Thursday, December 29, 2016

Detox Diets


If you are like me then you probably indulged in a fair share of "junk food" over the holidays. After days of over-eating candy, chocolate, cookies, and eggnog, I was feeling sick.  A few days after Christmas my wife and I went to a local Brazilian restaurant that serves fresh organic salads. We split a large salmon salad and I could not believe how amazing it tasted and how good it felt to my body. It was almost like I was taking an antidote to some kind of poison. This got me thinking about detoxing my body.

I have always been intrigued with the concept of cleansing or detoxing one's digestive system. Over the years I have heard horror stories about undigested food in people's systems that was bogging them down and causing bloating. Some of these stories have even developed into urban legends involving autopsies on John Wayne and Elvis.

As appealing as a detox diet, may sound, I think it is important to remember that common sense, variety, and moderation should still apply. Our bodies have been designed with safeguards to protect us from toxins. Our integumentary (skin), immune, respiratory, and digestive systems all work hard to repel potential threats. The liver and colon are constantly removing toxins that we may have ingested. Even so, it may be beneficial to occasionally "cleanse" our systems by fasting or eating lighter for a period of time but I don't think people need to go crazy with it.

Detox diets can be a controversial topic and I know there are strong opinions for and against them. Some detox diets promote extended fasting or drinking just lemon juice, honey, and cayenne pepper or other specific ingredients for days on end. I think it is unwise when someone fasts too long or relies on just one type of food for an extended period of time. Some diets or cleanses might appeal to people when they are endorsed by celebrities and show amazing before and after photos over a short amount of time, but it is frequently water weight that is lost as opposed to fat. Using a cleanse or detox diet as a way to lose weight is not a good long term solution.

I'm not a dietitian, but I think taking a more gradual and long term approach is wise. This would include eating less processed foods and more whole foods which are rich in fiber. Drinking more water and eating smaller meals can also help. One of the best ways to detox your system is to never ingest harmful substances that can damage your body to begin with. Alcohol, drugs, and tobacco products can take their toll, so clean living will help you avoid many toxins to begin with.

You don't have to go on an extreme or crazy diet to detoxify and cleanse your body. You can do so by avoiding harmful substances, developing healthy eating habits, and using common sense.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

The Unhealthy Extreme Fitness Mentality

Over the years I've noticed a fitness trend that can be intimidating, unhealthy, and even dangerous. It is the message that you need to go 100% beast mode when it comes to exercise and fitness. I believe there is a time and a place to work on max lifts, beating personal records, and giving it all you've got, but that should not be every time you work out.

One of the places I see many of these unhealthy messages is on Pinterest with brash memes about how you need to push yourself to exhaustion. I created a page of examples of these types of pins you can see if you click on the link. These extreme memes and sayings are geared towards fitness, but they can also spill over into other areas of your life.

There is a time and a place to test your limits, but adopting the extreme mentality is not a healthy choice. I love seeing videos of people bench pressing 600 pounds, deadlifting over 1,000 pounds, setting world records in track and field, and recently seeing the Iron Cowboy complete 50 triathlons in 50 days. I can appreciate pushing the body and mind to their limits, but doing so on a regular basis can be unhealthy and dangerous.

I'd like to briefly address some of the more popular memes I've seen that probably have good intentions to motivate us, but can be dangerous if we don't use common sense:

"Unless you puke, faint, or die, keep going"- I agree we should not give up too early or quit when things get uncomfortable but saying we need to push ourselves until we vomit, pass out, or die is not a good idea because eventually you will do one of those 3 things.

"I regret that workout... said no one ever"-  I appreciate the message since many people skip exercise and end up on the couch watching TV instead, but if you have a shoulder injury yet persist in going to the gym and work on your max bench press you will regret that workout. Exercising when injured without modifying your workout is a recipe for compounding your injury. I have regretted many workouts when I didn't use common sense or listen to the feedback my body was giving me. Over training is a real problem for some people.


"Pain is weakness leaving the body"- Or it could be a heart attack, broken bone, nerve damage, a torn muscle, etc. I believe in the principle of the harvest  and that consistent efforts and sacrifice will pay off with results but we need to remember there are different kinds of pain. The good pain is the soreness you feel the day after working out, or the burning in your legs as you finish a set of air squats. Bad pain can be a sharp painful feeling or a nagging injury and if you keep exercising under those conditions it is not weakness leaving the body, but stupidity entering.

