Category: Fitness

The Power Within

You Have the Power to Change Your Life

Regardless of your circumstances, if you are not content, there are changes that you can make that will increase your contentment. In this article, we will address what we consider to be a “normal” level of discontent, and one of the best strategies to increase your happiness. We are not discussing clinical depression. That is a serious medical problem that requires a professional intervention. See your doctor if you have the signs and symptoms of depression.

Discontent

By “normal” level of discontent I’m referring to the everyday thoughts that we could be doing better. You know, the “I just don’t know how my life turned out this way.” kind of generic misery that is pervasive in American society. It’s an epidemic. For the most part, I think that we’re spoiled. We think that our lives should read like a romance novel or a sitcom and when that is seldom the truth, we decide that we blew it. There may be an element of truth in that, however, we do not, let me repeat, do NOT have to stay that way! Our lot in life is up to us to a great degree. While some people do seem to have better opportunities than others, we can all make changes that will increase our happiness.

A Key to Happiness

One of the most powerful mind/mood altering elements known to man is effective on a daily basis, affordable, legal, available in multi platforms, is not addictive and has no negative side effects. It is, yep, you guessed it, exercise…activity…movement…working out. “Usually within five minutes of working out, you get a mood enhancement effect.”[1] Couple this feel-good, can-do mindset with a healthy body and there is no limit to your capabilities. Your mental strength increases right along with your physical strength. “Exercise could help to ward off panic attacks…”[2] If you suffer from anxiety, PTS, depression or any other mental/emotional/psychological difficulty, exercise can help that. A leisurely stroll will do you some good and any exercise is better than nothing, however, there is a lot of evidence that strenuous exercise can do more. There are exceptions to this. Use common sense. Do whatever empowers you.

Super Hero!

Exercise can awaken the beast that lies within, the source of your strength, the part of you that literally fights for your life. Very soon after I began lifting heavy, I got serious about recreating my entire life. Once you discover that you can do hard things that you never dreamed that you could do, there is no limit to what you will attempt. Mind you, there are those who will not understand what you’re doing. The very nature of “CHANGE” terrifies the tamer soul. When these people, with these mild temperaments see you altering your life to be happy, they will most likely think that you’ve lost your mind. The truth is, you’ve lost THEIR mind. You are finding yours.

There are Rules

When we work out hard our bodies need a day to rest between workouts. I’ve known people who were determined to break this rule and lifted heavy, or ran hard, every single day…for a while…and then the injury hit. Trust me on this. Regardless of your age, gender or physical condition if you train really hard every single day, you will sustain an injury. Then you’ve got to stop the strenuous exercise to heal…and then, in that season, you will get muscle atrophy and lose ground. Don’t you know that it would have been better to just go by the rules to begin with and make slow and steady progress? I have to temper myself here, and I do. I have seen more than one person injure themselves over-training. After injury, the time when you can’t work out is a dangerous time for depression and weight gain. You can lose it all. Just go by the rules, they exist for a reason.

Photo by Suzanne D. Williams on Unsplash

Metamorphosis

Once you begin to get strong and feel better, there are changes that take place in your mind. There is an area of study that shows strong correlation between exercise and empowerment. It shows that the mastery of the workout and self-determination may trigger a sense of autonomy, or independence. This leads to empowerment.[3] Nothing feels as good as empowerment. It means that I am the captain of my fate. I do not have to take potluck. I decide what’s brought to the table and then I decide if I want it.

Choices

Once you decide on the type of exercise that you want to do, go as hard as your physician will allow. On your off days, walk. “Exercise is the best restorative exercise.” (David Yochim). No truer words have ever been spoken. I truly love my walks. I walk long and hard but it’s nothing compared to rising from a heavy squat, so it’s actually an off day from strenuous activity. Everything works better after those walks. I am invigorated and pumped to do the things that I  tend to put off. After a good walk, I’m ready to conquer the world. After a hard weight workout, I’m ready to rest.

 Commit to Yourself

Choose the days that you will do the hard workout, and do it on those days. David taught me this. He says to make that your job on those days and that is what works best for me. If I start changing my workout days, sooner or later, I’ll miss one. Missing workouts is bad for me mentally and physically. I’ve found that the earlier in the day that I do it, the stronger I am in the workout, providing I have eaten enough calories. Just get it done anyway that you can. I’ve been known to do it in the middle of the night because honestly, anything is better than missing it for me. I have found that I need to do my workouts when I don’t feel rushed. Do what works best for you, but after years of working out, these are some of the things that I have learned.

You may have to miss some social activities to commit to your workout but tell me now… Had you rather be sitting in a room full of mostly unhealthy, unhappy “friends acquaintances and frienemies” sipping sugar and eating salt or had you rather feel the wind in your hair, your muscles pumping, sweating and knowing that you are doing exactly what you should be doing for yourself, challenging the status quo, getting hot and healthy and defying your age, your genetics and all the naysayers that try to tell you to “act your age”…what?… age equals sick and out of shape?…I don’t think so. 64 is better than 40 for me.

After you’ve taken these steps 1-doctor’s permission, 2-type of exercise and 3-commitment, repeat…and repeat again. Never stop. Don’t look back. You will never be the same once you discover the power within.

1,2 http://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/12exercise.aspx

3 https://pdfs.semanticsscholar.org/523c/a28f920b6a149f5761502b4502ebe1a4bfdc.pdf

Walking for Exercise

Have you ever listened to someone full of confidence make a blanket statement on a topic and then wondered if they were either seriously misinformed, or just a tad delayed in cognitive reasoning? Here is one of those statements I recently heard from a clearly overweight and and out of shape gentleman that was the catalyst for this topic;

“Walking is not exercise”.

Whaat???

Are you serious? I am here to tell you that not is only walking exercise, it is one of the most beneficial exercises you can do for yourself. It is great for your heart, and it is the most restorative exercise you can do following an injury. It is excellent for someone wanting to do cardio after strength training because it is not only low impact, it will not cause any loss of lean muscle such as running can cause. If you are losing unwanted pounds, it is imperative that you maintain as much lean muscle mass as possible, walking will allow you to do this. Walking is great exercise! When we run, we not only burn through fat, we also burn through lean muscle mass. Think about this, have you ever seen a marathon runner that was a big muscular individual?

A mistake that people make when dieting and using running for their exercise is not understanding that when you run, your body relies on calories to gain energy. The most readily available energy stores come from glycogen. When your body burns through glycogen, it begins burning fat. The amount of time this takes varies depending on the intensity of your run, your diet and similar factors, but this usually takes about 30 minutes. If you continue running for an extended period of time after your body begins burning fat, your body also starts burning muscle. The problem for dieters who do not understand nutrition is they can often become malnourished which means you’ll burn muscle more quickly when you run.

Of course some of the main benefits of running include weight loss, stress release, and stronger heart and lungs, but as with most anything that affects your body, you need to know there is often more to the equation than you might know.

Why do we need to maintain lean muscle?

