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I’m a very political person.  I sometimes can’t stand how much I enjoy politics because it makes me angry.  Yes, this statement is a paradox.  I do not want this blog to ever be about politics (that’s what I have my twitter for) but I draw inspiration from everywhere.

I’ve been watching the Republican National Convention this week.  Before you start in on politics, I do not consider myself a Republican or Democrat.  In my opinion, there were some great stories that came out of this convention this week.  Senator Marco Rubio, who is my representative here in Florida, delivered a great speech.  I listened to him tell the story of his parents and grandfather who came from Cuba where they had little hope.  They worked hard and told a young Marco that he had the opportunity to make something great out of himself.  I honestly feel inspired when I hear stories like this.  I really feel like I can connect with this story.

When I was a young kid my parents were dirt poor.  Somehow they never let me and my siblings know and it wasn’t until I was in high school that my mom told me how bad it was.  Looking back, I don’t remember how young I was when my dad first started telling me I was smart enough to be President of the United States.  I feel that I’m smart enough to stay away from that job but my dad instilled in me a mindset that I could accomplish anything.  On a side note, my dad never stopped working hard and made something out of himself and inspires me daily.

I was a weird kid.  I enjoyed old movies, old TV shows, spent my summers with my grandparents hanging out with them and their old (to a young kid) friends.  I heard a lot of stories about the Great Depression and WW2 and saw how their hard work prevailed and how they were spending their retirement living on a lake with boats and snowmobiles (winter in Michigan).

Working out should be a lot easier than getting out of a depression, a world war, or going from rags to riches.  You can be successful the instant you start and continue to be more successful in a very short amount of time.  Draw inspiration from those around you whether you agree with their politics or not.  See things through the eyes of someone else and figure out what makes them tick.  Once you see these otherwise normal people doing extraordinary things you will start to believe that it is possible for you to accomplish your goals.

Thomas Jefferson wrote, “We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal”.  Go out and be inspired and then inspire others.

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Sugar And Magnesium

Self-Efficacy, or one’s own ability to complete a task and reach goals, is a concept I’ve been studying lately.  Not only have I been reading about it but iTunes U has lectures from universities about it.  This is a concept everyone should read and understand.

In my opinion, education is the key to everything.  The better you understand why you do something a certain way or feel a certain way, the better you can work to correct this behavior or feeling.  If I have no motivation and can’t get myself up off the couch to work out then there is a reason behind that.  Sometimes there is no other reason that you’re not working out other than the fact that you think your muscles will hurt or that it’ll be hard.  Finding ways to reverse this attitude is essential to being successful in working out or dieting.

There are some theories and methods used to explain the reasons behind self-efficacy.  While I am still working on my studies of self-efficacy, I am refraining from trying to describe all the theories behind it.  Usually, I try to give you, the reader, all the information behind the subjects of my post, today, however, I’m going to show you a couple of theories and ask you to read a couple of different sites on the internet.

Four theoretical approaches behind self-efficacy –

  • Social Cognitive Theory
  • Social Learning Theory
  • Self-Concept Theory
  • Attribution Theory

More information on self-efficacy and theoretical approaches can be found on Wikipedia.

I also found a study on self-efficacy that has been titled Goal Setting and Self-Efficacy During Self-Regulated Learning.

Now you have a goal, some homework and a little direction.  Do a little reading and some soul searching and find an approach that works best for you.  If you don’t read further then maybe I’ll write more later when I have a little more time and knowledge.

I started this blog as a place to track my progress while doing self experimentation with a workout routine that I’ve named the Minimalist Workout by Tim.  I was inspired by Pavel Tsatsouline and Tim Ferriss.  Tim Ferriss because he demonstrated self experimentation and encouraged it and Pavel because of some of the great advice he gives in his book.  I’ve started self experimentation on my diet as well and hope to inspire others to reach their diet goals.

So I’ve been on weight watchers for a couple of weeks now.  Previously, I was on the Slow Carb Diet from the book 4-Hour Body.  I switched up my diet in order to lend support to my wife who also has chosen to do weight watchers.  I was afraid that my body would not adjust well to the diet, most notably the sugar.  So far I’m doing well.  I gained weight the first couple of days but I have been losing steadily since.  I’m averaging about 2 lbs per week and I’m quite happy.

