Why summers are all about the weak end

Statistically speaking, summers are a horrible time to get in shape.

It’s when folks are most motivated to look and feel their best – but few ever do.

For many, the social calendar steadily builds to a crescendo of backyard barbecues, cottage get togethers, and patio cocktail binges.

In one major study, it was found that any weight lost during the week readdresses itself on summer weekends, leading the study’s authors to conclude that they’re just as bad for your fitness goals as major holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving.

Eeek.

So you enjoy life…

I’m not gonna eat your lunch for that.

(Although I’d be assuming the burden of those calories for you.)

What I will do is give you some weapons with which to strike back at the deadly scourge of summer pool parties.

First off, if your plan is based on controlling yourself, you need a new plan – especially if even a splash of *the drink* is involved.  Instead, try to take self-control out of the mix as much as possible.  As per a core principle of my success philosophy, think in terms of making what I call context changes to your environment.

A radical context change would be to simply not agree to any social invitations.  While such anti-social behavior does have its applications for your physique goals (and possibly money-saving goals), it’s not necessarily the most realistic option.

For some examples of less extreme measures that allow for both summer fun AND summer wellbeing, peep the following…

*Don’t show up hungry – eat a meal or snack right before a social event (to the self-control piece: a well fed brain is a stronger one.  Low brain glucose drops willpower like an anchor.)

*Make an accountability pact or ridiculous bet with a friend.  You can (a) promise to keep each other in line, or (b) set guidelines and deter cheating with an embarrassing consequence like, e.g., starting every sentence with “my friend [friend’s name], the greatest living human, has granted me permission to say…”  See?  Parties can be fun without food.

*Keep logging your nutrition, even at nightclubs.  I have an industry friend who logs his vodka-water on his phone while standing at the bar.  He’s a bit of a buzzkill, but he’s lean.

*Book a class, or a training session in the morning to offset the sins of the afternoon. (GIANT CAVEAT: This one won’t do diddly squat unless combined with some form of moderation on the consumption side.  You’ll never run far enough, or fast enough to outpace indulgent eating and drinking…and you’ll probably injure yourself trying.)

You get the drift.

Have some fun with it.

The main thing is to respect the destructive wiles of the weak-end.

And strategize.

Invoke some brain power (not just body power) to beat the class average.

Only then will you emerge from the season unscathed – but for the occasional sun burn.

Happy Summering,

Conor Kelly

P.S.  Another great example of a context change?  My 16-week program.  Call me at (416) 826-4844 for your complimentary personal training consultation to break the summer curse, and discover how to take control of your health, once and for all.

The unexpected but not surprising benefit of my recent fat loss

Reason #697 for losing fat…

As if you needed more incentive to join the lean body brigade, let me regale you with a brief anecdote.

We’re in the final push for the finish line of the Muscletech body transformation challenge.

Well, Raya is.  I’m on board out of solidarity.

And vanity.  Let’s be honest.

It’s a 13-week physique challenge with personal pride, bragging rights, and some handsum moolah on the line too.

So far I’m down 12 pounds and about 5% bodyfat (according ye olde eyeball test).

Here’s where things get hella interesting…

Several chronic injuries have mostly, if almost magically, disappeared.  Plantar fasciitis, gone.  Elbow tendinitis, gone.  Bicep tendinitis, gone.

To what do I attribute this miracle?

I’m a spiritual man, but I don’t think this is God’s doing per se…although I’m sure he signed off on it.  No, I wasn’t healed by the grace of a higher power.  No crucifix toting evangelist has held his palm to my forehead in an attempt to hasten the departure of evil spirits (“The power of Christ compels you!  The power of Christ compels you!!”)

Instead, I treated my wounds by reeling in my body’s own healing power, namely, inflammation.

Yes Grasshopper.

It’s a little known fact that fat cells are store houses for pro-inflammatory compounds known as cytokines.  As a person gains fat, inflammation can begin to rage out of control, spilling over into all manner of symptoms, from joint pain, to fatigue, to the disease axis of diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease.

Maintaining a lean physique is a key tactic in preventing your body’s natural immune response from escalating to destructive levels.

The elixir of which I currently partake is a potent mix of anti-inflammatory eating, regular INTENSE exercise, shunning alcohol, and – dumping body fat like yesterday’s trash.

You too may drink of this earthly grail, my child.

You need only learn my secrets to banish inflammation, activate your DNA, and express the lean form which you were meant to inhabit.

These very secrets are the basis of my 16-week body transformation program.

Find out if it’s a fit for you.

Call (416) 826-4844 to request your complimentary personal training consultation.