Because as we age, aerobic capacity, muscle quality, as well as agility naturally decline.  It is important to exercise and stay active as you get older to preserve functional fitness. The more fit you are, the longer it can take for your body to get out of shape. Additionally, your lean muscle mass affects your metabolism, the more you maintain, the better your metabolism will be for keeping body fat off. Lean body mass is more “metabolically active” than fat, meaning that muscle burns more calories at rest than fat.  Two individuals that are the same height and weight can have very different metabolic rates, based on their body composition.  Lean body mass is one factor that we can control in order to increase our metabolism and burn more calories!

Benefits of walking for exercise;

Most people can get out and walk, which isn’t just good for you, it is one of the easiest forms of exercise to incorporate into your day-to-day life. Additionally, it is not even arguable that being physically active reduces your risk of developing health conditions like heart disease, diabetes and cancer. When people diet to lose weight, they often lose some muscle in addition to body fat. This is counterproductive, as muscle is more metabolically active than fat. This means it helps you burn more calories each day. Walking, can help counter this effect by preserving lean muscle when you lose weight by reducing the drop in your metabolic rate that often occurs with weight loss, making your results easier to maintain.

When it comes to nutrition and weight loss, people make it more difficult than it needs to be. For exercise you do not require anything fancy or high priced, a simple daily brisk walk can help you to live a healthier life.

For example, regular brisk walking can help you:

Maintain a healthy weight

Prevent or manage various conditions, including heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes

Strengthen your bones and muscles

Improve your mood

Improve your balance and coordination

The faster, farther and more frequently you walk, the greater the benefits.

Walking has it all. Simple and natural, it doesn’t require any instruction or skill. It can be a very modest form of exercise or it can demand enough skill and intensity to be an Olympic sport. You can walk alone for solitude or with friends for companionship. You can walk indoors on a treadmill or outside in the city or country, at home or away. You can get all the benefits of moderate exercise with a very low risk of injury. And to boot, walking is inexpensive. All things considered, Charles Dickens got it right: “Walk to be healthy, walk to be happy.”

 

Women’s Strength Training Program

 

Photo by Anastase Maragos on Unsplash

ALWAYS consult your medical doctor before beginning ANY exercise program.

I had a special topic request from a very special reader, my baby girl Molly Ann. Of course at 31 she is no longer a baby to anyone but me. What great timing for her request as this is something I have had on the back burner for a few days anyhow.

To first get a few things out of the way, there can be several reasons why ladies and men fail with weight training programs. Although lifting weights is not rocket science, if you have no experience, you do not know what it is you do not know. Your lack of knowledge will result in over training, injury and burn out to name a few issues you will encounter. Over training comes from pushing yourself too hard before your body is actually ready for it. Your central nervous system can become fatigued over time and one day you will wake up feeling as if you are coming down with the flu and a depression can overwhelm you. Injury can happen from over training, such as pushing too much weight too soon. Your muscles will gain strength at a quicker rate than your connective tissues which will leave you with painful tendinitis. Injury will also happen if your form goes deteriorates during a lift and you strain or tear a muscle. You have to know when to throw in the towel. Burn out can be a result of a combination of Central Nervous System Fatigue and injury, or it could be that you should have had some rest days in between sessions and just got bored with the hard work of strength training.

My next word of caution if you want to get into strength training is be extra choosy about who you take your advice from. Even if someone looks to be in great shape, it does not mean they know much about good training. Sometimes a person might look fit despite their training. Just because a person appears strong and has muscles, it does not mean they can put together a workable strength training program for you. In short, the guy who is always posing in the mirror or in front of a camera flexing his muscles, and who spends hours and hours in the gym hitting muscles from every different direction, is not who you want to go to for advice when you are new to lifting. Especially if they try to get you to complete a hard to understand laundry list of exercises every session. These types usually have more of an interest in impressing you with their vast knowledge over actually helping you. Weight training does not need to be complicated to be very effective. In fact, when you are new, a complicated routine will end up aggravating you more than anything. Who has the time or interest in learning and doing every curl variation there is under the sun, then moving on to another dozen lifts per muscle. If you go that route though, be sure they teach you how to flex in the mirror or in front of the camera between every set just like they do. Also make sure they teach you how to do that annoying guttural groan with every rep of every set so that every one knows you are pumping the iron.

I am going to lay out a simple barbell program along with a dumbbell variation at a later time for any who may only have access to them instead of a barbell. You do not require much equipment, but a good flat bench with squat stands is essential for the barbell program. Adjustable dumbbells is all you require for the dumbbell variation besides the bench.

In full transparency, the barbell program is not one I have written myself. I am a student of Coaches Mark Rippetoe, Bill Starr, Louie Simmons, Glen Pendlay, Steve Shaw and Jeff Cavalier to name a few. Most of these coaches have developed programming based on old school training methods which are simple by design and the best linear progressive programs you can do. In my early years of weight training I realized that the only way to go if I was going to be serious was to learn from serious coaches and not go with trial and error from bull I picked up in Muscle Magazines and other media. It only makes sense to learn from those who have already made and corrected every mistake that can be encountered while under the iron.

Now, to get to my thoughts on Women’s Weight Training. How about we not distinguish any difference in how men and women train. True we have hormonal differences, and obvious differences in our genders. But other than that, our bodies are the same. There is no difference in our muscle groups, therefore there is no good reason to train any differently solely because of a difference in our genders. Ladies, know that barbell training is not going to make you bulky unless you put in a lot of effort towards getting bulky. You do not produce the testosterone to get there.  It is a lot of work for men to ever get bulky and usually requires eating a very high calorie diet to get there. At my strongest, I was intentionally eating 6000 calories a day to fuel heavy lifting. You do not do that by accident, I guarantee. No one just gets bulky over night, not ever. Unless they are on performance enhancing drugs, and not always even then if they are not putting in the work to get huge.

