Reason - a cause, explanation, or justification for an action or event.
Excuse - attempt to lessen the blame attaching to (a fault or offense); seek to defend or justify.
I hate excuses.
People give me excuses all the time for why they are overweight, didn’t attend a workout, or ate like shit. I agree, sometimes obstacles get in the way. If you truly want to change however, the first thing you need to do is learn what is an excuse and what is a reason.
First off, as soon as you realize that most things setting you back in life are an excuse, you need to rid them from your brain.
Excuses are everyday shit that we have to deal with in life that try to get in the way of reaching our goals. Excuses try to prevent us from our goals, and often do, but reasons are what really stop us. We want to find how we can eliminate excuses entirely and find our best approach to reasons to not allow them to limit us too much.
Traveling all day and couldn’t hit your workout? EXCUSE. You could have done something. You should have woken up 10 minutes earlier and hit a quick 10 minute AMRAP of 10 squats, 10 pushups, and 10 situps. You could have done that at home, in the airport, or hotel late at night.
Couldn’t eat well at work today because you had meetings all day with your boss, who isn’t keen on you snacking in front of her? REASON. You couldn’t eat because your job depended on it. Shit happens and I get it. Make sure you plan good meals for breakfast before work and have something available as soon as you are able to eat.
Take a step back and begin looking at these issues that pop up in your life. Is it family getting in the way? Your job? Or are you just holding yourself back? Now, ask yourself if this is really a reason you can’t do something about. Is it a cause, explanation, or justification or is it simply an attempt to lessen the blame for not doing it?
We all run into obstacles in our lives. Broken bones are reasons for not running a half marathon. But, not having enough time is an excuse. Time is a beautiful thing that is limited in quantity, but not in creativity. Time can always be better utilized and prioritized. When these obstacles pop up in your head, simply ask yourself if this is a reason or excuse. You’ll be surprised how many things you can immediately find solutions to.
Let me preface this article by saying this article is not intended to:
(1) say that women can’t be badasses and do anything a man can do (or do it even better)
(2) say that men have to be emotionless and hide their feelings.
(3) allow men to be assholes and should instead respect all humans regardless of age, background, or sex.
(4) say that all men are physically wimps, only a majority of them are.
(5) say men need to be the primary monetary providers for their families
It is intended to share that physical masculinity in its historic form has taken a huge hit.
Men have become weak.
Darwinism used to control our world. Only the strongest - both physically, mentally, and intellectually, would survive. Their genes would be passed along and only the fittest lived on. Survival of the fittest is now negated with who has the most money or access to healthcare (which often coincides), allowing for our physical abilities to be completely neglected. This has allowed men to become weak and fragile - and I want to change that.
I want to bring back the man in men. Men should be able to lift heavy, run long distances, physically protect themselves and their family, help thy neighbor, and explore the world around them. Instead, men are confined to their desk chairs, not playing in the yard with their children, getting out of breath walking from their car, and playing childish video games as their adventures. Side note - if you are a man above the age of, let’s say 12, and have any intention of getting laid or actually being a real man, stop playing video games. I’m sure there are ladies out there that are into that shit, but most think it’s lame. Because it is. And if I ever needed help unloading heavy stuff from my truck, I wouldn’t be calling the dude playing Fortnite, because no way that guy could be of any help with any sort of physical activity.
This isn’t all just about physical strength either. If I could rid men of one trait it’s complaining. What’s the point of complaining? All it does is make you worry about what you cannot control. Don’t like the rain? Don’t complain about it because you can’t do a thing about it. Don’t like your body? Don’t complain about it, do something about it! The term “man cold” was pegged for a reason. Step up your game men! Worry about the things that are in your control and shut up and take care of them.
So where do we begin? At the bottom of course. Men need to put their egos aside and trust professionals to help them out. In my experience, men have a tough time having a personal trainer or coach because they tend to want to do it themselves - they know better. But they don’t, so they need to put the ego aside and find help.
Next, that ego has to stay in the bag because when they do find help, it’s going to be hard and tons of people are going to be better, stronger, and faster. Many of those people are going to be teenagers and women. Likely, there’s even some teenage girls that are going to be stronger too! The ego has to be kept in check. Progress is made hour by hour and day after day. Know that and keep trucking along. They’ll get there.
