Be a Fitbit Boss

I only recently got on the Fitbit bandwagon… Actually a week ago. But, I’m not new to wearable fitness technology. I’ve been a huge Garmin GPS watch fan since my first one, the Forerunner 405; which I bought back in circa 2007. Actually, if you count heart rate monitor straps, I’ve been on-board for twenty(ish) years. Our treadmill and my VersaClimber both came with wireless monitors back in the 90s.

Honestly, I had no idea what I was missing. My company that I work for, Mythics, gave me and my coworkers a Fitbit as a Christmas present. Upon receiving it I instantly saw the potential. Not only is this watch considerably smaller and lighter than any of my Garmin watches, it is also sharp enough looking to wear every day of the week. Needless to say, I still absolutely LOVE my Garmin 920XT triathlete watch and I will continue using it for my training and events. However, the Fitbit has become my daily health device, and my new way to challenge and strengthen myself.

Dear Fitbit, If you are listening (reading as it were), I do have two requests:
1. Make the battery last longer;
2. Make it waterproof enough to swim with, and shower with.

 

Now… Before we dabble into being a Fitbit Boss, let’s get the painful disclaimer out of the way…
WARNING: Exercise, stretching, sports, and other fitness related activities can be dangerous. You can be seriously injured, crippled, or killed. The opinions, stories, and ideas presented here are my own and do not constitute a recommendation of or endorsement for any particular or general use. I strongly recommend getting a complete physical and doctor’s approval before starting any type of strenuous activity. Especially if you are over the age of 40 or have high blood pressure, genetic heart problems or conditions, or elevated cholesterol levels. If you choose to workout, you do so at your own risk. In addition, working out requires patience, diligence, and above all else, using good form. Never bounce or over strain! Most important: listen to your body…

My initial stab at making the Fitbit work for you is a straight forward approach. Wear it. Always! Not only does it do a great job of tracking your physical activity, but it also monitors your sleep and gives you some great feedback, so you should always wear it (except for swimming, showers, or baths). That may sound over simplified, but it really is the key to utilizing this robust fitness monitoring tool. If you always have it on, it’s a constant reminder to get moving. And, it is leverage to push yourself just a little harder to accomplish set goals.

The second thing I would recommend is make sure you familiarize yourself with the software and then connect with lots of your friends. Along the lines of wearing it, having friends chime in on your successes really helps boost your confidence and motivates you to try harder.

The third and final thing to push you down the path to using the Fitbit like a boss is to create and accept challenges with friends. Caveat: if you are new to fitness, or online workout challenges, you might want to wait a few days or weeks to really familiarize yourself with the watch and application. Make sure you are comfortable and confident keeping up with your fitness and hitting your daily goals. Once you get into challenges you will find friends who will literally climb out of bed in the middle of the night just to walk around their bedroom for ten minutes to get past your daily score… I’m one of those people. hehe.

Instead of going into further detail, I thought I would let you guys and gals hear from two of my friends who are dusting the competition. These two have a combined mileage of more than 14,000 Fitbit miles! And, they each average over 21,000 steps EVERY DAY! They are both inspirational in many aspects, and they’re also Fitbit Bosses!

I asked Josh and Christine the same questions, and also to give all of you words of encouragement and additional advice. This is what they said:

JOSH

weighed 329 pounds in November of 2013. It was his wake-up call… Ten months after working to lose weight, Josh had lost more than 130 pounds, and weighed 198 pounds. At the start of 2014, he was not happy with his life. Health issues included high blood pressure, cholesterol, risk of diabetes/stroke/heart attack, and many other things. After a heart attack scare (turned out to just be gas) in January 2014 Josh decided it was time to make a change.

After changing his diet and adding activity to his daily life, he began losing the fat and started feeling better. In the words of Josh, “Everything bad went down and everything good went up!” Josh was officially was hooked on 5/10/15K’s, Krav Maga, and the simple joy of going for an active walk/run. Bad foods were replaced with good ones! Life was anew!

Josh plateaued around Halloween of 2014 and now works daily on maintaining the weight and enjoying the new life that he worked his butt off for!

Josh before and after

CHRISTINE

has a son who is a bleeder. He is one of the reasons that their family started using the Fitbit. They knew that it would help make sure he is as active as possible to keep his joints healthy! Christine’s husband lost almost 30 pounds with his Fitbit. And although she is a runner, and thought she was in great shape, she realized with Fitbit that she was barely moving outside of her workouts!

Christine

Now that we’ve been introduced to these Fitbit stars, let’s do some Q&A…

Josh’s Answers

Do you think that the Fitbit contributes to your current level and state of healthy lifestyle?
Josh: Absolutely! Using my Flex has made me more aware of my activity and also helps me be more accountable to myself when it comes to meeting those daily and weekly goals.

How do you leverage the Fitbit to give you extra motivation and keep you going down a healthy lifestyle path?
Josh: I use my Flex in conjunction with a fitness app (RunKeeper). I use the Flex as a way to track my passive movements throughout the day and RunKeeper as a way to track my active activities (running, Krav Maga, etc.). The daily Flex goal is to hit those 5 lights with my morning run before I head to work so I can build upon that and see how more active I was after the initial active activity.

Would you recommend the Fitbit to someone who struggles with their fitness?
Josh: I already have! I have a friend who wants to get started on doing what I did in terms of weight loss and improving my lifestyle (for the record, in 2014 I lost 131 pounds and have maintained it ever since). They started out with small goals and are currently building up on them and adding more steps/miles every other week to keep themselves motivated and active.

What piece of advice would you give budding Fitbit enthusiasts on how to maximize the benefits?
Josh: Start off small, do not go for the ‘gusto’ initially or you will just burn yourself out. Start off with a 10K step goal and slowly add more to it as you find you have more energy as you build yourself and your endurance up.

Throw out your own ideas, thoughts, inspiring tidbits to help our readers get spun up and motivated!
Josh: Being active is very easy it turns out. A simple 1 mile walk starts you off on a journey where you amaze yourself by going further and further every single day. There is a sense of satisfaction that comes from wanting to improve yourself and when you start seeing the results, you just want to go further and further!

The one thing about being a FitBit user is that your mindset changes over time. You want to hit those daily goals and sometimes you find yourself doing silly things to meet them. For example, I once roamed the isles of a supermarket just to add to my daily steps so I can go over my previous day’s total. Just be careful not to go too OCD on it – that is when you have nightmares your FitBit might sprout blades and impale you if you don’t hit those goals (it doesn’t – I’ve tried).

Do you have any final words of encouragement or thoughts to share?
Josh: When you attach your Fitbit to your wrist, you are making a pact with yourself. That pact is to improve on yourself and only you can do that. If you need motivation from others you’ll find that you want to rebel against them (like a teenager with their parents). When you do it for yourself, by yourself, and only for yourself, that motivation becomes your sole driving force and coach.

I don’t see myself as a inspirational figure but I know if I can do this (and maintain it) – anyone can!


Well… Josh may not see himself as inspirational, but I for one certainly think he is!

Christine’s Answers

Do you think that the Fitbit contributes to your current level and state of healthy lifestyle?
Christine: YES. Fitbit holds me accountable. Maybe to an extreme degree, because I am terrible about taking needed rest days! My overall health is MUCH better with it. I can honestly assess my movement. As a runner, I can run 10 miles in the morning and think I am so active, but not be in the greatest shape. With Fitbit, I might still get 10,000 steps in addition to my workout, and that has helped me stay fit and healthy outside of the gym.

My husband had to lose about 30 pounds a few years ago. He thought his four mile run in the morning was the ticket to weight loss. Using Fitbit he had a huge epiphany about his lack of movement throughout the day. He also got into the app, tracking his sleep and logging his food in the My Fitness Pal (which cooperates with Fitbit).

How do you leverage the Fitbit to give you extra motivation and keep you going down a healthy lifestyle path?
Christine: The key with Fitbit is making the goal HARD. I know so many people who whine that they are not losing weight even though they get 10,000 steps a day. The key is to push yourself so that you can get frequent success and still be challenged.

Would you recommend the Fitbit to someone who struggles with their fitness?
Christine: YES. I would recommend it. But the challenge is many people I know who need to get healthy hate seeing that they are a failure. So it is a good idea not to friend people for a few months, or they get discouraged and stop trying, if they constantly see others ahead of them. I also like to get the Aria scale for people who really need this to work. Most people get really accountable when they see the numbers every day.

What piece of advice would you give budding Fitbit enthusiasts on how to maximize the benefits?
Christine: Sometimes, the number of ACTIVE minutes per day is more crucial than steps. So I might not run and do a 2 hour spin workout, and my Fitbit steps look crappy. But my active minutes rock. Learning to adjust expectations and make a commitment to ACTIVE minute is important. I think 10,000 steps a day is doable for anyone. Active minutes is more crucial for weight loss.

