Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Recruit Progress

"While I was running on Friday I had somewhat of an Epiphany…..as I have been thinking about “what next” and my desire to stay on this path I began to consider why I am so drawn into this lifestyle. I really find it gratifying to workout at 5:00am and have my day’s meals planned prior to waking up! A few more laps and it came to me that this is the one thing in everyday that I can control and do for myself; as you say “No where else to go, nothing else to do”! Now I know this is not a revelation, but to me on this morning it really was! To establish that I have the ability to control this one hour of my day without outside chatter I felt empowered in a way that I have not experienced. The personal gratification that is returned to me by giving this one hour a day is 'priceless'!" Recruit S.

"Overall, I have am so grateful to you for helping me keep focused. I usually gain weight every winter. This is the first winter, ever, that I have lost fat. I used to really look forward to making brownies and cookies for my kids and now we have replaced that with other healthy things we can make together. All of my cravings for bread and sugar are reduced tremendously." Recruit K

I have enjoyed being in the program and have learned a lot. It may seem I am just sort of hobbling along and not making great strides but I have achieved the results I was hoping for... I now know what to do to stay in shape and keep weight off or loose a little. By my scales I am down 10 lbs. My energy level is up even though I have not maintained the 6 day a week workouts... I am so pleased with my results, I can't even tell you. I am almost back into my clothes and out of the sweats and one-size fits all scrubs. Thanks for everything." - Recruit B

Monday, March 30, 2009

Walking the Talk

Man, why couldn't I have done my longer run today rather than yesterday? My schedule, that's why. When I headed out the door around 1pm yesterday, the wind was whipping, the drizzle was turning to snow, and while part of me looked forward to the training effect of running in such conditions, another part of me wanted nothing more than to go hit the dreadmill at the gym.

I chose an out-and-back route with the first half of the run dead into the wind and a 6.5 mile false flat (no joke) that also has several rolling hills. Anyone who tells you that running into a 10-15mph wind with gusts of 30mph isn't similar to running hills has never run into that kind of wind. The run out was very challenging and demanding, yet it was pretty blissful as well. It takes me about 45 minutes or an hour of running before I can really switch off the ego commentary, yet once I can hit that point, it's great. On the way out, I kept thinking, "man, I shaved my beard off too soon. Sure wish I had it today...", as my face became numb and peppered with sleet.

After the turn around, it was pretty sweet with a strong tail wind that, at times, threatened to push me down if I didn't keep my legs turning over fast enough.

Finishing strong, I decided to "mapmyrun.com" my route and check out the stats. Turns out I covered almost 13.5 miles at a pace faster than I ran any long road runs last year and I felt like I could have gone much harder if I would have been going for a hard run. I like long road runs for the endurance, but man are they boring compared to trail running!

Walking the Talk:
I've encouraged the Project Recruits to seek some external motivators to keep them active once the Project wraps up (2 weeks) and pointed to many of the 5K events, fun/charity walk/runs, half marathons and so forth. Along with the motivation to train, these events can also test our edges if we are seeking personal growth. I'd feel like a hypocrite if I didn't toe the line for a race, so last Friday I registered for my first race of 2009. As much as I would love to do several events each year, they always fall on Saturday's and I'm "otherwise engaged" each week with my yoga class. So, I figured 3 events each year, plus my own adventures, was reasonable.

Here's to the 2009-2010 season!


Friday, March 27, 2009

Project: Performance Workout

I got this from Rob after a recent foray into one of the strength workouts from "Project: Performance". Enjoy! Want some of this...?

"Dear Sick-Ticket:

You have lost it. Certified Wing-Nut. One to many clean-to-presses.....must've dropped a plate on his yoga-head and it turned into a yogurt-head.......

......KIDDING! That was GREAT! Friggin' crazy......CRAZY....but pretty damn cool and intense.......

Tabatas. We are calling them Taffeta, because that's what we are going to dress in when we do next week's workout. I like that they are calf-raises because by the last two sets you feel like you are lifting a small cow with your legs.

