Monday, April 11, 2016

First World Problems and Third World Problems

I have an unusual habit.  Each time I climb into a taxi, I ask the driver to tell me their story.  Where are you from?  How did you get here?  I have been doing this for 20 years, and I have heard a lot of amazing stories.

A few months ago in Chicago, I heard the best story with an really important lesson.  My driver was from Togo, a small country in West Africa.  Here is the short version of his story....  He lived in a one room house with running water and electricity with his parents and two siblings.  He considered himself lucky because his dad proudly provided at least one meal each day, plus prided himself on having water and power in the house.  The government used water and electricity as a weapon, and it was shut off at times in an effort to control the population.  At the age of 18, he joined others in protesting the governments actions.  This led to a massacre, and he and his family fled to Ghana.  Luckily, he was granted political asylum by the US.  Once he was safely in the US, his family returned to Togo.  It was an amazing story.  Imagine flying into the Houston airport, not speaking a word of English...  But that is not the best part.

Here is what really amazed me.  I asked him what was most interesting to him about the US.  He said something that really amazing to me.  He said that many problems in the US don't exist in Togo, he referred to them as first world problems.  I asked him for an example.  He said road rage does not exist in Togo.  He explained that when the very basic human needs are challenged - hunger, thirst, shelter - you could care less about people cutting you off.

He went on to tell me about thirst, and that we cannot imagine how bad it is when you don't have access to enough water.   Fortunately for him, he only had to deal with thirst one time.  But hunger was a daily issue for his family.  Typically he ate only once per day, and he was eating what he described as mashed corn.

So next time you have a problem, ask yourself, is this a first world problem, or a third world problem?

Sunday, February 28, 2016

9 Stretches You Can Do At Work

I am very inflexible.

I had always failed to make time for stretching and yoga.

In preparing for a 24 hour endurance challenge, I came to realize it's importance.  But how do you make time for it?  Here are moves I do everyday at the office.  I am committed to doing these once before lunch and once after lunch.  Sitting all day sucks, try these out.

So, until you acquire a standing desk, here are 9 stretches you can do in the office that will relieve the pressure.

Seated Spinal Twist
This is a good way to release tension in your back. Sit on your chair sideways so that your shoulders and back are perpendicular to the back of the chair. Sit up straight, place your feet on the ground and place your hands on the back of the chair. Using your arms, twist, puling yourself towards the chair. Switch the side of the chair you’re sitting on and repeat. This pose stretches out the spine, chest, and neck. Take approximately 10 breaths on each side.

Cat/Cow Stretch
I really like the Cow part in particular, I actually do it a bunch of extra times throughout the day.  Sit up straight, place your feet flat on the floor, and rest the palms of your hands on top of your knees. Inhale, arch your back and look up, pulling your shoulders back as you do so. This will open up the whole front of the torso and neck. When you exhale, round your spine, pull the shoulders toward each other at the front of the body and drop your head tower your chest. This will stretch and open the back, shoulders, and neck. Do approximately 10 complete rounds.

Forward Bend
When you spend hours upon hours in a seated position, the hamstrings tighten and the tighter the hamstrings are, the more they pull on the muscles of the lower back. To help avoid lower back pain caused by sitting, stand up, place your feet flat on the floor, and bend over at the hips bringing your chest toward or onto your thighs. Let your head drop loose and your arms hang beside you. Take 10 breaths.

Eagle Arms
Sitting at the computer all day can do a number on your shoulders and upper back. This may help. While sitting, reach your arms straight out in front of you, keeping them parallel with your shoulders and shoulder-distance apart. Bend the left arm upward and sweep the right arm under it. Wrap your right arm around the left until you are able to grab the outside edge of the left arm or until you are able to clasp your palms together. Lift the elbows away towards the ceiling and pull your hands away from your face - like you are trying to straighten and lift your arms. Turn your head side-to-side. Repeat on the other side. This will stretch the muscles under the shoulder blades, the upper back, shoulders, and neck. Hold each side for approximately 10 breaths.

Standing Pigeon Pose
Ok, this pose isn’t quite as discreet, but when you sit for long periods of time, your hips can get sore and this hip-opening pose can help reduce tension. Hopefully, like me, you are not to worried what people think of your health and fitness journey.  To do it, stand with your feet hip-distance apart. Facing the desk, place your knee and the bottom half of your leg on the desk. Bend your knee and pull your foot towards your body. Your leg should be parallel to your body. With your left leg straight, bend towards your right leg. Hold for 10 breaths then repeat on the other side.

