FitDeck Blog with Founder Phil Black

The 50-Year Diet

Posted by Phil Black on April 5th, 2015

2015

I had a revelation today while watching another informercial advocating a get-ripped-quick diet.

If you are searching for a diet or nutrition program that will help you lose weight or better manage your eating habits, I believe the number #1 criterion should be:

Can I see myself living with this new "diet" or "nutrition program" for the next 50 years?

If the answer is no, then move on to the next program!

Why waste your time, energy, and money beginning a program that is unsustainable over the long haul? Think about it.

Plenty of diets can yield short-term results - even the grapefruit diet or the Hollywood Cookie diet. But where do these programs leave you when the novelty wears off? Frustrated, depressed, annoyed, deflated, and yo-yo'd out. Can you think of one mainstream diet plan that would work for 50 straight years?

  • Think you can cut out carbs for 50 years?
  • Think you can eliminate sugar for 50 years?
  • Think you can count points for 50 years?
  • Think you can afford meals sent to your door for 50 years?
  • Think you can fill out daily caloric intake charts for 50 years?
  • Think you can remember "food exchange ratios" for 50 years?
  • Think you can handle pills and powders for 50 years?
  • Think you can measure every piece of meat for 50 years?
  • Think you can drink shakes for 50 years?
  • Think you can keep the different Zones straight for 50 years?

I think not. This is where FitDeck Nutrition comes in. FitDeck Nutrition is a program that trains you to make the right eating decisions (timing, frequency, food choices, etc.).

It is a plan for the long haul. In fact, if FitDeck Nutrition lives up to its end of the bargain, you should have no need for its services after 12 months.

Much like our growing list of exercise products, FitDeck Nutrition is equally as simple, convenient, and fun. These are the hallmarks that our entire business is built around.

We have finally applied these principles to the second pillar of overall wellness - nutrition.

Check out FitDeck Nutrition at www.fitdeck.com. As with all of our products, it's short on hype and long on value.

Best in health,

Phil

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Power of Micro-Decisions

Posted by Phil Black on January 12th, 2015

2015

Topic #2: Little Things Add Up to Big Things

Every day we are faced with hundreds of micro-decisions - What time to get up in the morning? What to have for lunch? What to wear to work? What time to go to bed? etc.

While these decisions may seem insignificant compared to some of life's bigger decisions, they can impact your life in serious ways. Here's a specific example.

To Prep or Not to Prep? How often have you started to prep your morning workout clothes, lunch, and work materials for the next day - only to convince yourself that "you'll just do it in the morning." This is a split-second decision that you may not pay much attention to at the time. It seems like a little thing - but adds up to a big thing later on. Let's see how it plays out...

When your alarm clock goes off, how motivated are you to get up and start fumbling around in the dark trying to find your sneakers, towel, watch, extra socks, lunch, battery charger, etc.? Not very.

Knowing how stressful this will be will convince a lot of people to hit the snooze button, sleep an extra 40 minutes, skip their morning workout, and hope to "squeeze in a workout after work." Somehow, this sounds like a plausible plan at 6:01am. We all know how it turns out most of the time.

On the other hand, when the alarm clock goes off and your sneakers are staged and ready next to your bed, your bags are packed, your lunch is prepped, and your music player is locked and loaded - how different is your attitude? You know that you just have to get up, grab your stuff, and go! No fumbling around. You are mentally and physically ready for the day.

So, in a split-second, the decision to "prep or not to prep" has dramatically changed the trajectory of your day.

Day A: Confidently wake-up (well-rested), step into your shoes, slip out the door to a high-energy workout, a well-deserved shower and power breakfast.

Day B: After the 2nd snooze button, you rush around trying to find all your stuff, forget your running shorts, and scarf down a 1/2 bagel and a coffee in your rush to work. You never end up finding time for an afternoon workout.

How would your life change if 80% of your days were A Days? What is your % of A and B Days? What are your simple decisions that can help guide you to an A Day over a B Day?

What's the take-away? Philosophically, consider the long-term effects of small decisions in your life. If you're a "prepper" keep up the good work. If you're the B-Day type, challenge yourself to prep the night before and see if you can tell a difference.

Stay strong,

Phil Black (FitDeck Founder)

 

 

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New Year New Mindset

Posted by Phil Black on January 6th, 2015

2015

A new calendar year always provides us with a psychological pause - and license - to start over. Who doesn't love the chance for a fresh start? Hello 2015!

As we kick off the New Year, I urge you to think deeply about what type of mindset you've been operating with. Is it a "fixed" or a "growth" mindset?

The former suggests that one's potential is predetermined, finite, and limited - that each individual is dealt a certain level of intellect, skill, and talent - which is immutable. One must simply work within the confines of their given skill set - and be satisfied.

The latter argues that inborn talents are just a starting point, and one that can change and grow their potential through application and experience (that's code for "failure and recovery").

Which mindset do you have?

Fixed mindset individuals

  • love the "sure thing"
  • are worried about how they are perceived
  • don't like to be wrong, because they are the best they'll ever be
  • want to prove themselves over and over again
  • seek success and validation

Growth mindset individuals

  • thrive on challenge
  • don't take the easy road
  • risk failure
  • have a strong love of learning
  • are energized by criticism

A growth mindset doesn't come without challenges. In fact, it's quite the opposite. A growth mindset is determined by how well individuals react and respond when the chips are down. The very act of digging deeper, challenging oneself, and stretching when things aren't going your way, is the true sign of a growth mindset.

Nearly all successful people have growth mindsets. Not because they are always successful, or right, or lucky, or smart - but because they fail - a lot. They fail, and get back up, make adjustments, and try again. They repeat this cycle over and over and over. They are growing.

Underlying this cycle of Try-Fail-Recover are two key components: (1) a willingness to fail, and (2) the belief that one has the capacity to turn setbacks into future successes. 

Before we plunge too deeply into 2015, I'd like to challenge all of us, collectively, to assess which type of mindset we have.  If you've been operating with a "fixed mindset" resigned to the life and circumstances you're in now - consider a change.

Life is too short to live in a box. Stretch yourself, expect failure, embrace failure, love the learning process, know that you are not limited to what you were born with.

Set a goal that exposes you to failure, sign up for a race you're not sure you'll finish, or pursue a hobby that you've been intimidated by.  2015 is the year of growth. Get your mind ready and your body will follow.

I live with an unapologetic "growth" mindset. This means I expose myself to failure - to the point of almost taunting the failure gods. I spend many days and weeks "lingering in discomfort".  This keeps my mind and body alive, pushing the boundaries, and tweaking my execution on a continual basis. It's not always fun and games, but in the end it's well worth it.

Where do you fit on the fixed versus growth mindset continuum? Please share with us some of your "growth" goals for 2015.

Keep growing,

Phil Black (FitDeck Founder)

P.S. For more information on this concept of "fixed vs. growth" mindset, see teachings of Carol Dweck, Ph.D.

 

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Wreck versus Renew

Posted by Phil Black on December 4th, 2014

2014

I get annoyed when people pull the "age card" when faced with issues about their weight or fitness level. I hear it every day - even from people in their thirties:

"Oh, yeah, I'm getting older now. I can't expect to do what I used to do, right? Oh well, I guess it comes with the territory."

And everyone listening to them just nods their head in agreement as if this is some kind of universal truth. Why doesn't anyone call these people out on this jibberish?  Are we just trying to be polite or do we actually agree with them?

Do our physical abilities, agility, strength, endurance, and energy automatically start to fade away as soon as we hit 35 years old? Or is it more that our growing list of responsibilities tend to crowd out any meaningful time for fitness?

If we keep up a healthy exercise and nutrition plan, there's no reason why we can't maintain a robust level of fitness.

Well, I'm getting dangerously close to pulling out the "age card" myself. For almost 18 months, I've been saddled with seemingly chronic right hip pain. It appears to be a stubborn soft tissue injury due to over-training that will not go away by popping ibuprofen and hoping for the best. This has been a "project injury."

After several weeks with a new massage therapist, I've finally seen some progress. My attitude as I try to climb back into a normal workout routine has taken a dramatic turn.

My therapist insists that I cannot jump right back into high-intensity workouts. 20 years of these types of workouts have surely contributed to my most recent injury.

