Thursday, August 27, 2015

mediocre is the opposite of excellence

Terrible seems like it would be the opposite of excellence, but terrible is easy to fix.
  • You didn't workout last week? Pick yourself up and get back on track.
  • You've been eating everything in sight? Stop. Take a breath. Regroup. Re-assess your plan. And get back on track.


Mediocre is much more difficult, in part because you might not even notice it.
  • You've been working out, but maybe not with your desired level of intensity. Or maybe you're getting to the gym sometimes, but not as often as you had planned.
  • You're eating pretty well, paying attention to what you order, where you eat, and how often. But you're not losing any weight. Maybe you're rounding up on your calorie counts, or you might be grabbing a handful of snacks without even realizing it.


It's hard to get down on yourself when you're trying, and mediocre masks how hard you're trying.

Mediocre is frustrating. It robs you of your results. It fills you with hopelessness, and makes you want to give up, because you think you're doing the work but you're not seeing the results.

Changing your habits, and your body, and your health, is hard. It takes commitment, and it takes excellence.

Pay very close attention to your actions, and to your results. Keep a journal. Be reflective. Are you reaching excellence, or merely mediocre?

- Chris Butterworth

.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

fruit juicee - orange banana blueberry watermelon

Here's a summer fruit juicee with some ingredients you might not think to combine, but which tastes surprisingly refreshing together:

Ingredients:
  • Orange Juice - 8 oz
  • Banana - 1, peeled
  • Blueberries - approx 2/3 cup, fresh or frozen
  • Watermelon - approx 1 cup, sliced into chunks
  • Ice (optional) - just a couple-few cubes


Directions:
  • Put all the ingredients into a Magic Bullet cup. (or any other blender device.)
  • Screw on the blade cap.
  • Blend until juicee'd.
  • Enjoy!


orange banana blueberry watermelon fruit juicee


orange banana blueberry watermelon fruit juicee


Nutritional Information:
  • Approximately 300-350 calories, depending on the amount of each fruit.
    • 110 calories from Orange Juice
    • 121 Medium Banana
    • 57 Blueberries
    • 46 Watermelon
    • Calorie counts for fruit provided by calorieking.com



A fruit juicee makes a great whole-food-ingredient replacement for a breakfast or "snack-aisle" snack. It's also terrific for refueling quickly after a good workout.

Give this one a try and let me know what you think!

- Chris Butterworth

.

Friday, August 21, 2015

getting great results on days you don't want to workout

Some days you just don't want to work out, and there are dozens of reasons why:

  • You're too tired.
    • You went to bed too late.
    • You didn't sleep well.
    • You got up too early.
  • You don't have time.
    • You're too busy at work.
    • You woke up too late.
  • You'd rather go to bed early.
  • You're too sore from yesterday's workout.
  • You don't feel well.
  • You just can't get motivated.
  • You're battery is almost dead, and you can't workout without your music.
  • The weather's no good.
    • It's too hot outside.
    • It's too cold outside.
    • It's raining / snowing / windy outside.


These are all legitimate, yet none of them should be enough to stop you. Sometimes the very best workouts are the ones you didn't want to do.

When you can motivate yourself to get a workout in on the days that you don't want to - even if it's not one of your best workouts, you get very powerful results:

  1. Physically, you get a workout in. From a fitness standpoint, this beats the heck out of sitting on the couch or laying in bed.
  2. Mentally, you get a huge victory over that lazy devil sitting on your shoulder - you get to prove to yourself that you're more awesome than you thought you were.
  3. Surprise yourself. Sometimes once you get started, you end up having a great workout. I've broken a few PRs on days I didn't really feel like running when I started out.
  4. Illness remedy. Sometimes when I'm not feeling 100%, getting a good sweat on helps shake off whatever's been bothering me. On the other hand, if you're really sick, with a high fever and all those other bad symptoms - maybe that's a good day to skip the workout and stay in bed...
  5. Muscle stretcher. When you're really sore from a previous workout, doing a light workout can help stretch out your muscles and ease their recovery.


Missing a workout once in awhile isn't going to change your life. But getting into the habit of not workout unless conditions are ideal will - it'll rob you of your fitness. Let's face it - conditions are rarely ideal, and once you start giving yourself permission to skip workouts, it gets easier and easier to do.