Throw out your own ideas, thoughts, inspiring tidbits to help our readers get spun up and motivated!
Christine: My husband, sons, and I all wear fir bits. We compete often, creating challenges and contests. We walk to the park and play outside so much more when we know we will get credit! Ultimately, we live in a sedentary society and the Fitbit will get you off the chair. To get the Fitbit to work, honesty is the trigger. Being honest about food, water, sleep and workouts is huge. My husband still cannot believe that eating a handful of gummy bears means he needs to run 6 miles.

Do you have any final words of encouragement or thoughts to share?
Christine: Ultimately, the Fitbit got us all honest. I was a marathoner with pounds to lose. Now I am in the best shape of my life. I stopped hiding behind the thought that I was incredible. Fitbit got me real!


There you have it… You heard it from the mouths of Fitbit pros! I hope this was informational and inspirational! Thanks for reading, and please chime in with comments. We would all love to hear about your Fitbit experience and leveraging ideas!

Feel free to track me down and friend request me, if you want a competitive training partner! www.fitbit.com/user/3WKFRM
Posted with love from your virtual fitness and life coach,
-Vaughn

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How to Give a Killer Speech or Presentation

So much advice exists out there, and here I am just piling on more… However, I do have some experience in this field. I am an inspirational speaker and extreme encourager who has given hundreds of speeches and presentations. Over the years I’ve learned some really important key factors and also built some of my own opinions on things that do or don’t work. So, I thought I would share some of my findings… Just remember that like most things found on the web, this is my personal opinion and you should obviously create your own based on your findings.

Probably the number one question I get asked is, “How do you speak to an audience without fear and nervous tension?” The short answer is, I don’t. HA! How do you like them apples?? Honestly, I’m not sure I will ever be completely rid of the butterflies. I mean come on, this is simply a human reaction (stemming from flight, fright, or freeze) that we cannot control. That said, there are several things you can do (or not do) to alleviate your pain. Some of these will sound ridiculously obvious to many, but hopefully I can share enough of my own ideas to help anyone.

Before I list my thoughts on soothing speech jitters, let’s dispel a few ideas I think aren’t as good as some people say they are:

1. Imagine your audience is in their underwear. Really? Um… I dunno about you, but this just doesn’t work for me. I mean come on… Do I really wanna be thinking about that?? I have enough trouble concentrating on my task at hand, without throwing in: the old guy with the walker and wondering if he’s wearing a diaper… Or, getting stuck on that hot lady in red…

2. Never look people in their eyes. Stare at foreheads or something else. This might work for some, but I’m sincerely trying to connect with my audience. My speeches and presentations are from the heart and it just doesn’t feel right trying to locate a mole on someone’s head, or worse getting caught (accidentally) staring at the lady in red’s breasts.

3. Use lots of bullet points so you can remember where you are and what you’re talking about. Ahhhh… No. Bullet points are boring as shit. See my section below about preparation and practice, know your talk like the back of your hand, and skip the twenty lines of code on each slide. I don’t have a cute line about the lady in red for this one, but for some reason I can’t get her out of my head…

Now let’s talk about real world things we can (and probably should) do to eliminate or at least lessen stage fright… First and foremost, if you want to skip the upset stomach, sweaty palms, and nervous stuttering, do this one thing:

  • Make sure your speech doesn’t suck!!!

That may sound silly, but it’s true. If you’re already nervous about your content then you will automatically be nervous while presenting it! The easiest way to do this is to prepare. And then, prepare. Finally, after all that, make sure you prepare. You need to carefully and meticulously research your speaking points and ensure that the material is actually going to be important to your intended audience! Skipping this stage is sure to keep you up late at night and make you horribly nervous at speech time.

  • Along with the three prepares, you must also do three (or more) practices. There is no simple algorithm that tells you precisely how much time to spend practicing, but I can tell you that the better you know your material, the better you will feel when you walk onto that stage. Think about this, would you be more nervous going on stage and trying to simply say, “A, B, C” or reciting a page of Shakespeare’s King Lear from memory? I dunno about you, but I’ll take “A, B, C” any day!!! The reason is simple. My odds are infinitely higher that I will screw up chanting ancient tomes. That said, by practicing and knowing your material you will calm yourself.
  • Use photos or graphics instead of words… If at all possible, don’t put words in your presentation slides. If I have any words, they are short one-liners that give an overall look at this section of my talk. Instead I find inspirational (and cool) photos that relate to the subject. The audience doesn’t want to read through boring line after line… They wanna see a beautiful sunset or picturesque ocean wave. Just make sure that whatever you put there will keep you focused on the part you’re discussing. For instance, when I get to a part where I’m telling a scary story from one of my mountaineering expeditions, I have a photo of a crevasse, or mountain peak, or guy freezing his arse off. This way you won’t distract yourself, or (more importantly) the audience.

Side note: If you aren’t relying on bullet points or run-on sentences in your slide deck, then you will be much better prepared when the laptop, projector, or something else fails. Part of the “be prepared” and practice session is that if a wrench gets thrown into your talk (it happens to the best of us), you will be ready to roll despite the hurdles. In turn, this makes you even more comfortable when speech time comes!

  • Be properly fueled up and hydrated. I can’t express this one enough… You must have a balanced level of nutrients and water in your body. If you aren’t hydrated you will feel it on stage. Along these lines, don’t go out partying late the night before a speech… Getting drunk, hung over, and tired before a speech is a big no-no. If you enjoy libations, feel free to do that AFTER your speech! This can be an exhilarating way to celebrate with some of your audience.
  • Fitness goes hand-in-hand with nutrition. I find that doing some physical activity before a speech (make sure you have time for a shower and clean-up… Don’t just run right on stage after a five mile run, ding-dong!) really ramps me up and energizes me. Don’t over do it, but get some exercise in and empower yourself!
  • Take a potty break a short while before your sprint onto stage. Regardless of how often you pee, you will feel like you need to go to the bathroom leading up to your speech. Make sure you get a bathroom trip in before going on stage. Feel comfortable knowing that the sensation is all in your mind, and move past it.
  • Remember the rule of tens… Actually, I’m not sure if there is a rule of tens… hehe… But, I call it that. People tend to get bored after about ten minutes. So, prepare your speech so that you are switching slides at least once every ten minutes. Change your subject or storyline at least once every ten minutes. If one of my stories or subjects goes over the ten minute line, I like to throw in something scary right at the ten-minute mark and emphasize it with extreme arm flailing and loud vocals. Whatever you do, keep the crowd engrossed by giving them a change of pace.
  • If you’re funny, then start with a joke… If you aren’t, then skip it. This is another of the obvious ones, but must be discussed. I’m a goofball, and love laughing at myself. It’s actually a bit of a tension breaker for me (not just the audience) to get up and start with a chuckle. Often I will pick on myself or one of my silly faults. That said, if you aren’t a naturally funny person, you might want to forgo the awkward joke. There is no written rule about using or omitting a joke as an introduction… But I can tell you that your nerves will only get worse if you tell a dry joke and no one laughs. food for thought!
  • Lastly, and perhaps most important… Believe in yourself, believe in your message, and believe in your audience. Remember, these guys and gals signed up to hear what you have to say. You owe it to them, to relay your message with a positive impact and inspirational spin. Now get out there, and nail it!

BTW – did you notice I used bullet points to point out my ideas?? Remember: BPs are okay in an article, not okay in a speech.

Disclaimer: The lady in red is a fictitious character and is simply a product of the author’s lewd imagination. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely in my dreams…

What do you do to spice up your talks and ease your worries?

I hope this post was not only helpful, but also inspirational in some form or fashion.

Cheers,
Vaughn

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HeartRate Zones

You’ve probably (hopefully) heard about heart rate training zones. And, if you’re into fitness you already know a bit about it. Today’s article will cover this (a little bit) for those of us who are a bit confused or wanting a little more information.

WARNING: Exercise, stretching, sports, and other fitness related activities can be dangerous. You can be seriously injured, crippled, or killed. The opinions, stories, and ideas presented here are my own and do not constitute a recommendation of or endorsement for any particular or general use. I strongly recommend getting a complete physical and doctor’s approval before starting any type of strenuous activity. Especially if you are over the age of 40 or have high blood pressure, genetic heart problems or conditions, or elevated cholesterol levels. If you choose to workout, you do so at your own risk. In addition, working out requires patience, diligence, and above all else, using good form. Never bounce or over strain! Most important: listen to your body…

Ahhh… Got that disclaimer out of the way, now we can talk about blowing your heart up! hehe.

For simplicity, many people use the Haskell and Fox Formula for determining their maximum predicted heart rate (MPHR). This method is commonly believed to be the most accurate. There is also the Karvonen Method; which includes the resting heart rate in the formula.

The Haskell and Fox Formula is simply: MPHR=220-your_age

That said, I don’t like to use any formula. Everybody has a different sized heart. And, different sized hearts pump blood at different rates. Everybody is at different levels of fitness. And, everyone is.. um.. different! For this reason, in my humble opinion, there is no “real” standard formula to know your true maximum heart rate (hence throwing “predicted” into the title. According to Haskell and Fox my MPHR is 173 beats per minute (BPM). But I know for a fact that my MPHR is at least 182 BPM, because I’ve hit that several times! If you must know your maximum heart rate, check with a cardiologist doctor who specializes in VO2Max (maximal oxygen uptake/intake) stress testing, or a fitness professional who has the proper equipment to measure this for you. Never try to do it on your own, because you could (and probably will) kill yourself!

