Lifestyle Tips

How to Avoid Burnout

Last week, we took a much needed break to Puerto Rico to escape the long Canadian winter. We didn't go to just drink margaritas by the pool or get a sunburn on the beach; it was an important opportunity to renew!

Coincidentally, we also received a fantastic email from our coach, Mark Fisher, owner of North America's most successful gym. He discussed self-renewal - why it's not just about vacations, and why it's so important for it to be regularly scheduled.

We couldn't have written it any better, so he let us share it with you...

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"While anyone can benefit from taking renewal seriously, parents and leaders in particular face something called “power stress.” This is a particular type of stress experienced by those who feel responsibility for others. It can expedite burnout for those who don’t take the time to “refill their cup.”

Furthermore, renewal can’t effectively be “saved up” for the weekend. By thinking critically about which of the four renewal activities light you up, you can start to be disciplined about making sure you have time for it in your weekly calendar.

Remember, renewal is different than physical rest. They both matter.

According to Dr. Richard Boyatzis, you need to consider four key areas:

  • Hope - a feeling of forward-looking optimism towards the future

  • Compassion - connecting with other people

  • Mindfulness - being aware and in the present moment; meditation, walking in nature, prayer, etc.

  • Play - having fun and being joyful; humor

Each of us will get more or less “juice” from each of the four activities, so considering your personal preferences is important.

Additionally, some activities do crossover from “physical self-care” to “emotional self-care.” Low-intensity exercise (mindfulness, play) and meditation (mindfulness) are both great examples.

In addition to the list above, gratitude is another important renewal strategy. Creating small habits and rituals around daily gratitude is a powerful tool for keeping your “mind right.” This is important because modern brains have inherited something called “Negativity Bias.” The theory is that our ancestors were successful at surviving precisely because they were good at thinking about, identifying, and solving/ working around threats.

Although there’s debate about how strongly “negative” thoughts overpower “positive” thoughts, most social scientists put the number somewhere between three times to seven times.

Since the nature of your life often requires identifying, thinking about, and solving problems, creating daily gratitude habits can be a powerful source of renewal.

Regardless of which activities you choose, it’s important to emphasize the ones that truly fill your cup, and then have the discipline to regularly execute these activities.

If you find renewal by connecting with hope, it’s going to be very hard emotionally to justify taking time to daydream and spend time “visioning” on a regular basis. Nonetheless, this is exactly what you must do if you truly want to be a master of your time.

Like your core self-care habits, such as training and making good nutrition choices, renewal activities are the equivalent of putting your own oxygen mask on first if the cabin loses pressure while on an airplane.

If you don’t take care of yourself first, you’ll find you’re unable to effectively take care of anyone else as you spiral into burnout."

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The Sliding Teacup

We're about 8% of the way through 2019 already. How's those New Year, New You (ugh, are we still using this term?!) coming along?

We find that 4-6 week period, where you are deep into an attempted transformation, is where things begin to wobble.

The tea cup slides towards the edge of the table.

The ship steers mightily close to the iceberg.

A highly-elected official enters "Ashley Madison" on Google and hovers their finger above the “Enter” button.

Suddenly, you realize you've picked the wrong target to aim for.

A quick fix is to start thinking about performance goals rather than superficial ones.

Superficial goals, such as losing weight or inches, are usually emotional and can consume us. Performance goals are a bit cooler and can take this pressure away.

Consider training for a 5km race, or one of those muddy obstacle courses.

Consider trying to deadlift 1.5-2x your bodyweight with barbell club or semi-private training.

Try to do 50 push-ups, or modified push-ups, every day for a month.

See what happens.

Because the magic, little droogies, is in the side effects.

Those emotional goals like fat loss, more energy for your kids, your partner jumping on your loins again... usually show up as you head towards those performance goal achievements.

And mentally, it's a relief. No worrying about scales or how tight your jeans feel.

So what performance goals can light you up and keep driving you forward into 2019?

Book a complimentary, no-waterboarding-until-you-sign-up-for-a-membership strategy session and tell us all about them!

