“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it”.
If you’ve ever began the journey to a healthier lifestyle, I’m guessing that most of you experienced some sort of setback in your training, nutrition or maybe even a serious life experience. Creating new habits can be incredibly challenging at first, especially in today’s age.
In a study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, a group of researchers found that on average, it takes more than two months before a new behavior becomes automatic--66 days to be exact. At some point, Adversity will work its way into your life and try to de-rail you from your goals. Sometimes it’s in the form of a persuasive co-worker coaxing you into drinks after work or a big, beautiful box of donuts left in the break room.
Adversity is bound to happen; none of us are perfect. What is important is how we decide to handle it. Remember how I said I love to talk? Allow me to briefly share the ultimate form of Adversity in my life, thus far.
It was pretty recent actually. A beautiful fall Montana morning found me heading to visit my father figure/coach/mentor for some coffee and conversation. It was unusual for him not to answer his phone since I always called beforehand. When I arrived the door was locked and the blinds were drawn. After ringing the bell and knocking repeatedly, I broke down the door and went downstairs to the master bedroom to find Coach asleep in bed. Whew!
As I pulled back the covers to wake him, his cold and lifeless body laid untouched on the mattress. Alone and already in shock, I gathered myself and immediately called for help. I later found out that he had passed several days earlier. How could such a healthy and vibrant human die at such an early age?
But it didn’t stop there…
The next 60 days were the worst in my life. Shortly after his death, I lost my job, my relationship (of 6 years) and my truck (totaled in an accident). In less than two months I had successfully laid the groundwork for an award-winning country song.
Let Adversity Become Your Lobster
The life of these ancient crustaceans is fascinating. Their claws can exert pressure of up to 100 lbs per square inch and their shells were once used to make golf balls. But what is even more interesting is that a lobster will shed its shell roughly 25 times before it gets to our plate. This is no joke!
Here’s How It Works:
As a lobster grows, pressure around its shell (adversity) mounts until it is forced to shed and build anew. This process continues to happen for its entire life. In order to survive, it must do this. For our own personal growth, we must do the same. As we encounter Adversity, it is crucial that it’s handled with care. Do not be defined by Adversity or failure. For most people this creates insurmountable amounts of stress. Those who learn to use it to their advantage hold the key to success.
Learn to embrace failure and Adversity. Always keep in mind that successful people who have accomplished anything really great, have been faced with some major type of failure or Adversity. Don’t fall into a victim’s mindset. Acknowledge what has already happened and make peace with it. It cannot be changed or undone. Failure and Adversity is merely feedback; learn the lesson and move on. Love yourself first, trust the process and keep marching forward!
Church: (noun)- A building used for public worship.
A simple Google search will give you this broad and fragile answer. But why should we limit church to a physical establishment? I feel a lot of readers may think, “Grab the earplugs, here comes the religion lecture”. Seems like everyone has one locked and loaded nowadays huh? My opinion on religion means absolutely nothing so I’ll spare you the details.
For a moment, think about why people go to church. For comfort? As a safe zone? Maybe even to briefly escape. Whatever the reason may be we can all agree that those who go, do it because it makes us happy; bottom line. Or why would people even leave the house? Especially since Netflix has their documentary game on-point lately.
In a not-so-distant past, I was faced with being “trapped” at the lowest point in my life, thus far. One October morning, I was heading to visit my friend/coach/mentor and found him lifeless in his home. Alone and already in shock, I gathered myself and immediately called for help. The next 60 days were among the worst in my life; how could such a healthy, vibrant and passionate human die at such a young age? Needing a way out of the darkness and in the middle of winter, I found happiness in Trail Running; It Became My Church.
It was my escape from everything I was going through and a time where I felt peace.
Running in the mountains helped me to regain my sense of purpose and clarity. 730-ish days after my uphill inception began, I’ve logged over 1000 miles in 3 states and 4 countries. I spend most of my winters running the mountains of Glacier Park. Icicles form along cliff sides and river bottoms. An occasional Ptarmigan chirp reminds me that not all birds fly south for the winter while an eerie silence remains the constant. I urge you to try it this winter. Sound a bit intimidating? It’s not as bad as it seems. Here’s my Top 5 ways to make it out alive.
Learn from my mistakes and try to only run when temps are double digits (Ideally 20* and above). In the single digits, it is much harder to breath and fingers/toes begin to fall off.
Dress to Compress
Compression-fit cold gear clothing is a must in the mountains. It helps by keeping body heat close to the surface of the skin and provides a bit of elasticity to your joints.
Pro-Tip: Protect yourself from Hypothermia. Even if you’re warm, don’t remove layers to bare skin.
