Solving Muscle Soreness – The Secret Sauce

I should have been SUPER sore.

A couple of weeks ago I ran my fastest 20 miler EVER. I should’ve been sore as hell at SOME point the following week. And I wasn’t. The only thing that hurt was the new blisters I earned from being an idiot. And even THOSE were fine by Tuesday. As a matter of fact, that Tuesday I knocked out a pretty fast 4 miles in the freshly blizzarded roads of my New England neighborhood.

What Gives?

Why was I not sore? Why did I feel nothing even remotely resembling the bedridden crippleness I would expect from such a (relatively) hard 3 hour and 38 minute effort Sunday?

It’s because I found the secret sauce.

Step 1: Accept that there is no magic pill. 

Sorry to break the news…but there is not some magic pill that saved me from being a useless human being this past week. There is no “one true way” for anything in the health & fitness world. If there WERE, we’d all be doing the same workout, using the same supplement brand, at the same gym, and someone out there would be a super-billionaire. The thing that works for the majority of people (or me) MAY NOT WORK FOR YOU. As long we have that understanding…we can move forward 🙂

Now then – the basics.

Q: Why do we get sore from working out?
A: During your workout, you’re breaking down muscle so it can build back up stronger.

That’s the short version, anyway. This breakdown usually leads to DOMS (Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness) – you’ve essentially damaged your body, so of course, you’re likely to feel that damage. This soreness (DOMS) can occur, arguably, anywhere from 6 to 72 hours after exercise (usually about 24 – 48 hours after). It is perfectly normal. 

OK, so what can I do about it?

As I suggested…there’s no one medically agreed-upon way to fix or prevent DOMS. If you scour the internet you’ll find MANY ideas on how to fix it. Below are five things I do that work awesome for me and seem to be considered effective by the internet at-large.

1. Have a plan

You want to be sure you don’t work the same muscle every day – they need a chance to recover. So, have a plan for how you’re going to break things up. A plan for the day, of course, but a longer term plan too. What are you doing today? Tomorrow? The rest of the week? Next week? How is next month laid out? Having a plan will ensure that you don’t waste time, your muscles can recover and work harder for you, and ultimately, over time, you can reach your goals.

This whole “have a plan” thing…honestly…it’s something you should be doing anyway – not just to avoid muscle soreness.

2. Hydrate


Your body is mostly made of water…and it tends to perform better and do what you want when you stay well-hydrated. Everyone and their mother tells you to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day…there’s a reason. To be safe, and to ensure your body has what it needs I say double that (hell, I drink even MORE than that)What’s the worst that happens (barring extreme circumstances)? You pee more? Good. 

This “hydrating” thing…it’s something you should be doing anyway.

3. Fuel


If there’s no gas in the tank, the car doesn’t go. Unfortunately, we humans can…and often DO…force our bodies to go when there’s not enough fuel consumed. Whether you get abnormally tired or sore…you will feel it. The solution is simple: EAT. Your body needs fuel to power it through the day. On top of that, your body needs more fuel to get through whatever workouts your asking it to get through. Eat appropriately for your weight loss/gain goals and activity level. I’m no expert, but here’s what I can offer for guidance on that front.

This, too, is something you should be doing anyway.

4. Rest


A critical part of this whole process is rest. Not just rest days as part of your “plan”…but actual REST. In a bed. You have to allow time for your muscles to recover, rebuild, and undo the damage done to them causing this soreness in the first place. It’s that simple. Get some sleep. If you’re not getting 7 – 9 hours of sleep a night…you’ll probably be more sore than you need to be.

Yes…You should be doing THIS anyway, too.

5. Recovery Aides / Supplements

The harder your workouts, the more they demand from your body. Don’t forget – how hard your workout is is relative to your athletic ability. A basic routine might still be pretty taxing if you’re a total rookie. The short version here is: use supplements. There are a number of different supplements that can help give your body the raw materials it craves in order to build back up stronger, faster and thus with less soreness. Whey Protein, Creatine, BCAA’s, Glutamine, “Recovery Blends” or “Post-Workout supplements”…there are a TON of options and ways to mix them.

So how do you sort it out and find the right one?

