Friday, August 22, 2014

In a box ...

Imagine that in front of you there are two boxes.

In the first box , there is a number, which is equal to what you think your ideal body weight should be. But there is no visual image of your physical body to go along with that number.


In the second box , there is a picture of your ideal body, but no corresponding number.

Which would you choose?

"Ideal" number on the scale not knowing what your body will look like?

Or "ideal" picture of your body with no corresponding number?

I ask this because that scale causes SERIOUS stress.

Of course for everyone it is different ... so you can never compare YOU to anyone except you.

But what does your body weight do for you? If you weigh X vs Y...

  • Do you have more meaningful relationships? 
  • Are you better at your job? 
  • Are you a better spouse? 
  • Better mom? 
  • Better friend? 
  • Better sister?

Your body is such an amazing thing ...

...but it's incredible that we've worked with people on all ends of the spectrum, from people who were over 400 lbs to high level athletes, teenagers to grandmothers, celebrities and soccer moms, and almost none of them were happy with where they were physically.

There is always something "wrong" with their body.

I heard LL Cool J complaining to his trainer that his legs weren't muscular compared to his upper body.

Denise Austin told a friend that her arms could be a little more defined.

A client traveling 3 hours to our fitness studio for his workout, who ultimately lost 163 lbs at our studio, said the size of his neck and chin bothered him the most.

It is interesting ...

These are amazing people who are focused on something they perceive as not perfect, or less than. Whether a size 30, size 10, size 2 and everything in between...the grass is always greener.

So here is an assignment for all of us -- homework, if you will.

List 10 things your body does for you or that you like about your body.

  • Maybe because you have strong arms, you can carry your children with ease. 
  • Because you're more fit, you can play with your kids or grandkids without getting out of breath. 
  • If you're training for a race, maybe your fitter body allows you to move at a faster pace than you normally would.
  • Perhaps you have far better energy and stamina today versus a time in the past. 

The list can go on.

I distinctly remember a time when I was waiting for the elevator with a friend -- and a man wheeled up in his wheelchair without legs. He looked at us, both very able to walk, and he said something I'll never forget: "I wish I had the option of taking the elevator OR the stairs ... I know I would take the stairs every time. But I can't. You both can -- why aren't you walking?"

How lucky we are to be able to get out and move freely every day.

Reminds me of a short story I once read about "The Cracked Pot."   All of us are cracked pots in some capacity. 

The Cracked Pot …

Your friend in fitness,

Brian Calkins

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HealthStyle Fitness, Inc. | 4700 Smith Road Suite C, Cincinnati, OH 45212 | 513-407-4665, x-105 |


The Do-Do Rule

There’s a legendary sports physiologist by the name of Dr. David Martin.

This guy is a scientist, with a crazy-awesome fitness lab where his obsession is helping athletes succeed. 

One of the things he's credited with is helping U.S. marathoners optimally prepare for the unusually hot and humid conditions at the Athens Olympics in 2004, and the results were a silver and bronze medal.

What I really enjoy about Dr. Dave is his ability to articulate his training expertise in short, concise ways that people remember.  One of my favorites is his Do-Do Rule.  It goes like this:

"It's not so much how much training you DO, rather, it's how well you recover from the training you DO DO. Because, if you get injured or sick from DOing too much, you are in deep DOO DOO." Dr. Dave says, "The Do-Do Rule covers a multitude of sins for training and has never been proven wrong."

Is more better?

The first "sin" that the Do-Do Rule addresses is the idea that more training is always better training.  According to Dr. Dave, "More training isn't necessarily better. Doing the correct training is the answer to improving, not just more training. How much training is appropriate for you, of course, is the art of coaching and training."  

Clues to correct training are everywhere, for example ... are you seeing improvements from 4-week period to 4-week period?  Do you feel energized and excited for your next BIG ABC workout?  Do you feel like you could handle a little bit more intensity?  If so, you are likely training correctly.

Conversely, are you stuck at a plateau, whether that be a certain weight level or a given pace/weight level?  Do you continually have injury problems or find yourself getting sick frequently? Are you simply unable to maintain a consistent training routine?  If so, you may be in need of a training overhaul.  It's ironic, though, that in situations of overtraining, the tendency is to want to do more to improve fitness, but you may simply need to do less for a couple of weeks.  Recovery happens fairly quickly, but does require rest. 

Following on the heels of more isn't always better, another lesson that the Do-Do Rule teaches us is that your training stress and your recovery must be in balance. "Training involves breakdown, and recovery must be appropriate to rebuild after this breakdown. Therefore, your recovery and training must match up, otherwise you'll be on your way to overtraining and soon find yourself in deep doo doo. It is important to realize that there is not a bottomless pit for training/working out. You must allow sufficient recovery in order to maximize your improvement and avoid injury or illness from overtraining," Martin says.

Adequate recovery comes in several forms. The first is simply spacing your hard workouts properly across each week.  For example, today was easy on our cardiovascular system, easy on the MOST of the major muscles of the body, yet hard on the core and shoulders.  Tomorrow's workout will be challenging on some of your major muscle groups, and your cardio, but will not overly stress the muscles we worked today.   Balance is the key.  We can’t try to squeeze everything in when we need more recovery.

Recovery can also be in the form of good nutrition and hydration.  Take advantage of the window of opportunity within the first hour post-workout. In this time, the body is super prepared to refuel and rehydrate. Have a healthy shake or snack that puts protein and carbs back into your system and drink in the vital fluids lost in the workout.

And finally, realize that recovery needs change not just based on how much training you do, but also based on how much "life" you do.  If work or family or other obligations suddenly get more stressful, you may have to increase your recovery time between workouts and reduce your training intensity.

Here are the Top 3 clues to overtraining:

1. Short fuse, irritability, moodiness and lack of motivation.

2. Increased resting heart rate (>5 beats per minute), as measured first thing in the morning.

3. Workouts where your performance falls short of what you’ve grown to expect. 

Again, these could be relative to your training volume and intensity, AND/OR what’s happening in your life! 

If you’re feeling over-trained, or excess fatigue, make sure you take a day or two off, or go easy in your next few workouts.  You’ll be amazed at how quickly you’re able to recover, find you enthusiasm for workouts again, and get back to making positive progress!

Your friend in fitness,

Brian Calkins

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HealthStyle Fitness, Inc. | 4700 Smith Road Suite C, Cincinnati, OH 45212 | 513-407-4665, x-105 |

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Cracked Pot

A water bearer in India had two large pots, each hung on the end of a pole which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, and while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master's house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.

For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water in his master's house. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.

After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. "I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you."

"Why?" asked the bearer. "What are you ashamed of?"

"I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master's house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don't get full value from your efforts," the pot said.

The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion he said, "As we return to the master's house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path."

Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it some. But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again it apologized to the bearer for its failure.

The bearer said to the pot, "Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pot's side? That's because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you've watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master's table. Without your being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house.

The Moral of this Story: Each of us has our own unique flaws. We're all cracked pots. But it's the cracks and flaws we each have that make our lives together so very interesting and rewarding.

There is a lot of good out there...and none of it is determined by a number on a scale.

Take some time to really see and appreciate the beauty in those you interact with over the next few days.


Your friend in fitness,


Brian Calkins



HealthStyle Fitness, Inc. | 4700 Smith Road, Suite C, Cincinnati, OH 45212 | 513-407-4665 |