Tapering for a Relay? Really?


To the uninformed, relay runs are events where a bunch of folks get together in teams to cover 150 to 200 miles by rotating runners who each run between 3 and 12 miles at any one time. On a full team of twelve runners, each runner runs three times over a day and a half.  The most popular relay series is called Ragnar and the more popular events include Hood to Coast, Reach the Beach, and The Bourbon Chase. Here’s a list of even more relay races to choose from.

This week, I will be running in my sixth relay event as a member of the Coconut Bunch on Ragnar SoCal 2015 covering 180 miles from Huntington Beach to San Diego.

I have run on teams of 1, 4, 9, 10 and 12 runners and each presents its own set of excitement and challenges. What they all have in common is that they are all fun, a great way to experience running and friends in a different way and, yes, they are all exhausting and damaging to our bodies.

I have probably written about tapering more than any other endurance-related topic. Once we wrap our heads around an event, we all seem to be pretty good at digging in and training, but we have a difficult time with turning off the faucet the week or two before the event. In fact, the taper can down right drive us crazy. But this is a relay, right? This isn’t a marathon or ironman-distance race. We’re running three or four times over the course of two days and the longest we’ll probably run is 10 miles. In fact, for many, we’ll be taking less than the distance of the marathon and breaking it up into three separate runs – e.g., 9 miles, 7 miles and 7 miles. How hard can that be? I certainly don’t have to taper for this, right?

Here’s the deal, because relay runs seem so doable, they also attract a lot of folks who are new to running and new to racing. Even elite runners cannot expect to put forth multiple efforts without adequate rest in between. This is true whether we are running 100 meters or 50 miles. Our bodies need time to rest, recover and repair and underestimating the impact of this can make your second or third leg of your relay really difficult and not much fun at all.

Here then are my tips for tapering during the week before your relay:

Stay away from impact activities - In short, you don’t want to do any damage to your leg muscles this week. I cannot stress this enough. If you beat your legs up during the week, you will have a miserable experience this weekend. If you don’t want to run this week, that’s perfectly fine. To avoid bouncing off of the walls, feel free to cycle, swim or left weights, (upper body only) and don’t make this the week you decide to start any of these for the first time. This is also not the week to reignite your passion for basketball or any other high impact, high injury-prone sport.

Stretch, do Pilates and as much Yoga as you like - Once again, if you’ve never done any of these activities, now is not the week to jump into P90-X or Insanity, but if your local YMCA has a stretching or Pilates class, feel free to enjoy it in moderation. You can definitely benefit from mobilizing your joints and activating your core muscles the week before your event.

Get lean – The second most popular email or text I get is, “But I feel bloated and fat and I’m going to be huge by race day.” Here’s the truth, when you have a dip in caloric expenditure due to taper or injury, take advantage of this to get ruthless with your diet. Eat nutrient-dense, lower calorie foods that give you energy and make you feel great. Increase your fiber intake at the beginning of the week and then taper off of that as well. Stay away from sugar! Not only will you have a ton of energy on race day, but focusing on this will allow to avoid the sugar cravings that are stress induced and you will probably be a few pounds lighter on event day, and that will make your running that much easier and give you a tremendous amount of confidence.

When you do run, reduce the mileage and the volume but not the intensity - you can run twice this week but only one can be 45 mins, a second of no more than 30 mins, and if your second run is on Thursday, then make that run no more than 15 mins. For example: Monday – 45 mins easy; then Wednesday – 30 mins of treadmill intervals OR Thursday – 1.5-mile shakeout run, but not both. Remember, if you do run on Thursday, make sure your last run is just to break a sweat, fifteen minutes or less. You don’t need to run at all this week. Running at all is primarily to maintain your sanity and keep your legs loose, responsive and springy. It will also help keep your digestive tract moving regularly, and who doesn’t like that? Remember, it is better to be under-trained than over-trained and this is not the week to make up for lost training or to prove to yourself how resilient and capable of a runner you are. Save that for relay weekend.

