Lifestyle

Q&A: Refresh Your Diet & Lifestyle

thinking-woman-with-question-marks-above-the-head-isolated-on-white-background
thinking-woman-with-question-marks-above-the-head-isolated-on-white-background

Question #1: I feel like my options are either fast food or spending an hour in the kitchen every night.  How can I eat healthy without spending so much time cooking?

Answer:

I’ll start by suggesting more raw foods.  Fruits and veggies cleaned properly and eaten raw with perhaps a little seasoning are very healthy and take almost no time to prepare.  One of my personal favorite time savers that packs a nutritious punch are salads with a variety of fruits and veggies.  At least once a day I make a salad with organic greens, usually arugula and baby spinach, sliced cucumbers, blueberries, and sliced strawberries and/or apples, seasoned with a little Celtic sea salt and dill.  Just experiment with whatever is in season.  I like to add goat cheese or feta too.  The point is that everything I put in is nutritious and easy to prepare.  When I’m finished mixing the salad I use Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar as my dressing.  If you are willing to do a little more prep work buy a restaurant style oil dispenser and make an oil blend with equal parts coconut oil, olive oil and sesame oil.  It is better than olive oil alone because it has a better balance of fats.  I will also add protein to this salad if I don’t want the protein prepared on it’s own.  Tri-tip, flank steak, seared tuna and free-range chicken are great in a salad.

Another healthy time saver is a NuWave Infrared Oven.  NuWave’s cook meat and veggies evenly without denaturing the nutrients like a microwave.  All you have to do is set the timer and let the NuWave cook.  You don’t need to turn or flip anything.  I usually put my steak in and answer emails or fold laundry while it cooks.

Question #2:  I’m overloaded on caffeine from coffee runs and diet soda addictions -- how can I increase energy in a healthy way?

Answer:

Put down the diet soda!!!  Diet sodas are the single worst things you can put into your body.  I’d rather a client drink regular soda than diet.  Consider that stuff poison.

Start by trying to cut back on the amount of caffeine you drink without putting pressure on yourself to quit cold turkey.  At the same time start making an effort to get more quality sleep so you don’t need the caffeine buzz all day.  The more hours of sleep you can get before midnight the better.  Those hours count for 1.5 hours of sleep after midnight.

Daily meditation is another way to give your adrenals a break.  Even just 10 minutes a day is good for clearing your mind and allowing your brain to re-charge.  Staying committed to a regular strength-training regimen will also boost natural energy levels.  Strength training triggers a release hormones that give you natural energy, focus and a feeling of well-being.  Spending time outside every day, especially on sunny days is another way to get an energy boost.

Question #3:  I sit for hours in front of a computer all day and talk on the phone all the time, receiving radiation -- how do I combat a tech-dependent life?

Answer:

I would start by limiting exposure outside of the office.  Remove any electronic devices from your bedroom where you sleep 6-8 hours a night.  The ones that you must have in your bedroom should be moved as far away from your head and heart as possible.  Do yourself a favor and take the television out of your bedroom, period.

It would also be a good idea to get some headphones that allow you to make and receive calls.  It is better to use headphones to talk on the phone than to have a Bluetooth or the phone itself by your head all day.  Speakerphone is always a great option too if you have a good enough quality speaker.  I’m a huge fan of Skype and iChat.  Even though you are still in front of a computer at least it isn’t pressed right up against your head.

If you can choose your workspace make an effort to get as much natural light as possible.  And for your health’s sake GO OUTSIDE to spend some time in nature!  Take your shoes off and get your feet in the grass.

Question #4: How can physical activity release endorphins in our body and help us refresh our body and mind?

Answer:

Regular strenuous exercise and strength training in particular creates a positive hormonal cascade that up-regulates the “feel good” endorphins and hormones that give us a sense of well being.  It isn’t just a coincidence that you feel really good about yourself after you workout hard.  It’s all due to the hormones your body releases for up to 24 hours post exercise.  My friends and I call it “Leveling up.”

You’ll also be happy to know that these hormones are very effective at mobilizing fat (burning fat) for energy.  Cardio is still good to have as a part of your exercise regimen, but strength training with body weight or weights is far superior to aerobic exercise when it comes to burning fat and getting that sense of feeling good.

Question #5: I’m always stressed - how can we declutter our mind, and renew our mental clarity, and be happier?

Answer:

Stay present.  Over analyzing the past and worrying about the future takes you out of the present.  There is a saying, “I’ve been looking for the future my entire life and all I ever seem to find is right now.”