Tell that lazy devil on your shoulder to shut up, then get up and get moving. (before you change your mind!)

- Chris Butterworth

.

Monday, August 17, 2015

delaying breakfast for good effect

"Breakfast is the most important meal of the day" - at least that's what I've been told my entire life.

I'm an early riser, and rising early usually means eating breakfast early. It also means, if you're a high energy person, that you're ready for lunch early. Or more to the point, that by the time lunchtime rolls around, you're starving (and ready to eat gigantic portions!)

Recently I made a conscious effort to delay eating breakfast, eating closer to mid-morning rather than earlier in the morning. And it's had a dramatic effect...

Early Breakfast
  • 6:00 - Eat breakfast shortly after waking up.
  • 9:00 - Get hungry. Either eat a mid-morning snack, or fight off hunger the rest of the morning.
  • 12:00 - Lunchtime! By now I'm really hungry, so it's easy to over-order, or to lick my plate clean and start searching for what to eat next.
  • Afternoon - Since I've over-eaten lunch, the same problem is going to persist between afternoon snack and dinnertime; I'll be hungry but I've already eaten too many calories to justify a snack. Then I'll probably over-eat at dinner...


Late Breakfast
  • 6:00 - Drink a small glass of juice, and some water. Let my body start working with whatever energy is still available from yesterday, or it can start converting fat into energy if I'm tapped out of reserves.
  • 9:00 - Eat breakfast, usually a fruit juicee. Plenty of easy to digest carbo calories to give my body a boost of energy.
  • 12:00 - Lunchtime. I'm starting to get hungry again, but not enough to make bad choices. Now it's much easier to order a reasonably sized lunch and be satisfied with it.
  • Afternoon - Since I stayed within my calorie budget, I can eat a small mid-afternoon snack, which should hold me over until dinner.


The golden rule of calorie counting is: "3,500 calories = 1 pound".

The corollary of the golden rule is: "Every 1 pound of fat in your body is 3,500 calories' worth of energy, just waiting to be released."

Give it a try. Delay your breakfast and let your body use all that extra energy being stored as fat. Then see how much easier it is to get through the rest of the day..

- Chris Butterworth

.

Friday, August 14, 2015

small. consistent. big.

Small, done consistently, becomes big.

We see it everyday, without even realizing it.

  • That guy in your office who used to be a lot bigger? He didn't just drop 60 pounds one day last year - he lost those 60 lbs a little bit at a time over the course of the last year. You just didn't notice it right away because each week's change was so small.
  • That friend of yours who's been posting on Facebook about her first marathon? She didn't just decide last week to run in the race next month - she's been training for it, running a little bit further each week than the last. Heck, she probably couldn't run a full 3 miles without walking on her first training session.
  • Those giant-sized, high school aged people living in your house and emptying the refrigerator daily? They used to be those cute little kids who looked so grown up ten years ago when you dropped them off at their first day of school. Turns out they've been growing and maturing, a little imperceptible amount each day, for a long time.


Today is probably not the day you're going to achieve your goal - your end goal will be the accumulation of lots and lots of tiny victories compiled over a much longer time period.

But today could be the day you lose your goal. Apathy, laziness, and just "not doing it" are the enemies of actions achieving goals.

Keep your eye on that big goal way out in front of you. And keep moving forward, one small step at a time.

- Chris Butterworth

.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Fit-20 Workout 08-04-15

If I could choose only one 20-minute workout to do, this would be it.

(Although that would be a horrible proposition, because I get bored with workouts pretty quickly, and I love trying new things - but all things considered, this is a great workout that can grow with you as you get faster-stronger-bigger (or smaller - whichever you're going for.))