Besides having run the barbell program myself, I coach Brenda Sue. We began her with a simple Kettlebell program before she decided to get truly serious and bought a barbell. Her bench and squat rack came later. We had barely began with her training when her home took a direct hit by three tornadoes back in March 2018. In the beginning, she was doing floor presses instead of bench press and had to improvise a squat rack by stacking containers up to set the barbell at shoulder height. Brenda Sue recovered her iron from the wreckage of her home and continued the improvised lifting for a couple more weeks in her temporary shelter at a local hotel. And then she moved into a house and completed her set up with a bench and squat stands. Brenda Sue went from a very shaky 35 lb squat and maybe about the same for a dead lift and bench press to her current 140 lb squat, 110 bench press and 225 lb deadlift.  Her squat was so weak and shaky that I truly wondered if she was going to master the lift or stick with it long enough to master it. I told her when she first began that if she stuck with my training that she would need to buy more weight for her barbell. I know that did not seem real to her at first, then soon we had to discuss her getting more weights. And guess what ladies, Brenda looks strong, she is strong, yet she is not the least bit bulky. Oh, another point of interest, Brenda was 61 years old when she began lifting weights seriously. She had piddled around in years past, but never serious as in now. Now, she is a true believer in how effective it is. This is a very simple to follow basic barbell program that follows a linear progression, which means you will start very light and add 5 to 10 pounds to the barbell every lifting session until you fail to execute all of your reps in a set. At that time, you will simply try that same weight next session and if you get all reps, you add more weight the next. If you fail to get all of your reps again, then you de-load by about 10% and work your way back up. This is the Rippetoe Starting Strength model of 3×5 where you will do 2 warm up sets and then 3 working sets of 5 reps only on each set. The entire program only involves 5 different lifts; Squat, Dead Lift, Bench Press, Overhead Press and Bent Over Row. This is a full body workout that will get you great results without having to spend more than an hour in the gym and does not require any complicated set and rep schemes that the body builders would have you doing. I believe in the KISS concept, Keep it Stupid Simple so even a guy such as myself can follow it. This routine will only be done 3 days a week, such as Monday, Wednesday and Friday and then no lifting at all on the other days. If you want to do cardio, I suggest you run or walk directly after your lifting. Do not run on your non lifting days as the running will kill your lifts. You have to be able to recover between sessions, even though you will not feel the need at the beginning. Know this, a good lifting program performed right is cardiovascular in nature. This training is going to work your heart as much as running.

Now to cover the lifts and the muscle groups impacted by each:

Squats: (From Wikipedia)

a compound, full body exercise that trains primarily the muscles of the thighs and hips, and buttocks, quadriceps, femoral muscle and hamstrings, as well as strengthening the bones, ligaments and insertion of the tendons throughout the lower body. Squats are considered a vital exercise for increasing the strength and size of the legs as well as developing core strength.

Dead Lifts:(From LiveStrong)

Back Muscles

The erector spinae, the muscles of your low back, are some of the main movers during the deadlift exercise. These three muscles — the iliocastalis, the longissimus and the spinalis — run from near the base of your skull, down your back and attach to the lower vertebrae. The erector spinae muscles perform several movements related to the torso and neck. During the deadlift, these muscles help extend the torso, pulling the spine back as you stand up.

Glute Muscles

The deadlift also targets your butt muscles, the gluteus maximus. This is the large muscle that runs diagonally down from the middle of your body to the outside of your thigh. It attaches to your pelvic bone and sacrum on one end and your femur, the thigh bone, on the other end. The gluteus maximus muscle is responsible for hip extension, moving the top of your pelvic bone back as you stand up during the deadlift exercise.

Leg Muscles

The deadlift targets both the quadriceps on the front of your thigh and the hamstrings on the back of your thigh. However, the hamstrings only act as stabilizers during this exercise; the quadriceps muscles are the primary movers. They are four muscles that run from the top of your thigh, down the front of your leg and attach to your tibia, one of the bones of your lower leg. These muscles are responsible for knee extension, straightening the knee joint as you stand up during the deadlift.

Bench Press: (from BodyBuilding.com)

It is the staple exercise for building muscle mass and strength in the chest. The primary muscles that are worked in a bench press are the triceps brachii and pectoralis major with the anterior (front) deltoids, traps& back as secondary muscles.

Overhead Press: (from LiveStrong)

You usually lift less weight in the overhead press than you do in a squat, deadlift or bench press because the primary movers are small muscles.

The anterior deltoids, located at the front of the three-part shoulder muscle, activate when you push up. This muscle does the most work during the overhead press. The lateral, or medial, deltoids, located at the top of the shoulder, and the postior delts at the back also help in the pushing process.

Your rotator cuff muscles, a complex group made up of the surpraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor and subscapularis that fan over the shoulder blades, keep your shoulders in proper position during the press. This group also benefits from doing moves like the overhead press because it makes them stronger and prevents them from failing during everyday activities, such as playing tennis, moving furniture and lifting things onto a high shelf.

Upper Back and Arms

The shrug performed at the top of the press activates the upper portion of your trapezius muscle, which shows as a broad, diamond shape across the upper back. The upper traps originate in the neck and along the very top part of the backs of the shoulders. The middle and lower traps activate to a lesser degree during the shoulder press.

Your arms, specifically your triceps, are responsible for the extension of the elbow that allows you to push up. The biceps stabilize the extended elbow at the top of the movement.

Core Stability

Doing an overhead press from the classic standing position requires greater muscle control and stabilization. Your core, primarily the muscles of your abs and lower back, help keep you pushing in a straight line.

The shoulders, arms and upper back must also engage in a greater degree of stability during a standing overhead press, as compared to a seated press, showed a 2013 study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

Although the overhead press is not leg-specific, your thighs, hips, ankles and calves maintain your upright position as you overhead press. They work isometrically to do so.

Bent Over Row: (from BodyBuilding.com)

This exercise is a great compound movement which incorporates the lats, rhomboids, rear delts, traps, and even the biceps. It is obviously a good choice to ensure you are getting as much benefit out of your back training as possible.

Here is the workout in it’s simplicity. You will begin with an empty 45 pound Olympic barbell for each lift or load a standard barbell to 40 pounds if you have no access to an Olympic bar:
Workout A:

Squats, 5 sets of 5 reps.

Bench Press: 5 sets of 5 reps

Bent Over Rows: 5 sets of 5 reps
Workout B:

Squats, 5 sets of 5 reps

Deadlifts: 4 sets of 5 reps

Overhead Press: 5 sets of 5 reps

Alternate these workouts, ABA on week 1, BAB the next then back to ABA. Be sure to skip a day between sessions and skip 2 days after the third. In due time, you will need those rest days.

You will squat every session. You will only do 4 sets of 5 reps with the deadlift. When the deadlifts get heavy, they will be very taxing on your system, especially with squatting each session.

Start with an empty 45 pound Olympic barbell or 40 pounds on a standard barbell. On your second work out, do your first two sets with the empty bar and then add 5 pounds to the barbell. Next session, begin with the empty bar and add 10 pounds, then 15 and on and on, by adding five pounds to the last weight you used every session. Once your 3 sets of working weight gets about 35 pounds heavier than your warm up, begin adding in 5 pound increments to your warm up also. Even if this seems ridiculously light at first, you first need to perfect your form before getting into heavy weights. By adding 5 pounds every session, that barbell is going to get heavy more rapidly than you might think. Keep your ego in check, you do not want to rush heavy weights as first, and foremost we do not want you to suffer an injury from improper form.

Lastly, try to eat 1800 calories of whole healthy foods a day and you will drop body fat as you gain strength and tone your body. Please do not let any meathead body building types get you side tracked with a bunch of superfluous lifts that will only serve to take away from the main lifts on this program and have you trying to follow their madness. As laid out above, you can see these compound lifts will work your entire body. Weight training is not rocket science and does not have to be a day long commitment in the gym unless you just truly want it to be. Keep it simple and enjoy.

ALWAYS consult your medical doctor before beginning ANY exercise program.