This is the greatest winter invention since the chairlift. Don’t just rely on good shoes for traction; grab a pair of Yak-Trax. They’re like snow tires for your shoes and quite inexpensive.
Even if you’re at Lone Pine or Herron Park, don’t forget that you’re running through a predator’s dining room. Get into the habit of looking around and behind every hundred yards, you can never be too safe. Carry bear spray no matter what.
If you’re in the Flathead Valley, there are several local mountains with great views and clearly marked trails. If you’re in Kalispell, check out Lone Pine and Herron Park; Lion Mountain in Whitefish and Strawberry Lake in the Jewel Basin.
I urge you to find your church. It comes in many forms, colors and sizes. Does it have to be running up a mountain in the middle of winter? No. Does it have to make you happy? Yes because that’s what church is for; a place without judgment where we are happy and free. Find your happy place this winter!
It’s a staggering figure that outweighs any sports team or Wall Street statistic and it may even include you. The figure represents 300,000 people in Montana that are struggling with obesity. For a disease that is so easily overlooked, its health consequences can be life-threatening. Here’s another crazy statistic, 1 in 4 Montanans will develop Type II Diabetes or heart disease just from being overweight!
I feel like we need to address a few things. If you are struggling with some extra poundage, I’m going to be your Captain for the next 800 words through a crash course on fat loss. I’ll explain the Top 2 ingredients to successful, long-term fat loss and give you examples on how to get started.
FACT: Your Weight Is Not Entirely Your Fault!
Without sky diving off-topic, I want you to know that regardless of your weight, physical attributes or parking ticket history, I accept you. Too many times I see people slipping further into the food because they feel as if nobody cares about “the fat girl/guy”. Modern advertising techniques have influenced Americans beyond belief. Everywhere I go, I see some attractive guy/gal or catchy tune promoting the newest food, drink or candy. Last night I went and saw Mission Impossible 4 in theatre (a must-see action film) and counted 14 commercials about food before the film even started!
As a result of this, our subconscious has been programmedto believe that we are too busy to cook our own meals and that we should indulge in “fast-foods” which are always devoid of anything nutritious. Companies have been doing this for many years and the only way to break the cycle is to change our relationship with food.
#1 Ingredient to Long-Term Fat Loss: Nutrition
The Problem: You Aren’t Eating Enough
Most overweight people don’t really eat that much. We have to stop thinking that by eating less, the pounds are going to just fall off. This may work initially but it doesn’t take long for your body to realize what’s going on. When you drastically reduce calories, the body will fight to hold onto every pound for its survival.
The Solution: Eat More To Lose More
At its roots, fat loss is achieved by creating a calorie deficit. This deficit only works if you start eating more food. Sounds crazy right? Let me explain.
Let’s say Sally has been eating 1000 calories per day but is still overweight. To be successful, we need to create a calorie deficit everyday and if she’s only consuming a thousand per day any decrease will surely be dangerous. In this situation, the best way to promote healthy weight loss is to begin to slowly increase her calories each week until a deficit becomes more realistic. Total calories should never be below 1200 when trying to lose weight.
Start by adding 50-100 calories per week. Include more lean meats, whole grains and healthy fats to your diet and shoot for at least half to three-quarters of a gallon of water per day (the easiest fix for fat loss). You’ll notice that as your total calories increase, you’ll start dropping weight. This is mainly due to getting the correct balance of protein, fats and carbohydrates.
#2 Ingredient to Long-Term Fat Loss: Regular Exercise
The Problem: You Think You Get Enough.
A lot of people think their usual flight of stairs or dog walk counts as regular exercise. Here’s my suggestion; if you’re in your comfort zone, step out. That’s where the magic happens! Strength Training is by far the best form of regular exercise you can do to lose weight. It’s a win-win because it stimulates the cardiovascular and muscular system simultaneously, saving you lots of time. I also suggest shopping around for a gym membership. This creates accountability and puts you around other like-minded people who support your ambitions. Be sure the staff is friendly and the place is clean. I know just the place, but I’m also a bit biased ;)
Exercises like squats, shoulder presses, and push-ups do a much better job for weight loss than treadmills or ellipticals. This is because muscle requires energy everyday just to maintain (up to 50 calories per lb of muscle). Would it be safe to assume that exchanging a few pounds of fat for muscle could send your fat loss into overdrive? Think about it: If you gain 5 lbs of lean muscle that’s 250 calories per day, 1750 per week and 700 per month. You burn these calories while you shower, shave, sh… well you get the idea.