Get your gear in order early – If laying out clothes for a marathon or Ironman is stressful, then managing all of your gear for a relay can be downright debilitating. You have three sets of clothing, you have to run at night and need reflectors and headlamps, and even more gear for when you are sitting around in the van. You need something to sleep in, and what if it rains, etc, etc, etc. Get all of your gear in order at the beginning of the week and then leave it alone. Don’t add this stress to you in the final days leading up to your event.

That’s it. If you want to read more about tapering, feel free to check out these prior articles. In short, you want to show up on event day well rested and a little anxious, but full of promise and energy just waiting to be released.







The day before the Los Angeles Marathon – a different kind of visualization


Like the old ketchup commercial or Tom Petty, the anticipation or the waiting is the hardest part. Sitting in a Los Angeles hotel room 22 hours before the start of The 2015 Los Angeles Marathon, I find myself oddly at peace, oddly introspective. This will be my 25th marathon and my tenth here in Los Angeles. I’ve had good races and lousy races. In 2013, I stepped off of an airplane on Friday night, after a 30-hour flight from India, and ran a 4:09 on Sunday morning – a good day.


2013 LA Marathon

Last year, I ran to mile 16 and was done, walking in the next 10 miles in 80F temperatures. I crossed the finish line in more than five and a half hours, wondering why I ever started the race knowing in advance how hot it was going to be.

2014 marathon finish facebook post

Tomorrow, it’s supposed to be worse with record temperatures expected and highs into the low 90F’s. But my mindset is slightly different. I’ve never gone into a race not to run as fast as I can on that day, but in this case, I am going to try NOT to run faster than a 4:30 marathon, because I have no interest in repeating last year’s death march and I don’t want to end up looking like this guy here.

2014  la marathon peson needing emt

So here’s my plan and my thoughts on this day before the 30th running of the Los Angeles Marathon:

1. Stay on East Coast time – this helps me to stay loose and do what I need to do, but keep my bodily functions and sleep patterns aligned to what I need to do to wake up and be out of the house by 2am PT to get to my parking spot in Santa Monica, get on the shuttle and head to the start.

2. Organize what I need and get it done – I picked up my bib yesterday; I avoid going to a marathon expo the day before the race because it is a taxing experience both physically and mentally. My bib is already attached to my race belt and as soon as I finish doing my laundry, I will have my clothes ready to go. Twenty five marathons later, I still get the yips the day before the race but knowing this is going to be more of a survival in the heat experience, I’m at peace with whatever happens tomorrow.

3. Stay relaxed – So what today is really about is just  staying off my feet, maybe doing a light 20-min shakeout run, maybe seeing a matinee movie at the local theater. Today would have been a perfect day to see McFarland, USA but I’ve already seen it, so I’ll find an alternative. My plan is to go to sleep right after it gets dark, probably around 7:30pm local time (10:30pm ET) so that I can get at least 5.5 hours of sleep before I have to wake up at 1am (4am ET). Then it’s simple, I shower, drive to the parking lot, walk to the shuttles and head to Dodger Stadium where I put on some music, lay down and wait for the marathon to begin.

 4. Accept that tomorrow is what it is – It’s going to be hot, I am not going to PR, and this is just one step in a much longer journey of what I want to accomplish this year and I ma blessed to be healthy enough to be able to be out there covering these 26.2 miles.

