Cardio Day

No resistance training today.  It’s Cardio Day.  We went for an early beach walk, then came back and made our green vegetable juice mix, same as yesterday.  We’re now waiting an hour, and will head back to the beach across the road with water and a towel for the Abs portion of Cardio Day.  Today’s training session will take 30 minutes; 20 minutes High Intensity Intermittent Cardio, followed by 8-10 minutes of Abs.

I haven’t decided what HIIC Drill we’ll use for cardio today. Something we’ll be able to do with little or no equipment at the beach.  I’ll work it out now before we leave the house, and post later on in the day to let you know how it went.

Bucasia Beach, Queensland

We’re a block from the beach in a quiet residential area 15 minutes to the east of Mackay.  The beach along this long, protected bay is approximately 7 or 8 kilometers long, and we’re situated just about dead center of that length.  We walked to one end and back each of the first two days.  Today we followed up that 8 km beach walk with an intense 25 minute leg workout.

Our meals were perfect again.  Mixed green vegetable juice first thing in the morning, with addition of essential fats, protein, Life Extension Mix.  Lunch was a mixed salad consisting of quinoa, a big handful of leafy greens, one can of ‘five bean mix’, half a chicken breast, 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of virgin cocoanut oil.  it’s in a liquid form at 30 degrees C, and great as an essential oil in a salad dressing.

This afternoon we sat around the pool for a couple hours and went in the water several times to cool down.  It was another great weather day.  We are into week 3 of our holiday and we haven’t had a day of rain yet.  We’ve stocked up the fridge with good healthy food so we’ll figure out what we’ll have for supper, then maybe out by the pool and listen to some music before bed.

We’ll be staying here for another 5 days, and I’ll post again tomorrow with some pictures.

 

Townsville, Queensland

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted.  Lynette and I finally got away the last week of August to begin a much anticipated and I think much deserved 6 week vacation.  The morning we left we woke to 4 inches of new snow. Good time to leave but it made the first three or four hours of driving a little slow, as we were heading north through the mountains from our place.  Normally it takes about 3 and a half hours to Canberra, but we added an additional hour with the snow.  Once through Canberra it was smooth sailing another four hours around Sydney, and our first night’s destination was with a very special friend of ours who lives aboard a 40 foot sailboat an hour north of Sydney, in the marina at Newcastle. The night aboard was full of good food, good friendship, and plenty of laughs.  Our friend has been in the process of restoring the boat this past winter, and she has done an incredible job.

The next morning we had a five and a half hour drive to Kirra Beach on the Gold Coast, where we had a beach house rented for the week.  Lynette’s daughter and her husband joined us with their two incredible kids, and we had the best week.  Besides playing with the kids on the beach in the afternoons, Lynette and I trained hard each morning, ate perfect, walked the beach in the evening, and two nights tried the food at the local Lifesavers Clubs, overlooking the water.  Couldn’t have been better.  The temperature averaged mid twenties during the day.

It was also great to watch the surfing.  At the Gold Coast, you are still south of the Whitsunday Islands and Great Barrier Reef, so the waves roll across the Pacific in a BIG way.  Watching men and women from 12 year old kids to those in their 70’s spend an hour in the morning in the water on their board’s looked like an incredible lifestyle.  We hope to spend the winter somewhere up here next year, and if we end up on the surf beaches I’ll give it a go and see if this old dog can still learn any new tricks.

From Kirra Beach we made our way another four or five hours north to Yeppoon, an amazing little town with great ocean views whichever way you turn. The Whitsunday Islands begin here, so there’s no more surfing, but the beaches are just as nice and you can literally walk for days on them.  We also trained in the morning and ate healthy meals.

After a few days in Yeppoon, we made our way another three or four hours to one of the nicest beaches I’ve yet to see.  Sarina Beach is not the place to go if you need the night life, shopping, or fine dining.  But if you’re like us and like long quiet beaches and incredible ocean swimming, this is the place.  By this stop we were in a good daily routine of training, work for two hours, beach and local sites, of which there are many.  Further north now, the temperatures were close to 30 Celsius (85 F)

After a few days we said farewell to Sarina Beach with a promise that we’ll be back.  We drove another four hours to where we are currently hanging our hat, Townsville.  Nice city, about 200,000 souls here.  Again, nice beaches, although we’re getting far enough north that swimming isn’t as good because of the stinging jellyfish (pretty bad) and a lot more saltwater crocs (really bad).  I like to swim in water that I’ve got a pretty decent chance of being at the top of the food chain.  This ain’t it.  The temperatures are still 30 or a little higher, so nice in the winter though the locals tell us in the summer the heat and humidity is pretty oppressive.

