Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Theone's Snow Story

Hi All,

This is how my family holiday ski vacation began.....

Wednesday at 4am I pulled myself from bed to be dropped off by my very groggy but sweet friend at the airport for a 6:40 am flight from LA to Denver. The previous evening my Mom had called, "Big storm moving in. Can you fly out tonight?" Oh sure, drop another $300-400 to make the change? More then what I paid for the ticket, nah, it'll be fine.

There was no indication at the LA airport that anything was amiss. Frontier is the most efficient airline for this route and I've never had a problem. All routine and we take off. Then, just a meer 120 miles out of Denver, we get the call. Airport's shut done, it is in deed a bad storm. We circle for 20 minutes and miraculously are allowed to land. We're one of the last plans on the ground before the big shut down would take place a few minutes later. Hey, I made it, I'm happy, skiing tomorrow - you bet.

After a short wait to deplane, I finally get to see what this weather is really like. Through the terminal windows, it's a complete white out, snow blowing sideways, they can't shovel fast enough to keep up, forget about de-icing the wings. The terminal is full of thousands of people looking a little stunned, standing in long lines to be rebooked. I am lucky to have arrived. The airport, the crowds waiting, it's oddly quiet.

The next three hours are spent waiting and looking for luggage. All the planes that were cancelled are now reguritating bags of every size, shape and color out onto the carousel for the stranded passengers. Finally, my bag arrives and my skis hand delivered, I'm good to go!

I've already told my mom not to pick me up, safest bet seems to be to take the bus. Little did I know that I'd spend the next 9 hours on it for a route that usually takes just 1. With just enough time to pull on my ski jacket but not my snow boots, I drag my luggage across three lanes of snow drift to barely make the AB Denver/Boulder bus which is closing it's doors. I get a seat and sit back and relax. The bus is packed, many people standing. At this point, fine the airport's closed but how bad can the roads really be? I'm pretty darn happy. My flight made it in, my luggage made it in, I caught the bus... I'm so close now I can taste it and I can't wait to hit the slopes tomorrow! Nice fresh powder.

Before we leave the airport, we're addressed by a man who was loading our bags. "We're an unscheduled AB bus into Boulder. We were in the classroom and got the call. The driver is student, I'm his instructor. We're going to take our time, get you to your destination and above all, be safe." A few of us look at each other brows raised, student driver? Great. But then we realize not such a big deal, the roads are jammed with cars, no one's moving more then a couple miles an hour and we can't see a thing.

We begin the long slow journey, normally just 45 minutes west toward Boulder. We begin to see that things are a little more serious then we imagined. Cars are littered along the side of the road, abandoned. A pile of mail bags. What, Santa lose his way? Are his reindeer feet up in the snow somewhere? Is Rudolph's nose blinking in a snow drift? After a few hours, I give up my seat to a man with a bum knee, my seat mate, Brad, an atmospheric student at NCAR does the same. We then meet Joe who gathers unemployment stats for the Federal government and Sven a juggler. We're near the front of the bus and begin talking. As we have a bit of time on our hands, Joe pulls out his photos from a walking trip he did of the Camino(?) or The Road to Santiago from the base of the Pyrenees in France 500 miles across the northern tip of Spain. A religious pilgrimage. A nice distraction for what? 15 minutes?

John, the bus instructor, gives us little updates. I-70 closed. I-36 closed. The Governor just declared a State of Emergency all this interspersed with jokes. John's easy, even attitude make the whole trip much more playful. We creep, I mean creep along with the flow of traffice. In fact, we're going so slowly that around 5:30 pm, 2 men on bicycles splitting the center lane - pass us! Spectators from nearby homes come out and pass out bottled water to stranded motorists. I consider strapping on my skis, had they been cross country I would have but downhill, no. And it's freezing out there! We still have at least 14 miles to go and the sun is down, no, I think I'll stay in the nice cozy bus.

Remarkably, my brother who commutes to downtown Denver on the bus is just a short distance behind me on a different bus, also trying to get home. We text each other.
"where are you at?" he asks
"I'm at Westminister."
"I'm behind you."
"should I get off and get on your bus?"
"NO! Stay where you are."

I'm also keeping in touch with the rest of my family via text or phone. Where are you? Where are you, is the question repeated over and over again, hour after hour. My cell is losing juice. I write down three numbers so when it dies I can still reach someone to hopefully fetch me from wherever I'm going to end up.

We try to make a couple scheduled bus stops for the passengers. At one, I gotta take a pee. John, let's me use the bus driver private bathroom so I only freeze my feet walking in the snow and not my ass dropping my pants. It's been 7 hours now. And finally, we can go no further on the highway. The police have shut it down. A Fox news van going in the opposite direction stops to take some video, John, hops out to find out what's happening. He reports back, 100's of cars are abandoned or stranded up ahead. The National Guard are coming in to pluck out the motorists who are stuck. We're forced off the highway and set about to take our chances on side streets. We now have 50 back seat bus drivers all with opinions on the best way to make it to Boulder. Luckily, John and his student drivers are nonpulsed at our silliness and able to take in pertainent information.

On the off ramp, a man is stranded and tries to wave us down, we can't stop. If we stop, we won't be able to get back up the slight hill ourselves and then we'll strand not only ourselves but all the vehicles behind us as we block the exit. We leave him. Turning left, we begin to snake our way through the quiet streets. We pass a park and ride with 6 abandoned busses. We don't stop. Remarkably, we continue on our way making our way around cars with their noses in the ditch, snow piled to the roofs. We reach a road where the way before us is clear but coming in the opposite direction 100's of cars are stranded, lights on, waiting, hoping to get by the stuck car, or a jack knifed truck or empty bus.

We're all hungry, tired, but so close now we can taste it. The juggler asks to be let off at an unscheduled stop. He disappears into the blowing snow, we wish him godspeed and continue on. We're still moving forward, eerily no cars heading our direction to Boulder. What route did all those others behind us take? Is there something we don't know about?

We make a decision to get back on the highway that we were forced off earlier. There's no officer at the entrance to the off ramp so we assume it must be clear now but we can't tell as we're at the base of a small hill, the last hurdle into town. We take the ramp, let a man off at the park and ride and move forward. There are a few cars ahead of us, another bus and then we see him, the cop car. He's turning people around, the highway still closed. Cars start passing us going in the opposite direction on the on ramp, a slightly eerie feeling. John, our senior driver, joke teller and above all else, the man who's going to get us home safely, takes over. Releaving Bill, one of the students, he gets behind the wheel, he's going to back the bus up the ramp.

But wait! The cop has decided to let us and the bus ahead of us take the freeway. But why, we were just told that there are 300 cars blocking the road. And he's going to let us through? Okay. The hill up into Boulder is empty on both sides. Where are these stranded vehicles. The bus in front of us disappears over the top and into the blowing snow, it's the last we'll see of it. Is that a good thing? Does that mean it's clear? Or are we going to come across it and be stuck ourselves? We don't know but continue on. To the top, slowly down the side, passing cop cars with flashing lights and then we see them. There are a hundred cars, a truck, a bus fully loaded with people blocking the highway.... but they're all on the other side going the opposite direction!! Are we going to make it? We're so close. I borrow a phone. Mom, can you pick me up at Table Mesa? Can you get through to there? Yes, she thinks they can.

Just a few more miles now. Myself, Joe, Brad, we hold our breath, don't want to hope too much that we'll actually be dropped off where we need to be? Incredible. Okay, it did come 9 hours after we got on the bus but incredible! There's a big snow drift blocking the bus ramp to the park and ride. "John, don't do it." I plead. We can walk the few hundred feet. But no, he plows through the drift smoothly, expertly, a man well trained, cool, daring. The snow is unbroken on the bus ramp, he glides us through and around a sharp corner and delicately stops at the 3 story structure. Almost home.

Outside the bus, John and the two student drivers help unload our bags. I give them a large bag of trail mix and a $20 to get a beer together when everything's calmed down. We hug. And then the bus drives off and disappears for it's next stop on it's journey, more passengers, more stories.

My Mom and Step-dad are waiting. We hug. We learn that my brothers bus is somewhere behind us, coming from a different direction so we wait. While we wait, Joe, my fellow passenger we're going to give a ride home to, and I take in the beauty. Snow weighs the bows of the trees down, everything is white, deep white. Quiet. Remarkable. Magical.

My brother arrives a little while later. We hop in the 4 Runner and slowly make our way home. Dropping off Joe first, then my brother then we make it to my Mom's house. I've been traveling for 17 hours but I'm safe, a little hungry but safe.

It's Thursday morning, the roads are still closed. The snow is pilled two+ feet around my parents house. I'm jonesing to ski some powder but there's no way to get there.

Ski report to follow.... when we can make it into the mountains. So close, and yet so far.


Monday, December 18, 2006

Johnny's Targhee Tale

Hey Gang

I see that a report on the Targhee trip has been requested, so here we go!