Take in the present moment and appreciate it for what it is – it is all we have.  It’s good to learn from the past, but let it stay where it belongs…in the past.  It’s wise to plan for the future, but once you have a plan you should concentrate your mind on executing your plan in the present.  Regular meditation is a good way to train your mind to stay present.  Start with 10 minutes a day and go from there.  There are lots of guided meditations you can find online and even meditation groups that meet regularly almost everywhere.

If you have more burning questions that need answers post on my Facebook Page and I'll do my best to give you a solution.

The Importance of Sleep

sleeping-woman-1024x679
sleeping-woman-1024x679

The quality and quantity of sleep you get is crucial to good health and fitness.  There are numerous hormonal activities that occur during the time you are sleeping that help you recover from your day.  When you workout you are tearing down the muscles and taxing the nervous system.  During the time you are sleeping your muscles and nervous system repair and regenerate to be stronger than they were before training.  The body cannot effectively do this when you are awake so sleep is crucial if you want to get the best results you possibly can from training.

Adequate rest is also important for your emotional health.  When you don’t get enough sleep it wreaks havoc on your endocrine system, particularly your adrenal glands which produce cortisol.  Cortisol is the stress hormone.  In the right levels cortisol has many benefits like helping us get up in the morning, countering inflammation and allergies, modulating thyroid function and helping us cope with stress to maintain emotional stability.

Top Tips for Sleep:

1)  Get as many hours before midnight as possible.

2)  Don’t eat a large meal within a couple hours of going to sleep.  A large meal takes a lot of energy to digest which takes your body’s resources away from regenerating and repairing damage.

3)  Don’t keep any electronics near your head or heart.  Put your alarm, phone, etc as far away from where you sleep as possible. 

4)  Make your room as dark and quiet as possible.

5)  Take Magnesium 30 minutes before bed to aid in getting to sleep faster. 

Normally, cortisol is high in the morning, but decreases at night allowing you to go to sleep.  When you don’t get enough sleep your adrenal glands never get a chance to rest and your cortisol levels are high all day and night.  This condition causes adrenal fatigue which leads to a host of physical and emotional health issues some of which include: suppression of the immune system, increasing of insulin resistance which can eventually lead to diabetes, decrease in libido and testosterone production, slower digestion, inability to cope with stress, fatigue, poor memory and excessive anxiety.  Chronically high cortisol levels also cause you to age faster.

The average adult should be getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night depending the individual and the physical and emotional stress they go through during the day.  The key is to get as many hours of sleep before midnight as possible.  Those hours before midnight are when the body does its best work repairing and are so important that research shows that hours before midnight can count as 1.5 hours of sleep to your night’s total.

The environment you sleep in is also very important.  Your bedroom should be as dark and quiet as possible, which helps the body go into REM sleep.  The worst thing you can do is fall asleep with the television on in your room.  The electromagnetic signals from the tv interfere with your own brain waves.  When mixed with the noise and light from the tv you have a situation that will not allow the body to get into REM sleep where it can release large amounts of Human Growth Hormone which repairs tissue and burns fat for other metabolic processes.  That’s right, a lack of sleep will keep you from burning fat!

Try your best to get at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night.  There is no making up for last night.  The body doesn’t work like that.  If you are getting enough quality sleep your body should naturally wake up when it is ready, so get to sleep early!  If you are regularly sleeping more than 10 hours a day you may want to talk to a doctor because it may be a sign of some type of illness or hormonal imbalance that needs addressing.

6 Travel Tips to Keep Your Diet On-Point

Ryan Gosling knows how to stay on-point with his nutrition when he travels.  Or maybe he just has a chef travel with him.  Whatever...
Ryan Gosling knows how to stay on-point with his nutrition when he travels. Or maybe he just has a chef travel with him. Whatever...

Traveling can be one of the toughest challenges when you are in the midst of a body transformation.  Traveling takes you out of your comfort zone and away from your regular routines that have play a huge part in making your transformation.  From the airport to hotel room service to the buffets at your work convention the temptation is endless.  After you've sold a kidney to afford plane tickets for your vacation, it is understandable that you would want to take advantage of anything free the flight attendant will give you.  I've seen hard men crumble when they start handing out complimentary drink tickets on Southwest flights.  Before your next trip away from home read my Top 6 Travel Tips to keep your body transformation going.