5. Run in the moment and remember – For me, tomorrow is much more about the course than about the race. This course is a journey through my upbringing and the majority of my life. I know every mile. I know ever yard of every mile. While others may run this as a marathon course, I run this as a validation of who I am and where I came from. The race starts at Dodger Stadium where my parents used to take me as a child; it was probably my first public social experience, with my father yelling in Spanish to then rookie pitcher Fernando Valenzuela. I will remember how I worked downtown for years, just another ambitious suit trying to prove to some unknown entity of power and acknowledgment that I was worthy of being more than a glorified fitness trainer. At mile thirteen, my race and my journey really begins. I run through Sunset Plaza, past where Los Angeles monuments like Tower Records and Licorice Pizza used to stand, turn left down San Vicente and past the now shut down West Hollywood Post Office, my address since the early 1980′s. We run past Rage and everything that made West Hollywood the most energetic and crazy community in Los Angeles, long before anyone ever called it WeHo. With a quick glance to the right up the hill to where I grew up, we turn left down Doheny and run past Ralphs which used to be Hughes Market where I got shot at chasing a thug, and spent probably a thousand nights working night crew and stocking shelves during my four years in college. I remember that across the street was Chasen’s, my mother’s favorite restaurant, where you could get strawberries the size of your fist, and where I celebrated my college graduation with she and my sister. We run through Beverly Hills and past where Jacopo’s Pizza used to be, the place I first saw someone flip and spin pizza dough. We run past Versace, Polo and the other elite fashion stores on Rodeo Drive before turning down little Santa Monica that used to have a railroad track separating it from the larger street and iconic locations like Trader Vics, also now gone. We run past the ghost of Jimmy’s before passing Beverly Hills High School, where I learned to type and head into Century City, where I cut my teeth in the Entertainment practice of PwC. We run past the condo where John and I lived, Cindy and I first met, and where my mother took her last breath. We run the stretch of Santa Monica from Beverly Glen to Sepulveda, the same stretch I used to walk for eighteen months to walk to work at Sports Club/LA because I couldn’t afford a car after mine was stolen. We turn up through the VA Hospital, and exit the west gates that lead to the almost fictional and privileged world of Brentwood, where Teslas, Audi’s and Porsches outnumber Fords and Chevy’s 10:1. It’s at this point that I know I am really home. This is where my life as a runner and a coach really began. Passing Montana, I can reflect back on those first days coaching for APLA, when we had 500 runners coming out every Saturday for our group training runs while preparing for Honolulu. I can begin to smell the ocean breeze as I steadily make my way up the San Vicente grade to 26th Street, the the place I used to park my car and run what I thought back then was a really serious 4-mile run to Ocean and back. I will run those last 3 miles all downhill, knowing that one street over between 7th and 4th are the Santa Monica Stairs where I will likely be on Monday morning. Then we turn left down Ocean, passing the landmark wall where fellow S.M.U.T’s met every week to better our running and our lives. Trying to keep it together as best we can, we’ll head down Ocean, knowing that this last mile will feel like it lasts forever, watching the palm trees swaying and the blue ocean below and off to our right until we cross under the finish line just shy of the Santa Monica Pier and a few blocks over from the 3rd Street Promenade. I have taken this journey all of my life. I have run this course a million times before, and ten times on marathon day. It is both the most exhilarating and the saddest run I will ever do. And that’s why the time doesn’t matter, the heat doesn’t matter, and the medal doesn’t matter. Because even with so many of these Los Angeles landmarks gone, the course still remains, the memories remain; and for the moment, so do I. Good luck out there.


The 2013 10 in 10 Weight Loss Challenge – Tip: Recording your progress using Joe’s Goals

A tremendous amount has been written about goal setting. So I thought I’d write a quick post about how to record them. To start, my experience has shown that weight loss success is more achievable if you follow K.I.S.S., Keep It Simple Stupid. Focus on three key areas that if addressed properly, consistently and for a sustained duration will all but guarantee your success.

  1. Reduce Caloric Intake/Improve Nutrition

  2. Increase Caloric Expenditure/Positive Stress

  3. Ensure Sufficient Rest and Recovery/Reduce Environmental Stress

To be clear. All three of these categories are like a three legged stool and if you lose any one of those legs, the stool falls down, as do you. Any of you that have been regularly working out but haven’t effectively addressed your nutrition, and haven’t seen the results you are looking for,  know exactly what I’m talking about.

Now this doesn’t complicate things, it actually makes things easier. Pick one to three daily process goals from each category, stick to them and you’ll be well on your way.