Stan-man hit the road from Seattle at about 4AM on Wednesday, forgoing all sleep and pushing on till almost noon. (All prior reports have been confirmed - he is an animal!) We had lunch on the road gassed up the 4-runner and blasted out of Missoula towards the Promised Land. I had a "John Adams" book-on-tape to keep me company and we powered thru I-15 at 80 mph, while Stan got some much needed sleep. As the sun set and the cool night air desended on us, Stan arose from his slumber, looked at the dashboard and declared "We are out of GAS!!" Yikes! I was so wrapped in JA, the spirit of 76, the letters to Abigail, and the rat bastards that Dickinson and Jefferson turned out to be that I had never even thought about fuel. We had just entered the Targhee National Forest and our chances of finding civilization looked bleak. I powered down to 45 mph, put on the cruise control and just kept going. We finally got to an exit, but there was nary a light, certainly no gas station. We plunged forward, and when Stan checked his cell phone he delivered more grim news. No Signal. Folks, we were on empty, fumes only, no way to call for help. At 45 mph in a 75 mph zone, no one even passed us. We were truly alone in the world - was this going to one of THOSE trips?. Onward we pushed. The next exit was a campground. The next had a single ranch-house, and the ramp sign clearly said - No Services. Finally, 25 miles later, coughing and weezing, the 4-runner pulled into a service station, delivering us from a dreadful plight. Fortunately for us, the gas station was a Conoco (since Stan has taken a principled stand against Exxon for that ugly Valdez business).

Fresh from the buzz of survival, we reached our goal - Grand Targhee Resort. We quickly hooked up with Tony and Steve and got ready to charge the next day. Thursday Morning. The adrenaline was high - first turns of the year for most of us. As we blasted down the hill, an unfamiliar noise was heard - a horrible grinding, screeching crunching sound. ROCKS - Lots of rocks. The snow cover was --- shall we say modest. Did that slow down the Brokeback Boys - I think not!. By lunch we did some checking of equipment and lo, each of us had a core shot. I had an edge ripped out on one ski and crack right through on the other. At the end of the day at the tune up shop, I showed my day's work to the tech. (Me) "I think I just need some hot wax" (Him)"Dude, you need a new ski!" He was kind enough to lend me a hacksaw a hammer and some pliers and in no time I was back in business.

Unfortunately, we didn't get any snow during the clinic. Fortunately, we were able to hike for a few freshies and had some cat skiing to ease the pain. We all had a blast. We learned a lot, improved and each had his stellar moments. But, we all got upstaged by a nine year old (cute) punk. DesLauriers, I think his name was. He had the bling, he had the fur, he had the moves, he had it all. Other highlights were the 7AM stretch with T Horton, the 2-hour, $60 breakfast at the restaurant, and of course the nightly hang. The restaurant was a source of no minor irritation as Steve, glutton for punishment that he is, went back for dinner. After waiting at the door for many minutes to be seated in an empty room, he ordered fish and salad (for a bargain price of $79.95). After 40 minutes he got a head of iceberg cut in half with some dressing spilled over the top. When the fish came 30 minutes later, it was terrible. I believe that was the last of our meals in the restaurant.

By the end, it had all come together, we had some new friends from Canada, a lot of laughs, and some good memories. We were ready to start our goodbyes, when out of the suddenly cloudy sky it started. SNOW. Perfect blower flakes, trickling down with renewed vigor. Too bad, its too late for us, we are leaving first thing tomorrow morning - Right Stan. Well, it turns out Tony and Steve were staying an extra day or two. We needed a framework, a decision tree, a threshold. After much discussion, we decided that if there was 3-inches of snow we would stay till 2 pm, then make the 10-hr drive to Sandpoint. If there was a foot, we would spend the night. Next morning, early on, it was clear, there was three inches - we would SKI!! Somehow, I was first out and battled the fog but found the lines we would need to uncover on this soon to be epic day. We finally grouped up and hit it. Its funny what just a little snow will do. That wonderful, fickle substance that we chase so hard, so often. Sometimes, it just has to come to you. What a day we had, blasting thru the pow, conquering tight lines through trees, through the open bowls, ripping top to bottom. We all realized it was a day we would not soon forget. 2pm rolled around - it was time to go. Well maybe just one more run. OK then just another. Oh hell, we're here till closing. And so it was. Charging hard to chase down that last chair, we barely made it. The perfect end to the perfect day of a #$^*ing perfect trip.

How much longer till February?? We really need to do this again sooner.


Saturday, December 09, 2006

A Ski Story ~ by John Nicolich


When I last reported, I had skied day one with a hockey babe in death crust. A few days later it was skiing in the rain at 49N. Things got worse as the base went from 24-in. to 20-in. to 16-in., and as it dwindled so did my hopes of a glorious early season. Then came Thanksgiving. While others were thankful for their health, their families, and God, I was thankful for the snow that was absolutely puking outside. That's right friends 14 inches in 24 hours. Schweitzer opened on Fri 11/24, to a cushy 36-in. base. That was just the beginning. On Sunday night it snowed 10 inches over night.

Schweitzer's sexy backside was open to midway but had remained closed to the top while the hounds licked their chops and waited. By chance I was on the chair when the top opened and was the first (besides a few dirt bag snowboarders) to reach the goods. I hit Big Timber, a classic run that is the first hit for most powder pigs, posers, wannabe's, and others of ill repute. It was wide open, untouched. I was first one in for the season. It was as close to a religious experience as I've had. I was describing it to a buddy of mine and said "I may never have another run like that again!"

Next day, Monday. 9 inches of new. Patrol closed the top of the backside till 10 AM. I was skiing the front side when I saw the rope drop and started the long traverse over. I saw some boarders download off the chair, but they were heading away from the backside. I was puzzled, why would you leave when it was just opening up. Another group unloaded and did the same thing. Did they close the North Bowl runs?? I almost bailed when I said screw it, lets check it out. Back to Big Timber. No Tracks, deep pow, flying like a demon, just like a dream. Deja Vu baby.

Today, Tuesday. The temp dropped to 6 degrees. That snow you saw on Monday night football - its here now, and another 5-inches fell. This time the cold air left us Utah snow. I'm not kidding, the POW was blower, boot deep or higher in places. And the best part is on a Tuesday its just me and the old people and a few slackers and social outcasts.

Man am I tired. The pace is frantic. To ski all day, I have to work all night - just finishing up now. My family misses me. But you know its that time of year again, and tomorrow is another day.

I'm Out


PS Stan is the cow catcher on the 4-runner?, we are leaving soon. If you can, you should come up here for a pre-Targhee session - yeah its that good.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Eight ~ Creating The Perfect Day

I'm fascinated with the applications of theories and/or behaviors that work well for me. I'm always looking for ways to enhance this amazing journey called life. I often talk about finding the Energy and Enthusiasm to enjoy everything you want in this world. For me it often requires examining behavior where I've fallen short, and trying to alter my approach the next time around. I'm beginning to learn that certain things need to be in play almost every day. In the process I've created a list called "The 8". If I do these 8 things I feel like I've had the perfect day. You might want to create and personalize a list of your own.

1. Sleep ~ My perfect day starts with the night before. If I get 7 1/2 to 8 hours of sleep, I'm revved up and ready to hit the ground running.

2. Workout ~ Like you knew this wasn't going to be on the list. My workouts effect all aspects of my life. Mind, body, spirit and beyond.

3. Whole Foods ~ Fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein and healthy fats provide the fuel I need for a whole life.

4. Supplements ~ They assist with the recovery of workouts and provide energy for the next one.

5. Attitude ~ The more time spent asking questions to find solutions in life, the more exciting life becomes. Focus on what works, not on what doesn't.

6. Hobbies ~ Find something you love to do. From stamp collecting to bird watching, hobbies can provide great friendships and tremendous personal growth.

7. Charity ~ Whether it's sending flowers to a friend or working with orphans, when you take the onus off of yourself and but the focus on others you'll find true happiness.

8. Down Time ~ Turn off the tube and breath. Balance is part of a perfect day. Read, meditate or exchange ideas with people you love.

Whenever I do all 8, my day is as good as it gets. If the items on this list feel like work to you, then they won't work for you. You have to truly want to live this way. If you are willing, then choosing "The 8" will make for many perfect days.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Matman2163 ~ Poetry In Motion

Ode to P90

I woke up this morning, all tired and sore
From bringing it hard, to just do one more
From push ups to pull ups
And Ab Rippers too
To whip you in shape
And get rid off that goo

P90 was first and that program was great
In the first 30 days, I began to change shape
I lost weight in my midsection, my butt, and my thighs
And saw my self transform, right before my own eyes

The plan was quite simple
I’m here to attest
Workout hard, eat right, and get 8 hours rest
The diet I followed was easy you see,
Just stay on Michi’s ladder
What more could there be?

I finished my first 90 days with success
And thought to myself, give the master series a test
The workouts were longer, with many more reps
But I did them with gusto, yes, even with pep

I brought it my hardest, never took it too easy
And laughed at TH, although some of his jokes were quite cheesy
But looking back now, yeah, it’s been quite a while,
Although the jokes repeated, they still made me smile
They helped me to bring it and what can I say
I gave it my all, each and every long day

I finished the master and what could be next?
But a new kind of hurt in the form of the X
More push-ups, now pull-ups, and Yoga to boot
The workouts are longer, but the jokes are a hoot

I found my self twisting in all kind of ways
And finished with Ohm’s,
Flushed those worries away

So now I’m closer to reaching the end
But if I can do this,
Then so can you, friend

To get through these programs,
Just listen, take heed
to 3 little words,
Decide, Commit, and Succeed.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Stress Kills

My Aunt Irene is 101 years old. She is and has always been a curious, happy-go-lucky kind of gal. She was not one to exercise and go on diets, although she ate fairly healthily her whole life and smoked cigarettes 'til she was 95. She quit the cigs because they got too expensive. She had two older sisters, Helen (my grandmother) and May. Both died in their eighties and both created more stress and less humor in their lives than Irene. She raised five kids on her own after her husband died young, so her life wasn't a picnic either. Is Irene an anomaly or does her good-natured spirit have something to do with her longevity?

