One Hour or 127 Hours: BE in Every Moment

In Bikram Yoga last Friday I practiced for ninety minutes in 111 degree heat and humidity that could rival the slums of Bombay at high noon. A young, fit Hispanic man practiced next to me and it took about 35 minutes before I noticed that he was positioning himself into the Hatha postures without a left hand and only a partial forearm. I thought about his obvious drive and perseverance as sweat soaked my yoga mat and towel. He didn’t alert the teacher to his disability, and he simply tackled tough two-handed postures like pada hastasana (hand to feet pose) and dhanurasana (floor bow) with a thin fabric band that he fashioned around his forearm and then his foot to secure holds worthy of the ancient discipline. Class was packed, warm rain outside, and I didn’t run into him on my way out as I’d hoped. I would have told him that he inspired me and humbled me and made me vow to never again curse the stubborn postures that haunted and challenged me. I wouldn’t have been able to do this without tears or without pure, embarrassing awe, so chances are I would never have spoken those words that day. I hope to be granted another chance and the courage to speak. Read more of this post

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Downtime, but a little HIIT, too!

I’m beginning to realize the importance of balance in my life and setting aside time for recovery.  I am working on a post that will summarize a book that was recommended by a colleague of mine called The Power of Full Engagement that emphasizes rest and balance along four dimensions- physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental.  The physical part is a no-brainer.  As an athlete (some would say former, but real athletes know ‘once an athlete, always an athlete’), I fully understand and build into my workout program regular rest and recovery periods.  It is not so easy for me, however, to appreciate and apply that same discipline to the other areas of my life.

Which made this last weekend very, very important.  On the surface, three days in the Santa Cruz (CA) Mountains, spent listening to music; playing video games; laughing; drinking; eating; and watching basketball looks like nothing more than childish fun.  Five former teammates with an excuse to act crazy.  Well, aside from the fact that we really didn’t act crazy–the first sign, mind you, that we are getting old–it was actually a good time for us to connect in a way we hadn’t ever before.  As fathers and husbands, and as professionals in careers that have had their ups and downs, we provided for each other a much-needed refuel of energy and drive, of hope and optimism, and of passion and compassion.  With enough quiet time to reflect on things other than sports and women, we were able to give to each other comfort, guidance, and encouragement that only long-time friends can provide.  And I’m thankful to my wife and the wives and significant others of my dear friends for being so supportive of this much-needed MAN-cation. Read more of this post

‘American Idol’ Fitness

This week I made my debut on American Idol. Since I possess very little vocal talent, I suppose I should clarify. My awesome pal, Stephanie, called earlier this week with tickets to the American Idol screening in Hollywood, and although my first instinct was to pass (as I have kids to shuttle, homework to supervise, classes to teach and clients to train), I chose to drop everything and drive those hundred miles up the coast to Hollywood in search of one of my all-time idols—Season 10 judge and Aerosmith front man, Steven Tyler.

Four of us 40-something mommies giggled and chatted on the ride up as we played hookie from the minutia of our daily lives. We somehow also managed to create a sign made with bright poster board, colored Sharpies and a funny caricature cut-out of Mr. Tyler’s prominent lips and rockin’ hair. The final product was a work of multi-tasking genius. Colorful and to the point, it read: “Steven Baby…Walk This Way and just Gimme a Kiss!” with a thick arrow pointing down toward the sign holder. We elected our cute blond friend, Maureen, to wield the sign! Needless to say, our plan worked. After waiting outside the studio for hours and making friends with other Idol fans, we were assigned our seats. When the studio usher looked us up and down with her discriminating eye to assess how we’d “read” on camera if it happened to pan over us, she also read our sign. We were clearly not here to see any particular “idol,” we had a higher calling: Steven Tyler! Read more of this post

5 x 5 in 25

When it comes to working out, last week was one of the worst I’ve had in a long, long while.  You see, since 1990, my first year in college, I’ve had this 3-Day Rule.  Simply put, I forbade myself from ever taking more than three days off from working out.  And except for maybe three or four times, I’ve made good on that promise.  No matter what– birthday, illness, holidays, even on my honeymoon as my wife would attest– when and if that fourth day hit, I made sure I did something.  Whether it was going for a quick run, doing some push-ups and sprints in the driveway, or going to the grocery store to buy gallon milk containers to use as makeshift dumbbells, I made sure I got my workout in.

Fast forward–um– a few years and I’m proud to admit that, even though I seldom break that pact with myself, I’m much less restrictive now, forgiving myself for the occasional lapse.  Even then, though, I make sure the workouts that I am able to get in make up for the ones I missed. Read more of this post

A Journey to Personal Well Being .. by Hao Liu

I started my journey to personal well being a decade ago when I was desperately out of shape physically and mentally.  In 2000, I was a new grad fresh out of college starting a career as a software engineer at HP in Cupertino, CA.  After years of being inactive and living an unhealthy life style, I had ballooned to nearly 200 lbs.  That was hefty even for my 5’10” frame.  I was not exactly happy with where I was physically and mentally.  After another year of partying and unhealthy living, I randomly, quite literally came in contact with Team In Training and started to train for my first marathon.  My life style didn’t really change right away, but I stuck with the goal of finishing a marathon and worked at it the best I knew how.  Four months after we started our training, I crossed the finish line at the 2002 Los Angeles Marathon.  I had lost a bunch of weight in the process and was feeling that I had arrived.  Read more of this post

Is Stress Making You Fat? The Cortisol / Belly Fat Connection

Happy March! Spring is around the corner and so are tank tops and short shorts (for the guys…let’s hope not so short shorts). For those who have accepted the challenge of resisting soda and your diet vice for ten days, congratulations! (Please see last week’s post: https://bobbybluford.com/2011/02/22/welcome-julie/). The comments and conversations that followed my February 22nd post were both informative and entertaining, but what I enjoyed most was your honesty.

We all have vices, whether we acknowledge them or not. Lisa’s comment about wine being a “gateway drug” that leads her to make other poor diet choices is very poignant and I’m guessing relatable to many of us. Bobby’s suggestion to break habits with small successes is spot on. We must hold attainable goals. So, simply put, the “less everyday” approach, rather than the “cold turkey” approach keeps you trending in the right direction and builds your confidence and energy, which eventually translates into activity and the production of endorphins—the feel-good chemicals released in your brain to bring you a sense of well-being. Read more of this post

No More Freakin’ Excuses

Not Me, Unfortunately

No, that is not me.

Unfortunately.

Maybe 10 years ago, but certainly not now.  BUT, it is the front cover of a great article by Men’s Health Magazine.  We all have trouble getting motivated sometimes.  At the top of things for which we look for and find excuses– often legitimate, I’ll concede–is working out and getting in better shape.  Even I fight that voice that tells me to just go home and relax.  I usually push back with my own voice, usually resorting to one of the following:

  1. Excuses are for Losers!
  2. If you look hard enough, you can always find an excuse
  3. Excuses are for Losers!
  4. To have what others don’t, you have to be willing to do what others won’t
  5. Excuses are for Losers!

Fortunately, Men’s Health is more articulate and helpful in their approach.  In their article, 21 Ways to Overcome Exercise Excuses, you should fine just what you need (at least one or two motivating tools) to get you off your butt and get moving.