Sidenote: One of my pet peeves is when people think that you can push yourself extra hard and momentarily boost your heart rate over your maximum BPM. Let’s dispel that shit right now… It is called maximum because it is the maximum. There is no going over (even for a second) the maximum rate your heart can pump. Otherwise it would be called close to maximum or something along those lines. If you go over your max heart rate, you have now discovered that your previous number was too low and you can replace it with the new value. PERIOD

Another note: Your MPHR will go down by approximately one beat per year (similar to Haskell and Fox’s guess). So, if you are 184 BPM this year, you will probably be 183 next year… And so on, and so forth.

Let’s discuss the “zones” for a minute. This is a common heart rate training zone list:
Zone 1 – 50-60% – Recovery (aerobic)
Zone 2 – 60-70% – Endurance (aerobic)
Zone 3 – 70-80% – Stamina (aerobic)
Zone 4 – 80-90% – Economy (anaerobic)
Zone 5 – 90-100% – Speed (anaerobic)

It is scientifically proven that training in certain zones is more beneficial depending on what you’re trying to achieve. I’m not going into deep detail here, because there are tons of books that contain way more information than I could hope to include in a blog article. This is merely an introduction to get your interest piqued.

Now let’s draw a quick chart that shows a sample of how those zones are associated with heart rates. Since I know my estimated max, we’ll use my values to create our chart:

HR Zone
1
2
3
4
5
% of Max
50-60%
60-70%
70-80%
80-90%
90-100%
Heart Rate (BPM)
91-109
110-127
128-146
146-164
165-182

Now that we have laid this handy-dandy chart out, we need to factor one more important piece in to the equations… Everybody has a muscular failure point in exercise commonly called lactic acid threshold or lactate threshold. Essentially this means that your muscles (and ATP) cannot clear the lactic acid that is building up in your muscles. When this threshold is hit, you have a very short amount of time (sometimes seconds) left before you can no longer continue your activity. I’m sure we’ve all felt this threshold at some point in our life. I feel it at least a few times each week! Suffice it to say (without getting to obfuscated) if you go over this limit, you will not be able to continue working at that level for more than a few seconds.

This threshold appears to be somewhere right around 91.5% of your MPHR. Mine is at 166 BPM. During cardio, you do not want to go over this threshold (unless you are doing advanced high intensity interval training), because you won’t be able to maintain your state of exercise for more than a few seconds before you fall over and lay panting until your heart rate gets down and your muscles clear themselves of the painful acid. However, we often try to get to this point while doing weight lifting and other forms of anaerobic exercise (as opposed to aerobic exercise).

For more information on heart rate zones you can look for books by Sally Edwards and Joe Friel (among literally hundreds of other great authorities). My absolute favorite is found in The Triathlete’s Training Bible by Joe Friel. He breaks it down in much more detail and even breaks the fifth zone into three sections (5a, 5b, and 5c).

I know this was only a cursory glance at this material, but I sincerely hope you found the article informative!

Now, figure out your zones, design a plan that includes being in one or more of them, and get out there and hit that zone!!!

-Rip

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Tall Poppy Syndrome

I was born in 1967 with a rare bleeding disorder called, hemophilia. All through elementary school I was bullied because of my weakness and difference. Also in junior high, where the bullying became more dangerous. Fortunately, the varsity football team took me under their wing and protected me in high school… For the first time, I was not bullied.

I thought the bullying was over… Then, in the mid eighties I received a bad batch of blood to cure a bleed. This blood product, called Factor VIII, was tainted with HIV and I was the lucky recipient. Little did I know that the bullying was about to go to a whole new level. Besides the whispering of people whom I called friend, the biggest first thing that happened to me was being asked in front of my entire community at our neighborhood swimming pool, “Do you have AIDS?” I lied and ran crying from this situation.

Next, the death threats started coming in via anonymous telephone calls (back then there was no caller ID). Someone also threatened to burn our house down if we did not move out. This was a scary time for everyone and the stigma was in full swing. I quickly realized that a safer bet was to hide my HIV status and act as if there was nothing wrong. Well, this was tough because it was becoming more known that most hemophiliacs had it. So, I also hid my hemophilia.

Within a few, short years, all of my hemophiliac friends were dead. I was literally the last man standing and completely quiet about my affliction. Twenty-three years later, I compiled my life journal into a book and published my memoir, Survivor: One Man’s Battle with HIV, Hemophilia, and Hepatitis C. This was my “coming out” party. I mean, it was impossible to hide my status with a published book out there… I felt relief overcome me as I admitted to the world that I was a long-term survivor and thriver. People came out of the woodwork with questions and stories. I was thrown into the limelight and overnight became an inspiration to thousands of hemophiliacs who had dealt with this situation in their own lives.

There was a down side… The stigma surrounding HIV was lessened, but still in operation. So, I have managed to duck and dodge my way through a few of those situations that brought back horrific memories of the old days. Mostly though, it was all up-side and inspirational things that happened to me.

Out of the blue, an amazing man, Barry Haarde, approached me as another HIV+ hemophiliac who was also coming out about his status. He was quickly becoming a special man in our easy bleeding community. Barry talked to me, and inspired (more like motivated) me to get back into the bleeding disorder community and not only tell my story, but help raise awareness and battle for other hemophiliacs. I did.

What does all of this have to do with poppy plants? You ask… hmmm… Well, I wanted to give you a little back-story of where I’ve been before discussing today’s article.

The Australians have a saying… It’s called tall poppy syndrome. See, if a particular poppy grows taller than the others, it will steal the sun and water from a bunch of other, smaller, poppies. So, they chop the tall one down in a sacrifice to save many others. When this saying translates to people, it has a less positive outlook, and means when some people see you attaining success and growing before their very eyes, they chop you down to keep you down among them. You can see this derogatory version is a little bit disheartening.

Today’s post was inspired because I find myself trying to promote me, hemophilia, HIV, and fitness to raise awareness in this callous world. I am currently leading a competition (by a long shot) to appear on one of the most popular Men’s magazines in the world, Men’s Health. You can see my entry (and vote for me) here: www.mhguysearch.com/entry/37 (yes… that was a shameless promotion).

Of course I want to be on the cover! I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished despite my “issues.” However, I’m not so shallow that this is only to get ME on the cover… I’m doing this for you too. I have found a purpose that is more important than just me. Supporting people with hemophilia, Von Willebrand, other bleeding disorders, and HIV+ or other life-threatening diseases. Also, for anyone who struggles with staying fit and healthy! I am the poster child for all of us!!!

The rules of the competition state that people can vote once daily. I did not write these rules, but I understand the importance of them. Therefore, I posts a daily plea to my friends to request their vote.

Can you imagine putting an HIV+ hemophiliac on the cover of a popular health magazine (for the first time ever)?? This is an incredible opportunity to raise a huge amount of awareness in an otherwise unknown community of bleeding disorders.

With this in mind, over the last several days I have received a few messages talking about me spamming the community. Now I must mention that I am receiving thousands of like, votes, and messages saying how inspiring this is. And, hundreds of hemophiliac moms have reached out to me saying how important my message and story is to their children. The good outweighs the bad by the hundreds. However, the bad messages do stand out to me, and hurt my feelings.

You see, I was asked by many, a few years ago, to please stand up and be heard. To help support the community by sharing my story. And, I answered this calling by doing so. Yet I now find myself occasionally battling people who seem to be trying to bring me down. I know these feelings might be my own internal battles, but I can’t help but wonder if some are merely picking on me and my advocacy simply because they are miserable and want to attack people who they see doing good things in this world. I’m certain that not everyone of these spam name callers feel this way, but I’m also aware of a few who literally are negative and sometimes downright mean.

Spam? Really?

Let’s define Spam… Besides being a canned meat product, spam is also defined as a noun that means: Irrelevant or inappropriate messages sent on the Internet to a large number of recipients.

While I am posting in an environment that has a large number of recipients, I feel that my appeal for awareness is extremely relevant and appropriate. Perhaps I’m nitpicking by defining spam and excluding my posts from it, but I’m making a point. If I’m reaching out to a community to raise awareness and help those who cannot help themselves… How can I possibly be spamming? It is not always easy to raise awareness, be an advocate, and speak out to the world about tough subjects… If it was easy, everyone would do it!

No one is asking for your money (although I might if the event warrants it). I’m not asking you to do some crazy thing… I’m simply asking you to visit a website and make your voice heard, by voting for me. How do you think I got in first place (by more than double)? Do you think I would have this many (or any) votes if I didn’t post anything? Of course not!

I’m an honorable man doing honorable things. I stand by a community that all but disappeared when they all died around me. I feel like a phoenix who has risen again and find a whole new generation of young bleeders and their families flocking to me for advice and inspiration. I will continue to tell my story to the ones who want to hear it. If you don’t appreciate my outlook on life, then simply don’t read my posts!