Tracking your goals: 99% of people who don’t succeed, don’t track the progress to their goals in a structured and disciplined manner. Those who do succeed, record their activities, and many go one step further by communicating these out publicly to those they can count on to support them.

Joe’s Goals: You don’t need anything more than a piece of paper to record how you’ve done but if you want to have an eay-to-use online tool to keep things organized, show your progress and to also remind you when you might lose your focus, you might try Joe’s Goals. Like most everything else I recommend, it’s a FREE online tool with no strings attached.  http://www.joesgoals.com

Here’s an example of how I use Joe’s Goals. Listed on the left are the daily process goals that I know if I adhere to, then I succeed.  The check marks for each day indicate if I accomplished my goal for that day. I’ve had the flu, so you can see that I haven’t been able to workout this week, but I have made progress in my nutritional goals. Feel free to borrow some or all of these or pick your own. The key is to ask yourself two questions:

  1. Do my goals in total address all three categories?
  2. When I do each of these every day, will I reach my goals?

Then it gets even simpler. Each day I start off my day reminding myself what I need to do, I do as many of these as possible, and then I mark each down with a check on Joe’s Goals.

It even gives me an easy to view way of seeing my progress over time and of course my objective is to keep that line as high as possible for as long as possible.

You’ve probably noticed that nowhere in here is anything that says “I want to lose 10 pounds by March 18, 2013″, which is my overall outcome goal. The reason is because my focus at a daily level isn’t on my weight, it’s on the activities that I know I need to do to affect my weight. if I’ve done this right, and I’ve selected and execute consistently on the right process goals that cover all three categories, then I succeed.

I do track my weekly weight but don’t get hung up on, or over concerned or excited about, individual weekly weight gained or lost. I’m interested in the trend and as long as I’m consistently making progress and sticking to my progress goals, I feel confident in my plan.

Note: Real life is a bit different from what you might see on television shows such as The Biggest Loser. The principles are the same but these people are doing nothing but spending every minute of every day focused on this. We live in the real world, so life can get in the way. All that means is that we give ourselves a break and take confidence in the fact that we have the right plan, we’re working that plan each and every day and we’re tracking that plan until we succeed.

This simple process and tools like Joe’s Goals will give you structure, focus and motivation. Hope it will help you as much as it has helped me.

Looking back, this has been a fairly comprehensive year of racing. And Fall only arrived last week.

Looking forward to 2013. Happy end of Summer everyone.

Put hands to purpose – My 2012 race schedule

With March upon us, we see the beginnings of Spring outside our window in the form of snow here in Northeast Ohio. As we close out a winter as confusing in its uncommonly warm weather as it was in the consistent set of injuries that beset me, the worst of which began at the end of last year with my surgery.

But one cannot waste time idly worrying about what may or may not befall him. So I set path on what may be and return to what I know best, training and racing in an effort to heal and improve my body, my spirits and my mind. Below is my race schedule for 2012. It shows a return to experiences that challenge me even now as I still struggle with physical challenges, all self imposed or a result of uncommonly bad luck.

That said, I am excited to get back at it and approach these challenges with great, if not anxiety-filled, enthusiasm. Included in this year are a half marathon, a team relay, a 24-hour run, a 385-mile ride, a Half Iron Triathlon and finally a full marathon. All in all, I set to purpose within the belief and foundation of what it means to Race with Purpose, both in terms of the physical challenges as well as in the belief that one can only be ones best when they are willing to sacrifice for something larger than oneself..

The Los Angeles Marathon I run with our great friend Rick on behalf of Noah’s Wish, an amazing charitable organization that sets in own purpose to save the lives of animals during and after disasters. They do this by acting swiftly and by training ordinary people like you and me to effectively do so as well. If you are interested in knowing more, go to their website. They have trainings coming up in Indiana on June 9th and in Malibu on June 16th and 17th.

