Monday, 28 May 2018

Nothing works for Everyone

Nothing works for everyone. There is no perfect program or form of exercise. There is no perfect eating plan or "diet". 

So stop being such an ass about it!!! 

17-years in the fitness industry allows you to see and hear a lot of things.  One of my pet peeves is when people try to push their routines/habits on others, because "they're way is the best".  If that was really true, we'd all be doing the same thing by now wouldn't we?  With the internet and how quickly word travels world wide;  if the perfect program or eating method existed we would all know about it.  

Reality is it doesn't!  And there's so many ways to achieve the life and goals YOU want to achieve.  But you have to be ok with doing it your way.  I have some fitness and health professionals I follow and trust. All of whom are at the top of their game.  Despite there being some similarities in what they teach, guess what?...... There's some differences too!  Would you say they're wrong??  

Uh.... NO! 

There are elite level athletes who are vegan, those who are crossfitters, those who are paleo, those who run endurance races, those who are sprinters etc.... None of these people are wrong for how they choose to train and perform.  We, as the general population, need to stop worrying about what everyone else is doing or telling us and start listening to our own bodies to figure out what works for ourselves!! 

NO ONE has the right to say their way is better than another.  My approach to health and fitness is not everyone's cup of tea, just like crossfit or bodybuilding isn't mine for example.  Get over it! Much of our fitness and health approach needs to be focused inward rather than outward. And within that thought, we need to learn to listen to our own body, rather than what a book says or our neighbour who lifts weights 3-days per week.  

What works for one, will not necessarily work for another. Too many life factors contribute to everyone's daily lives that impact how they need/should approach their own health habits.  Also, because we all do different things within our daily lives, it leads to different methods of training creating success for ourselves.  For example;  A football player will train differently than a soccer player.  A gymnast will train differently than a powerlifter, an office worker will train differently than a junior hockey player  and so on.  

STOP looking and worrying about what everyone else is doing.  The way that is healthiest for you is what you can do consistently and makes you feel good.  

Thursday, 24 May 2018

YOU have to make & take time for YOU

It's come up in a few instances for me this week, in dealing both with family and clients.  It makes me think of myself in the past 5-years, and how 2018 has really changed my mindset towards my health.  That is;

YOU have to MAKE & TAKE time for YOU

In my experience, it's a trend that lacks in a particular type of person who often puts others before themselves.  This is a great quality to be one of those types of people! However, it is also your worst enemy. It's easy to get caught into taking on more than we can handle, focusing our attention on others needs/wants more than our own, and spending most of our own energy on dealing with those other people (which inevitably leaves very little energy left to put into our own health and well being).  

My line of work is very easy to grab you and trap you into that way of thinking.  I care for all my clients equally and have had most of them for a very long time.  This makes it incredibly simple for me to put them first before my own mind and body health.  In turn, that leads to my own poor health, stress and burnout (which has definitely happened a few times in the past).  

Over the past few weeks, I've seen this in a couple other people;  putting everyone else before themselves.  In some cases worrying about things that they have no control over.  And in some ways, worrying about things that are a side-effect of the underlying issue.  I had a great conversation with a client last week about this.  2 weeks ago she mentioned some of these concerns to me, and so I sent her a sleep questionnaire to get to the bottom of things, and to see if we can start to attack the issues progressively; 

She can't sleep.
She wakes up feeling low energy. 
She's feels she needs to please everyone, and therefore sometimes takes on more than she needs to. 
She is constantly stressed out. 
She is concerned about her weight gain. 
She eats habitually before bed at times. 
and so on... 

I get it.  I think many of us are either there, or have been at some point in our lives.  I tried to help her understand that it's ok to slow down, step back for a bit, and solely focus on one step at a time (not to mention focus on herself).  I reminded her how some things are side-effects of another;  The poor sleep is most likely the underlying cause of things like weight gain, low energy and stress for example.  This can't be rushed and it definitely will not fix itself quickly. We need to chip away at it, slowly and ideally in a way that causes as little stress as possible.  

We reviewed 3-main areas of concern that I found from her questionnaire answers, that would potentially be a root cause of the side-effects.  From there, I gave her the option;  "Which one do you want to attack first?"  In doing so, we don't worry about the other stuff.  They will come in time.  We have one sole focus on a daily basis, and it's to attack the issue that you choose to change.  

I wanted to remind her that, without her own health, without her own energy, she won't be able to take care of those she cares about.  With trying to please everyone all the time, she will only burn herself out and in turn put a much greater risk on her own health.  No one can please everyone. 

I've done it, many people I know have done it (or are doing it).  I learn more and more through these experiences the importance of taking time to slow down, evaluate your priorities and evaluate your own daily practices that will lead to better overall health and daily energy. 