Research is showing that poor sleep and a stressed-out life is shortening our lives faster than a poor diet and no exercise. The combination is like playing Russian roulette. We need to lighten up, find balance, and not be so attached to the outcome all the time. Exercise and a good diet aren't enough. The combination of mind stress and physical stress (from exercise) can produce free radicals that damage cells and cause everything from premature aging to cancer. Beating yourself into submission to keep up with the Joneses is killing you. A sense of humor and scheduled downtime (other than sleep) will keep stress at bay. Whenever you feel stressed out, ask yourself these three questions:

1. Where's my sense of humor? If you can make a goofy face or say something silly, then you can instantly shift your mood.

2. What's the solution? When you're stressed out, you're focused on the problem. When you ask yourself to solve the problem, you start to ask the right questions to improve the situation.

3. Am I in the moment? Sadness, anxiety, depression, and stress are often caused by thoughts and events of the past and future. All you have is right now, so stop, take a breath, and check to see if the present moment is as bad as you think it is.
If you can dump the stress, find yin to balance the yang, and search for solutions, then you will live long and prosper.

Friday, November 10, 2006

The Secret Is Choice

My good buddy Nicholas C. had a great question in this week's mailbag. I let him in on a little secret that I'd like to share with all of you.


Hey Tony,After having the extreme honor of meeting you at two previous camps, I couldn't help noticing that you bring intensity and purpose to "everything" you do, whether it be just ordering dinner or teaching a class. I need to know your secret! How can the rest of us bring it with such energy and enthusiasm? Be blessed:) Nick Submitted by "niko63"Tony's Answer:

My Man Nick,
The short answer is choice. Life throws options at us every second of every day till the day we die. The combination of risk, faith, curiosity, determination, practice, desire, growth, hope and choosing right over wrong can build an incredible life. Super successful people all have one thing in common. They don't see obstacles. Their brain is wired for success. Problems turn to questions that get answered with solutions. No wining, bitching, complaining, blaming ever. Just doing, searching, learning and growing. You don't have to turn into an android robot from outer space to lock down this practice and philosophy, you just need a plan you'll stick with that works.

I think a lot of people get tripped up when they let other people slow them down. If family and friends aren't supportive of positive behavior then they need to be ignored. We all try so hard to fit in. Yuck! The great thinkers and doers did their own thing. They thought and acted way outside of the box. They didn't copy, they created. We all have this power. We live in a crazy "I can't" world and it's killing us. If we just said "I'll try" a little more often we could change the world. The winging it survival mode lifestyle is a joke. It's time to be accountable. This little trip to planet earth is far too short to waste any time. The time to start doing everything right is right now. I'm thinking way beyond a good diet and fitness here. Both should be automatic and are the cornerstone to everything else.

It's time we started thinking for ourselves and not so much about ourselves. We need to stop being influenced by others, look inward for a second or two, and discover that it's not about us. Fitness and a good diet are a link to discovering that there is more out there. When you learn this it becomes less about you and more about how to positively influence others. You'll never have the Double E (Energy and Enthusiasm) to grow outside of yourself until you hard wire a healthy lifestyle. There is nothing worse than someone who knows better and chooses the lame way out. I've learned that poor fitness and a bad diet lead to the status quo, AKA hell on earth. I am no different than you or anyone else. I'm not special, or smart, or lucky and nothing comes easily to me. I spent most of my youth scared, confused, lazy and sad, so if I can rise up from the ashes anyone can. Just choose it. 11/5/06

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Predicting The Future

In my old age (numerically) I have learned that life doesn't have to be a crap shoot. As a young man I often felt that many events in my life were out of my control. I didn't care to have a plan or a purpose regarding my future, or even my present for that matter. I sort of plodded along, living day to day, hoping that everything would turn out okay. It was a wishful thinking hand to mouth existence. I was young and pretending to be ambitious, so why did I need some kind of confining structure that would bog down my free wheeling lifestyle. Who was I kidding? I think a lot of people in the USA live this way. Many of us survive on just 7 basic things. Food, shelter, work, money, buying toys, avoiding pain and seeking pleasure. It comes down to working to get the cash to feed your face and live in your house/condo/apt, so you can buy the stuff that gives you pleasure thus avoiding pain.

It's called The American Dream. It's our life. Is it enough? People from other countries come here to find this life. Other cultures believe it's disastrous. Some folks in this country never experience it. Many in our country see it as a trap. Are we spinning our wheels in the pursuit of the American dream? When these 7 things become the only 7 things in your life then life can be loaded with lots of surprises. I'm not talking birthday surprises either. As we age beyond our mid twenties our bodies and minds stop growing and start dying. Walt Whitman wrote, "The fruit of youth is forever gone at twenty six." Time passes and life gets harder. Aging brings stress, poor sleep, physical limitations and too many meds to combat it all. Kids have it easy. Their minds and bodies are brand new and capable of anything. Adults are the ones who deal with the day to day hardships of life.

The adult world is filled with unpredictable's. Traffic, family, work, finances, relationships, illness, fatigue and the list goes on. It feels like we can't control any of it. This is because we can't. We do our best but much of the time we suffer from the weight of it all. Life will always come at you, and finding the energy and enthusiasm to succeed comes form the two things that are predictable. They are Fitness & Food. An aging unfit, unhealthy junk food junkie is fighting an uphill battle every day. The clock is ticking, time is passing and the mind and body of the unfit and unhealthy suffer and fall prey to a dreaded future. Short term pleasures will mask reality for awhile but the last 10 to 30 years of life will be filled with pain and frustration. There's no getting around it unless you decide to eat better and move your body.

The two things that you can control, (Food & Fitness) are all you need to help you deal with all the other things you can't control. Healthy food and supplementation combined with a regular exercise program stimulates new cell growth, oxygenates the heart, lungs and brain, protects and strengthens bones, muscles, skin and connective tissue and provides the energy and enthusiasm of a child. A body in motion stays in motion. A body at rest will rot away. You are what you eat and healthy food and good supplements make for a healthy mind and body. Unhealthy junk food makes for food pornographers. If you do nothing the future is bleak. If you decide to commit to a plan that gives you purpose then you can predict the future.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

this is an audio post - click to play

Monday, October 02, 2006

The Power of Choice

How will you choose today?

Will it be...


You choose your emotions and reactions to everything going on around you. Some days will be easier than others, but at any given moment you get to choose how to effect your life and all the people in your life. How will you choose?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Sharon ~ Kim ~ Monique

On September 14th Traci and I arrived in Chicago and wanted to charge our batteries with a little pre-camp workout. After spending about 15 minutes searching for the gym in our massive hotel I talked Traci into an old school version of shoulders and arms. I call it "old school" because unlike P90X we bombarded our shoulders for 12 sets, followed by 12 more sets of just arms. Traci was loving me...Not! While we were pumping iron, we noticed 3 gals clearing out a small space in the corner of the gym. One of them was setting up her laptop while the other two were chatting and warming up. I wasn't sure what they were up to at first, because I couldn't figure out why they weren't just lifting weights or peddling away on one of the stationary bikes like everyone else.

What were these three women up to? Why are they here and not using the fitness equipment? Why are they doing a fitness video in a gym? What's up with Bogarting part of the gym floor for they're private workout? My gym rat brain was having a tough time figuring out what was going on. As they were setting up and stretching I looked over and noticed the cover of their workout. I saw two words. Beachbody & Turbo Jam! At that moment I had two thoughts simultaneously. How cool is this and why aren't they doing Power 90? While wrangling with my ego I turned to Traci and told her that we were in the midst of some Beachbody peeps. At that moment one of the girls recognized me. My frail ego was back in tact, until the three starting swooning all over the much cooler My Beachbody girl.

Their names are Kim, Monique and Sharon. All three work for the same company and were attending a conference at the hotel. They live in different parts of the country and stay connected through e-mails and the Beachbody web site. They had meetings all day every day and still managed to find the time to burn and churn during their conference. After our initial hellos the girls got busy and Traci and I went back to our weights. As I watched them workout together, push each other and have a blast in the process, I couldn't help notice the contrast between them and the other people on bikes and treadmills zoning out while watching TV. It was another very clear reminder that Beachbody is way ahead of the curve. We get it! Our programs work! We bring people together. And we're changing the face of health and fitness.

Thank you Sharon, Kim and Monique for a job well done. Thank you for staying connected and working hard. Thank you for your commitment and desire to get and stay healthy. Thank you for joining the Beachbody fitness revolution!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

this is an audio post - click to play

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Future Is Bright

I'm headed to Chicago in a few weeks and it looks like we'll have just over 30 people attending camp. As I prepare for my trip to the windy city my mind is filled with better ways to motivate, inform and inspire everyone. In the course of a weekend there's lots to do and cover. My job is to try and disseminate as much IMI as I can during our very brief encounter. After almost every camp I'm always asking myself if there's a better way to do this or that. Traci and I will brainstorm afterwards and look at ways to upgrade or improve upon things. The feedback from campers has been amazing and we've tried to incorporate as many suggestions as we can. We will continue to ask you what worked and what didn't, because I believe that our customers should have plenty of say when it comes to the things they need to improve their lives.