This is as good a place as any to talk about sharks.  They are of course everywhere along the coast, but in the populated areas like the Gold Coast or Sunshine Coast, they have shark nets strung for miles out in the water about half a kilometer.  This keeps most of the sharks outside the swimming and surfing areas.  Also, there are Lifesavers Clubs along these beaches with lookouts during the daytime, as well as helicopters checking for any sharks that have managed to get through the nets.  You feel pretty safe inside the nets.  The more remote you go, the more chance you have of shark attacks..  It’s as simple as that, but there are a few tips to keep the odds heavily in your favour.  The main one: swim during the middle of the day.  All fish, sharks included, like to feed at dawn and dusk and through the night.  So don’t go for midnight dips and the odds are really good that you’ll keep your limbs.

We’ll stay here another day or two, then work our way back over the next three weeks.  We will probably spend another week or so along the coast near Sarina Beach.  There are a bunch of little towns dotted along this stretch of beach, and we’ll pick one as we get closer.

I’ll keep you posted in the next several days, once we get settled into our next spot.  I will also attempt to post a training video over the next week, so you can see how easy it is to train while you travel with very little equipment.  I’ve hesitated to do this so far because it does take away from the spontaneity of the training when I’m talking and training at the same time. We’ll see how it goes.

That’s it for now.  Eyes open.  No fear.

Training, Mindset, and Life

It’s pretty easy to understand that there’s a link between mindset and what we set out to achieve in life.  Anyone who’s ever made a New Year’s resolution to get fit, only to break it a few weeks or months later, understands this.  Simply having an intention to do something doesn’t get the job done.  A change of mindset has to take place in order to take the consistent action necessary to achieve the goal.

But making a mindset shift is a difficult thing to explain, let alone teach.  We all have unique experiences that will influence whether making a significant mindset shift will be difficult or easy for us.  Let me explain using a personal example.  As a young man the goals I set for myself were achieved relatively easy.  Maybe it was luck, maybe it was that I set the bar too low, or maybe I chose to take action in only those areas where my mindset was already focused where it needed to be.  In any event, most things I set out to do seemed, at least to an outsider, to fall in my lap.

But then something happened.  I failed spectacularly at a couple of things. Big things.  Lots of the blame falls on my shoulders, but certainly not all.  I won’t go into the specifics other than to say that my failures were pubic, and they also deeply affected the relationships I had in my life at the time.  These failures rocked my confidence to the core; so much so that setting my mindset right to do what needed to be done in order to get back on track proved extremely difficult.

I remember being afraid even to try at the time.  Looking back I suppose my mindset was, ‘why even try, you’ll just fail anyway’.  So, I didn’t try.  Oh, I did what I needed to do to survive, but I certainly wasn’t positioning myself where I could thrive.  About the only thing I did consistently was my training.  It has always been my life anchor (everyone needs an anchor.  We’ll talk more about that another day).  But even my training wasn’t optimal.

So what changed so that I got out of that slump and turned the corner back towards success and a great life?  I suppose it was an accumulation of a number of realizations.  I came to the realization that those individuals who were with you while you were ‘winning’ but are nowhere to be found when you find yourself at the bottom of the heap aren’t really your friends at all.  We hear this all the time but until you experience it first-hand, you really don’t understand.  Secondly, and this ties in to the first point, is I came to realize that nobody really wants to hear your side of the story when you’ve failed.  The narrative that is remembered and believed by everyone you knew is written by one side only, and in my case it wasn’t mine.  Lastly, and most importantly, I came to realize that I didn’t have to live up to everyone else’s perception of me as a failure.  My lack of positive choices, my lack of mindset shift, was only confirming the narrative that they had come to believe.

Once I realized these things, changing my mindset became not only easier, it became a driving force in my life.  I began reading books and watching videos that explained the power of the mind.  I used the knowledge I had accumulated over a lifetime about training, nutrition, and what it takes to succeed in physical endeavors, and leveraged that knowledge towards every other area of my life where I wanted to succeed.

Was it hard work?  Of course it was; perhaps especially for someone like myself where before ‘the fall’, everything came pretty easy.  Was it worth it?  Absolutely.  Why would you choose to accept where you are, and who you are,perceived to be, when you have all the power within yourself to change your circumstances, your direction, your fitness, and your lifestyle.

Lynette and I are heading to the northern beaches of Queensland in less than a couple of weeks to spend two months training every morning, eating good healthy food, and enjoying everything that this life has to offer. And it all started with a determination to have a change of mindset.