We recently passed the thirty year mark of discovering AIDS. And, I have been living with it for more than twenty-eight years. It is high-time that we broke this stigma and show that you can be a HIV+ hemophiliac and still be healthy.

I’m not only standing up for hemophiliacs. Nor only HIV+ people. I’m also standing up for average people in general. Statistics show that more than 65% of Americans are overweight. I fear this number is far higher than advertised. I am using myself as an example of someone who is suffering through much more than the average person and still manages to stay extremely fit and healthy. My message is simple: If I can do it, so can you! This applies to everyone!!!

Most of you are VERY supportive of me and my platform. Because of you wonderful people, I will not stop my efforts. This is despite (and sometimes to spite) the naysayers who try and beat me down. To quote Chumbawamba, “I get knocked down, but I get up again.”

You all lift me up and make me feel like a loved person. You also inspire and motivate me to continue my work and voice… Thank you!

Have you ever run in to “Tall Poppy Syndrome,” or know someone who has? Have any advice or thoughts on the matter?

Cheers,
Vaughn

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First Quarter Goal Gut Check

You guys might or might not have read and participated in my 2014 New Year’s Resolution post, Are New Year’s Resolutions Bullshit?

Well, today’s article is a quarterly check-up on where we stand, and what we’ve accomplished since that initial post.

Here is my list and notes on how I’m doing:

Vaughn’s 2014 Goals/Resolutions

  • Do something special for Kristine;
  • It is our 20th Anniversary next month… Must think of something special.

  • Start my new(ish) career and get back on track;
  • This is in the work and the gears are spinning. More on this later…

  • Continue the debt turnaround (path to becoming a financial wizard);
  • Last year’s job situation made this one tough… Slow going.

  • Turn up the training for triathlons;
  • No injuries yet this year, and my workouts are more powerful than ever.

  • Do Mountains of Misery again and stay in the saddle for both hills;
  • I’m signed up and training hard…

  • Start 5/3/1 weight lifting routine and get stronger;
  • Done!

  • New Military Press PR (personal record) of 150 pounds;
  • Started 1/1/14 at 135. My current PR is 150. Yahoo!

  • New Deadlift PR of 315 pounds;
  • Started 1/1/14 at 255. My current PR is 305. Very close…

  • New Bench Press PR of 235 pounds;
  • Started 1/1/14 at 205. My current PR is 215. This one will take some work!

  • New Squat PR of 275 pounds;
  • Started 1/1/14 at 235. My current PR is 260. Getting close.

  • Preparation for Mt. Rainier in July 2015;
  • Books and backpack purchased. Starting to study and plan training. Plenty of time, but don’t want to slip.

  • Publish Decrypted;
  • My agent is working diligently on this one and I’m helping where I can.

  • Finish Weapon 67 (my second fictional title);
  • Struggling here. 2014 has proven to be a very busy year. That said, I am working on it.

  • Finish outline for non-fictional book, (title pending for a “growing up” book) and get agent approval;
  • About 15% done with this one, so I’m behind schedule… Ramping up the efforts.

  • Start super-secret business idea and start ball rolling;
  • Planning is done and planning has begun.

  • Work with Hemophilia Foundation of MD (HFM) on the board and make progress;
  • I was sworn in as a board member, and I have visited Maryland senate to help pass a bill. Yay!

  • Continue focusing on this (HealthyWealthyTribe) blog and update at least twice per week.
  • I was averaging three posts per week in 2013… This year Ive struggled. Must work harder!

    Now let’s list all of the people who commented on the initial post with their own goals and resolutions:

    Andrea’s 2014 Goals/Resolutions

  • Staying fit in ways that are not dangerous to me, including exercising at least 5-6 days a week.
  • Doing at least 3 different kinds of exercise on a regular basis to mix things up (e.g., running, swimming, cycling, lifting, hiking). Bonus points if I can get up to 4 modalities on a weekly basis.
  • Maintaining my weight. Bonus points for dropping 5 lbs.
  • Maintaining or growing my running group.
  • Visiting my mom and sister at least 3 times.
  • Helping my son to stay fit and pursue any sports activities he is interested in (right now learning to swim, hiking, running).
  • Going out on a date night with my husband at least once a quarter. Bonus points for going monthly.
  •  

    Lesley’s 2014 Goals/Resolutions

  • Make religion part of every day.
  • By the end of the year will be debt free.
  • Lose my final 10 pounds.
  • Allow myself to learn the art of forgiving, compassion, and loving towards others.
  •  

    Sara’s 2014 Goals/Resolutions

  • Better manage my time.
  • Make a reasonable schedule for myself to adhere to each day.
  • Cook more often.
  • Read at least one book a month.
  • Do one project for myself each month to completion.
  •  

    Melanie’s 2014 Goals/Resolutions

  • Reduce my 5K time to 25 minutes by the end of 2014.
  • Go on monthly date nights with my husband + use our firepit more and go on more weekend camping trips together.
  • Email/write my brother at least once a month (he’s in the military).
  • Schedule my work so I can spend time back home in Indiana for about 2 weeks this summer.
  • Cut way back on soda, ie., Sprite. (I already gave up caffeine in 2009.)
  • Improve core strength and do more strength training.
  •  

    Eric’s 2014 Goals/Resolutions

  • Be a better father: listen more, make more small time, yell less.
  • Get a new job.
  • Fitness Metrics: get weight <195, squat 135×10, deadlift 195×10, Clean&Jerk 135×5, Pullups x5, Dips x10; get flexible enough to squat below parallel with wide stance heels.
  • Do a ‘new’ fitness event for me – something not already checked off.
  • Get the cub scout pack in order.
  • Get 20 minor projects done around the house.
  •  

    Please comment and let us all know how you’re doing with your 2014 goals and resolutions!!!

    We’ll be back in three months with another check-up. Here’s the goals/resolution post schedule for 2014:

  • Wednesday, January 1, 2014 – The initial post
  • Wednesday, April 2, 2014 – Our first quarterly check-in
  • Tuesday, July 1, 2014 – Our second Quarterly check-in
  • Wednesday, October 1, 2014 – Our third Quarterly check-in
  • Wednesday, December 31, 2014 – Our final check-in and evaluation
  •  

    Your friendly neighborhood motivator,
    Vaughn

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    T’ai Chi and QiGong

    T’ai Chi is a way of life. It is also a way of living… I am one of the longest surviving HIV+ people on the planet. I believe that there are manifold reasons for this. Also, there are many pieces to my “survival pie.” I stay very fit by lifting weights, riding my bikes, and running. I also try to maintain a healthy nutritional plan and eat the right things. I work closely with my support system (family, friends, community, articles, and so on) to insure that I stay positively motivated and supported as needed. I also challenge myself to create a more balanced life that evenly distributes my time and energy to family, fun, and business. Over the years I’ve struggled with my spirituality, but I still work on a daily basis to build this area. I coordinate with and stay in touch with several specialized doctors and always take my prescribed medication.

    Along with these many things I do to keep myself healthy and sane, I also practice T’ai Chi. I know that this fits in the health and fitness category, but I thought a separate article was in order. I have tried many things in this area… Yoga, meditation, martial arts, and a combination of these and other things. However, I keep coming back to T’ai Chi. I believe that it is the perfect combination of relaxation, stretching, exercise, and meditation. And, I feel like a million bucks after each session! So, today is dedicated to this incredibly valuable exercise and art form.

    World Tai Chi & Qigong Day is held each year on the last Saturday of April. This year, it’s on Saturday, April 26, 2014. I recommend that everyone participates!

    Before we talk about my routine, let’s tackle the primary benefits that I get out of my daily T’ai Chi ritual:

  • Start your day with a powerful inspiration
  • Posture improvement
  • Weight lifting enhancements
  • Balance (physical and mental)
  • Sinuses and allergies
  • Immune system strengthening
  • HIV supression
  • Hemophilia (joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments are all stronger)
  • Meditation
  • Mindset and positive thinking
  • Stress relief
  • Spiritual strengthening
  • Motivation
  •  

    While most of these benefits are self explanatory and easy to understand, I thought I would chat briefly about hemophilia. As a hemophiliac, I have joint issues, bleeding concerns, along with all of the standard worries that folks in general have. I have found that T’ai Chi is very soothing on my joints and helps to strengthen the supporting structure (bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments) for my joints. Suffice it to say that I feel I have fewer bleeds and problems when I’m practicing T’ai Chi on a daily basis. Along with weight lifting and cardio, I believe that T’ai Chi helps me avoid and repair injuries and especially bleeds!

    Let me describe how a typical training goes for me…

    I weight lift four days per week, ride my bike four days per week, and run three days per week. Many of these workouts overlap, because there are only seven days in the week. Also, I take one rest day per week to skip all of these workouts and give my body time to heal. That said, I do T’ai Chi seven days per week, and do not feel the need for a rest day from this relaxing and energizing routine. Also, I prefer to get my T’ai Chi fix the first thing in the morning. I’m talking about leaping out of bed, into my sweat pants, and getting busy! I like this for many reasons, but the primary one is that T’ai Chi is a great introduction to the day. It opens my mind, wakes me spiritually and physically, and gets my blood flowing in a gradual and energizing fashion.

