Thursday, January 31, 2008

Overcoming Adversity

Isn't it funny how when things are starting to go well that life throws you a curve ball? It never seems to fail. For instance, you're saving money for something cool and bam, your transmission goes out on your car causing it to catch fire. Or you start dating someone cool and hot only to find out that they're on 5 kinds of anti-depression and bipolar regulating medications! Can you say R-E-D-R-U-M?!

That brings me to my dilemma. I recently got invited to the Barkley 100
Put together a killer training program and kicked it off like a champ. Things are going great and then bam, I throw my back out during a routine lifting session. Ok, can't walk for a couple days and I'm bed ridden in a fetal position. Finally better and I jump back in. Step it up, things are going awesome, bam, I crack a couple of ribs playing capture the flag with kids. Don't even ask.

So today is a big training day. I had planned to leave my place around 8 PM tonight and take off to the woods. My goal was to drive to seven peaks around San Diego and run them all. Start with Cuyamaca Peak, then Viejas Mtn, El Capitan, Cowles Mtn, Iron Mtn, Woodson Mtn and finally Black Mtn. All this continually with no sleep. Sounds like a good time, right?

It did, but that's where the cracked ribs come into play and there's my dilemma. Ok, it hurt's to breath, sleep and bend over. I'm thinking I should probably wait until I feel better. Then it hits me. What would John Wayne do? Actually I ask that all the time. He would drive on. No whining or crying. Plus I've now decided, I can't think of a better way to train for the world's toughest running event that breaks the world's best runner's bones each year than to do it all ready broken. I'm starting to realize that my cracked ribs may actually give me a training advantage. Anyone can train healthy, now do it when you're broken.

Maybe life is actually fair. Maybe it throws these curve balls at us not to keep us down but to pick us up. Wow, in just a short amount of time I was able to turn what looked to be an excruciatingly painful experince into an incredible opportunity. I just hope my ribs are as understanding.

Life is short. Play hard.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

"Super Foods"

I found this in an article by Ed Bruske of the Washington Post. Here are 16 "super foods," depending on which authority you choose to believe. According to the latest advice, these foods are super because they contain loads of vitamins and minerals and help fight cholesterol and keep us healthy. I try to incorporate all of these into my eating regimen most days of the week. How often do you eat these "super foods" each week? Put the list on your refrigerator and give it a try.

-Black beans
-Dark (not milk) chocolate
-Sweet potato (or pumpkin)
-Salmon (preferably wild)
-Tea (preferably green)

Sources: "12 Best Foods Cookbook," by Dana Jacobi; "SuperFoods Rx: Fourteen Foods That Will Change Your Life," by Steven G. Pratt and Kathy Matthews

Thursday, January 10, 2008

"I'll start Monday!"

As a kid, growing up on a farm in the Midwest, every year my Dad would tell us that he was going to start his eating and exercise program come January 1st. As you can imagine, another year would roll around and eventually Dad would postpone his resolution until it was the following year.

Well, it's 25 years later and Dad still hasn't started that program yet! Like most of us though, he does have good intentions. Resolutions and truly changing your life can be difficult. You've had years to develop bad habits and let them spiral out of control. How do we then keep that promise that we've made to ourselves to take control or our eating, exercise and our life?

Many times, just like Dad, we only half-way commit. We know in the back of our mind that we're not seriously ready to make the change. Change only comes with serious commitment. You've got to take a good long look in the mirror and decide that you are 100% ready to make that change.

Next, you've got to set realistic goals and develop a plan of action. There's a saying that goes, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail!" You can do this. Yes, it will take hard work and dedication but many times the things that we value most in life are the things that we've worked the hardest to obtain. You are worth it.

I keep my weekly exercise and eating report on the refrigerator. It's one of the first things that I see in the morning. This helps to hold me accountable and keep me motivated. Here are the links for the very basic reports that I use.
Weekly Exercise Report -TRAINING SCHEDULE
Weekly Eating Report -TRAINING SCHEDULE

Hope they help. Remember, you can do this! No one is more important than you. Take control now before you end up a habitual offender like my father. Still luv ya dad. Oh, and you're starting Monday, right?!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

10 Worst Foods of 2007

This is a great article written by John McGran, Food Writer and SparkPeople Contributer. Check it out. How many of these foods have you tried?