Sure people can make money and hire people to do the heavy lifting for them. If they have accesses to great healthcare and there’s a good chance he can live for a long time, too. But, when a hurricane comes towards Florida, I want to be able to see our men help our elderly neighbors put up their hurricane shutters. I want to see men help a friend move a couch to their new apartment. I want to see men easily lift a keg out of the back of their truck. And I don’t want to hear men too out of breath to chase after their kids in the yard. I want to bring real men back. I believe we can collectively become strong and supportive members of the community once again. And if they aren’t willing, I know a TON of badass women that are currently putting in the work to do so.
Unless you are part of a meal delivery service, cooking in bulk to prep for the week is vital. An occasional meal out isn’t going to hurt your progress too much, but in excess will be detrimental. This bulk cook also doesn’t need to be 5-Star restaurant quality. Our weekly meals are fuel – we need carbs, fats, and protein. Keep it simple and save the duck confit with mango aioli quinoa and avocado tomato salad for your splurge over the weekend. Basic meals are easy and fuel the body well, don’t over complicate this shit. Simplicity is key.
If you have a typical day job, lunch plus 2-3 snacks are a minimum to bring with you every day. If you aren’t getting up early enough to make breakfast or if you get home too late to cook dinner, those need to be prepped also. We are going to dive into meals – snack info will come at a later date. Remember, both meals and snacks are required daily – EVERYONE needs to be eating frequently over the course of the day (every 2-3 hours).
There are two major ways you can prep your meals:
WEEKEND BULK COOK
Pros: Frees the week up from cooking, calories and macros can be perfect, super convenient to eat during the week
Cons: Takes away free time on Sunday, food isn’t as fresh toward the end of the week, variety can be tough
Much of what you see in social media when we refer to bulk cooking or meal prep refers to the weekend bulk cook. Here you will cook a ton of food, measure it out into Tupperware, and be set for the entire week. Some people will cook every meal for the week right now. Others will cook their breakfast daily, so all they need to worry about it lunch and dinner. Personally, I like my Sundays free and want fresher food throughout the week, so I don’t choose this approach. However, try it out and if it works for you, comment below on what you made to share with others!
COOK ALMOST DAILY
Pros: Fresher food, more variety, weekends are free
Cons: Daily time consumption
Personally, I cook almost every night. I don’t typically plan which nights I will and won’t cook, it usually goes by my day, how I feel, or our plans for later in the week. I enjoy the freedom of not being confined to a certain meal and I typically enjoy cooking. So, 3-4 nights a week, I cook, and I cook a lot of food! This gives me the freedom to cook what I want to eat that night and have leftovers for lunch the next day. I’ll typically also throw and extra meat and veggie in there too so a few more meals can be made. This gives us plenty of meals to eat throughout the week and allows me to skip a night of cooking when I want to.
Below would be a typical dinner for myself and my wife if I were cooking our lunches and dinners for next day or two. She will eat one lunch daily and I will eat two to meet our caloric needs. Both are around the size, but I am aiming for 3500+ calories and she is currently around 2000 calories. If you need more calories but can only eat one lunch a day for job reasons, just make it larger. I wake up an hour before I have to be anywhere to cook breakfast so that is not included in the (almost) nightly cook.
Time: 45 minutes
(4) Chicken Breasts
(8) Chicken Thighs
(1) Red Pepper
(1) Green Pepper
(1) Yellow Pepper
(1) Broccoli Head
(1) Cauliflower Head
(1) Bag of fingerling potatoes
-Salt and Pepper
-Coconut Oli Spray
(3) Burritos – tortillas, chicken thighs, brown rice, peppers/onions
(4) Chicken Breasts with roasted potatoes and broccoli/cauliflower
(2) Chicken Tights with brown rice and peppers/onions
Set Oven to 400. Spray 3 baking dishes with coconut oil spray. Put 4 chicken breast in one dish and season with salt and pepper. Put into oven (while preheating is okay) and set oven timer for 45 minutes. Wash potatoes and cut in half. Put into other baking dish and season with salt, pepper, and coconut oil. Put into oven (by now they will be in there around 35 minutes). Wash broccoli and cauliflower. Rub with coconut oil and place on a third dish. Put into oven (should be around 25 minutes to go). Begin warming 2 frying pans with coconut oil or spray. Wash peppers and onions, cut, and rub in coconut oil. Prep chicken by seasoning with salt and pepper. Cook thighs on pan for around 10 minutes on each side. Cook peppers and onions in another pan, constantly stirring vegetables for around 20 minutes. After thighs and peppers/onions are done, everything from the oven will be done as well as ready to be dispersed as you please.
