can I possibly accept a compliments when I’m staring at that?  I feel like I did nothing. Am I going crazy? Are they just being nice?  I just don’t see it.

How did I start seeing my talent?

-I realized that talent is very raw in nature.  It is not an end-all.  You may show a natural ability for something but that can only take you so far. If you do not work at it you will not become better, good or great.

-Realize you are telling yourself a lie.  Is it really possible that everyone else is talented at something and you’re just left out in the cold? Get over it, stop feeling sorry for yourself, accept the fact that there is good in you and move forward with it.

-Feel out your talent.  What I mean by this is that try to play with it, practice it.  Maybe it’s only 5 minutes a day but what we’re trying to do is see if there is a spark there, to see if this is something you would like to pursue and take further.  You should never feel forced into something and it is quite possible that it is not something you want to pursue.  That’s perfectly fine.

For me I found this entire process very frustrating at first, but it grew and developed into a very real passion of mine.  I hope you have similar results, I hope you can learn to see your gifts and nurture them.  No one wants to live a life of regret of what might have been.

Stop Comparing and Start Enjoying the Process

When it comes to seeing results in the gym why does the grass always seems greener on the other side, or so it would seem? People want results and more specifically I see them more focused on trying to duplicate other’s results and not create a unique goal for themselves.  This especially seems to ring true when it comes to those just starting out or those a little further away from their overall fitness ideal.  It’s always encouraged myself and others I train to have goals, but to let those goals become absorbed in envy is a mistake.

I think people in general will always compare themselves to others to some degree.  I am on the extreme end of the comparison game and am always in a battle with it, I am always comparing myself to others.  It’s OK. I’m getting better at it and am always learning from it.  I think the most interesting thing I have found is that the activities I feel most compelled to play the comparison game with are the same sort of activities that I have shown promise in.  What this does is keeps me small, keeps me unnoticed but it also does not allow me to shine.

I had previously been doing more of a bodybuilding type routine.  I had gained decent size and strength but I was looking for something very different.  That different type of training I found was powerlifting. I’ve been at it roughly 9 months with this new style and philosophy and it has brought with it new exercises, new programs and of course new challenges.

Powerlifting is hard. You’re trying to move an object that does not want to be moved.  It’s called Powerlifting, not lightlifting or moderatelifting for a reason, it’s hard work. It’s not only hard but very very technical.  When you break down a squat or a deadlift there are over a dozen things going on to make that a successful and safe lift. Previously I thought these guys were all just strong, but when I looked at the best at it, it was their form and technique that really separated the heard.

Trying to get stronger and stronger all the time can be brutal, but for me the biggest battle is still the comparison game I play. What does this comparison game do? It rattles my confidence, breaks my concentration and does not allow me to enjoy any victories in the gym. Does this sound familiar to any of you?  

If I set a PR I immediately shift my focus to find and name everyone who is stronger than me. I’m not saying I’m hoisting world records, but I have steadily improved and have not let myself enjoy it. In fact, I’ve barely acknowledged it until just recently.

EVERYONE is lifting more than me!” runs through my head as I am so intent on proving this truth I fail to recognize that the 70 year old man whom I say hello to every morning at the gym is doing some sort of stiff armed butt-up in the dip machine. He’s wrong but adorable. If it is your belief that everyone around you is stronger its funny how your mind will try and find ways to prove this belief, regardless if it is accurate or not. Could everyone around me be stronger? Chances are probably not good.  Even though I am starting to catch myself in this comparison game its still a very hard thing to control, but it can be done.

Example – A while back I set a new PR in the bench press of 225.  Two big plates on each side is a big step. Its very psychological and its a very proud moment when you start putting those big plates on.  What did I do after I hit 225? I immediately looked for someone who could do 230 or more.  I did not stop until I could validate the belief that most if not all people at my gym were stronger than me, that my new PR meant nothing.

This is an absolute lie. Like I said before this gets easier and easier to spot with practice but it’s very hard to break the habit.  I may not play this unfair game every time I hit a new gym goal but I do it enough for others to notice the pattern.

“You’re too hard on yourself.”

“Take a moment and enjoy your success!”

“You absolutely crushed it today! Good job!”

Occasionally I will let myself enjoy it.  I know I am getting better with the self-talk, but it takes time. It takes A LOT of time.