His theory is that I've been writing checks that my body can no longer cash. When you train as hard as some of us train for so many years, little imbalances, tweaks, form deficiencies, and lack of recovery can take their toll.

Before I left his office, he said something interesting to me. It left me in deep thought all day.

He said, "My recommendation is that for the next few weeks, you should stick to rejuvenation workouts". 

To which I responded, "Rejuvenation workouts? What am I 80?"

He repeated, "The only reason you should work out for the next few weeks is to rejuvenate yourself. You've been out of the workout scene for a while. I want you to ease back in. When you're done with your workout, you should feel nothing more than rejuvenated."

This was hard for me to swallow at first. My normal M.O. is to wreck myself at every workout. If I'm not falling over by the end of the workout, it was not a successful day.

Well, the mental anguish of taking almost two years off from my normal fitness routine was so great, that I promised him I would not jump back in too soon. I agreed to work out for "rejuvenation's-sake".

My first workout was interesting. I did manage to hold back. I did some pushups, a few dips, a light stretch, bicep curls, and a 20-minute moderate swim. And by golly, when I finished my workout, I actually did feel "rejuvenated". What a concept!

After this whole episode, I started wondering whether my best year's were behind me. No, was the answer, but it did give me pause.

My commitment to fitness has taken on a new trajectory. I will no longer feel guilty for not wrecking my body in every workout. What's the point, anyway? I will still train hard - and push myself - but "rejuvenation" workouts will now be scheduled regularly.

Until next week, 

Phil Black (FitDeck Founder)

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Start Planning for 2015 Now!

Posted by Phil Black on November 9th, 2014

2014

Start your New Year’s Resolutions Early

I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of New Year’s Resolutions falling by the wayside. I’ve started planning for 2015 now – a full seven weeks ahead of time.

Maybe I’m the only one, but when I start to think about New Year’s Resolutions somewhere around December 30th, it’s too late.  I’m too distracted and my ambitious plans are quickly overcome by events by the first week in January.

It’s hard to flip the switch so abruptly.  If the “11th-hour plan” doesn’t work smoothly the first few days, I’m ready to throw in the towel (stupid New Year’s Resolutions).  The margin for error is small and the risk of disappointment is high.

Don’t fall prey to this strategy. It sets us up for failure.

My goal is to ease into the New Year with very little drama and fanfare. This year, I started planning a full 60 days ahead of time. I’ve been using this time to plan, prepare, and test-drive my new programs – allowing for plenty of time to adjust.

For example, I have been test-driving a new morning ritual for the last few weeks.  I wake up at 5:30am every morning and the very first thing I do is go outside.

I walk around and observe the environment for about 10 minutes.  If it’s dark I stare at the stars, if it’s cold I watch my breath, if it’s sunny I enjoy the warmth.  I make a connection with nature in some way, however small. I try to identify and observe at least one animal in its natural habitat (e.g. bird, ant, cat, dog, fly, etc).

I then perform a breathing exercise, a light stretching routine, and a prayer. The routine lasts 15-20 minutes. I call it “priming”.  It’s invigorating and amazingly calming.

Importantly, I do this before checking email, glancing at a newspaper or iPad, eating, or pouring “my” morning coffee. This helps me to begin the day with a clear mind.

This habit took several weeks to get used to. The first few days I couldn’t resist checking my email first.  Then it took me a while to get used to finding an animal in the wild. Then I had to adjust to different weather conditions.

By now, I’m good to go. I love my morning “priming” routine and I know it will be a winner for 2015. I’ve put it through its paces, made necessary adjustments, and dialed it in just right.

My morning “prime” is one of several rituals that I am putting in place for 2015. The others include elements of hydration, exercise, eating, sleeping, and work habits.

With any luck, these plans will also be tested, tweaked, and ready for prime time when 2015 rolls around.

What are some of your best New Year’s Resolution strategies?

What do you hope to do in 2015 to enhance your life?

Best in health,

Phil Black

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Benefits of Circuit Training

Posted by Phil Black on October 18th, 2014

2014

Circuit Training Workouts

There are plenty of programs that focus on circuit training workouts. These workouts promote changing exercises or movements often during the course of your overall workout.

Instead of heading over to the leg extension machine and plopping down for 10 minutes, you move from "station-to-station", engaging in all manner of exercises. These workouts can be as laid-back or amped up as you want. The principle is the same.

Benefits of Circuit Training Workouts

  1. Variety: a good circuit routine will incorporate unique styles and varieties of exercises that are often unrelated. This will not only keep your mind engaged, but your body will have to make adjustments as well.
  2. Enjoyment: a mixture of exercises, equipment, and intensities will make a circuit workout more fun. You don't have time to get bored doing the same exercise over and over (does 3 sets of 12 reps sound familiar?)
  3. Time-saving: with a well-designed circuit routine, moving quickly through each station can be very time-efficient as well. No time is wasted "standing around recovering" before your 5th set of biceps curls. You don't have to wait between circuit stations because every station is different and you're not exhausting any one muscle group (unless you planned it that way).
  4. Flexible: circuit training workouts can be all-equipment, no-equipment, or a combination. They might incorporate stretching, yoga, or high-intensity plyometrics. You can create a routine in almost any conditions or environment.
  5. Social: while circuit training is great to do alone, it also lends itself to social interaction. Ever see a bootcamp workout in the park where people are shuttling among stations? Doesn't it look fun? The pressure is reduced because everyone is busy trying to conquer their own station and not paying attention to Johnny struggling on the pull up bar. It also leads to fun "war stories" post-workout (How'd ya like the 60 seconds of burpees!$%&?).

Circuit Training Idea #1 (Back to the Basics):

FitDecks were made for "circuit training". FitDecks are both interoperable (meaning they can be mixed together) and modular (meaning they can be used separately as stand-alone decks).  We'll leave some of the more elaborate and involved FitDeck circuits for another day. I want to bring you a circuit training workout that you can do right this second.

Here's a simple way to create a No-Equipment Single-Station Circuit Workout in under 15 seconds.

Let's say you have nothing more than a FitDeck Bodyweight to work with. And you live by yourself in an apartment with only 10'x10' of open space. That's it. Okay, here we go:

Simply shuffle FitDeck Bodyweight and put it down on the ground in front of you. Commit to performing 12 cards with no rest in between. No really, no rest. Just flip the next card and keep going. That's the workout! Sound good. Okay, start flipping...

How is the FitDeck Bodyweight Circuit different?

  1. Easy setup: it takes almost no time to open your FitDeck, place it on the ground, and go.
  2. Exercises pre-loaded: you don't have to think about what exercises to do next. The shuffle of the cards figures it out for you.
  3. Serendipity: you have no clue what's coming next. Unlike other circuits where the WOD (Workout of the Day) is posted on a white board, a FitDeck circuit leaves you in the dark until you flip. That's what makes it even more fun - and challenging.
  4. No end in sight: the workout featured in the video only used 12 of 50 cards from 1 of 40 FitDecks. You could create workouts like this that would take years to get through without ever repeating a card.
  5. Max flex: you can create whatever type of workout you're in the mood for. Take it nice and slow with a Yoga and Pilates combo. Blow your legs up with FitDeck Plyometrics and Speed Ladder. Or get the juices flowing with Speed/Agility/Quickness and CrossTrain.

You don't have to own FitDeck Bodyweight to create a great circuit training workout. Come up with a bunch of your favorite exercises and mash them together into a circuit.

Best in health,

Phil Black (FitDeck Founder)

Read More

Benefits of Circuit Training

Posted by Phil Black on October 18th, 2014

2014

Circuit Training Workouts

There are plenty of programs that focus on circuit training workouts. These workouts promote changing exercises or movements often during the course of your overall workout.

Instead of heading over to the leg extension machine and plopping down for 10 minutes, you move from "station-to-station", engaging in all manner of exercises. These workouts can be as laid-back or amped up as you want. The principle is the same.