You need a pro. My strongest advice here is to find a local supplement store. NO – not a GNC/Vitamin Shoppe/Big Box…a local supplement/nutrition store. If you live in Massachusetts I STRONGLY recommend you find a Cape Cod Nutrition Corner. I liked them so much I wiggled my way into becoming one of their team athletes! They only stock products they believe in, they are incredibly knowledgeable about those products, and they’re going to give you unbiased opinions because they don’t make commissions from vendors.

Budget yourself $30 or $40/month for this. Most of the solutions they offer will only cost you roughly $1/serving. If you’re ok buying 10 for $10 yogurts at Stop & Shop or a coffee on the way to work, you should be ok with this option too. Stop by and see what they recommend. It could totally change the game for you 🙂

That’s really it.

In the end, no matter what, if you’re working really hardyou’re going to be at least a little sore. You CAN do a lot to deaden the blow…it’s not rocket science. You need to plan, eat, drink and sleep…and using supplements can help put you over the top in terms of reducing that soreness issue. Try it…and let me know how it works out for you.

Disclosure: As I mentioned, I am a Cape Cod Nutrition Corner Sponsored Athlete. As always, all opinions are my own, never bought, sold or influenced. Trust me – if I ever come across something I think is awful, or even sub-par, I won’t be shy about it. It simply hasn’t happened yet.

To The “Resolutioners” Eyeing The Gym

It’s that time of year again.
New Year’s Eve. That means January 1st is tomorrow. Those of us in the fitness world know all too well what’s about to happen…

The gym is about to get crushed.

Yes, the annual Gympocalypse is upon us once more. “They” are coming. “They” – those who claim “Yes, THIS will be my year! This time, this time by golly I’ll actually do it!”.

I can hear my fellow gym-goers already.


“Ah shit…” – “Don’t worry, they’ll be gone in a few weeks.” – etc. Gym rats the world over already hate these people about to invade their holy spaces, and they’re not shy about sending the message of “you’re not welcome. Be Gone, you of weak mind and body.”

I know these “resolutioners” all too well.

Yes, I know your type. I’ve got your number. I know what you’re all about, how you tick, and what, exactly, the formula here is. I know how this is going to go…so…

I have my own message for you…

You’d better dig in.
Yeah, I DO know your type. It’s one of a few:

Maybe you’ve tried and failed before, lost hope temporarily but still aren’t willing to give up the dream of finally being happy with your body.

Maybe you used to be Mr./Ms. Athletic…and thanks to “life” you fell out of it. Now you’ve finally mustered up the courage to find your way back to the promised land, but it’ll be harder now.
Maybe you’ve never been the athletic or “fit” type…but hey, why not me? And y’know what, now seems like a great time. There’s New Year’s specials!

Am I close? Probably.
So I’ll say it again: You’d better dig in. Why?

This is going to take time and effort.

Yes, your body will change. However, nobody said it was an easy task…and it will not happen overnight. It might take anywhere from 1 – 3 months to start seeing visible change. And that’s if you work out enough. It’s generally accepted that you need to work out (i.e. a structured workout routine) consistently at least 3 days a week (Says who? Here, here, and here are examples).

Please don’t get discouraged when things don’t go your way. Keep at it. If you’re not getting anywhere…

Ask for help.

Nobody at the gym expects you to be a pro…but they DO expect you not to act like an idiot. You should know “gym etiquette”, you should have a plan, and you should refrain from being a jerk.

“Being a jerk”? Not putting away your weights/equipment. Aimlessly occupying space. Sitting on a piece of equipment reading a book. Talking/texting/selfie-ing in the gym. Making excessive grunting/groaning/noises in an attempt to look impressive. All of these, and just generally being obnoxious, are great ways to make more tenured gym members (and even your fellow resolutioners) absolutely hate you. So don’t do it.

Don’t have a plan/program/routine? Get one. Your best bet is an actual, legitimate personal trainer. They are educated, certified, and know what they’re talking about. They understand how to build a plan specific to YOU that will get you the results you want. They will push you past your perceived limits. They will motivate and encourage you. I recommend it.

Not willing to pay for a trainer? You’re gonna have to learn it the hard way. Make sure you’ve got both cardio AND strength in your plan. You’re going to have to do lots of research, and lots of trial-and-error. And that’s fine. It’s what I did, and I turned out just fine. Would’ve been easier with a trainer, though.