One of the best things about my job is finding ways to create "light bulb" moments for people. I think that far too many folks suffer from the bombardment of incomprehensible information floating around out there. I've never been a fan of boring and complicated ways of learning something. When I was in school I responded to teachers and professors who loved teaching. The good ones were special because they had a style and delivery that kept students interested. If I learned anything in school it was how to deliver a message. Humor has always been one of my dearest allies. A few years back I read this amazing book by Don Migel Ruiz. The book was called "The Four Agreements." I was so inspired by his writings that when I heard he was speaking in LA I had to be there. This sweet and gentle man was one of the worst public speaker I had ever seen. The material was still invaluable but the messenger put me asleep.

Traci Morrow and I are committed to making these camps as fun, inspiring and powerful as possible. This year was our first go around and the ride has been pure joy for both of us. My hope is that when people are heading home on Sunday and Monday after a camp, their hearts and minds are filled with hope and optimism for the future. The future for the camps looks bright, and I'm looking forward to next season. Now that we have a working formula I'd love to have two or three more camps next year. A ski camp and certainly a trip over the border. Maybe even a ski camp over the border. The buzz is on because Traci and I are heading down to Orlando in October to work with a Tony Robbins Master Mind group to spread the word. More and more people (through these camps) are discovering that health and fitness are priority one when it comes to finding joy and happiness. They're learning that six pack abs and shapelier calves got nothing on feeling good and improving the quality of your life through health and fitness.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

