A Navy SEAL’s 4 tips to boost mental toughness

Amazing post on mindbodygreen, an absolute must-read:

guy, running, beach, fitness

I’ve had a 20-year career as a Navy SEAL, 30 years of martial arts training and more than 15 years of yoga practice and teaching to warriors. If there is anything I can teach you, it’s how important your mental strength is, over any physical ability you may possess. The mantra of mind over body is true — you can do anything if you set your mind to it. Here are a few tips to help you build mental toughness, the body strength comes later:

1. Focus on yourself first.

Self-awareness is a place to start building what I call your “unbeatable mind.” Greater self-awareness will help us avoid making the same mistakes over and over, and allow us to get aligned for serious forward momentum.When I was younger, I was a daydreamer. If you asked me to describe what my future looked like, I would have given you a blank stare. This is not uncommon.A journal is a good place to establish self-awareness. Even if it’s just 10 minutes a day, find a quiet place where you can avoid disruptions. Do some deep breathing to center yourself and then spend some time candidly reflecting on who you are and where you are in your life. Do this every day and build it into a reliable habit, like brushing your teeth.
 
2. Figure out your purpose.

My investigation into integrated training and optimal performance propelled journeys into CrossFit, Tai Chi, Chi Gong, Pranayama, remote viewing, visualization, mindfulness meditation, Apache Sacred Silence, Tibetan mantras, Ninjutsu, and San Soo / SCARS.All of these practices had a large impact on my worldview, the way my mind works, and my performance benefited because of it all. Here are some questions to ask yourself to help determine if you’re on the right or wrong path:

  • What have you been conditioned to think you’re supposed to do with your life?
  • What do you think you are really supposed to do with your life?
  • What do you feel you are really supposed to do with your life?
  • Is there a tiny voice of doubt deep within you suggesting you are on the wrong track?
  • Is that same voice nudging you forward with the sensation that you are on the right track?
  • What ONE thing do you think you are here for? What ONE thing would you focus on if you had nothing holding you back?
  • What would you do differently if you knew you had one year to live?

So what do you do with the insights that follow? For me, it was a powerful self-realization that motivated me to leave a career path that was eating me alive. Asking myself these questions provided guidance and enabled my pursuit of what was my true dream: To become a Navy SEAL.

3. Determine your path.

Developing skills like discipline, dedication and acquiring a capacity for high-performance first requires tuning in to your true self. A path with heart will be authentic to your true self. Not some muddled version of what others think is best for you, but the real you.

This was my situation years ago, my lack of clarity and self-awareness had me chasing goals imposed on me by others, like a life of corporate success on Wall Street. I felt like I was on the wrong path and the only way I got back on track was by becoming more self aware. Start off with the questions listed above and see where they lead you.

4. Support your new purpose with a healthy lifestyle and the support of others.

For many, if you’re life is on the wrong path, you don’t have the energy to make a fitness program part of your daily life, or to fuel yourself with ahealthy, energizing diet. A consequence of poor self-awareness is that a life rut will claim your spiritual, mental and physical health.

A platform of self-awareness that leads to a renewed purpose in life will ultimately require you to take care of your body in a complimentary way. The good news? You’ll be so fired up about being on your true path that energy will no longer be a problem. The key is to harness this energy and commit to a fitness lifestyle (both exercise and nutrition!).

If this is a problem area for you, don’t do it alone. Perhaps the most important attribution to the Navy SEALS is the prominence of the word “team.” Find a group of like-minded others to who will support you. This is how you not only get on the path, but stay on the path.

Original POST 

Author: Mark Divine

A way to get fit and also have… fun?

Love this idea and agree with the philosophy behind it. Change up your routine and give this fitness approach a try!

interval fitness

Can exercise that is intense also be fun?

Researchers in Denmark recently began delving into that issue and in the process developed a new approach to intense interval training that could appeal even to those of us who, until now, have been disinclined to push ourselves during exercise.

High-intensity exercise, usually in the form of short bursts of very arduous intervals interspersed with rest, has much to recommend it. Many studies have shown that even a few minutes of these intervals can substantially improve health and cardiovascular fitness.