  1. Pre-trip nutrition - What I'm about to write may shock some of you.  My recommendation leading up to a trip that is any longer than a couple days is to relax how strict you are on your diet.  Most people do the exact opposite of my advice leading up to a trip in anticipation of the poor food choices they think they will be forced to make or because they want to look their best for the trip.  What ends up happening is that you exhaust your will power in the days leading up to your trip and have none left during your travels.  Now instead of making "C" food choices during your travels you are making "F" food choices.  Stop the madness!  You would be better served by making "B" and "C" grade food choices for the week leading up to your trip and then doing your best to maintain that level throughout your trip than to make nutrition choices at the extreme end of the spectrum.  Avoid extremes in your diet because there tends to be an equal and opposite swing to the other extreme (aka binge eating).
  2. Mindset -Your mindset about training and nutrition when you travel is critical.  Prepare for certain eventualities.  Come to terms with the fact that you probably won't be able to control everything the same way you would at home.  My advice is to embrace the adventure and look at these kinds of challenges as unique tests that give you a chance to shine in less than optimal situations.  I am more proud of myself for pulling together a "C" meal in a terrible situation while traveling than getting in an "A" meal in a great travel situation.  I also enjoy being more creative with my exercise programming when I can't train in my own gym.  Some of my best workouts have been bodyweight workouts in hotel rooms.
  3. Advanced Reconnaissance -Resources like Yelp can be very helpful for advanced recon going into a trip.  Before I travel, which I have done quite a bit over the last two years, I always do a Yelp search to pick out the places I'm going to eat at during my trip.  In almost every city I travel to I can find restaurants that serve fresh produce and quality grass-fed meat or wild caught fish.  When I can't, I choose the lesser of evils.
  4. Make a Schedule...Then stick to it -Once I have done my advanced recon I sit down with my calendar and my travel itinerary.  Most of my traveling these days is to teach seminars.  That means I have certain blocks of time already scheduled out.  My goal when I sit down to make a schedule is to fill in the rest of my travel time so that I don't have too much idle time on my hands.  Idle time is the devil's playground, right?  The first thing I fill into my travel schedule are workouts, meals (with a specific restaurant in mind), and time for administrative work or writing.  The last thing I put in to that schedule is site-seeing.  If I were on vacation I would switch the order of admin work/writing with site-seeing and goofing off.
  5. Drink tons of water -It is so easy to forget to drink enough water when you travel, especially when you are flying.  This guest blog by my friend and beauty expert, Marion Simms explains why dehydration is a bigger factor when you fly.
  6. Pack snacks -Pack as much quality nutrition as you can when preparing to travel.  I'm a huge fan of Steve's Paleo Kits.  They have saved me from starving or making some really bad food choices on numerous occasions.

Check out the guest blog by Marion Simms for her advice on protecting your skin when you travel.  Great read!

Healthy Travels!

Flying Survival Guide for Your Skin

    

 

 

Taking a flying trip this summer? Fun but oh, those plane rides and what it can do to the skin. On the ground depending on where you live and the time of year, humidity can range from 25% to almost 100%. The relative humidity in a plane is around 10%. In other words, very dry, and our skin in turn, becomes more and more dehydrated depending on the length of the flight. And don't forget about the stale, recycled air in the cabin. Gross! I can’t tell you how many times I have boarded a plane in the US with a clear skin and arrived in London with break-outs. Poor lighting is another challenge that not only strains the eyes but causes skin and sun damage. In a plane we are much closer to the sun and still very exposed to UV light particularly if we are seated by the window. There is no cloud coverage at that altitude and no atmospheric protection.

So here are a few suggestions to help you pack a skin survival kit when you fly.

  1. Get a really deep cleaning, hydrating facial 3-5 days before you leave. At SkinSense we offer the Hydradermie, a deeply penetrating galvanic treatment that does it all.
  2. The night before a flight, treat your skin to a hydrating mask. Slather on body lotion and condition your hair. Do the same thing the night of your arrival and if the skin has become cranky during the flight, apply a clay mask that has a more corrective, rebalancing formula.
  3. Before boarding, make sure your skin is super hydrated – eye crème, serum, moisturizer and sunscreen and if you are comfortable doing this, lightly dust on a mineral powder for extra protection.  If you have an oilier skin use a light serum after you have cleansed and toned, and any corrective topicals (for example, salicylic acid, topical antibiotic) before putting on your sunscreen and mineral powder.
  4.  Don’t forget - drink copious amounts of water to hydrate from the inside out.
  5. Refrain from cleansing and re-applying too much during the flight except hand crème, body lotion, eye crème and lip balm but if you feel the need, use cleansing pads and a simple routine. (Pack small containers of hand crème, body lotion and lip balm so that security does not confiscate them.)
  6. Avoid alcohol, tea and coffee which will further dehydrate you and order a light meal. I also pack nuts and fruit to eat during the flight to keep up my energy level.

Happy Trails!