Benefits of Circuit Training Workouts

  1. Variety: a good circuit routine will incorporate unique styles and varieties of exercises that are often unrelated. This will not only keep your mind engaged, but your body will have to make adjustments as well.
  2. Enjoyment: a mixture of exercises, equipment, and intensities will make a circuit workout more fun. You don't have time to get bored doing the same exercise over and over (does 3 sets of 12 reps sound familiar?)
  3. Time-saving: with a well-designed circuit routine, moving quickly through each station can be very time-efficient as well. No time is wasted "standing around recovering" before your 5th set of biceps curls. You don't have to wait between circuit stations because every station is different and you're not exhausting any one muscle group (unless you planned it that way).
  4. Flexible: circuit training workouts can be all-equipment, no-equipment, or a combination. They might incorporate stretching, yoga, or high-intensity plyometrics. You can create a routine in almost any conditions or environment.
  5. Social: while circuit training is great to do alone, it also lends itself to social interaction. Ever see a bootcamp workout in the park where people are shuttling among stations? Doesn't it look fun? The pressure is reduced because everyone is busy trying to conquer their own station and not paying attention to Johnny struggling on the pull up bar. It also leads to fun "war stories" post-workout (How'd ya like the 60 seconds of burpees!$%&?).

Circuit Training Idea #1 (Back to the Basics):

FitDecks were made for "circuit training". FitDecks are both interoperable (meaning they can be mixed together) and modular (meaning they can be used separately as stand-alone decks).  We'll leave some of the more elaborate and involved FitDeck circuits for another day. I want to bring you a circuit training workout that you can do right this second.

Here's a simple way to create a No-Equipment Single-Station Circuit Workout in under 15 seconds.

Let's say you have nothing more than a FitDeck Bodyweight to work with. And you live by yourself in an apartment with only 10'x10' of open space. That's it. Okay, here we go:

Simply shuffle FitDeck Bodyweight and put it down on the ground in front of you. Commit to performing 12 cards with no rest in between. No really, no rest. Just flip the next card and keep going. That's the workout! Sound good. Okay, start flipping...

How is the FitDeck Bodyweight Circuit different?

  1. Easy setup: it takes almost no time to open your FitDeck, place it on the ground, and go.
  2. Exercises pre-loaded: you don't have to think about what exercises to do next. The shuffle of the cards figures it out for you.
  3. Serendipity: you have no clue what's coming next. Unlike other circuits where the WOD (Workout of the Day) is posted on a white board, a FitDeck circuit leaves you in the dark until you flip. That's what makes it even more fun - and challenging.
  4. No end in sight: the workout featured in the video only used 12 of 50 cards from 1 of 40 FitDecks. You could create workouts like this that would take years to get through without ever repeating a card.
  5. Max flex: you can create whatever type of workout you're in the mood for. Take it nice and slow with a Yoga and Pilates combo. Blow your legs up with FitDeck Plyometrics and Speed Ladder. Or get the juices flowing with Speed/Agility/Quickness and CrossTrain.

You don't have to own FitDeck Bodyweight to create a great circuit training workout. Come up with a bunch of your favorite exercises and mash them together into a circuit.

Best in health,

Phil Black (FitDeck Founder)

Read More

Benefits of Circuit Training

Posted by Phil Black on October 18th, 2014

2014

Circuit Training Workouts

There are plenty of programs that focus on circuit training workouts. These workouts promote changing exercises or movements often during the course of your overall workout.

Instead of heading over to the leg extension machine and plopping down for 10 minutes, you move from "station-to-station", engaging in all manner of exercises. These workouts can be as laid-back or amped up as you want. The principle is the same.

Benefits of Circuit Training Workouts

  1. Variety: a good circuit routine will incorporate unique styles and varieties of exercises that are often unrelated. This will not only keep your mind engaged, but your body will have to make adjustments as well.
  2. Enjoyment: a mixture of exercises, equipment, and intensities will make a circuit workout more fun. You don't have time to get bored doing the same exercise over and over (does 3 sets of 12 reps sound familiar?)
  3. Time-saving: with a well-designed circuit routine, moving quickly through each station can be very time-efficient as well. No time is wasted "standing around recovering" before your 5th set of biceps curls. You don't have to wait between circuit stations because every station is different and you're not exhausting any one muscle group (unless you planned it that way).
  4. Flexible: circuit training workouts can be all-equipment, no-equipment, or a combination. They might incorporate stretching, yoga, or high-intensity plyometrics. You can create a routine in almost any conditions or environment.
  5. Social: while circuit training is great to do alone, it also lends itself to social interaction. Ever see a bootcamp workout in the park where people are shuttling among stations? Doesn't it look fun? The pressure is reduced because everyone is busy trying to conquer their own station and not paying attention to Johnny struggling on the pull up bar. It also leads to fun "war stories" post-workout (How'd ya like the 60 seconds of burpees!$%&?).

Circuit Training Idea #1 (Back to the Basics):

FitDecks were made for "circuit training". FitDecks are both interoperable (meaning they can be mixed together) and modular (meaning they can be used separately as stand-alone decks).  We'll leave some of the more elaborate and involved FitDeck circuits for another day. I want to bring you a circuit training workout that you can do right this second.

Here's a simple way to create a No-Equipment Single-Station Circuit Workout in under 15 seconds.

Let's say you have nothing more than a FitDeck Bodyweight to work with. And you live by yourself in an apartment with only 10'x10' of open space. That's it. Okay, here we go:

Simply shuffle FitDeck Bodyweight and put it down on the ground in front of you. Commit to performing 12 cards with no rest in between. No really, no rest. Just flip the next card and keep going. That's the workout! Sound good. Okay, start flipping...

How is the FitDeck Bodyweight Circuit different?

  1. Easy setup: it takes almost no time to open your FitDeck, place it on the ground, and go.
  2. Exercises pre-loaded: you don't have to think about what exercises to do next. The shuffle of the cards figures it out for you.
  3. Serendipity: you have no clue what's coming next. Unlike other circuits where the WOD (Workout of the Day) is posted on a white board, a FitDeck circuit leaves you in the dark until you flip. That's what makes it even more fun - and challenging.
  4. No end in sight: the workout featured in the video only used 12 of 50 cards from 1 of 40 FitDecks. You could create workouts like this that would take years to get through without ever repeating a card.
  5. Max flex: you can create whatever type of workout you're in the mood for. Take it nice and slow with a Yoga and Pilates combo. Blow your legs up with FitDeck Plyometrics and Speed Ladder. Or get the juices flowing with Speed/Agility/Quickness and CrossTrain.

You don't have to own FitDeck Bodyweight to create a great circuit training workout. Come up with a bunch of your favorite exercises and mash them together into a circuit.

Best in health,

Phil Black (FitDeck Founder)

Read More

What it takes to Compete

Posted by Phil Black on October 10th, 2014

2014

This Heather Dorniden video really fires me up. To think that this young woman had the wherewithal (and guts) to get off the floor and start pursuing the leader in such a short race is unbelievable to me.  Not only did she pursue – she won.  Where does she come off?

 

The 600m race is essentially a dead sprint. The athletes run as fast at they can from the second the starting gun goes off. There’s a bit of pacing involved – but not much.  The race lasts for about 90 seconds. It’s over before you can peel the foil off your Klondike bar.

 

There is no margin of error. One false move and the race is over.  Sometimes one bad foot placement in your lane can be the difference between victory and defeat. There is simply no time to recover from a mishap in a 90-second race. Thankfully, Heather Dorniden never got that Memo.

 

I have to search far-and-wide to find this type of grit in today’s young athletes.  There are some kids who clearly have “it”, but most don’t. I’m not sure where the reluctance to compete comes from.  Overprotective parents? Legal system? League Rules? Coddling schools? Lack of outdoor play? Video games?

 

When I coach my sons’ basketball team this winter, I will have one goal for the entire season. I want the kids to “compete”. By “compete” I mean I want them to play like it matters. If someone rips the ball out of their hands, I want them to notice. I want it to register. I want it to matter.

 

Sports are not a place where everyone has “their turn” with the ball.  The people who “compete for the ball” will get the ball. Life is not much different. If you wait your turn, you may not get another chance. This is a life lesson with far-reaching implications. Better to have the kids learn this lesson sooner than later.  

 

I’m not suggesting that kids run around like thugs, but I want to see them fight for the ball - even if they lose it. I want to see it in their eyes.  Even if they don’t play with the “controlled rage” of the most competitive kids, they can still (and should) mix it up.

 

Heather Dorniden ran that 600m race with controlled rage.  She competed. She wasn’t going down without a fight – because that race mattered to her. She will likely have much more difficult challenges down the road – and my money’s on her to win again. 

