You Are What You Consume

“You are what you eat” is among the best nutrition advice if understood and practiced.

Think about it, if you consider your body will rebuild your bone and muscle and brain cells specifically with the food you eat, would you think twice about tossing back a sugar-latent coffee and two donuts for breakfast every day?

Similarly, your thoughts and emotions are formed from  information you consume throughout the day. The music, social media posts, gossip, TV shows (and commercials), movies and magazines you and your children consume make up your perspective about the world.

This is not a one way street, especially for children who are still forming their frame, or perspective, of the world around them. What goes into your mind and heart comes out in the way we relate to others in action and words.

You are what you eat. You are how you move. You are what you consume.

Choose wisely, for you AND your kids. I love that my wife continually teachers our children:

“your eyes and ears are the windows to your heart, mind and soul.”

Planking 101 – Short versus Long Plank Holds and More Tips

Planks are pretty popular for “core training”, but are rarely done effectively. They can be great for improving your breathing and creating total body tension which is key to increasing your strength and power. Whatever type of plank you are practicing, try doing them in intervals of 10-20 sec versus holding for longer 60+ sec where you will usually end up hanging on stretched out muscles and do more harm than good.

Start with your elbows on the floor, forearms parallel, and focus on taking deep breaths while contracting your fists, abs, glutes and quads all at the same time. If you do this, a 15 sec plank will be wicked tough and crazy effective … your finisher for tomorrow is a 20 sec plank followed by a 10 sec rest x 8 rounds. Let me know how that treats you and check out the pictures and videos for more tips …

 

Check out these videos for a few plank variations to incorporate into your next workout:

Walking Plank (Up Up Down Down Planks) – 3 per side

Plank & Side Plank Goals

Side Plank with Hip Dips

Walk Out Planks

Plank Rotators

Split-Squat / Plank Superset

Try this quick workout next time you train:

Tabata Plank Interval:

Hold an Elbows & Toes Plank for 20 seconds

Rest 10 Seconds

Repeat this for 8 rounds. Really hold your plank tight, forearms parallel, glutes and quads tight and breath normally or more deeply than usual.

Training Journal – Front Squat 200 lbs x 3 reps (July 10, 2015)

Journal Entry. Training for the ShowMe’s bball tourney I ended up missing due to an ankle injury, I wanted to look at a heavy front squat to see where I was. (My best front squat ever was in 1999 at BYU – 315 x 3 reps.) Here, my left low back and QL were a little crabby and I thought I was protecting it a bit much. So after several warm up sets at 135 and 185, I hit 200 lbs x 3 reps just to see my core and hip organization during the movement.

I probably felt a bit more stiff than it actually appears. I will hit this again in October when I am 8+ weeks out from my left ankle sprain. Coincidentally, this was shot on a Friday, the following Monday is when I was injured.

Pretty good habits lead to pretty good results.

When we want to get into shape, we really want to improve one of four things: to move, feel, look and/or play better. Think about your health and fitness goals. Those four things pretty much sum it up. No one goal is more important than the others, as long as they are in balance.

Setting short-term goals keeps us driven in the moment. The key though is to keep your goals in the front of your mind and your behaviors aligned with these goals. Most importantly, be honest with yourself about this alignment.

This discussion is always an interesting one, and, all too common. Follow along here and let me know when you catch on. This conversation just happened this morning:

“What’s up sister … so how are you feeling with everything … your workouts, our training ….?”

“I feel toned and definitely feel strong and all around better, but I guess I just can’t lose weight.”

“OK, so you are concerned then most right now about the way you look?”

“Well, I look OK, but honestly, I could lose more around my waist and arms. Well, really? I want to look GREAT next month for my trip to the beach.”

“OK, I get it. How is your food right now?”

“Well that’s the thing. I actually am eating pretty good. So I don’t get it.”

“So how do you want to look and feel at the beach?”

“Great. At least better than I would today.”

“OK, so how are you eating?”