Eyes open.  No fear.

 

 

 

 

 

Training for Optimum Strength and Fitness

At 54, I’ve trained for my entire adult life and feel as goog in my fifties as I did in my twenties or thirties.  I’m not as strong as I was in my twenties and thirties but I love my 45 minutes of training every day.  I wouldn’t miss it actually.

And now with the continued advancement of nutrition science getting lean, strong and healthy is getting easier.  In the eighties, conventional wisdom was that ‘fat makes you fat’, and every athlete of any caliber was eating high protein, high carbohydrate, low fat diets.  It gave rise to the food pyramid guides of the day, and that we still unfortunately find many leading bodies advocating.

Today of course, performance nutrition scientists understand that high protein/high carbohydrate diets have had the disastrous effect of leading an entire generation into obesity and adult onset diabetes.  Heck, even those who forego the high protein part of the equation but continue to routinely eat high carbohydrate meals, will experience negative body changes and sub-optimal health as they age.

The second part of the equation is where this post will focus, and it relates to how I’ve learned to exercise in order to achieve maximum benefit.  Of course, what one person sees as maximally beneficial is highly subjective, so I’ll define what that means for me.  My goal is to:

  1. look and feel younger than my age, keeping my muscle to fat ratio as high as I can while still being functionally very fit,
  2. having my yearly blood work come back in an exceptional range for my age, and
  3. keeping my cardiovascular health top notch.

If the field of nutrition science was ahead of me in coming to understand what worked best for what I consider optimum fitness, in the arena of exercise science I can confidently state that I was ahead of the curve of the prevailing wisdom.  This was partly because by the time I had reached my late thirties I had figured out what didn’t work for me, and partly because my first twenty years of training in the conventional manner had led to some injuries that forced me to change my training.

So what’s the best way to train to get to my definition of optimum fitness?  Without getting into it too deeply in this post (and we’ll dive in deeper later on) my fitness program must contain these features:

  • Variety.  My training involves elements that target each aspect of my goals.  For example, heart health is extremely important as we age, so twice a week I run hills or perform box jumps or skip rope plus other forms of high intensity interval training  (HIIT) that targets my heart and cardiovascular health.  Four days a week I train with weights and/or perform body weight movements in a manner that increases my strength and my muscle/fat ratio, and once or twice a week I take private fight classes with a pro, learning how best to be functionally fit.
  • Short workouts.  My HIIT training typically is for 15-20 minutes max.  This has been shown in study after study to be the optimal time limit to getting maximum results.  My weight training days are a bit longer, typically being 30 minutes and sometimes pushing to 40 minutes but never more.  This maximizes the production of positive, anabolic (growth) hormones produced by the body.  Anything longer than that and your body will begin producing destructive catabolic hormones which will negate much of the benefit of your training.
  • Intense workouts.  Both my weight training workouts and my HIIT training is intense.  During HIIT training I push to reach heart rate maximum for my age bracket within 30 seconds, then allow 60-90 seconds for my heart rate to drop by approximately 30 beats per minute (bpm) before repeating.  During weight training workouts, I go to failure on EVERY exercise movement, every set, while keeping my weights light enough that I can always perform at least 12 repetitions before I reach failure, and heavy enough that I can never perform much more than 20 repetitions.  By journaling each workout, I know where my ‘sweet spot’ is for each movement.
  • Full recovery.  Because I train hard, I always allow for as close to complete recovery of each muscle group as possible before I train it again.  This will depend on what stage of training I am in, which is the next point…
  • Seasonality of training. This point will at first seem to contradict my point I made about intensity, but in practice it doesn’t.  I will explain it more in another post. In brief, a body will eventually get used to just about any movement.  For example, where I live in Australia the farmers bring in sheep shearers twice a year to harvest the wool.  If you’ve never seen sheep shearing trust me when I tell you it is absolutely back breaking work.  Yet, for the men and women who perform this task, because they do it every day, their bodies have become used to the work.  For our goals though, we never want our bodies to become used to the work.  That’s why we always add variety of movements to our training, and that is why we also should incorporate seasonality into our training.  Sometimes during the year, I’ll train slightly less intense, allowing me to train each muscle group more times per week.  At other times I will train extremely hard, and it will take a full 6 days before I can train that body part at the same intensity again.

There are other, more subtle training tips and advice that I’ve learned over the years but I would say these points would constitute the basics of training for maximum fitness.  We’ll get into some of the subtleties another time.