Be Successful at Weight Loss with Continuity

Photo by Leah Kelley from Pexels

The “Magic”

“Continuity” is sometimes defined as “the unbroken or consistent existence of, or operation of something over a period of time” or “the maintenance of continuous action and self consistent detail…”¹ and it is so important that huge studies in sociology have been conducted to determine it’s power in changing not only specific people groups but the course of the history of humankind. How much more power does it have to change the individual?

Years ago I had the opportunity to see this in action on a small scale when I was at work. I usually worked with a man who was pretty slack with the rules. Even though, at first glance, that seemed to create a low stress environment, I discovered different when he was unable to report for duty one day. In his absence, not one but three separate supervisors covered for him. These employees were known for their attention to detail, their strict adherence to the rules. As I entered the workplace, I noticed a completely different atmosphere. There was no drama. There was no confusion. There was no variance. Everyone present knew that in this situation, their only option was to just do their job the way that they were trained. The smoothness of that day was astounding! Everything worked the way it was intended to work. When unique situations presented there was no chaos because guess what? We just went “by the book”. I quickly learned the concept of “continuity”. The outcome was efficient productivity.

This is a key to successful weight/wellness management. Quite often we make a valiant effort to lose weight or work out or improve our sleep…for a while. We “try” every day not knowing exactly how long we can endure. After an enthusiastic start, we slowly lose momentum and when hard things present themselves in our lives, we use those dark times as an excuse to ditch our health initiatives. The changes that were wrought begin to lose their hold and the scale begins to go up or we skip a workout altogether or just forego our sleep initiative and pretty soon, not only have we lost our progress, we have moved in the opposite direction. The variance produces confusion and chaos and we become emotional and dramatic and spin out of control. When we commit to “the rules” with little or no room for variance, we automatically know exactly what we are supposed to do and if a question arises, we pursue the correct answer. We don’t look for excuses to vary from our program. How avidly we pursue continuity is an accurate indication of our sincerity and devotion to our health initiative. Are we really intending to change or are we merely going through the motions, getting through from day to day, working our plan at a very low level and never attaining any goals? If we desire a different life or body or mindset we must do the things required to get those things.

We have all known the individual who was unhappy with his/her life but was unwilling to make the changes necessary to be happy. I was one of those people. I had been beyond unhappy for so many years that I almost didn’t remember being happy. I talked about it, a lot. One day a well- meaning woman looked me in the eye and said, “Brenda, nobody can do anything about that except you.” It was like ice water thrown on me. In one moment, I realized that all the talking in the world would not fix my life. I had to take action. I made a post on social media about wide-sweeping changes coming in my life and set out to do just that. I had not been playing by the rules. A well known definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results. (Albert Einstein) I had been doing just that. The rules dictate that if we want change, we must change and the reality is that it must be a continual change for ongoing change in our lives. I am the happiest that I have ever been after making such drastic changes that my former life is not identifiable anywhere in the life that I have now. Within three months of that  post, my former life was dissolved and I continue to re-enforce this new life daily with the activities necessary to fuel it’s existence. I must be proactive in my ongoing creation of this life. A large focus in my life now is physical strength because it has far reaching positive influences across the board. This strength defines me now. I’m known for it and I follow those rules, working out, pursuing rest and eating healthy. Continuity, or the lack of it, is the key to contentment or chaos. It creates the goal that it moves towards and without it our lives stagnate into pools of depression and inefficiency with our hopes and dreams broken on the rocky shores of the sea of confusion brought on by having no clearly defined plan to see them come to life. I wish that I had made these changes before I did. I challenge you to make a plan to live your best life, now. Without adherence to continuity, your stress and ghrelin levels will soar. Ghrelin is your hunger hormone and excessive amounts will make you ravenous and can cause you to veer off-course from your goal.

The first step to a fulfilled life is to set goals that will give you satisfaction. Again, make those goals attainable. If they are attainable you can easily design a clear course of action to get there. Make your statement of your goals detailed. These details will be some of steps you need to take to get to your ultimate goal. If you want to lose X number of pounds, a detail could be to lose 5% of your body weight which will give you great improvements in your health. Read David’s article, How Incremental 5% Weight Losses Benefit You for information about how this goal can make a lot of difference!

Once you have set your goals, commit. There will be schedule changes. There will be upheavals. There will be every demon in hell trying to prevent your success. Press on. Don’t stop. See it through. Keep seeing it through and do it again. Never stop. That’s how you make sweeping life changes. One commitment to Continuity at a time.

https://www.google.com/search?q=define+continuity&oq=define+continuity&aqs=chrome.0.69i59l3j013.6252j1j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

Elite Sports Born Tough Workout Pants Review

https://www.borntough.com/

https://www.elitesports.com/

Workout Jogger Pants & Leggings

Born Tough Women Contoured Tracksuit Bottom Black

FINALLY!

I have looked for good workout pants for years and paid way too much for many of them. I have bought a lot of the top brands and while they were pretty or professional looking, none have performed like these.

The sizing is true. I ordered a medium which is my regular size, and the fit is perfect. I am 5″6′ tall and there is a little extra length that scrunches close to the leg, so they will be long enough if you are taller than me. If you are not as tall as I am, you will still have a good fit because the high-quality fabric that Elite used to make these pants lays close to the skin. The SWIFT fabric is 92% cotton and 8% spandex and has incredible stretch and structural support. They are contoured to fit close to the body which is perfect for all athletes. The accentuated seams make the pants more flexible and tough, so they perform well in the squat. We all know that if pants stand up to the squat, they will stand up to anything!

I particularly like the drawstring waist that helps give you a smoother waistline and also keeps your pants secure in the squat. You don’t have to worry about southern exposure when you go deep when you’re wearing these pants. The inset panel at the waist also smooths your front view. The contoured panels in the legs allow for the muscular build of athletes. Your quads will be cozy in these pants. While they have great stretch, as witnessed by their performance in the squat, they also have good support due to the high quality fabric. I believe that this quality of comfortable, functional support is made possible by the high percentage of cotton in the fabric. While cotton does stretch, it stretches much less than those trendy pants that are mostly spandex.

You can order the pants at https://www.borntough.com/products/born-tough-women-contoured-tracksuit-bottom-black . At only $39.99, they are a true bargain. You can even choose to pay for them in four $10.00 interest-free payments! Now where else can you buy workout pants like that? I have paid much more for well-known brands of workout pants that I have either thrown away or are simply taking up space in a drawer. I tend to wear my favorite pair of pants over and over because they make me feel good in my workout. As of today, I have a new favorite. https://www.borntough.com/collections/workout-jogger-pants-leggings

Elite Sports Born Tough Women’s Fitness Wear

https://www.borntough.com/

https://www.elitesports.com/

New Discovery!

Here at David’s Way we are always looking for products to encourage ourselves and you, our readers, along the road to ultimate health and fitness. We have recently become aware of  Elite Sports Born Tough line of workout clothes for women. I have found very few brands of workout clothes that I feel my best in when I’m under the iron. The Born Tough brand is designed for all athletes, regardless of your workout. If you’re just starting on your road to fitness, they have designed their apparel with you in mind as well.