Burpees. Now called Barfees. No explanation needed.

Box-Jumps are now Box-Dumps because I almost pooped myself.

Kettle-Bells are Kettle-Swells, because (unless we did them wrong) they were actually the least crazy of the three exercises in the super-set. I felt it big time, but the swinging motion really helped.

I really dug that. Now I am psyched that we are "off and running".

I was a bit fearful of the overhead squat. I didn't add lots of weight to the bar, only thirty pounds total, plus the bar. Better to get used to it......

Way to go, you nut-job! We loved it.

Talk to you soon....I might come to yoga tomorrow.....



Thursday, March 26, 2009

Project Recruit Insight

Below is an insight from Project Recruit, Sherri D. To me, this is powerful insight and a clear example of how BTWG isn't a "weight loss" program, it's a lifestyle!

Funny thing about losing weight and firming up....when you aren’t as fit and firm as you’d like, you think about how you look a lot and it becomes very important to you to look better. Now that I know I look better and am fitter and firmer, how I look has become a lot less important to me and how I feel and what I can do physically is more important. One of life’s many paradoxes, I suppose.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Test Run

This winter, along with Rob and Jen Johansen, I've been testing out a sort of "covert" Project operation. I refer to it as "Project: Performance" and as the name implies, the training is oriented towards those with performance-based goals, or have a job that requires a high degree of fitness. While the training can be tailored to any performance-based goal, my winter training has been focused on overall performance/fitness, and preparation for ultramarathoning this year (any run that goes beyond 26.2 miles is considered an ultra).

Project: Performance utilizes the same principles and philosophy as Project: Bridging the Wellness Gap. The primary difference lies within the workouts (most of which are still well under 1 hour!), the intensity (often off the charts), and a few additional training tools not used in BTWG (more on that in a moment).

Earlier today, a window of opportunity opened for me to hit the trails at Eagle Creek park. I knew I only had a couple hours to run, so I decided rather than run long, I would run fast (well, fast for me), and put my money where my mouth is; to see if this Project: Performance stuff would deliver. My pre-run ritual was far less than ideal (that can happen when you have a 2 year old), and my legs were not super fresh, but I figured today was still a good day to see what I could do.

The long and short of it - I'm more than impressed; not with myself, with the training and my performance as compared to last year. I PR'd (personal record - cheesy running term) the course I ran by 10 minutes, which is a full minute per mile faster than what I was doing last year at my peak. Not too shabby for early season.

I felt confident on all the hills and quickly recovered after hard efforts. Hills that I preferred to hike last year presented little problem today. Don't get me wrong, it was a hard run, and at times I was really hurtin', yet I was used to the intensity from the training I've been doing in the gym my interval workouts. I was able to trust my fitness and ability and had no drama associated with the challenging moments. With warm-up and cool-down, I ran just shy of a half marathon and I feel great and know that tomorrow, I will be back in the flow for my workout.

For the record, earlier this week, I also set new PR's for my mile time as well as my 1.5 mile time and two weeks ago I set a new PR on my 5K (4 minutes faster). I set all these recent PR's without trying, they were just part of my workouts and I happened to make improvements in each.

For those interested, here is a little peak behind the curtain as to what has made such a big transformation in my performance.

Secret Training Tools of Project: Performance -
1) I'm working with a new running technique (new to me, it's been around since the 70's). The technique is natural to the human body, yet when you have spent so much time running "wrong", there is a bit of a learning curve and adjustment time. I have a long way to go with it, yet in just a few weeks I have already seen and felt the difference. This one will remain under wraps until I complete a certification course in June.

2) High intensity, circuit, complex, compound, and insanely painful workouts in the gym (including Olympic lifts, power lifts, plyometrics, body weight exercises, and little to no isolation movements). This training isn't for everyone, yet not everyone has performance-based goals. In my opinion, if performance is your goal, intensity is king and these workouts deliver; high intensity, short duration.