"You can sleep when you are dead"- Or you can die 15 years earlier from never allowing your body time to rest and recuperate. I can appreciate that we need to "seize the day" and get things done but not getting quality sleep will increase stress, cause weight gain, hinder recovery, and eventually lead to exhaustion.

"Second place is the first loser"- I am all for competition but I believe that competition should usually be with yourself. If you constantly compare yourself to others with more experience, better genetics, or those using performance enhancing drugs, then you will always be disappointed with your results and find yourself in the loser camp.

As I have aged I have learned the hard way that my body takes longer to recover after intense bouts of exercise and longer to heal when I get injured or sick. If I were to ignore the feedback from my body because I wanted to adopt the beast mode mentality of a meme I would have a very bad experience when it comes to exercise and my health.

I hope this post has not come across as a sour grapes kind of message. I have great respect for those who have difficult and disciplined workouts. I acknowledge the importance of incorporating intensity into your exercise regimen, but that is done by building up over time as your conditioning improves. There is a time and a place to go all out and work towards a personal best record but that is not every time you exercise. Exercise is a very personal activity and you shouldn't feel like you are being labeled a failure or loser just because you actually have a rest day and are not as extreme as others.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Focus on Flexibility

Flexibility is one of the most overlooked components of fitness. Flexibility is defined as the ability of your joints to move freely. When we think of fitness we often focus on strength, endurance, and cardiovascular conditioning, but if a person has impaired mobility and a limited range of motion, their performance will be impacted in a negative way.

There are many things that can cause mobility issues like disease or injury, but  many people today suffer from muscle imbalances due to living sedentary lives and more specifically hunching over a computer day after day. After years of doing this, certain muscles are stretched out and weakened while others or shortened and tighten up. 

The phrase "use it or lose it" certainly comes to mind when we speak about flexibility. Think about someone who has had a limb immobilized in a cast or sling after an injury for an extended period of time and how they lose the mobility in that joint when it ceases to move through a regular range of motion. That same concept comes into play in every day life in a more subtle way as we become less active and more sedentary as we age.

Activities like gymnastics, diving, yoga, dance, and martial arts obviously showcase the importance of flexibility, but any physical activity or sport and all of the everyday activities we do are easier if we are flexible. 

I have always been tall and have not had the best posture. I worked at a desk for 25 years and as a result I have developed a forward slouch like Shaggy from Scooby Doo. Last year I started doing Olympic style weight lifting and it was an eye opener to see how tight some of my joints were. When I attempted an overhead squat I had such limited mobility that I could only squat down a few inches. As a result I have made a commitment to improve my flexibility. I don't feel the need to do the splits or be a contortionist, but I know if I can improve my flexibility then my physical performance will also improve.


Good flexibility can increase your range of motion. It can also reduce risk of injury however in rare cases if  one's joints are too flexible they can also be susceptible to injury. Flexibility can help reduce muscle soreness after workout by stretching your muscles. Stretching is best done after a workout when your muscles are already warmed up. Remember it is safer to do hold a static stretch as opposed to ballistic bouncing movements. 

Over the years there have been conflicting studies done on the benefits of stretching as it relates to athletic performance but I am still an advocate of improving one's flexibility and I really believe the average person will benefit greatly by improving their flexibility. Just ask anyone who has a hard time bending over to pick something up if having greater flexibility would enrich their lives. Remember to make a place for flexibility training in your wellness program. 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

St. George Marathon

Back in 2007 I ran my first marathon. I was new to running and had no idea what I was doing and had only trained for two months prior to the event. I did great for the first three miles but then my injured knee got worse and I hobbled the remaining 23 miles. It was one of the most painful and difficult things I have ever done. Since then I have run the St. George Marathon twice and will go at it for a third time next week. I still never feel like I'm totally prepared when I run a long race but at least I know what to expect now and I learn from my prior mistakes.

St. George is a great course and has awesome volunteers. Here is a short video clip about it.