    My session normally takes precisely sixty minutes. It is roughly broken down into thirds.

    I like to start with a sitting QiGong meditation for about twenty minutes. With my eyes closed, I evaluate and venture into each and every part of my body. This is an enlightening way to wake and take control of your mind and body. This time is also used for deep controlled breathing and really ramps you up for an energized day.

    After my meditation is complete, I move into a stretching and moving session of QiGong and T’ai Chi warm ups. This really gets my muscles warmed up and the blood pumping. As my twenty minute session of warm up continues I add to the speed and energy of the stretches. By the end of this session I am amped and ready to dive into the last section.

    Basically (for me) the first two sessions are about waking and opening my mind and body. It prepares my body and spirit for the last section; which is the actual T’ai Chi moves. I follow the Guang (also called: Kuang) Ping Yang (standard long) form of T’ai Chi that is covered perfectly by Bill Douglas in his DVD, Anthology of T’ai Chi & Qigong: The Prescription for the Future, and book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to T’ai Chi & QiGong Illustrated.

    After completing this sixty minute routine, I literally feel like a new man. My recommendation is that everyone practice T’ai Chi on a daily basis. You will be amazed at what it does for your mind, body, and spirit!

    Cheers,
    Vaughn

    Please comment by clicking “Leave a Comment.” And, if you dig, share this article! Also, please type your email address into the “Subscribe” box up top to get updates each time I post a new blog article.

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    The Secret

    The secret is… Are you ready for this? Do you have pen and paper ready? There is no secret. No secret to life. No fountain of youth. No secret to fitness and health. No secret to money making. No secret group watching you.

    But wait… Don’t you believe in an ultra secretive Illuminati that is working very hard to mold us into automated machines to do their bidding? Of course I do! This article is not to say that I don’t believe in the dastardly secret societies… Because I do. It’s more like, I don’t really care about “them.” Who cares if someone is out there trying to draw in all of the power, money, and glory? I have too many of my own problems, issues, and challenges then to worry about a bunch of old (dying just like the rest of us), bald, crotchety, control freak men, in drab robes, chanting under candlelight. WTF?

    HA!

    I’m just kidding… This post isn’t about the Illuminati or some other secret society. Instead, it is about the secret of success. When I say, “the secret,” I mean any old secret. Folks often ask me for the secret to fitness, health, success, money, parenting, and so on and so forth. I honestly love this question, because it gives me a chance to do one of my fun skits… It usually goes down like this:

    The lights in the expansive restaurant reflected off a myriad of shiny surfaces and glimmered through hanging wine glasses to create Pink Floydesque colorful prism sparkles on the bar counter.

    Mike leaned in to Vaughn slightly, furrowed his brow, and asked, “What’s your secret, man?”

    Vaughn sipped his water, squinted his eyes slightly, and queried, “Whadda ya mean?”

    Adjusting himself on his stool, Mike leaned in a little further and softly said, “You know… How do you stay so fit and lead such a healthy life?”

    Nodding, Vaughn says, “Ahhh… You want the secret to my longevity and healthy lifestyle.” Nodding a little more, Vaughn leans in and lowers his voice, “There is a secret.”

    Mike leans further and carefully listens over the music’s deep bass and the chatter of mingling patrons. Turning his head slightly, Mike puts his best ear forward.

    Sotto voce, Vaughn says, “The secret…” Drawing in a breath, Vaughn plays with Mike’s emotions. Finally, chuckling, Vaughn continues, “There is no secret, Mike.”

    Discouraged and angry at being left out, Mike diverts his eyes and leans back huffing.

     

    This is obviously an exaggeration, but I do love toying with this one. So many of us think there is some super secret to accomplishing things in life. The truth is, if you want to be successful at ANYTHING, you simply need to follow this list:

    1. Carefully assess the result you want, and write it down as a desired outcome.
    2. Investigate your goal and find out information about how to accomplish it.
    3. Track down friends and acquaintances who have already achieved your goal, and ask them for assistance.
    4. Complete and write down a plan of action with milestones and goals along the path to this ultimate result.
    5. Buckle down and follow your plan.
    6. Adjust your plan as sticking points get in your way.
    7. Stay focused and determined.
    8. Reap the rewards of your hard work, focus, and drive!

    It really is this simple. The funny thing is… You already knew this. We all know this. The thing that separates those of us who do from those of us who don’t is writing down our goals and following through with them.

    If you want incredible results. Change yourself today!

    Do you know a secret that you can share with the rest of us?

    Thanks for reading! I wish I could have given you a real secret, but hopefully you gleened something anyway.

    -V

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    Surround Yourself with Good People

    I’m sure you folks already know this, but one of the best ways to improve yourself is to surround yourself with friends who are also improving themselves! Think about this for a moment, if you wanted to improve your golf score do you think you’d do better playing with people less motivated and worse at golf than you? Nope! And, this applies to life as well.

    We can’t pick our family, our coworkers (for the most part), our neighbors, or our classmates… However… We can pick our friends.

    Everyone of us have had friends who brought us down and friends who lift us up. And, if you’re honest with yourself, you know which kind of friend is better for you. Sometimes you need to evaluate your life and make adjustments. Your friends, and relationships in general, is simply one of those areas that you must assess and adjust accordingly.

    Don’t blame me when you break off a friendship, take responsibility for your own choice. But I firmly believe that you should take control of your life and surroundings. A good way to accomplish this is by figuring out who you are surrounding yourself with and dropping the deadbeats.

    Just as important as dropping the deadweight, you must also strive to add friends who will help improve you. This often starts in the form of mentorship. Find someone who is already doing something that you wish you could. Then approach them. Be honest and sincere with them. Tell them that you wish you could do “X” better, and that you know they are proficient at it. Then ask if they would mentor you and help you to improve and figure out how to accomplish their level of expertise. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how receptive people are at helping you to improve.

    If you have a friend who is constantly bringing you down, or belittling you, perhaps you should consider kicking them to the curb.

    What do you guys and gals think about this? Have you ever had to break off a detrimental relationship? How did you do it??

    Thanks for reading!

    Hugs,
    Vaughn

    Hardcore Hiking Training

    It is clearly an important piece of your training if you climb mountains. However, many non-mountaineers skip weighted hiking training even though they like to hike. I’m a firm believer in putting some hiking training into everyone’s fitness regiment. I’ll tell you why… As a hemophiliac, I’m always looking for ways to strengthen and protect my ankles, knees, and hips. Hiking (carefully and safely) gives me a good avenue to accomplish this. There’s already a strong contingent of people who like to walk for the fitness benefits. Imagine adding steeper hills, changing terrain, beautiful views, and even weight on your back to that exercise. That’s what I think of hiking training.

    Today, we’ll discuss how I train for hiking. Sometimes my goals are merely cardiovascular and respiratory benefits and other times it scaling a 14,412 foot glaciated mountain. Regardless, I do the same training. Before we dig in, let’s throw the disclaimer out (I hate doing these, but feel it’s a necessary evil):

    WARNING: Exercise, stretching, sports, and other fitness related activities can be dangerous. You can be seriously injured, crippled, or killed. The opinions, stories, and ideas presented here are my own and do not constitute a recommendation of or endorsement for any particular or general use. I strongly recommend getting a complete physical and doctor’s approval before starting any type of strenuous activity. Especially if you are over the age of 40 or have high blood pressure, genetic heart problems or conditions, or elevated cholesterol levels. If you choose to workout, you do so at your own risk. In addition, working out requires patience, diligence, and above all else, using good form. Never bounce or over strain! Most important: listen to your body…

    In addition, when hiking, I recommend staying focused and VERY aware of your surroundings and path. Remember that there are dangerous animals and dangerous people in the wild… That’s why we like it!

    I also recommend getting a sturdy and supportive hiking boot that goes over your ankle and is very comfortable for long hikes. I always carry a small first aid kit with me that includes some essentials in the event of an accident. I also always have a little spare food (protein bars) and extra water. Additional things might be added depending on the time of year and expected weather (e.g. rain gear, layers of warmer clothing, and so on). Lastly, I believe that a compass, GPS, and mobile phone are essential to EVERY hiking trip.

    ok… Let’s dig in!

    Just like running, biking, weight lifting, or any other fitness related exercise, you should always work up to your training weight, altitude increase, and distances. Normally I will increase any one of those by about 10% per week (this number varies depending on the week, but I always think carefully about it). I also try to only increase one of the three from that list at a time (i.e. don’t increase distance in the same week that you add weight to your backpack). That said, I rarely worry about altitude increase because I don’t have crazy tall mountains on the east coast… My main concern is weight and time and I will only adjust one or the other each week.

    Training Backpack, weight vest, or actual event backpack?