You’re either paying in cash money or your time and effort…you choose. Either way, you get what you pay for.

Got some general questions? Need a little motivation or encouragement? If you look like you’re genuinely making an effort, many of the more tenured and experienced gym members might be willing to help rather than make you feel unwelcome. The staff at your gym (not necessarily a personal trainer) should be able to help out, too.

It’s tough to get help, though, if the staff doesn’t care…so…

Choose wisely.

The right gym/health club can make a huge difference. Unfortunately, there are many gyms out there that know how likely you are to fail. And that’s fine by them. They are more than happy to sign you up, take your money, and never talk to you again (unless you have a billing problem). I work in a gym…and I hate those clubs. They make us all look bad. I could go on for days (seriously…you mention Planet Fitness and I see red)…

Again, as a general rule, you get what you pay for. If a gym is touting only their low low price, how many “free” things they’re throwing at you, and “no commitment!”walk away. Trust me. On the flip side…unless there’s a pool, steam/sauna, tennis/racquetball, and I get a personal trainer at least weekly… I see no need for a gym membership to cost much more than $60/month (with commitment). On that note…

DON’T FEAR “COMMITMENT”.

There is NOTHING wrong with signing a commitment term at a gym. We’ve established that this is going to take a while, right? So why do you have a problem committing to that period of time? If a gym lets you sign up without a commitment they are inviting you to give up and fail. Some days you are NOT going to want to get out of bed. You might falter, miss a month (or two…or five…), and want to quit because “you’re throwing money out the window”. When you’re hanging by a thread and you’re ready to throw in the towel…that commitment might be what gets you back on track. So quit whining, quit making excuses, and sign up, already. 

That said…making the right choice of gym isn’t the last piece of the puzzle.

This is bigger than just “going to the gym”

Yes, unfortunately, the “new you” doesn’t just happen by arriving at the gym 3x/week. You can work out 3 hours a day 8 days a week and crush it…but it doesn’t matter if you don’t eat right.

Nutrition is a critically important part of your new fitness journey. Get rid of the garbage, get more of the good stuff, and develop good habits of how and when to fuel yourself with that good stuff.

What’s “garbage”? Some is obvious, some is not. If it gets to you in a paper bag through your car window…it’s probably garbage. Use your noggin – you know if you shouldn’t be eating it.

What’s good? Veggies, lean meats, chicken, fish, whole grains, fruits (in moderation), etc. The less “processed” it is, the better. The shorter the ingredients list and the more of it you can pronounce/understand, the better. You do not have to remove an entire category (like fat, or carbs) from your diet.

How/when do I eat? Think of food as fuel. The more of your day you have left, the more fuel you need to get through it. “Breakfast like a king, lunch like a peasant, dinner like a pauper.” Better yet, take it to the next level by learning to eat small meals (200 – 400 calories depending on your needs) every 2 to 3 hours. That method will keep your metabolism fired up, give you more energy, and you won’t binge because you’re over-hungry.

“Diets do not work long-term”. Focus on making choices and behavior modifications that you can stick with. This is a lifestyle change, not a temporary diet.

Remember why you’re doing this.

This is a lot of work. If you lose sight of why you’re doing it in the first place…it’s not going to seem worth it to you, and you will fail. Make sure you’ve got a concrete, attainable goal. Something measurable. Maybe it’s a size of clothing to fit into. Maybe it’s finishing a 5K/10K/Marathon. Maybe it’s being able to do 5 pull-ups. I recommend NOT making it a weight goal…and here’s why.

Yes, it’s a lot of work…but you CAN do it. It’s worth it.

You are not alone.

I know you because I used to be one of you. August 2012 I was about 305. Today I’m running marathons to train for ultramarathons. You don’t necessarily have to run marathons…the point is…if I can do it, so can you. I may not have joined the gym in January…but so what? Joining in January doesn’t make you any less a member or any less able to do it than someone who started in August or May.

Don’t quit, believe in your ability to do it, and stick with it. Unless you’re injured or sick from the neck down…drag yourself out of bed and make your workout happen at all costs.

This can happen. It is a lot of work. So you’d better dig in, believe, commit, and make it happen. This CAN be your year…so let’s do this.

GMOMG! – Educate Yourself.