But high-intensity interval workouts have a drawback that is seldom acknowledged. Many people don’t like them and soon abandon the program.

In a telling study published last year,researchers in New Zealand asked overweight, out-of-shape adults to complete three months of high-intensity interval training, using one of two common types of training programs. One consisted of either four minutes of fast jogging, a rest, and four more minutes of strenuous jogging. The other consisted of 30 seconds of all-out effort, followed by rest, and was repeated three times.

Some of the exercisers’ sessions were supervised, and some were supposed to be done on their own.

Both programs would have been expected to round the volunteer into much better shape.

They didn’t. Few of the participants became significantly more fit, especially in the 30-second hard interval group. The probable reason, the researchers speculate, was that most of the participants had quit doing most or all of their assigned exercise early on in the study.

This finding and others like it troubled Jens Bangsbo, a professor of physiology at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, who studies high-intensity interval training. In studies at his lab, repeated hard intervals had almost invariably made people fitter, faster and healthier.

But those studies typically had involved highly motivated athletes riding high-tech stationary bicycles and had been supervised by the scientists, who personally had cajoled the participants to complete each interval.

Those were hardly real-world circumstances, Dr. Bangsbo realized.

So he and his colleagues began to wonder if there might be more practical and palatable approaches to high-intensity interval training.

“We wanted to create a workout that could be employed by everyone, from the nonexperienced person to the elite athlete,” Dr. Bangsbo said.

After some trial and error, they came up with a candidate routine and named it 10-20-30 training.

It has become my favorite interval program.

The essentials of 10-20-30 training are simple. Run, ride or perhaps row on a rowing machine gently for 30 seconds, accelerate to a moderate pace for 20 seconds, then sprint as hard as you can for 10 seconds. (It should be called 30-20-10 training, obviously, but that is not as catchy.) Repeat.

The enticements of this particular program are many. It is easy to remember and low-tech, requiring no gym membership, heart rate monitor, or flow chart, as some complicated interval programs seem to demand. You don’t even need a stopwatch to monitor the 30-, 20-, and 10-second time changes. You can, like me, count to yourself, which seems to make the intervals pass quickly.

Perhaps best of all, the grueling, all-out portion of the workout lasts for only 10 seconds, which is far more manageable for most of us than 30 seconds or 4 minutes.

But of course the program must be effective if scientists are to recommend it. So for a study published in December in The Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, Dr. Bangsbo and his colleagues set out to test the routine with a large group of average exercisers.

Approaching running clubs throughout Denmark, the scientists found 132 mostly middle-aged, recreational runners who agreed to substitute 10-20-30 training for two of their usual weekly workouts.

As a result, their weekly mileage fell by about half.

The scientists also recruited 28 runners to serve as controls and continue their normal training.

All of the runners underwent physiological testing at the start of the study, including a simulated 5K race.

Then the scientists turned the runners loose to continue with or abandon their training as they chose.

After eight weeks, almost all of the runners in the 10-20-30 group were still following the program. And when they repeated their 5K runs, they had shaved an average of 38 seconds from their times. Most also had lower blood pressure and other markers of improved health.

There were no changes among the runners in the control group.

Of course, any regular interval training should improve someone’s athletic endurance and health if it replaces slower training, which is why serious athletes incorporate interval sessions into their regimens.

But in Dr. Bangsbo’s study, the 10-20-30 program not only allowed the runners to train less while growing faster, it seemed to make the workouts pleasurable.

“The running clubs in our study reported much improved social interactions between members” during the workouts, Dr. Bangsbo said, because when the fastest runners turned around after each set of five 10-20-30 sprints, as most did, they found themselves following the slower runners, who had the satisfaction of being in the lead, at least for the moment.

You can undertake the program solo, too, or, as I have, with dogs. They are likely to be enthusiasts. This is how they always have run.


If you wish to try 10-20-30 training, Dr. Bangsbo recommends starting by replacing one or two of your normal weekly workouts with a 10-20-30 session.