I’m not saying you should neglect your cardiovascular system. I love running countless miles in the woods but for some that isn’t an option so this approach is simply the best bang-for your-buck. Try this workout:
2-3 Circuits of each Exercise
15 Reps per Exercise
I know some of these exercises sound like a foreign language but they are also some of the best moves you can be doing as a beginner.
Here’s Another Suggestion:
--Visit my YouTube channel by clicking here
--Search each exercise video and learn the techniques.
Some videos are old and back then my video making skills weren’t that great so please don’t be too harsh! I’ve created a huge database for beginner’s and elite athletes and I’m giving you the same training tips I usually charge for, absolutely free.
Please take advantage of this free service.
Be sure to subscribe to the channel because I release new ones pretty frequently. This is only Part 1 of a series of Crash Courses I plan to discuss. Please continue to email me with your questions or input regarding these topics. I really enjoy all the witty and humorous messages I’ve been getting, keep them coming!
Be Strong in Your Battles
Be Kind to Your Brethren
Think with Your Soul!
Picture this: It’s Monday evening. All day you’ve spent mentally preparing for your first workout since, well, a long time ago. You’ve got your cute pants on (the super comfy yoga ones), new shoes and Bieber’s latest album in queue. As you step foot into the gym, familiar sounds and smells fill the air. Treadmills buzz along, dreadlocked fitness enthusiasts hang nimbly from the ceiling as overgrown men drag their fists and grunt at one another. This is it. The moment you’ve prepared for all day! A workout like none other: one for the record books… If only you knew where to begin.
Breaking News: Scientists have now confirmed these grunts/groans to be an informal means of communication amongst other overgrown men in the group, more on this subject later.
One of the most common issues for people returning from their health hiatus is simply being unsure of where to begin. It’s a huge buzz kill and a major reason why people quit before they even begin. The solution is a two-part answer; first I’ll start with a simple question and then explain the two most effective approaches to exercise programming and why I think each one may benefit you.
Ask Yourself This Question.
How many days per week can I truly dedicate to exercise? Most of us are busy and may only be able to squeeze in two or three days each week and honestly, that’s plenty; especially if you’re de-conditioned. Once you have this answer you’ll need to figure out the main reason for working out in the first place. Do you have a vacation closing fast? Ski season? How about a summertime wedding? Whatever it may be, this will determine which of the two options will work best.
Two Types of Programs.
The classic size/strength program that’s been around longer than Arnold has been in a weight room. This approach requires a minimum of four days per week. Each workout you’ll be training different muscle groups and usually falls on Monday/Tuesday, Thursday/Friday.
If your main fitness goals are centered around muscle size or strength AND if you are able to commit to four days per week. A 4-day split requires attention to intensity because only two main muscle groups are being targeted in each workout. Try to keep your rest periods (time between exercises) around two minutes or less but above 30 seconds. This gives you plenty of time to recuperate since the focus is to lift heavier weight. Ideally, your reps should be around 4-8 per set and three sets per exercise.
DON’T DO THIS:
If you’re on limited time (1 hour or less) or you’re main goal is reducing excessive body fat.
Full Body Program:
The Charlie Hunnam of workout routines; guaranteed to get you hot and sweaty in less than an hour. Full body programs are also the best way to burn through extra calories since your rest periods are typically 30 seconds or less. Ideally, you reps should be around 15-20 per set and exercises are performed in circuit fashion.
If you have limited time and love you some Charlie. Other good candidates for this style of training are those looking to lose weight and tighten up the ship. Look to this program if improving cardiovascular endurance is important to you.
DON’T DO THIS:
If your main goal is muscle size/strength or you already have a good foundation of fitness. In that case, a more specialized approach may be a better fit.
These two types of programs have been proven to be the most effective in today’s realm of fitness. Try to avoid drowning in the sea of opinion. If you haven’t noticed already, everybody has their own way of doing things and it’s best to pick a couple different ideas and build on them. Fitness is constantly evolving and as of today, these are the best ways I’ve found to help you attain your fitness goals.
Like fitness, life is refinement process. Day-to-day operations, training regimens, relationships; they all need constant attention to detail in hopes that in the end, we have produced this resilient and vigorous being. If you are still kinda lost and need help getting started, I’m giving away a copy of an e-book I wrote called the “10 Best Functional Exercises You SHOULD Be Doing” (a $55 value). In it, I explain why I think each one is critical and I even provide high definition photos and witty commentary on each movement.
To download your FREE copy, visit my website at www.danholguinfitness.com
After a few seconds you will be prompted to enter your email address in exchange. I’m only doing this for a short amount of time so you’ll have to act quickly. Not only will you get my e-book for free but it also gives you access to my exclusive fitness newsletter I send out regularly. Don't wait!