1. Carl's Jr. Western Bacon Six Dollar Burger

I’m an East Coast kind of guy, but I realize there are no boundaries when it comes to bad foods. So, for this review, I took the advice of 19th Century newspaper editor Horace Greeley who urged, “Go west, young man, go west.” The Western Bacon Six Dollar Burger will gun you down with 1,130 calories (600 from fat), 66g fat (100% of your Daily Reference Value), 28g saturated fat (140% DRV), 150mg cholesterol, 2,540mg sodium (110%DRV), 83g carbs, and 47g protein. I’m beginning to understand why it’s called the Wild West! Sorry boys, but I’ll take the 3:10 to Yuma… and then the next plane to good old Philly, land of cheese steaks and soft pretzels over this one!

2. Pizza Hut Double Deep Pizza

These Double Deep Pizzas are handcrafted by loading an entire pizza with twice the toppings of a medium pizza, plus 50% more cheese and then wrapping the crust over the top to hold all the toppings in. I tried two slices of the Meaty variety. According to the Pizza Hut Website, I also opted for 1,160 calories, 72g fat (110% of your recommended Daily Value), 28g saturated fat (140% DV), 3g trans fat, 200mg cholesterol, 3,980mg sodium (166% DV), 62g carbs, and 62g protein. In all fairness, the suggest serving is one slice (1/8 the medium pie) but who eats a single slice? Not me.

3. El Monterey XX Large Chimichanga

While shopping at Wal-Mart here in Northeastern Pennsylvania, I noticed Spicy Red Hot Beef & Bean Chimichangas in a cooler near the deli. They looked suspiciously like my 3-for-a-buck burritos of yesteryear—only bigger and a tad more costly. While a standard burrito wraps a filling of meat, beans and/or cheese in a flour tortilla, a chimichanga is a meat-filled tortilla…deep-fried. The key words "deep-fried" may explain why my mushy 10-ounce XX Large Chimichanga did a Mexican fat dance on my diet to the tune of 920 calories, 57g of fat (15g saturated, 1g trans fat), 40mg cholesterol, 1,140mg sodium, 83g carbs, and 22g protein. Ay, caramba! It's a good thing I only had one.

4. Denny’s Meat Lover’s Scramble

As Mr. Bad Food, I’ve seen plenty of bad nutrition numbers in my day. But I never saw anything as heart-stopping as what I found on the Denny’s Website one day. It was my stomach that turned upside down when I checked out the nutrition numbers for Denny’s Meat Lover’s Scramble. Denny’s could be charged with “salt with a deadly weapon” for serving a breakfast entree that packs an unbelievable 4,170mg of sodium! (The Recommended Daily Allowance for sodium is 2,400mg.) The Meat Lover’s Scramble will also shake you down with 1,280 calories, 71g of fat (21 saturated, 0 trans), 565mg cholesterol (the RDA is 300mg), 103g carbs and 54g protein (RDA is 50). By the way, the RDA for fat is 65 grams, so you are taking in more than a day’s fat, cholesterol and sodium in a single meal! So if you find yourself at a Denny’s and someone recommends a scramble, take my advice and scramble for the door!

5. Hardee’s Country Breakfast Burrito

The word burrito sounds like a term for a little burro. If you don’t want to make an ass of yourself—by scarfing down 60 grams of fat with your first meal of the day—then steer clear of the Country Breakfast Burrito at Hardee’s. The king-sized breakfast burrito is cobbled together from two omelets, five hashrounds (their cutesy version of hashbrowns), cheddar cheese, and sausage gravy. The omelets that fill out the tortilla each contain two eggs, crumbled sausage, diced ham and bacon bits. Now, if you’re hungry for 920 calories, 23 grams of saturated fat, and nearly 2,000 milligrams of sodium for your morning meal, dig in!

6. KFC Chicken & Biscuit Bowl

The clever cooks at KFC devised a way to toss together an entire chicken dinner in a single bowl. According to the KFC Website, the new bowls are “a blend of mouth-watering KFC flavors and textures all layered together.” A blend…a jumble…a clutter…Call it what you will. But after checking out the nutrition facts, I call the Chicken & Biscuit bowl a great way to flock up your diet! Their nutrition guide says that the Chicken & Biscuit dish will bowl you over with 870 calories, 44g of fat (11 saturated, 4.5 trans), 60mg cholesterol, 2,420mg sodium (101% of your recommended daily amount), 88g carbs, and 29g protein.