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Compulsive or Committed

Posted by Phil Black on September 24th, 2014

2014

Compulsive or Committed?

I was watching my son's soccer game last weekend when I decided to knock out some pushups. I missed my morning workout and was anxious to make up for lost time. I took a knee and start doing sets of 10 pushups on the grass sideline. Why not? I wondered. I'm just standing around doing nothing anyway. 

Just as I stood up from my first set, some guy looked at me and smugly asked: "A little compulsive are we?"

I took a deep breath. As annoyed as I was with this guy’s comment, I remained calm. I smiled at him and replied, "Nope. Not compulsive. Just committed. But thanks for asking."

What a clown. This guy had the nerve to stand there with his beer belly and Starbucks coffee and try to make me feel stupid for doing push ups? I don’t think so, pal.

I don't consider myself "compulsive" just because I try to maintain a consistent workout routine. Yes, it's not a common sight to see an adult doing pushups on the sidelines of a soccer game - but who cares? It's hard to find time to exercise during the day, so why not make use of idle time at a soccer game?  And if that’s considered compulsive – than I can live with it.

Ironically, several parents eventually joined me for a few sets of pushups. It was great. It immediately energized them and made them smile. It has now become a weekly ritual for weekend soccer games that the parents look forward to.

My guess is that 9 out of 10 parents standing on the sidelines with me would likely claim that they had “no time” to exercise that day. What about the 40 minutes of standing on the sideline texting on your phone? Lack of time is an excuse that is used far too often.

It's hard to be an outlier. It takes guts and leadership to do things that most people wouldn't think to do.  I encourage all of you to be an outlier when it comes to fitness. If you stick with the masses, chances are you’ll end up just like the masses – massive! 

Fit fitness into your life whenever possible. Our lives have become so sedentary that any little bit of exercise helps.

Compulsively yours,

Phil Black

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What do you Stand for?

Posted by Phil Black on September 14th, 2014

2014

What the three words define you as a person?

Yup, just three words. Not a sentence, or a paragraph, or a Rorschach Test interpretation, or a Meyers-Briggs Personality Test result. Just three little old little words that define you as a person - that tell the world what you stand for, that paint the picture of exactly how you live your life, that are distinctly you with your fingerprints all over them. 3 words - that's all. How hard could that be?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are some words that might get the juices flowing:

  • enthusiastic
  • passionate
  • integrity
  • devoted
  • loving
  • confident

I have no idea if any of these words are right for you. You need to come up with your own. If you know yours right away, please share them with us if you are comfortable doing so. Personally, I've had a hard time coming up with three words right off the bat. I've had to dig deep and really think about who I am and what I stand for.

By the way, the beauty of this exercise is that the three words can be future-oriented. They do not have to define what you "stood" for, they are supposed to define what you stand for - going forward. So, if you need to re-focus your life and actually put 3 stakes in the ground, do so!

It's amazing how much time and money corporations spend defining their core principles, creating a mission statement, designing a logo, or crafting a slogan. Billions and billions of dollars!

Why do we spend so little time (if any) defining how to live our own lives? What we stand for? What our core principles are? What our life's logo would look like?  

Give this some thought. I really look forward to what you all have to say. I'll be working on my 3 words, too.

Best in health,

Phil Black (FitDeck Founder)

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Balancing Push with Pull Exercises

Posted by Phil Black on September 8th, 2014

2014

The pushup is a universally known and practiced exercise. It is considered a staple in any exercise routine due to its affordability, convenience, and effectiveness. Unfortunately, anything taken to extremes can backfire. Over time, any exercise program that is too focused on pushups (or “push” exercises) can create imbalances that leave us susceptible to overuse injuries. 

Pushups can be performed the old-fashioned way or with increased intensity with a must-have tool like the Perfect Pushup – which engages even more muscles due its rotating handles.

Unfortunately, gorging on pushups without an equally steady diet of pullups makes Johnny an imbalanced athlete. Not only can excessive pushups overdevelop the muscles in the chest /shoulder area, but the resulting body shape can look out of balance as well. 

How many times have you seen a person with overdeveloped chest and anterior (front) shoulder muscles? The shoulders roll forward and create an inflexible and closed chest area. Some people call this the “caveman” look.  Not surprisingly, many of these folks complain of shoulder pain.

Pushups activate what are known as “push” muscles. Conversely, there are “pull” muscles (in the back and posterior shoulders) that are responsible for pulling the shoulders down and back. These muscles are activated far less frequently.

My guess is that most people should consider adjusting their workouts to a 2:1 or 3:1 ratio of “pull” exercises to “push” exercises in order to regain postural and muscular balance.  One of the limitations to this plan is the availability of a pullup bar as well as the baseline strength needed to perform pullups.

The pullup is the yin to the pushup’s yang.  In order to dial-up more yin, Perfect Fitness has two great solutions that I have been testing for several months. I am recovering from a shoulder injury (likely from a chronic pull vs. pull muscle imbalance), and these two products have been fantastic.

The first is the Perfect Multi-Gym, which is a pullup bar system that I hang on my bedroom doorway as needed. The second is the Perfect Pullup Assist, which allows me to do pullups with some assistance until I can build up to my former strength and endurance.

In fact, I have put myself on a 2:1 ratio of pull exercises to push exercises until the New Year. By then, I hope that my back and rear shoulders will have caught up with the chest, shoulders, and triceps.

How is your push-to-pull ratio?

Best in health,

Phil Black

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How To Prep for an Obstacle Race

Posted by Phil Black on September 4th, 2014

2014

How to Prep for an Obstacle Race

Obstacle Races are raging these days. With cool names like Tough Mudder, Spartan Race, Warrior Dash and Zombie Run - it's no wonder people are curious. While each race has its own flavor (e.g. wall climbs, electrified wires, and fire pits), below is a plan to help you train for any obstacle race.

Most of these races include somewhere between 3-12 miles of running - interrupted by physical challenges. Since it's tough to simulate a greased incline wall or a low crawl under barbed wire in the middle of your town, the next best thing to do is to perform random bodyweight exercises during your standard training runs. Not before, not after, but during your run.Here's a plan:

  • Grab FitDeck Bodyweight and/or Combat Sports and a neoprene card holder
  • Shuffle cards and insert them into neoprene holder before you begin
  • Clip neoprene card holder to your shorts by its clasp
  • "Stop" periodically during your run - pull out a random card - perform the exercise - and continue
  • Suggestions for when to stop to perform a card
    • every time a new song comes on
    • every time you reach the top or bottom of a hill
    • make up your own triggers
  • Bingo! You just performed your first obstacle race

Watch this Obstacle Running video to see other ways to simulate an Obstacle Run in any park or outdoor space.

Phil Black

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Until it Becomes a Habit

Posted by Phil Black on September 1st, 2014

2014

Until It Becomes a Habit

Every once in a while, somebody tells me something so profound that I can't help but dwell on it. It's often very simple - but also very powerful. Such moments imprint themselves in my mind and help me during unsure times.

Such wisdom is rarely confined to one specific subject. Rather, it has far-reaching implications across many disciplines.

Such was the bit of wisdom my friend and mentor dropped on me last week. I was talking to her about breathing. She was coaching me on proper breathing technique and discussing the healing and recuperative powers of breathing when performed correctly (we'll discuss this in more detail at a later date).

breathing

I was fascinated and intrigued by my mentor's mastery of the subject. I devoured every bit of knowledge she passed on.

By the end of our session, I had finally gotten the hang of the technique. I was able to breathe the "correct way" for small bits of time. I really liked what I was experiencing, but needed considerable practice.  I was committed to incorporating this new way of "breathing" into my daily life.

With a pen and paper in hand, I asked my mentor, "Okay, so how do I master this? How much do I have to practice? Just say the word and I'll do it." I hit her with the following volley of questions in quick succession:

  1. How many times a day do I practice? 
  2. How many minutes per session?
  3. How many sessions per week?
  4. How many sessions per month?
  5. When will I notice a difference?
  6. When can I consider myself a master?

I needed answers. With the answers to these questions, mastery was surely within reach.

My mentor is a woman of high intellect and experience - but few words. She rarely gives specific answers to such detailed questions. She would much rather that I answer these questions on my own.

Her simple answer to my flurry of questions was this:

"You'd like to know how often you should practice the technique? Until it becomes a habit."