Kevin & Victoria

P.S. Our clubs are looking ahead to their performance race season. The running club, East Side Snails, are looking at 5km, 10km and above races. Newbies and non-members are always welcome and it's just $50 per year!

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How Small Actions Can Build into an Automatic Routine

James Clear recently published a great book called Atomic Habits. He writes about how small actions that you take every day can build into automatic routines that really shape who you are.

I got sucked into his ideas while listening to him on Jay Ferruggia's podcast (#264, if you're interested).

For the last 32 days, I have been putting James Clear's Atomic Habits book to the test...  

I was hopping on a plane to Montreal to take an army course that was taking me away from reality in exchange for my green uniform and 2 weeks of leadership training with 100 of my peers.  I was warned that the days would be long and that my nights would consist of homework and mandatory "networking".

So the goal that I set for myself was that I would run every day.  Maybe for a minute, maybe for an hour, and I could skip one day per week.  Running isn't brand new to me.  But over the last few years, it's turned into a more occasional, social activity.  

I got a LOT out of this book, but the two points I want to touch on with you are the ones that still sit with me a month after getting through this book and putting in an honest effort to create a new habit AND regularly evaluate it against James' ideas.
 
You do not rise to the level of your goals, you fall to the level of your systems
 
In my case, the system that I put in place was that every day when I got back from the school, I would immediately change from my uniform into my running gear.  I didn't stop at the bathroom, I didn't stick around to make dinner plans with my colleagues, I put my shoes on.  School started at 7am.  SEVEN!  My brain was melted by noon, and when we got out of class at 5, the idea of going to dinner and bed was super appealing.  My goal was simple.  Get off the campus.  Every night. If that meant putting on my gear and walking the 300m from my dorm to the gate and back, I would consider that a win. 
 
By the time I came back to Toronto just 2 weeks later, I had found enough value in my newly developed habit, that it made all sorts of sense to keep it up. The time has stayed the same, just the location is different.  I do plan to cut back the running days at some point, but continue to reserve a chunk of my afternoon for exercise.
 
How can I create an environment where doing the right thing is easy? 

You'd think that adopting a new fitness habit when working in a gym everyday would be easy, but being removed from my normal routine actually made it MUCH easier to adhere to.  I used every trick that I know of to make sure that I was setting myself up for success.

  • I didn't feel the need to broadcast my goal when all of my colleagues, but living in a dorm (with shared washrooms), it was obvious that pretty quickly that I had a routine.  Within days, my colleagues (who probably think that I am this disciplined all the time!) wished me well on my workout, or asked how it went when I saw them in the meal hall or the pub later on.  

  • It's so easy to let other commitments get in the way.  Because I knew that I would have several commitments after dinner throughout the initial weeks, I found a time frame where I was guaranteed to be available.  Sometimes we finished at 4, sometimes we finished at 6, but that time immediately after school was a time where there was no way in hell that anyone was going to be functional enough to want to start our homework.

  • I found things to look forward to on my run.  Beautiful scenery, great music or an audio book, a chance to chat on the phone without my voice echoing down the hall.  I really set it up so that missing a run would be missing an opportunity.

This habit has definitely evolved from just "put on your shoes" to a gateway for a couple of more specific goals with measurable outcomes, but the takeaways from this book also really helped to shape where I'd like to take it next. (basically, all of chapter 19).

So what about you? What simple systems can you create to make your life healthier? And then how can you change your environment so those systems are easy to implement and repeat?

Let me hear about them!

Victoria

P.S. As a disclaimer, I have a decent amount of experience with running and exercise in general.  A daily running habit without a solid base is probably not an awesome idea!

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3 Unconventional Ways to Find More Time to Exercise

We recently asked our members - “What is the one thing that gets in the way of you exercising regularly and making healthier eating choices?”

The overwhelming response was Lack Of Time.

So we thought we’d give you some tips that we use to make time to exercise. Now you may shake your head at some of these, but bear with us.

At the last Olympics, around 100 new world or Olympic records were broken. Athletes are getting better but the general population is getting fatter so what most people are doing right now isn’t working.

So therefore we ask that you take the Apple approach and “Think Different”.

See where it takes you.