In our modern, advanced, intelligent society, I’m shocked to see that we’re still so susceptible to fear-mongering and mass ignorance. I’m sure we all know…

“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

We have been wrong before. We believed the Earth was flat. We believed cigarettes were healthy. We believed diet soda was actually a healthy alternative to regular soda. Today, we seem to believe “GMO’s” are creating un-killable man-eating weeds, turning our soil toxic, and poisoning our children turning them into mutants.

My question is: Do you know why you hate “GMO’s”? Do you even know what they are? Really? If you use your noggin for a minute and try to see through the mob-mentality hysterics…I’m sure you’ll be surprised.

Let me clear something up right now: I’m not Pro-GMO. I’m not Anti-GMO. I’m Anti-Ignorance.

Get Educated. Let me teach you a few things…


I really can’t stand all the nonsense I see on Facebook. I see people blindly re-posting all kinds of anti-GMO propaganda (yeah, I used that word) and I can’t help but think… do you even KNOW what you’re saying by sharing/re-posting that?

Fear-mongering, scare tactics, and a gross misunderstanding/lack of actual facts has skewed things to the point where there’s a veritable war on GMO’s…and we may very well look back on it with immense regret. I’m going to do my best not to ramble. Let’s take this step by step.

First…What IS a “GMO”, anyway?


Farmers face a lot of challenges. Pests, drought, weather, and much more can lead to low crop yields. Farmers have to overcome it all – after all, we’re counting on them to feed us. Well, people realized that many organisms possessed qualities that would be IMMENSELY helpful in our crops to combat these very problems – hence, GM seeds. GMO stands for “Genetically Modified Organism”. Basically, scientists take a gene from an organism with the desired trait and put it into the DNA of the seeds of a crop farmers grow, like corn or potatoes. 
Example: BT Corn. BT stands for Bacillus Thuringiensis. Corn has MAJOR pest issues – pests that are killed by a toxin BT produces. Essentially, introducing specific BT genes into corn made the corn produce that toxinThat’s right, toxic to specific pests (mostly), not ALL insects, not animals, not humans.

There’s also GM crops that are drought-tolerant and, more famously, resistant to pesticide. They’re even working on being able to fortify foods with additional vitamins they don’t normally have! If executed properly, something like that could solve a lot of problems around the world.

Ok…but…they’re bad!…right? 
science AND research
Says who? When I surf the internet and read all of the top results on GMO, Monsanto, and why everything to do with this topic is “Bad”…I see a lot of misinformation, scare tactics, and enough fear-inspiring trust-destroying buzzword combinations to make your head spin. There is a troubling lack of facts and peer-reviewed research associated with every claim I see that GMO’s are bad/evil/destroying the world. See this, this, and this as examples.


What claims are “they” making?


-GMO Corn caused tumors in rats

There were so many issues with this “study”, and it is completely debunked, yet anti-GMO groups are still harping on it as fact (yes, that was published well after retraction). Another anti-GMO site claimed GMO’s caused liver/kidney damage…but the “review” cited said itself that the tests were not sufficient to prove anything conclusive.

Farmers are being sued when GMO pollen blows into their crops

This is a big twisting of the truth. There are famous cases this is based on (see this, this and this). There are far less cases being brought up and going to court than many anti-GMO activist groups would lead you to believe. They’re going after people violating patent law by saving/replanting seeds, not wind-blown pollen.

-GMO Seed-sellers are “controlling and manipulating farmers”

Not quite. These Genetically Modified seeds are, essentially, akin to a software developer creating a new program, or an artist painting a new picture – they retain the rights to profit from their new creation. The scientist may not have created “seeds”, but they DID create seeds that have extra genes built-in. Copyright, trademark, and patent apply, even if it seems strange. The farmer agreed to these terms when they bought the seed. Nobody held a gun to their head – it was a choice.

-Monsanto et al are selling sterile “Terminator seeds”

While it’s true “Terminator seeds” (which do not grow back the next year) do exist, GM Companies have never actually put them to market. (that I know of)

-GMO crops are creating unstoppable pesticide-resistant super-weeds and super-pests

Pests and weeds are going to evolve and become resistant to our efforts just like the flu virus morphs and changes every year to resist the flu vaccine…but you don’t see pitchforks and torches outside your local clinic or pharmacy, do you?