Something interesting happened on the slow carb diet.  The protein I ate was so filling that I ended up only eating about 1400 calories per day.  My goal, according to the research I did, was around 2,000-2,300.  When I switched to weight watchers I ate less and understood the need to eat a fair amount of protein each day so I could build muscle and stay full throughout the day.  I modified my breakfast a little from 4 eggs and two pieces of bacon to 2 eggs, 2 pieces of bacon and 1 cup of FAGE Greek Yogurt (0%).  This put me well over the 30 grams of protein goal for breakfast and sets me up for a successful day.  The rest of the day I eat three ham and turkey sandwiches (1 for lunch, 2 for dinner).  This gives me about 25 points for the day.  My target is 34 points, however.  The 9 point difference gives me a little bit of wiggle room to eat an apple like I did today or put some honey in my Greek Yogurt.

Why do I choose to diet this way?  Tim Ferriss talks about this in his book 4-Hour Body.  He found that people often have trouble sticking to a diet when they have to constantly be counting and measuring.  He recommends eating the same things daily and getting in enough protein in the morning so you’re not hungry.  This has been the #1 thing that has helped me become successful.  In fact, there are times when I do not eat these same things on a particular day.  Weight Watchers builds in weekly points which you can add in anywhere you want.  For the most part I save them for Saturday and have a cheat day but yesterday I was out all morning and ate taco bell.  I didn’t worry about what I ate, and did not count points.  I had taco bell for lunch, two sandwiches and a salad for dinner last night and lost weight this morning.  I feel as if I’ve finally cracked the code for eating.  Slow carb diet got me to eat less and benefit more and weight watchers allows me to eat more fun foods, in moderation, at certain times and still lose weight.

Working out hasn’t materialized the way I wanted this week.  Yesterday I made myself quite busy and today is my early day at work.  While my body is kicking me and telling me to work it (it’s actually become quite a good habit) I haven’t done a single rep since Monday.  I’ll resume tomorrow, I will not beat myself up for it and I’ll start on my goal of 130 reps per day for 7 days again.  Next week’s work schedule gets me back to normal.

The Magic Diet Pill

I’ve been studying behavior lately.  Why do we do the things we do?  We do we quit when we’re just getting started?  Why is it so hard to start in the first place?  I’ve discovered that humans, as complicated as we are, are simple creatures.  Good and bad behavior, for the most part, seems to come back to conditioning.  When you were a baby your parents would smile, laugh, and praise you for speaking simple words.  As time went on they would stop praising you for simple words and start praising you for forming sentences.  If you said something wrong they would not praise you.  This system of reward / no reward (or even punishment) continues throughout your life.

As an adult you probably do not have a parent telling you how to act and rewarding you for working out or changing poor behaviors.  This falls on your shoulders.  If you would like to change bad habits then you have to be aware of them.  Start by tracking the parts of your life that you want to change.  Observe them and write down these behaviors in a journal.  If you sit on the couch from noon to 3pm every day and want to change this habit then write it down, observe it and acknowledge that you’re doing it.  Keep a food journal on a website like My Fitness Pal and find out what isn’t working with your diet.

After a week or two you’ll have enough data to see the problem areas in your life.  Set up a couple of short-term goals and a reward system for when you achieve these goals.  For example, I diet 6 days per week.  If I am able to stick to my diet throughout the week then I reward myself with a cheat day.  I try not to overeat but enjoy a couple of junk foods.  If I don’t achieve this goal then I have to pass up my cheat day, which is Saturday, and go without those yummy foods.

You can set up a goal to workout 5 days per week for 3 weeks.  If you do this then you can reward yourself with a new outfit.  There are many ways to reward yourself and only you know what will help you achieve your goals.  Tracking your progress along the way is an important tool in the process.  Starting a blog, keeping a spreadsheet or simply writing your progress down in a notebook are all excellent ways to stay motivated and keep going.