Below is my breakfast I cook for myself and my wife each morning. Depending on the day I will swap out my carb (hashbrowns) and replace with another carb such as a bagel, toast, or fruit, but the meal always consists of protein, fat, and carbs and is around 850 calories for me.
Time: 12 minutes
Using two frying pans, put bacon into one pan and hashbrowns into the other on medium heat. Bacon will need about 4 minutes per side. While bacon is cooking, crack eggs into bowl. After bacon is done, put eggs into frying pan that the bacon was in. Flip the hashbrowns to cook the other side. Cook your eggs as desired. Once the eggs are done, the hashbrowns will be as well. BOOM! Breakfast is done.
Above are just some examples of what I do to cook the vast majority of what goes into my body. You need to find out what works best for you. Try cooking on the weekends. Commit to cooking almost every night. See what you enjoy the most and what sets you up for a lifetime of taking care of your nutrition. Just don’t overcomplicate it – keep it simple, cook basic dishes, and avoid having to go eat out every day.
Ever since I remember, we have been debating healthcare in this country. Every politician has their own opinion on how to fix it. In reality, we need to stop concentrating on how to pay for it and instead focus on how to prevent the need for it.
Our healthcare system is based around keeping sick people alive rather than actually curing disease. At first it surprised me when people sat down with me in our gym and told me their blood work came back with terrible numbers and THEY realized they needed to lose weight. They made the decision that change needed to happen. Possibly, their physicians told them to lose weight. Even better, he/she told them to eat properly, in adequate quantities, and exercise. However, that’s doubtful. Many just don’t have the knowledge to prescribe those things. They are experts in medicine and drugs. What I do expect from our physicians however is a general prescription for the factual cure to chronic disease (nutrition and exercise) and adequate referrals to the healthcare providers that can provide them with solutions.
Physicians in my eyes do a great job at referring other physicians in their network with specialties to help treat ailments that require special attention. So why is it that a diabetic or pre-diabetic individual isn’t referred to the specialist that can cure their disease? Personal Trainers, CrossFit Coaches, Nutritionists, Dieticians, among others look at the underlying cause of their disease and treat it. Often, it’s as simple as eating real food, in smaller quantities, and adding in some sort of exercise. Instead, these individuals are referred to pharmacies only to revert to drugs as their treatment option.
I can’t fix the healthcare problem in this country. It’s too large, too complex, and way too much money in it for a little voice like me to be of a major influence. What I can offer however is micro solutions – helping one person at a time cure their own disease. You don’t have to be a victim of your aliment. You are in charge of your life. Chronic disease doesn’t have to be a life sentence to being sedentary and on prescription drugs.
If you or someone close to you is in this position, please contact us so we can help.
DISCLAIMER: There are great doctors. Unfortunately, I just don’t know many of them, especially in the field of primary care. Luckily, it seems as if CrossFit Health is aiming to fix this and create a database of doctors that want to cure chronic disease, not just treat it. If you do know of any local physicians in the Fort Lauderdale area that do promote, have knowledge, and practice preventative healthcare through exercise and nutrition, please let me know as I would love to refer them business.
They say you are what you eat. But, you’re also who you hang out with.
There are no quick ways to being healthy. It takes lifestyle change and that’s the truth of it. Of my time in the fitness profession, the biggest game changer I see to succeed in your health and fitness goals is looking who you surround yourself with. If you are constantly around people without the same goals as you, it is going to be a huge uphill battle to succeed. When you surround yourself with likeminded individuals, it takes the temptation out of things that are currently holding you back and provides the support you need to flourish.
If you want to finally make change and become the healthier and fitter version of yourself, you have two choices when it comes to who you currently hang with if they aren’t on the same page as you with their health:
Yeah, it’s harsh, but it’s also reality. If your friends don’t want to support your in your quest for a healthy lifestyle, F- them. You’ll find new, better, and sexier friends soon enough.
Do it together
What better way to get healthier than to do it with your current crew. Going on this journey with a spouse, family, or friends is an excellent way to ensure your success. You’ll know what you each are going through and be an amazing support system.