Chest Opener
If you have a job that requires you sit at a desk, you probably have some pretty tight chest and shoulder muscles. You can stay right in your chair for this one. Simply interlace your fingers behind you and place your arms on the top of your chair’s backrest. Drop your chin to the chest. Your chest, shoulders, and neck will appreciate it. Hold this pose for 8 to 10 breaths.  If you can go this far - congratulations...

Thread The Needle
Here’s another great hip opener stretch to release tension in the hips and lower back. Sit up straight in your chair with your feet flat on the floor. Cross your left leg over onto your right leg, placing the ankle of the left directly above the right knee. Thread your left hand between your legs and hold onto the back of your right thigh. Lift your legs up–using your right hand as well if you wish–until you feel a stretch in your left hip. Hold for breaths and then repeat on the other side.

Hand Stretch
I bet you spend a lot of the day typing or texting. If you do, you’ll want to do this hand stretch. Stand, place both hands on your desk, palms faced down, fingertips facing your body. To intensify the stretch, lean forward. Hold the stretch until you feel the tension release.

Neck Rolls
After a long day do you notice tension in your neck and shoulders? When we are tense, it’s the shoulders that think they can hold up the weight of the world. To give them some relief, sit up straight in your chair with your feet flat on the floor. Bring your chin toward your chest and roll the right ear to the right shoulder. To intensify the stretch, place your left hand on top of your right shoulder and place your right hand just above your left ear. Gently apply pressure with the hand on your head hand and breathe through the stretch. Take 10 breaths, then switch to the other side.

Like me on Facebook!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Is Beachbody A Pyramid Scheme?

What is a pyramid scheme?  Pyramid schemes make money from the members of the scheme, not from the sales of the members.  So if you are evaluating any opportunity, and money is made because of payments that member make to their supervisors, that is a pyramid scheme.  Avoid it like the plague.

Let's talk about Beachbody Coaching now.  A simplified version of the commission plan looks like this:

  1. You make a retail commission on every product you sell.  They are fairly generous considering it is one of two sources of income Beachbody must fund out of their revenue.  It will range in the 20% to 35% range.
  2. When you form a team, and your teammates sell product, you will get points.  There is a two leg system that will convert points over to commissions for you - called team bonuses.
The truth is that most people making moderate income are generating both of these each month.  The coaches making a lot of money are making more in team bonuses than retail commissions.

Let's go back to the pyramid scheme now.  Beachbody Coaching is not a pyramid scheme.  It is a MLM, or multi level marketing company.  MLM's have several advantages over other sales jobs, primarily that of leverage. By leverage, I mean you can make an income from other people working!  No, it is not easy.  No, it will not happen overnight.  But, you actually can make it happen.  There are plenty of coaches that could take a month off work and their income would not change.  That is leverage, using other people to help make you money.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

6 Tips To Fit Your Workout In

All the inspiration and motivation in the world will not help you get your workouts done if you don't have the logistics down.  Working out is hard enough, make it easier by following the logistics tips.

  1. Schedule Time The Day Before.  You can't be soft and wishy washy on this one.  Schedule and exact time.  "After work" is not an exact time.  5:10am.  Or 7:15pm.  Noon.  Pick and exact time and....
  2. Write It Down.  Most people today use there phone which is connected to their work calendar.  Put it down.  Everyone at work has access to my calendar, and therefore they see exactly when I workout.  Most days it is at 5:30am.  Other days it is at 9:00pm.  Either way, it is on my calendar.
  3. Find Accountability Partners.  I use my Facebook Challenge Groups.  I am always in one of my own groups as a participant.  I also have a friend at work that helps.  We both ask each other everyday about the days workout and the prior days.  This is critical.  Social norming works.  Surround yourself with people that workout.
  4. The Red X.  You must have your workout planned out for at least 30 days, put up on a wall somewhere, and put red X's on each time you complete a workout.  You need to hit at least 22 workouts per month for real success to happen.  
  5. Take Breaks For Injury/Illness.  The best break is substituting yoga, pilates, or mobility workouts in place of more challenging workouts.  But if that is too much, just take off the time you need.  You need to focus on long term success, and that requires rest when your body needs it.
  6. Have Everything Ready.  The night before, I get my clothes, coffee, and equipment ready.  When I roll out of bed, I do not want any excuses.  It really improves my success.

Crossfit vs P90X3

Let me start with a confession for all things Crossfit, Gym Jones, and Military Athlete.  I had been using those programs for a decade, and they have helped me remain fit for a long time.  But I have always been aware of one problem - a problem I was willing to accept.  Injuries happen.  Crossfit athletes get hurt.  That was an acceptable price for me, and over 12 years of doing Crossfit, I considered them just another obstacle on the path to fitness.