3) High intensity interval training - similar to #2

4) And the biggest secret weapon of all and what I attribute much of my progress to.... kettlebells. Kettlebell work has truly rounded out my training and I haven't been this fired up about a training tool in a looooong time.

I've done tons of research, worked with an experienced coach, spent hours practicing, and have learned how to integrate kettlebells into my format and style of training. I'm truly blown away by these simple, yet decidedly evil training tools. While kettlebells have yet to really hit the mid-West and mainstream, it's only a matter of time. Trust me, by next year you are going to see these in every gym and it's going to be in all the magazines, etc. And I'm sure they are going to have all sorts of goofy spin offs, celebrity videos and info-mercials (which is truly sad to those who love and embrace the roots of kettlebells...).

Ahead of the field and representin': Current Project Recruit, Joe Wagle getting in a workout at Punch Kettlebell Gym, Las Vegas. Joe's been working with kettle's for a while and visited Punch while on a recent trip to Vegas. Note the BTWG t-shirt and Chuck Taylor shoes (barefoot, Van's shoes, or Chuck Taylor's are the ideal footware when workin with kettlebells)

A kettlebell is essentially a cannonball with a handle welded on it. Do a little research on the internet and you will find a fair amount of information out there. While you find lots of kettlebell zealots out there who have forsaken all other forms of training, I am finding them a potent training tool with tons of fitness and performance delivering potential.

I'll share more on kettlebells in upcoming posts. I've been sitting on this "secret weapon" for some time, and now that the cat is out of the bag, I'll have a hard time shutting up about them : )

There you have it, a little about what I've been up to this winter and what's up with Project: Performance. Stay tuned for how you can get tapped into Project: Performance and take your training into a whole new realm.

Thanks for reading.


Friday, March 20, 2009

"Thank You"

While Project participant spend a fair amount of time and energy on working out, eating right,completing assignments, submitting journals, attending meetings and so forth, and while much of this can appear very self directed or even selfish, it isn't; in fact, it's quite the opposite. Case in point, around Week 8 of the Project, I begin to shift everyone's focus towards the world and others around them, how they relate to it all. I also encourage participants to consider how they impact the environment around them and how they influence those they are in contact with each day, and how they are giving back. The point is to understand that while "I" have to get things in order with "my" personal health, fitness, and well-being, at the end of the day it ain't about "me". A golden teaching 0pportunity arose at our Project meeting a couple weeks ago and it occurred as I was sharing this very point. One of our Recruits is having a tough time, having gone through divorce in the past year and her recent loss of her job. Times are tough for many, yet she was getting it from all sides and was really having a rough go of it with threats of foreclosure and empty pantries on the horizon. A couple of fellow recruits felt inspired to help out in some way, and it was decided to pass the word and gather a collection of gift cards from grocery stores and so forth. While I'm not sure the final total (some cards had no amount written on them or were in envelopes), I do know that we were able to collect a few hundred dollars which we presented to her at last weekends meeting.

While the gifts certainly can't solve her problems, I know it made a huge difference in her perception and gave her some breathing space and an opportunity to evaluate where she is and gain some perspective on her life. And, she knows she is cared for, prayed for, and supported by the entire Project community. Now that is priceless. It was also priceless for those who gave selflessly to someone in need.

"Here is a "thank you email" I received this week, and it was asked that I pass it along:
"Wow, I am still in awe by all of your generosity. How can I thank you? I have to admit it was hard for me to comprehend for awhile. After I left Saturday's meeting I went for a long walk on the canal to let it all soak in. I said a lot of thank you's and praises to God for bringing all of you into my life when I needed you most. I am truly blessed to know you. I am sending you all huge hugs of thanks and appreciate your kindness. I look forward to seeing you on Saturday. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!!!!!!"

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Props to the BTWG Racers

Hey Gang,

Last weekend was a trail race filled weekend for BTWG'rs.