I was stymied. I didn't know where to go or what to say. How could I respond? I wanted to know exactly, to the minute, how many times I should practice this method and when it would click.

Instead of giving me the detailed prescription I craved, she left it up to me. I would know when I reached mastery once the technique became a habit. After all, everyone is different, and there is no one-size-fits-all-solution.

Wow! For someone is very detail- and task-oriented, this threw me for a loop. I would be left to my own devices on this one. This was uncharted water.

As I reflected on this concept in the following days, it occurred to me that such advice seemed to hold true for many facets of life.

Widespread application

Oftentimes, people ask me how many times they should do their FitDeck cards, how many cards per day, when should they move up to the next fitness level, etc. I would try my best to give them detailed answers despite not knowing their fitness profile and true motivations. Now that I think about it, I may have failed these people.

What about diet? People ask me, "How long should I plan to stay on diet XYZ to get optimal results?" My new answer may be: Until your preferred method of eating becomes a habit.

What about spirituality? How much should I pray every day to feel like I am living the spiritual life I desire? My new answer may be: Pray and reflect as often as it takes for your desired, daily spiritual mindfulness to become a habit.

What about practicing for a sport like basketball?  How often should I practice shooting baskets with my non-dominant hand? How about until the use of your non-dominant hand is as habitually easy as your dominant hand.

Even with this revelation, I still have mixed feelings about this line of thinking. While profound, it may leave too much to the individual. In today's hectic times, some people don't have the time, wherewithal, or discipline to make this happen with such lack of specifics. Even with specifics, compliance is difficult.

I can hear it already, "If it's not programmed into my iPhone, it doesn't get done."

Well, such is life. There are times when we should sit back and think about why we do what we do. If you work better with specific "check-boxes", then go for it. If you have the ability to think on a more holistic level, then give the "habit" theory a try.

I hope this serves you in your daily lives. Habits make us what we are. How we build those habits are up to us.

Until next week,

Phil Black

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3 Rules to Eat By

Posted by Phil Black on August 13th, 2014

2014

3 Simple Rules to Eat By

Since when has eating become so confusing? I’m scared to eat bread, panicked about gluten, and feel guilty if my meal isn’t poured from a juicer.  I don’t know if I’m coming or going anymore.

Do we really need all these options to figure out what to eat for lunch?

Zone – Raw – Paleolithic – Organic – Negative Calorie – Mediterranean – Medifast – Fasting – Master Cleanse – Macrobiotic – Low Sodium – Low Protein – Low Glycemic – Low Fat – Locavore – Jenny Craig – Inuit – High Protein – Fruitarian – Food Combining – Alkaline – Liquid – Gluten Free – Elimination – Juice – Detox – Junk Food – Grapefruit – Cabbage Soup – Beverly Hills – Atkins – South Beach – Breatharian – Weight Watchers – NutriSystem – Cookie – Plant Based – Vegan – Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian – Kosher…

3 Rules to Eat By 

With a few exceptions, I don’t think so. 

Here are 3 simple rules that solve 95% of the confusion.

  1. Eat just enough food to sustain you from one meal to the next
  2. Eat foods with 3 ingredients or fewer
  3. Eat foods that don’t come in a box

Sample breakfast: eggs, blueberries, and oatmeal

Sample lunch: turkey, lettuce, tomato, peach, and almonds

Sample dinner: chicken, rice, broccoli, and carrots

I know it’s not always easy to access these kinds of meals while at work or on the road.  It might require a little extra prep time and some Tupperware.  Sorry. I said the rules were simple – not necessarily easy.

Unfortunately, eating has become a national obsession on so many levels. Its simplicity as a basic human need has been complicated by forces out of our control - culture, religion, self-esteem, geography, affordability, education, advertising, media, family, social norms, goals, medical conditions, technology, lifestyle, psychology, modeling, genetics, weather, environment, and economics.

What’s a person to do? At FitDeck, we’ve tried to answer the mail by creating “FitPlate” – a one-of-kind portion-control plate that is divided into three main food groups and contains suggested foods for each group right on the plate itself. If you are willing to ignore all the hype and marketing spin surrounding the latest diet-de-jour, then FitPlate may be for you. https://fitdeck.com/product/FitDeck-FitPlate

Best in health,

Phil Black (FitDeck Founder)

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My "When All Else Fails" Workout

Posted by Phil Black on August 1st, 2014

2014

Are you an "all-or-none" type of person? I am most of the time.

Unfortunately, when the "none" part of that equation wins out too often, I find myself in a deep hole. When it comes to fitness, I try to find a middle ground so that I never fall too far out of shape.

I'm in the fitness business, and even I get worn down, burned out, or uninspired to work out. It doesn't happen very often, but sometimes even my best-laid plans get overcome by events.

When I get super busy these days and my planned workout gets backburnered, I'm tempted to just skip the workout altogether. But after so many years, a daily workout is a tough habit to break. I just don't perform well without some kind of exercise in my day.

My solution: When I don't have the time or energy to get to my scheduled workout - I will simply knock out 100 pushups. That's it. 100 pushups and I'm out.

all_else_fails_workout

I call this my "when all else fails" workout. I can do it anywhere and anytime. I can vary the intensity, quantity, or timing of each set of pushups based on my schedule. It could be two sets of 50 or ten sets of 10. It might not be the most balanced workout in the world, but at the end of the day I feel better about having done something.

What's your "when all else fails" workout?

If you don't have one - create one. It doesn't have to be fancy or complicated. This will become the workout that you do no matter how tired, hungry, overworked, overtired, overwhelmed, or overscheduled you are. Promise yourself that you will bang this out - no matter what.

Here are some keys to creating a "when all else fails" workout:

  1. convenient (a gymnastics rings routine is probably not a great choice)
  2. full body (ideally, an exercise that works most of your body)
  3. bodyweight only (no excuses if you don't have equipment)

Once you get a favorite "when all else fails workout" you might be surprised how often you pull it out. I once used mine for 10 days in a row. Hey, 1,000 pushups in 10 days isn't too shabby. The good news is that it kept my head in the game and I was able to get back on track without losing much strength.

If you want a little more variety and structure to your workout, you can't go wrong with FitDeck Bodyweight or FitDeck Bodyweight for iPhone.

Let me know what your "when all else fails" workout is? I love to hear other people's ideas. Sometimes I adopt them for myself.

Stay fit,

Phil Black (FitDeck Founder)

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13 Tips to Control What You Eat at Work

Posted by Phil Black on August 1st, 2014

2014

I'm not sure where it's more difficult to control what you eat - at work or at home? In my case, the workplace has become more and more challenging. I'm a firefighter in San Diego and last week was a rough one. Wildfires have been raging all over Southern California and we've been working night and day.

During tough times like this, our friends in the community drop off tons of goodies at our fire station to show their appreciation for our hard work. We receive aluminum trays filled with brownies, lemon bars, candy, chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter bars, Girl Scout Cookies, cupcakes, and fudge. We really appreciate their support, and well wishes, and love - but sometimes it gets a little overwhelming.

goodies

As thoughtful as this is, the abundance of food can wreak havoc on our diets. This was not a normal week at the fire station, but I still wanted to highlight some strategies that I use to keep the temptations at bay.

  1. Drink water - my appetite is suppressed when I have a stomach full of water at all times
  2. Brush your teeth - when my mouth is clean and minty, I'm less inclined to sneak a brownie
  3. Chew gum - it's easier to walk by the macadamia nut cookies when you're chewing gum
  4. Workout - cupcakes are less tempting after a 30-minute run and bodyweight workout
  5. Stay away - what you don't see can't hurt you
  6. Eat healthful meals - snacks are less appetizing after a salad, veggies, and piece of salmon
  7. Hide and seek - place the goodies out of sight, in a cabinet, or buried in the refrigerator
  8. Freezer - goodies are less appetizing when frozen
  9. Donate to shelters - homemade treats are especially appreciated by those without a home
  10. Stay sated - don't let yourself get even the slightest bit hungry - or you're dead in the water.
  11. No such thing as "just one" - one leads to two, then to three, and so on. Don't even start.
  12. Ship overseas - our brave soldiers overseas could use some extra calories (and some love)
  13. Throw away - it's rude, but if the food hampers your performance, you have a duty to get rid of it in order to stay fit and perform at your best.