This week I set my goal to do 130 reps of each exercise daily.  I’ve stuck to it doing 130 squats yesterday and 130 sit ups the day before.  By setting goals I feel as if I’m back on track even though I never stopped.  I simply have a plan laid out and something to work toward.  To me, strength and loss of inches are a sufficient reward.

I’d love to hear what your goals are in the comments section!

Life Is Too Short For Regrets

I got back on the treadmill yesterday and did week 6, day 1 of couch to 5k.  While my legs are quite strong and my lungs felt great for the duration of the run, my torso cramped up pretty bad and I didn’t know if I could finish.  I was listening to an audio book which has become a great tool because it provides a distraction.  With that said, the cramps were pretty bad and required a lot of stretching and deep breathing during the walking intervals.  I ended up pushing through it and finishing, but this morning my legs are quite tired.

After running yesterday I should have taken an ice bath.  I would have felt a lot better today.  I have no doubt I’ll feel better tomorrow but for today I understand the importance of my ice baths and the more and more I work out, the more and more I believe in the power of ice to heal.

If you are doing Couch to 5K, please do not take two weeks off because it’ll come back to bite you in the end.  Believe me, from here on out I’m running 3 days per week.  This is a goal I’m setting.  I want to do 3 days per week for the next 4 weeks.  I need to create some system of reward for accomplishing this.

Speaking of goals, I set a goal to do 130 reps of each exercise, each day, for the next week.  Yesterday I did 130 push ups.  I got a little lazy and could have done more but goals are there to be reached and I reached my goal yesterday.  Next week I’ll set my goal higher.  Instead of focusing on what I could have done, I want to celebrate what I have done.  It is important for people to focus on positive, rather than the negative.

Today I’m doing sit ups.  40 sit ups at a time.  My hope is to do 4 sets of 40 but the goal is 130 reps.

A mile is a mile

“I’m a Minimalist Workout Freight Train”

Yesterday I wrote a blog post titled “Setting Achievable Goals And Live Your Dreams“.  It got me to thinking about my own goals.  I haven’t been working with many goals lately.  It has pushed me back.  I have goals to write a kindle book which comes with shorter term goals of compiling research material but as far as working out, I’ve been without goals for some time now.  I want to set a few goals.  I’d like to set a goal to get in at least 130 reps of each exercise per day.  Yesterday I did 160 squats in 4 sets of 40.  This is a level that has exceeded push ups and sit ups which were once my top exercises.  At one point my right quad muscles were teetering on the edge of injury from doing a much lower number squats per day.  This took pressure off of me to perform at high levels and before I realized it my squats have become my strong point.  Now I’m a squat machine.

The sad thing is, I’ve done 200 push ups in one day and from what I recall, I got close to that in sit ups.  So why is it that I only did 80 sit ups a couple of days ago and have been under performing in push ups for a long time?  It is because I haven’t set clear goals that I needed to work toward.  I’m clearly capable of it and need to put more faith in myself.  So today I’m making the following declaration:

“I’m a Minimalist Workout Freight Train” 

In fact, I’m a runaway freight train and need to unleash the power within myself.  130 reps is a short-term goal.  It is a number I need to hit.  I’d like to do at least 160 of each but I’m going to set a goal to do at least 130 per day for the next week.  One week from today I’ll set a new goal.

I have never been able to do a lot of squats.  One of the things that discouraged me in the past was attempting to do the 200 squats challenge.  Day two of the program required me to do 26 squats in 4 sets.  I wasn’t able to do it and quit.  So you can imagine my excitement that I’m now able to do 40 in a row.  Not only am I able to do 40 in a row but I can repeat this three more times.  I could never have imagined that I’d say “I did 160 squats today” but I said it yesterday and I’m still talking about it today!

I need to celebrate my successes more!  Today is push ups day.  I am aiming high.  I am able to do sets of 30 but the last couple are hard.  I don’t like to push myself so hard but I want to increase my reps per set so I’m doing 30.  There’s no reason why I’m not able to do at least sets of 40 push ups if I can do this in squats.

My 4-year-old wants to use the computer now so I’m going to stop here.  Go out and be productive today.  You are worth it.

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