I found myself in a strange place over the summer.  I just completed a 26 hour fitness challenge called the Goruck Heavy.  I was proud but beaten up.  Life was also getting the best of me, and I was short on time and motivation.  I really couldn't run anymore due to patellar tendonitis, and I was on a program from a physical therapist.  I decided to try something different - I bought a P90X3 Program from Beachbody and got started working out in my basement for 30 minutes each morning.

After my first week I had four observations:

  1. There is as much or more variety than Crossfit.  I loved that Yoga and Mobility were actually scheduled workouts, instead of a recovery day.
  2. Crossfit focuses on compound movements.  There is little to no work on secondary muscles and stabilizers.  It is assumed that when you do the big movements, those improve at the same time.  P90X3 attacks these other muscle groups.  
  3. My core was weak and P90X3 was crushing me here.
  4. My physical therapy was redundant with the program so I stopped it.
My P90X3 journey continued for 90 days, and I decided to repeat a second time.  I knew my pull ups, push ups, core strength, and flexibility were all better than they ever had been during my Crossfit time!  But what about deadlift, squat, and clean?  I had not done any of these in 6 months....

So I went to the gym to test things out.  I started with the deadlift.  I did sets of 5 reps, slowly increasing the weight up to 250.  I was able to do 250 x 5 reps and I will call it moderately difficult.  That is close enough to where I had been 6 months ago to say that I lost no deadlifting abilities.

I moved on to cleans and squats and found the same thing.  I cleaned 185 one time, and I squatted 225 fives times fairly easily.  I really saw now value in pushing to a true max, my body is feeling great and I proved to myself that I have grown.

So here are my conclusions:
  • Crossfit is awesome, fun, and competitive.  It is also expensive and comes with more risk.
  • P90X3 is also awesome.  It is super time efficient and very inexpensive.  My flexibility, push ups, and pull ups are much better as well.
So what is the best fit for you?

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Beachbody Coaching Overview


My goal today is to give you a great overview of Beachbody coaching.  I will talk about each of the following in some depth.   If you came here to see the money and compensation part, skip down to the bottom, but promise me you will come back up and read the top part!
  • You are a business owner
  • You are committed to personal growth - physically, financially, family, and friends
  • You are committed to helping and inspiring others
  • You will make money, but how much?

Business Owner
Beachbody coaching is similar to owning a franchise, but without an initial investment and increased flexibility.  (The only fee if you start with a challenge pack is a $15.95 per month fee)  Beachbody coaches are 100% their own boss.  There is a ton of flexibility about how you go about achieving your own success.  There are many different paths, and the top coaches do not all follow the same model.

Beachbody provides you with tons of advertising and name recognition, as well as the back office and administration.  You are simply left with inspiring people to get healthier and more fit.  Considering the entry point is only to buy a challenge pack and $15.95 per month, I think this is a tremendous deal.

They actually provide a very organized training program that includes the exact tasks and scripts they have found to be most useful.  Honestly, most of the training plans by the top coaches simply reiterate what Beachbody tells you.  But, you get to do it anyway you see fit.  You get to do it on you own schedule, when you want.

Commitment to Growth (aka selling part 1)
Beachbody encourages everyone to spend time everyday making yourself a better person.  Yes, obviously they want you to workout and eat well.  What is more interesting is that they want you to read 10 minutes per day of personal development books.  The first one is The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy.

While there are many different ways people sell Beachbody products.  But it all starts with becoming a better person.   People buy "why" you are selling, not "what" you are selling.  (I learned this in my second personal development book as a Beachbody Coach called Start With Why)  You have to start getting better, and that progress will want to make others join you on your journey.

We all grow in different ways and from different places.  Ironically, my beginning of coaching was difficult for two reasons.  First of all, I was regarded by everyone I know as very fit.  They felt like my journey was not one they could join me on.  So I needed to adapt.  The second challenge I faced was that at work, I am the boss.  If I were not the boss, I would have used the 5 step selling process with everyone at work.  But I felt it was not fair, since they might they have to do it.

Helping and Inspiring Others
Instead of "selling", Beachbody is more about sharing.  No one says, "Hey Joe, you need to...."  Beachbody is all about telling Joe what you have done to improve yourself.  Social media is a huge part of all top coaches day, and they are working on inspiring people with similar challenges.  So you are a working Mom, maybe you target other working Moms.  You are a single guy, you will not be inspiring working Moms, you have no clue what they are going through.  You will be finding other guys with similar challenges to you.

So, you become a Coach.  You start you personal development journey.  You will now be telling others about your journey.  You will do this in any manner you want.  You may start a free blog, you might use Pinterest, maybe Facebook.  You might do all the above.  But you will be sharing.