Your workplace (and hopefully your home) is probably not as extreme as a fire station, but the principles are the same. Try some of these tips the next time you're faced with a kitchen or break room that is constantly filled with goodies and snacks.

Do you have any other ideas on how to handle this situation? Can you share some strategies that help quell food temptations? Please share your thoughts.

Until next time - stay strong,

Phil Black (FitDeck Founder)

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Do you live to eat or eat to live?

Posted by Phil Black on August 1st, 2014

2014

When I was a little kid, my Uncle told me that he wished he could swallow a single pill that would take care of a day's worth of nourishment - so he wouldn't have to spend ("waste") so much time shopping, prepping, and eating meals. After all, he was a young Navy pilot with things to do, people to see, and places to go. Who had time to eat? My Uncle ate to live.

I know it sounds heretical to the foodies out there, but I find myself subscribing to my Uncle's program - at least for now. I know I should try to view food as more than just a means to survive from 6am to 10pm, but sometimes it really impedes progress.

eat-to-live-pilllive-to-eat-meal

Unfortunately, with an attitude like this, it's easy to let good nutrition fall by the wayside. When food is seen as an inconvenience, we try to balance the scales by grabbing something that is convenient - like fast food. Bad move. This just compounds the problem.

I envy the "live-to-eat" people who plan meals ahead of time, take shopping lists to the store, anguish over the ripeness of their avocado, and savor every bite of every meal. I know it's the right way to live. I understand that mealtime should be seen as a mental break, a social time, and a time to slow down. Somehow, I get derailed by a little something called life.

Today, I fall into the "eat-to-live" category. I'm working on this. Unless I can get myself to consistently shop on Sunday night for the week, my food choices turn into a game of Russian Roulette. Sometimes I end up eating something healthful (if it's on the top shelf and in the front of the refrigerator), and sometimes I take a bullet by eating something unhealthy.

The "live-to-eat" folks don't really need much help in this regard, but we "eat-to-live" people need all the help we can get. Here are some tips on how to eat well even if eating seems more like a chore than anything else.

  • KIND granola bars (dozens of them) stashed in cabinets, car, desk, backpack, hoodie pocket
  • small boxes of raisins
  • hard boiled eggs (at least a dozen at a time) prepped and ready in the refrigerator
  • frozen pollo asado (throw in crock pot before work and keep it on warm until 6pm)
  • microwaveable brown rice
  • baby carrots (lots of them)
  • peanut butter (ingredients: roasted peanuts only)
  • popcorn (if you need something that feels like a treat)
  • apples
  • protein shake
  • beef or ostrich jerky (indestructible)
  • remove unhealthy foods from the premises

This is a list for eat-to-live survivalists who have not prioritized food planning, shopping, preparing, cooking, or enjoying their meals. I know - it sounds like I am callous, no-enjoyment-having soul whose main goal is to get through the day. Well, guilty as charged. Sometimes that's the way it feels. I won't sugarcoat it. It's not like this 100% of the time, but a majority of the time.

Where do you fall? Do you eat to live or live to eat? Or somewhere in the middle? Share with us how you manage these choices.

Someday, I will have a new set of priorities that turns this concept on its head. Until then, throw me a rod of ostrich jerky on my way out the door.

Sincerely,

Phil Black (FitDeck Founder)

P.S. Before I get beaten up about how I'm a poor model for my four children, my eat-to-live attitude is mostly hidden from them. It's mostly perpetrated during the week when they are in school and I'm at work. When the family is together, it's a different story. Food and eating takes on different meaning. We all sit down at the table and enjoy our time together - and we don't serve ostrich jerky.

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#BannedforLife

Posted by Phil Black on August 1st, 2014

2014

As you may have heard, Donald Sterling, owner of the LA Clippers NBA Basketball team, has been banned for life from the NBA, fined $2.5 million (maximum allowable under NBA rules), and may ultimately be forced to sell the team.

The ruling, handed down by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, stemmed from the recent release of audio recordings of Sterling's heinous and unthinkable comments to his girlfriend during a racist rant.

This issue hits home with us at FitDeck because Jared Dudley is a friend and one of our favorite corporate ambassadors. He plays for the LA Clippers and is dealing with this distraction right in the middle of a brutal series with the Golden State Warriors.

We wanted to send Jared our support during this tough time. We hung out with Jared and his teammates after a game in December and he was the most gracious and cool guy around. So were the rest of the Clippers.

Jared-Dudley-FitDeck-FamilyBlake_Griffin_FitDeck_Family

While this issue is far from over, we hope that this expeditious ruling will send a message to Jared and the Clippers that Donald Sterling will not win - even when the Clippers do.

I will support Jared and the Clippers tonight in their game against the Golden State Warriors and will use this opportunity to discuss this issue with my four sons. I hope they will remember this day. I know I will.

Good luck, Jared. We're pulling for you.

Best,

Phil Black (FitDeck Founder)

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Sitting is the New Smoking

Posted by Phil Black on August 1st, 2014

2014

Smoking used to be the big villain when it came to health and wellness. Thanks to decades of education and marketing, smoking isn't nearly as prevalent or accepted as it used to be. We need a similar effort when it comes to the newest villain - sitting.

52_habits_blog_img

Warning: The Surgeon General Has Determined that Smoking is Dangerous to Your Health

I won't bother citing the research linking a sedentary lifestyle with disease. I think we all get it - not moving is not good for us. Movement = Life and it seems to be getting harder and harder to move around these days. Sometimes our environment is the culprit - sometimes it's our own dang fault.

Warning: The Surgeon General Has Determined that Sitting is Dangerous to Your Health

My relationship with sitting has taken a turn for the worse lately and I don't like it one bit. After all, I'm a fitness entrepreneur, a firefighter, former Navy SEAL, father of 4 young sons, and I live in San Diego. If I'm sitting too much, what chance do people have with 9-5 desk jobs in minus 10-degree weather?

After tracking my own "sitting time" (almost always at the computer), I was not pleased. I was also not happy with how my body was responding. My posture was suffering, my flexibility was decreasing, and I felt progressively worse. I started to search for a solution.

Hello? Earth to Phil... It finally struck me that I had already developed and sold tens of thousands of FitDecks that help counteract this plague known as sitting at a desk. It's called FitDeck Office. It's a FitDeck meant for people who spend inordinate time at their desks. I had become one of those people.

Lo and behold, I broke out my FitDeck Office and put it into service. Now, when I sit down at my desk (like I'm doing now), I set my phone to chime every 12 minutes. With every chime, I flip a FitDeck Office card and perform the 1-minute movement. It's not hard, I don't sweat, I don't need equipment, and it's done in 1-minute or less. Even if I'm on a phone call, I still flip a card and perform the movement.

Heck, people still sneak outside to take "smoke breaks". Why not a "FitDeck Break"?

No, my FitDeck Office habit is no substitute for my 5am cardio and strength workouts, but it does act as a pattern interrupt to an otherwise debilitating habit of sustained sitting. The exercises get my blood flowing, get my hands off the keyboard and mouse, and give my eyes a rest. While I prefer the physical cards for this application, lots of people like the mobile option too.

There are dozens of ways people around the world use FitDeck Office with great results. I now have a renewed appreciation for why. In my case, I'm using FitDeck Office as a simple way to remind myself not to sit too long without moving. While I didn't envision myself as a primary FitDeck Office user five years ago - I am now!

For more information on how corporations, including Nike, Kaiser Permanente, and others are using FitDeck in the workplace, click here.