Marion Simms

marion-simms close
marion-simms close

Marion Simms has been part of the skin care industry for over twenty-five years and has worked in many different capacities including teacher, facialist, business owner, lecturer, consultant and writer. Trained in England, she worked and traveled throughout Europe and South Africa before coming to the United States as a technical director for Guinot. In 1984, Simms opened SkinSense Wellness Spa and now employs seven other staff members who perform an extensive selection of spa services, including customized facials, micro-current, manicures, pedicures, reflexology, body massage, Brazilian waxing and make-up application.

Marion's extensive clientele comes from all parts of the city and state, and her philosophy is simple - maintaining your appearance should be part of a full time commitment to preventative health and well-being. Marion's other interests include reading, opera, travel and gardening. She is also a literacy advocate in the Los Angeles Unified District and enjoys working with teenagers to improve their self-image and esteem.

SkinSense Wellness is open seven days a week and offers late evening appointments Monday through Thursday.

Eating an Elephant

elephant-on-plate
elephant-on-plate

Getting started is the hardest part to making a change.  The first step is always the toughest because it is easy to get overwhelmed by the entire journey ahead and because you don’t have any positive momentum yet.  Let’s address how you can overcome both of those issues to make a bold first step towards your body transformation.

Proper Focus

“The best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.”

I always say that a body transformation is preceded by a lifestyle transformation.  It is totally understandable that the idea of changing your lifestyle can be overwhelming and even scary.  When the thought of change is scarier than the thought of staying the same, people will always stay the same. 

The key is to break the big vision of a body transformation down into smaller steps that are easier to wrap your head around.  What I like to do is to focus on each individual step of a big undertaking as if it is a unique project all by itself.  I find that this allows me to stay present, keeps me from getting overwhelmed and keeps my energy levels high throughout the entire project because I have a beginner’s excitement for each step.

From a rational perspective the only way anything is every accomplished is one step at-a-time. Worrying about the tenth step when you haven’t even taken the first step is a waste of energy, not to mention totally impractical.  Keep in mind that success on the final step is dependent on success of each previous step.    Each step of the journey will require you to be in the present moment.  Devote all of your energy to the task at hand so that you ensure your success on this step, which will give you the opportunity to have success in the future.

Momentum

The laws of physics tell us that an object at rest tends to stay at rest.  The first step of any project is always the hardest because there is no momentum working in our favor.  Ask any lifter and he will tell you that the first rep of a Deadlift set is always the toughest.  Writers that are having trouble getting started on a project call it the 10,000 pound pen.

The following are some ideas for making that first step a little easier to take so that you can get momentum on your side from the start:

  1. Start easier than what you think you are capable of starting with.  If, for example, you are thinking that you want to start exercising for an hour three times a week, start instead with 30 minutes of exercise three times a week.
  2. Get started and figure out the details later.  Don’t wait for the perfect plan to get started.  Creating a perfect plan usually results in nothing happening because the perfect plan is impossible to create.  A good plan will do just fine.  In fact massive action without a plan is still better than no action.
  3. Take sudden and immediate action.  If you are considering joining a gym or starting a bootcamp do a google search as soon as you finish reading this and make an appointment to check it out tomorrow.
  4. Schedule it.  Whatever your first step is must be put in your schedule.  I live and die by my iCal.  If something doesn’t go in my iCal it doesn’t get done.  On the other hand anything that gets put in my iCal always gets done.
  5. Start your transformation by eliminating bad habits rather than adding new things to your life.  This is best for someone that is really busy.  Rather than worry about adding to your already busy life, try addition by subtraction (Hint: Television is a great start).  After you have subtracted for awhile you will magically find that you have time to begin adding positive habits.  This works great for nutrition too.  Take bad choices like soda, sweets, baked goods and fried food out of your diet before you concern yourself with cooking new foods that you aren’t familiar with.

Making a Daily Masterpiece

JohnWooden bench
JohnWooden bench

"Make Every Day Your Masterpiece." - John Wooden

Throughout the Rebirth Body Transformation I have stressed focusing on the journey rather than the destination.  There is no better way to do that than to focus on making every day your masterpiece.  Living a masterpiece for me is when I am living inspired and acting on it.

The idea of the perfect balance of mind, body and soul is something that inspires me. Longevity inspires me. Self control inspires me. Strength inspires me. Those are things that get me fired up. When I am fired up and passionate about what I am doing it is easy for me to live in the present. When I live in the present I enjoy life and peace of mind. When I enjoy life and my mind is at peace I find myself getting more inspired by the things I love. This whole process becomes a self perpetuating cycle of enjoyment.

The catalysts to this process are my consistent routines. My routines prepare me for my day, ground me and give me a sense of rhythm to my day that keeps me very productive without ever feeling rushed.  When I stick to my routines I really enjoy my day.