First Glance

While I have not worn these clothes yet, I will in the near future and I will report my findings in an unbiased, honest review. I do notice some things even now that I like. The price is great! Let’s face it, regardless of how much you like something, if it’s priced so high that it’s a sacrifice to buy, then it automatically loses some of it’s appeal. This High Altitude Sheer Tank Top is only $24.99. I like the way that it fits in the back yet drapes softly over the upper abdomen, all the while keeping a trim silhouette.

Bottoms Up!

I like the structure of these Contoured Tracksuit Bottoms. Note the inset panel at the top of the waistband. I have some workout pants now that has that feature and it makes for a nice trim line there at your waist. They have a deep pocket on the hip that appears deep enough for your phone. I believe it curves over the largest part of the quadriceps which would keep your phone from falling out. The structured line underneath the glutes will most likely give you a little lift and a feminine curve in silhouette. Overall I really like the sleek fit, it’s exactly what I need under the iron or walking my dog. Sleek pants move with me with no distraction.

Form and Function

This is the Contoured Tracksuit Hoodie. The beautiful sleek lines coupled with the ample sleeve for ease of movement and those warm front pockets are just the bomb. I just might have to give this a trial run!

As soon as I get my pieces of these promising workout clothes, I will put them to the test in a hard workout  and report my findings. You just might think that I look my best yet!

 

 

Senior Nutrition and Activity

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

In this article I will discuss the nutritional and activity needs for an individual over 50 to live well.  There is a difference in survival and thriving.  We at David’s Way are always thinking about thriving.  Food and activity are the core of our existence.  These two components must be well balanced for optimum health and fulfillment.  We promote nutritionally dense foods with zero added sugars and processed foods.  We promote an active lifestyle.  We will investigate various sources for some baseline recommendations for a full life over 50.

As we begin our day, it’s easy to fall into the sugar trap.  Sugar gives us the dopamine jolt in our brains that is associated with motivation.¹ This same circuit is lit up by cocaine and heroin.  When this circuit is activated, we naturally crave that feeling again.  A major problem with triggering this circuit first thing in the morning is that we will reach for that feeling again and again during the day and ingest massive amounts of calories and pack on the pounds as we eat sugar all day long.  If we activate that reward center first thing, we will continue to need that reward all during our waking hours. Vending machines, bakery racks, drive-throughs and food brought into work will all call our name.  In an attempt to get that sugar rush we will find excuses to eat cake, cookies and candy, sometimes even hiding that fact from others.  Does this behavior sound familiar? It sounds like an addictive behavior because it is.  Sugar is implicated as a cause of inflammation in our bodies.²  Chronic inflammation can eventually cause several diseases and conditions, including some cancers and rheumatoid arthritis.³ Be sure to include plenty of complex carbs in your diet for overall health and mental well-being. Carbs help your body to produce serotonin, a feel-good neurotransmitter. I especially like oats, apples and sweet potatoes. If you get enough complex carbs, you won’t crave simple carbs after your initial withdrawal from sugar.

 It’s important to begin our day with protein.  I like eggs with 6 grams of protein each.  I have them in a protein shake but I know that is not for most people and I am not necessarily recommending that.  Get your protein any way that you like, but make sure that you get it. Eggs are a quick, easy and inexpensive protein source.

Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

The Institute for Health recommends 0.8 grams of protein/kilogram of body weight however there is evidence that this is about half of what is needed in older adults.∞  Researchers from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences gave one group 0.8 gram/kilogram of body weight and gave 1.5 grams to another group.  After only four days, the group who received the larger amount were building muscle more efficiently. ∞  Muscle is critical to our well being as we age.  It is the fuel that stokes our metabolism which is the Bunsen burner for every chemical reaction in our bodies.  If you want to get stoked, eat some protein.

Muscle is also critical to our mobility and stability.  Try getting up from a deep chair without strong thigh and abdominal muscles.  You will be struggling, leaning to one side, pushing on the arms of the chair and grunting.  With strong muscles, that chair is a non-factor.  You rise easily.  Muscle stabilizes us.  A good strong muscular system holds us upright and makes us stable when we’re moving from one position to another.  As we age and muscle declines, falls become all too common.

Photo by Dániel Göndör on Unsplash

There are many exercises that are good for older adults.  Always get permission from your physician before beginning any exercise program.  “Walking is the best restorative exercise.” (David Yochim) unless it is contraindicated by an existing medical condition.  Exercise for older adults is usually based on stretching and balance, but strength training to increase muscle mass can be beneficial. At 64, I am an avid power lifter, lifting heavy weights to build strength and shapely muscle.  While this is not for everyone, there are other ways to build some muscle.  Body weight exercises such as push-ups, jumping jacks, sit-ups and squats using only the body are examples of calesthenics.  Our military still uses calesthenics as the main form of strengthening.  They are an excellent and usually safe way to build muscle and increase overall strength. There are small hand weights, resistance bands and tubing of all sorts, dumbbells and barbells. There is always someway to add weight to your day.  There are instructional videos online to show you how to use these items.  I have collected weights for years and I will always strength train.  There is a confidence that comes with strength that nothing else can imitate.  Strength creates independence and what more creates a full, vital, thriving life than independence?

If we are blessed, we will age.  The alternative is an early death.  The question is, how will we age, slowly becoming weaker and developing various complications associated with weakness and debilitation or lighting up the darkness in a time that is feared by many.  In most cases, the choice is ours.  We hold the keys to vibrant golden years in our hands.  What will we do with them? Will we lay them on the coffee table beside the cake or take those golden keys of nutrition and activity and unlock years of our lives that were worth waiting on?  Quite often, the choice is entirely ours.

Aging well is an art.  I challenge you.  Be an artist.

¹https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-mindful-self-express/201302/why-our-brains-love-sugar-and-why-our-bodies-dont

²https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/sugar-and-inflammation

³https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/248423.php

∞https://health.usnews.com/health-news/health-wellness/articles/2015/02/13/older-adults-double-your-protein-intake-for-better-health

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peaceful Inspiration from Nature

My personal favorite physical fitness activity is strength training, while my second favorite, by a fairly narrow margin, is getting out into the great outdoors on a good hike on dirt trails that meander through out our local woodlands here in north eastern Kansas and north western Missouri. Today, on an off day from weight training, I got in a most excellent hike of a little over seven miles on some really great trails at Weston Bend Park in Missouri, about 25 miles north of Kansas City.

This particular trail head begins at a prepared asphalt trail and then meanders through a wooded ravine and then gradually takes you upwards to the top of a high ridge that overlooks the Missouri River Valley and the river itself. This time of year is a beautiful time to hike there as the leaves on the trees are beginning to change to their fall colors before dropping to the ground for the winter months. The falling leaves will lay on the ground and rot before being absorbed into the soil as nutrients for next springs new growth. Much in the same manner as how our own body’s absorb nutrients for growth and cellular repairs when we are at rest.