Do Less

The thousands of adverts you’re exposed to each day encourage you to “buy more shit” to keep up with the Jones’s, otherwise you’re a loser.

Or that every day should be filled with adventure from dawn until dusk and that your life should be abundant all the time.  In reality, there are just some days you’ve got to cut off communication and binge watch House of Cards or Stranger Things on Netflix.

We’re taught to put our kids first too. And since you have to pay the bills and put food on the table, you can put “working” up there as well.

But we’ve got it all wrong.

Your kids don’t need to go to hockey on Monday, piano on Tuesday, soccer on Thursday and karate on Friday all at 7 years old to become well developed.

They also don’t have to go to Timmy’s 5th birthday one week and your third cousin’s baby shower the next. 

There are a few members who bring their kids to the gym who hang out at the front and watch their parent work out. That’s just as powerful a learning tool as taking them to soccer.

Kids develop through their environment at a rapid pace, so you can take them to sports and you can take them to your annoying cousin’s baby shower, but if you’re blowing out your ass just climbing up the stairs, quick to snap out (in your head as well as verbally) or would rather be anywhere else than in the moment with them, then that will affect your kids way more than anything else.

You can’t put your kids and work before your health - it has to run alongside it.

You have to set an example. By cutting out all the stuff that’s not important to you, so you can exercise more and eat healthier, you can become that example.

Take A Nap

Take a work day from hell, add 2 kids and a husband to it, add my own self-interests and you’re telling me that by taking a nap I’ll have more time to exercise? WTF!

If we were to tell the truth, it’s not really a lack of time you have to exercise, it’s a lack of mental energy. You see there are only so many BIG things you can give your concentration to in a set period of time, that’s why you feel unmotivated to exercise after an 8 hour shift; your mental energy hits zero.

Having a 15-30 minute power nap resets your alertness, relaxes you, makes you more productive and prevents burnout.

How do you find time to nap?

It lurks in the cracks of your day. At your afternoon break. When the baby is asleep. On your journey home. Hide in a closet after dinner!?

Kevin takes one almost every day. Yes, he drools on the pillow, much to the disgust of Victoria. But there’s no way he could work out up to 5 days per week without it.

Invest in Done-For-You Services

This is an extension to number one. You’ve cleared out the unimportant stuff but still need to tackle everyday tasks like feeding yourself, cleaning and maintaining your house and wardrobe, and caring for the kids.

Consider hiring a housekeeper that can also do a bit of food preparation for you.

Have a meal box delivered to your house using companies like Mama Earth or Meal Angels. Get your groceries delivered to the house.

Use a babysitter for more than just covering your kids while you go out and get messed up drunk.

“Mom after one beer…”

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Get them to take your kids to their sports or pick them up from after school club so you can stay and get your training in or prepare meals for the week.

Use a gym that looks after your kid while you get your workout in.

Obviously this costs money, but think of the benefits this will bring you. More time to exercise and de-stress, more time to take on passion projects.  More time to manoeuvre your way to that dream job. More quality time spent with your family.

So yeah, some unconventional methods that 99% of the population probably don’t even consider. But as we head to a population where 50% are overweight and out-of-shape, why would you do the same things as everyone else?

Athletes put themselves first, and they live an unconventional life where they strip away the non-essentials.

They become selfish.

It’s a paradox, but if you become that little bit more selfish, and take care of your essential needs, then you’ll be able to provide greater attention and help to other people.

Kevin & Victoria 

Two Quick Ideas to Improve your Kids Well-Being

With school time back in rhythm and after school and evening activities picking up for the season, here are two quick things to consider for the mental and physical well-being of your little ones.

Remember that unstructured play time is just as important as structured training.

"Don’t ever say a child is “just” playing. That's like saying a surgeon is “just” operating or a pilot is “just” flying an airplane. Play is the essence of being a child." - John Rosemond

Sometimes parents are flummoxed when we don't have a strict plan laid out for our PA days, camps or our after school program. "So you don't know what you're doing this week?" they say.

The truth is that the structure is loose. It's usually based around a theme, and at the end of our programs the children have time to get curious and explore what they've just learned or get better at the things that interest them.