If you have ever considered running a marathon I encourage you to look into it. Take some baby steps and give yourself plenty of time to prepare and you will be amazed at what you can do.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Being In Tune With Your Body

Some people frequently ignore the messages their bodies are trying to tell them, but others who honor their body's requests will benefit from doing so. Being in tune with your body is an important skill to develop. It's like noticing the gauges on your dashboard. Some people have even turned it into an art form.  I once heard of an NFL receiver who was so in tune with his body that he could instinctively tell when his body fat percentage fluctuated by less than 1%.

Listening to your body may include things like taking a break from a workout when your "spidey senses" tell you to do so even though you've had it planned all week. WARNING: Don't use this principle to cop-out when you are just too lazy to exercise. There is a difference between simple laziness and listening to subtle clues that your body is giving you to take it easy or rest.

Nutrition is another area where this principle comes into play. Years ago I heard a woman speak who had struggled with her weight her entire life. She said the moment that really turned things around for her was when she decided to focus on enjoying her food and tried to listen to feedback from her body while she ate. She previously ate large quantities of food and never felt full, but now she sits down and takes time to really enjoy her food. She listens to when her body tells her she's satisfied and that has helped her maintain a healthy weight for years without dieting or having to avoid the traditional culprit foods.

I'm intrigued with the concept of tuning in and listening to the subtle clues your body is trying to tell you. There are times when I feel my body is begging me for a salad or steamed vegetables and it's almost like it's requesting an antidote to some kind of poison I've eaten. Other times you might feel that you are coming down with something so resting and taking undue stress off your body is the best option.

One of the reasons I like yoga, stretching, meditating, and deep breathing is because these activities offer insightful feedback and cause you to listen to your body. This can help you know when it is safe to really push yourself and when you should take things a little easier. I also believe it's beneficial to view your body as an ally rather than an enemy you are always fighting against. When you are no longer at odds with your body, but rather in harmony with it, you will be surprised at the positive changes you can make.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Intensity- The Magical Ingredient

With any exercise program there are 4 variables: 1) Mode or type of exercise, 2) Frequency or how often you exercise, 3) Duration  or how long each exercise bout lasts, 4) and Intensity which is how hard the body is actually working.

If you don't feel like you are getting results from your workout, then increasing the intensity of your exercise might be the missing piece of the puzzle. I frequently see people hanging out for hours in the gym. If you are one of the people who are at at risk for getting a loitering ticket while you are at the gym, then it's probably time to turn up your intensity.

How to Measure Intensity

1. Monitor your heart rate. This is best done with a heart rate monitor. Remember your maximum heart rate is your age subtracted from 220. Unless you are a beginner, you should shoot to work at 70% of your MHR or higher.
2. The talk test. If you can easily carry on a conversation with a friend while working out, you may be taking it too easy. However, during the last marathon I ran, I noticed two women in front of me gabbing away for several miles while I was dying trying to keep up with them. I guess there's always an exception.
3. The perceived exertion scale. This is a very simplified way to determine intensity. There are many variations of the scale and it's not as objective as measuring your heart rate, but I kind of like the simplicity of using the 0-10 scale of 0 being totally relaxed and at ease and 10 being I am going to die!

Here are some ideas that can help you increase your intensity.

1. Time yourself. Working against the clock can do wonders to giving you a tougher workout. Just remember not to compromise safe form.
2. Work out with or in front of others. You are less likely to take 3 minute breaks between sets and loaf around during exercise if others are watching you work out.
3. Choose more intense activities and exercises. Rather than just walking or jogging, you may want to try sprinting. This is a very intense activity that will use all of your muscles. You may also want to try plyometrics or full court basketball instead of half court games or swimming laps instead of water aerobics.
4. Keep track of your personal best records. Know your personal best as it relates to push ups, pull ups, crunches,1 mile run, 1 rep max, etc. Having a prior record to occasionally work towards beating can be very motivating.

One of the benefits of the CrossFit movement is that it really increases intensity by incorporating several of these concepts. High Intensity training has several advantages over steady state exercise. I still think activities like jogging and walking are beneficial, but if you are looking to take things to the next level then you may want to re-evaluate the intensity level of your workout.

One word of warning. Exercising with intense ballistic movements is more likely to cause injury, so make sure that you have prepared your body for intense activities by slowly building up a foundation of strength training over time and make sure that you are sufficiently warmed up before you engage in intense exercise. 

