Time To Get Some ZZZ’s

We’ve got 2 months behind us. And as the saying goes, “time flies when you’re having fun”.

I hope you’re in the groove with 4 weeks of exercise logged. This should equate to at least a dozen strength and cardio workouts. And I also hope that you’re still drinking the recommended amount of water every day? If you are, that’s excellent! If you’re not, the best time to start would be today. After all, what are you waiting for?

Remember, we are focusing on one new healthy habit per month for the following reasons:

  1. To make it easy to focus on.
  2. To give you time to make it your own habit.
  3. To help you incorporate new habits over the coming months.

For month 3 we’re going to tone it down a little.

What? Pee_Wee_big_ear

You may be thinking, “But I thought we were here to work hard. I want to lose weight and get in great shape”. And you are correct. We are and you will. But stay with me because you’ll be able to accomplish this month’s habit with your eyes closed.

And that’s because our habit for Month 3 is SLEEP.


We will learn how getting the proper amount of rest will enable you to recharge your mental, physical, and emotional capacities so you can be your best and capable of doing more.

Do I have your interest? I hope so. You’re not gonna want to snooze through this one, so let’s get started.

Sleep is a major part of your health & wellness. In fact it’s the 3rd pillar of health along with nutrition and exercise. According to the National Institutes of Health, “Sleep plays a vital role in good health and well-being throughout your life. Getting enough quality sleep at the right times can help protect your mental health, physical health, quality of life, and safety”.

In an article, “Why Is Sleep Important”, they discuss how getting the right amount of sleep can help your memory, and improve learning ability, problem-solving, creativity, focus and decision-making skills. So it’s obvious that if you don’t get enough rest, your abilities in these areas would be negatively impacted.

They go on to describe how sleep plays such an important role in your physical health. And that ongoing sleep deficiency increases your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, obesity, and even early death. I encourage you to read this brief article at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sdd/why.

So then this begs the question, “What happens when we sleep?”

Here’s what the National Sleep Foundation says:

“Sleep architecture follows a pattern of alternating REM (rapid eye movement) and NREM (non-rapid eye movement) sleep throughout a typical night in a cycle that repeats itself about every 90 minutes.”

They go on to illustrate the role each stage and state of sleep plays:

NREM (75% of night): As we begin to fall asleep, we enter NREM sleep, which is composed of stages 1-4

Stage 1

  • Between being awake and falling asleep
  • Light sleep

Stage 2

  • Onset of sleep
  • Becoming disengaged from surroundings
  • Breathing and heart rate are regular
  • Body temperature drops (so sleeping in a cool room is helpful)

Stages 3 and 4

  • Deepest and most restorative sleep
  • Blood pressure drops
  • Breathing becomes slower
  • Muscles are relaxed
  • Blood supply to muscles increases
  • Tissue growth and repair occurs
  • Energy is restored
  • Hormones are released, such as: Growth hormone, essential for growth and development, including muscle development

REM (25% of night): First occurs about 90 minutes after falling asleep and recurs about every 90 minutes, getting longer later in the night

  • Provides energy to brain and body
  • Supports daytime performance
  • Brain is active and dreams occur
  • Eyes dart back and forth
  • Body becomes immobile and relaxed, as muscles are turned off

In addition, levels of the hormone cortisol dip at bed time and increase over the night to promote alertness in morning.

Sleep helps us thrive by contributing to a healthy immune system, and can also balance our appetites by helping to regulate levels of the hormones ghrelin and leptin, which play a role in our feelings of hunger and fullness. So when we’re sleep deprived, we may feel the need to eat more, which can lead to weight gain.

The one-third of our lives that we spend sleeping, far from being “unproductive,” plays a direct role in how full, energetic and successful the other two-thirds of our lives can be.

If sleep is cut short, the body doesn’t have time to complete all of the phases needed for muscle repair, memory consolidation and release of hormones regulating growth and appetite. Then we wake up less prepared to concentrate, make decisions, or engage fully.

It’s interesting to see what occurs during the various states and stages of sleep. But I think the last 3 paragraphs sum it up very well. (So scroll back up and re-read those last 3 paragraphs in bold)

The consensus from all of my research puts the recommended amount of sleep for adults between 7 to 9 hours per night.

Over the past few years since I’ve been focusing on getting at least 7 but preferably 8 hours of sleep every night, I can say with absolute certainty that getting enough sleep makes a big difference the next day in so many ways.