The Ragnar Relay is always one of my favorites as it places 8-12 people in vans for 30 hours and then asks them to take breaks to run a marathon each broken up into 4 pieces. This year we will be running as The Cupcaped Crusaders honoring the sponsorship of the amazing Cupcapes of Falmouth, the location which is also at an historic nexus of running lore, including being at the end of the Cape Cod Marathon and near the bus pick up for the Falmouth Road Race. If you find yourself in the area for any of these races, do stop in and say hello to friends and teammates Tammy and Sean when you do.

Relay for Life and the Pan Ohio Hope Ride will challenge me beyond reasonable expectations on behalf of those who we have lost to cancer. I plan on getting back to my roots with at least a 12-hour run and a 385-mile ride here in Ohio. If nothing else, I’ll have burned a bunch of calories in the process. Setting these two goals makes the focus on my weight that much more real because I’ll need to be as light as possible going into these two challenges.

The Rev3 Cedar Point Half Ironman pulls everything together in what should be a reasonable challenge by September, followed 20 days later with the Akron Marathon, the first marathon I will have run in years, far too long.

Assuming I survive all of this, and it is ambitious, I should find myself back where I was at the end of 2006, and that would be a really nice place to be physically. This weekend puts together the task of developing the plan that, all things willing, will allow me to get there. The plan is what makes it possible and the execution of that plan makes it real. I am lucky to have great friends participate with me along this journey. Feel free to join me as well.

The 2012 “10 in 10 Challenge” – Week 2 Results: (+1.5 lbs); Cummulative Results (-4.5 lbs)

For those new to this blog, this entry follows my progress as a member of the 2012 – 10 in 10 Challenge, where a group of 50 or more people have committed themselves to losing 10 or more pounds in the first 10 weeks of 2012.

This blog report covers progress through week 2 of 10, January 16th through January 22nd.

How’d I do? (The Outcome Goal) I had a really good week, I mean really good and my result was? One and a half pounds GAINED. Hun? Whaaat? How the heck could I have gained 1.5 pounds after eating really well and working out consistently. I even pulled my belt another notch tighter. Oh well, these things happen. Such is the variability of any individual weigh in. Chalk it up to misfortune and get back at it. Onto week #3.

I now weigh 214.5 pounds, and am still down 4.5 pounds for the challenge. The rest of my report focuses on my process goals where I use three levels of performance measures. Less than Expected, Met Expectations and Exceeded Expectations. My grade for this week?

Overall, for week 2 I gave myself a self assessment of Met Expectations. It’s Met Expectations not because i lost or gained but because I really stayed true to the process goals that I know yield beneficial and desired results. Let’s jump into particulars.

My year to date weekly progress:

  • Week 1: -6.0
  • Week 2. +1.5
  • Cumulative Challenge Results to Date: -4.5

Report Card: Week 2

January 16 to January 22:

The chart above is created using Joe’s Goals.

Caloric Intake/Nutrition = Met Expectations

January 16 to January 22:

Eat light and often: I ate light all week. Similar to last week, I did not however eat as often as perhaps I should, meaning, I didn’t regulate my eating to align to my goal of eating regularly every 3 hours and map to the timing of my caloric expenditure.

Eat Healthy Breakfast: Pretty goo. A few days I workout out or traveled so I missed eating breakfast.

Eat fresh whole foods and protein: Lots of fresh whole fruit. Protein came primarily through eggs.

No chocolate: Haven’t had chocolate since December 31, 2011.

Avoid junk food and sugar: Pretty good.

Stop eating 60 mins. before going to sleep: Pretty good here as I didn’t snack before going to sleep.

Caloric Expenditure/Positive Stress = Met Expectations

January 16 to January 22:

Workouts captured on Buckeye Outdoors, a free online training log.

Workout early: Yes – for five out of the seven days.

Min 45 mins of Cardio: A good week with 4 Runs (30 Miles), two of whoich were really quality – a 10-mile Back Bay run and a 11.5-mile snowy Towpath run, and 3 other cardio workouts, including my first swim workout at the Renaissance Club Sport in Aliso Viejo. I missed two full days of training due to business travel.