“I just told you, I am pretty much on track. I am doing pretty good with my food.”

“OK, well first, you look better than “pretty good”, but again … how do you want to look and feel on the beach in your swimsuit?”

“Oh, I am being a knucklehead, aren’t I?”

“Ready to go workout?”

“Yes.”

No matter your goals, “pretty good” behaviors lead to “pretty good” results. And pretty good might really be awesome for most people, especially for a busy 39-year-old mother of 3 as this conversation was with, so don’t sell yourself short. If everyone ate pretty good and trained pretty good and slept pretty good, our country’s state of health and fitness would be so much better than it is today. Just be honest with yourself about your goals and your effort.

 

Pros and Problems with Performing Planks and Planking Challenges

Dave Reddy demonstrating a pressing strength pattern - the push up plank

Push Up Planks are great for building strength-endurance and serving as a prerequisite for more advanced core training.

For most people, planks are a pretty darned good exercise. Similar to food, there aren’t too many “bad” exercises, only bad habits and behaviors (aka exercise form) surrounding those exercises. Done correctly in moderation, planks can help you in two primary areas:

  1. Develop core muscle-endurance while helping you differentiate between your abdominal wall muscles and your breathing mechanisms. Meaning, you want to brace your core and abdominal muscles without necessarily holding your breath. Thus, make sure you can breathe deeply during a plank.
  2. Secondly, planks help develop total body, mostly upper body tension. Tension is key to strength. A strong tense grip for instance is associated with a strong shoulder girdle. Strength is our number one goal for both metabolic and functional improvements in the training arena. A properly performed plank helps us develop some wicked total body tension that can increase our core and postural strength which in turn helps reduce injury and improve everyday tasks and athletic endeavors.

(If you are a new mom, or will someday become a mom, and have children under the age of 5, check out this article and become familiar with core training systems like MuTu. Here is a in-depth article about planks and women: “If Planks Aren’t the Best Postpartum Exercise, Prove It!

But, because planks are relatively easy to attempt, assuming you have healthy shoulders AND big toes, everyone does them. And we assume that if we can only hold a 10 second plank with our first attempt, then 20 seconds is better, and 40 seconds is better and 4 minutes is like totally the best! Wrong. I have been there … I planked with 45 other people and can proudly say I won the “challenge” with about a 3.5 minute plank. I have never held one over 45 seconds since. I actually lead this particular group challenge and afterwards questioned whether I was doing the best thing for my training/client community. I was not.

Planks should absolutely be developed and practiced, but only up to performing a 45-60 second plank. After you can do a 45 second plank, it is time to make them more dynamic. Here are a few sample videos:

Push Ups & Negative Push Ups

Plank Rows

Walking Planks

BOSU Push Up Plank

Click here to open a PDF describing a few of my favorite core exercises – Weekend Warrior Rx Core Series.

So what is wrong with trying for a two minute plank?

I get that it is fun to occasionally go for a 90 second plank, but beyond a minute or so, we lose the upper body tension we are aiming for, and instead resort to “hanging on our meat” where we lose tension in areas of our body and we simply shift from our shoulder joints to our hip and lower back and begin sagging throughout. Or our hips (rear end) ever so slightly shift up meaning we have all but shut off our core muscles and are now relying on our hip flexors that in turn throws our hips and pelvis out of whack causing all sorts of issues in our knees, back and shoulders. Who wants that?

So if you are challenging yourself or others, do so by trying to hold a wicked strong, tense, strength improving plank position for up to a minute. Here are a few tips.