Monday, August 15, 2016

Cooking With Fewer Calories

I'm not the kind of person who obsesses over calories, but if you want to reduce the number calories you consume, then it's wise to look for easy opportunities to do so. Consider making the following substitutions the next time you are cooking or baking in order to help you reduce the caloric content of your food.


1 cup of white sugar (774 calories) vs. sugar substitute (0 calories)

3 whole eggs (231 calories) vs. one whole egg and 3 egg whites (130 calories)

1 tablespoon of butter (150) vs. cooking spray (6)

1/2 cup butter (814) vs. 1/2 cup of applesauce (50)

1 cup of sour cream (492) vs. 1 cup fat-free sour cream (233)

8 oz. cream cheese (793) vs. 8 oz. fat free cream cheese (255)

1/4 cup mayonnaise (229) vs. 1/4 cup fat free mayonnaise (45)

Another great way to decrease calories when it comes to carbohydrates is to eat more vegetables as opposed to breads, pastas, cereals, etc. You can eat a ton of vegetables without running up your calorie count as long as you aren't smothering them in high fat dressings.

As you can see, making simple substitutions can make a big difference in the overall number of calories you consume over time. Many foods still taste good if the high calorie ingredients are slightly decreased from what the recipe calls for.  I substituted applesauce for syrup years ago and can't bring myself to eat syrup any more since it's just too sweet.

Calorie content is still only one part of the overall food equation. There are also factors of taste, texture, smell, flavor, satiety, and overall nutrition which may change for better or for worse when you switch high calorie ingredients with lower calorie substitutes.

Keep in mind that there are also some low calorie foods that just may not have the same nutritional value and may actually be less healthy than their higher calorie options so you don't want to put too much emphasis on just calories, but if you need to lose weight and you have an out of balance energy equation (more calories being eaten than you burn each day), then it is wise to look for easy ways to decrease your calorie consumption.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

The Crossfit Games

The annual Crossfit Games will be held July 19-24th and I am pretty excited. I have really only dabbled in Crossfit as a participant. I worked out at a local box last year for nearly 6 months and quickly learned how bad I am at Olympic lifts and gymnastics skills but I still loved the workouts and the conditioning results I got.

Even though I'm not much of a Crossfit athlete, I am pretty well versed as a spectator since I have followed the games closely over the last several years. I love basketball, football, UFC, and many other sports, but I would much rather watch the Crossfit games than any other sporting event. I know there are many Crossfit and Dave Castro haters out there and I will be the first to admit there are aspects of the sport that I don't care for but I still think the games are so entertaining.

The open and regional games are over now and the top 40 qualifying men and women from around the world will be competing for the "fittest on earth" title in Carson, CA this month. I have decided to make my predictions for the upcoming contest. Here's who I think the top 10 finishers will be for the men and women participants.

Men's
1. Matt Fraser
2. Josh Bridges
3. Ben Smith
4. Dan Bailey
5. Noah Ohlsen
6. Bjorgvin Gudmondsen
7. Scott Panchik
8. Roy Gamboa
9. Jacob Heppner
10. Jonne Koski

Women's
1. Sara Sigmunsdottir
2. Kara Webb
3. Sam Briggs *
4. Katrin Davidsdottir
5. Annie Thorisdottir
6. Emily Bridgers
7. Camille Leblanc-Bazinet
8. Lauren Fisher
9. Tia Toomey
10. Alethea Boone

*Briggs has a visa issue and may not be able to come over from England before it is resolved.

I really like the format of having several events spread out over just a few days. The already insanely conditioned athletes are really put through a lot since they have very little down time to recuperate and heal between events. I love the variety of activities as well as the sheer number of participants. There are so many variables when you look at the athlete's different personalities, strengths, weaknesses, and experience they bring to the games. Here is a brief video recap of last year's contest.



I can't wait!

Monday, May 9, 2016

2016 Montana Spartan Beast Recap

Over the weekend I participated in the Spartan Beast race at Flathead Lake Montana. The terrain around Kalispell, MT and the lake was beautiful. The temperature was perfect in the mid 70's. This was my first Montana Spartan race so even though I knew to expect running up and down mountains and doing burpees, I was unsure of any other details that this particular course offered.