Getting out on the trail is a relaxing method of vigorous exercise for myself. It is vigorous, as I make it a point to hike at a rate that keeps my heart rate within the aerobic fat burning zone for my body over the entire course of my outing. Yet as my heart rate comes up, I can only feel relaxed in mind, body and soul as my eyes take in the beautiful surrounding sights while my ears pick up on the subtle sounds of nature living all around me. I am but a small microcosm of all the life around me despite the fact I only encountered a couple other hikers out on the trail this morning. Surrounded by life, yet alone where I can bring upon an inner peace to settle my post traumatic stress.

Looking out, over the Mighty Missouri River from atop the ridge.

The hills and ridges in this part of America were cut by glaciers during the last ice age. I look upon these two humongous slabs of stone and wonder if they were one piece many centuries or thousands of years ago. Maybe this huge rock was split by the awe inspiring force of nature when water found it’s way into a small crack, and with each cycle of freezing, the rock split more and more until it was separated enough for a seedling to become a sapling, which eventually grew into a mature tree in the center of these massive stones.

When out hiking in the woods, my mind is freed which allows me to find inspiration to write just about anywhere about anything. You might find it odd, but the inspiration which came from this split rock was the thoughts of how just like water seeping into a small crack, and eventually breaking the rock apart, we do the same thing within our body’s when we eat a diet that is calorie dense and nutritionally poor. Too many simple carbohydrates with cookies, cupcakes and other junk foods cause our pancreas to release floods of insulin as a result of high blood sugar.

The rocks, with their cracks remind me of our cellular structure, which opens up to the entry of blood sugar when signaled by our insulin. Over time, with centuries of thawing and freezing cycles, the rock become fractured until it finally breaks apart. In the same manner, when our blood sugar remains high for too long, and our body’s begin suffering ill effects such as damage to your nerves, blood vessels and internal organs. It can also cause:

  • vaginal and skin infections
  • slow healing cuts and sores
  • loss of vision
  • nerve damage
  • and erectile dysfunction

Whether you realize it or not, our body is just another element of the nature which surrounds us, It is a shame, a sad reality that far too many people never give the health of their own glorious body the same care as they might give to plant or animal life out in the nature.

Some people shake their heads in disbelief when I speak of going out and hiking anywhere from 5 to 10 miles or better, or when I talk about dedicating no less than four days a week to strength train for two hours at a time. Some assume that to follow my way of living, they might have to go to the same physical extremes as myself in order to get the same results.

You do not have to go to my extremes to get fit and healthy, There is no one size fits all exercise regimen. However, you do need to be active at a level that is appropriate for your level of fitness and capabilities. Your activity needs to match your needs and preferences.

You need to know, that while you can lose body fat and be healthy without exercise, you are only selling yourself short in your efforts. Regular activity reduces both insulin levels and insulin resistance. Regular physical fitness activities can and will help with lowering high blood pressure, improve your total blood fat level, elevate your good cholesterol (HDL) while lowering your bad cholesterol (LDL). Exercise on a consistent basis will lower your risk of type 2 diabetes, while decreasing your body fat and your risk of insulin related heart disease such as Coronary Artery and Coronary Heart Diseases.

Exercise does not, nor should it ever be a chore to suffer through. You should select an activity that is fun and easy to fit into your busy schedule. Instead of going all out hardcore like, you need to start slow and easy and increase your intensity over time in order to not burn out before you have derived any benefit from your activity.

Consistency is going to be key to your success with any physical fitness activity/program. Again, you will need to select an activity that is fun for you and easy to fit into your schedule in order to make being consistent easier on yourself. You do not require a daily commitment in order to be consistent. You can pick 3 to 5 days a week to exercise and use your off days as time for rest and recovery. These two elements, along with nutrition are as important as the physical activity itself.

By giving yourself a break a few days per week away from exercise, you will be more inclined to stick with it as it is not an every day chore. By taking a few days off you will always be able to attack a new exercise session with a fully rested body which will give you the best results, more bang for your buck if you will.

Again, find an activity that you will enjoy. Never force yourself to do something you really do not want to do as you will come to resent it. By all means, while you need to push yourself to always excel at your activity, never push yourself past your level of endurance as you are likely to come to hate what you are doing. This is not helpful in helping you to achieve your goals.

My advice is to please try to be loving, understanding, firm and compassionate with yourself. In the end, it makes good heart sense on all levels.

Active minds and active bodies never grow old. – Lee Salk

 

Absurd Weight Loss Gimmicks

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Free photo stock from Pexels

Does anyone else ever look at different weight loss methods that have been produced over the years and either sit and scratch your head in wonder or cringe at how extremely risky they may be to your health? This was a topic of a recent conversation I had with my friend and I thought it might be interesting to compile some of the absurd ways people have tried to use for weight loss over the last several years. I truly feel sorry for folks who have been reduced to attempting drastic measures in order to lose weight. The science behind weight loss is quite simple, yet putting it in play is a insurmountable task for so many.

In no specific order, here is a list of absurd weight loss methods compiled from the internet:

Alli Weight Loss pill. With Alli, you take their pill and eat a diet from their book provided along with your supply of pills. The first thing to note is their diet plan by itself is actually quite good and you can lose weight without the use of their pills. The problem is the side effects from the pill which include:

  • changes in your bowel function because of the unabsorbed fat,
  • fatty/oily stool,
  • oily spotting in your undergarments,
  • orange or brown colored oil in your stool,
  • intestinal gas with discharge,
  • loose stools,
  • a feeling of needing to have a bowel movement right away,
  • increased number of bowel movements,
  • poor bowel control,
  • stomach pain,
  • nausea,
  • vomiting,
  • diarrhea, or
  • rectal pain.

Juice Cleanse. While a juice-only diet might leave you feeling light and clean, the problem lies in that juices have almost zero protein. So, you will lose water weight and muscle mass, while not losing fat. Once you have returned to solid food, the pounds are going to pile back on.

Drinking Vinegar. Some findings do show that vinegar promotes healthier blood sugar levels and feelings of satiety. But drinking highly acidic liquids such as vinegar can irritate your throat and stomach, it is nothing you want to do on a regular basis my friends. How about just leaving vinegar to your salad dressings instead and eating a well balanced diet.

Eating fat free everything. Not consuming fats, including healthy ones like olive oil and avocado will leave your food quite bland, and it could make you sick. Not eating enough fat has been associated with hunger, dry skin, and extreme mental fatigue. Not to mention low fat diets are completely ineffective for weight loss. If you pay attention to nutrition labels, usually you will find that fat free foods are loaded with sugar to enhance the flavor. Your body needs fat to properly absorb nutrients in your digestive tract. Your body does not need, nor does it benefit, from simple refined sugar.

