Friday, December 31, 2010

Three Keys to Successful Health & Fitness Resolutions

I read an interesting article today about fitness resolutions on Core Performance and wanted to share it with you:

Many people will make resolutions this holiday season, hoping the new year will bring the power and leverage (or at least the willingness) to replace bad habits with positive behaviors.

Most New Year’s resolutions fail, of course, but not for the reasons you might think. According to Dr. Roy Sugarman, the Director of Applied Neuroscience at Athletes’ Performance, the key to keeping resolutions is a three-pronged approach of importance, confidence, and readiness.

1. Importance

Most resolution makers never take the time to ponder why their resolutions are important. Take a few quiet moments to write down reasons why you want to implement these new behaviors. All valid contracts are in writing, after all, and this exercise not only makes things official; it gives you the leverage to change.

Change is difficult for creatures of habit, which we all are after millions of years of programming that tells us that change is dangerous and we should resist it.

“By making resolutions, you’re alerting your instincts that say, ‘Don’t do it,’” Sugarman says. “You have to be able to override that and recognize that this is good and it’s going to have a good outcome down the road. A successful person can override that negativity bias consciously. They overcome the emotions that say, ‘You lost a million dollars last time’ and keep investing or starting businesses, for example.”

2. Confidence

This comes not from cocksure swagger or positive thinking but from the momentum of small successes. While it’s good to sign up for a marathon four months out to set a goal in motion, the confidence comes from starting on a training program of short distances that builds gradually to the goal of finishing 26.2 miles.

That’s why it’s often easier to quit smoking by decreasing the number of cigarettes each day than by going cold turkey.

“If we’ve failed many times before, our brains get engaged and push back when we try again,” Sugarman says. “You’re setting yourself up for failure because emotions are so powerful. The idea is to reprogram your brain.”

Sugarman draws an analogy between smoking cigarettes and walking along a cliff. We don’t get too close to the edge of a cliff because we know it’s dangerous. A smoker’s brain, however, has been programmed to think of cigarettes in terms of pleasure and not health risk.

“The brain doesn’t distinguish between giving up smoking or walking along the cliff,” Sugarman says. “To stop smoking is risky because it has adapted to nicotine and it fears change. Now you’re telling it we’re going to withdraw the nicotine. But if we take just one cigarette a day away, it doesn’t notice. Baby steps build confidence.”

3. Readiness

One of Mark Verstegen’s recurring messages in the Core Performance booksis that adapting a high-performance lifestyle is much easier when you recognize that you’re doing it for those most important to you. Only when you take care of yourself first will you create the energy and actions to raise the lives of others.

It’s easier to slack off on a goal when you think it’s just about you

“Readiness is when you look at that resolution and say, ‘I’m going to do this now because a year from now I want my spouse and kids to be happier as a result,” Sugarman says. “Not only that, I’ll be able to look back and feel that great sense of accomplishment.”

PC Conditioning Team Member Excels in New York


I just wanted to take a moment to congratulate PC Conditioning team member Ephraim McDowell. I had the pleasure of working with Ephraim the summer before his freshman year @ Hamilton College in New York. I can honestly say that no one I've trained to date has matched his work ethic and dedication. The fact he's a fellow hoops junkie and that we play the same position definitely made our training sessions that much more enjoyable.

Here's a great piece The Boston Globe ran on him in today's paper:

Basketball arc is now ‘complete’
Ephraim McDowell, a graduate of Beaver Country Day School in Newton, has become a “complete player’’ as a junior guard on the Hamilton College men’s basketball team, according to head coach Tobin Anderson.

“He will always be a tremendous shooter, but his relentless work ethic has made him very good at every facet of the game,’’ said Anderson, whose team was 5-2 overall at semester break. “He’s become a strong leader and he is a fun guy to coach.’’

The 5-foot-11 captain, whose teammates include sophomore forward Eric Benvenuti of Concord (Concord Academy), was selected to the Liberty League’s Team of the Week for the second straight week on Dec. 13 after averaging 18.5 points in a two-game span.

A resident of Boston, McDowell ranks second in the league in scoring at 17 points per game, second in free-throw percentage at 88.9 percent, fourth in 3-point field goal percentage at 47.2, and leads the league with 25 3-pointers.

At Beaver, McDowell was the school’s second all-time leading scorer with more than 1,700 points and was a two-time Eastern Independent League all-star. A two-year captain, he also set a school record for 3-point field goals and was a McDonald’s All-American nominee his senior year.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Did Santa bring you "The Ab Circle" this Christmas?

I was reading a research study this morning that compared abdominal musculature activation between 3 traditional exercises (Quadruped, Abdominal Crunch, and Side Bridge) against "The Ab Circle," an "As Seen on TV" product that promises to shed the "love handles." Long story short: save yourself some time and money and stick to the bodyweight core exercises that work better than this foolish device.

I'll report specifics in my February, 2011 newsletter. Stay tuned...