20-Minute Workout
  • Running - 12 minutes
  • Rest - 1 minute
  • Push-ups - 3 minutes
  • Rest - 1 minute
  • Pull-ups - 3 minutes

Running
  • Set a timer for 6 minutes and go! When the timer beeps, turn around and head home.
  • I use RunKeeper as my timer, with audio cues set for every 3 minutes. I try to make negative splits, where each 3-minute section is faster than the previous one - 'warm up', 'get into the groove', 'pick up the pace', and 'push hard for the final section' - as a way to break out each 3-minute cue.
  • If you can't run for 12 minutes, start out by walking, then by walking with some jogging mixed in, then jogging slowly, before eventually you can run at a faster pace.
  • Jogging slowly should get you about a mile; running with blazing speed could get you two miles. I consider anything in the 1.5 mile (8-minute mile pace) range as pretty fast. 

Push-ups
  • Do as many as you can in three minutes, taking short breaks as necessary.
  • If you can only do a couple push-ups at a time, that's ok. Do a couple, take a short rest, and try to do a couple more. If you still have time left but can't do any more, try doing negatives - start in the up position and lower yourself down as slowly as possible.
  • When you can pump out push-ups with ease, up and down like a piston, doing 90 push-ups over the 180 allotted seconds, you'll be in great shape! Even then you can always add from the Advanced, Core, and Combination section of the Push-ups page.
  • You don't have to be able to do 90 push-ups before mixing in the core work or combination work, but I'd recommend being able to do 30 in a row - slow and steady with great form, before adding in additional difficulty.

Pull-ups
  • Do as many as you can in three minutes, taking short breaks as necessary.
  • I currently do three quick sets - pull-ups, chin-ups, and neutral grip pull-ups - with a short break in between each set. (The sets don't take long when you can't even do 10 in a row!)
  • Pull-ups are very difficult when starting out. You can stand on a stool or chair and do negatives (start at the top and lower yourself slowly), or you can use your legs to help lift/spot yourself. Try to use your legs less and less over time, until you can do a pull-up by yourself.
    • Once you can do one pull-up, it's just a matter of time and practice until you'll be able to do two, and from there the sky's the limit!
  • If you can do pull-ups for three minutes straight - you're like Superman, and there probably isn't anything I can teach you about fitness..

Final Thoughts

This is one of those workouts that's very simple, yet can grow with you over time. If you think it's too hard today, keep at it and watch yourself make great progress in a relatively short amount of time. When you think it's getting easier, simply turn up the intensity, just a little bit, and it'll knock you on your butt again!

I've been doing this workout a couple times a week since the weather heated up, and I'm both happy with my progress and frustrated by how much better I want to do. That's a good love-hate relationship to have with your workout..

Give it a try and let me know what you think.

- Chris Butterworth

.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

the optimal amount of exercise

We finally have the truth.

If you've read my writing for any length of time, you'll see a few recurring themes about how much to exercise:

  • Generally speaking, it's important to get up and move around - being healthy assumes at least a little bit of fitness.
  • Diet is more important than exercise - it takes an almost un-doable amount of exercise to out-run you're poor eating choices. For example, running for an hour burns about 900 calories (give or take), while a single chicken burrito from Chipotle can cost you over 1,000 calories!
  • There's not a perfect amount of exercise - some is better than none, and consistent is better than inconsistent, but don't get caught up in the arms race of "most fittest". Breaking a sweat for 15-20 minutes a couple-few times a week goes a long way towards being healthy.
  • Fit and healthy doesn't guaranty longevity, but being overweight virtually guarantees you won't get there. (I've never found evidence of an obese centenarian.)


Interestingly, I read an article last week on FiveThirtyEight (a stats-nerd's dream website - those of you not familiar with it should check it out.) where they looked at the statistical differences among people who walk-jog-run different distances and at different speeds.

It's a long, deep, intensive article (and still worth reading!), but here's FiveThirtyEight's conclusion (emphasis mine):

"If we take this research at face value, we learn a few things. First, some exercise reduces your risk of death. Second, the optimal walking/jogging exercise is light to moderate jogging. The optimal speed is between 5 and 7 mph, and if you do 25 minutes about three times a week, you're all set. Nothing in the data suggests that running more - farther, or faster - will do more to lower your risk of death."

Wow! Statistical evidence, compiled by people far smarter than myself, who agree that exercise is connected to longevity, and that the arms race to most fittest isn't necessary. That's great news all the way around.

Eat a moderate amount of real food and get a moderate amount of exercise, and you'll have the statistical advantage of being healthy in your favor!

- Chris Butterworth

.