My history with routines started when my parents started making me do two sets of push-ups and two sets of sit-ups before breakfast when I was in second grade.  That was my first routine.  I am so thankful to them for teaching me the importance of a morning routine and discipline at such a young age.  I have stuck with a morning routine, adding things from that very first one my parents gave me, to this very day.

In his bestseller, The Power of Less, productivity guru, Leo Babuata, explains his practical, Zen-like approach to productivity and success.  Creating simple daily routines, especially in the morning and evening, is something Babuata stresses throughout the book.  He goes so far as to write that one of the most rewarding changes of his life has been finding peace with a morning routine (I agree).  This is coming from a man who went from being in debt over his head, overweight, unhealthy and rarely able to spend time with his family to a man has doubled his income, lost 40 lbs., run two marathons, finished two triathalons, published a best seller, and the list goes on.

It makes sense that a morning routine is the place to start the conversation on daily routines.  If you want to create a masterpiece you have to start with a masterful first brush stroke. The elements of my morning routine are my first brush strokes.

If you don't already have a morning routine I strongly suggest you start one.  You will need to give it a couple weeks to become a habit.  Stick with it and you will be rewarded.

Check out Morning Routine Ideas to see what I do to kickstart your own morning routine.  I also included a list of some other ideas mine and Leo Babuata's from The Power of Less.

Some of the benefits of a well-planned morning routine include:

  1. Preparing for  your day, setting your goals, making to-do lists
  2. Getting in exercise, meditating, reading, writing, or other things you normally don't have time for
  3. Doing something peaceful and calming to set the proper tone for your day rather than setting the tone for a stressful day by waking up in a rush.

Habit Helper

At the beginning of the year I discovered a habit tracking app that I fell in love with for its simplicity and visual appeal.  Check out the Lift app.

For the next 21 days I'm going to track the following habits.  Track along with me!

FYI...You have to spell and capitalize the exact same way as me if you want to track along with me:

  1. Exercise
  2. Floss
  3. Meditate
  4. Self Myofascial Release

Morning Routine Ideas

IMG_0289 I believe that having a morning routine is crucial for success.  Personally, I feel that my morning routine centers me and prepares me to make a masterpiece out of my day.  My morning routine is so important to me because it is my time to be alone with myself and my thoughts.

I work with people all day long, engaging with them to help them reach their goals.  My clients have my full attention when we are together.  I love what I do and I love helping people, but I also need to balance my day with time for myself to focus on my own personal growth and goals.  Enter the morning routine.

My Current Morning Routine (looks something like this most days)

-  Wake up between 5:00-5:30 am.  As my first foot hits the floor I say "thank" and as my second foots hits the floor I say "you."  I'm thankful for so many reasons, but in this case I'm saying thank you for the day I've been given and the opportunity to make a masterpiece with my day.

-  Make a nutritious shake that I call my "sunrise shake"

-  Stretch and exercise circuit (15 to 20 minutes)

-  Meditate (15 to 30 minutes)

-  Prepare for my day by reviewing my schedule and writing out my daily goals

-  Write in my journal

-  Enjoy breakfast and coffee

There is one thing that is really important to keep in mind.  Think of your morning routine, and entire daily routine, as the rhythm to a song.  The rhythm of a song can be slowed down or sped up depending on what the artist is trying to do with the song and the setting.  If the artist wants to ease the mood and give the song a more relaxed vibe he will play slower and softer.  On the other hand if the artist wants to fire the crowd up and bring the energy he will play faster and louder.  Regardless of how the artist plays the elements of the song are the same.

Apply the same musical principles to your morning routine.  When I don't have as much time for my morning routine I strip it down to the essentials and move through it a little more quickly with a sense of urgency (without being rushed...never rush your morning routine).  If I have more time or wake up feeling like I need to relax my mind I will spend more time on each element of my routine, particularly meditation and journaling.  The point here is that the elements of  your morning routine should stay consistent even if they shrink and expand depending on the day and your needs.  You instinctually know what you need.  Get in touch with and listen to your instincts.

Some ideas for your morning routine courtesy of me and Leo Babuata:

  • Have coffee or tea
  • Exercise
  • Meditate
  • Stretch/Yoga
  • Take a bath
  • Read
  • Eat breakfast
  • Journal or write
  • Take a walk
  • Write out your daily goals or To-Do list
  • Review goals
  • Prepare food for the day

The Island Story That Will Answer 97% of Your Nutrition Questions

IMG_0450
IMG_0450

The second step of the Rebirth Body Transformation series after assessing your Point A is to begin to plan a strategy to get to Point B. I believe the scientific term for this step is called connecting the dots. The purpose of today’s blog is to begin giving you a clear illustration of the right path so you know what to look for.