I got checked in, checked my bag, and found the porta-potties with just a few minutes before my heat started. I'd recommend showing up early when you do a Spartan race. The race started with a short run up a hill then was followed by the first obstacle which was the monkey bar challenge. I lost my grip and did 30 burpees right off the bat to start the race. The next most memorable challenge was a sand bag carry that went straight up a very long, straight, and steep path and then back down again. I was shocked how long it took and my calves were on fire by the time I finished.

There were several wall jumps throughout the course which I enjoyed. I didn't have a problem with the rope climb and I loved the sand bag rope pulley. There were several log carries, tire flips, sled pull, atlas balls, an upside down latter traverse, cargo nets, etc.

My next setback came at the spear throw. I hit the target but it did not stick so I got 30 more burpees. This year there was a new challenge when you got to the station you'd look up the last two digits of your bib number on a board and had to memorize a code. Mine was Mike 210-3411. About 40 minutes later you got to a station where you had to recite it back correctly or do burpees. I was surprised how many people had forgotten their code. It offered some variety to have them throw in a mental challenge during the course to see how well your mind does while under intense physical stress.

The biggest surprise this year was how dry the course was. We didn't really get into any mud until about half way through the race and even then it was only knee high mud levels. I am not complaining since I've run some very muddy courses that keep you bogged down the whole time so this was nice. The course also offered quite a bit of shade and many of the trails had been softened up from dead pine needles and rain from the prior days.

When I finally passed mile 12 I was expecting a quick finish since I could hear the music below coming from the finish line, but the barb wire crawl was very long and dry this year and it was strung extremely low. My clothes got caught on barbs many times as did many other runners. That was followed by crawling under a bridge and then being fully submerged in muddy water to pass under a wall. I was running hard and passing people for what I thought was the last half mile but then I got to the gravel bucket carry which went up and down a steep hill and I was really tired. I had to rest a few tines with the bucket before finishing. There was one last small mud area followed by a bar swing and ring traverse but my upper body strength and grip could not take it and I fell and did my last set of burpees which took me forever right before jumping over the fire to the finish line.

I was a little disappointed with my time of 4 hours 57 minutes. My times for my Beast races have gradually taken longer each year even though I am moving up higher in my age bracket. I think it is hard to compare two separate courses since there are so many differences. Even the mileage can be off by a couple miles between two Beast races.

My only gripe was seeing many people failing the obstacles and trying over and over or being assisted by others and not doing burpees. I know the race is a personal challenge and there are people at varying skill and conditioning levels and my hat is off to all the participants, but it would be nice to know my time and ranking is not being compared to people who were helped and carried across many of the obstacles by friends without being penalized throughout the race.

The race was fun (as fun as running around in the mountains for nearly 5 hours can be) and I was glad to finish with only a slightly sprained ankle and sore hamstring but no serious injuries. I am going to earn the trifecta this year so I was glad to get the hardest race out of the way first. The course terrain is beautiful as is the surrounding areas around Kalispell. It was a 10 hour drive but was worth it. I recommend the Montana Spartan for anyone looking for a challenging race.

Monday, April 18, 2016

May Exercise Variety Challenge

With Spring upon us and weather improving each day, it's time for a new challenge for the month of May. If you are like me, you may find yourself in a fitness rut always doing the same kind of exercises or workouts over and over again. In an effort to get people to try something new I am offering the May Exercise Variety Challenge

During the month of May I'd like to challenge people to see how many of the following exercises or activities they can do. In order to count, you just need to participate in any of the activities listed below one time for a total of 20-30 minutes. See how many new activities you can try between May 1st through May 31st.

If you haven't played tennis since junior high, now you have an excuse to go out and make a fool of yourself. Never been to an aerobics, zumba, or yoga class? Now you have a reason to check it out. You may not be interested in some of these activities but you never know until you try. Don't try and use the green eggs and ham excuse until you have actually given it a shot.

See how many of the following activities you can do during the month of May.