Resistance training: I did hit two great Pilates classes last week which felt great! Not enough!

Stretch and Core: Overlap with Pilates. Not enough!

Recovery/Adaptation = Met Expectations

January 16 to January 22:

Sleep min of 7 hours per night: A good week of sleep and recovery and my stress levels were fairly low, even with a challenging week of work.

Conclusion: A less than thrilling result after what I thought was a pretty solid week. In short, more work to do. See you in a week.

The 2012 “10 in 10 Challenge” – Week 1 Results: (-6 lbs); Cummulative Results (-6 lbs)

For those new to this blog, this entry follows my progress as a member of the 2012 – 10 in 10 Challenge, where a group of 50 or more people  have committed themselves to losing 10 or more pounds in the first 10 weeks of 2012.

This blog report covers progress through week 1 of 10, January 9th through January 15th.

How’d I do? (The Outcome Goal) My Outcome Goal is to lose 20 pounds in the ten week period. This will bring me down to 200 pounds for the first time in more than four years. I’m happy to have started this year lighter than I started last year and this has been a great start to 2012 but it still leaves me about 20 pounds heavier than where I need to be to get back to competition and where I feel healthiest. That said it is an AWESOME beginning to the year. How’d I do? I lost six pounds in the first week of this challenge. SIX POUNDS LOST. This is pretty darn exciting, in fact when I got off the scale showing 213 pounds, I felt energized, I felt lighter, and I felt really good!

I found a photo of myself from 2007 from the Cadence Kona Challenge and was shocked how how different I look now. My friend and fellow triathlete Tammy asked if I was discouraged or inspired by seeing this photo. In truth, I’m not sure of the answer.  Having reflected on it for the past day, I find that this has only strengthened my resolve to get back to a strong physical, mental, emotional and spiritual being.

Now to the six pounds lost. As excited as I feel about this result, I also realize that there is some variability to any weight result on any given day simply due to hydration and other factors. I need to take it all in moderation.

My weekend at ZenTri Base and Nutrition Camp here in San Diego definitely contributed to this positive result as I was taken out of my normal environment for 3 of the 7 days and surrounded by health conscious folks eating small healthy meals regularly primarily of green foods that don’t come with UPC labels.

The facts are that I now weigh 213 pounds, and am pleased with the way my own personal Challenge has started. I’m progressing in the right direction.The rest of my report focuses on my process goals where I use three levels of performance measures. Less than Expected, Met Expectations and Exceeded Expectations. My grade for this week?

Overall, for week 1 I gave myself a self assessment of Met Expectations. Let’s jump into particulars.

My year to date weekly progress:

  • Week 1: -6.0
  • Cumulative Challenge Results to Date: -6.0

Report Card: Week 1

January 9 to January 16:

The chart above is created using Joe’s Goals.

Caloric Intake/Nutrition = Met Expectations

January 9 to January 16:

Eat light and often: I ate light all week except for one digression for some Italian food. I did not however eat as often as perhaps I should, meaning, I didn’t regulate my eating to align to my goal of eating regularly every 3 hours and map to the timing of my caloric expenditure.

Eat Healthy Breakfast: Consistently.

Eat fresh whole foods and protein: Lots of fresh whole fruit. Protein came primarily through eggs.

No chocolate: Haven’t had chocolate since December 31, 2011.

Avoid junk food and sugar: Pretty good. Less about sugar, can still make progress on chips and breads.

Stop eating 60 mins. before going to sleep: Pretty good here as I didn’t snack before going to sleep.

Caloric Expenditure/Positive Stress = Less Than Expected

January 9 to January 16:

Workouts captured on Buckeye Outdoors, a free online training log.

Workout early: Yes – for four out of the seven days.

Min 45 mins of Cardio: An okay week with 7 Runs (25 Miles), and 2 other cardio workouts.  Not great as I missed two full days of training due to business travel.

Resistance training: Nothing :-(

Stretch and Core: Got to participate in MovementU with Jessi Stensland here at ZenTri Base and Nutrition Camp but I have a lot I can do better here.