7. Starbucks Double Chocolate Chip Frappuccino Blended Crème

When is a coffee drink not a coffee drink? When it comes with calories and frothy extras you’d expect to get with a milkshake! Oh, and when it doesn’t even include coffee! Case in point: The 24-ounce (that’s Venti-sized in Starbucks lingo) Double Chocolate Chip Frappuccino Blended Crème served up at your local Starbucks. This drink is made from rich chocolate, chocolate chips and milk, and is blended with ice, and topped with whipped cream (optional), and chocolate drizzle. With 670 calories, 22g of total fat, (12g saturated fat; 0.5g of trans fat), and 107g of carbs, it only sounds like a coffee drink. The 12 grams of saturated fat is equal to the saturated fat you get in a McDonald’s Quarter-Pounder with Cheese… but the sandwich packs 160 fewer calories than the Frappuccino!

8. Pizza Hut P’Zone

It takes two hands to handle a Pizza Hut P’Zone. The problem is—according to the nutrition info on their website—it should also take two people! Yes, despite the fact their TV ads showed a bunch of hungry guys chowing down on whole P’Zones, each super-sized dough pockets of meats, cheeses and sauce is considered TWO SERVINGS. The nutrition numbers… doubled for those of us who consider the P’Zones one-meal wonders: P'Zone Classic: 1,220 calories, 46g fat, 22g saturated fat, 2g trans fat, 130mg cholesterol, 2,700mg sodium, 144g carbs, 8g fiber, 60g protein. P'Zone Pepperoni: 1,260 calories, 48g fat, 22g saturated fat, 2g trans fat, 140mg cholesterol, 2,980mg sodium, 140g carbs, 6g fiber, 64g protein. P'Zone Meaty: 1,380 calories, 58g fat, 26g saturated fat, 2g trans fat, 160mg cholesterol, 3,460mg sodium, 144g carbs, 8g fiber, 70g protein.

9. Wendy’s Baconator

The term “Baconator” sparks images of an action flick featuring a leading man with a terribly thick Austrian accent. But if you’re planning on ordering Wendy’s newest blockbuster, think again. I can picture it now: A seatbelt-straining drive-thru customer grabs his grease-stained bag of beef, bacon and fried potatoes, and before driving off to feast upon his Baconator, he shouts to the drive-up window jockey, “I’ll be bawk…for my defibrillator paddles!” Then, just before he zooms out of earshot, the server leans out of her window and yells back at him: “Hasta la vista, flabby!” OK, so it’s poor scriptwriting. But it’s also poor dining to indulge in this Wendy’s double cheeseburger on steroids. The Baconator boasts two beef patties, two slices of cheese and SIX slices of bacon! Do yourself a favor and terminate your urge to order this beast of a burger. The nutritional numbers for the 10-ounce Baconator: 830 calories, 51g of fat (22g saturated, 2.5g trans fat), 170mg of cholesterol, 1,920mg of sodium, 35g of carbs, and 57g of protein.

10. Denny’s Extreme Grand Slam

Ads for Denny’s Grand Slam breakfasts used to feature the tagline, “$2.99…Are you out of your mind?!” Now that the restaurant chain has launched ads for its new Extreme Grand Slam—a breakfast platter piled high with three strips of bacon, three sausage links, two eggs, hash browns and three pancakes—they might want to change it to, “You’re ordering a Denny’s Extreme Grand Slam…Are you out of your freakin’ mind?!” The Denny’s Website urges customers to “fall in love with breakfast all over again.” It then offers up its latest line of “Breakfast Cravers” platters—dishes packed with the artery-clogging goodness of not-so-lean meats. Cases in point: The Meat Craver’s Breakfast and the Steak and Cheese Omelette. The nutritional numbers for the 21-ounce Extreme Grand Slam: 1,160 calories, 64g of fat (17g of saturated fat), 560mg of cholesterol, 3,750mg of sodium, 102g of carbs, 4g of fiber, and 45g of protein.