Injuries suck; always have, always will. Let's face it, at some point in our life we will deal with an injury only because we’ve been designed to be incredibly mobile creatures. Taking a brief look back into our history, early humans adapted well to be excellent swimmers, climbers and runners. It was written in our DNA for survival. Fast forward a few thousand years and we are seeing a phenomenal increase in sedentary lifestyle.
Over the span of about 8 years working in Fitness & Rehabilitation, I’ve witnessed a steady rise in the number of back pain cases that mostly stem from some debilitating injury. The cycle of events in each case are all too similar; first is the initial injury that may or may not require surgery. Following, is the neglect of regular exercise to keep the joint mobile. Sometimes there is a bit of fear that has resonated and has taught us to stay away from movements related to the accident. Whatever the reason may be, it has affected that quality of life we all deserve.
Luckily there are things you can do to help reduce your risk. Many professionals use some type of full-body movement screen to assess your quality of movement. The goal of a movement screen is to target your weak points within different movement patterns, simple as that. Once you’ve exposed the weak link(s) you can then develop a system of recovery. It’s something I use with every person in my program and it’s worth its weight in gold.
More often than not, I've found that the mid-spine lacks flexibility and overtime, has forced the body into poor posture and stiffness. Unfortunately when this happens, your risk of injury has just skyrocketed.
Here is one secret in my arsenal of back-pain remedies to help.
Assuming you've already been cleared by a doctor for physical activity, part of the solution is found with tape and tennis balls. Yep, and the two work so well together. Follow the pictures below.
Step 1: Go buy a couple tennis balls and athletic tape and tape them like this.
Step 2: Place it right along your mid back. Ladies, place it right about your bra strap.
Step 3: Now lay flat on your back with the tennis ball in place.
Keep your feet flat on the floor and your knees up, focus on relaxing your head and shoulders to the floor and take a couple deep breaths (insert soothing female yoga voice). The goal is relaxed breathing. If your mid-back is tight, there will be some discomfort. There shouldn't be pain; make sure you know the difference.
Slowly crunch up until your back ALMOST loses contact with the ball; perform 15 reps slowly. Do it every day for two weeks and I bet you'll notice a big difference in how well you move and even the increase in flexibility in the shoulders. Think about it like this, more flexibility, less injury.
What is your biggest fear?
Forget spiders, snakes and empty toilet paper rolls. I want you to take a minute and think about this. It’s a tough question because we all have minor insecurities; but our ultimate fear must be recognized for our own personal growth.
My biggest fear is finishing my life cycle without seeing the world around me.
Kids, careers, house payments—I get it. There are plenty of justifiable reasons why we can’t just flip a coin and jump on a plane. But for the sake of adventure and imagination, let’s flip. Heads we got to Spain, tails we go to Missoula (short trips can be fun too!).
Heads it is! Damn, Missoula sounded fun too.
Anyone who’s done some major traveling knows that anxious/excited feeling that rushes in as your mouse pointer hovers over the “Pay Now” button for your airline ticket. Once the flight is paid for, take a minute to collect your thoughts and realize that it just got real. I would consider myself an experienced traveler and one of the most important things I learned early on was to create a list of basic necessities. Here’s my Top 6:
-Reusable water bottle
-Travel power adapter ( Spain uses a 220v system)
-Towel (Most underrated item in your suitcase)
-Local Currency (Exchange BEFORE you leave the U.S.)
In Spain, water and sunscreen are the most overpriced items; beer is one of the cheapest. If you like to eat you’re in luck because Tapas bars run rampant here so anytime you order a drink, a small plate of food is included. It’s a win-win! If this sounds like your kinda fiesta, do some research on Tapas Crawls. This is one of Europe’s most popular pastimes.
But what if you’d rather stay fit instead? Don’t expect to find an Access Fitness or some Kettlebell’s anywhere. You’re going to have to get creative if you want to keep up on your #fitlife while you’re here.
Contrary to what many will tell you, fitness should not be confined to a gym. It’s all around us. It’s the playground equipment at our kid’s school. It’s the hill at Lawrence Park or the mountains that surround us. I want to share my personal travel workout with you. It is the same one I use whenever I’m roaming about the planet and if you can find some floor space in your hotel room or at a community park, you can do it. Drum roll please…
Dan’s 25-min Travel Trainer
Here's How To Do It:
I know what you’re thinking… 25-minute workout that’s done 20 seconds at a time? Piece of cake. I’ll be the first to say that this program is not as easy as it looks but it’s not excessively difficult either. I like this workout because it requires zero equipment, uses quality full-body movements and does great things for your heart and lungs. If any of the exercises are confusing, a quick internet search should clear things up.