And may the demon of whatever “-itis” torments you fear my secular ways…

Happy Inflammation-Busting,

Conor The Demon Slayer

How to have more self-control

One of the major tenets of my success philosophy is to limit the extent to which you rely on self-control for getting things accomplished.

This ties into to a revelation in psychology studies that willpower, or more generally *self-control*, is like a muscle that fatigues the more you flex it, and ultimately tuckers out.

Thus, you make better choices by organizing yourself to make fewer choices.

That’s the mantra.

(Check out my post Give Up The Willpower Binge for more on this.)

The flipside to this deeelightful little nugget is you can actually build your self-control muscle for times when some good ol’ fashion, forceful decision-making is required.

In brain science terms, the neural connection between the instinctive emotional functions of the limbic structures and the thinking capacities of the cerebral cortex can be strengthened, lending some additional juice to your resolve.

To this end, experimental psychologists have prescribed everything from journaling food, to money management tasks, to more adventurous themes like avoiding curse words, or never beginning a sentence with I.

Result?

Subjects on these mini power programs are more resistant to the standard pattern of self-control degradation.  They even show improved discipline in their lives…watch less tv, drink less alcohol, eat less junk food, exercise more often, and study longer.

In the same way regular workouts can improve your body, the habit of deploying your self-control in measured bursts can help your brain.

The key is to do this on little things first, then let it expand into other areas of your life in which you’d like more self-control.  Something as simple as brushing your teeth or operating your mouse with your non-preferred hand can turn up your impulse control a few notches.

Here are a some of my preferred self-control boosters…

*Keeping a nutrition journal
*Daily exercise (even if it’s just going for a walk or doing a few pushups when you wake up)
*Reading instead of watching tv
*Going to bed 30 minutes earlier
*Eliminating starches from your diet 1-3 non-consecutive days per week (eat just proteins and veggies)
*Talk to strangers (seeing as you’re not five years old anymore and can probably update Mom’s advice)

And my favorite – if less obvious – self-control adjustment: learn a new language.

Language is one of the most transformational forces on the planet.

(More on this in another email.  Suffice it to say, the hippocampus lights up like a Christmas tree in language learners, affording you improved memory, and easier adaptation as your brain reshapes itself.)

Whatever self-control regimen you choose, start small, with seemingly unnecessary, and emotionally neutral tasks.

Be persistent.

You’ll pick up steam as you go along.

If it becomes a permanent part of your daily routine, then, in the words of William James, “[you] will stand like a tower when everything rocks around [you], and when [your] softer fellow-mortals are winnowed like chaff in the blast.”

Dude could write.

Happy Self-Controlling,

Conor Kelly

Better than a mosh pit of three-year-old’s

Like all three-year-old’s, my Olivia is committed to her playtime.

During a recent playdate, she and a little friend were jumping on our bed to music.  Olivia was selecting random CD’s and playing them (which she does herself) as a soundtrack to this high-adrenaline form of toddler sport.

It started with an age appropriate collection of kids songs like Wheels On The Bus, and If You’re Happy And You Know It.

Then she decided to explore Daddy’s collection…

The standard fare of Irish music and Bulgarian Pop Folk added a distinctly cultural feel to the festivities.  But when I heard the opening bars to Metallica’s Master of Puppets,  I immediately suggested it might not be the best choice because of how ‘loud’ it is, and because her friend wouldn’t like it (or be frightened by it, which I also figured was a possibility).

She shrugged, “Do you like it Willow?”

“Yeah!”  shouted her playmate.

And the two of them proceeded to bound enthusiastically to the crushing power chords and high-speed percussion of an epic thrash metal jam.

A mosh pit of three year olds had broken out in my bedroom.

So I did what any self-respecting metal-head parent would do…taught them how to salute the gods of rock by pressing their middle and ring fingers to their palms with their thumbs, while making devil horns of their index and pinky fingers.  Somewhere, Ozzy Ozbourne mumbled something to someone about being drunk on a bus – it was unintelligible, but you could tell he was happy.

A lot of fun can be found in unexpected places when you’re a kid.

As adults, we tend to forget that.  But all it takes is being open to it, and even a drab afternoon of renewing your driver’s license can be transmuted into some unexpected, story- worthy experience.

(Like the other evening, when I counseled a stranger on the streetcar who’d just caught his girlfriend cheating.  It’s all good…we trainers are honorary shrinks.)

Often, I find people are either going through the motions – or fully dreading the process of whatever they’ve set about doing – and thereby close themselves off to valuable insights.

Breakthroughs occur in times of openness.

So as you go about your day, do that.

Be open.

The fun will find you.

And so will positive transformation.

Happy Playtime,

Conor Kelly