Measuring your progress and how to drive improvement

I was commenting on a post from a blog I follow this morning–getting all carried away and verbose as I do–when James Clear’s words jumped into my head:

Every keystroke you type is one stroke closer to your last. And because every keystroke counts the same, why spend so many of those keystrokes answering emails that 1 person will read and then never look at again, when you could be using those same keystrokes to write an article that will help a thousand people?

Now I know for a fact that there are not “thousands” of people reading my blogging efforts up here, but still, the message from James was sound. If you have something to say, especially something that you consider helpful, why not share it in the widest way possible?

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Are you balancing your fitness books?

Broken piggy bankI was inspired recently having read a great article by Bryan Krahn on having to earn the right to moderation. Gritty and well written, the article asserts that before you back-off on your next visit to the gym and simply go through the motions, be sure that you’ve earned the right to moderate your efforts.

Most interestingly, to help actualize the concept, Bryan uses the analogy of a bank account, with deposits and withdrawals. This mental model is useful, because it helps people understand the notion that just as with money, your fitness books need careful balancing. In his specific example, moderation–a withdrawal–can only be made if you have the funds in your fitness account. That is, you’ve been making regular deposits–hard workouts–to build a surplus.

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How to approach a heavy bag workout

Female boxerI often Tweet about my heavy bag workouts, but I thought it would be worth clarifying exactly what I do out there. Why? Because my heavy bag workouts are often my one of my hardest and most grueling workouts of the week. But they haven’t always been, and it took time, practice and lots of experimentation to turn these workouts into 45 minutes of core-crunching, fat-burning wonderment.

Early workouts were basic. Hit the bag hard. A lot. For a long time. All that got me was bruised and bloodied knuckles, deep cramping in my hands, and soreness in my joints, especially the wrists, elbows and shoulders. Frankly, when I look back now, it’s a miracle I haven’t broken a hand or something — it’s certainly easier than you think!

Later, once I realized that simply pounding the bag was not the path, I switched to a sparring style workout with snappier punches and a lot more movement. And it was better, much better; but still a long way short of a grueling workout.

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The secret to your success?

Confused?Over the last six months, I’ve read more articles on diet and fitness than I can count. Unfortunately, most aren’t worth the pixels they’re painted on.


Because they are largely all written in such a way as to be absolute.

Do this in exactly this way to achieve this outcome. The one way, the specific thing, the exact protocol.

And it doesn’t seemingly matter if you want to be bigger, leaner, faster, smarter, better in bed, better at life… there’s always a secret, a shortcut, an easy path to whatever outcome you seek.

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Simple rules for improving your grip strength

forearmGrip strength is important; in the gym, in life. I mean, you never know when you might find yourself having to race out on a zip wire to clutch the hand of a friend who would otherwise plummet to their death.

Okay, so THAT is unlikely to happen… but in all other respects, increased grip strength is practically useful, like when you try to carry ALL of the shopping bags from the car to the house in one go. And yes, that includes opening the front door. And no, I don’t know why we feel compelled to do this versus make two or more short, yet comfortable, trips.

But I digress…

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This is how change happens

There’s an old adage that says you are what you eat, and in spite of the great many diet fads that come along each year, this simple advice has largely withstood the test of time. Of course, you are free to interpret this simple statement however you like, but for me it boils down to this: all things being equal, your quality of dietary health is largely the sum of what you let pass your lips.

Increasingly of late, I’ve discovered the same is true in other areas of our lives too, such as the friends we surround ourselves with or the people from whom we are taking our advice.

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Anyone can meditate; it’s as easy as breathing!

Counting SheepIf you’re anything like I once was, you don’t quite get meditation. Sure, the thought of wistfully zoning out into some trance-like state where the weight of the world is lifted from your shoulders sounds absolutely awesome; and yet, it also sounds daunting and thoroughly unrealistic!

However, over the last year of so, I’ve dug a little deeper into the subject and have come to realize that meditation is somewhat of a loaded term, and one that I suspect is stopping many people from reaping the benefits of this simple practice.

Like you, I’ve read about the benefits of meditation on more than one occasion. Just pick-up your favorite lifestyle magazine and there it is, another article on how meditation can change your life. And you know what, perhaps it can. But first you have to try!

Read more Anyone can meditate; it’s as easy as breathing!

Carb cycling and Intermittent fasting

It all sounds very technical, and to some, very scary; there are certainly negative connotations with the word fasting across large swathes of the populous. However, if you take the time to dig into these topics, you’ll realize a couple of things:

  1. They are regimens grounded in common sense
  2. They are not complex to practice

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No warmup, no workout

warmupI’ve been having all sorts epiphanial moments of late, especially about my physical state and general approach to working out.

Epiphanial? Oh, I made that word up in a recent post; it’s a new adjective to describe those gut-wrenching pangs that accompany moments of sudden insight. (Hey, if Muggle and Blamestorming can make it in to the Oxford dictionary, so can epiphanial!)

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That’s how winning is done!

balboaThis scene from Rocky Balboa gets me every time. Every. Single. Time.

Heck, I even have a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes as I proof-read this post!

Yes, I know it’s a movie, and sure, the words are explicitly intended to create a sense of drama and elicit an emotional response from the audience. But there are quite literally thousands (millions?) of movies, books and theatrical works that try to achieve the same result and fail. Of course, one’s reaction to any given dialog or scene is a deeply personal experience. But why is it then, that this speech from Balboa to his son stirs so much emotion in me?

Read more That’s how winning is done!