There will always be an excuse not to do something for yourself;  

Get rid of that mindset. 

 Make YOU a priority and fit in time(s) throughout each day to focus on YOU.  

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Shark Habits: One bite

Those who follow the blog and Facebook page know that I'm a HUGE fan of, Dan John.  He's a brilliant mind, and it's not even just his technical fitness knowledge, but even more so I love his approach to fitness, health and life. 

2018 has been a good year for me in taking back control of my self care.  Owning businesses, especially ones where your energy is often devoted solely to your clients to give them your best, it's easy to get away from taking good care of yourself.  5-years of business ownership has helped me learn the importance of creating habits of simplicity in my daily life. 

Dan John's "Shark Habits" is something that is on my mind constantly since reading his article and listening to some of his interviews on my favourite podcasts.  We've heard similar advice before, but somehow, Dan always makes the basics of life seem so amazing.

This morning was an example of what a "Shark Habit" is.  You have something you know you need to get done. Often, they are things that really won't take long, but for whatever reason we procrastinate, put them off and then get stressed because our to-do list has piled up. Then that task lacks focus and quality because we rush through it to get the rest of the stuff done.  Shark habits are, "One bite and done".  Have an email to send - send it.  Phone call to make - do it.  Daily exercises to do - get them done.  You get the hint. 

So this morning, with a client away, I had 20-25min between clients.  I have my daily workout to get in before I leave the studio later today, but I have soccer practice tonight and music to practice and prep for my weekend gig, so time is limited.  Rather than spend time on social media etc... I got in my daily movement work. 10min or so.  Done!  Now after my last client, I can get the rest of my workout in (20-25min) and head home for the rest of my day.  It's a simple way to approach your days, yet we all fall into the "time wasting / procrastinating trap".  But just like a workout, when you do it and it's done, you feel SO GOOD to have just got it done!

Take a read of, Dan John's article to really understand "Shark Habits" and start to put this into practice in your daily life. 

Dan John: Shark Habits

Monday, 16 April 2018

5-years in business: Lessons

This past Friday, April 13th was the 5-year anniversary of Living Energy.  In some ways, it's seemed to fly by, and in others it seems longer.  Here's a few things I've learned as Owner & Fitness Coach at my studio over the past 5-years that I can take with me moving forward.... 

Clients make the business

Rob Waite (owner of All Access Music) and his son, Adam
working out at the old studio. 
I think this really started to become ingrained in me about 11-years ago (which was 4-5 years into my post-college career).  Since opening Living Energy, my priority has always been my clients.  Every day my goal is always to be a positive part of their day.  Make them feel good. Make it known that they're important.  Because they deserve it and they are.  I've prided myself on client retention and focusing on what/who I have, rather than constantly seeking new clients. It makes sense. It works.  And the relationships you develop in the process are fantastic!  Sometimes a client is in need of a "therapy session" and just need to get things off their chest (in a place they know it will stay) or sometimes the conversations are silly or there's good fun trash talking back and forth... Whatever the client needs, I'm happy to be able to provide a friendly ear and comfortable place they can do so.

Simple is good

I've always approached, Living Energy with simple in mind. Don't complicate things, don't bombard people with too many things... just provide a comfortable, friendly atmosphere where people can be active, learn and have fun at the same time.  A few times over those 5-years, I think I started to drift away from simplicity in the effort to "grow the business".  If it's not broke, don't fix it right?

YOU, the owner, are the only one who knows what's good for YOUR business

I learned this in my first business when I was 23yrs old, and it pops up every so often still. I mention it often when I speak to the first and second year Fitness & Health students at the college; People love to offer their advice (whether you ask for it or not), even when they have no entrepreneurial experience
themselves.  Granted, some of this advice is good and welcomed at times, but other times it's exhausting and frustrating (especially when you don't ask for it).
In addition to that, YOU (the owner) are the only person who will truly put everything they got into the business and making it work.  YOU have the most to lose. No one else.

Listen to your gut

This sort of ties in with my last point.  There have been times over the past 5-years where I have a feeling about something or that I'm not the kind of person for a particular role, and I've been caught not listening to my gut and trying it anyway.  Sure, taking a risk and trying something new is good.  But eventually, you need to listen to your gut and go with it.

Taking care of yourself SHOULD be a priority

I know more entrepreneurs who suck at this than who are good at this.  As great as my 5-years at Living Energy have been, my own health has been on the back burner and has declined quite a bit.  These 5-years have been the most unhealthiest of my career (and possibly my life). Illness, stress, and injury have set me back big time in my own fitness and health.  It's very easy to put your clients and businesses first before anything else. It's very easy to find time to do other things that are not taking care of yourself.  But (as we all learn eventually), if you don't have energy and health, you can't provide the best service possible.  Tied in with this I think is time with friends and family.  Time to just hang out, relax and have fun with those people.  It's easy to say "I'm too exhausted" or "I'm too busy" and miss out on time well spent.