    I believe in using my actual mountaineering backpack for all of my training. I know that this will wear it out quicker, but I have several reasons for doing this…

  • First, you save money by only needing one backpack.
  • Just like most other worn accessories, a backpack breaks in to the shape and fit of your body over time.
  • Your body adjusts and gets stronger at certain points for a specific backpack.
  • You can perfect your fit and comfort over training time.
  •  

    Note: for these same reasons, I also use my actual event hiking boot for training sessions.

    Now let’s tackle what today’s article was really put together for. Adding weight to your backpack. Obviously you can easily do this with weights, stuff you would normally carry, or some other form of heavy object. I prefer to carry gallon jugs of water. The main reason for this is because during early to mid levels of my training, I prefer to lower (or even eliminate) my weight carried while traveling back down a training hike/climb. My knees have ALWAYS been an issue for me and I find that it is much more likely for me to hurt or injure them during my downclimb section of my workout. For this reason, I hike up, pour out some or all of the water, and then hike down. Also, you can easily lighten your load at any time during your training. Finally, it also doubles as extra water in case of emergency!

    My personal preference is gallon milk jugs from Kirkland/Costco. These jugs (as you see in the article photo) are rectangular and more cube based than standard one-gallon milk jugs. I dig this, because they fit very nicely in my backpack, and they stack sturdily. When maxed out in my training, I have six jugs of water packed and stacked in my backpack. Yes… I do some training with 60 pounds of water on my back. Want results? Push yourself!

    Almost all jugs I’ve tried will leak a little when tipped on their side or upside down, so I avoid this. Also, I line my backpack with a garbage bag before loading the jugs (this is because a wet backpack is a painful pet peeve of mine).

    Once you decide what to use for weight, you next need to determine how much weight to use. The jugs I use weigh a hair over nine pounds when loaded with water. I count each jug as ten pounds because it’s an even number, and my backpack weighs a few pounds. So, I do my training based on this. Since the jugs sit two wide in my backpack, if I’m only going up ten pounds when increasing weight, I normally will fill two jugs halfway (fill one all the way and pour half into another jug from that filled one if you’re like me and enjoy being precise). This way my backpack always has the weight distributed nicely.

    Also, I use the compressions straps on the sides of the backpack to tighten the whole load up and keep it sturdy, stable, and upright.

    Here is a sample six-month routine that I might use when training to climb Mount Rainier:

    Month One
    Week 1 – Hike 1 hour / 10 pound backpack
    Week 2 – Hike 1 hour / 20 pound backpack
    Week 3 – Hike 1.5 hours / 20 pound backpack
    Week 4 – Hike 2 hours / 20 pound backpack

    Month Two
    Week 1 – Hike 2.5 hours / 20 pound backpack
    Week 2 – Hike 3 hours / 20 pound backpack
    Week 3 – Rest week (No hiking)
    Week 4 – Hike 3 hours / 25 pound backpack

    Month Three
    Week 1 – Hike 3 hours / 30 pound backpack
    Week 2 – Hike 3 hours / 35 pound backpack
    Week 3 – Hike 3 hours / 40 pound backpack
    Week 4 – Hike 3.5 hours / 40 pound backpack

    Month Four
    Week 1 – Hike 4 hours / 40 pound backpack
    Week 2 – Rest week (No hiking)
    Week 3 – Hike 4 hours / 45 pound backpack
    Week 4 – Hike 4 hours / 50 pound backpack

    Month Five
    Week 1 – Hike 4.5 hours / 50 pound backpack
    Week 2 – Hike 4.5 hours / 55 pound backpack
    Week 3 – Hike 4.5 hours / 60 pound backpack
    Week 4 – Hike 5 hours / 60 pound backpack

    Month Six
    Week 1 – Hike 6 hours / 60 pound backpack
    Week 2 – Taper Hike 3 hours / 40 pound backpack
    Week 3 – Taper (no hike during this week)
    Week 4 – Climb week!

    I guarantee results in many areas if you hike with weight on your back! Burn calories like you never believed possible!

    Do you hike, or train by hiking?

    Please comment by clicking “Leave a Comment.” And, if you dig, share this article! Also, please type your email address into the “Subscribe” box up top to get updates each time I post a new blog article.

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    Was Steve Jobs a Hero or a Shithead?

    Is that the question?? Before you guys attack me for such a blatantly ugly question, allow myself to explain … myself. Steve Jobs was fond of calling people heroes or shitheads. Walter Isaacson points out numerous “hero” and/or “shithead” occasions in his biography, “Steve Jobs.” Jobs rarely found a middle ground. As a matter-of-fact, it seems like people were black and white to Jobs. Most of us mere mortals see people in shades of grey. Jobs had a knack and perhaps even a gift of calling it exactly the way he saw it. His brutal honesty would often make people feel like kings or tear them down into shreds of flesh.

    I grew up knowing about Steve Jobs because my dad « Continue »

    Get Your Beach Body Now!

    Since the New Year is here, and we already discussed resolutions… Let’s talk about the most popular New Year’s resolution in the world… Get fit. I want to take it one step further, and assume that many of you with this goal are actually trying to burn some fat, add some muscle, and look all around better for the Summer.

    We already know (from my previous articles) that fitness is extremely important, that pushing yourself to and beyond failure is a huge key to success, that making excuses for skipping workouts are weakness, and that you will live longer if you get and stay fit… That isn’t anything new. Today, I’m going to tackle something that I know many of you want to do… Preparing and shaping your body up for this coming Summer.

    Since many swimming pools open on Memorial Day, I thought I would simply count that day – Monday, May 26, 2014 – as our finish point. In other words, we want to achieve our lofty outcome prior to that day.

    Before we do anything, let’s get the dagg-on disclaimer out of the way…

    WARNING: Exercise, stretching, sports, and other fitness related activities can be dangerous. You can be seriously injured, crippled, or killed. The opinions, stories, and ideas presented here are my own and do not constitute a recommendation of or endorsement for any particular or general use. I strongly recommend getting a complete physical and doctor’s approval before starting any type of strenuous activity. Especially if you are over the age of 40 or have high blood pressure, genetic heart problems or conditions, or elevated cholesterol levels. If you choose to workout, you do so at your own risk. In addition, working out requires patience, diligence, and above all else, using good form. Never bounce or over strain! Most important: listen to your body…

    Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s figure out our goal, plan to accomplish it, and get started!

    First and foremost, before you dive into a workout routine, I think it is imperative that we carefully figure out precisely what we’re trying to achieve. For ease of use, let’s assume that everyone reading this article has the following desired outcome:

    I want to get healthier, burn some fat, lose a little weight, and pack a little muscle and definition on.

    Perfect! Now we can get to our plan…

    We need to know our timeline… Well, since we know our goal needs to be reached by 5/26/14 it is easy to calculate… We see that we have 20 weeks (approximately five months). This is more than enough time for us to lose 20-40 pounds of fat (if we need to) and tack on five pounds of pure muscle. Plus, and most important, this is ample time to get us in terrific shape for the beach!

    Now let’s quickly tackle each key subject area to getting in shape. Note: I won’t cover this in great detail. Most of you know what I’m talking about, and the remainder of you curious/learning folks can research the web some to get more than you ever imagined possible. If you need more information and tips, start with my Health category.

    REST DAY
    This one doesn’t require much description. Suffice it to say that you must take one day off from working out each week. This day is key to letting your muscles heal from the previous six days of working out, and it allows your entire body to regenerate stronger than before. Do nothing during your day off!

    EAT GOOD
    Do I really need to lay this one out? Simply eat better foods and fewer calories. On top of proper nutrition, make sure you take in liberal amounts of water (90 or more ounces each day). What you eat is what you get! Read my Nutrition article for more info.

    WEIGHT LIFTING
    Hit the iron. Hit it hard. Take your body to utter failure in each set! Do a full-body routine twice per week.

    CARDIOVASCULAR WORKOUTS
    In order to turn your metabolism into high gear, you will do six days of cardio each week. Each day will consist of 45 – 60 minutes of cardio that will have your heart rate in a target range of 65 – 85% of your predicted max heart rate.

    CORE CROSS-TRAINING
    This is an optional workout that you can do three times per week. This is for those of you who REALLY want to rip up your abs and core to give yourself the best beach body possible. Read my Chiseled Abs article for more info.

    Now let’s break the week down (each week is precisely the same over the entire 20 week training).

    SUNDAY – Cardio and full body weight lifting routine
    MONDAY – Cardio and core
    TUESDAY – Cardio
    WEDNESDAY – Cardio and core
    THURSDAY – Cardio and full body weight lifting routine
    FRIDAY – REST DAY (this can be any day, but it must happen!
    SATURDAY – Cardio and core

    Last note… If you’d like more info, I recommend perusing this blog in the “Health” section. Especially checkout this article: healthywealthytribe.com/secret-to-getting-fit

    Finally, pick your butt up and get to the gym to get started TODAY!!! If you follow this advice for the next twenty weeks I can guarantee you a new you!

    I hope this helped, and I hope you follow through! Please keep me posted and let me know about your experiences.