Today, I am going to focus on the nutritional path. Rather than give you a list of foods you should eat and another list of foods you shouldn’t eat, I want to tell you a story that will empower you to make good decisions on your own. If I just give you a list of foods, it would be either unbelievably long or leave much to be desired. I would also be catching a fish for you rather than teaching you to fish. After the following story you will be a pretty darn good fisherman (or fisherwoman).

The Island

Here is the scenario. We find ourselves along with a contingent of close friends and family deserted on a tropical island with no way to get off. Picture the Hawaiian island of Kauai. I like to envision Kauai because it fits the specifications of this story perfectly and because I would love to move there some day (do yourself a favor and take a vacation to Kauai).

For those of you that aren’t familiar with Kauai, I’ll do some more detailed explaining about our current situation. Kauai is a tropical paradise. It is where Jurassic Park was filmed. As far as islands go, this would be the one to be stranded on. The island gets an abundance of rainfall and sunshine. The soil is excellent too. There is lush vegetation everywhere. Almost anything you can think of could grow here.

Once we have all gotten over the shock of waking up on this tropical island together, we decide that it is probably best that we do some exploring to get a feel for our surroundings. Our large group splits up into three smaller groups to canvas the island in a day and then meet back at the beach where we started. The first group decides to walk around the island to check out the beaches and to get an idea of what the coastline is like. The second and third groups decide to walk inland and split the island into halves to explore. One group covers the east side of the island and our group decides to do recon on the west side.

Upon our first inspection of the island we find evidence that humans have lived here before. While doing recon in some caves our group finds very basic tools for farming and hunting (score). It looks like we have hit the jackpot. We have found ropes, harnesses for plow animals, the plows themselves, shovels, pick axes, hoes, spears and an assortment of other farming and hunting tools. So far things are looking good for us (now if we could just find steak).

By the time we pack up all the tools it is starting to get late so we decide to head back to the beach. On our way back we discover herds of wild cattle and sheep grazing in the foothills (our prayers are answered…is bacon asking for too much?). Further along the path back to the beach we meet up with the group that was responsible for exploring the east side of the island. They tell us that the east side of the island is mostly forest. In the forest they saw signs of animals we can hunt for food like wild pig, deer, and rabbit to name a few (BACON!!! Lets go for broke, I’m asking for satellite tv). One of the more nimble in our group climbed into a tree to see if she could find squirrel nests. She hit the jackpot finding squirrels and their nuts (if you laughed you need to grow up…that was a test).

We continue our walk back to the beach when a couple that was walking in the back start yelling with excitement. They have found an assortment of berry bushes. If this is starting to sound like a dream in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, you’re right.

When we get back to the beach the third group is waiting for us with good news and fish cooking on a fire. They found some great fishing spots that are easy to access and some springs with fresh water. A small contingent of the third group decided to follow the spring inland only to discover a rich area of forgotten farmland with some vegetable crops still growing. It wasn’t in the best condition, but they say it looks like whoever was here before us successfully farmed the land and left us something to get started with.

All things considered we are looking pretty good. There is no electricity or modern engineering for us to use on the island, but we have plenty of wildlife to sustain us with a climate and land that holds a lot of promise for gathering, farming and agriculture. If we can somehow find satellite television in time for the next season of Sons of Anarchy I would consider this paradise.

Answering Your Nutrition Questions with a Question

Can I find this food on Tanner’s Tropical Island?

If you can answer yes to that question when you are at the grocery store or ordering at a restaurant you will be walking on the right path 97% of the time. I reserve the right to change that percentage, but at the moment I’m sticking with 97% with a high probability I will lean to 98% in the near future.

I also challenge you to think more critically about this scenario. If you do you will be rewarded with better answers and better diet decisions. Here are some hints and questions that I will pose for you to help you peel this onion:

- Time management is critical on the island. There is a limited amount of daylight on this island to hunt, farm and gather food. Start to think of time management on the island as a metaphor for your daily food menu. Spend your time wisely. - Does it make more sense to hunt and kill a wild pig full of protein and quality fats that will feed and fuel us for days or to spend all day gathering berries that will go bad in a few days and have relatively little fuel for us? I’m not saying berries are bad, but they are better as snacks that we pick during a hunt to give us a boost of energy between meals while we work. - There is only so much land that we have available for farming and only so much land that we can farm. Which vegetables should we grow? Which vegetables are the most nutrient dense? What will give us the most bang for our buck? - We could grow wheat, but consider how much time, effort and man-power it takes to grow, harvest, grind, mill, blah, blah, blah, and bake. Is the time and effort worth the low nutritional value when that time could be spent hunting, cultivating and collecting more nutrient and energy dense foods. - How important does fat as a fuel source become? Think hard on this one. Consider the alternative fuel source. Strawberries and blackberries, for example, are a great snack, but when was the last time you spent all day performing manual labor and then satisfied your ravenous hunger with fruit? Does a juicy rib-eye with mixed greens, avocado, and asparagus sound more up your alley? - Trail mix is for the trail. - It makes sense to ferment our veggies so they have a longer shelf life and so that we can get the benefit of all the healthy bacteria in fermented foods. These bacteria boost our immune system and aid in digestion. Eat fermented foods like sauerkraut, kim chi, and pickled vegetables! Now!!! - Native Americans are known for using every single part of the buffalo that they hunted. Take a page out of their book. Use every part of your food. It is the right thing for our bodies and it is the ethical thing to do. Eat meat on the bone, eat marrow and collagen and eat your organ meats. Your skin and joints will thank you one day. - Quick word on the animals on the island. None of them are raised in pens, pumped full or hormones/antibiotics or forced to live in their own excrement. They live free in pastures eating their natural diet. We should treat our animals the same way. You vote with your dollar. Money talks in America. If you really care about the environment and animal rights you had better start making the right decisions at the grocery store and the famer’s market. If you think it doesn’t matter you to watch the documentary Food Inc. - Our vegan and vegetarian friends can ask the same metaphorical questions as if they were on the island. Substitute questions about meat with questions about a plant based diet. If you have an ethical issue with eating meat I totally respect that. Based on my own experience and research I believe high quality, organic grass-fed meat that is humanely raised is the healthiest choice. However, I also respect everyone’s choices and hope that there is something that everyone can take from this without having an emotional response. The key is to avoid all the processed foods and junk that you couldn't find on the island. - I highly recommend the following reading. This is your body and your life. Educate yourself.

Eat Fat, Lose Fat by Dr. Mary Enig and Sally Fallon

Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon

Deep Nutrition by Catherine Shanahan

All of these books have a lot of great recipes! Try my Almond Crusted Salmon recipe and my Pinterest for some quick and easy recipes that I have pinned.

Connecting the Dots

Point A Point B
Point A Point B

I wasn’t a geometry major, but I do remember that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. If everyone had a definitive straight line drawn out for them that would take them from where they are now to where they want to be, we would all make like Johnny Cash and walk the line.  Body transformations would be a lot easier and I would be out of the job…Wait, that is my job!

Imagine having complete faith that this step-by-step guide would help you achieve your goals. In addition to having the plan you would also have the peace of mind that every step you took was one step closer to your goal.  A great plan is valuable.  Faith is priceless!

Point A - B Messed up
Point A - B Messed up

There is a question I have seen written that asks, “What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?”  Few things have inspired me as much as that question, or more accurately, my own answers to that question.  When you free yourself from doubt, your mind is free to focus on the present.  Western and Eastern spiritual traditions from the teachings of The Bible to the Bhagavad Vita teach that presence of mind is the key to happiness and enlightenment.  People also pay handsome sums of money to their therapists to achieve this state of mind.

I am not attempting to teach you how to achieve total presence of mind.  That is way beyond the scope of my expertise.  My goal is to help you reach your goals and to show you how you can thoroughly enjoy the process to the point that the journey becomes the destination.  First, however, I need to point out that you will never be able to walk on that doubtless straight line unless you have an honest assessment of where you are now, Point A, and a crystal clear vision of where you want to be, Point B.

Point A

When you don’t have an honest assessment of your Point A you are trying to shoot a basketball into a hoop blindfolded after someone walked you out on to some random place on the court.  You don’t know if the basket is in front of you, behind you, to the side or how far away it is.  It is safe to say that you are doomed before you even begin.

In order to take the blindfold off you have to be brutally honest with yourself.  You have to take responsibility for the fact that you are where you are at right now because of the sum total of your decisions and actions.  There is no two ways around that.  Deal with it and you can move forward.  Refuse to deal with it and you will be shooting baskets with the blindfold on for the rest of your life.

Your body is the way it is today because of the choices you have made.  Think of the way you move, eat, think and live as the language you speak to your body.  The way your body responds to those choices is how it talks back to you.  This is the cycle of communication between you and your body.  The way you move, eat, think and live tells your body how it should develop, feel, function, grow, shrink, stay young, age, progress, digress, repair itself, stay in a state of disrepair, fight off illness or be chronically ill.  When you become aware of this language you unlock a world of change.