"Looking good is the side effect" ~ Thanks Hazel

08-23-06 08:40 AM 08-23-06 08:40 AM
Thursday, August 10, 2006:I left for LA on Thursday morning. My flight was due to leave at 9:22 a.m., so between traffic and the notoriously bad security lines at Denver International Airport, I had planned to leave my house by roughly 6:45 a.m. You know how they say "If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans"? I was in the shower at 6:00 a.m. with shampoo in my ears when Greg (my DH) comes running in a huge panic telling me I have to get my stuff together and get in the car now because there's been a terrorist threat and they've raised the security level to chartreuse and Oh My God, JUST GET OUT OF THE HOUSE!!! (OK, he wasn't quite that panicked, that's more how I felt hearing that news. At least he didn't try to talk me out of going!) So I hurriedly jumped out of the shower, shot the hair dryer in the general direction of my head, crammed all that last minute stuff that you never adequately plan for into my suitcase (oh, the size and weight of that suitcase – it was embarrassing!), quickly stuffed down some breakfast, and was on my way. Amazingly, the lines at the airport, although long, moved quite well, and it only took my 45 minutes to get through security, which is not much longer than it normally takes at DIA – I think the fact that they had every line open and so many people helping direct and channel people really made things move right along. My flight took off within half an hour of its scheduled departure and I was California bound (insert appropriate Eagles tune here).My sister met me at LAX and we drove over to the Hyatt Century City and got me checked in. By that time, it was lunch and so we walked over to the CC Mall just across the street and found the food court. I wish we had a food court like this near me. Not a Burger King or Sbarro's in sight, just lots and lots of very healthy choices (OK, so there was plenty of desserts and a few not so healthy things, but the healthy options were there and plentiful). After lunch (spinach salad with chicken and walnuts and the lightest coating of lemon vinaigrette plus a fruit salad that was to die for, I was feeling so virtuous), we strolled around the mall, which was of the California open-air variety. Somewhere in Macy's, I suddenly started to panic, and I mean real panic of the I'm-starting-to-hyperventilate variety. I don't know why it hit me right then, but it did, and I started toying with the idea of just spending the weekend with my sister, lounging at the pool and shopping. I was trying to rationalize to myself how that way the weekend wouldn't be a total wash and I could just have a nice relaxing mini vacation. I'm a mom, I need that kind of time, right? I'm so going to be the odd woman out in this group that probably exchanges Christmas cards and has known each other via the BB boards forever. Then I remembered that I'd gotten my on-line buddy from Video Fitness, Maria, to sign up for this camp, and she knew even less about BB and Tony than me, so I figured I was going to have to suck it up, and headed back over to the hotel. My sister suited up for the pool and I suited up for a beach workout with Tony! I put on my P90X tank so that JD, who lived nearby and was going to be doing a lot of the driving, including that afternoon, could recognize me in the lobby, and headed downstairs. I found her soon after that, and since everyone else who was going was either already at the beach or had arranged rides, we headed out to find the Santa Monica muscle beach (which I understand is the original muscle beach -- Venice is apparently some kind of copy cat beach and they sniff in its general direction in Santa Monica).JD, like me, grew up in New Jersey, and we became fast friends -- it's so odd (in a good way) at this stage in life to meet someone with whom you just click so perfectly (I hope that didn't sound weird or stalkerish!). Between the directions Traci had given us off Mapquest, the directions JD had written down herself, and the GPS system in her car, we managed to find the beach and meet up with the other campers who had come in early. The beach in Santa Monica is very wide, and the place we were waiting had all kinds of sort of uber-playground equipment – rings and bars and ropes, oh my! We watched several guys swinging and twisting and catapulting themselves around like future Cirque de Soleil performers on the rings and I was sincerely hoping at that point that none of these were among the exercises Tony has planned for us (they weren’t, btw).We were sitting on the wall at the edge of the beach watching all this activity and chatting when up walks Tony! He puts out his right hand, puts his left on my shoulder, and says "Hi I'm Tony. Nice shirt" and I feel like a bit of a dork for wearing the P90X shirt until I realize that he's also wearing the P90X shirt and then it's OK (in a dorky sorta way). He tells us that our workout today is going to be push-pull – in other words, Chest and Back Goes To The Beach (OK, I made up that name, but I like it – I think I'm going to copyright it, 'scuze me while I go file my application with the Patent Office. OK, I’m back). We head over to a metal bar that has cross-posts at two different heights for pull-ups. When it was my turn, Tony said "you're looking pretty buff, how many pull-ups can you do on your own?" and I had to truthfully reply "none," because I've never been brave enough to try them without a chair. That little comment would come back to me on Sunday when I had my lightbulb moment, but more about that later. Anyway, I grabbed the bar, said a little prayer that I wouldn't make a complete a$$ out of myself, and managed to crank out three wide grip pull ups all by myself and three more with Tony only pushing my gently in the middle of my back! OMG, I cannot believe I did that – did I just do that? Then Tony had me bend my knees, held my ankles, and I managed another few with the assist. Was I completely pumped? Yes I was. Around this time, Daniel Haas and Scott Fifer showed up, along with a new Sunday workout buddy, Dave. They of course were able to crank out 20+ pullups without hardly breaking a sweat – something to aspire to – but it didn't mess with my good mojo. We headed over to a grassy patch where more contortionists were at work/play, and did as many standard width pushups as we could crank out. I was so pumped from my pullup victory that I set a new PR in pushups – 63! It is amazing how much harder you can work with Tony right there in your ear saying "c'mon work!" Then it was time for the rope. I was really, REALLY dreading the rope. The rope was my personal nemesis. I was getting unpleasant flashbacks to grade school when Alexi Lambros, who could scale all the way to the gym ceiling in about 5 seconds flat, would reduce me to tears because I couldn't even hang on the thing for that long. Tony showed off his cool monkey-boy tricks – sitting on the ground at the bottom and then hoisting himself up all the way to the top while still maintaining a perfect L-position – and we watched Scott Fifer climb the rope upside down (yes, you read that right, it was the coolest thing to see), and then Tony gave us some pointers on getting up the rope. I got maybe half way up the long rope (I didn't mention that there's more than one rope, and one is about 10 feet longer than the other – we were on the long one) and then my mind got in the way (darn mind!) and I just chickened out. Still, I hadn't just hung there like a side of beef on a hook, so I felt pretty good about that as well. More (endless) pushups and pullups ensued, and about halfway through the workout, Traci Morrow showed up. Soon after her arrival, three more campers arrived and joined in. We finished up around 7:00 or so with a round of Ab Ripper X led by Scott, and everyone decided to go back to their respective hotels to freshen up before dinner and meet at Tony's favorite local restaurant, A Votre Sante, around 8:30.After hosing off and changing, we headed back out and found the restaurant. It was a pretty mellow evening – everyone seemed fairly well spent – but the food was delicious and healthy and we got to know each other a bit better. We closed the place down, then stood out in the parking lot talking (Tony did some handstands right there on the asphalt – show off!) for another 20 or 25 minutes before heading back to the hotel.Friday, August 11, 2006:Friday we didn't have anything planned until 2:00 p.m., so I had scheduled a massage at the spa adjacent to the hotel. It was heavenly (Javier, you may not be able to pronounce my name, but you are aces in my book anyway!), and much needed after Thursday's workout. I got done in time to come back to my room, clean up, and get down to the lobby to meet everyone for lunch at the food court. I started to relax a bit more realizing that not all these folks had known each other since nine days before baseball. People had come from all over the country and even from Canada. Then it was time to carpool over to Gladstone's for the Beachbody corporate party. Gladstone's sits right on the beach along the Pacific Coast Highway and yes, it is as gorgeous as that sounds. When we showed up, the DJ was conducting a dance-off, the prize for which was an Ipod. It was kind of a kick to see Carl Daikler and Jon Congdon hanging out in their bermuda shorts. Debbie Siebers came over to say hi and chat, and she was very sweet. She is absolutely the tiniest person I've ever seen -- she has the hips of a 12 year old. We left Gladstone's to return to the hotel for the 5:00 p.m. workout with Tony – the first "official" workout of the weekend. We got our goodie bags and perused the "store" a bit, then it was time for the workout. The schedule called for P90 Fat Burner, i.e., the newest P90 workout that they filmed in Hawaii last year, but Tony wondered if we'd be willing to try something else. He said one of the most frequent questions he gets is about what to do when you're on vacation and want to get a workout in. So we were going to do the impromptu UCML (upper, cardio, middle, lower) workout, roughly a minute a segment, and Tony was going to look to someone in the room to give him a suggestion for each segment. After the warm-up, we started in and got a rockin' workout! My suggestion was for Groucho Walk, and he made me come up to the front to do it with him – how awesome was that?! I love this move and was being silly and teasing "I think I'm lower than you, Tony," so, of course, he had to completely kick my a$$ (to be fair, I totally deserved it – who the heck am I challenging Tony Freakin’ Horton? I am so not worthy) – I can't even remember how long that went on, but I could barely stand back up by the time we finished. We did six or seven rounds (my memory is hazy on that point), with Tony choosing the exercises in the last two rounds. As you might expect, those were the most brutal of all. Loved it.After showering yet again (I think I lost a couple layers of skin with how much I showered this weekend, but I’m sure everyone else appreciated it), it was once again time for the food court (thank God for the food court). After dinner and more conversation, it was back to the hotel for the "Circle of Love" (or the Isosceles Triangle of Confusion, as I believe we were calling it by that point). I was nervous about this part, even though I knew it was coming. Tony had asked each of us to tell our story and to explain what we hoped to get out of the weekend (we were limited to 5 minutes apiece). I got a little panicky thinking "why exactly DID I come to this camp?" so I decided to blame mspina (my P90X check-in buddy at VF). I had planned to just tell a very abbreviated version of my story that focused almost exclusively on how I'd found P90X and the circumstances under which I started with it and the results I'd gotten, but instead when I opened my mouth, I heard myself say "Well, I was fat growing up." Ugh. What the hell is wrong with me anyhow? After the ugly start to my personal story, I finally got around to describing what brought me to P90X, the fact that it sat on my shelf for more than a year before I even cracked open the case, and how, after having three miscarriages in 2005, I started the program just because I felt like I needed a prescheduled routine to help me maintain some semblance of a workout program while I got my head back on straight (and my heart back up out of my shoes). Everyone had a very compelling story about their struggles and triumphs and it was fun to see the before pants that two of the guys had brought with them (when Shane showed us his before trousers, I swear, JD and I said at the exact same moment "Pleated pants? Don't you watch 'What Not To Wear?'"). We ended late, and were due for an early morning of rock climbing, so off to bed.Saturday, August 12, 2006:Saturday morning came much too quickly, and JD and I met at the hotel restaurant for an $8 plate of egg beaters and a $4 bowl of sliced banana (and a waitress with a lot of ‘tude, and not in a good way). We carpooled out to Rockreation, a local rock climbing gym. The schedule had us down for 2 hours and I figured we'd spend at least half an hour on a safety class so that we'd only have to do one or at most two climbs apiece. Wrong, so wrong (whimper). Tony and four or five of the women who worked in the gym took over all belaying duties, so once we were all harnessed up (and don’t you know that harness is the most attractive open-air adult diaper you’ll ever have showcasing your butt high above the earth?), we just went for it. My first two climbs were fairly easy and I was thinking "eh, not really my thing." Then they ran a lead line over an arch in the center of the gym so that you had to climb basically like a bug on a wall upside down. That I had to try, and yes, it was as hard as it sounds. Actually, it was pretty much impossible for me, but awesome too. I only made it far enough to unhook the line from the first carabineer (or is the carabineer the thing on your harness? What was that thing on the wall called anyway? And is that really how you spell carabineer? Damn Spell Check – it only really helps if you already know how to spell the word!) and then couldn't figure out how to get any further. After that I attempted one more difficult climb, but my forearms were toasted (and my fingernails were shot, darn it! At least I hadn’t bothered with a manicure before camp!). Back to the hotel, for yet another shower before the Tony's 11 Laws seminar. I have got to go back and read these again, because to be honest at the time I thought they all seemed pretty intuitive and not like any great revelation, at least to me, but now I'm thinking I might take more away from them in light of the things I learned about myself later in the weekend.There was a break from a little after 2 to 4 and almost everyone headed for the pool. It was my sister's birthday, and I'd given her a key so she could come use the pool if she wanted, so I went down and found her and introduced her around (Traci’s husband and kids had come down as well), including to Tony, who sung "Happy Birthday" to her! I tried later to explain to her there were people in this world who would have done desperate things to have Tony sing to them on their birthdays (not me, I'm not talking about me!) but I don't think she really got it. I sat in the whirlpool even though it was a hot day and the water temp was just shy of boiling – I needed that jet to work out some of the kinks in my back from the rock climbing. Next was the nutrition seminar (I think – my timeline may be a bit out of whack). Tony spoke for a bit, but Traci took over the laboring oar on this one. I really appreciated what she had to say about getting your family to eat more healthfully and later in the weekend, I would come back to some of the things she said and think more deeply about them (still later, after I got back home, I would actually start trying to apply some of them). On to Yoga X. At first, I thought I was the only person in the room who was really looking forward to this workout, but then I realized that it was just the people who disliked yoga who were complaining the loudest (I’m teasing JD! Are you so not speaking to me right now?). I was so glad to have done this one live, because having Tony right there to make those minor little adjustments made a world of difference (my back leg was not entirely straight in the lunge poses – definitely weaker in the back body as compared to the front – and boy howdy, how much harder the poses are once you do them right). It’s also nice to be able to practice yoga without the dulcet tones of Sponge Bob Square