Placebo Training

By the time you read this, I will have just returned from the Dominican Republic. In order to allow time to adjust back to real life, this is a re-post for your enjoyment. This was originally posted on February 18, 2013. I’ve made some edits for modern times.

Sunday morning, I decided to run a 10K, two laps round Lake Merritt in Oakland. Normally, I just run once round. But, I had some demons to shake off, so I set my RunKeeper app for a 10K goal and I began the run after doing some push-ups. I felt the blood pumping before my stride began. It had been two weeks since my last run. So, around mile two, I still hadn’t hit my rhythm. I kept pushing through it, thoughts scattered, lacking focus, then I caught a glimpse of orange in my peripheral vision. “Oh, this dude wants to pass me”, I thought. “I need to run faster and this ‘running partner’ has been sent here to motivate me”, was my second thought. My final thought was to run faster, smile and say thank you to whatever cosmic running coach sent this running partner to challenge me.
Orange shirt ran with me, pushing me to run faster as his pace was equivalent to mine, for about a mile and a half. Realistically, he probably never even realized that he was my source of motivation. We never spoke, we never engaged. I imagined that he was there to light a fire under my heels. Around mile 4, his run was done and mine still had 2.2 before completion. So, even though, I turned and realized that he had stopped running altogether, I imagined an orange shirt challenging me to run stronger up to the very end. There are times when faux medicine cures symptoms when we are told that it will. There are times when we are sent the motivation that we need because we believe that the ego stroke of winning will help to shake off the demons. I call it placebo training and you can write your own prescription. What do you need to see, hear or connect with in order to get you to push beyond your perceived limitations? When you’re lifting weights alone, do you imagine someone you trust spotting/encouraging you? When you’re on a long ride, do you imagine that you’re in competition with the other cyclists on the hill? When you go for a run, do you try to catch up to the pair of shoes in front of you only to run faster and try to catch the next pair of shoes beyond that? What’s your placebo for challenging your body through the power of the mind?

That’s your challenge for the week. You’ve often heard me suggest that you create a training mantra. I still encourage that. (Think of a set of rhythmic, positive words that – when repeated – will help you conquer any obstacle, with your mind. Your body will soon follow.) This week, I want you all to practice your visualization techniques. See the person motivating you, make it real and break through your previous limitations. Set some new personal records. Motivation is all around us, it comes in all forms. It’s our perception that differentiates between obstacle and opportunity. Tap into the abundant motivation that the world has to offer and take flight. Giddyup!

Any of you that have trained with me, one-on-one, know that I don’t listen to excuses. There is always a way to reach your goals. Watch this 2m:30s video and remember, YES. YOU. CAN.

Find Yourself Attractive

This was originally posted on 02/11/2013. But, I’m still in the Dominican Republic without Internet access, so please give this a fresh read until I have some new material for you.

Have you ever had the “naked at school” dream? Have you ever felt insecure about how you looked when leaving the house? We all have insecurities. We’ve been programmed (read: socialized) that way. All of this talk about insecurity is making me question things. What do you love about your (physical) self? I mean, just for a minute, one vain minute, look in the mirror and celebrate what you love about your reflection. Often, in class, when you hear me attempting to deflect self-doubt, I’m refuting use of the word ‘can’t’. But, we all know that self-doubt comes in many forms. Body image insecurities have kept people from joining gyms due to their fear of being judged by others. Let’s just clear the air. Everyone judges. It’s a part of human survival instinct to see someone/something and judge if it is a threat. In this modern age of stereotypes and conditioning, our judgments have taken an ugly turn. We all judge as we all are judged. The sooner we accept that concept, the sooner we’ll be comfortable in our own skin and just say, “fuck it, I don’t care what people think!” My challenge to you, this week, is to celebrate your soul as well as your physical vessel. Encourage your friends to do the same. We all have different levels of insecurities, some may need more of a boost than others. Before you begin any fitness program, a positive foundation built on what you love about your body, will take you much further than any sort of “I hate [fill in the blank] about my body” workout program.

I was recently featured in an article in the San Francisco Chronicle. The conversation was about men posing for boudoir photographs. When asked my opinion on why so many men are apprehensive about being nude in front of a camera, I spoke about people’s (men’s) fear of exposure. Naked, on a wall, in a gallery ripe for the judgment of the public. That sounds like a 3-D version of the naked at school dream! No matter how you gender-identify, does the thought scare you? Don’t let it. We are all judged and we all judge. Be comfortable in your own beautiful skin and never let anyone convince you that a fit lifestyle is a bad thing. I can’t speak for others. But, I love my life and I want to feel good as long as I live it. Let’s not workout because of some false “fountain of youth” promise, let’s not workout because of something about our bodies that we “hate”, let’s not do this for reasons of vanity. Let’s do this because we want energy for the entire day without energy drinks. Let’s do this because our bodies were never meant to be sedentary. Let’s do this because society should never dictate our leisure activities. Let’s do this because insecurities should never be the driving force in our life. Let’s stop talking about this and… Giddyup! Make it a great day!