Drinking ice cold water. If you prefer a glass of ice water over room temperature water, that’s totally cool. But, if you are only adding ice to your glass to lose weight, your efforts are not likely to pay off. You might have heard that drinking colder water forces your body to work harder, to burn calories, in order to bring the water up to your body’s internal temperature. Well, that is somewhat true.  However, the process only burns about 8 calories in doing so. That is pretty measly, I know you have to be smarter than this.

Laxative Teas. Uh yeah, these teas might leave you feeling a little lighter in your loafers once you get off the toilet. but they do not actually help you to lose fat and they can be harmful to your health. Teas that cause an increase in bowel movements only result in you losing water and could cause you health issues by disrupting your electrolyte levels.

Eating only one food. Well duh, there is a solid reason why gimmicks like the Grapefruit Diet or Cabbage Soup Diet never really caught on. They are crash diets that only lead to short-term weight loss. Long term, they are a guarantee for weight gain and an unhealthy relationship with food. Plus, eating only one thing makes it impossible to meet your nutritional needs and increases your odds of deficiencies.

Eating less than 1200 calories. Cutting calories may be the key to losing weight, but if you cut them too far, your waistline is not going to budge, When you do not consume enough calories, your metabolism slows down and you will not have the energy for workouts, and even worse, it is more likely at some point you are going to binge eat.

Commercial Detox/Colon Cleanse. The body does an amazing job all on its own and does not need silly supplement detox programs to cleanse it. It’s absurd, there aren’t caked-on toxins hanging around your colon needing to be removed. Want to ‘detox? Purge your diet of manufactured food-like substances and eat fruits and veggies, whole grains, and lean protein!

Going Raw Vegan. If you are already vegan and want to kick it up a notch, know that this is not the best diet for maintainable weight loss. In addition to avoiding animal products, or their by-products, the raw vegan diet involves not eating foods that have been heated above 104F. The premise behind this nonsense is that you maintain the nutritional integrity of the foods you are eating. However, certain foods such as carrots, tomatoes and spinach benefit from cooking as the heat helps extract nutrients.

Eating nothing but soups. Just like juicing, souping requires you to stay away from solids and to drink your meals in their pulverized form. Although soups generally have more fiber and protein than juices, they are usually high in sodium which may cause your blood pressure to become elevated. This diet is also hardly maintainable as before long you will likely become bored with not having food you can chew.

Military Diet. This former Platoon Sergeant really wants to drop who ever named this diet into the “Forward Leaning Rest” pushup position.  This nonsense diet claims you can lose up to 10 pounds in 3 days by eating strict meals such as a cup of cottage cheese with a hard boiled egg and 5 saltine crackers. This issue besides being incredibly far fetched in it’s name is it is clearly unsustainable. This diet lacks lean protein, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and health fats. For the life of me, I am retired military and never heard of this nonsense during either my Navy or Army years of service. The whole premise of this reminds me of sending new guys out to retrieve a yard of flight line and a bucket of steam.

Doing the Master Cleanse. Ooh, some entertainers tried this one so really, I must go out and stock up on lemons, maple syrup and cayenne pepper. You might lose weight on this diet, but it will be water weight, lean muscle tissue, and possibly bone too. You are for sure going to regain the lost weight as soon as you begin your regular diet again. This is certainly not a long term solution to losing weight and keeping it off. There is no proof that it actually detoxifies your body. I’m pretty sure it was 8th grade Biology where I learned this was actually the function of our liver.

Not eating egg yolks. Although the yolk contains more calories than the whites, the yolk also packs in 43 percent of the eggs total protein as well as metabolism stoking nutrients including fat soluble vitamins, essential fatty acids and most significantly, choline. Choline is a powerful compound that attacks the gene mechanism that triggers your body to store fat around your liver. If you are throwing away the yolks, just stop. Also, know that the myth of dietary cholesterol causing you to have cholesterol was busted several years ago now.

Wraps instead of sandwiches. While a wrap may be thinner than a fluffy slice of bread, leading you to believe it has less calories than bread, many tortillas pack in more fat and calories than 2 slices of bread in order to achieve that doughy texture. If you are not a fan of bread, try wrapping your sandwich meats in romaine lettuce leaves as a great alternative. The exception to this would be if you use low carb, high fiber tortilla’s.

Eating margarine instead of butter. Butter gets a bad rap for being high in saturated fats, but it has been linked to weight loss thanks to the natural concentration of CLA. Margarine is made with partially hydrogenated fats which potentially pack in heart disease inducing man mad trans fats.

Eating cotton balls. In the cotton ball diet, those in search of a smaller waistline eat cotton balls soaked in juice to curb their appetite and dramatically cut their daily calorie intake. But eating cotton balls isn’t just unappetizing. It’s potentially deadly.

Training with cellophane round your body. This may sound incredibly stupid, but I have seen people in the gym training with a layer of cellophane wrapped around their bodies. They naively believe that by exercising with the cellophane it will encourage their body to burn more calories as they sweat more. However, the additional sweat leads to loss of water, not fat. There is another stupid version of this being sold on multi level marketing called It Works. With “It Works”, you rub a herbal or mineral lotion around your belly and wrap it in order to “sweat” out the toxins causing you to be fat.

There are many more absurd methods folks have attempted in their desperation to lose weight. My friends,  I discussed most of these today and thought it would be enlightening to list them for folks to see and think about before attempting themselves.

When it comes to weight loss, it truly is simple to consume less calories than you expend. The key is to exercise and eat a well rounded diet of whole foods. Simply put, do not consume processed foods which are high in sodium, sugars and fat.

Check out Facebook page, Fit and Healthy Living with David’s Way and give us a like and a follow. If you would like to be a part of a weight loss, health and wellness support group, we have a group linked to the Facebook page you can join. The group is private in order for us to keep out the trolls and trouble makers. It is a safe place to share your triumphs and set backs with your health initiative.

Tools of The Trade

(This article was written and published two years ago and chronicles my beginning in power lifting. Since then, I HAVE advanced to an Olympic barbell and I love it. My weights for all of my lifts have increased. I have a power rack now which I strongly advise anyone who lifts without a spotter to buy. It looks like a cage and you have safety pins that prevent you from being crushed by the weight as long as you use your power rack correctly.)

As I began my Journey into the serious side of weight training I was somewhat apprehensive because I knew that it was going to be hard…not difficult…hard. I expected blood, sweat and tears but I didn’t expect that the equipment was going to present problems, much less that I would encounter one piece that I would swear was trying to kill me.

I bought my kettlebell first and was able to get a good workout with it but soon I wanted more. I downloaded a free app, Kettlebell by Fitify, from Google Play and I was off! The kettlebell really worked my core which increased my overall strength. I never missed a workout because my trainer, David, told me in the beginning that he would not fool with me unless I was serious. He would not accept mediocre effort and I knew it. He doesn’t mind someone choosing to be mediocre, if that’s what they want, but he was not going to help me do that. I could do that all by myself. I knew that he would only help me be excellent. I bought the Fitness Gear Adjustable Kettlebell from Dick’s. It cost $49.99 and could be loaded with varying weight from 20#-50#. If you cannot work with 20#, it’s not for you. It doesn’t matter where you are at this point. What matters is where you’re going. If you want to swing a bell, get one that won’t hurt you. Talk to your doctor before you start any exercise program.