-Pesticides are destroying good soil, rendering it forever useless without GMO seeds
-There’s collateral damage as a result of “Roundup-Ready” crops.
The list goes on. These are just some of the many allegations being made. I’m not here to refute them all, but I simply had to point out that some are, in fact, incredibly false.
“Label it! I HAVE A RIGHT TO KNOW!”
This whole “gmo” labeling thing is such a huge deal right now…there are GMO labeling measures being fought for around the country…and food/drink/agriculture companies are pouring millions of dollars into the fight to squash it. Why?

Mandatory labeling accomplishes nothing.

Labels are great – they allow us to have more information and, thus, make informed decisions. Sorry to break it to you, but Mandatory GMO Labeling wouldn’t help us make any kind of decision we can’t already make. People say they want to know so they can know what they’re putting in their bodies. They want to know so they can avoid foods they don’t want. They want labeling because…they WANT it! And other countries have it, so why shouldn’t WE?!

Know what ELSE other countries have? Communism.

Seriously, though – every argument FOR mandatory labeling I see is a lot of demands, a lot of ignorance, a lot of “I THINK I know what’s up” and little or no fact / REAL good reason. Current U.S. Law requires labeling on new foods that have significant nutritional or allergenic characteristic, and the FDA has judged that, so far, there is no danger, health risk, or reduced nutritional value from GM foods. There are many “Certified Organic” and “non-GMO certified” foods labeled as such. So…all those “informed choices” you want to make? You already can.

On the flip side, all the arguments I see against mandatory labeling are based upon facts, research, and real reasons. There would be a lot of cost involved in such an endeavor. Mandatory labeling hasn’t exactly gone like a dream in other countries. Customers ALREADY have choices (as I said above). My favorite reason – mandatory labeling would imply some kind of health risk – you don’t need to be a genius to imagine how that would pan out…it’d be like slapping on a poison label.

There IS positive potential for GM foods

I’m no expert, but given the technology GM foods could solve a lot of problems. Better pest resistance and less reliance on pesticides could mean it’d be less expensive for farmers to…farm. Less crop loss due to pests means more people get fed. Genetic Engineering could lead to larger fruits and vegetables, feeding more people. Vitamin enrichment could solve critical vitamin deficiencies in other parts of the world. Drought-resistance could mean crops could be grown in far more places – more people get fed. All in all, GM foods could be a big part of the fight against world hunger and feeding an ever-increasing world population.

And if we freak out and squash GMO’s…we’ll only have ourselves to blame.

TRUTH IS – We’ve been doing this for centuries 

Maybe not the same way, but farmers have been “messing with” your food for a very long time. How do you think broccolini exists? Farmers have been doing their own (more crude and unpredictable) genetic modification for a very long time. Cross-breeding, selective breeding/planting, etc. This is not a new idea, just a new method. Why, all of a sudden, are we upset?
Again, let me be clear – I am not pro-GMO. I am not anti-GMO. I’m simply remaining open-minded. I’m forming my opinion and making my decisions based on fact, not fear. I’m certainly not blindly following what everyone else tells me about GMO’s. If YOU would like to be educated and sound a whole lot smarter when you talk about GMO’s, you can visit any of these sites/read any of these studies:

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/study-linking-genetically-modified-corn-to-cancer/
http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevensalzberg/2012/09/24/does-genetically-modified-corn-cause-cancer-a-flawed-study/

http://modernfarmer.com/2014/03/monsantos-good-bad-pr-problem/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jonentine/2014/09/17/the-debate-about-gmo-safety-is-over-thanks-to-a-new-trillion-meal-study/
http://www.popsci.com/article/science/core-truths-10-common-gmo-claims-debunked
http://gmoanswers.com/
http://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/2014/09/10/19-year-study-of-trillions-of-meals-shows-ge-crops-do-not-harm-food-producing-animals-humans/
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2408621/
http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm352067.htm
http://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/2014/09/10/19-year-study-of-trillions-of-meals-shows-ge-crops-do-not-harm-food-producing-animals-humans/
http://ec.europa.eu/research/biosociety/pdf/a_decade_of_eu-funded_gmo_research.pdf

Please – be educated. Know what you’re talking about before you join a fight that could have major global impact later on. Be open, learn something, and contribute something meaningful to the discussion :).