Stay active,

Phil Black

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52 Habits for a Happy , Fulfilling Life

Posted by Phil Black on August 1st, 2014

2014

52_habits_blog_img

  1. Don't sit back and wait for instructions. Be a leader.
  2. Don't watch the news
  3. Reinvent yourself
  4. Talk to people in line at the grocery store. Leave the phone in your pocket.
  5. Leave big tips
  6. Create something (e.g. garden, book, video, scrapbook, Lego structure)
  7. Repeat a person's name back to them when you meet them
  8. Stay out of debt
  9. Call your parents every week
  10. Get up at 5am
  11. Try to sweat every day
  12. Take more risks
  13. Look people in the eye when you talk to them
  14. Quit your job if it makes you miserable
  15. Save more money
  16. Do things with your hands (other than typing and texting)
  17. Pay your credit card every month
  18. Don't slam people on the internet
  19. Plan for the future
  20. Do something artistic (e.g. paint, sculpt, play music, take photos, dance)
  21. Drink more water
  22. Dance like no one is watching you
  23. Care less about what others think of you
  24. Don't talk about your income
  25. Learn one thing from everyone you meet
  26. Have a Family Movie Night once a month
  27. Think about how you make people feel
  28. Eliminate the need for "your coffee"
  29. Do the unexpected and see what happens
  30. Always have a stretch goal
  31. Invest in friendships
  32. Earn every meal you eat
  33. Do things that scare you
  34. Read more
  35. No phone at dinner
  36. Make TV-watching a rare indulgence
  37. Don't ever skimp on fitness, health, or nutrition
  38. Consider giving up alcohol
  39. Get 7 hours of sleep
  40. Sing in your car (and don't stop when you see someone looking at you)
  41. Let your kids fail at something
  42. Listen more than you talk
  43. Have a signature meal that everyone loves
  44. Take a 10-minute walk outside before bed
  45. Sign up for a race of some kind (e.g. 5K Walk, Tough Mudder, Triathlon)
  46. See a movie in the theater once a month
  47. Try new foods
  48. Give a firm handshake
  49. Play the game, "Wouldn't it be great if..."
  50. Give more hugs
  51. Tell friends and family that you love them
  52. Never quit

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7 Reasons to Eat Breakfast

Posted by Phil Black on August 1st, 2014

2014

Breakfast

Yes, breakfast still ranks as the most important meal of the day. This is not breaking news or a paradigm-shift that warrants a book deal or a TED talk. It's just the simple truth. It's so important that I'm dedicating this blog post to review the merits of a consistent, balanced, and well-timed breakfast. No hype, no dancing girls, just good 'ol common sense in an uncommonly complicated world. Check out these 7 reasons to eat breakfast - daily.

all_else_fails_workout

1. "Break-the-fast"

After a night's sleep with no food (fasting), the body needs glucose (food) to replenish its stores so that you can get up and move. No rocket science here.

2. "Skipping breakfast tells your brain that you're starving"

Your body can't differentiate between being \"too rushed to eat\" and starving to death. It assumes the worst and does its best to preserve the fat stores and glucose in your system to keep you alive. This means that your metabolism (fat burning furnace) never turns on. It doesn't burn fat, it holds onto it for dear life. Not good. You want that metabolism cranking early and often.

3. "Eat within 1 hour of waking up"

This is ideal. Food sends a signal to your body to turn on the furnace (metabolism) and prepare for an active day. Eating also provides your body with the glucose it needs to keep you alert, focused, and satisfied.

4. "Buy some time with a snack"

If you just cannot get your act together enough for a legitimate breakfast in the first 60 minutes, then at least have a snack to buy some time. A snack will kick-start the furnace to give you some extra time before it wants something more substantial.

5. "The Coffee Crutch"

If you feel energetic in the morning even without breakfast, and you're a coffee drinker, it's not because you're well rested. It's because of the coffee. Caffeine convinces your body that it has energy - even when it does't. In fact, caffeine decreases appetite, which may delay "real" food consumption even longer. Maybe even until the pasta bar at lunch. Uh, oh!

6. "Commit to Breakfast"

I know mornings can be crazy with sleepy kids, lunch preparation, wardrobe malfunctions, lost car keys, homework catch-ups, missing shoes, etc. If these are some of the challenges you face, then prep the night before or get up 10-15 minutes earlier. It's worth it.

7. "March is Breakfast Month"

No it isn't. I made that up. But let's pretend. Join me for a 30-day quest for 100% breakfast compliance for the month of March. I will be posting a photo of my breakfast every morning for 30 days. I'd love to see photos of your breakfasts as well. Don't even worry about quality for now - just eat within the first hour you're awake.

All the best,

Phil Black (FitDeck Founder)

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Can Money Buy Mental Toughness

Posted by Phil Black on August 1st, 2014

2014

Volunteers Needed

The military needs more Navy SEALs - desperately. Even though the number of men volunteering for SEAL training has been rising - thanks to the publicity of recent high profile missions and the “Lone Survivor” movie - the near 80% attrition rate still makes it tough to meet the growing demand for freshly-minted SEALs. Finding a solution to this shortfall is a persistent challenge that is costing the Navy millions of dollars.

To combat this, the Navy has employed two strategies: (1) get more SEAL trainees through the front door, and (2) find a way to increase the yield of successful trainees already at BUD/S without lowering standards or diluting the legendary training experience. Either way, there is a growing need for more SEALs to make it through the back door.

can-money-buy-mental-toughness

Profiling

Organizations have been commissioned to poke, prod, examine, and perform elaborate studies to discover what constitutes the perfect Navy SEAL. One such study concluded that “water polo players” were the perfect fit. Two years later it was “wrestlers”, then “swimmers”, then “triathletes”, and so on. Each study searched for a group that possessed the perfect combination of strength, size, endurance, flexibility, skills, vision, aptitude, intelligence, and power.

Once a target demographic was identified, a marketing campaign was launched to capture the attention and imagination of the chosen group. The results disappointed. While the demographic of a typical BUD/S class changed to reflect the targeted group, the attrition rate remained unchanged.

Back to the Drawing Board

Targeting specific “groups” may have been a flawed idea from the start. After all, trainees from all walks of life experience success at BUD/S. There had to be a different approach. Maybe the key was how well prepared trainees were prior to reporting to BUD/S.

It stood to reason that if trainees were taught how to run faster, swim harder, do more pushups and pull ups, and eat better before showing up to BUD/S – that even an un-athletic, former Investment Banker from Yale could survive BUD/S. “Strengthen them and they will succeed” was the mantra. This seemed like a foolproof idea. The Navy doubled down.

Preparation

After talking to a Master Chief SEAL friend of mine, I learned that the Navy recently established a state-of-the-art training facility/program at Naval Station Great Lakes, IL, where aspiring SEALs are put through extended “physical preparation” that simulates what BUD/S would be like.

The course is known as NSW Prep. Let’s call it BUD/S “Light”. The candidates are instructed on how to run, swim, pull, push, hydrate, and stretch. It’s a comprehensive (and expensive), 8-week program that preps trainees for the rigors of actual BUD/S training. By the time the trainees get to the front door, they're already well ahead of the game.

Eureka!

Now that sounds like a plan! I was so excited to hear this news. Get these guys prepared so that they are ready to run, swim, climb, flutter kick, push, and pull on Day 1. Get them strong, confident, and motivated. Such great conditioning also reduces potential for stress-related injuries.

In the old days, sailors were pulled right off a ship after 6 months at sea and were expected to perform. That’s a tall order. While I admire the sailors that pulled it off, surely creating a fitness factory that cranks out physical studs was the better way to go. So I thought.

Say what?

I asked the Master Chief, excitedly, what impact this new physical preparation and mentorship program had on the attrition rate at BUD/S. I assumed it would drop attrition rates down to 50%? maybe even less? 40%?

Without a second’s hesitation, the Master Chief replied, “Hasn’t changed attrition one bit. We just have a bunch of really strong quitters running around now”.

Wow! This just goes to show that there is an X-factor that extends beyond physical fitness. It’s called Mental Toughness and it’s tough to quantify. It cannot be bought for any amount of money. I explore this X-Factor in-depth in a series of free training videos that you might be interested in. Click below for more information:

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10 Strategies to Cope with Injury

Posted by Phil Black on August 1st, 2014

2014

Injury

Injury can be one of the few harsh downsides of an active lifestyle. I've strung together a longer-than-I-care-to-admit streak of nagging injuries that have really cramped my style - including a fresh shoulder injury that's taking its toll on my psyche.

When you're a fitness professional, and a big part of your life and identity is being active, staying active, and promoting an active lifestyle - injuries create additional challenges and pressures.

10-strategies-to-cope-with-injury

Over the years, I haven't broadcast every one of my injuries because I didn't want to show weakness. After all, if you're doing all the right things, you shouldn't get injured too often, right? Why would anyone take fitness advice from someone who gets injured periodically?