They can use their imagination, spontaneity and find self-motivation. 

As kids get older and become more socially trained to be another cog-in-the-wheel, unstructured free time becomes just as important as structured hockey practice and fills a hole that a strict school timetable may not be able to provide.

Stop thinking weight training will stunt your kid's growth

Strength and conditioning specialist Eric Cressey explains this better than we could...

"When your kid sprints, she encounters ground reaction forces several times greater than her body weight.

When he jumps out of trees, those numbers are even higher – and he’s probably landing on a more unpredictable environment.

When she wears a big backpack full of books, she’s actually lifting weights without any coaching whatsoever.

Doing a goblet squat with a 20-pound dumbbell isn’t going to stunt your 9-year-old’s growth. And it isn’t going to turn him into a meathead steroid abuser.

What it will probably do is teach them a lot about the value of hard work. It’ll demonstrate that consistently showing up and putting effort into something can lead to specific quantifiable improvements.

It’ll make them more durable to participate in and enjoy sports – and do so at a higher level than they otherwise would have experienced."

You can read the whole post here.

We would add that most athletes, like wrestlers, tennis players or kick-boxers would rather face someone with slightly more talent than them but who's not as conditioned.

So strength-and-conditioning programs really matter, and yes, they should include lifting weights and unstructured play.

P.S. We have some after school Fit Kids programs across all three locations. You can check them out here.

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I'll Sleep When I'm Dead

Since it's Halloween we thought we'd scare the sh*t out of ourselves and go listen to the most frightening podcast we've ever heard.

Studies on the effect of lack of sleep have blown up the health industry over the last year or two and so sleep expert and neuroscientist,  Dr. Matthew Walker, decided to watch the world burn as he unleashed the hell that lack of sleep causes.

If you're already depressed by the thought of Monday morning, this will cheer you up no end! Here are the cliff-notes...

* If you’re getting 6 hours of sleep or less, your time to physical exhaustion drops by up to 30%.

* If a surgeon is doing an important surgery on you and they had less than 6 hours sleep - the chances that they make a critical mistake, including death, goes up by 170%.

* The shorter your sleep on average, the shorter your life. Short sleep predicts all cause mortality!! Quote that to the "I'll sleep when I'm dead" person - because it will likely be next week.

* Insufficient sleep is the most significant lifestyle factor for determining whether or not you’ll develop Alzheimer’s Disease and is linked to bowel, prostate and breast cancer.

* Shift workers have higher rates of obesity, diabetes, and cancer due to lack of sleep and consistent sleep patterns.

* Lack of sleep is a critical factor of the obesity epidemic.

* People sleeping 4-5 hours a night will on average eat 200-300 extra calories each day, which can lead to adding 10-15lbs on to your weight in just 12 months.

Have we scared you yet? No!? Okay, we'll carry on...

* Men who sleep 5-6 hours a night will have a level of testosterone 6-10 years their senior.

* Every 30 seconds, there is a car accident linked to lack of sleep. Drowsy driving kills more people on the roads than alcohol or drugs combined.

* Many children diagnosed with ADHD are just under slept.

* If you’re dieting, but not getting sufficient sleep, 70% of all the weight you lose will come from lean muscle, not fat.

* 1 in 20 medical residents will kill a patient due to a fatigue related error.

* After 20 hours of being awake, you are as physically and cognitively impaired as you would be if you were legally drunk.

We don't wish to end it on a Debbie-downer so here are some tips to help you sleep better at night.

How to create conditions where you can sleep better

* 7-9 hours is ideal.
* Dim the lights in your house 2-3 hours before bed.
* Black out light completely from your bedroom.
* Make sure the room is cool - your brain needs to drop its temperature 2-3 °F in order to sleep.
* Warm your hands and your feet to move the blood away from your core out to the surface or have a hot bath before bed.
* Don’t go to bed too full, and don’t go to bed too hungry.
* Don't look at a screen before bed, read a book.

We used to think that to live a healthy life it was all about diet then exercise, but study after study shows that sleep could now be the number one thing you should fix above all else.

You can watch the podcast here and it's on iTunes etc... Shout out to Podcast Notes for the show notes.

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