Locally, Project Recruit Joe Wagle, Project Grad John Singleton, and Coach Cooper (long-time friend, yoga student, and supporter of all things we've done over the years) all toed the line for last weekends Eagle Creek Trail (run) race. This was the first in the DINO trail race series for 2009. From the reports I received, emails, and the blog postings, everyone enjoyed their first DINO race and put their Project fitness through the paces or at least tested the trail racing waters. Way to go guys! Check out John's report on the blog he authors: http://www.klipschfitness.blogspot.com/

Taking on a bigger challenge than most of us will ever even consider, current Project participants Brook Fitzer and Aaron Smith ran in the Land Between the Lakes Ultramarathon last weekend, which is in Kentucky. Brook took on the 23K race and Aaron went for the 60K. I've read a few race reports on the event, some forum/blog posts, and an email from Aaron and Broook and it sounds like it was quite the mud-fest. The dynamic duo, husband and wife team both completed their races and seemed to fare really well. Aaron commented that he felt his improved nutrition and new-found yoga practice has helped him recover and is already back into his training flow. Check out Aaron's Project blog for his insights: http://onedayasalion27.blogspot.com/. Well done! Brook is continuing to train for the Indy Mini, this may and Aaron is training for his first 100 miler (as in, 100 miles ON FOOT!) which is in June. Now that is putting his Project-based training to the test boys and girls.

Be sure to check back soon as I will be revealing some Project "secrets" and some insights regarding my own training...


Friday, March 13, 2009

Is "The Biggest Loser" Spying on Me?

For the record, while I have seen a couple episodes of the t.v. show "The Biggest Loser", I do not watch the show. I'm not sure what's up, but it seems like I don't get through a week of training or teaching classes where someone either asks me, or implies that I get my workouts or exercises from the show! Or, someone will say, "oh, yeah, they mentioned that on TBL this week, you must have been watching..." So, earlier this morning I went to the "Designer" Whey Protein Powder web site to look up some nutrition info and what do I see? Designer is now the "official protein powder" of TBL! What the heck? Are these guys spying on me or what? Cuz it sure ain't the other way around. For the record, I started using Designer protein powder back in 1994, within a year of when the company started. It's the only brand of protein powder I have ever endorsed, and it's the protein powder I endorse and recommend for Project: BTGW participants. I'm not sure how many years TBL has been on t.v., but I know it hasn't been on since 1994 : )

I used to get annoyed when asked if I picked up an exercise from TBL, or if I had watched the show and learned something that I was teaching. For me, and my ego, it was sort of an insult. I would think, "Why no, I didn't. I actually went to college, trained with some people who were ahead of the curve. I learned to be creative, innovative, and to think for myself. I research, study all sorts of disciplines including yoga, and refine what I learn and make it my own. I don't glean stuff from a t.v. show! The only thing I learned from watching TBL is that I dig Bob's tats, Jillian scares me, and I wonder if either of them could make it through one of their own workouts" Admittedly, that was a pretty pompous attitude. What can I say? Though I still wonder if they could make it through their own workouts... Nowadays, when someone asks me these questions, I just take it as a compliment. I figure if I believe in what I'm doing, what I'm teaching and the movements I implement with my clients, then if others are doing similar things, it's all good.

Now, if TBL is ever looking for another trainer to pay the big bucks, get book deals, and endorsements, here I am! I mean, you know, since I'm already copying you guys and all that any way - I'd be a perfect fit. Sorry, I couldn't resist...

In Peace,

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Eagle Creek Trail Run and Product Suggestion

Earlier today, I had the honor and pleasure to share an awesome trail run with some fellow Project folks. Today's run was not a formal Eagle Creek Adventure and I only invited current Project Grads and Recruits, so I expected the turnout to be small. In fact, there were 4 of us up for the challenge of completing 1, 2, or maybe even 3 loops of what Joe now calls "Chris' Loop", which is a loop I pieced together last year that covers around 4.9 miles and takes you through a variety of terrain and scenic spots in the park.