Surrounding yourself with healthy people gives you:
Avoidance of temptation
You and your bestie have your first half marathon next weekend? You both will have no problem staying in this Saturday evening and watching a movie instead of going out. You’ll be hitting brunch after the race anyway!
My best friends all go to the gym and I legitimately miss them when they aren’t in class. When I text them later that day it isn’t to remind them they wanted a deadlift PR, it’s just because I wanted to hang with them. Maybe I care about their goals a little bit, but it’s mostly me being selfish.
Healthy activities and hobbies
Paddle boarding at the beach? Yeah! Rock climbing? Sure thing. Volleyball at the park? Let’s go! This is kind of blunt, but healthy people like to do cool shit. Find some healthy people to do cool shit with. Disclaimer: beer can be drank during or after this fun shit too.
Life’s unhealthy temptations are always surrounding us. Whether it is a bacon maple glazed donut or a jalapeño passion fruit margarita, my goal isn’t for you to avoid these pleasures altogether. Rather, instead I want you to find balance of both of these worlds. The problem lies when the ones who you spend the most time with are constantly pulling you in the directions you shouldn’t be going to very often. You need friends that will run with you at 9 am, then go to brunch after. You need acquaintances that back your decision to leave a party early because of your workout the next morning. And you need supporters that are running this race with you, not telling you to skip your Friday workout to go to Happy Hour.
An African proverb states that “it takes a village to raise a child.” This works perfectly for our health and fitness too. We are setting ourselves up for failure if we try to tackle it alone or without a support system around us. This journey is hard enough, so make sure you are surrounding yourself with individuals who not only support you, but make this trip of health and fitness incredibly fun and successful.
Is the “New Year, New You” a real thing or just marketing bullshit to get you to set some goals for the new year?
Here’s the reality: it’s up to you. And I’m into it.
Every year, people make their New Year’s Resolutions and January leads to an influx of people trying to become fitter. It’s so popular to make resolutions based around health and fitness because, as a whole, America is terribly out of shape. It comes as no surprise that when people look to better themselves in the new year, their health becomes a priority. And it should be!
We constantly debate and worry about our health in this country. Which diet is best? What style of fitness is the safest? How can we better control our obesity epidemic? The answer is simple – take your health out of your doctors’ and the media’s hands and put it into your own control. Start simple and see where that takes you; eat real foods, limit processed foods and alcohol, and begin moving more. After a bit of that, see where it takes you, and determine what you need to do to continue to better yourself.
We should always be trying to better ourselves. The new year gives us that fresh opportunity and a new page in
our novels to do so. If you aren’t setting goals year-round, you should be. Setting them alone is not enough, you need to actively check in on them, revise them, and add onto them. Goals also give us a perfect way to back track, set timelines, and see what we should be doing everyday to get to that end result.
Most importantly, don’t put your health and fitness on an unattainable pedestal. Simplicity is the first start. Give up sweets and start walking. Only drink one night a week and ride your bike more often (preferably not on the night you are drinking). Or better yet, stop by a local gym (if possible, my gym) and meet with a professional who can outline your journey and support you all along the way. Regardless of your path, you can do it. New Year’s Resolutions only suck if you don’t reach them. Don’t let them suck this year.
We all have aches and pains. The goal is to have as few of them as possible and deal with them as quickly as possible, but they happen. Some pain is acute. This kind of pain may be from tripping on a root while in a trail run or from a tough workout the day before. Although it’s acute and likely as a direct result of a previous event, we still need to be conscious of it and do what we can to help it. Often however, we can work through this pain and not aggravate it further. In fact, sometimes working through these minor bumps and bruises, soreness, or tightness can lead to an increase in blood flow, range of motion, and lead to improvements in the issue.
Other pain is chronic. This pain could have been lingering for weeks, months, or even years. This is the pain we need to be careful of, take care of, and avoid movements that bother it.
Some of these chronic issues may be preventing us from doing things in our workouts. Regardless of the desire, we first need to rest, rehab, and see what we can do to progress the rehabilitation of the area and get rid of the issue altogether. If all goes well, we can progressively add back in exercises that previously caused issues.