I hope you found this interesting. Next week we will try to put this into perspective by discussing what happens when you don’t get enough sleep. Until then, make sleep a priority and make sure that you are getting the recommended 7 to 9 hours per night.

If you schedule it, you have a much better chance of accomplishing it. And that may mean you have to go to bed a little earlier. But YOU are worth it, so take care of yourself and get some sleep!

Thank you for sharing your time with me. I’d love for you to let me know what you think by leaving a comment. Is the content valuable and helpful? Did anything resonate? Will you take action? What else would you like to see in future posts?

If you know someone that can benefit from this content, I’d be eternally grateful if you would share this with them. And if you like what you see, you can SUBSCRIBE for automatic updates, LIKE US on Facebook, and spread the word about www.thin2win.net with your friends, family and social circles.

What Motivates You To Exercise?

My goal as we wrap up Habit # 2 is for you to see the value of exercise and to actually, well, be exercising. Learning about it is important. But taking action is paramount!

Take_actionIn this final post before we move on to Habit # 3, I would like to address a common problem that everyone faces from time to time. If you are a fitness veteran, then you will be able to relate. If you’re new to exercise, or you’re trying to get started again after many years off, the root of your problem is a little different. And we’ll address that at the end of this post.

So what’s the problem? One word… M-O-T-I-V-A-T-I-O-N.

You know, when you just don’t feel like going to the gym. And you look for reasons to justify why you shouldn’t. Sometimes it may even turn into a negotiation. If you can even call it that because you’re the one arguing both sides.

For the veterans in the group, motivation issues can be caused by reaching a plateau where your results taper off, and then lack of interest follows. Boredom can set in from doing the same exercises and routines over an extended period of time. You could be tired. Or if you’ve ever come back after an illness or injury, you know how difficult it can be to get started again.

Here are some suggestions. You can mix up your routine, get an exercise buddy, hire a trainer for a few sessions, or set shorter term mini goals to see results faster. Or you can just stay home. Yea, that’s right. Take the day off. Once in a while is okay. It could be your body giving you a signal that it needs a break. But that’s once in a while; not 2 to 3 times a week.

If you’re new to exercise and you’re finding it tough to get started, it could be due to a number of things which can include:

  • Laziness.
  • A weak goal.
  • Lack of interest.
  • Lack of confidence.
  • Fear of the unknown.
  • Insert your reason.

Here’s where a strong “why” comes to your aid. Forget about willpower. To overcome the inactivity, you need reasons why you want to and why you shouldexercise. Or you can show up and take a page out of Nike’s playbook and “Just Do It!”.

Putting motivation aside for a minute. If you do not exercise or haven’t in years, we need to talk. I’m not here to pick on you. And I am certainly not here to judge. But I am here to help you recognize the necessity and the value of exercise. And to get you to take action.

Overweight_manSo I’m about to get direct to make my point, in as respectful a way as I possibly can. While there is no guarantee that exercise will help you live a longer more enjoyable life, there is plenty of evidence and medical data that shows it helps. In fact, exercise has been proven to provide numerous benefits. We discussed some of them 2 weeks ago. You can link back here.

But in this post I am not going to focus on the benefits again. I’d prefer to look at it from the ‘other side’ to see if I can entice you to reconsider exercise. There’s a lot of proof out there from people that don’t exercise and make bad food choices. After years of abuse and neglect, you’ll find many of them in hospitals and cemeteries. Hey, I told you I was gonna get direct.

By continuing to not exercise, you run the risk of:

  • Gaining weight (and getting fat).
  • Being depressed and unhappy.
  • Having a stroke or heart attack.
  • Developing type 2 diabetes.
  • Dying early.
  • Enough said?

RIPThis is not a scare tactic. But feel free to use it as one if it gets you to start moving. We have one body and one life. It’s a gift that we should cherish and take very seriously.

Next week we will tone it down a little as we launch our 3rd Habit. If you’re working hard and feeling stressed, you’ll appreciate next month’s habit. In the meantime, get some exercise and keep drinking plenty of water.

Thank you for sharing your time with me. I’d love for you to let me know what you think by leaving a comment. Is the content valuable and helpful? Did anything resonate? Will you take action? What else would you like to see in future posts?