New life chapters can be a good thing

Sometimes we turn the page and begin a new chapter in life, and think, "Uh-Oh!".  Other times we turn the page and get a breath of fresh air.  Over my 5-years I've done this a couple times, and it's truly turned out to be a great thing.  Things change, new chapters begin and it can often be a very good thing.

Without love and support of those close to you - it would be even tougher

Living Energy could never be possible without the love and support of many people;  my wife and kids, my parents, my in-laws and some of our good friends.  In whatever way they've lent a hand or an ear, they've helped make everything possible.  I could not be celebrating 5-years without them.

It's been a good journey so far.  I've learned things, some things have worked, some haven't... that's the joy of business ownership.  Simplicity and not losing who you are and what YOU want will always guide you in the right direction.

Thank you to all my clients, friends, family, colleagues, and supporters who have made Living Energy's first 5-years, very special!  

Where it all began.  My little 650sq ft studio. Our home for 2-years. :) 

Our current home.  It'll be 3-years this June since we expanded into this space. 

My client of 8-years, Tyler Donaldson presenting
me with a gift as we opened the current studio location;
his jersey from his last year with the Trenton Golden Hawks Jr A
Hockey team, and my first year as Fitness Coach with the team. 

Client of 8-years going on 9, Matt Loveys
(former Jr C goaltender and World Ball Hockey Gold medalist)
is a regular face at Living Energy. 

If it's not fun, it's not worth it

Our clients and friends range from young to "non-young".
This is, Faryn who's mom, Joan has been my client for
11-years! Faryn has grown up visiting a couple days
per week.  And sometimes, she offers to let me take
a well deserved nap. 

Monday, 9 April 2018

The "Habit" is more important than the "What"

The habit is the most important element
to your health; even more so than the "what".
It doesn't really matter "what" you do; there's really no right or wrong. Everything out there works for certain people. And in the same respect, everything out there is not for everybody.
The main factor is, you need to do something! Don't force things on yourself you don't want to do, because it won't stick and therefore won't become a habit.
The "what" can vary each day if you want. But by doing something daily, you'll ensure the habit is in place. That will ensure you end up with some pretty awesome results in terms of your health.
Don't worry about the "perfect routine" or "program" - they don't exist. Do what feels good that day, for you. This morning I woke up, and typically I will hop on the stationary bike and do a light 5km ride to start my day with some light movement. This morning I just wasn't feeling it, so instead I enjoyed a 20-min yoga session. Mentally and physically it felt great to change it up, and I was able to start the day with a good positive feeling rather than forcing myself to do something I just didn't feel up to today, which would've started my day in a negative way. The habit of some morning light movement wasn't impacted at all though - because I just did something.
Don't complicate something that really can be simple....
No overthinking. No complication. Just do something.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

"Nine Lessons I learned from my Father"

Available on

Funny how things go sometimes isn't it?  A client of mine mentioned this book to me (left), last fall during a conversation.  I liked the sounds of it,  so I saved it on my Amazon wish list for sometime down the road. 

 A few months later at Christmas, my kids had bought it for me (without me telling them it was on my list I might add)!!  

Last week leading into Easter weekend, for the first time all fall/winter, I caught a bug that's going around. My perfect streak had ended unfortunately (9-days later I still feel the remnants of it).  At least one positive out of being sick and not being able to work was that I had ample time to read some of my "non-work books".  

I finished off, "99 Stories of the game" by Wayne Gretzky (which I would highly recommend), and so I decided to crack open "Nine Lessons I learned from my Father" by Murray Howe next.  I knew I would enjoy it;  I love hockey, I love hockey history, and I love learning the "behind the scenes" aspects of players/former players lives that really give us the human perspective.  But I was not anticipating the power this book has had on me right from page 1. 

I'm 3/4 of the way through the book now (a "reading speed record" for me only 5-days later).  But I just can't get enough.  Honestly, you don't need to be a hockey fan to appreciate this book.  What makes that even more the case is, Murray Howe (the legend, Gordie Howe's youngest son) was the only, Howe male of the family to not play hockey professionally.  Murray is a doctor by trade.  So the entire book is written from the perspective of the youngest child, who although loved hockey and played when he was young, didn't make his name by doing what his Dad and brothers did.  That makes the book more special and pure in my opinion.  

The purpose of my post today, is because my wife and I are people who, enjoy helping others learn to lead healthy lifestyles, but mostly we just love when people feel good (be it for moments or longer).  The human element in what we do gives me a high that you just can't explain.  It's the interactions, the conversations, the stories, the laughs, etc... that make my job so special to me ...  more so than the amount of weight lost, or how fast someone can run.  