Unfortunately, long term chronic damage may have occurred and a full recovery may not be possible. Now we ask: what movements bother you and how much do they affect your life. Let’s use the snatch and deadlift as our primary examples. The deadlift is a vital exercise for life - all it entails is picking something up and down from the ground, so you need to do this a lot! If a deadlift bothers you, we need to fix it as best as possible and occasionally work through the pain. We can take some time off of it, but eventually we need to return to it in some sort of capacity. You need this movement to live. The snatch however is another story. Unless you need to snatch in life for competitive reasons, pain during the movement might be an inevitable exclusion of this lift. Sure we can constantly try to improve the movement patterns that are not allowing us to achieve a safe, effective snatch. However, we may never be adding load in this movement – it’s just not necessary. We can achieve similar goals of the snatch in the clean, kettlebell swings, pressing movements and box jumps.
So ask yourself – what is this pain and what am I doing to fix it. We should not be in pain, especially during our exercise. Our workouts are supposed to be a time that we enjoy. When we push in a workout it should be because we are pushing our limits to failure, not pushing ourselves into injury.
Why do we teach people how to swim, but not how to run? Back in my swimming days, technique was constantly analyzed from the age group to collegiate level – our form was never perfect and we constantly worked to improve it. So why is it that we neglect all things technique when it comes to running. I just can’t be convinced we all run a certain way and need our shoes and our injuries to match our “natural” form.
Below are the four most important things to consider with your run technique. Revisit these often and complete drills before runs to be able to “feel” what you should be doing.
You should be maintaining proper posture with a straight line from the top of your head to your feet. Shoulder blades should be slightly pinched and eye gaze forward. Breaking of this posture will lead to lower back pain, inefficient running, and slower paces.
The Drill: Check your head position by putting your pinky and thumb on your collar bone (like a Hawaiian shaka or hang loose sign). Then straighten out your index finger and rest your chin on top of it. This will put your head into position and begin the process of your whole body being in alignment.
Gravity moves at 9.8 meters per second squared. That’s a hell of a lot faster then you will ever run. So use gravity to your advantage! Create a falling sensation that puts the body at a slight forward angle. Now use your feet to keep up with your fall, rather than propelling you forward. You should feel as if you stopped moving your feet, you would fall into the ground. This fall uses gravity to your advantage, increases economy, increases speed, and saves energy!
The Drill: Stand about a foot away from a wall. Standing with great posture, fall towards the wall from the hips while keeping the toes grounded. Catch yourself in a push-up position against the wall. Repeat 10 times. This is the falling sensation you should feel while running, but instead of catching yourself against the wall, you will be propelling yourself forward.
Tip: Fall from the hips rather than the chest to avoid losing your midline posture and stabilization.
Feel your Heels
While we fall, we want to repetitively move our feet to avoid crashing into the ground. Do so by lifting the feet from the heels instead of lifting the knees. When we lift and recovery our stride from the knees or toes, we are predominately using our hip flexors to perform the motion. Because the hip flexors are a small muscle group, they will begin to fatigue quickly. Instead, use the larger muscles of the hamstrings by pulling the feet up through the heels.
The Drill: Stand with your back against the wall. One leg at a time, drag the heel to about mid shin height and back to the ground. This lifting of the heels to raise the foot off the ground will activate the hamstrings. Use this feeling while running.
Just like jumping rope, you should be landing under the body, on the forefoot, with a quick cadence. Use the innate shock absorbers of the ankle, knee, and hip to absorb impact. Landing under our body’s center of gravity will enable you to spend less time on the ground, increase running economy and help to avoid injury by not over striding.
Use these 4 major points to check out your running technique. All the above is not mastered immediately and must be practiced. Gradually progress yourself into any new technique or running program by not increasing your time in this new form for more than 10% of the previous run. Although injury can occur by running incorrectly, it is more often associated with progressing mileage too quickly.
The IT Band, or the iliotibial band, is a band of thick fascia on the outside of the knee. It is responsible for stabilizing the knee, especially during running. When the band continually rubs over the lateral femoral epicondyle, is constantly stressed due to the flexion and extension of the knee, and repeatedly stressed by impact forces of running, the area is likely to become inflamed. This can cause extreme tenderness of the IT band and knee pain, often diagnosed as IT Band Syndrome.