Tips for your groups Plank Challenge:

  • If your first plank attempt is under 20 seconds, your 3-5 week goal should be do double your time, with your goal being 45-60 seconds. (See the 3rd bullet on form.)
  • If you first attempt is 20-40 seconds, really focus on tensing your entire body throughout and double your plank time within 2-4 weeks. (See next bullet on form.)
  • If you can plank for 40-60 seconds on your first attempt, focus on quality over quantity. The key is tension – Begin on your forearms and toes, forearms parallel, fists tight, shoulders pulled away from your ears, and then this is key: simultaneously contract your quads, glutes and abs and continue checking in with each area to make sure everything is tight and contracted and TONED! You will not “tone” these areas if you cannot hold them tone for 40-60 seconds during a plank. Finally, breathe! Breathe and focus on exhaling a little bit more than you are inhaling. You should feel your abs get a tighter on your exhales.

To sum all of this up: you simply cannot hold a proper, effective and functional plank really well for over a minute unless you are Lance Armstrong and you blood dope. Then, well, maybe.

For a few of my favorite core exercises, check out the linked videos throughout this email and practice the moves on the attached PDF. Maybe I will develop a 6 Core Challenge after moving beyond planks.

Happy Planking People!

What is YOUR Definition of Fitness?

Picking Up a Child is one way to define Fitness with Dave Reddy

A “fit” mom may mean she has the ability to pick up her child easily. Focusing on this task may result in a tight core, strong back and proper squatting mechanics.

“Fitness is the ability to perform a task.”

Performing a given task may require specific skills or attributes including speed, endurance, flexibility, balance, accuracy, power and agility.

Who is more fit? The Olympic weight lifter, the professional basketball player or the marathon runner? Each “fit” athlete attempts to master a few different attributes specific to their task.

“I can’t tell you what fitness is until you tell me what you want.”

The point is that when you want to become fit, decide what fitness means for you … what task(s) do you want or need to perform during your work and play? (Check out the picture on the right.) Then figure out what attributes will help you do that task.

Train a few times per week at home or at the gym to improve those attributes while keeping these questions in mind:

  • what is the purpose of each exercise I am doing? (this is particularly important with the stretches we do, as the only reason we stretch is to improve the movements that lead to performing our desired task.)
  • which movement (task) or fitness attribute (endurance, balance, etc) are you specifically improving?
Kettlebell Goblet Squat with Fitness Teacher and Coach, Dave Reddy

A goblet squat builds total body, “every day” strength from head to toe while providing a sweet metabolic effect which in turn burns more calories.

Answer these two questions and then build motivation by doing these three things:

  1. set short-term goals (double your plank time, touch your toes, lose 2 lbs, increase your maximum number of push ups by one repetition),
  2. find cool people to join you in the effort (an exercise class, boot camp or online community),
  3. consider how much you need to enjoy the actual exercise versus enjoying just the results. Zumba may be fun and enjoyable today, but running sprints, jumping rope and doing kettlebell goblet squats  (pictured right) will deliver faster and longer lasting bang for your buck. One may not be better than the other, but you may stick to one exercise longer and that is most important (especially in the beginning.)

Finally, please remember, form follows function. Focusing on functional, purposeful exercise first will not only  improve your health, fitness and longevity potential, but will help you build towards all of the form/vanity/superficial/”holy cow it’s Memorial Day weekend and I have to wear a t-shirt” goals you may have.

Training with an Injury – Take Advantage of This Time (with Video)

Training in my boot - this is me spotting (now) NHL New York Islander Scott Mayfield with a suspended TRX Row.

Training in my boot – this is me spotting (now) NHL New York Islander Scott Mayfield with a suspended TRX Row.

“Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.” – John Wooden, Basketball Hall of Famer.

Great advice from a legendary coach for training when injured – “Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.” – John Wooden, Basketball Hall of Famer.

I find too many people hurt their shoulder and shut down their entire routine when their legs are perfectly healthy. I coached someone today with a pretty ugly rotator tear, but while she arrived with her spirits down feeling like she can’t get a great workout in, we went ahead and hit the following:

  • squatting floor touches
  • kettlebell dead lifts with light to moderate weight
  • walking agility (heels, toes, side shuffle, grapevine, high knee march)
  • reverse lunges
  • single arm cable rows standing on 2 feet and on 1 foot with her unaffected arm
  • forward lunges
  • single arm lying dumbbell presses (research shows strength training the healthy arm can have strength improving benefits on the injured arm)
  • side lunges & 12″ box step cross over step backs

Needless to say, she was sweating, her entire body (and spirit) felt better and she felt her legs for 2 days after the workout.