So what can you do to start winning some of these battles and stop comparing yourself to others? Here are some things that have helped me:

  1.  Acknowledge this feeling – As soon as you feel yourself comparing yourself to others acknowledge it, name it and move forward.  If you do not acknowledge this feeling you cannot possibly stand up to it.  Once you stand up to it you will see that it will easily run away and hide.
  2. Write down your accomplishments- This does not have to be just fitness accomplishments, it can be anything of value anything you’ve really really had to work for. Everyone wants to write down goals and goals are good, but do not forget all the things you have already done.  Write them down, look at them.  See, you are capable of greatness.
  3.  Clear your mind prior to the gym if at all possible – Deep breathing for 2 minutes with eyes closed, focus on what sort of good things you want from your gym session.
  4. Develop tunnel vision – When I am doing squats I focus on a bench that is directly across from me and rarely used.  If that is not available I find a spot on the wall just to the side of it and focus my energy on that.  I take a few deep breaths and block out everything around me.
  5. Tell yourself no one is watching you-  Get over yourself.  Not everyone is there to watch you.  Tell yourself over and over and over.
  6. Write down your goals for that workout-  This is another focus tool.  I write down target weight I want to lift as well as target reps for each and every exercise and set before I even enter the gym.  If you are focused on the task at hand you will tend not to care as much about what is going on around you.

Know that you are not alone.  Self-comparison is something most of us do at some time in our lives, but it can and will get better with practice.  Maybe you have more positives going on with your workout routine than you think.  Maybe there’s someone at the gym that’s envious of you and your body.  It’s all about perspective.  The grass isn’t always greener on the other side.


Sounds like Bubble-Wrap, Feels Like the Back Going Out (Part 2 of 2)

If you read part 1 of this you know that I ended up hurting my back or should I say, I ended up doing something to my back that sounded like bubble-wrap.

After I finished my session I did some glute activation bridges with a dumbell across my lap and this made my back pain go away some, but I was still in discomfort. It wasn’t until 2 days later that my wife asked how my back felt and asked if she could take a look.

I took off my shirt and tried to pretend that I wasn’t flexing or sucking in my gut when she looked at my back and said “There is seriously something wrong there.  It looks like an alien trying to come out the side of your back. You NEED to get that looked at!”

I agreed and scheduled a consultation with my chiropractor.  What did he find?

  • The sound I heard was more than likely torn ligaments.
  • Partially torn erector/multifidi
  • Left hip is slightly higher than the right, contributing to the uneven pressure and awkward pulling of my back muscles.
  • Left knee pain which I had previously experienced was getting progressively worse after my back injury.  Very overactive left hamstring and underactive right and left quadracpets.
  • Underactive glute medius, greater on the left, contributing to my knee issues
  • Underactive abdominal muscles, causing my back muscles to overwork and be exposed as they are not supported.
  • My over/under grip on the bar was never alternated.  Right hand always on top and left hand always underhand.  This lead to an awkward and uneven pull on my oblique muscles which also contributed to an uneven back musculature.

What was my regimine?  What did I do to help correct my imbalances and even improve on the strength I had prior to injury?

  • 2-3 days per week for 6 weeks of physical therapy.  Physical therapy consisted of accupuncture treatments in my lower back as well as e-stem electrical stimulation, manual therapy (massage), core and abdominal strengthening as well as lower back hypertrophy.
  • Glute activation exercises – These were a huge part to my rehab.  I started doing them at the clinic during my rehab and then added these exercises 3-4 days per week and performed them at home.  Sometimes I would just clinch my back end as I sat in a chair but most of the time this work was either a weighted glute bridge or a glute activation stance:  Legs slightly wider than shoulder width, knees bent. Slightly swaying left to right and then right to left As I move to each side I would move far enough so that my opposite foot rose slightly off the ground.  This one looked very bizarre, but if you can do it for 3 minutes or more and keep that stance you will feel a tremendous burn in your glute medius.
  • Abdominal exercises – I performed these two to three days per week.  Each session usually consisted of 2 to 3 exercises, 2 to 3 sets each.  Exercises included regular planks, side planks, captains chair, multiple variations of swiss ball crunches and movements as well as several variations of floor crunches and cable crunches.  Reps were fairly high, 10 or more.
  • Massage therapy – Every two week to a month I would get a deep tissue massage with focus on working my low back and glute area. Looking back I think I would have done this every week if I went through this injury again.
  • I completely rethought my deadlift setup, corrected what was wrong and focussed on finding a new, solid form.

After three months I was able to pull 300 lbs.  My confidence started to grow.

By four months I had set a new deadlift PR of 375 and a new bench press PR of 300.

It has been a ton of work but more than worth it.  This entire experience has made me a stronger lifter and has increased my mental toughness as well.  I plan to use what I have learned to take my lifts to even higher levels and most importantly, help others do the same.