1.  Running/Jogging
2.  Weight Lifting
3.  Biking/Spinning
4.  Swimming
5.  Walking
6.  Yoga
7.  Hiking
8.  Basketball
9.  Volleyball
10. Tennis
11. Ultimate Frisbee
12. Soccer
13. Rollerblading
14. Wall or Rock Climbing
15. Eliptical Machine
16. Aerobics class
17. Racquetball
18. Dancing
19. Crossfit
20. Pickle Ball
21. Tai Chi
22. Pilates
23. Martial Arts
24. Zumba
25. Stair Climber
26. Golf
27. Jump rope
28. Horseback Riding
29. Baseball/Softball
30. Rowing Machine

Join the Facebook group of participants at the highlighted link.

See how many of these 30 activities you can do during the month of May. The winner will get recognition and a prize. Remember to get a physician's approval before starting any exercise program.

Monday, March 7, 2016

The Importance of Nutrition

It is obvious that both good nutrition and exercise are necessary in order to get in shape. Asking which is more important is kind of like asking if it is more important to breathe in or breathe out. When I was younger I used to think that exercise was more important, but with time, I have learned to appreciate the role diet plays. I would actually say the results a person gets are about 70% due to diet and 30% to exercise.

Years ago while I was training in a big gym I conducted an informal survey over the course of a year. I asked people what percent of their fitness success they attribute to nutrition vs. exercise. I noticed some interesting trends. Typically those who put equal or greater emphasis on exercise were: 1) new to the gym, 2) more out of shape, or 3) younger with more forgiving metabolisms.

I then asked some of the people who were in incredible shape. These are the physical specimens that people stare at and tell their trainers they want to look like them. Without exception, everyone in the "fitness model physique" group attributed nutrition to be 65-80% of their results. These people obviously knew exercise is important too since they worked out religiously and I always saw them at the gym, but they had learned to fine tune the art of fueling their bodies properly.

Eating right can be more difficult than exercising. If you train hard, you can get a good workout in less than an hour, but the challenge of nutrition lasts all day long. Think about it, giving everything you've got for one last set of an exercise takes some mental toughness, but it is even harder to resist tempting food or overeating during the rest of the day when you are at work or home. Healthy eating requires not only the discipline to avoid unhealthy foods, but the planning and foresight to eat the right kinds of food throughout the day.


Both exercise and nutrition are important, but many of us are guilty of putting too much emphasis on exercise. If you haven't been taking what you eat seriously, I challenge you to clean up your eating for several weeks and take note of the changes it makes.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

2016 Triathlon in a Month

I am excited to announce that it's nearly time for the fourth annual Your Fitness Quest Triathlon in a month which will take place during the month of March. Before you start making excuses why you can't do this, let me first clarify that the event is free, then address the 3 biggest excuses I have heard in that past.

1) You are a bad swimmer or you don't have access to a pool.  I can relate to this since I am a horrible swimmer and do a good portion of my swim mileage on my back. Just go to a local pool and knock out the swim portion over several days. It doesn't matter how deep it is or what stroke you use.

2) You don't have a bike or helmet or it's too cold outside. I haven't owned a bike for over 30 years so I just use a stationary bike at the gym. You can do the same if you don't have a good bike or ideal biking conditions. You can even watch a video while you do it.

2) Many people say they can't run due to knee or other injuries. You can walk the running portion and it still counts. If you watch triathlons you will see fatigued runners doing the same. If you need to avoid high impact activities like running you can still complete the mileage by walking.

Enough with the excuses. Our job is to figure out solutions to our problems. Anyone who really wants to accomplish this can. So just make the decision and get started with us on March 1st.

This triathlon is unique because it is one you can do at your own pace. Very few people are able to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, then run a full marathon of 26.2 miles in one day. Some of the elite finishers of this event are able to complete the entire 140.6 mile relay in under 9 hours. My hat is off to the hard core endurance athletes who are able to do this, but I think that's a little extreme and daunting for the general population. That is why I like the idea of completing a full blown triathlon but doing it over the course of a month.


Some people think that taking an entire month to complete it is too easy for them while others doubt they could ever do it. That is the beauty of doing it at your own pace. If you are already in great shape, then go for it and try to finish it in a couple days or within a week. If you know it will be hard and challenging for you, then just chip away at it day by day and take the entire month to accomplish it. Luckily you won't have the usual 17 hour cut off time to qualify that they do at the Iron Man Triathlon. You technically have 744 hours to complete it!