Recovery/Adaptation = Met Expectations

January 9 to January 16:

Sleep min of 7 hours per night: A good week of sleep and recovery.

Conclusion: A really fantastic result after a week that was primarily dominated by effective nutrition. I adapted to my environment of being in three cities in three states this past week and still did enough to keep progress moving forward. Next week has even more challenges that I will have to overcome by effective time management and keeping healthy foods as close as possible as I will lose the support that the camp provided and will be working and living out of hotel rooms. See you in a week.

The 2012 “10 in 10 Challenge” – Week 1: I Weigh What?


It’s January 9th and today we begin our 2012 10 in 10 Challenge.  Our goal? To lose 10 pounds in ten weeks and then, of course, to develop the habits and rituals necessary to keep improving on our new healthy and active lifestyles. As of last night we have 42 participants in this year’s challenge. That is OUTSTANDING. When everyone is successful, we will have collectively lost 420 pounds in just ten weeks.

A few tips to remember today. Whatever number shows up on the scale today, do not react, either positively or negatively. It is a number, like any other number. It is neither good nor bad, it is just a number, a starting point from which you will begin to measure your performance. Additionally, remember what you did today before your weigh-in as you’ll want to do the same thing each week, every week for the next ten weeks. Do your best to limit variety in this part of your challenge.

Chose a scale and stick with it.  If you can, pick a scale that you can control or one that will maintain stable performance over the next ten weeks. In past years, we’ve had people use their own scales, scales at gyms and even one person go into Restoration Hardware every week to get her weigh-in done. Whatever you do, recognize that scales need to be calibrated every so often, so its best to pick one scale and use the same one for the next ten weeks.

Do it at the same time of day. Your body will fluctuate a few pounds up or down throughout the day, so my advice is to weigh yourself in the morning, before you do anything else, including eating or working out.

Do it without clothes. For the lady at Restoration Hardware this might be a bit tricky, but do your best to stay consistent and not include the factor of different weights for different clothes. In fact, like most things in life, it is best to do your weigh in nekkid.

Limit any exogenous factors: What this means in plain English is reduce potential variability in your week-to-week weight at the time you’ll be doing your weigh-in from sweat loss, food weight gain, etc.

Putting all of these items together creates a scenario like this one – Weigh yourself every Monday first thing in the morning right after waking up, after using the facilities, using the locker room scale at the gym, wearing nothing, not eating or drinking anything beforehand.

That’s it. Happy New You!

The 2012 “10 in 10 Challenge” – Week 0: Start Moving!

For the first few days of this prep-week of the 10 in 10 Weight Loss Challenge, we’ve been focusing on nutrition, which is all about optimizing calories-in to create energy. Today is all about how to use those calories and that extra energy to help you achieve your goals, including those related to losing a few pounds of extra fat this year.

This is going to be short and sweet focusing on five main points for you to remember:

Get out the doorDo something every day. Everything starts by lacing up your shoes, turning the knob and walking out the door. Consistency is more important than perfection. Doing a ten minute jog on a day you scheduled a 30-min run is still the better choice. You may not be happy, you may even be frustrated that your day didn’t go as planned but after you get out there I guarantee you will feel better physically, mentally and emotionally as you will have reinforced your commitment and kept your streak of consistency intact.

Keep it simple – Tied to the first point, it’s easier to stay consistent by choosing to get your workouts in as close as possible to your current routine and in a manner that requires little if any preparation. For example, if you want to join a gym, pick one that is either on your way to/from work or close to your home. If you have to go out of your way to get there, chances are, the inertia that has gotten you to this point will outweigh (get it “outweigh”) your better judgment and you won’t go. Similarly, select choices that are easy. Walking or running don’t add the complexity of putting on cleats, helmets and winter gear like cycling might. You can go to a gym in shorts and a t-shirt, while getting out into the snow might be more challenging.