3 Breaths to Let Go of Worry | anxiety,workout anxiety, pre-workout jitters, anxiety relief

As a personal trainer, as someone who powerlifts, as someone who is very physically active, I know the importance of proper breathing.  It should be simple, right?  After all, its not something you have to concentrate on in your daily activities.  You just do it.

But there is a tremendous power, a tremendous visualization that can happen when you sit down in quiet and concentrate on your breath. With deep and focused breathing there is a oneness and awareness with you and your surroundings that takes place that can take you from panic to peace in a matter of minutes.

As someone who has battled anxiety for all of my adult life I have used the technique below with great success.  Do not let the simplicity fool you.  It is powerful and just like a new exercise at the gym you are unfamiliar with at first, the more you practice it the better you will get at it.

  1. Find a quiet spot, free of distractions, free of noise.
  2. Sit comfortably straight with your feet on the floor.
  3.  With your eyes closed, breath normally, focusing on your breath.  Breathe in through the nose and out the mouth. Pay attention to the sensation of air coming in and then going out of your body. Pay attention to the space you occupy and where you are right now.
  4. First breath – As you breathe in we begin to ground your own energy.  Some people choose to breathe normally, I choose to breathe in more deeply.  It is your choice.  Simply saying your name in your head to yourself or thinking about the person you truly are or want to be can be very centering.  Take a moment and think of just you and the energy you bring to the world.
  5. 2nd breath – As you breath out think about an issue that has been bugging you, draining you of focus, distracting you from functioning optimally.  Maybe it is a problem with a boss who is not understanding or maybe that boss chewed you out the day before for no reason.  Maybe you had a fight with a loved one or spouse and said something you regretted.  Find something that you feel a need to let go of.  While breathing out, imagine this problem leaving your body through your breath.  With each breath out the issue becomes smaller, weaker and less significant. I often picture my breath leaving me in color. Sometimes its red, sometimes its blue or some other color.
  6. 3rd breath – This one was the most difficult for me.  Here we think of something we want and “breathe it in” to our body, our whole being.  This could be more time to do something you love, a weight loss, more money, a new job, etc. Think of this item and how it will make you feel to be in possession of it.  Do not feel guilty for wanting it, this is something I battled with for years.  You are worth it and are deserving.

My personal preference is to practice each breathe individually first.  At the end I will go through all three in sequence.

Example – First breath, I concentrate on just the grounding piece.  I do not concentrate on the exhale.  I do this 5 or 6 times or more and then move onto Second breath.  On the second breath I just focus on the exhale. I do not pay attention to the inhale portion.  I do this 5 or more times and move onto Third breath and do it in the same manner.  After I have done all three and bring it all together. I breathe in and ground, breathe out and let go and breathe in again to ask for something I aim to achieve.

Feel free to practice it any variety of ways and make it your own.  The adaptability and freedom of creativity make it a favorite of mine.

Try and practice this daily.  It might be a struggle at first but with time the issue you are battling should seem less worrisome.  As your anxiety goes down your creative juices will increase and you will find yourself most likely coming up with more solutions than you had otherwise realized.  Give it a shot, let me know if there are any questions and I am eager to hear if others have had similar success with it.



Cheat Meals Not Cheat Week(s) | Cheat Meals, are cheat meals ok,types of cheat meals, healthy cheat meals, are cheat meals good, are cheat meals a good idea

Cheat days. Should you or shouldn’t you. What is a cheat day?


Cheat day – Most often preceded by several weeks of intense diet.  It is a day where all bets are off in regards to your diet and you indulge in whatever you want.


Who isn’t a fan of cheat days? Who wouldn’t want that? Pop, ice cream, pizza, cookies, it’s all there for the taking, it sounds fantastic, it sounds like heaven until you overdo it.


Why would you use a cheat day? It’s used to let yourself have those things on your cravings list, things you want but know they have little to no nutritional value. It’s often seen as a reward for being true to your diet. It’s a way to keep your sanity while on a diet by occasionally dipping your toe in the pool of indulgence.That all sounds well and good and very logical, but it’s a very slippery slope if you are not prepared beforehand to look at that demon food you had been avoiding for months and suddenly are enjoying. This is unique to almost any other old habit you are trying to change. Think about it:


You quit smoking for a month and decide to reward yourself by sharing a smoke with a friend.


You’re a habitual cusser, have worked extremely hard to change the way you express yourself and decide to reward yourself by spending a day telling everything and everyone to go fuck themselves.


I could even use my own old habit here. I haven’t had a drink in about 12 years. I then decide I’ve been so good for so long, I deserve a drink.