For a warm-up run I suggest Running with the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain.
--Taken from a camera mounted to my head during my run.
Day passes at local gyms in Madrid can be expensive and honestly, who wants to spend their time at a sweaty European gym when you could be touring the Museo del Prado (famous art museum) or enjoying a five-star meal at the world’s oldest restaurant, El Sobrino De Botin? (Founded in 1725).
Side Note: Both places are incredible! At the Prado, all of the Spanish greats are on display(Picasso, Dali, Goya). Sobrino is famous for their Roast Pig. I ordered it. I ate it. I loved it.
The way I see it is that you have two options when it comes to staying in shape during your travels.
Option 1: Do Everything I Say.
-Wake up a little early before the days adventures and treat yourself to 25 minutes of cardiovascular righteousness.
Option 2: Do Nothing I Say.
-Realize that you may never return to this place therefore spend every single second indulging in foreign cultures and activities because life is short and you are meant for adventure!
I’ve always been torn between working out while I travel because part of me wants to break free from daily habits however I know that if I don’t find a way to get my blood flowing, I’m not taking full advantage of this beautiful gift of life we’ve all been given. If you have two healthy arms and legs use them. Do not take them for granted. Run, walk, climb, swim and dance every chance you get because life is for the living.
Wake Up and Live!
Answer this question for me. Have you ever had pain from touching your neck or chest? What about your arms or back? For those who know the word also know the feelings that come to mind when they hear about Fibromyalgia (Fibro). It’s a painful disease that affects between 3 and 6 million people nationwide and 90% of its victims are women.
I want to cover this topic for a couple of reasons.
If you answered yes to my question from earlier, you might want to read on because Fibro’s painful effects are more common than you’d think! Fibromyalgia affects how the central nervous system processes pain signals. It causes intense pain from any pressure to the skin and is even linked to depression and sleep disorders; It’s nasty stuff. I read somewhere that 28% of kids born to a parent with Fibro will eventually develop the disease. Another Fibro fun-fact is that more than half the people with it said there was a traumatic event as the place where symptoms began. Does any of this sound familiar?
But alas, as terrible as this all sounds, there is a viable solution that only requires consistency on your part. In fact, doing this on a regular basis not only benefits every symptom, it will also help reduce sleep and fatigue problems.
Yep, you guessed it. Exercise. I knew you weren’t just a pretty face ;)
One of the most beautiful parts about working in Post-Rehabilitation is that I’m constantly experiencing first-hand accounts of all types of diseases. I’ve worked with people that are diabetic, recovering from a stroke or heart attack and even battling cancer. It’s incredible to hear how disease has changed their life and how they continue to fight for each day. Treating Fibro is something I’ve been fortunate enough to do on a regular basis for some time now. I want to share with you the best way I know to drastically reduce Fibro symptoms with regular exercise. Here we go.
First of all there is no magic number of sets and reps you do before symptoms subside. Your goal here is consistency. Shoot for something physical every day. Swimming, gardening, chasing the kids or karate in the garage are all acceptable options. Did you catch my Step Brothers movie reference?? Be in the gym at least 2-3 days a week and working for a minimum of 30 minutes, ideally 60.
Too many times I’ve seen people with Fibro symptoms dive head first into rigorous activity. Remember that your pain tolerances are much lower than normal and this has caused your brain to restrict movement in the body. Trying to do too much, too quickly will only cause your symptoms to flare up. Trust me on this…
Listen To Your Body
To everyone that I work with on a regular basis, you know I say this all the time. The brain is always younger than the body so you can’t just jump back into those Richard Simmons videos you’ve been holding onto all these years. Your body is best at letting you know when to rest so be sure to listen. In fact, you may even need to learn an entirely different style of training that focuses on movement quality to decrease pain in common Fibro sites.
Kettlebell Squat Press
These are just 2 of my favorite exercises (one that I came up with on my own) for reducing Fibro symptoms because they use every muscle in the body and can be done by just about anyone. Take it from Christi, the woman shown in the pictures above. She has been dealing with Fibro pains for over 15 years. She’s actually a current client of mine and in the four months we’ve been working together, she’s reduced ALL of her symptoms down to, according to her, “almost non-existent”.
This month has been awesome in regards to the number of emails I’ve received from people asking questions and sharing their stories with me. I want to do everything I can to help you so when you’re ready to get serious about this, shoot me an email and introduce yourself. I have a couple other tips & tricks to share with ya!