Money, Money, Money!
Here is the reality of Beachbody coaching.  The money people make varies wildly.  Beachbody wires commissions out every week.  The good news is that if you want to make $75 next week, sell a challenge pack this week.  Next week you will see the commission.  Early on, your earnings will be linked to your own retail sales. Later on, your commissions will be linked to your teams performance.

Retail sales will be easy for some, and more challenging for others.  If you are currently active on Social media, it will be easier for you.  The more friends you currently have the better.  If you workout for 30 minutes and work for 30 minutes everyday, your initial goal is to achieve Success Club 5, which would earn you about $180.  Next goal would be Success Club 10, which would be double this.

One other thing worth noting.  Challenge Groups have changed everything.  These are private support and accountability groups on Facebook that you will build and manage.  They maximize your commissions and leverage your time nicely.  These are the key to your long term success!

So here are the primary levers that drive commissions:
  • Social media friends inspired to join your challenge group
  • Your blog attracting people to you and asking to be coached by you
  • Advertising on Facebook for a challenge group
  • Converting your trainees over to coaches, then they help your team
Feel free to email me, or connect with me on Facebook and send me a message.  I will answer any compensation questions you have!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Diet By Addition, Part 3

Eggs in Bell Pepper Rings
So hopefully you have not only read Part 1 and Part 2, but you have taken at least a week to really focus on building these habits.  If you are in a hurry and want to move quickly, comment below or email me and I will help you get fast tracked with the 21 Day Fix, or Hammer and Chisel Nutrition Plans.

But, if you are patient, and want to build long term strategies, we will continue on with the week by week behavior additions.

Assignment 5 - Breakfast Protein

We are now going to zero in on breakfast.  This diet is all about addition, not subtraction.  You are going to try really hard not to freak out or be neurotic about anything.  No carb phobia, or fat phobia, or any other phobia's around here!  Just focus on moderate calorie restriction and adding lots of good food!

So assignment 5 is all about breakfast.  You need to add some protein.  There are lots of choices.  You will need to mix them up, you must use at least two different proteins per week.  There are lots of good choices, my personal favorites are:
  • Eggs, organic omega-3
  • Shakeology
  • Kashi GoLean
I really recommend you spending the extra money for organic eggs that have at least 100mg of omega-3 per egg.  Eggs are natural omnivores, don't worry about the vegetarian fed thing.  If they have any access to outdoor areas, they will be eating every bug in site!

Regarding the amount, I am going to refer back to the 21 Day Fix containers.  The red container is for protein, and it is 3/4 cup in size.  Two eggs fit in perfectly.  One scoop of Shakeology is also a service.  If you try a high protein cereal, get about 14g of protein.  Please note that with Kashi, make sure you choose the original one, which is free of sugar.  The Crunch variety is loaded with sugar.

Assignment 6 - More Veggies!

So, I am in love with the 21 Day Fix containers.  They have a special green container for veggies, and this is the minimum standard for your second serving.  It measures 1.25 cups.  So now you are adding in at least 2.5 cups per day of veggies.

I said it before, I will say it again.  No food packs the nutritional punch of vegetables.  EVERY diet plan ever created includes tons of vegetables.  And the reality is that most of us do not get enough of them.  So you are now going to have a generous serving twice a day of veggies.  I would prefer your two servings to be added in a two different meals.  Lunch and dinner is perfect, but you may want to throw together frittatas occasionally.

Here is a great recipe that includes a protein and a veggie for breakfast.  You can make them on the weekend and reheat during the week for a fast, healthy breakfast.

Super Green Egg Cups
This recipe is 21 Day Fix and Popeye-approved and it is loaded with three types of green vegetables. Wanna go really crazy? Sprinkle these with chopped chives.

Super Green Egg Cups 21-Day Fix-Approved Recipe
Total Time: 35 min.
Prep Time: 15 min.
Cooking Time: 20 min.
Yield: Makes 6 servings, 2 egg cups each
Nonstick cooking spray
¼ cup unsweetened almond milk
12 large eggs, lightly beaten
Sea salt (or Himalayan salt) and ground black pepper (to taste; optional)
1 cup steamed broccoli, coarsely chopped
½ cup chopped green bell pepper
1 cup chopped raw spinach
1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
2. Prepare twelve muffin cups by coating with spray. Set aside.
3. Combine almond milk and eggs in a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper, if desired; whisk to blend. Set aside.
4. Evenly divide broccoli, spinach, and bell peppers between prepared muffin cups.
5. Evenly pour egg mixture over broccoli mixture.
6. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of egg cups comes out clean, and eggs are set.