Will is More Important Than Skill
Today I ran a triathlon with one of my clients, and once again I was reminded of just how important attitude is when it comes to running a good race, in a marathon, or in life, and what an indescribable joy it is to finish.
Mark, the client I ran with today is a good athlete, but he is in his early fifties, has two businesses, likes to go out to dinner, and have a cocktail every now and again, and enjoys his life, as he should. When he came to me and said that he wanted to train for an Olympic distance triathlon I explained to him that while I admired his ambition, he needed to understand that training for such a demanding race would be a lot of hard work. He said he was ready and committed. He really wanted to do this. So I said, let’s do it!
During our two month training period, I did have to motivate Mark occasionally if he’d had a couple of drinks the night before or was working late, but I could see that he really was determined to achieve his goal and was really gaining in strength and endurance with each and every session. As he overcame each personal milestone, he grew in strength, endurance, and confidence.
Then, Mark tore his Achilles tendon and the next week his back went out. It was hard to imagine how a man who could barely walk was going to compete in a triathlon. But Mark kept going. I helped him find a doctor to get him past his injuries, and Mark pushed through the pain, and kept running, and biking and swimming.
Today, watching him cross the finish line was one of the peak moments that reminds me why I love my job. I felt so happy and proud to have been a part of Mark’s amazing achievement, and it was so wonderful to see the joy on his face that comes when you realize that you can put mind over matter, and achieve a goal you set out to achieve, come what may.
I admit, I am a Type A personality, and if I’m not careful, I can get a bit obsessive about my daily routines and rituals, which is why I’m careful to remind my clients not to make the same mistakes about their own regimens. Just to give you an idea, here’s a recap of my week. I rushed back into the city late Monday night from the Hamptons, got up early Tuesday morning for a run on my own because I knew it was the only time I would find just for me. Then for the rest of the week I worked, worked, worked, worked, then rushed back out east early Thursday, arrived at Browning’s Southhampton, then drove another hour out to Amagansett to work with my client in Amagansett, followed by a weekend of back to back training sessions before turning around and heading back to the city to start the whole routine over again. I think we all can fall into the trap of thinking that the more we do, the better we are, and the more people will like us. Honestly though, nobody likes a martyr, and I think people get tired of listening to the long lists of accomplishments without a pause even for breath. And nobody gets more tired in the end, then we over achievers. This is why an important part of the Browning Method is learning to do the RIGHT exercises, in the RIGHT way, for the RIGHT amount of time. Too much of anything is never a good thing. Even when it comes to work and training. And it’s important to always leave time in every day to just do things for yourself, without the pressure of having to achieve. This is the best way to maintain a healthy lifestyle for life, without burning out or giving up.
While I am not, by any means, the world’s most fantastic golfer, (although not for lack of trying!) I like to spend time hitting balls with my clients who are fantastic golfers, so that I can understand how to help them with the particular aches and pains that they experience as a consequence of their sometimes almost religious devotion to their sport. Many of my golfers this summer are feeling the muscles close to their spine and into the center of their waist. It’s generally pain that occurs on the right side and tightens up their stroke.
Golfers are prone to discomfort along their ITB or their Iliotibial Band, which is the muscle on the outside of the thigh. This band can shoot pain into the hip, and all the way down the leg into the Achilles tendon, which can be quite painful. Golfers are also prone to trouble in their QL,or Quadratus Lumborum, which are the muscles close to the spine which wrap around the waist. This is what is crunching up their stroke. To help them out with this, I have been doing a lot of rotational work, concentrating on strengthening and loosening these areas during their training each week, so that they can achieve better results on and off the golf course.
Lead by Example
Last week I went over to take my client Michael swimming in Amagansett. When I picked him up at the house, his two children, who are 2 and 4 years old, were watching with curiosity. Their eyes got big and wide when we pulled on our wet suits, and they begged to come along as we headed out the door, but Michael explained that they didn’t have wet suits so had to wait at home. It was wonderful to see how excited they got at the idea of their daddy swimming in the ocean. This week, when I went to pick Michael up for his swim, his oldest boy was all dressed up in a brand new wet suit, ready for his first swimming lesson.
Children really do learn best by example. The more you do, the more they do, and the more fun you have at it, the more fun they will have. If you run, they will run, if you bike, they will bike. But make the experience fun instead of a chore, and definitely don’t force the issue, or you will kill any desire in our kids after that.
Does Coffee Produce Cortisol?
Many people are surprised when they see that I often suggest an espresso or cappucino, with skim milk of course, in my meal plans. A lot of my clients avoid coffee altogether because they believe that it produces cortisol, the stress hormone which encourages your body to store fat rather than burn it. They ask me why I would put a cortisol producing anything into my meal plans? I explain to them that one or two cups of espresso or a cappuccino will not produce cortisol. Drinking coffee all day long combined with a poor diet will increase your cortisol levels. As with most things, moderation and balance are everything, and when you exercise portion control, along with a good nutritious meal plan, you can enjoy the good things in life, including a latte or an espresso for a morning or afternoon pick me up.
It’s All About Breakfast
No matter how rigorously you exercise, if you aren’t eating right, you won’t achieve an ideal body shape. I have a client, Marjorie, who lives in Colorado and literally climbs 18,000 vertical feet up and down four times a week. She was certainly doing the cardio, doing the three to four hours I recommended, and yet, she was over weight, and had a belly. I started to talk to her about her diet, and while it was healthy, and she was educated about nutrition, she was going about her eating all wrong.
First of all, she wasn’t eating breakfast, or if she did eat breakfast, she would have a protein shake, which didn’t give her energy. I explained to her that she had to eat breakfast every morning, not just sometimes. We put her on a plan to have a piece of fruit, or just a few nuts and a banana for breakfast. Then for lunch, instead of the salmon with a salad and six hundred calories worth of dressing, we got her to eat the salmon with a baked potato and two kinds of roasted vegetables. Instead of protein for dinner we got her to eat a little pasta, just a small portion with a little tomato sauce, or maybe add a little chicken to it if she’d been short on protein for lunch. We tried this diet for a week, and she felt much more energy, she was losing her belly and in a matter of weeks, her body began to seamlessly be reshaped to match Marjorie’s athletic lifestyle.