This is a great opportunity to improve your conditioning if you've gotten out of shape since the holidays. It's also a great way to actually complete a triathlon without wreaking havoc on your body. I've received a lot of positive feedback in the past by the many people who went way out of their comfort zones to participate in this event.

Because this is a do it on your own event, we are on the honor system and you are also able to do it at your local gym or home. The only rule is that you don't start keeping track of your mileage until March 1st. You can do all the swimming at once or combine events each time you work out as long as you eventually complete the mileage totals for each category.

If you'd like to join us, you can register by e-mailing me at tom@yourfitnessquest.com. I will send you the activity tracker sheet you can use to monitor your progress and will invite you to the Facebook event page where you will get updates, friendly banter, motivation, and encouraging messages. Registration and participation are free. Your Fitness Quest is not responsible for any accident or injury of the participants. Always consult a physician before starting an exercise program.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Push Ups

Push ups are a great exercise, but I've found that many people don't care for them or they are intimidated by them. Maybe that's because the armed forces are known for using push ups as a punishment. There are many different kinds and variations of push ups, so just about anyone can find a style that works for their fitness level.

If you are a beginner or don't have enough strength to do standard push ups, you can start by doing the easiest version which is leaning against a wall and placing our hands at chest level then leaning in. To add difficulty change the angle by moving your fee back further or using a shorter object to lean against like a retaining wall or standing at the bottom of stairs and doing push ups while putting your hands on the 4th or 5th stair.

The next level of progression are knee push ups (sometimes referred to as girl push ups.) I prefer to call them modified push ups. Rather than balance on your toes, you perform the push up while kneeling. If you can do more than 12 of these, you are probably ready to move onto regular push ups.

Poor form is a common problem when doing push ups, so try to keep your body in a straight line in plank position. Don't sag in the middle or raise your hips too high, It is also common for people to drop their head towards the ground when doing push ups so remember to keep your neck and head in a neutral position. Envision that your body is straight like an ironing board as you perform each push up and there is a line running through your ankles, knees, hips, and shoulders and head. Keep your core and glutes tight and come down far enough with each repetition so that if there was a golf ball under your chest you would touch it.

There are many variations of push ups. Wide grip push ups target the chest more and close grip will utilize more triceps. There are also staggered push ups, weighted push ups, sphinx push ups, pyramid or diamond push ups, dive bombers, push ups with handles or dumbbells, negatives or eccentric push ups, and a variety of other styles. If you get bored with regular push ups or if you are looking for more of a challenge you can consider the following advanced variations.

* Elevate your feet up on a higher surface to increase the difficulty.

* Throw some plyometrics into your chest work out by clapping in between each repetition. This sort of explosive action will help you increase power.

* You can also perform them against a Swiss ball as opposed to a solid floor. This increases difficulty due to having an unstable base and will utilize more shoulder and core stabilization.

* For someone who is already very fit and wants to get extreme, try some Rocky Balboa one handed push ups or fingertip push ups, as Bruce Lee is demonstrating below. (Good luck)


Whether you are a beginner doing easy modified push ups, or an advanced show off who can do the crazy hard stuff, push ups should be a staple in your exercise program. They are simple, they can be done anywhere, and are very effective for strengthening your chest.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Your Fitness Quest Transformation Contest

2016 Transformation Contest
Runs from January 1st- April  3oth

Transform you body to a healthier you in a little over 3 months.
Instead of focusing on just weight loss, this contest will use judging criteria based on improvements in the following 5 areas:

     1)      Body Composition -40% of score     (determined with body fat testing)
     2)     Measurements -20%                         (chest, waist, hips, thighs, arms)
     3)     Aerobic Conditioning-15%                 (1 mile walk/run improvement)
     4)     Muscular Strength-15%                    (pushups and planks)
     5)     Customized Fitness Goal-10%          (you pick a personal fitness goal)

We will provide the initial assessment and consultation where you will weigh  in, test your body fat percentage, take measurements, do your initial fitness testing, and take before pictures. At the end of April we will retest and measure to see who has made the most progress in those areas.