Friday, January 04, 2008

The Gift of Health thru Fitness & Commitment

This is an article written by a mentor and very good friend of mine, John Philbin. John is the owner of Philbin's Athletic Training Center in Gaithersburg, MD and the Former Redskins Conditioning Coach. I've learned a lot from him. Maybe this can help you too. Enjoy!

It is with great pleasure that I share this information at the request of my good friend Ken Harvey, former All-Pro for the Washington Redskins, whose commitment to fitness and excellence I deeply respect and admire.

In my career, I have trained many professional, world class athletes and among them was Ken Harvey, who I was fortunate enough to train as a conditioning coach for the Washington Redskins and have since worked with Mr. Harvey on numerous ventures since his retirement. In response to his request, this is an effort to provide some general guidance and right hand rules to achieve better health through Fitness and Commitment.

I have dedicated my athletic, professional and education to health and fitness. As a former Olympian and owner of a family fitness and athletic training facility in Montgomery county my business has given me the opportunity to assist athletes with improved performance and guide people on methods to change their lifestyles so that they can achieve what ever it is they want to accomplish as a personal goal.

Over three decades I have trained thousands of people with different aspirations and goals. Some of the most notable clients were Redskins such as Darrel Green, Tre Johnson, James Thrash, Brian Mitchell, John Riggins, Joe Theisman, and Trent Green. Interestingly, all of my successful clients, athletes and non-athletes, have similar personality traits when it comes to achieving their fitness goals. I would like to share with you Philbin’s top 10 personality characteristics for success;

Top 10 Personality Traits for Success

1) Set Realistic Achievable Goals – In order to succeed at a goal you must have a plan of action that is broken down into small incremental objectives. These objectives must be realistic, achievable and need to be written down so that they can be reviewed on a daily/weekly bases and adjusted if necessary. It is personal accountability to yourself.

2) Make the Right Choices – You must be conscious and aware of the choices you make when it relates to achieving your daily objectives. This takes mental discipline and many times sacrificing certain things that you normally would enjoy but know are working against your daily objectives. Eating habits for a majority of people are the most challenging. Prioritization

3) Seek Out Expert Advice - Before engaging in a physical fitness program seek out expert advice and start with complete physical and guidelines from a successful personal trainer. Personal referrals will be your best advice. Don't spin your wheels, do the wrong things and find yourself getting discouraged. Get engaged.

4) Build a Support Team – In order to succeed there must be a support team around you willing to encourage you and make your actions accountable. These people must also be willing to tell you when your swaying off track and must be prepared to do what ever it takes to keep you on track. Hard love ... Support

5) Don't Justify the Wrong Actions – It is all too easy to justify certain actions (choices) that work against your goals (objectives). If you choose to do something that you know is wrong then you are only hurting yourself and disappointing everyone else on your support team. Make the right choices! Dedication

6) 90 /10 Rule – Ninety percent of the time you should work extremely hard to accomplish your daily and weekly objectives. Most of us find making life style changes (habits) very difficult so we allow for a ten percent off track concession. Consistency

7) Karma & Respect – Believe in yourself and what you are trying to accomplish. Creating good "Karma" around you helps develop a successful atmosphere that is critical for success. Always respect everyone elses efforts no matter who they are or what they do for a living. Confidence

8 ) Unfulfilled Promises - All too often people start a fitness program (New Years resolution) with great enthusiasm and commitment. After 6 to 8 weeks the excitement starts to fade and it becomes work (50% drop out). Unfortunately, only 30 percent of these new programs will survive after 4 to 5 months and only 15 percent after 8 months will have created a healther lifestyle. In my opinion creating significant lifestyle changes (habits) takes 18 months or more. Hard decisions for personal improvement.

9) Fear of Failure – A very common personality trait for all successful people is the fear of failure ... this drives people to go the extra mile and sacrifice whatever it takes to accomplish daily objectives and reach their goals. Fear comes in many forms i.e. hating anything less than first, proving to someone that you can do it, redemption, materialistic satisfaction, repercussions from not meeting a certain standard, awards and accolades. Failure is not an option ... Fear is a great motivator.

10) Perseverance - It is inevitable that there will be extreme challenges and obstacles to be conquered along the path of success but those who persevere will eventually make positive lifestyle changes that will improve the quality of life. Be a fighter ... enjoy life!