Why Do It? (Plus Fun Run Recap)

Yesterday, I woke up at 8 am on a cold early-January morning to get myself in gear, have some coffee, and get ready to chug my way along through 4.9 miles in the snowy, slushy, wet cold of Monument Beach, MA. Many people would think I’m a nut and tell me to go back to bed. Many people would wonder what in the hell would possess me to go running in the snow. Others would call me a sicko for saying that it was “ONLY” 5 miles. Bottom line…many people look at me and ask…

Why do it?

It’s a question I’ve been learning the answer to as I’ve gone along. The answer has changed over time. For this Transformation Tuesday…the first of 2014…I want to give you an idea of just how yesterday’s race went…why I do this…why I started doing this…and why I’ll keep doing it. Hopefully my transformation will inspire you to begin yours :).

Sunday was the 34th annual Cape Cod Road Runners’ Winter Fun Run. Thanks again to my friends at SportClips Falmouth for sponsoring me (check them out)! I have to say, despite the conditions, I DID have a good time.That’s a photo from last year’s race (above). I don’t have a TON of pictures since my phone was in my Tune Belt and my mom doesn’t have a digital camera…I guess I didn’t have the presence of mind to bring my digital camera along for her to use.

Anyway – I had fun. While getting ready and stretching and whatnot I violated one of the cardinal rules of running – nothing new on race day. What was new, you ask? THE SHOES! Yeah, seriously…I couldn’t have picked something more “don’t do that” to do. Why? It was gross out on the roads and I was nervous that I’d either take a digger (fall) or at the very least have to slow WAY down. So…I switched to my BRAND NEW New Balance 610 trail shoes. For the first couple of miles, I was a little wary…I was kind of kicking myself and hoping they didn’t aggravate my feet or leave me sore. Once I got past the two mile marker, however, I was instantly glad I wore them. All of a sudden the road got very hilly and had lots of snow and slush. Thanks to having some grip, I was able to maintain my pace and not eat pavement. Yay.

I ended up doing way better than I anticipated. I was CRUISING along.  Almost every time I was going to stop running and walk for a minute, I just kept going. I only slowed or stopped a handful of times, and honestly…I don’t know that I really needed to…I think that’s just a mental hurdle I need to get past. I think part of why I was able to go so strong was because I had fueled properly. I had a Health Warrior Chia Bar about 20 minutes before race start (in addition to a light race-day breakfast a few hours earlier) and let me just tell you…those little bars are awesome. There’s a review article coming, but the short version is they’re so crazy packed with nutrients and fuel, they’re the perfect way to kick-start your run. No, they are not paying me to say that.
At the end of it all, I came in 99th place, and finished, officially, in 39:45. That’s ridiculous. How did I do that? And…I got quite the surprise during the awards ceremony – I got 3rd place in the Open age division! Seriously? How did I place in my age group? Isn’t my age group the one that goes fast? It’s 19 – 29! How am I placing? Whatever, I’ll take it! I’ll only get a few of those, right? Might as well enjoy it!

So…all of this begs the question – why do it?

Like I said, the answer to this question has changed over time for me. In terms of fitness in general… my reason began as a desperate need to make a positive life change and get healthy. Now that I AM healthy and fit… my reason has become… that I enjoy fitness and want to maintain where I’m at.

But… running… I don’t even really remember why Megan and I did that first run. It might have been to see if we could do it at all. It might have been because we had come so far in our fitness, we wanted to see if our new abilities extended to running. It might have been to test ourselves. Or it might have just been because…well…why not? Whatever the reason…I’m damn glad we did it. It opened my eyes to a whole new world of fitness…and it allowed me to find an activity…a SPORT…that I truly enjoy.

Running is about more than just long (or short) distances and going fast. You have to learn your body, be in tune with it. You have to understand your body’s wants and needs and tend to them properly. You have no choice but to fuel your body appropriately and treat it right…otherwise it won’t perform properly and you won’t be having fun. Running teaches you how to take care of yourself and be truly healthy, inside and out.