Pants blaring from the other room (although I did miss my kids’ giggles – that’s always a nice counterpoint to shavasana).After yet another shower (was this like my third of the day?) we came back down to the conference room for dinner. Tony had invited Daniel Haas, Scott Fifer, Veronica (from P90 Masters), Phil (from P90X), Dan Brown (P90 Masters – there are some pictures of his awesome gymnastics skills over at the camp thread), and, oh be still my heart, Bobby Stevenson (Stephenson? You know, I need to know how to spell that for the wedding invitations – and if my DH is reading this, I am so just kidding). I literally ran into Bobby coming through the door and he said "Oh my God, look at you, you MUST be doing the X?" and I swear I felt like I was 14 and the cute senior quarterback had just paid me a compliment (which never actually happened when I was 14, btw – my life is not a Molly Ringwald movie, for sure). It was probably a good thing that he wasn't seated at my table because I undoubtedly would have made a complete a$$ out of myself with all the drooling and fawning that would have ensued (on my part, obviously, not his – God, I am such a freakin’ geek). Instead, I sat with Scott and Veronica and a woman named Louise who worked in finance at BB and had come to several of the workouts, and we got to hear about Scott's plans for building an orphanage in Tanzania. So inspiring. After dinner, the guys and Veronica took pictures with those who wanted them (why didn't I do this? Geez, I could kick myself – I would have been right up there if I'd bothered to have my lightbulb moment before the end of camp! As it was, I was just too shy to do it. Oh well – next year). Then Tony suggested that we got up to the lobby to hang out and play the bag game. This ended up being much more fun to do with random hotel guests wandering through and staring in amusement at a bunch of grown people in dressy-casual clothes hovering inches above the ground like giant birds of prey to devour . . . a paper sack. There was one woman who worked for the hotel there (she seemed like some sort of manager for the lobby bar, maybe) who was just fascinated by what we were doing, and I heard later that she was downstairs at three in the morning practicing her technique! Tony and Traci managed to get all the way down to the very last fold in the bag, but by that point it was after midnight, so we packed it in.Sunday, August 13, 2006:Sunday morning came much, much too early for my taste, but at least I slept through the entire night for the first time since arriving in California. I had breakfast delivered to my room – fruit, yogurt, wheat toast (geez, did I feel virtuous or what?) – it actually arrived on time too (to my surprise – I had just barely made it out of the shower, and yes, I showered before working out – I was not going to let anyone, much less Tony, Phil, Daniel, etc. see me with bedhead). I usually only eat a half of a bar before my morning workouts, but I figured that since we were scheduled for two workouts that would last from 8:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., I'd do better with something more substantial in my stomach. Luckily, I didn't end up regretting that decision, although with yogurt involved, things could have turned out badly. What that TMI? Think maybe it was.Anyway, we gathered in the lobby and carpooled over to Santa Monica beach (site of Thursday afternoon's workout). There is a square of grass there between the "Strand" and the beach that's maybe, oh, I don't know (I'm bad with spatial stuff) 20 by 20 feet or so that was to the be site of the workout – Plyo Legs. I was stoked because plyo is my "thang" – just love it. Lots of familiar stuff from P90M Plyo Legs and P90X Plyometrics, but so much more fun to do with the sound of the waves in the background and a nice cool California breeze blowing through your hair. To do the "Heisman Plus One," Tony advised us to pick two “targets” a challenging distance apart. I looked down and saw a seagull feather and . . . a band-aid. Ewww. No way was I getting my hand anywhere near that band-aid (doing abs on that patch of grass, by the way, was also an excellent motivator to keep your head and shoulders elevated throughout the exercise!). I just decided to imagine a second target, which worked out fine and carried no risk of contracting any sort of incurable illness. The workout ended all too soon for my taste – we finished with the Egan brothers, moving across that entire huge square of grass and, man, Traci went all the way down and back with her knees way up into her chest the whole time. Studette!We paused for some recovery drink before moving on to the beach workout. First was the rope. Tony had given us each a wrap the night before for our lower legs so we wouldn't get rope burn. Having done the rope on Thursday, I had more problems with the rope burning my inner thigh than my calf, but I wasn't sure they had a wrap big enough for that (and no way in hell was I asking for two!) so I just decided to suck it up. Even though I'd done OK with the rope on Thursday, I was still not looking forward to having to climb it, especially since there were so many more people watching now, so I hung back for quite a while and let some of the other folks have a turn (because that's just the kind of giver I am). Seemed like a lot of other folks on the trip had a "rope demon" like me, and it was great to have everyone there urging the others on and pulling for them to make it to the top. Then it was my turn. Tony had some P90X recovery formula in super-concentrated form in a small GU bottle, and you squirted a little in your hand and let it dry and get tacky to help with traction on the rope. Yes, it is as nasty as you're imagining, but I guess it beats bloody palms. Tony showed me how to wrap the rope around my lower leg (the one with the wrap on it) and then how to pinch the rope with my other foot. You actually use your legs more than your arms to climb, pulling the wrapped leg knee up as high as you can and then pushing up to stand on the rope. Maybe because my upper body was fresher than on Thursday (since this was the first UB of the day) or maybe because my mind was in a better place having seen other people go up or maybe the gods were just smiling on me, but I made it all the way up to the top of the rope! Take that, Alexi Lambros! That was a pretty heady, let me tell you.Next came the parallel bars (OK, to be honest, I've lost track of the order in which we did things, but I'm giving it my best shot – I would make a terrible eyewitness!). Tony did some tricep dips at the end of the bars, then “walked” stiff-armed the length of the bars, more tricep dips, then walked backwards to the starting point. I remember when I first started going to the gym in college (20 years ago next month – yes, I am old(er)), I would watch some of the guys do body-weight dips and think "no way in hell will I ever be able to do that." When my turn came, I admitted to Tony that I'd never been able to do a dip before. He looked me right in the eye and told me he knew I could do it, and right then, I knew he was right. He showed me exactly how to position myself and what it should look like, and I got up there and did three. It sounds like so little, but it was so, so much (geez, I'm getting teary just typing this, but it was so huge for me). Then I started "walking" on my straight arms down the length of the bars. It was ugly and I fell off when my legs got to swinging too much, but by that point, I was so stoked that I just hopped right back up there and made it down to the end. When I got there, Tony said "You ready to go back?" and I immediately said "Heck yeah!" and started backing up. Didn’t make it very far in that direction – I couldn't control the swing of my body enough to go all the way back to the start. It didn't matter in the least. I was absolutely pumped. I had tried something new and it had been hard and I hadn't totally sucked at it. Next was pullups. We each tried our hands (backs and shoulders and arms is more accurate) at it – I did three on my own, and maybe 4 or 5 more with Tony just pushing the middle of my back (how in the world will I ever be able to do another pullup without Tony's hand on my mid-back?). Then Tony showed off his fancy pullups – they are hard to describe and even harder to comprehend doing. He started by pulling himself from a full, vertical hanging position into a horizontal position under the bar (so the bar was just above his chest and this legs were out straight in front of him as if he were lying down). Then he swung himself up to vertical again, this time with his chin over the bar, the way you'd be at the top of a regular pullup. Then he reversed the move, going back to horizontal and then all the way back down to a full vertical hanging position. I am so not worthy, but it was an amazing sight to behold. He then had several of the guys come up and try just swinging over the bar, i.e., doing a pullup, then hoisting themselves over until the bar was at the break of the hips, and then doing a flip over the top. While we were watching this, I noticed that Phil, Daniel, Dom, and Dave were over at the parallel bars doing handstand pushups. One of them was standing on one end of the bars, another was behind holding that person's calves to stabilize him, and a third was off to one side to spot the dismount. Then the person whose turn it was would kick up into a handstand on the parallel bars and do as many inverted pushups as he could. I don't know what came over me, but when I saw them doing that, I knew I just had to try it. So when Tony asked who was next for the pullup-flip thingie I asked "Can we try that?" and of course, he said "Sure!" and over we went to give it a shot.I watched a few other people do it first, and was starting to worry that maybe I'd gotten everyone, but especially me, in over our heads because it looked scary and hard (and my girl JD got a big old nasty bruise coming down out of her handstand – I’m still smarting from that one, and I just watched it). On the other hand, I've got Tony to help me get upright and Phil to hold my ankles steady (and Daniel to catch me if I fall – almost would make it worth falling! And again, Greg, honey, if you are reading this I am only kidding and I love you! Geez, give me a break already – just because I’m full from dinner doesn’t mean I can’t look at the dessert menu, right?) so I think "screw it. I've already done three other things today that I would never in a million years have dreamed I could do, so why not just try?" I get up on the bars (hands chalked up like a gymnast – how cool is that?) in a most unbecoming crouch (think Gollum in Lord of the Rings and you’ll be close) and without even thinking, just kicked up. Tony helped push my legs up to vertical (had I shaved that morning? – geez, I sure hope so – glad I didn’t think of that at the time) and all of a sudden . . . there I was, doing a freakin' handstand! And holding it! I heard Phil say "that is all you!" in a tone that suggested maybe he hadn't really expected me to be able to do it (but then frankly, neither had I). Then he asked me whether I wanted to do a pushup. Well, dummy me, I let me mind get in the way again and said "NO!" almost in a panic, and soon after that I was on the ground. But . . . Oh. My. God. I’m sure everyone was thankful that I had the presence of mind not to pull a Brandy Chastain and whip off my shirt right there in the sand, but that was how I felt. And so there it was – my "lightbulb moment." When I finished P90X the first time this past spring, I knew I was stronger and fitter than I had ever been in my life. But fit and strong for what? Yes, it is nice to be strong and look good, and to fit into a smaller size of clothing, and to have people I didn't even know come up to me and say "wow, you must work out." But what exactly was I doing with my fitness? I had not managed to take even one tiny step outside my little box. Some of it is a control thing (after all, they don’t give you your diploma from law school unless you’ve been certified anal retentive by a qualified psychologist), but most of it is just plain, stupid fear. Fear of not being good at something I haven't tried before, fear of looking stupid, fear of having to deal with unknown situations and circumstances (not an issue when you're doing a video that you’ve done a hundred times before). If you want examples, I could give you dozens. Like this: I got my DH a bike for our anniversary in June and he has been riding all summer long and hinting pretty strongly that I should join him, but the truth is, I was afraid to try. The woman who is the director of my son's preschool asked me a few weeks ago whether I was interested in signing up for a sprint triathalon with her, and I just kind of said "yeah, maybe, we'll see," because I was afraid to try. I have lived in Colorado for two years now and haven't even been skiing (and with the winter we had this year, that is a tragedy). I would tell myself that it was because DS was too little for lessons and I didn't want to leave him in daycare and the crowds and blah, blah, blah, but if I were being truly honest, I hadn't gone because I was afraid to try. Well, truthfully, down to the very, very bottom of my soul, I am not afraid now. I hope that doesn't sound overly corny, because it doesn't feel that way. It feels like a revelation. It is a revelation. It is not about looking good – looking good is the side effect. It is about participating fully in your own life. It is about challenging yourself to be better and stronger and more and loving the process because there isn't really an end point on your journey. One end point is just the beginning point for something else.The rest is going to sound anticlimatic after that, but it wasn't. We went back to the hotel for autographs and goodbyes. I had scheduled a massage for 2:00 p.m. that afternoon, but even though I was past the deadline to cancel and would be charged for it anyway, I knew I couldn't let go of the buzz I had going on and went with a somewhat smaller group to lunch at, guess where? – the food court, ‘natch. I got three plates of food (all of it healthy, but still) and devoured everything – I guess having a life-altering experience burns a lot of calories (kind of like giving birth – they say that burns like 6000 calories or something, right? Right??!). We came back to the hotel, said our goodbyes to Tony and Traci and headed out to the airport for our flights home.Post-script:Two short(er) postscripts to this story. (1) On the way back home in the plane, I started talking to the guy next to me, which I almost never do – way, way too shy most of the time (plus I had a virgin US Weekly burning a hole in my carry-on). But the confidence of the weekend was still with me, so I struck up a conversation and had the most intriguing, delightful conversation that I've shared with anyone in a long time – it was like a college bull session of old and just left me with so much food for thought. (2) Tuesday (two days after I got home) was my DS's 4th birthday, and we took him to Winter Park to ride the alpine slide. They also have a bunch of other summer activities there – mini golf, a human maze, and . . . a rock wall. Guess who got right out there to climb with her kids? When I came back down, there was a line of moms just standing there watching their kids and one of them said to me "I'm glad you just did that so I didn't have to" and I thought "Me too!" Right next to the rock climbing wall was the bungee jump (the one where they hook you up to a harness and you bounce on a trampoline attached to the bungee cords) (Michelle, I think I got this part of the story confused when I told it to you the other day – sorry, but my mind was racing!). I've never liked trampolines much – they make me feel, for lack of a better word, oogie – but there was one little girl there doing flips all over the place and I thought "why not?" And I did it. I got up there and did back flips. Slow, ugly back flips, but hey, I did them. And it was fun, and darn hard work . . . I was breathing like a pack mule by the end (adult diapers, Gollum, pack mule – I make myself sound like a troll!). After I finished, an older woman came up behind me and as I was putting on my shoes and she was getting hooked up, I heard a bunch of people on the other side of the enclosure start chanting "Grandma! Grandma!" and I started laughing because I just knew – that was going to be me in 20 years. Oh, and I picked up all the information on skiing while I was there. Do you think I'll be there taking a lesson as soon as the snow flies? Damn right.