    Good luck,
    Rip

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    Are New Year’s Resolutions Bullshit?

    HaPpY NeW YeAr!!!

    Now let’s address this tough title. I think it’s time that we start facing facts… The fact is that a majority of us will come up with all kinds of cool changes we want to make in our life and follow through with them for a few days, a few weeks, or even a few months… But, we won’t keep them as life long changes. In essence, we will fail.

    I am not a big fan of new year’s resolutions (because I think you should strive to make yourself better EVERY day, not once per year – Kaizen, people!) However, I know that many people set resolutions and it is fun to hear and support them. So let’s take advantage of this new year and do something different this year. Let’s set some measurable goals and stick to them!!!

    Who’s with me?

    Before we set off on this grueling task, let’s take a quick look at why so many folks fail. I believe the main reason for failure is not proper follow through with maintaining and tracking the goals. If that is true, than we can easily cure this. We should write down our goals and track them on a regular basis.

    My plan is to put my goals/resolutions in writing (on this post and on printed paper). I will also do a quarterly blog article about my goals (and anyone else who responds here with goals) that lays out my goal progress throughout the 2014 year. In this way, I hope to better myself by keeping my wants and needs on my immediate radar!

    I’m sort of contradicting myself (I do that sometimes), by starting this post bashing New Year’s resolutions and then asking you to create some. My point was to make sure that we do things differently by following through and actually accomplishing some (or all) of these!

    Hypocrisy aside, here is my resolution/goal list for 2014:

    Vaughn’s 2014 Goals/Resolutions

  • Do something special for Kristine;
  • Start my new(ish) career and get back on track;
  • Continue the debt turnaround (path to becoming a financial wizard);
  • Turn up the training for triathlons;
  • Do Mountains of Misery again and stay in the saddle for both hills;
  • Start 5/3/1 weight lifting routine and get stronger;
  • New Military Press PR (personal record) of 150 pounds;
  • New Deadlift PR of 315 pounds;
  • New Bench Press PR of 235 pounds;
  • New Squat PR of 275 pounds;
  • Preparation for Mt. Rainier in July 2015;
  • Publish Decrypted;
  • Finish Weapon 67 (my second fictional title);
  • Finish outline for non-fictional book, (title pending for a “growing up” book) and get agent approval;
  • Start super-secret business idea and start ball rolling;
  • Work with Hemophilia Foundation of MD (HFM) on the board and make progress;
  • Continue focusing on this (HealthyWealthyTribe) blog and update at least twice per week.
  •  

    Feel free to put your goal list for 2014 in the comments below. That way we can track each other’s goals and how we’re doing throughout the year.

    Note: If you comment on this post with goals/resolutions, you will be held accountable and called out in my quarterly update post about goals!!! So beware! That said, if you’re like me, that will only incentivize you to participate!

    Here’s the goals/resolution post schedule for 2014:

  • Wednesday, January 1, 2014 – This initial post
  • Tuesday, April 1, 2014 (April Fool’s Day!!!) – Our first quarterly check-in
  • Tuesday, July 1, 2014 – Our second Quarterly check-in
  • Wednesday, October 1, 2014 – Our third Quarterly check-in
  • Wednesday, December 31, 2014 – Our final check-in and evaluation
  •  

    So… What are your New Year’s resolutions for 2014?

    Your friendly neighborhood motivator,
    Vaughn

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    When the Going Gets Tough…

    The Tough Get Going!

    I know this saying sounds cliché, but sometimes each of us needs a kick in the tush! As 2013 comes to a close, I thought I would quickly chat about something that most of us like to avoid discussing. Life can be tough. We all know that… But we don’t all react the same way to tough things in life.

    Stepping into 2014 let’s agree (together) to battle this tough life head on! I mean come on… Is it really that bad? I don’t think so.

    Anytime I feel down in the dumps (yes I do, I just avoid showing it if possible), I think about people who are less fortunate than me. I mean there are people with no legs who somehow manage to thrive in life! There are people with inoperable brain tumors who refuse to give in and keep living despite their ailments!

    If these folks can survive and thrive then who am I to complain?

    Your life will have its downs. You will struggle sometimes. Some things will seem unbearable and inescapable. You need to suck it up and carry on during these times.

    If there’s one thing I can tell you, it’s that even though we have hard times and down times, life will always come back around and improve. Just batten down the hatches and trudge through the tough times.

    What do you do to help yourself during your times of need?

    Let’s make 2014 a banner year!!!

    Love you all,
    Vaughn

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    Writing is Tough

    In past articles (Checkout my Inkslinger category for more writing blog posts) I alluded to how easy it is to write and publish. Today, I will play Devil’s advocate and tell you just how tough it is.

    When I wrote my first book, it was essentially a timeline of my life. It started out as a journal of sorts and then worked its way into a book. However, it didn’t just come flowing out of me in a matter of hours or even days. It took years. And, it was hard work. Spewing forth words isn’t tough, it’s the assembly and management of those words to compile them into something readable and enjoyable by others. This was the challenge for me.

    I wrote an hour or two each day for months on end. Then I would go through and adjust parts. After a couple of years of this, I had my book.

    The second book, Decrypted, was just as crazy. It was different, because I didn’t live the story. This one was tough on another level. But, it did sort of flow out of me. I didn’t know what would happen at the end of each chapter, because I had a slim outline at best (more of a skeleton). Most of the story surprised me as I wrote it. The tough part of this one was simply staying in the game. It took a butt-load of motivation and willpower just to keep writing it.

    A few chapters in I found a local writing group. This was an immense help! I mean, I was meeting weekly with like-minded folks who asked me regularly, “How far did you get this week?” This was a challenge and I struggled some, but mostly it helped me. They also asked for chapters to read so they could give me advice and feedback. This helped me as well, because I felt compelled to have something complete for them on a weekly basis.

    Now I’m working on my third book, Weapon 67, and I’ve found a whole new problem. The problem is, I have four books (Weapon 67, a young adult fantasy, and two non-fiction) in my head. I’m struggling again, but for a different reason. This time, I find it nearly impossible to stay focused on the one book. I have so many ideas popping around in my head, and that is driving me mad!

    So you see… Each book has had a different set of problems and challenges. However, there is one common theme: None of them were/are easy.

    I imagine that my next book will have some additional complications, but one things remains for me… I love writing. And, for this very reason, I will continue to do so, despite (or in spite of) the fact that it is hard to do.

    This article wasn’t meant to scare you away. More like a reality check. Writing is awesome and spiritually fulfilling. It is something magical. But, let’s not kid each other… Writing is tough. I merely wanted to point that out.

    Who among us loves writing, or has thought about writing? Please share your insight and experiences.

    Cheers,
    Mr. V

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    One Rep Separates the Boys from the Men

    That’s right folks… There is a secret to making physical gains after all… The secret is…

    *drum roll please*

    ONE REP!

    Most will have you believe that the secret is actually going to the gym and working out. While this is true for beginners, it is not so for intermediate or advanced lifters. The true secret, and the thing that separates the boys from the men (or the girls from the women) is the last rep. I’m dead serious!

    Depending on where you fail, and where you quit, determines the type of gain(s) you will make. I mean it… If you REALLY want to make measurable gains in your level of fitness, your strength, and/or the size of your muscles then you need to do one more rep.

    You know how when you are doing curls and it gets tougher as you’re finishing a set? That is because your body is reaching muscular failure (your lactic acid threshold). Well, the largest portion of your gains will be made precisely AT (and even beyond) muscular failure.

    It is easy to type, “just do one more rep.” However, if you are really at your limits and cannot possibly do anything else, then one more rep takes more discipline and determination than anything you’ve ever imagined. If it is so tough that you cannot imagine completing it, then you are there, my friend.

    So, the next time you’re banging out reps and calling it quits when it gets too tough, and your body is screaming, and your muscles are failing… I challenge you to do just one more rep. I know it feels like you couldn’t possibly do one more. I know that it hurts. I know that it is tougher than imaginable… I also know that this is the point in which your muscle will make the biggest gain!

    I have a simple plan of action, and follow this same routine each time… Try this:

    First, you must know your limits… Know approximately where failure will occur. I am intimately familiar with my body and what weights take me to what failure point at how many reps. If I’m trying to make bigger muscles (maximum slow and fast twitch muscle fiber hypertrophy) I will aim to fail between 8 and 11 reps. If I can’t muster eight reps than I know the weight is too heavy. If I do more than eleven, than it’s too light. Adjust accordingly. (that said, for strength gains, I shoot for 6-8 reps before utter failure / for fat burning (I never do these, unless I’m simply doing periodization and switching up routines) I would shoot for 12+ reps).

    Once we know the proper weight, bang out your ten(ish) reps. Go until you are certain you cannot do another rep.

    Now comes the tough part (I’m not kidding folks… If you are truly at failure, this could possibly be the toughest thing you do all day)… You must dig deep. You must tap your inner willpower. You MUST do one more (painful) rep. For best results, use a spotter who can take a half a pound off the weight by lightly touching the bar and helping you accomplish this.