If you know someone that can benefit from this content, I’d be eternally grateful if you would share this with them. And if you like what you see, you can SUBSCRIBE for automatic updates, LIKE US on Facebook, and spread the word about www.thin2win.net with your friends, family and social circles.

You Can’t Manage What You Can’t Measure

This month’s habit is exercise. And so far we’ve covered the 2 primary types of exercise – strength and cardio training. We’ve also discussed the impact that intensity can have on our exercise, regardless of whether it’s during a cardio or strength training session.

Measure_success2As you strive to reach your exercise goals, you will find that you have:

  • More energy.
  • Better focus.
  • Greater strength and stability.
  • Increased endurance during exercise and throughout your day.
  • The ability to manage stress better.
  • A lower resting heart rate.
  • Better quality sleep.

Building on our healthy exercise habit, this week I would like to explore the benefits of a valuable tool. Don’t worry, I am not trying to sell you a new gadget. This tool costs you nothing, yet can help you accomplish SO much. It will keep you motivated as you start seeing results with your exercise program. And hey, you may already be using it to some degree.

What is it? It’s called “tracking”. Tracking brings your choices, decisions, habits, and behaviors to your conscious awareness by allowing you to see what you are currently doing or not doing. But more importantly, it allows you to manage the things you want to start, stop, or continue doing by keeping track of them. It builds good habits and is something we discussed previously.

Here’s an example of how I’ve used tracking. For the past 15 years I have worn a heart-rate monitor during my workouts. I did this so I could measure and track my calorie burn. And that’s because calorie burn was an important metric that helped ensure that I was meeting or exceeding one of my weekly exercise goals.

I still track my calorie burn, but to a lesser degree because I’ve got a good handle on it. A couple of other things I track include my water intake and the number of times I workout each week.

TrackingBut here’s the main point I want to pass on. If you are serious about a goal (and why wouldn’t you be), you must track key behaviors that will help you achieve that goal. And if your goal is to lose 30 pounds by June 1st, then you should pick ONE important element to measure. And then start tracking it immediately!

Let’s look at some key behaviors that you can track based on a weight-loss goal.

  • Calorie intake.
  • Number of workouts.
  • Amount of calories burned from exercise.
  • The type of exercise performed (strength or cardio).
  • The number of miles that you walked or ran.
  • The maximum weight lifted (if your goal is to get stronger).

Some of these metrics can translate into weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual data; which can then become the daily and weekly next steps of a longer term goal.

But make it easy on yourself. Track one thing for the next month. After you build that habit, you can add a second key behavior to track. Just don’t fall into the trap of trying to track everything at once. It may seem exciting for the first week, but it will quickly become a monotonous chore that you’ll eventually despise, and then stop doing altogether. So make it a habit that’s simple and that you’ll want to maintain.


Tracking with your smartphone is a great way to start. For example, iPhone users have the built-in “Health” app. The dashboard feature makes it so easy to enter the information you intend to track. Visually, you can see your progress. And it’s all stored in one place. For Android users, check out the Google Fit or S Health apps. Or do a search in the Google Play store.

So what’s my tip for this week? Measure and track one key behavior that will help you accomplish your 2016 health & wellness goal. What’s your one key behavior to track?

For manual tracking, check out Darren Hardy’s weekly rhythm register. It’s a simple, straightforward way to keep yourself accountable. Download a free copy here.


And if calorie burn is the metric you wish to track, I highly recommend Polar heart rate monitors. You can find them here on Amazon. Unlike the Fitbit or other fitness trackers, Polar heart rate monitors are better for tracking calories burned (in my opinion).

Why? Because you are measuring calories burned during exercise only. Our bodies burn calories all day long. When you are walking, talking, eating, sitting… Even sleeping. And I’m not interested in tracking something that happens naturally and automatically. Especially when I’m in a resting state. I prefer to track something that I’m doing incrementally to positively impact my good health. And that’s exercise. So I track it!

What do you think? Will you give “tracking” a try? I sure hope so.

Thank you for sharing your time with me. I’d love for you to let me know what you think by leaving a comment. Is the content valuable and helpful? Did anything resonate? Will you take action? What else would you like to see in future posts?

If you know someone that can benefit from this content, I’d be eternally grateful if you would share this with them. And if you like what you see, you can SUBSCRIBE for automatic updates, LIKE US on Facebook, and spread the word about www.thin2win.net with your friends, family and social circles.

Cardio Anyone?


