To start this week off, I'm veering a little off my usual path of posting some type of video or kettlebell tip to tell you what's been working for me in my life these days. Over the past few months I've made a bunch of changes to try to make my life simpler and more enjoyable. I've really attempted to clear distractions to help me and my family live healthier, live more consciously and to put a higher value on experiences more than on possessions.
In addition to that, some of the changes that I've made and the practices that I've adopted have definitely had something to do with the way I feel and the way I look. Since I've made all these changes or adopted these habits I've lost a lot of fat around my belly, lost the perpetual bags under my eyes, and feel less tired and more energetic.
1. Chin-Ups & Rows
I used to have nagging shoulder issues. About 3 years ago I gave up the bench press entirely and started to pay more attention to things that would make my body (mainly my joints) more healthy. When looking in the mirror I noticed that my shoulders were creeping forward a lot and that I was getting a natural "hunched" look. My pecs were tight and my back was not strong at all. From that point, I started to add a lot of pulling exercises into my programming – chin-ups & rows. Now, my posture is a lot better. My body looks more balanced and I don't have anymore shoulder issues.
2. Riding a Bike for Transportation
We have 5 kids, but in a city with an above average public transportation system which is slowly (but surely) becoming more bike commuter conscious, my wife and I decided to sell our 2nd car and I've been riding my bike to get to work everyday since early-May.
I used to ride a single speed road bike – the kind where you need to hunch over to grab the handle bars – but switched to a Dutch-style commuter bike (called a Omafiet or "grandma" bike) with an upright riding posture. The upright posture means less visits to the chiropractor for me (no more popped ribs) and less upper-back discomfort. We still need the minivan to transport everyone for when we go on family road trips or go up to visit my parents or in-laws (who both live about an hour north of the city), but having that 2nd car was a bit too excessive. I work in the city and can get to where I need to be faster on my bicycle than I can driving.
Another plus to using my bicycle exclusively is that I now look leaner (I'm able to easily maintain a 31" waist line as opposed to the embarrassing 34" that I was sporting a few months ago). It's just a healthier alternative altogether, so I'm happy that I've made that change.
I've been using the Holosync Meditation CDs for over a year now and am thoroughly happier and more energentic. I try to make it a habit to meditate immediately after my workout to calm myself. It's been a complete stress reliever and I'm thankful for being introduced to it.
4. Digital disconnect
Every Saturday I completely disconnect from the digital world. The blackberry gets turned off, I don't turn on the computer, the TV isn't turned on and I focus on doing what I really, truly love – spending time with my wife and kids. I suggest that everyone try to take at least one day out of the week to center yourself and get away from all the distraction.
If you've been keeping up with the blog, you'll know that I'm prepping for my RKC course coming up in October. The prep workouts involve lots of circuit training doing various KB exercises continuously for a set amount of reps each. I'm a pretty competitive person by nature, so competing with myself and trying to better my completion times on a given circuit have really helped me get in shape, get lean and stay athletic. By the time I'm finished one circuit I'm drenched in sweat and my heart is racing.
I think that I'll be going back to using KB Circuits for conditioning over the winter months when I head back into the gym for my workouts.
6. Fiber, Fish Oil & Glucosamine
This is an idea that I got from Coach Mike Boyle. I've been taking a natural fiber supplement, 2 fish oil caps and 2 glucosamine sulfate caps every night as part of my nighttime routine and I FEEL GREAT. My skin looks good, I don't have any joint issues and I'm as regular as the mailman.
There are other things as well that I've been doing to try to keep things simple in my life – attempting to become minimalist, saying "NO" more, limiting commitments – but from a fitness and lifestyle perspective, the ones I mentioned above have been the most significant.
The thing that I've found the most helpful when trying to implement good habits and strategies into your life is to start slow. Focus on just ONE THING that you want to implement or change and work your tail off to do so – I suggest focusing on something new for a month until it becomes a habit. After that's been established, then you can start on the next.
p.s. One of my favorite Ketllebell Circuits to do right now is a 2-handed swing based circuit. It involves me swinging the KB 20 times and then performing another exercise – like a clean & press, TGU, windmill or snatch – then going back to swinging 20 times and then repeating the sequence but doing another exercise. You can check out more Kettlebell Circuits HERE…