Get the help you need – Take a realistic snapshot and ask yourself why you haven’t succeeded in the past and more importantly what are the factors that will help YOU to succeed this time? Now is the time to take up your friends on their offers to go with you on walks, your runs or to be your gym partner. You might feel embarrassed about doing this. Don’t. This is the role friends play and don’t be shy about asking new members of your community, such as others doing the 10 in 10 Challenge to help you as well. If they won’t join you, you’ll also know that they suck as a friend and you’ve saved yourself $30 on next year’s Christmas present. If you need scheduled appointments to help you, consider joining a gym that has group fitness or spinning classes, or join a running or cycling club that has weekly group workouts – there’s nothing like having  people depending on you showing up to overcome the desire to hit the snooze alarm.

Burn fat by building muscle – Yes, you need to do resistance training. For someone who has been living on the “couch of doom”, walking is resistance training because you are supporting your own weight which requires muscles to do it. If you’ve already stepped beyond that and don’t like the idea of lifting weights up and down, have no fear, check out the classes at your local gym and look for anything that says strength, Pilates, core, functional strength, boot camp, or something similar. These will all include significant amounts of old school pushups, situps, planks, jumps, squats, etc that will definitely count toward your muscle building goals AND build the stabilizer muscles at the same time. It’s this simple, the more muscle you  have, the hotter your fire and the more fat you burn, just by being you.

It’s much harder to burn fat when you’re injured – I know that you are all geeked up about achieving your objectives, but do keep things in moderation. If you’ve never even walked before on a regular basis, don’t start doing sprint or hill interval run workouts each of the next five days. You will get injured and it’s a whole lot harder to stay on target when you can’t walk without a limp. If you are starting from scratch, ease into it. If you already have a solid foundation, then remember to make your hard days hard and your easy days easy. If you are working out, then workout. If you are recovering, then recover. Your body will thank you, you will stay healthier and injury free and you will be true to the number one tenet here which is to emphasize routine and consistency above anything else.

Happy training!


The 2012 “10 in 10 Challenge” – Week 0: Throw out the CRAP!


Yesterday we started our preparation week for the 2012 “10 in 10 Weight Loss Challenge” by going through the registration process. You can read that by going here. Remember, the 10 in 10 Challenge begins on January 9th with the first of ten weekly weigh-ins.

To give yourself the best opportunity for success, we’re spending this week or Week 0 preparing ourselves and our environment for success.

With the holidays behind us, undoubtedly there are Sees Candy boxes, cookies, ice cream, chocolate covered raisins and gift baskets filled with a variety of sweets laying around your home. Today is the day to THROW THE CRAP OUT!

I know that you feel compelled to finish it all off because there are children starving in Africa, but they’d prefer for the US to have money that can be spent on entrepreneurial efforts like Toby Tanser’s Shoe4Africa than by you eating the extra five thousand calories that are laying around tempting you.

It’s time. Your body will thank you, your mind will thank you, your heart will thank you and at the end of the ten week challenge, you will thank you for setting yourself up for success. Go through your refrigerator and cupboards, and pull out anything that isn’t “healthy”. Look for hidden gems. For me, it’s chocolate. Anything chocolate has to go. I’ve learned this from experience that there are some people that can do things in moderation and there are others who are straight up sugar addicts – I’m the latter.

For everything there is a time and as “Uncle Bob” would say “Time’s up!” when it comes to the crap lying around your home. Think of it like the common ceremony of supporting your child as he or she throws their binky into a fire signifying that they are no longer a baby. It’s pretty much the same. For some of you, this will be tough to do, and I can only tell you that simply by doing this one act (and of course by not refilling the coffers with crap) you will avoid putting on 7-15 pounds of fat next year. That’s just grazing fat because the stuff is there.

So enjoy your Tuesday, grab a trash bag and strip your kitchen and your life of anything that is unnecessary and bad for you. Uh oh, I think I hear Cindy calling with a man-sized trash bag of her own. Hope it isn’t meant for me. See you tomorrow!

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