Warm up with an easy jog (or pedaling or rowing), then ease into the intervals. The 30-second portion should feel relaxed; the next 20 seconds moderately hard; and the final 10 seconds a full gallop. “The aim is to cover as much distance as possible in those 10 seconds,” Dr. Bangsbo said.

Do five of the 10-20-30 intervals in a row without pause, then rest for two minutes by standing or very slowly walking about. Repeat the five consecutive intervals one more time, cool down, and you are done. The whole session, minus warm-up and cool-down, will have lasted 12 minutes.

If you are already in fine shape, Dr. Bangsbo said, add another set of the five uninterrupted intervals.

Rest the next day, he said, or very lightly exercise; don’t do two of the intense interval sessions in a row. Although a smaller percentage of runners in the 10-20-30 group sustained injuries than did runners in the control group in his study, “we recommend very slow progress.”

Original POST

Author: Gretchen Reynolds

We’re clean eating our way to new eating disorders

Discussions about what we “can and cannot eat” come up in almost every conversation on fitness. Found this post on Salon interesting.

Is orthorexia about to join the DSM?

Clean eating

Because overdoing it is the American way, we’ve now managed to warp even healthy habits into a new form of eating disorders. Welcome to the era of orthorexia.

As Heather Hansman notes this week in Fast Company, orthorexia differs from other forms of disorders in that the obsessive focus is not on how much or how little one consumes, but the perceived virtue of the food itself. As she reports, “Nutritionists and psychologists say that they’re seeing it more often, especially in the face of restrictive food trends, like gluten-free, and growing information about where food comes from, and how it’s grown and processed.” Though the term has been in use since Dr. Steven Bratman coined it in 1997, the uptick in cases is leading to a new push to formally include it in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – aka the DSM 5.

Along with “gluten-free,” “juice fast” and other phrases, you may have been hearing “orthorexia” a lot more lately. Last summer, popular health and food blogger Jordan Younger made headlines – and faced intense criticism – when she announced that she was “transitioning away from veganism” as she realized that she had “started fearing a LOT of things when it came to food,” and had been struggling with orthorexia. Her blog now is called “The Balanced Blonde,” where she talks honestly about her journey to wellness. In a recent post, she observed, “It. Breaks. My. Heart. to see and hear beautiful, motivated, capable young women being sucked in to an extreme diet and way of life because it has been branded to them as ‘THE HEALTHIEST WAY TO LIVE’ above all else.”

It’s true, this kind of disordered mentality does seem to disproportionately target “beautiful, motivated, capable young women.” Because I like to cook and eat, and because I’ve had life threatening cancer, in recent years I’ve grown more conscious and curious about how I feed myself and my family. To that end, I read a fair number of cookbooks and food blogs, in particular those with a bent toward healthy eating. And it has not escaped my attention that there have been several wildly successful books in the past few years – often featuring pretty, thin, blond women – that I have had to put down and think, “Oh my God, these people should not be giving advice.” But the creeping fear of food isn’t just for women who look like pilates instructors. Just last week, my spouse attempted to make dinner plans with an old friend, who quickly rejected multiple suggestions of places to eat after citing a litany of foods he would no longer touch. This is not a thigh gap aspiring, crunchy young woman we’re talking about here. This is a man in his 50s.

Reading some of the “clean” living writing out there, including bestselling books by authors with cult-like followings, you can find dubious claims about “detoxing” – which is not a real thing unless maybe you don’t have a liver. Enthusiastic endorsements of extreme juice cleanses and fasting – sometimes with a side of colonics. Blanket and inaccurate statements about grains, dairy, animal products, even seemingly innocuous foods like spinach or fruit. But what’s always the tipoff for me that something is a little off is when writing about food and health veers into near obsessive mathematical precision – detailed tips on exactly how much to eat, when to eat, what to combine it with. (For what it’s worth, in contrast, I find the work of Mark Bittman and Jamie Oliver reliably sane and inspiring.)

Food sensitivities and intolerances are real, and there’s zero denying that the Standard American Diet is flat-out deadly. It’s making us fatter and sicker than we’ve ever been at any point in our history, and it’s hurting our children worst of all. But for those who are vulnerable, a quest to eat right can lead to a seriously dysfunctional relationship with food. And we need to have better understanding of eating disorders and support for those who are struggling, because being healthy of body means being healthy of mind too.