I hope these sound less and less logical to you. They all try to reward oneself with the very thing they were trying to change. It can start off good. It can start off in control but unfortunately that usually doesn’t last.


Let’s break down what can happen and let me preface this by stating what I am going to illustrate is not based on client encounters, this is something I have done myself. I am not trying to pick on anyone. I want this to be a learning experience and not a shameful one. Here we go:


You start your program. Your motivation is sky-high. You want to make nothing but good, healthy decisions. You want everything to be perfect and to a large degree they are.  Four weeks go by and changes are starting.  You’re down 10 lbs and your energy is up.Seemingly nothing can stop you.  Time for a reward.


Internal conversation – “I’ve been on this program a month and never have felt better. I’m treating myself to an indulgence day, but I won’t go super crazy.”


(Insert cheat day)  A first instinct may be to grab that pint of Ben and Jerry’s you’ve been trying to kick since you started. You take a bite or two or three or more. You may go well above twice your normal calories, quite easily actually.  And it’s not just simply calories.  If you’ve been restricting calories for a while and mostly reducing carbohydrates, you will get bloated when you have a large carb meal.  That bloat is water and we all know how heavy water is. It’s a lot of water weight, but when you wake up and the scale is 5 lbs heavier, seemingly overnight, people will go into panic mode.


But you’re strong. You have your indulgence and move on.  The next day you start working out again. Another week goes by:


“Well, I haven’t lost any more weight, but I haven’t gained any either so I’m having a little cheat snack. I have proven that I can have what I want and not gain weight.”


You may have gone way overboard on your cheat day and did not even realize it. It may take you a few days to burn off the extra carb intake you consumed so you’re left with actually half a week of fat burning instead of your usual full week when you were on your plan.  This is perfectly fine, just be aware of what is going on. However, you see the scale not moving and you begin to get worried. You take an extra couple days off to re-evaluate things. Again, self-awareness is so huge and it is a lot harder than you thought. It takes a ton of practice and everyone can improve on it, we’re all human and will never get it perfect.


This extra time off can easily turn into procrastination.  Are you really looking for answers or just looking for a way to add extra time between you and that next workout?


Three weeks go by and you feel ready to workout again. You do half of what you were doing to ease back into it. You complete a mostly full week of your reduced exercise goal. Maybe something came up at work or with your family that has added stress at this time as well. You believe you have earned a reward.


“I worked out for a week, I earned this day of eating whatever I want.”


No, you have taken a great step in the right direction but you need to keep going. This is not a straight path to where you want, you need to allow yourself to make mistakes and learn to make adjustments. Don’t give up on yourself yet.


You look at the calendar and you’re not as far as you’d like to be. You notice its been two months and no change. You become frustrated and want comfort.


“I haven’t been on-track with my meal plan but today I was good all day, so I am getting myself some ice-cream.”


I can’t speak for everyone, but when I was at this point I basically felt so worthless and ashamed that I did not have the willpower to continue to move forward that I began to sabotage my efforts.


If I went back to where I was it was adding confirmation that I couldn’t get to where I wanted to be in terms of health.  I could then convince myself there was no point in trying.


From here you may find yourself doing less and less in terms of fueling yourself adequately and working out and adding more and more of the “reward” food you had been trying to reduce in the first place.


It’s human nature to not want something so indulgent once you receive it over and over.  You overdo it and give yourself easy access. Now it’s not forbidden to you anymore, it loses its exotic nature and becomes commonplace.  You think to yourself, “Why did I want this to begin with?”


Am I saying go nuts and indulge in everything you know that’s bad for you? Absolutely not.


I believe the reason this bombardment of pleasure does not work is because by the time you get to the point where you are actually sick of whatever food item of your choosing you’ve already established a deep pattern of turning to this item when you are in need of comfort.  People will turn to comfort food when they are happy, sad, upset, angry, lonely and everything in between.  It can provide an instant change in mood, but that quickly passes and when it does that space is usually filled with guilt and shame.


So what can you do?


*After 30 days on a diet and exercise program begin incorporating 1 cheat meal per week. Nothing more.

*Choose this cheat meal carefully. What have you been craving? What sort of modification can you make to this cheat meal to reduce calories or change the calorie makeup? Example – Add sliced almonds to ice cream instead of adding brownie bits.

*Allow yourself to have this meal. Do not feel guilty! You worked hard for it!

*Watch the portion size and walk away.  One serving not two servings or three.

*Immediately do something active afterwards. Go for a walk or a bike ride. Feel good about what you have accomplished during the week in terms of your fitness goals.


You can have your cake and eat it too. Just be mindful of your actions.