Rad (in baseball cap and sweatshirt) completed a full lap with us, then Joe (yellow jersey), Carrie (red jersey), and I completed an abbreviated lap so Carrie could go a little longer before getting back to her Sunday errands. Finally, Joe and I continued on for another 30 minutes before calling it a day. All-in-all, I think Joe and I were on our feet for around 2 1/2 hours.

From the feedback thus far, I think everyone had a great time; I know I sure did! Sorry if you missed this run, especially if you stayed home because of the weather; it was perfect!

Pam, the best support crew ever, showed up and snapped the "before" pictures for us and went for a trail hike. Of course she also came back to offer us some refreshments and encouragement after our first lap. Thanks, Pam the Blam!

Also, a shout out to Coaches Cooper and Singleton who we saw on the trail and ran with for a while.

Product Suggestion: "Dirty Girl Gaiters"
Yup, you read correct - "Dirty Girl Gaiters", I know the name is more than eyebrow raising and dudes might be a little reluctant to purchase and wear something by this name, yet if you are a runner who gets tired of running with pebbles, mulch, sand, small rodents, and other crud in your shoes, then get over yourself and get a pair (or two) of these things.

Since last season, I've been looking into getting some gaiters. If you aren't up to speed on gaiters, at the most basic level, they are things that wrap around your shoe upper and ankle and keep debris from getting into your shoe on a hike or trail run. More advanced versions are made from heavy fabrics and may even be Gore-Tex water proof. I really didn't' want anything that technical, plus they can run upwards of $50.

I came across dirtygirlgaiters.com and read up on them. The reviews I found and the online forum buzz about them was all "thumbs up", plus with a cost of only $15 (including shipping), I figured they were worth a shot. You can select from a variety of patterns such as "Wild Thang", "DFL (Dead F-ing Last), and "Lime Gaiteraide Hurl". I went with "DNF (Did Not Finish)". I mean, come on, a black background with white skulls, how could I not pick DNF?

The website can be a little confusing, as their links/tabs have names that can throw you off. For example, to check out the patterns and place an order, you go to the link, "My Empire of Dirt" (a great line in the Nine Inch Nails song "Hurt", by the way...), and the play on words may be offensive to some, such as "My Dirty Pictures", or "My Dirty Little Thoughts". If you can get past that, it's all good.

I placed my order in the evening and they were shipped out the next day, so that was a thumbs up in the customer service department. The "installation process" is super easy and every thing you need is provided. You just stick a piece of Velcro to the rear of your shoe, let it adhere for 12-24 hours and you are good to go. You put the gaiter on, put on your sock and shoe, hook the front of the gaiter to your shoe lace, Velcro it in the back and off you go.
These gaiters provide no water proofing or water resisting; not what they are designed to do. What I can tell you is that they do keep stuff that should not be in your shoes out, and they are virtually weightless and breathable. I can see using these even on really hot days and posing no problem whatsoever. In fact, I've seen pictures of people using them in the Badwater Ultramarathon, where temps often get over 110 degrees!
While some trail runners might not have an issue with getting stuff in their shoes, I do. Seems like within the first mile of every trail run, I've picked up a piece of mulch, a pebble, or something that I have to deal with the rest of the run. This is no big deal on an hour or less run, yet beyond that it's an unnecessary distraction and waste energy. Worse, on wet runs, I often end up with small pebbles, sand and grit, which combined with the water essentially ends up wet sanding the soles of my feet. Not with these baby's. Even with a few mud puddles or crossings, after today's run I took off my shoes and nothing came out that wasn't in there when I put my shoes on. I'm in love and my only regret is that I didn't order at least 2 pair.
Let me know if you get some and what you think of them.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Project: Contact High

While everyone in the Project is experiencing progress, another cool aspect is the impact the Project can have on those around you; especially when you share what you are doing with your friends, family, co-workers etc. Check out the below report from Paul.