Does this describe you? You have some muscle soreness that hurts so good. You’re drinking a lot of water and racking up extra steps as a result of the extra trips to the bathroom. And yet you’re still coming back for more. I commend you on your interest and determination!

You can work through the soreness with another strength training session, which will help to kill the pain. Or incorporate this week’s exercise into your next workout. How about some cardio? That’s right. It’s no surprise that cardio is our 2nd type of exercise.

Cardio_trainingAnd since this week is all about cardio training, let’s start by getting clear about what cardio is. Cardio and aerobic exercise are the same thing. Both achieve the same results that include improved fitness by increasing your oxygen intake and heart rate.

This is straight from Wikipedia and according to the site, aerobic exercise (also known as cardio) is physical exercise of low to high intensity that depends primarily on the aerobic energy-generating process.

Aerobic literally means “relating to, involving, or requiring free oxygen” and refers to the use of oxygen to adequately meet energy demands during exercise via aerobic metabolism. Generally, light-to-moderate intensity activities that are sufficiently supported by aerobic metabolism can be performed for extended periods of time.

When practiced in this way, examples of cardiovascular/aerobic exercise are medium to long distance running/jogging, swimming, cycling, and walking, according to the first extensive research on aerobic exercise, conducted in the 1960s on over 5,000 U.S. Air Force personnel by Dr. Kenneth H. Cooper.

We need to get the heart pumping, the blood flowing, the lungs breathing, and the sweat dripping. I can’t admit to loving my intense cardio sessions while I am at the beginning or even halfway through. But when it’s over I feel great. And it’s that feeling combined with a sense of accomplishment and the long term results that keep me coming back for more.


Based on experience, I firmly believe that intensity matters with exercise. Once your doctor approves you for exercise and you’ve spent a few months building up your strength and endurance, it’s time to add intensity to your strength and cardio training sessions. As your intensity level increases, the length of time you need to spend exercising decreases. I’d rather spend 30 minutes at a high intensity level than 60 minutes at a lower one. Wouldn’t you?

I personally strive for 2 cardio sessions every week and 3 strength. It used to be 3 to 4 cardio session but I was burning too many calories, so I backed off. I also incorporate cardio training into my strength training sessions. I do this with a heart-pounding 15 minute warm-up before lifting. Or 10 to 20 minutes of rope. Sometimes I’ll squeeze in a few sets of hitting the heavy bag.

And by incorporating “super-sets”, I include cardio in my strength sessions. Super-sets are a way to maximize time by performing 2 or more different exercises without rest in between. For example, one super-set could consist of a set of bench presses, bar curls, dumbbell fly’s, and reverse curls without rest in between. You rest when you’re done with those 4 different exercises. Then you do it again a couple more times.


The alternative would be one set of bench presses and rest. A second set of bench presses and rest. A third set of bench presses and rest. Next, a set of bar curls and rest… A lot of resting and not a lot of moving. Although we introduced strength training last week, the point here is to illustrate how super-setting can add cardio to your strength training sessions by keeping your heart rate up. In my book that’s another form of intensity.

Zumba has become a popular cardio routine for the ladies. I can’t comment on the benefits of Zumba because I have never participated in a class. From what I’ve seen, I’m not convinced that you’re going to burn a lot of calories. But here’s the deal. If it’s fun and gets you moving a couple times a week, then it’s definitely a good thing to include in your workouts. As long as it’s not the only thing you do. Add a couple strength training sessions and other forms of cardio to the mix.

Spin on the other hand will burn a lot of calories. As long as you change your speeds and resistance, and go at it with intensity, you’ll have an invigorating, heart-pumping session that leaves you drenched and satisfied. It’s a great leg workout too.


My go to cardio workout is the Octane elliptical. The “interval” option mixes 2 minutes of more resistance (higher intensity) with 2 minutes of less resistance (lower intensity). The reduced resistance gives you time to catch your breath and bring your heart rate down a couple ticks before it’s time to kick it up again. It’s a great workout that burns 700 to 800 calories per session when you go for it.

I’d like to re-emphasize a point I made last week. You should seriously consider hiring a personal trainer. Especially if you are new to the gym. Even if it’s only for a few sessions. Or at a minimum, ask the gym staff for assistance and recommendations. These men and women are trained professionals who can help you identify the right exercises based on your fitness level and goals. You will learn how to do new exercises and execute proper form.