There will be many prizes and recognition for the participants who make  improvements, but the grand prize is a trip to Oahu, Hawaii for a week with Tom and Becky in late August/Early September 2016! The trip includes airfare, lodging on the North shore, fun activities include visiting Pearl Harbor, Waimea Falls, the Dole Plantation, hiking Diamond Head, snorkeling in Hanauma Bay, relaxing at the beach and a day at the Polynesian Cultural Center featuring their amazing shows and Luau.


There will be one individual category winner and a couples division winner for the Hawaii trip. Anyone is welcome to participate but in order to qualify for the prizes, participants will need to be involved with and subscribed to the following services during the contest dates:
$200 per person per month or $300 per couple subscription which includes:

    1)      Initial consultation and assessment
    2)     Weekly Group Body Talk Call followed by a group training call
    3)     Weekly Q&A call for any questions or concerns
    4)     Private Facebook accountability group for participants
    5)     Raw Chef Wendy’s 6 week nutrition program
    6)     Weekly training e-mails
    7)     Access to weekly exercise videos
    8)     Free admission to Your Fitness Quest monthly events during 2016

You can still sign up for the contest until Jan.31st. That still gives you 3 months to transform your body. If you have any questions contact Tom at tom@yourfitnessquest.com.
       

Saturday, January 9, 2016

2016 Events Calendar

Here is a list of the upcoming events that I will be sponsoring this year. Mark your calendar for the activities that interest you most and more details will be coming out closer to each event date on the Your Fitness Quest Facebook page. Let's make 2016 a fun and healthy year. 

Your Fitness Quest 2016 Calendar

February 6th Resistance Training Class
Learn the basics of resistance training and how to safely and effectively exercise by using machines, lifting weights, kettle bells, calisthenics, body weight exercises, resistance straps, etc.

March 1st-31st 4th Annual Triathlon in a Month Challenge
Finish your own Iron Man length triathlon. You get the entire month to pull it off.
During the month of March swim 2.4 miles/ bike 12 miles/ and run 26.2 miles.
We are getting rid of the 17 hour cut off time so everyone can complete it at their own pace. It’s very doable if you are consistent and is a great way to improve your cardiovascular endurance.

April 9th Yoga Class and Flexibility Seminar
This class will teach the basics of yoga and will also include helpful information about how to improve one’s posture, range of motion, flexibility, and joint mobility.

May 1st– May 31st Exercise Variety Challenge
During the month of May see how many different types of exercise you can complete on your own. Choose from a list of 31 different activities we will provide and see how many of them you can do over the course of the month.

June 8th The Intangibles
Many people focus all of their attention on exercise and diet, but at this event we will talk about the intangibles like thoughts, friends, pets, plants, laughter, learning, service and how these simple things can surprisingly impact our health and give us a higher quality of life without making you sweat.

July 2 or 4th Group Hike up Y Mountain and/or 5K run
We will have a fairly easy group hike up Y Mountain for those of you who have not done this for a while. If you have never run a 5K race I will personally force you to walk, jog, or run the Provo Freedom Festival 5K so you can check that off your bucket list. It’s a great race and a fun environment to finish at.

August- 6th Hike Timpanogos Mountain
This is a more challenging all day hike if you go to the top of the mountain so we will help you prepare with conditioning and training several months prior to the actual hike. The good news is this hike is much easier than Everest. The bad news is there will not be any sherpas to carry your lunch.

September 10th Taking Better Care of Yourself Class
We will discuss getting better quality sleep, rest and recovery from exercise, stress management, how to listen to feedback from your body, etc. These little things add up over time and can make a big difference in your health.

October 1st Happy Healthy Holidays
We will teach you how to navigate the holidays without the customary weight gain, unhealthy eating, and stress. Learn how you can still socialize and enjoy the holidays without giving up on your health and fitness goals. You won’t have to dig yourself out of a hole when Jan. 1st rolls around next year.

November 5th Mental and Emotional Health Seminar
We tend to focus so much on our bodies that we sometimes forget that our physical self is also affected by the mental, social and spiritual aspects of our lives. Learn how to create a healthier balance in these different areas of your life.

December 3rd  Your Fitness Quest Client Appreciation Party

If you have any questions about the 2016 events or want more details, contact tom@yourfitnessquest.com.