This book by, Dr. Murray Howe about his Dad is absolutely incredible. Maybe it's special to me because my friendship and bond with my Dad is very strong as well, or maybe it's because it makes the legend, Gordie Howe even more legendary because of WHO he was, as oppose to what he accomplished on the ice.  Here's an excerpt from the book to explain what I mean:

Just imagine for a minute, what our towns, cities, countries and world would be like, if this was the approach to life we all took.  Imagine the incredible feeling we could bring out in others if we were all treated this way by people we meet and interact with.  

Being truly healthy includes our relationships and goes well beyond fitness and nutrition.  I am so proud to say that my parents share this same view that the Howe's shared with the world. I have friends who work paycheck to paycheck (hell, so do we!), and then I have friends who are doctors and lawyers. Neither mean any less to me than the other.  It's the person themselves that is important to me. Not their title or how much money they have.  

On another note, Gordie Howe and his wife lived without prejudice or bias. They avoided events or places that left out certain types of people, or certain "classes" of people.  They were legendary in my mind not for what Gordie accomplished in his career, but as a human being we should all strive to be!  

We live in a world of stereotypes;  "You own a business, so you're rich", "You're a Doctor so you have it easy", "You have a minimum wage job so you're not as important as someone making more".    If overall health and well being is your goal in life, make sure you have the right mindset and approach to those you interact with;  be it for minutes or on a regular basis - we're all human and we all have our stories, talents, ups and downs.  

No one is more special than the next person.  

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Add it all up; The "Accumulation Approach" to health

Maybe it's due to me being at the "ripe old age" of 36 now.... 

Maybe it's due to being an entrepreneurial family and keeping busy most days... 

Maybe it's my career experience coming into play....

Or maybe it's simply the chapter of life I'm in now...  

One thing is for certain, 2018 has brought back consistency in my activity;  and with my busy lifestyle, it's come back in the form of little bits throughout the day.  

Science has shown us that we can reap excellent health benefits by accumulating exercise throughout the day, and that it doesn't have to come in the form of a 1-hr killer workout straight through.
The Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines suggests for adults;

"To achieve health benefits, adults aged 18-64 years should accumulate at least 150-minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity per week, in bouts of 10-min or more,"

*Think about that;  that's the same amount of time 
as a chat at the office 
water cooler or a coffee break*

In addition, the guidelines recommend at least 2 days per week of strength activities.  (Take note of the "at least" in both recommendations.)

Like I said, the timing is really not much.  Rather than standing around during your coffee break (or sitting), why not go for a nice walk for your 10min... and ideally outside in the fresh air.  Believe it or not, you can still chat with your colleague at the same time! 

Here's an example of my day today to give you an idea of how breaking up your bouts of activity can be done;

6:45am  - Morning 5km on the bike (it's starting to get light out at that time so soon I'll be outside for a 15-20min walk to start my days). 

8:45am - Walk to school with my 9-year old.  We usually stop in to see my wife at our cafe (The Artizen Cafe) on the way.   And to grab a coffee for the trek.  :) 

9:10-9:15am - We get to the school, hugs and kisses before she heads over to see her friends, and then I pop in my headphones and a podcast or audiobook for my walk home.  

12:15pm - Workout after my morning client(s).  Followed by my post-workout meditation.  

If we total up the duration spent active, it works out to 62-80min of activity by 1pm.  

Is there any way I could find an hour straight to do activity in my days???  NOT A CHANCE!!! 

This is what has finally clicked for me (and it only took 15+ years of doing this... LOL) Workouts / activity don't need to be "unbelievable, ground breaking, instagram worthy, hashtag producing puke fests" in order to feel great!  They need to be consistent, some challenging, and they need to be simple. 

I'm enjoying the "accumulation" approach very much for a few reasons;  

  1. It's easier to fit things in, and to fit it in with less pressure to "hurry up"
  2. My longer workouts are planned in my calendar during times in my week where I know I have a buffer zone both before and after my workout (just in case).  
  3. It harmonizes with life.  Life is a balance of work/play and rest.  By doing various bouts of activity throughout your day, you're doing exactly that;  Active... Rest...Active ....Rest. 
  4. It seems easier mentally to chip away at improving your health. It may just be me, but when my days are full of accumulative bouts of activity/exercise, it balances with the premise of doing small changes to get big results.  My runs increase ever so slightly each week, my weights and volume in my weight routines work the same, my habits pre-bed time change gradually and not all at once...
We're not elite athletes. We're every day people working to build a happy and healthy life, while providing for our family.  Stop seeking the "crazy" and being stressed for your lack of success.  

Seek balance, consistency and enjoy.