Running is also…well…kind of peaceful. Y’know, once you get past the monotony, boredom, and jaw-rattling pounding across the pavement. The first mile or two sucks, but once you get in a rhythm…it really is nice. One thing I’ve come to appreciate with some of these races is the absolutely incredible scenery. For the majority of the Cape Cod Marathon Half…I was staring at beach and the ocean! Beautiful views, scenic vistas, and just nature. There’s something to be said for taking “me time”…and running certainly provides that.

On top of all of that…I do this so I can enjoy a better, longer, happier life. Health and fitness, for me, is about longevity and quality of life. I feel so much better now than I did when I was 300 lbs. Gee, that kinda makes sense, huh? I don’t get winded going up a flight of stairs. I have so much more ENERGY now. My thighs don’t rub together and chafe. I don’t feel embarrassed about my body. Clothing fits me properly. Imagine that. The immediate benefits are simply STUNNING.

The long-term benefits are great too. I have been told by a number of doctors that I saved my own life by losing 125 lbs. I have not escaped unscathed though – my knee cartilage is damaged from having carried so much extra weight for so long, and my feet are out of whack as well – plantar fasciitis, metatarsal periositis, and some other issues (to name a few). What if I hadn’t lost the weight? What if I reached 40 and still had that extra weight on me? For another 15 years? Would I need a knee replacement by 60? Would I be in a wheelchair? Would I get diabetes? Maybe. At least now I know I have SIGNIFICANTLY reduced the odds of that happening.

I’ll be around longer for Megan, my kids, my family, my friends. I’ll be able to enjoy my years rather than wasting away, becoming a bitter old man disgruntled with my lot in life. I’ll be happy, healthy, energetic, and fit. That is worth its weight in gold, but by the time you reach that age…it’s too late.

That’s why I do this. That’s why I get up at the crack of dawn, haul myself out of bed, and get ready for a workout. That’s why I go running in the snow, slush, and frigid weather. That’s why headlamps and reflective gear for runners exists. Because it’s fun. Because we enjoy it. Becaues it makes us happy.

That’s why I’m putting in the work now and making the change. Because now is the time! Because it makes me happy. Because the guy on the right looks way better than the guy on the left. (Check out the “My Transformation” page for the new update from the completion of Focus T25!)


What’s YOUR reason?

It’s Always Better Together

Once again, I thought long and hard about how to approach this topic, but the simplest way to say it is – going through a health & fitness journey alone sucks and often just doesn’t work. For so many years I tried and failed to do it on my own. The desire was there, and I did use the word “tried”…

Many, maybe even most people out there just can’t do it alone, and if you’re one of those people…I get it. I’m not gonna say it’s not your fault because, frankly, I don’t think there necessarily is anyone at fault…it’s just freaking hard to go it alone. In the last week I have really embraced, openly, the “group effort”. I became a BeachBody Coach and immediately set out to start a P90X Challenge Group to help people make a change, stay with it, and succeed (more on that later). Today, on Hump Day no less, I want to talk about how to get over the hump of sticking with your health & fitness decision by not having to go it alone. You might think twice about your impending solo act.

I’ll come right out and say it – going it alone sucks. Some people out there have the drive and motivation needed to make change happen without anyone else there to push them, encourage them, and do it with them. Looking back, I was not one of them. I recognize that. I had my fiancee Megan there with me from before Day 1. When the decision was made to start…we decided it together. I tried for years to do it alone, and it never stuck. Without anyone there to help motivate me…it was so easy to just say “nah…not today” or “God Almighty this is too hard…I’m out”.

Nah, I’m Totally Capable, I Can Do This!

Ok, that’s great! There are people out there who can get it done on their own. People who are SO motivated…SO driven, that they could not only complete a fitness program on their own…they could climb Mt. Freaking Everest on their own. I wish I was one of those guys. I mean, I probably am NOW, but then again, NOW I’m fit, healthy, and I enjoy this stuff. I’m talking last August, when I was 300 lbs and hadn’t started this whole thing yet. That guy wishes he was driven enough to do it alone. If you’re one of those people, I encourage you to go for it and make it happen. You are the kind of person who helps motivate others towards their successes.

Why Should I Have Others?