Inspiration: Fitness

I’m in the Dominican Republic. This is a repost from February 2013 (with a few edits).

My double life finds me working as a Burlesque performer by night and a Fitness Coach by day. With such a full schedule, why do I sit down and write 500+ words a week? I do it because I hope that one of you will connect with my message. When I was in high school, I was the #blerd that read the broadcast announcements on the PA. At the end of each day’s announcements, I’d say some positive reminder to generate a smile or a sigh of relief to… well, anyone. My art teacher once said, “you know those kids aren’t listening!” I replied, “If one of them hears me, that will be enough.” Growing up, I had always hoped to meet that coach from the movies that inspires the team to win the big game. I looked for that inspirational figure in real life churches, schools, and gyms, to no avail. I kept running into cynical pessimists. So, I decided to become the source of inspiration. Let me be clear, I don’t wake up every morning with a goal to inspire people. My morning goal is usually, coffee. I do wake up with a goal to remind people not to doubt themselves or their ability. Most of you have heard me nix the word “can’t” in an exercise setting. We can do the challenging exercises. Even if we need to regress or modify it a bit. Yes, we can do anything. Why am I a Fitness Coach? I want everyone to feel like being fit is not some exclusive club. Any person can create any body they want. Why am I studying to be an Occupational Therapist? Some people really want to walk again, the people that have that desire need someone that believes in the possibility just as much as they do. Why am I a Burlesque performer? We all need a creative outlet. So many aspects of my life are so, damned, serious. I have fun performing and entertaining people. Working in the world of fitness is a natural segue to a physically demanding activity.

Here’s something to process for this week. I was recently asked for a summation of my fitness philosophy. In response, I wrote this. “Repetition, discipline and humility are the building blocks for accomplishing any fitness goal. Sporadic effort, placing wants before needs and holding on to ego will destroy any chance of reaching those same goals.” Recently someone told me that he wasn’t going to do what I’d asked of him because he had been “working out for 30 years” and “knew what he was doing.” An ego that size will never reach a fitness goal. When I place myself in a group exercise setting, I become a student and I listen. That’s the time to humble myself and follow instructions. When I do that, I always learn something new and I use that knowledge to make my mind and body stronger. When you’re working on your fitness goals, embrace repetition (the mother of all skill), discipline (doing the little things you may not want to do in order to accomplish a major goal), and humility (remembering that you don’t know everything). Keep that in mind and you’ll be stronger before you know it. #giddyup


Better Sleep, Focused Boning

I’m taking a two-week trip to the Dominican Republic this month. I’ll be without internet and won’t have time for new content. For the month of July, I’ll be re-posting some old blogs. This one was originally posted in January 2013. The title has been changed and a few other tweaks to keep your attention.

I hope that you slept well last night. I hope that you woke up refreshed this morning. I hope that you haven’t been frustrated by insomnia or anxiety keeping you awake. When I was a young boy, my mother taught me a simple lesson when it came to sleep. At the age of 4-ish, I walked into the living room and told her, “Mama, I can’t sleep!” She looked me in the eye and smiled sweetly. She pulled me close and whispered, “Do you know why you can’t sleep?” I shook my head ‘no’, in response. She said, “because you’re in here talking to me, now take yo ass in there and go to sleep.” My mother has always been the matter-of-fact type. I’ve always been a pragmatist, even at that age, so her words made complete and total sense. I just walked into the bedroom and went to sleep! Having trouble waking up in the morning? Do you hate mornings? Go to sleep! I know, I know, you’re not a kid. It’s easier said than done. “I have to look at these pics of kittens dancing with puppies on the interwebs!” “I have to check this one last email.” “Wait, let me just finish this episode of The Daily Show, my DVR is getting full!” Friends, go to sleep.

Over the past two weeks, I’ve gotten in the habit of no phone allowed in my bedroom. Bedrooms are for two things, sleeping and boning. TVs, Laptops, iPads, iPhones, Droids, and those sort of things are the antithesis of rest. “Oh, I have mine set to shut off at Blank o’ clock! I only reach for it first thing in the morning!” Go to sleep, shut off the electronics and just sleep. Get in touch with your imagination again. Have dreams about tomorrow morning’s run, ride, or weight workout. My challenge to you is to try it for a few days. If you rest easier, great! If you can’t rest because your phone’s not at your side, find a support group. If you’re already sleeping soundly and getting up early with no problem, you’re doin’ it right! I look forward to seeing you all with bright eyes and able bodies sooner than later.