The first part of the Rebirth Body Transformation is to honestly define your Point A.  A simple way I suggest doing this is to fill out a 7-Day Lifestyle Diary.  I have posted one on my Facebook Fan Page that you can download and print out.  Follow the instructions and fill it out in its entirety to get the most honest assessment of Point A.  Include any other benchmark measures that you would like to keep track of like weight, bodyfat, max push-ups, or max pull-ups to name a few.

Point B

“Your life is your tapestry and it should have great pictures, rich colors and a tight weave…Your life is your message.”  - Dan John

Before we cover the ‘how’ of fitness, you need to come up with the ‘why am I doing this?’  The crystal clear vision of where you want to get is your goal and your Point B.  To be more specific, your Point B is the lifesyle you want to be living that will allow you to achieve your goals.  Make no mistake, a body transformation is always preceded by a lifestyle transformation.  Living the same lifestyle you live now and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity.  That is a different program that I don’t teach.

A lot of people I have worked with in the past have a clear idea of their Point A, but a much fuzzier idea of Point B.  They come to me saying, “I want to be more fit,” or, “I want to be healthier.”  How do you define “more fit” or “healthier?”  You have to be more specific.  Someone at a networking group I am apart of once told me that specific is terrific.  As corny as that is you should apply it to your goal setting.  Also remember to make your goals S.M.A.R.T.

S – Specific

M – Measurable

A – Attainable

R – Realistic

T – Time bound

Part of any good strategy is good goal setting.  As with anything else there is effective goal setting and there is ineffective goal setting.  To paraphrase the great John Wooden, paying attention to details when you prepare a plan is and exercise in preparing for success.  Read my earlier blog to learn more about Effective Goal Setting.  If you are really committed to making a lifestyle transformation I suggest you take 20-30 minutes over the weekend to go through my Breakthrough Coaching Exercise.  Commit 5 minutes to reading Designing Your Ideal Day and I feel confident you will want to commit the additional 20-30 minutes to do the exercise.  The return on your investment of time is beyond anything else you could spend 30 minutes doing this weekend.  That is one thing I can guarantee.

Once you have defined your Point A and Point B you have taken the first steps to making a transformation.  In the next steps ahead we will draw the shortest, straightest line possible to connect the two.

Designing Your Ideal Day

BTC Exercise 1 graphic

The purpose of this exercise is to assist you in creating a life on your terms.  The key to creating an extraordinary lifestyle is to ensure that the design of each and every day fits your vision.  Everyone dreams of certain parts of a lifestyle, such as what car they would be driving or what kind of partner they would have, but people rarely use their dreams to design their entire ideal day.  The reason this is important is because once you have created the vision of how you want to live life everyday, the path to get there becomes clear.  Think of it this way: how can you hit the bullseye if you don’t have a target?

Follow the step-by-step process outlined in this exercise to discover your ideal life.  By discovering your ideal lifestyle you will also start to uncover what you must do to get there.

Find a place where you can focus without any interruptions for the next 30 to 45 minutes.  Once you start, do not stop until you are totally done.  The biggest challenge in this exercise is not limiting yourself.  This is your ideal day and nothing is outside of your grasp.

Answer the following questions:

Step 1: Starting your day

-        What time is it when you wake up?

-        Where are you waking up?  What is around you?  What do you see?

-        Who is with you?

-        What are you excited and thankful for as you wake up?

-        What is possible today?

-        What is the first thing you do when you get out of bed?

-        What is your morning routine?  Do you eat breakfast, if so what do you make (or who makes it for you)?

-        Write everything that comes to your head for the next 5 minutes.  Try to get as many details down as possible.

Step 2: Keep the momentum going

-        You’ve just had an amazing start to your day.  Now what do you do next?

-        Ask yourself Who/What/When/Where questions.  Who is involved?  What are you doing?  When or what time do things happen in your day?  Where do you go?

-        Also ask yourself how you feel throughout the day?  What is your energy like?  What are you excited about?  Are the projects or challenges you undertake captivating?

-        What does every step along the way in your day look like?

-        A few other things to get you thinking:

  • Describe your health and fitness.
  • Describe your emotional state.
  • What are your relationships like?
  • Describe your business, job, career, and/or mission.
  • Describe your financial situation.
  • What are you contributing?

Step 3: Finishing your day

-        Now you’re almost done with your ideal day.  Congratulations, you’ve had amazing day.  How do you end your ideal day?

-        What is your routine before bed?

-        Who is with you?

-        What are your thoughts and emotions like as you finish your day?

-        Write down whatever comes to your head up until the point at which you lay down and close your eyes to fall asleep.