Technique - The number one way to limit your running career is to land on your heels. Heel striking it the single worst thing we can do for our body. With all the impact forces going straight up our leg upon impact, it will cause a number of issues to happen to your body, but your IT Band and knee will be suffering greatly. Land softly by mimicking jumping rope and land under your center of gravity on your forefoot. This will decrease impact forces to almost zero and not cause additional strain on the IT Band. Additionally, be sure you are landing with a relatively straight foot. It can have a slight turn outward, but be sure not to externally rotate your foot too much which will cause shortening of the IT Band.
Progression - Ensure through any exercise discipline that you are progressing properly. If starting a new running program be sure to not increase your mileage too quickly. Many believe you should never run more than 10% in a linear progression. I think you can up that a bit to about 20-25%. So, if you run 1 mile on your first day of running, you shouldn't be running more than 1.25 miles on your next run.
Rest Days - Unless an event calls for it, never run on consecutive days. Regardless of how amazing your run technique and how precisely you are progressing your miles, running is tough on the body. Take rest days between runs.
Mobility - even if you aren't currently feeling issues, you should still be taking care of your IT Band, especially if you are a runner. Check out the treatment options below and hit a couple of those each week for IT Band Maintenance.
Foam Roller - DO NOT ROLL LENGTHWISE OF THE IT BAND! This will cause the IT Band to smash into the quad and will not heal your pain. Although it might cause temporary relief, instead roll side to side on the IT Band or flex and extend the knee on tender spots. This will release the IT band from the quad and ease inflammation.
Lax Ball - Use the lacrosse ball to roll the IT Band side to side either against the wall or in the ball of your hand. Remember to not roll too much as it can create more damages and we need the area to repair itself. Roll only once a day for 2 minutes or so on each side.
Mobility - Since you cannot stretch the thick and strong fascia of the IT Band, you will need to focus your efforts on the gluts and hip flexors. Low Lizard Pose, Pigeon Pose and Couch Stretch are some of my favorite stretches for these areas. Remember, you should be holding each stretch for 2 minutes on each side to really promote change.
Yes. I said it, Ironman Triathlons are easy. I’ve always said on race day, from the time you wake up in the morning to the time you go to bed, you will have done something extraordinary and you’ll remember for the rest of your life. It’s one day. Anyone can push themselves through one day of shit that will last a lifetime.
The training however is not easy. For months, maybe even years, you will have signed up for a race, on a particular day, and you have to be ready for it. I don’t even think the physical aspect of training is that difficult. If I told you to run for one minute today, could you? Sure you could. Then, tomorrow we can increase it by 10 seconds. You could do that too. If we continued adding 10 seconds a day, you would be able run for two hours straight in a little under two years. It’s the basic principle of progressive overload. Will it take two years to progressively overload to complete an Ironman? It depends on where your fitness currently is, but most likely it’ll be quicker than that.
The mental aspect of your training is what’s going to separate you from finishing or not finishing on race day. A million things can happen even before the start line. Did you arrive the day before and feel too rushed? Been there. Did you leave one tiny bike part while packing your bike and have to scramble to a bike shop to get a new one? Done that. Did you start cramping and need to quickly figure out what you can do to fix it? Yup, that’s happen to me too. If you have trained at least adequately, the body will be more than ready on race day. The mind is going to be the greatest predictor of finish time.
This training of the mind doesn’t happen on race day either. It occurs during the months or years while you are training for this race. It comes during those early morning sessions when you would rather be in bed. Those bike rides when you get two flats on and have to walk miles to a gas station for a patch. It also happens during those long runs on those days you just don’t have it in you. Those are all examples of some of your best training days. It’s those days that will be more beneficial in the long run than any days where you set a PR in training. Overcoming obstacles leads to success during adversity. You’ll have plenty of hardship to deal with as you swim, bike and run 140.6 miles
Your mind is the most powerful tool in your bag if you train it to be. It takes training just as the body does. Staying positive, using mental imagery, and other sports psychology tools are vital when trying to exercise for essentially an entire day. Thing is, it’s do able. Don’t let the little things get you down, but instead find ways to overcome them. Push through those sessions, it’ll make you stronger in the end. Problems are just opportunities to find new answers. Don’t ever let mediocrity be acceptable.
Sean Spire is the Head Coach of ASL. He was a competitive swimmer who discovered CrossFit and Ironman Triathlons. He has his BS in Exercise Science from Florida State University.