Original post HERE

Follow the author – Mary Elizabeth Williams – on Twitter: @embeedub

Trainer Cassey Ho Photoshops Herself To Send Message About Body Shaming

Hadn’t seen a fitness post that caught my attention lately, until this:

Cassey Ho bodyshaming

You’d think that, if someone was a fitness instructor, committed to helping others get in shape, he or she would not be a target for body shaming or cyber-bullying. You’d think that.

It’s actually quite the opposite. Blogilates founder Cassey Ho, who posts uplifting and inspirational messages to social media, is constantly bombarded with criticism about her body. Apparently, with popularity — and, in this case, over two million YouTube subscribers — comes a lot of hurtful feedback.

So, she decided to make a video — and not one of her usual instructional videos on squats or lunges. It’s about addressing the people who make others feel badly about the way they look.

In her “‘Perfect’ Body” video, which now has almost 1.3 million views on YouTube, Ho reads mean comments about herself, then Photoshops herself into what her followers want her to look like: a wider gap between her thighs, larger breasts, a “slimmer waist and a bigger butt.”

In a blog post, Ho elaborates on what inspired her to create the video:

When you look in the mirror, are you happy with what you see? Or do you stare at yourself, pinching your fat away, lifting up your butt, pushing in your boobs? It’s hard to be content with the shape of your body when people are constantly telling you how fat you are, how much weight you need to lose, how much weight you need to gain … what do people want? The body shaming, the mean comments, the cyber bullying — all of this messes with us … and it hurts.

She also posted the below, Photoshopped image of herself to Instagram to accompany the video:

Cassey Ho Instagram

And yet, while some people praised her for this photo, others continued to degrade her.

“What worries me is this: 1. That some people think this is real and that it should be ‘goals.’ 2. That some people still think it’s not good enough,” she wrote on another Instagram post.

Clearly, there’s still a tough road ahead in the battle against body shaming. But, with leaders like Ho, at least we’re getting somewhere.

It’s worth noting that Smashbox, a cosmetics company, sponsored this video. I’m wondering: Does that affect the way you see it?

h/t: Mind Body Green

Original post HERE

Starting out with interval running

After reading my usual 5k runs weren’t doing much for me anymore, I looked into interval training –which a LOT of fitness experts like Workout Anywhere swear by- that spoke to my short attention span. There’s a load of convoluted articles on the subject out there, trust me. But I found one that’s easy to implement – plus it had a picture of a running dog.

Jog Dog

It’s posted by Nerd Fitness which appears to be a pretty sweet site run by a guy named Steve. He recommends the workout below under the title, Interval training: Kick your ass and kickstart your metabolism in 20 minutes:

  • 5 minutes of warmup...light walking, bump the speed up a little bit to get your legs warmed up…then stretch.  Don’t stretch until you’ve warmed up.  Think of your muscles like rubber bands…you quickly pull a rubber band that hasn’t been used yet and it’ll snap.  Warm it up, get it used to activity, then stretch it, and you’re golden.
  • 30 seconds of increased pace (70% of maximum effort)… 2 minutes of decreased pace.
  • 30 seconds of increased pace (75% of maximum effort)… 2 minutes of decreased pace.
  • 30 seconds of increased pace (80% of maximum effort)… 2 minutes of decreased pace.
  • 30 seconds of increased pace (85% of maximum effort)… 2 minutes of decreased pace.
  • 30 seconds of increased pace (90% of maximum effort)… 2 minutes of decreased pace.
  • 30 seconds of increased pace (100% of maximum effort)..2 minutes of decreased pace.
  • 5 minutes of light jogging and stretching. When you stretch afterwards, your muscles expand, allowing the nutrients you’re about to eat to fill in the gaps that are now empty from exercise.  Also, it keeps your muscles loose, so there’s a far less chance for injury.

He has quite a few additional thoughts on the subject so check out the entire post HERE.

~Paul