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all those celebrating this year!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Shannon Sharpe workout

Shannon Sharpe is a former NFL player whose dedication to his body both in and out of the weight room is hard to match. The Wall Street Journal ran a fantastic article in today's paper about his current workout routine and nutrition plan. Check out the full article here:

Friday, December 17, 2010

Female Strength Levels

I found a really good chart posted by strength coach Brett Contreras today that I wanted to share with you. He based it on the hundreds of female clients he's worked with over the years. One goal I have for all of my female clients is strength improvements and many often ask me, "Paul, do you think I'm strong?" Well, check the chart and we'll see:

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

SUPER Motivating!

STILL one of the most motivating videos I use to inspire my clients- and me! (start @ 4:14)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Youth Sports May Not Offer Enough Exercise

A recent article from The Wall Street Journal cited a study that said the majority of children participating in organized team-sports don't meet the federal recommendation of one hour a day of moderate-to-vigorous exercise. A physiologist from San Diego State suggested cutting inactive time during practices as one of the easiest ways to help ensure children meet physical-activity guidelines on a given day.

Embracing Discomfort

Girl Sweating After Workout
As the New Year draws closer, I've been doing a lot of thinking about many of my clients wishing to improve their body compositions. That is, they are seeking to lose body fat, yet gain or maintain lean muscle mass. This is the case of the majority of so many exercise enthusiasts. I was reading a piece by best-selling author Bill Phillips where he listed out suggestions for achieving body transformations and one in particular stuck out to me: "You must be ready and willing to experience a certain level of discomfort as you move toward your goal."

I truly believe embracing temporary discomfort during training sessions is one of, if the not THE KEY, to achieving body transformation success. Of course nutrition plays the most important role, but people- many of my clients and pretty much EVERYONE I encounter at the gym- need to embrace this cardinal rule.

Rebuilding the food pyramid

This month, the 2010 dietary guidelines will be released by the federal departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services. The current food pyramid (pictured above) is what American dietitians typically refer to when providing nutrition advice. The Boston Globe recently ran an article on the upcoming pyramid. You can check out the article by clicking the following link:

Friday, December 10, 2010

Why You Can't Lose Weight

I was reading a column by
Brandon Alleman recently about why people can't lose weight. It was rather interesting and I wanted to share a few of my favorite points from it:

Poor nutrition-
You will never out-train bad nutrition! Stop cutting calories, stop skipping meals, stop eating processed foods, and seek the services of someone, like yours truly, who can coach you on how to determine how you should be eating. Basically, stop eating C.R.A.P. Yes, that is actually an acronym (courtesy of Dr. Sherri Rogers) which stands for C = caffeine, cola, and corn. I actually added corn to the C list. In my experience, a large percentage of people are intolerant to corn when tested accurately with blood tests. Corn is universally contaminated in the U.S. and is almost completely genetically modified at this point and is nutritionally bankrupt. It is also the most highly subsidized crop in the world. You can find corn in batteries and diapers – yes, I am serious. How ridiculous is that?! R = Refined food and white rice; A = additives and alcohol; and P = processed foods and pasteurized dairy. All of these foods will serve to make you fatter and I do not care how much exercise or cardio you do – you cannot out train bad nutrition.

You are cutting calories or skipping meals-
Consider this when using calorie cutting to achieve your weight loss goals: Within 24 hours of going on a low calorie diet, which is defined as eating less than 2000 calories per day (according to the World Health Organization), you immediately deplete your brain chemistry and have been shown to increase fat storing (lipogenic) enzymes in the body. This is particularly important for females who already have 3 times the amount of fat storing (lipolytic) enzymes as fat burning ones. Any changes in brain chemistry will lead to cravings, usually for sugary food items. Low calorie dieting is especially damaging for anyone with a history of depression, anxiety, eating disorders or alcoholism. Remember, all of this occurs after a single day. In many cases I can run Functional Lab assessments to determine how nutritionally depleted my clients are. Anyone with a history of chronic yo-yo dieting, calorie restriction, or long-term use of most medications is likely to have severe nutritional deficiencies.

Hormonal Imbalances-
Forget about losing weight in the presence of hormonal issues. It simply will not happen.

Poor Sleep-
The body handles its physical and neurogenic/psychogenic repair during the hours between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Poor and disrupted sleep can lead to issues in virtually any physiological system in the body. Poor sleep can also lead to over consumption of carbohydrates, stimulant (caffeine, sugar, etc.) cravings, fatigue, and poor mood to name a few. These will all sabotage your weight loss efforts.

You have no purpose-
It has been my observation that those individuals who view their life as connected to the world as a whole and view their life as one with meaning and purpose have a much easier time losing weight when given the correct advice for accomplishing that task. If you do not have a clearly defined purpose for the use of your life’s energy, you will be dealing with chronic stress everyday -even if you think you are not! That stressor can easily sabotage weight loss efforts.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Being Successful

Coach Bob Knight was interviewed for a book on leadership and coaching a few years back and was asked to describe what makes someone successful as his/her profession. Here is a quote that stuck out with me as it's how I run my life and business, not worrying about what others say/care:
"Do what’s right and do what you think you have to do, and don’t worry about what somebody says. That would be about as simply put as my philosophy could be."

Steve Cotter is amazing!

I've seen some incredible feats of athleticism in my life, but this remains my favorite. Check out Kettlebell expert Steve Cotter above, performing "pistols" in Germany.