Well, injuries happen for a myriad of reasons. Some we can control and some we can't. It's time to deal the reality of what living a very active lifestyle can do to our bodies and minds. Sustaining an injury is by no means a given, and many people live injury-free-lives but at some point or another, the very active person often comes face-to-face with injury.

Let's take this opportunity to vent, discuss, and compare some strategies that people use to get through these tough times.

Do I have it all wrong?

One of my firefighting buddies stuck it to me last year when I was hobbling around with a recurring hip injury. He said, "See Phil, that's what you get from all that exercise. Look at me. I'm never injured. I never exercise, but I also don't get injured".

I was at a loss for words. I didn't know what to say. I laughed, uncomfortably, as if it was a joke - but was it? Was he right? Was all this exercise really worth it? Was my recliner-bound friend going to have the last laugh? That really got under my skin. What was I doing all of this for anyway?

Types of Injuries

Short-term, identifiable, fixable: These injuries include broken arms, sprained ankles, bumps, scrapes, cuts, bruises, fractures, etc. Causes: accident, trip & fall, clumsiness, or some combination of events. Each time, there is a known event that caused the injury, the affected area is handled with a sling, cast, suture, etc., and it's a waiting game before you're back in the game. The recovery time is defined, there are universal benchmarks that dictate progress, and you can plan your life around them. While these types of injuries are still no fun, they can be tolerated.

Long-term, questionable cause, unknown recovery time: These are the toughies. Such injuries often include lower back spasms, tendonitis, hip pain, ITB pain, knee pain, shin splints, plantar fasciitis, etc. Causes: overtraining, body misalignment/imbalance, lack of maintenance. These are often chronic injuries that a doctor has to guess as to their cause, experiment with treatments, and randomly assign an extremely generous recovery window. Basically, you're left with no answers, no timeframe for recovery, and a shot in the dark treatment option. These are the injuries that drive me mad.

10 Strategies to Deal with Injuries

1. Perspective: As frustrating as it is to be injured, understand that in most cases, the body heals itself. It may not be on the timetable that we want, but time heals most wounds. Have faith in what the body can do on its own.

2. Rehab: If you're like me, I start climbing the walls when I can't do my "normal" workout routine. Even though you might be limited in what you can do, pour your heart and soul into your rehab in order to keep the habit of fitness alive.

3. Routine: Just because you may have to alter your regular workout routine doesn't mean you should bag it. Keep up a normal routine even if it's half of what you normally would do. Stopping your routine is a slippery slope that rarely ends well.

4. Sleep: Sleeping promotes cellular growth, recovery, and healing. Your body does its best rebuilding at night. Take advantage of this miracle.

5. Eat well: I am forever tempted to throw in the towel when it comes to eating well while I'm injured. What's the point? Injuries lead to decreased appetite, a messed up schedule, and unfamiliar patterns of behavior. Avoid this trap. The food we eat plays a critical role in our recovery. The better food (fuel), the better the body fights off infection, disease, inflammation, etc.

6. Diversify: Injuries can lead us to explore new workout modalities. The need for low impact movements might get you back in the swimming pool. An upper body injury might motivate you to build the legs you've neglected. Or maybe rowing becomes an activity that you hadn't thought of until running became a non-starter.

7. Positivity: Find the greatness that comes with a new routine. Maybe your body needed a break? Take up reading or catch up on old movies that you've been putting off. Find things that will engage your mind and heart in new and unique ways.

8. Study: Don't try to second-guess or outsmart your physician, but use any pent-up energy to learn all that you can about your injury. Digging into the medical side of the injury might peak your curiosity about the healing process.

9. Share: Don't be afraid to spread the word to a community you feel comfortable with. There may be others who can share perspectives, outcomes, or their support. It's nice to know that people are pulling for you and it motivates you to get better faster.

10. Support: Help others who may share your injury. Give them encouragement, share your success story, and it will remind you how grateful you are to be healthy again.

I'm scheduled for a shoulder MRI next week and I hope it comes back negative. In the meantime, I will endeavor to follow my own advice and strategies for coping with injury.

Have you been injured? What type of injury? Did you have any tips or strategies to add to the mix?

All the best,

Phil Black (FitDeck Founder)

[Note: I want to acknowledge that there are many people in the world with problems that reach far beyond injury. I don't want to overstate the issue here. People are dying all over the world from disease, malnutrition, and neglect. I certainly don't want to make it seem like an injury that inconveniences us can compare to real problems that some people have.]

photo: www.justjared.com

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Are You a Creator or Consumer

Posted by Phil Black on August 1st, 2014

2014

Today's World

Over the last few years, I've noticed that most people fall into one of two camps - Creators or Consumers. Where do you fall?

are-you-a-creator-or-consumer creator-or-consumer-2

Creators

Creators create things. They add something to the world that wasn't there before. Creators include artists, songwriters, builders, athletes, chefs, bloggers, developers, farmers, musicians, entrepreneurs, writers, and many others.

My hunch is that these folks are generally a happy bunch. They are blessed with an outlet to release the creativity and passion burning in their souls. They take pride in knowing that they have used their gifts to create something that didn't exist before. Few things compare to this feeling.

Words that describe Creators:

  • imaginative
  • proactive
  • bold
  • risk-taker
  • creative
  • passionate
  • in the flow
  • genius

Tools of Creators

  • paint brushes
  • words
  • food
  • instruments
  • Legos
  • pens
  • voices
  • bodies
  • clay
  • materials

Consumers

Consumers - on the other hand - consume things. They take the creations of the creators and consume them by reading, listening, eating, drinking, watching, posting, commenting, or sharing. They're takers more than makers. My guess is that they are a less-happy bunch.

Unfortunately, there's always a group of consumers who are quick to criticize the creators' creations - which is odd, because if the creators ever got discouraged enough to stop creating - these full-time consumers would have nothing to do all day. Luckily, creators are a stubborn and resilient group.

Words that describe some Consumers:

  • passive
  • reactive
  • curious
  • nosey
  • static
  • apathetic
  • interested

Tools of Consumers

  • iPad
  • tablet
  • mouth
  • mobile phone
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • newspapers
  • magazines
  • books

Can you think of someone who falls into each of these camps?

Why aren't there more Creators?

I do plenty of consuming, but overall I'm a creator. I like making things. I like building things. I like brainstorming and whiteboarding new ideas. I'm not a great (or prolific) creator, but I try - and I love the process.

One of the downsides of creation is the risk of criticism. Why? Because creation is a messy process. Your first shot at anything usually stinks. I have experienced this many times. I'm working on a new project right now that's a complete mess. Heck, this is already the 4th draft of this 700-word blog post!

As a creator, you have to own this messiness and believe that it will get better. I know a lot of people who never create anything because they're afraid that the consumers will laugh at them, or make fun of them. This is unfortunate.

The Creator Quiz?

What is the last thing that you created from scratch? (and no, kids don't count, wise guy) I'm serious. If you're squirming in your chair right now, that's okay. I want to push you on this concept.

There are some people who go for decades and never create anything. Seriously, they are 100% consumers of other people's creations. Think about that for a second. Do you really want to go through life never having created anything on your own?

Creators feel great about their creations - warts and all. If you built a shed in the backyard with your own hands, how would you feel about it (versus the pre-assembled shed from Home Depot that was dropped off with a forklift)?

How does an artist feel about a painting that took them four months to perfect? How does a musician feel about a song that makes it into a big screen movie? How does an entrepreneur feel on payday when they sign checks for their company's 5,000 employees?

Compare this to the feelings of a person who sits at home and swipes through tabloid magazines on their iPad and comments on Facebook about how shallow movie stars are. Or the person who sits down to read a newspaper and blathers on about how much they hate politicians.

Who is living a more vibrant, engaged, and fully-charged life?

Give it a Try

In the inimitable words of Jerry Seinfeld, "Not that there's anything wrong with consumption..." but sometimes I think we take our habit of consumption too far. I have to catch myself daily from consuming too much. In fact, I just put a sign on my office door that says "The Lab" so that when I enter it, I am thinking creation versus passive consumption.

If you find yourself too far on the consumption side of the spectrum, set a goal to create something - anything - and see how it feels. Report back to us on what you did, how you did it, any how it felt.

That's all for now. This blog was my creation for the day. Now I guess I'll have to sit back and consume all the criticism.

Get out and create,

Phil Black (FitDeck)

Check out our latest mobile creations here!

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