    Try chanting this in your mind, “Anyone can do one rep!”

    USING EVERYTHING YOU HAVE – GET THAT LAST REP IN!

    We aren’t done yet. Now we are going to do what lifters call a negative. Instead of dropping the weight and crying, we SLOWLY lower the bar over a six to ten second period, using every ounce of energy left. If you did it right, tears will be welling in your eyes, your muscles will be SCREAMING, and you might even feel light headed. Congratulations!!!

    If you can accomplish this with each set, I guarantee quick results. You will make (and see) serious gains that you never thought possible.

    Give it a go and let me know what you get out of it!

    Thanks for reading,
    Rip

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    V is for Victory

    I’m gonna start this article with a disclaimer… I do have a sharp tongue. I often give people the wrong impression. As my friend, Katty, says, “There’s a fine line between being proud of what you’ve done with your life and rubbing your accomplishments in the face of someone else that doesn’t have your motivation.” Obviously some people don’t have the same motivation as me… That does not make them a bad person. Sometimes when I try to “help” folks by talking about my personal accomplishments and what I’ve been able to do (or can do) and combine it with my sharp, blunt tongue, it can (and does) hurt feelings.

    If you do not have a thick skin, I will probably offend you with this article. I apologize in advance… But, if you don’t want scary answers then stop asking scary questions!!!

    I sincerely love all of you! For different reasons I have found joy in my relationships with everyone I know. Life is a playground… You’re gonna scrape your knee sometimes. We dust ourselves off and get back in the game. That’s a given. But, when you fall on the monkey bars and land on your nuts… That’s what separates the boys from men.

     

    Without further ado… Here comes the rant!

    It’s hard for my friends to understand this, because for the most part, they are overachievers as well. But… I believe that most people are lazy. And, not in a good way.

    When I first started this article I really just wanted to talk about body language. Have you ever noticed that when someone runs across the finish line of any race they raise their arms into the air creating a “V” as they complete the race? This is especially true of someone who wins the race. And, referees do the “V” to signal a touchdown. The weird thing is that pretty much every person from all different backgrounds does this famous “V” when they are victorious. It is a natural reaction to throw your arms in the air when you win! Rocky (and other boxers) did it with every win and every success!

    I recently asked myself, Self… Why can’t you simply raise your arms for victory before you do something and then be better at it? The answer I got back was strange (mostly because I was talking to myself)… I can. That’s right folks… I believe in the power of body language. We all know it is important for communicating our feelings with others, but many of us didn’t know it works for ourselves too. Try it. Put a huge smile on your face, hold your head high, and throw your hands into the air. You will feel like a million bucks. And, your chances to succeed will increase exponentially.

    Now let’s segue into the second half… Simply throwing your arms in the air is not enough. You MUST dig deep and stay motivated to accomplish great things!

    Dead Horse… Kick… Yada… I was born with hemophilia. I spent my entire childhood being told by doctors, parents, adults, siblings and friends what I COULD NOT do. I was rarely told what I could do. At nineteen I was told by the family doctor that I would be dead within the next couple of years. Did I give up? Nope. Did I die? Nope. Have I been held back by my disorders, viruses, diseases, and injuries? Say it with me… Nope!

    After my HIV diagnosis, I spiraled into a stint with drugs and suffering. Shortly after that bad faze in life, I was gripped by reality and turned my life around. I went from making $9 per hour to running an entire systems department. Within five years of this, I had quadrupled my salary. QUADRUPLED, people.

    Two years later I started a computer consulting company with two close friends. Within a year we had twelve employees and were pulling in $2,000,000 in annual revenue.

    Since then, I have had two children even though I’ve been told countless times that it isn’t even possible.

    From a fitness and healthy perspective, I am sick and tired of hearing people bitch and moan at me about my LUCKY metabolism. Funny thing about my luck (to paraphrase Harold Hamm), “The harder I work, the luckier I get!” Most people see my slim, muscular build and assume this is a metabolism thing. Has anyone seen my father? Metabolism is not one of our gifts. I workout HARD and OFTEN.

    I play hard – Ask any of my mountain biking buddies. Ask any of my paintball buddies. Ask any of my motorcycle friends. Ask any of my climbing bros. Ask anyone who off-roads with me.

    I workout hard – Hello? Come join me at my gym (it’s called The Vomitorium) for the beating of your life… If you dare, punks!

    I work hard – I haven’t gotten where I am in the business world by sitting on my thumbs.

    I study hard – I have literally read thousands of books about manifold subjects. Ask my dirtbag friends what I did when we started climbing… I am a self taught computer programmer. I am a certified personal trainer who adamantly studies exercise and the human body. I am certified and taught motorcycle classes to beginner and advanced riders.

    Did you know that I post an article on this blog every other day? Do you think that is easy? Do you think that’s air you’re breathing? HA!

    Am I rough around the edges? Hell yes. Am I a straight shooter, who will tell you how it is? Yep. Most people around me appreciate my bluntness… Those who don’t rarely last.

    Do I know the secret to life? Nope. But I know what it ain’t… Lazy.

    Enough tooting my own horn for now… There will be plenty of time and other posts for that.

    (:

    Am I vain? If being proud of my accomplishments in life is vain, then yes I am. Merriam Websters defines vain as: having or showing undue or excessive pride in one’s appearance or achievements. I do show pride in my appearance and achievements… Is it excessive or undue?? I say, nay.

    Do I have to be vain and have an enormous ego to accomplish great things? Absolutely not.

    I guess my point is that it takes some confidence and motivation to really push yourself past the envelope. In life, people will try to bring you down. People will try to tell you what you can’t do. People will doubt your prowess. Prove them wrong!

    Do you have some accomplishments that you battled to get? Do tell…

    I challenge you all… Step it up a notch! You can start by motivating yourself, and by starting tough tasks with your arms raised into a “V” for victory!!!

    I will leave you with this:

    Tony Manero: You know what I wanna do?
    Jackie: What?
    Tony Manero: Strut.

    *struts*

    Posted with an edge and some love,
    V

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    Surefire Way to Beat Your Best Time

    Today’s article was inspired by a close friend, Paul. During a casual conversation he mentioned that he’d had an epiphany about something I’d said to him a few months back. Paul has always been fit and healthy, but over the last two years or so, he’s ramped it up a good bit. One of the exercises that he really likes and has done good at are pull-ups. Pull-ups are a great exercise and they can also be very hard to do when you’re just starting out. Several months ago, Paul asked me a simple question… How can I do more pull-ups?

    That is an excellent question! I started with my standard personal trainer response… Weighted negatives, lat pulldown, interval training, assisted pull-ups, curls, bentover rows, yada yada yada…

    While these are certainly ways to increase your maximum number of pull-ups, I also thought of something else, and said so. “The easiest way to do more pull-ups is to lose some weight.”

    Wow! There… I said it! And, it felt good to say!!!

    Paul laughed and said, “That actually makes sense.” The light switch clearly clicked in Paul’s head that day… But, he did something for me too. By seeing how simple this idea was, and by saying so, Paul opened my eyes. I decided to do a little investigation; which I am want to do in times like these. Can you guess what I figured out?

    Did you know that the average person can do about one to two extra pull-ups for every 5% of body weight loss? If we go one step further, you can do approximately three pull-ups with each 10% of body weight you lose. Think about that for a moment and let it sink in. To make this more real, let’s show an example:

    Say a man weighs 185 pounds and has 22% body fat. In order to drop his weight by 10%, he’d have to lose 18.5 pounds; which would take him down to 166.5 pounds and 12% body fat.

    During the weight loss period, this “example man” would also be working out and increasing strength anyway, but now he’d have the advantage of a lower weight and do even more pull-ups then if he ONLY increased his strength. On top of that, he would be considerably healthier at 12% body fat instead of a beefy 22%.

    Pretty cool huh?

    Now let’s talk about my epiphany. To me, counting pull-ups is arbitrary. I mean what does it really mean, except being able to say you can do more than someone else. No real correlation to things in life, unless you challenge others in pull-up competitions. My epiphany was in a totally different area… Racing! I started thinking about it, and realized that I could also trim my run times and bike times by trimming the fat.

    Not convinced?

    Here’s a simple question. If you ran your fastest mile with a 18.5 pound backpack on, do you think it would be as fast as you could do without the pack? Of course not!! Now imagine that stripping that extra bit of fat off your body (which is what most of us want to do anyway) is a weighted backpack. This gets exponentially more important when hills are involved! You get my point?

    Wanna trim some seconds off your 5K time? Wanna get a PR (personal record) in your next triathlon? Wanna finish faster in a mountain bike race? Maybe you simply want to run up some neighborhood hills without feeling like you’re dying! Obviously you need to workout and train hard to continue improving… But, I just gave you an ace up your sleeve. Include a proper nutrition plan and cardio/weight training regiment to properly lose fat, while building muscle and you will beat your competition!!! Guaranteed or 100% of your money back!

    I sincerely hope this advice helped skim some time off your next race!

    -Rip

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