Friday, August 25, 2006

The Double "E"

My brain is constantly filled with a mixed bag of silly stuff. I've been spending my whole life trying to rewire the way I think about things. I'm still doing it. I've always been a happy junkie, and can't imagine why anyone wouldn't want to spend as many moments as possible feeling good. My journey has taught me that joy comes at a price. A constant state of elation appears to be impossible. Such a bummer! It also seems that periods of bliss only happen by doing other things that aren't so blissful while doing them. On top of that, falling into the short-term-short-cuts-trap is a total disaster. Damn, life is tricky! Do you see what I mean when I say that my brain is filled with silliness?

I hate feeling sad and depressed because it makes me feel so sad and depressed. But today, I feel really good. Kind of freaky good, and I'm not really sure why. My body bashing crazy Sunday workout was a monster this morning, and it should have knocked me for a loop. For some reason I have this hopeful happy feeling (weird but cool) that's causing goose bumps. You know the feeling. The sky is bright blue and the temp is 72, and there's a very light breeze coming in my back door. It appears that ideal atmospherical surroundings seem to help. My energy is up and so is my enthusiasm as I sit here and write. I usually forget to recognize these moments, but not today.

The Two E's (Energy and Enthusiasm) control my brain and rule my life. Some days organizing a sock drawer feels like climbing Mt. Everest. My buddy Ed will say I'm "double-o-g" (out of gas). When I'm runnin on fumes, sometimes it's my fault, (poor food choices and not enough sleep) and other times it's out of my control. Maybe the answer is choosing right over wrong more often, combined with letting go. Why in the world, knowing right from wrong, would I choose behavior that destroys my energy and enthusiasm for life? I'm still working it out, but I think the answer has a lot to do with acceptance and knowing how to ask the right questions in times of need. Poor planning, bad news, poor sleep, stress and heat waves will happen. How do I keep the day to day stuff from affecting my ability to by a happy man?

The equalizer for me has always been fuel and movement. F & M baby! If it weren't for a healthy lifestyle I'd be in a home for sad and depressed guys. My healthy plan for this life has created many more good days than bad. Research shows that we are what we eat and do, not what we think and feel. Eating and doing causes thoughts and feelings...most of the time. The basics are simple - right choices create the E & E to be happy and healthy. The wrong choices (poor diet, no exercise, etc.) cause fatigue, bad moods, stress, illness and a total mind, body, spirit malfunction. Yikes!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Go To Camp!

this is an audio post - click to play

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Letting Go

Every once in awhile we need to let go of the beliefs that are keeping us from moving forward in this life. We gather together all this stuff over the years and we think it's keeping us alive. The truth is that some of our collective beliefs are keeping us from really living. Whether it's family, money, work or workouts, the things we're clinging to are clinging to us. I'm not promoting an abrupt 180 degree shift in philosophy because that's not necessary for most people. The problem is that most people don't have the wherewith all to see what needs changing. I'm asking the folks who keep running into the same walls to see if there might be a different road. Even a mild shift in direction is only possible if you're paying close attention to the things that aren't working. We all get these golden moments here and there to create positive change, but rarely do we see them.

This thing called life is such a crazy mixed bag of ever shifting moods, weaknesses, strengths, pain, elation, sadness and on and on. A strongly held belief system could easily get crushed beneath all that. Letting go means to loosen up, become flexible and understanding, stop being attached to the outcome and staying curious and open to new things. My first Law of Health & Fitness is Variety. If variety is the spice of fitness, then it should also be the key to combating stress and complacency. I'm a big fan of things that work well over time, and I'm not here to tell you to abandon the things in your life that are working for you. In most cases when we find ourselves in a rut, a tiny shift is all we need to create a new outlook.

One of the biggest road blocks for most people when it comes to their health and well being is understanding what it takes to maintain their health and well being. The answer is letting go, and knowing when to let go of ideas, philosophies, concepts, programs and dogma that are dogging you. If your shoulder hurts while doing push-ups then stop thinking that it's a good idea to do push-ups. Pain in your body and in your heart is telling you that it's time for something else. Try not to hold on too tightly to the things that no longer feed your soul. This won't require advice from other people. You have the answers. And you'll find them when you start letting go.

"We must seek the true causes of happiness and satisfaction." ~ The 14th Dalai Lama

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Finding Balance

Small minds gossip, complain and blame others for their problems. Average minds talk about possessions and money. Great minds exchange ideas. On any given day I might fall into any one
of these three categories. Old ways and habits are hard to break especially when life is hard. Being that apple near the tree combined with other demons from our past make it difficult to change. Each day we're dealt a different hand. Each day we have to figure out how we're going to play that hand. Life is like a poker game because the same hand can be played many different ways. Some days you've got a good poker face and others you want to fold. Great players are capable of winning often, even with lousy cards. People with every advantage in the world, still find ways to blow it.

What makes life so puzzling, is knowing what the right choices are, and not choosing them. I know that eight hours of sleep is necessary for me to have enough energy to handle the next day, but instead I stay up watching Napoleon Dynamite for the fifth time. I know that eating chocolate at 11:30 at night while watching Napoleon Dynamite for the fifth time is not in my best interests, but I do it anyway. How do I leave myself alone when my behavior is less than perfect? And why am I controlled by my interpretation of perfection? For me it's a desire to not appear weak in front of people who are used to seeing me strong. One of my biggest fears during one of these less than perfect periods, is not knowing how long it will it last? When I'm happy I can't conceive feeling low. When I'm sad I can't imagine ever feeling good again.

Does the inability to make smart choices come from childhood stuff, biorhythms, brain chemistry, fatigue, daily conflict, stress or a bad fish enchilada? Who the hell knows. The more time I spend trying to figure it all out, the longer it will take to turn it around. If I could just beat myself up less and let life be life then the quicker I'll find a place of balance. My hope is to embrace these ups and downs. See the process less like "fighting demons" and more like gifts that can better my life. I often hold on too tightly to my rules. As a result, I don't notice when the rules are changing. Sometimes five card stud becomes Texas Hold em in a matter of minutes. If the game changes, will I notice, and when I win and lose a few hands, will it still be okay. I hope so.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Law # 11 ~ Food and Supplementation

You are what you eat! Food and supplements are your fuel. The right fuel supplies proper energy and recovery through balanced brain chemistry.

Even though my job title is Trainer and Coach, I put a lot of time and energy into Diet and Supplementation. We need Energy and Enthusiasm to exercise. That energy and enthusiasm is determined by the quality of fuel we choose. The Double Es (as I call them) can make or break your day. When they are strong, we are strong. When they waver, we falter. Your fuel intake is a key component to your success with Power 90 and P90X (and everything else in life). Healthy, nutritious food provides the energy you need to get through a hectic day. Poor food choices, aka “FOOD PORN” causes napping. Your choice. When you do the right thing, you’re sharp, ready, enthusiastic, and willing to take on the day. When you fill your gullet with processed foods and grease, trying to organize a sock drawer feels like climbing Mt. Everest.

Everything you put in your mouth—all the food, snacks, liquids, supplements, and even drugs (prescription or otherwise) affect the quality of your life. Excess quantities of low-quality food and drink can and will lead to weight gain, excess fat stores, heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and even things like arthritis, osteoporosis, and Parkinson’s disease. Recent research shows that this is only a partial list. A poor diet will affect mood, energy, strength, and destroy healthy sleep patterns (see Stress and Sleep). Recent studies have also shown that a poor diet leading to extra pounds increases your risk of cancer of the breast, prostate, colon, esophagus, ovarian, uterus, kidney, and possibly more.

Eating high-quality foods, combined with proper supplementation greatly reduces the risk and the possibility of developing and/or dying from such health problems. High-quality foods and supplements assist in lowering fat stores, losing weight, increasing energy, recovery from workouts, and maintaining healthy bones, muscles, and joints. Supplementation and eating well also reduce bouts of depression, sadness, and anxiety while promoting psychological well-being. The Power 90 and P90X diet plans show you what kinds of foods to eat and when to eat them. In the test groups I witnessed firsthand the difference between folks who ate well and took their supplements, and those who didn’t.