When I wanted to move to the barbell, David was more than supportive of that decision. He knew that I had drive and I was willing to work. Again, I went to Dick’s. There is a store close by and it seemed like the fastest way to get this party started. I could actually see what I was getting and I was so excited! It turned out that they had the barbell set that I wanted in-store. I bought the Fitness Gear 135# Barbell Set for $149.99. Now, to get it home!

The salesman wheeled the set to my car and looked a little puzzled because I drive a Hyundai Sonata…not exactly a truck. We wrangled that box of Iron through the passenger’s side window into the back seat at about a 45 degree angle. It looked like my adult son would have to sit in the back seat but we kept wrangling and got it sitting at an angle that allowed the front seat to be occupied and actually moved the entire box inside the car. It didn’t seem possible, but we did it!

I got my Iron home and I was so excited! Problem is, nobody else that I lived with at the time was excited. You will discover that the Iron has power that you can’t imagine until you start lifting, should you choose this path. It is a great diviner of character, yours and those around you. It will push you to your absolute limit in every sense of the word. It will test you physically by pure weight. It will test you emotionally by forcing you to be true to yourself. It will test you mentally because you will hit walls, lose progress, have near death experiences and arrive at crossroads time after time where you have to decide if you are committed to the Iron. If not, you’d better quit. There is no room for half-ass. It takes your entire being, everything in you, to rise from that squat and sometimes, you won’t make it. Again, how much do you want it? If you don’t want it with everything in you, do something else, because the challenge with yourself is only the beginning. Weak people in your life will not want you to get strong and they will make it hard for you. It is necessary to be especially diligent and dedicated while they are being broken by the Iron. Otherwise, they will think that they are breaking your resolve and increase their efforts to waylay you. Three tornadoes that destroyed my house just made me more determined than ever to lift. I salvaged my Iron and continued in the motel for a few weeks.

I have told the tornado story many times but new readers don’t know about it so I will refer to it from time to time. Before the tornadoes, I was doing my squats in my Dungeon by stacking totes. It made a perfect squat rack! I didn’t have familial support in my lifting so I couldn’t just go out and buy everything that I needed to begin with, even though we had the money. I had to make do and improvise but that was good, I think, because in those times I learned just how dedicated I was. I knew that I loved the Iron and I would have a relationship with it no matter what it took. Stacking a few totes and waiting until I could score real equipment was an insignificant sacrifice to my newfound love. It strengthened me in other ways. It strengthened my commitment. It made me realize just how much I needed this. The drive to succeed, to be my best self, to be so strong that people would say, “Damn!” as they got out of my way and let me pass were intoxicating. After you begin to go a little heavy, your confidence just skyrockets!

After the tornadoes and being relocated to a lease house for the rebuilding of my home, I decided that I was going to purchase a squat rack. I went online, yep, you guessed it, Dick’s…and no, I do not work for them, I just want to pass along information that might help you. I got the Body Camp Olympic Squat Rack. This is tricky. I like to have never found this squat rack! At that time, I did not want an Olympic rack. As a matter of fact, I thought that I had found a great deal on a rack at a church based thrift store. It was solid and fierce and I loved it. The price on it was $100.00 but they had it in the store for a long time and were willing to lower the price to $50. Boy, was I pumped! I paid for it and set about finding a way to get it to my house when I realized that it was an Olympic rack. The problem is that an Olympic rack is wider than a standard and my barbell wouldn’t work in that rack. I asked for a refund and the store flat refused. I’m pretty fierce but you can’t change posted rules and they had “No Refunds” signs everywhere so I lost that $50. Honestly, I strongly advise you to buy your equipment new from a chain store. They have good refund/ return policies and when you begin a new program you may not be certain of what you’re buying. A $50 rack that I can’t use isn’t a bargain. I never picked it up. Who wants that clutter? Clutter will hurt your focus and focus is everything when you lift heavy.

This rack says Olympic because it is an unusual size that will accommodate both standard and Olympic bars. If you buy most bars that say Olympic, you will get a HUGE bar that may be quite intimidating for you in the beginning. I’m making pretty good progress and I still have no desire for an Olympic bar.

Ahhh…you MUST have a 5 gallon bucket, absolutely must. David has me touch that orange bucket that you see in the picture of my rack with my butt when I try to skimp on depth of my squat. It works. Just get that first because you’re gonna need it.

Sawhorses are necessary, but not standard issue because they are for protecting you if you have to ditch the Iron in a squat, you know, get out from under it. They have to be an inch or two less than your squat. I pushed the Iron backwards and lunged forward and it was fine. If you ever have to do this, you will be thankful for your horses. Mine are just under two feet tall. I went to Lowe’s, had them cut the lumber and nailed the horses together with a metal bracket at the top. I need to rework them with screws. I’ve ditched on them twice and they worked well. I had ditched once without them and you can usually do that, but this is much safer. The horses require ongoing maintenance.

You will have clips for your dumbbells, locks for your plates, multiple sizes of plates and you will change those plates constantly. Unless you go to a gym where everything is neatly organized, you will have clutter and a bit of chaos. It’s not meant to be pretty but it creates beauty in every way. It reconstructs our bodies, souls and minds. I have ditched an abuser since beginning the Iron. The Iron made me realize that I really DON’T have to take that.

One last word of caution, beware of the “Safety Hooks”. They came with my barbell set. They are intended to keep the bar on the rack while you’re not working with it. If a curious child wandered by and you had left weight on the bar then, theoretically, if that child was strong enough…he could get the bar off and hurt himself. I don’t know if that’s ever happened but I do know that I nearly killed myself with those things more than once. If you leave them on the rack while you’re lifting, they will hinder you when you lift. Nothing, nowhere tells you to remove them or what can happen if you don’t. More than once when I loaded the Iron onto my back, 115#, those damn things grabbed it. It was dangerous but the worst thing that they did was during a bench press. I had 70# on and they grabbed the bar. While 70# may not be a problem for some, it was my max bench press and folks, by the Grace of God, I avoided smashing my head with that barbell. You should always have a spotter. There, I said it. I never do, so I sure didn’t need those things trying to kill me.

Is power lifting a lot of work? Yes. Can it be dangerous? Yes. Is it worth it? You better believe it. While it’s a lot of work, it’s not nearly as much work as some of the ailments and mental disability that I believe that it prevents in me. Being sick, broke down and crazy is a lot of trouble. While it can be dangerous, so is driving to work, while texting and putting on make-up, but some of us have been known to engage in such activity. We take huge risks, that don’t pay dividends, with our health and welfare daily. I have no qualms about the risks associated with the Iron. I get stronger and stronger and more agile as i progress. If anything goes wrong, I should be able to recover and escape unscathed. Nothing has ever benefited me like this and nothing will ever make me give it up. We have a thing.