"In my tiny universe- the help that you have provided me has motivated my partner to diet and exercise (Chris note - lost 25 pounds in the first 6 weeks of the Project!)- one of my best friends to focus more on her workout schedule and kick her Diet Coke addiction- and another good friend to start back at the gym during her lunch hour and sign up for a Pilates class."

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Yoga and Life Interview

If you missed yesterday's live broadcast of the interview I did on the online radio show, "Yoga and Life Radio", with Stacy Shanks, here you go.

Stacy mentioned that there were several listeners tuning in from Indy, so I appreciate you listening and for all the positive vibes and support you guys sent my way. Also, thanks for all the emails and comments of support, you guys rock!

Be sure to tune in to Stacy's show each week: www.blogtalkradio.com/yogaandlife. And check out her website at www.yogaandlife.com.

Thanks, Stacy, for helping to share the news about Project: BTWG!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Online Radio Interview Tomorrow

Hey Gang,

With all that is going on with the current group of Project Recruits, I nearly forgot that I am doing an online "interview" with Project Grad, Stacy Shanks. Stacy hosts a weekly online radio show. Each week she features people from various fields such as health, yoga, fitness, family, and business. Stacy asked if I'd be up for a chat about the Project and how it relates to ones health, fitness, and well-being. Tomorrow's program airs, live, at 1:00pm, Indy time. Here is the link to Stacy's show page: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/yogaandlife. If you cannot listen in at 1, the show will be available for download, so you can catch it at your convenience.

This is my first interview related to the Project, so I'm pretty nervous. Fortunately, I know Stacy, so that makes it a little easier. Send some good vibes my way, okay? If you get to listen in, let me know what you think.


More Progress Reports

"Just a quick note……I am not certain what the catalyst is but I am feeling like the “Incredible Hulk” this week in my workouts!!! Is it the weather, the food, the commitment...I don’t know but the level of energy I have at 5:00 am has been great and enabled me to increase my level of intensity in the workouts across the board! I know the Hulk and I do not compare but the perception keeps me laughing!!!
It was great to get together with everyone yesterday and I really enjoyed the conversation and content of the meeting. It shed some light on a few of the things that happened last week. My perceptions of people and situations began to change and I began to wonder why the “outside” world seemed to be changing….little did I know that it was really the inside of me!! With this knowledge I hope to re-identify with what really is important and discover how I can become a more fulfilled person."

Recruit SK -
While feeling more energized and getting in touch with her "Inner Hulk", SK has also lost nearly 20 pounds in the last 6 weeks and has become quite the runner these days!

Overall, I cannot be more excited about my progress thus far... you have really inspired me. After our meeting today, I now know why. You have total unconditional love for your participants... I know, it takes a lot of courage to talk about spirituality and I really respect you for doing it. So many people want to make it about eating this or that, or this combination, etc.... but you have helped us to realize it is so much more. It is about attachments and not being afraid of giving them up and never have M. (fellow Recruit) or I felt that you have been judgmental at any point. You truly, unconditionally love the people around you and help us get real with what needs to change.
I feel that I am a much better person now, since knowing you. Talk about a high vibration! All that I can say is thank you....thank you...thank you. I am blessed to have met you.
Last thing is - how vital it is for me to be inspired. I realize that I must nurture this in myself. When I went hiking in the Red Rocks, I realized how this has to be a regular thing for me. Maybe some people see this as a luxury, me included, but I have never felt so close to God. We meditated on the mountaintop and felt so free and nourished....I felt so full....I didn't need food. What a gift....better than paying a psychotherapist! So there are my thoughts.... I really want to tell you how grateful I am for your depth of knowledge and especially your profound wisdom.... Recruit DK
The above photo is of DK in Warrior II pose, while on a recent retreat to Red Mountain Spa in Utah. Along with the above experience, DK has also lost over 10 pounds in the last 6 weeks and has reclaimed an active lifestyle.
These are just a couple of wonderful updates I have received this week. There are many more that I intend to share in the upcoming days.