I take my supplements every day. My belief is that going without them is like going without water. They supply us with the nutrients required for living a healthy lifestyle. The vitamins and minerals in supplements work together with food to supply us with the energy we need to do a six-day-a-week program like Power 90 and P90X. Supplements are NOT drugs. A prescribed drug is taken when your body and/or mind is no longer capable of functioning normally. Supplements are taken to subtly assist the mind and body to reach beyond everyday activities.

When it comes to food, I have never been a calorie counter. I have enough things to think about, and keeping track of calories is not one of them. I’m equally uninterested in percentages, formulas, and “weird” combinations of different foods to trick the body into losing weight for a short period of time. This battle of overeating, eating garbage pretending to be food, and dangerous ways to lose weight is a nightmare. If you really care about your health then you must clean up your diet. If you consume high-test fuel, your mind and body run smoothly. Low-fat chocolate cake is NOT a healthy choice. Fat-free potato chips are NOT healthy either. Bacon for example, is not the best way to start your day. This stuff is FOOD PORN.

Don’t get caught up in all the fad diets and weight loss pills. Long-term success does not happen with Atkins, Slim-Fast, or the Coconut Diet. It happens when you consistently eat lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats. Showing up for six workouts a week requires great discipline. It’s also important to show restraint and discipline in your choices regarding food and supplementation. Our bodies don’t run on exercise, they run on the fuel we put in our mouth. You cannot substitute good exercise for a bad diet. Good diet and exercise have to happen at the same time. If you bring the same level of consistency and discipline to your daily fuel intake as you do the workouts, you’ll greatly reduce a lifetime of health risks, improve your overall quality of life, and see much greater physical change in a shorter period of time.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Law # 10 ~ Flexibility

Flexibility is the fountain of youth! Flexible people are much less prone to injury. Yoga and stretching allow you to bring more intensity to your workouts. Flexibility is the key component to becoming less vulnerable and more durable. Aging has a funny way of making everything we do harder. Staying limber and flexible is the way to prevent that from happening.

When I was a young lad there was no such thing as stretching, really. When I heard the word yoga I thought people were mispronouncing yogurt. Come to think of it I didn’t know what yogurt was either. Some kind of healthy sour milk. Nasty! (I love it now!)

Back in the ‘60s (yes, I’m that old) there were benchmarks that determined how fit you were. Push-ups, pull-ups, dips, sit-ups (not crunches), the 100-yard dash, and whether or not you could touch your toes. The first five items on the list involved strength and speed. Some kids had it while others did not. I was in the “did not” category. (That changed later). Touching your toes was a breeze for all of us. Even out-of-shape kids like me could touch their toes.

When you’re young (no matter what kind of shape you’re in) you’re naturally flexible and durable. Kids get scrapes, bruises, even broken bones, but it’s pretty rare for a young child to pull a muscle, and if they do they recover in the blink of an eye. Back in the good old days, the focus was on running faster and jumping higher. The only kids in my neighborhood that stretched were gymnasts or ballerinas. Try to imagine a stretch class for children in the ‘60s. Yeah, right!

Back in the day, proper stretching didn’t happen. For most adults it still doesn’t. Studies show that pulled muscles (due to lack of flexibility) cause as many people to quit their fitness programs as joint injuries. Back and hamstring muscle strain/injury can take as long to heal as a broken bone….or longer.

People hate to stretch because they say it’s too boring. They feel that stiff, tight people can’t become loose and flexible. They say that stretching and yoga are too uncomfortable, and they don’t see results fast enough. People don’t like it because it cuts into their workout time. I’m here to tell you that it’s time to rethink the importance of flexibility.

Stretching, yoga, and Pilates improve overall body awareness, enhance all aspects of physical fitness, reduce muscular soreness, increase skill and performance levels during training, and during athletic performance. Flexibility increases mental relaxation, greatly reduces the risks of various injuries (like back problems, muscle strains, and joint sprains), and slows the aging process in muscles and joints. Who wouldn’t want all that?

The only reason why people don’t become more flexible is because they’re not willing to put in the time. The axiom for other aspects of fitness also applies to flexibility: You get better at the things you do often. Stretching and/or yoga are equally as important as strength conditioning and cardiovascular fitness. Stretching and yoga can replenish the natural flexibility and durability of our youth. If you decide and commit to becoming less vulnerable through flexibility, you will also discover a calmness (much like meditation) that comes with stretching and yoga.

Flexibility is the Fountain of Youth. Give yourself that amazing gift. Here’s to touching your toes.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Birthday Workout

On July 2nd 1958 my mother gave birth to an 8 lb 11 oz. boy. On July 2nd 2006 that boy weighs in at 180.5 pounds. A whole lot of things have happened in 48 years. This planet and my world has changed in so may ways. As I look back and examine my choices along the way, it amazes me how lucky I am. There were thousands of options at various points in my life. I could have very easily lived in New England, got married at an early age, had three kids and worked for my Dad. That could have been a great life. Instead, I choose to go west in 1980. A phone call from a high school buddy changed my life forever. Living in California turned me into a fitness freak. The last 22 years of my life have been dedicated to finding ways to feel good, stay healthy and improve my fitness. Beachbody gave me the opportunity to share my journey with this awesome community.

It just so happens that my birthday this year falls on a Sunday. Every Sunday morning between 9:30 A M and noon some of my closest friends and I head down to the original Muscle Beach south of the pier.

Our two and a half hour workout is loaded with all kinds of gymnastic-like activities. This weekly routine has gone beyond basic pull-ups and push-ups. The Gaylord brothers Mitch & Chuck (Chuck, a nine time all American & Mitch, a gold medal winner in 84) have turned our workout upside down.

As a group we have proven that the human body is capable of amazing things at any age.

As the senior member of The Sunday Bunch I can tell you that hard work, time & patience is the magic potion for success and improvement. At 48 I'm fitter, stronger and more flexible than I was at 38, 28 or 18. It has been a long and mind altering journey. Not every step was easy, but each step has been worth it.

Health and fitness has been the fountain of youth for me, and many of you have discovered the same thing. As you make your way through life don't be afraid to open new doors and try new things. Stay curious, push the envelope, test the waters and trust that your choices will change your life for the better. If it can work for me, it will work for you. If you'd like to learn & experience how to live a healthy lifestyle then I invite you to join me at one or more of my fitness camps this year. Our Miami camp was a blast! You have three more opportunities in 06. New York in July from the 14th thru the 16th. LA in August from 11th through the 13th.And Chicago in September from the 15th thru the 17th. Everyone is invited regardless of fitness level; everyone goes at their own pace and everyone gets to share in the camaraderie, fun and laughter.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Law # 9 ~ Loving It

Your workouts involve commitment, determination, planning, consistency, and intensity. If you don’t like what you’re doing, then there’s no way on Earth you’ll succeed. Enthusiasm is a huge piece of the puzzle. Get creative and stay curious. If you enjoy doing Power 90 exclusively and it works for you, then keep doing it until it doesn’t. If you get part way through P90X and it’s not your cup of tea, then stop and do something else. Something’s got to bring you back day after day, week after week. Love it (tolerate it) or leave it.

I don’t know about you, but if I don’t like or love something, then I don’t do it. Period. On the other hand, I’m extremely motivated when it comes to doing the things I love. Folks always ask me what I think are the best ways to get into shape: “Is Power 90 really the best program for me?” “What do you think about spinning?” “I hear that kayaking is the fastest growing sport in America, will that get me in shape?” “If I run more, will that help me burn off extra fat?” The truth is, they’re all great ways for losing weight, getting in shape, and living a healthy lifestyle. If any of these things feel like work to you, then they won’t work for you. Especially in the long haul. People fail to finish fitness programs because they don’t enjoy what they’re doing.

It boggles my mind why anyone would continue to do anything they don’t enjoy. Call me crazy, but I believe that loving what you do is the key to joy and happiness in every category of life. If you’re dealing with a lot of emotional drama, slaving away at work and eating junk food, then how in the hell will you stick with a workout program that you dread before starting it? It helps to be enthusiastic about what you’re doing. It’s a thrill for me to see the thousands of folks start and complete my workout programs. It means that “fun and variety” are key components to people’s success. Power 90 and P90X work because Beachbody supported me in my quest to incorporate the things I love.

The formula for figuring out what you love (this applies to everything in life) is simply being creative and curious (see Variety). Curiosity and creativity involve finding ways to modify, integrate, and alter your workouts so that you can incorporate the things you love into your daily routines. I’m at the point in my fitness journey where I’m not exactly sure what my workout is going to look like ten minutes before I start it. I often develop my workouts on the fly. This approach allows me to be creative as I make my way through it. I do this when I ski and rock climb, so why not with my workouts? I’ve been noticing lately that some people in the Beachbody community have been combining different programs to create personalized workouts. This is genius! They’re mixin’ it up and finding ways to enjoy it. Loving it helps you stick with it. Sticking with it will happen when you find ways to make it interesting. I recommend this strategy only after you’ve completed a full round of Power 90.

If you’re anything like me you’ll discover that the same thing over and over doesn’t work over time. FIND OUT WHAT YOU LOVE (no matter what anyone else says) and do that. If you stay curious, try new things, abandon the exercises you dislike, and stick with the ones you love, then you’ll discover a fitness philosophy that you’ll stick with for a lifetime.