Personally a few years ago, my upper body strength soared through the roof after my foot surgeries because with one tire down, I was forced to focus on my upper body training. See the video below. …Continue Reading

Inspiring Kids to be Creative – TED Talk with Stephen Hall

Inspiring Kid's Creativity with Stephen Hall TED Talk

Are kids’ toys too processed? Do they invite creativity or do the job for them?

 “Necessity is the mother of innovation.”

Parents want to give their children everything they can … but should they consider giving them less? Is modern children’s play too processed?

The presenter, Stephen Hall takes a minute or three to get to his point, but his emphasis on parenting and inspiring our children to be creative by giving them less is awesome. The less our children need, the less they may express their intuitive creativity.

I read once that around 93% of children are rated as creative when they are 3 years old, but by the time these same children are 18 years old, only 15% or so are rated as highly creative. As a country, we have dug ourselves into a hole by developing an educational system based on uniformity and conformity.

In most grade schools, Art and Physical Education are only taught once per week. We are so focused on Literature, History and the Sciences that most adults are now walking around “Physically Illiterate” and with what I call “Right Brain Amnesia.” …Continue Reading

Lose Weight With The Declaration of Independence? Check Out This Personal Health D of I.

“The Sun never shined on a cause of greater worth.” – Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776

My Personal Health Declaration of Independence

The Founding Father’s journey towards a free nation serves as a perfect metaphor and tool for declaring independence from your former lifestyle and beginning your own journey of building health from the inside-out.

Thomas Paine was referring to the “cause” that many today call the “American experiment.” I believe the current state of each of our nation’s individual’s personal health is a cause that runs a close second to the original ideas our country was founded. This summer, we once again celebrated the birth of my daughter (she turned 4 on July 4th) and the birth of this American experiment called the United States. But as I looked at my daughter that day becoming lost in all the family, love and other wonderful things she has ahead of her in life, I admit I am not as optimistic about our country, specifically our state of health and fitness.

It got me wondering whether the Declaration of Independence could be used by those interested as more than simply a metaphor, but a commitment and personal declaration to unlearn and let go of all that is holding them back from living a life filled with health and vitality.

I submit that it can indeed. …Continue Reading

How Do You Get Through Your Day? Richie Parker: Drive – Inspirational ESPN Video

Story of Richie Parker on Dave Reddy's Blog“We understood some of the dangers (of riding a bike) … but we welded on these extra long handle bars … and after that … he was just a kid riding his bike.”

This sounds like a pretty normal statement from a Dad about his son … except for this Dad, who’s son was born with no arms.

Check out this awesome ESPN Documentary – Richie Parker – DRIVE. It’s about 7 minutes long and worth the watch … I love every quote about and from the parents in particular. I am as inspired by the parents to be a better parent as I am about Mr. Parker succeeding in life with such incredible challenges.

I often talk about your resourcefulness, especially when it comes to setting weight loss goals. I ask you to think about how often your negativity or guilt about food and exercise literally blocks out your ability to be patient and hopeful as you move forward. Today, consider all of the Divine Virtues … temperance, patience, diligence, faith, hope, fortitude … honestly, don’t we all hope to be just a little bit more mindful of these things during our daily weight loss and fitness challenges? But aren’t these the same qualities we just can’t seem to hold onto when it matters and we seem to be slipping in the opposite direction of our original intentions?

Considering this, take a moment to witness someone like this who’s survival requires all of these virtues nearly every minute of his life.

That is awesome. I don’t post these “inspirational stories” often, but I thought this was worth it.

I think Richie’s perspective is one of simplicity. Simplicity is always a good thing.