No Easy Outs
I have found, over the course of the years, that not having someone else doing it with you and committed to it…there are a lot of easy outs. For one, nobody is there to see you quit. It’s really easy to quit when you don’t have anyone to answer to…nobody to witness it. It’s like it never happened! I feel like that’s one of the top reasons people are…OK…with giving up. It’s not ok. You’re only letting yourself down. It’s so easy to fall prey to the “I Don’t Feel Like It” Syndrome when you’re on your own…easy for The Napoleon Complex to overtake you…to just plain lose motivation!

SUPPORT!
I can’t TELL YOU how great it is to have someone there reaching milestones with you, achieving successes with you…just generally sharing in the experience. It was great to get through a workout, look at Megan 5 feet away, and high five her after we finished a workout. The look we gave each other after finishing the last workout of week 1 was of such accomplishment, relief, and joy…in that moment we knew we could do it – if you can get through the first week you can get through it all…and we had done it! Sharing that with her was great! Working with a partner I was able to lose my limits and achieve new heights I never would’ve dreamed of before…I’m running a half marathon in a week and a half for crying out loud!

Likewise, it’s great to be able to share in your struggles and work through it together. We were both practically dying on the floor together during some of the more intense days during some of the programs we did…but we looked at each other, reaffirmed we could do it, and kept going. You keep going for yourself, you keep going for them…whether it’s because you want to succeed for them or because you want to challenge them to keep up…it’s because they’re there. They’re doing it too. That other person can make the difference. They can also help to shield you from outside influences too…help keep you strong. When you’re in it with someone else, they can help defend against the Haters.

Accountability
If you’re doing your workouts with someone else…they’re gonna know if you didn’t do it. Maybe because you work out together, maybe because you check in with each other…but they’ll know. Whether they give you crap for not doing it or whether you feel guilty all on your own…having that other person can keep you honest and get you to do it on a day you’d otherwise say screw it. Knowing that other person is tracking their progress and will be showing you their before/afters can also encourage you to work just a little bit harder throughout the course of the program instead of taking it easy on yourself. Besides…if you’re gonna commit, why not go whole-hog?

THIS IS NOT A NEW IDEA

Working out with others is by no means a new idea…workout classes, CrossFit gyms, etc…there are countless people, groups, and organizations that use and encourage the buddy system or the group mentality. Why? Because it works. Having a community of people all in it together makes it work so much better.



What About That “Challenge Group” You Mentioned?

Many BeachBody Coaches out there (probably all, really) run “Challenge Groups”. Each coach, I’m sure, does it differently. The idea, no matter how, specifically, they do it, is that a group of people (maybe 5, 10, 20…depends on the coach) all do the same program starting on the same day. They check in on a special Facebook group (or through some other method, again, depending on the coach) and talk about their progress. People in the group will talk about their struggles and successes, share in their accomplishments and difficulties, and seek advice, guidance, and motivation from the rest of the group and their coach. The coach is usually always there to actively guide and encourage the group members and provides tools for success to make sure each individual can achieve their fitness goals. Some coaches run their group for the full duration of the program, and some run it for a month or two. The idea is to help make sure, again, that each individual has the support, encouragement, and tools necessary to achieve success.

I am running a P90X Challenge Group. My group will be pushing play for Day 1 on Monday, October 28th. I’ll be starting to put out information and guidance for them this weekend, getting them ready and preparing them for the challenge to come. If you are interested, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at Darrell@SoTHISIsFitness.com, make an account on www.TeamBeachBody.com (identify me as your coach – coach id 301487 or screenname SoTHISIsFitness – I’ll find you), or request to join the “So Fit” Family facebook group. You  can get the program through me at www.BeachBodyCoach.com/SoTHISIsFitness . If you’re interested, you likely need to order by Friday or Saturday in order to have it in-hand in time.

I’m SO excited to have the opportunity to help people achieve their goals and finally attain success. This is the first program I did…it’s what started me on the path to where I am now! It’s great to see that it’ll also be the first program like this for a number of people who have already committed to the Challenge Group. I’d love to help you too! That’s the whole point of this blog.

So why do it alone?

I’m sure there’s someone you know that also wants to make a change. Someone else who’s having the same thoughts go through their head that are going through yours. Try feeling it out among those you know and see if someone wants to join you. Maybe you’d rather go through a challenge group or online support community (like the So Fit Family) to find your encouragement and motivation. Whatever the case, know that you don’t have to do it alone. It’s always better together. Happy Hump Day!