Wrapping up, I found this fact interesting and wanted to share: 1kg of muscle burns 50 extra calories a day, whereas 1kg of fat burns just 3 calories a day. More proof that lean muscle is your friend.

Here are a couple of resources: (just need to ignore the sidebar ads)

Thank you for sharing your time with me. I’d love for you to let me know what you think by leaving a comment. Is the content valuable and helpful? Did anything resonate? Will you take action? What else would you like to see in future posts?

If you know someone that can benefit from this content, I’d be eternally grateful if you would share this with them. And if you like what you see, you can SUBSCRIBE for automatic updates, LIKE US on Facebook, and spread the word about www.thin2win.net with your friends, family and social circles.

Exercise For Longevity

Welcome to month 2 as we introduce our second healthy habit for 2016. In case you’re just joining us, we are launching 6 healthy habits to help you get in shape in the new year. One new habit every month, from January to June. You can link back to the first habit here.

What, one habit per month??? Why are we taking it so slow? Here’s why. Habits can be difficult to develop, especially when life gets in the way. I want to make it as easy as possible for you to succeed. By giving you focus and time to reinforce each new habit.


For month 2 we will add exercise to your routine. It’s an essential part of your healthy lifestyle. In addition to making you look and feel great, exercise helps you become stronger and leaner. And I’d like you to consider these additional benefits:


  • burns fat and builds muscle.
  • reduces stress and improves your mood.
  • improves your heart and cardiovascular functions.
  • increases blood flow to your brain and improves cognition.
  • helps you lose weight.
  • done right will get you into fantastic shape.
  • helps to prevent nasty diseases like diabetes.
  • can prevent heart attacks, stroke and high blood pressure.
  • and the benefits of exercise don’t stop here.


The two primary forms of exercise that we will cover include strength and cardio training. This week’s focus will be on the strength part. Strength training (aka resistance training or weight lifting) becomes even more important as we age.

It’s a proven fact that our muscles and bones benefit from this type of exercise. But despite this fact, not enough people include strength training in their weekly exercise routine. Reasons vary but include limited knowledge of what to do, a lack of discipline, and a concern about becoming too bulked up with big muscles. Like this guy…


Ok, so I have to ask. Was this your first thought when I mentioned strength training? That you were afraid you would bulk up like Arnold? Be honest…

Take a deep breath. Relax. And don’t worry. You will never look like this. Even if you spent 3 hours a day in the gym, 6 days a week. So let’s just eliminate that concern right up front. Unless this is your goal and it includes the consumption of performance enhancing drugs. Otherwise, you can train hard with confidence.

If you’re new to exercise, body weight exercises like the ones covered in the You Can Do This post can become your initial workout for the first month as you acclimate your body to exercise. It’s best to take it slow in the beginning.

During the first month, you should not be concerned with intensity. Shift your focus to learning the exercises and practicing good form. After this, the routine will become your pre-workout warmup.

After the first month, your strength training routine should target the major muscle groups including your legs, chest, back, shoulders and arms. I strongly suggest that you hire a certified personal trainer (CPT) at your local gym.

CPT’s possess the skills to help people with different physical abilities and fitness levels by customizing the right exercises that enable you to achieve maximum results. In addition, the one-on-one interaction ensures that you’re learning the proper technique and doing the exercises in good form. Even if it’s only for a few sessions.

Tom Venuto, former bodybuilder and best selling author suggests using dumbbells when you’re just starting out. You can use them in the gym or at home. Dumbbells are easy to handle, they encourage equal development on each side of the body, and they’re safer. Especially if you’re training alone.


By the way, I highly recommend his book Burn The Fat Feed The Muscle if you want to get in shape, the natural way through exercise and good nutrition. Not only is Tom an expert in his field, he offers great insight and devotes a section to specific exercises in his 28 day plan. You’ll learn about the 10 biggest weight training myths, and how weight training helps you get leaner.

So let’s recap.

  • This month’s healthy habit is exercise.
  • This week’s homework involves starting a strength training plan.
  • If you are new to exercise, spend the first month getting your body acclimated by doing body-weight exercises. Click here for ideas.
  • After your first month of body-weight exercises, it’s time to start strength training with weights. Preferably with dumbbells, 2 to 3 days per week.
  • Refer to Tom Venuto’s 28 day plan (TNB-28) in Burn The Fat Feed The Muscle.
  • You should hire a certified personal trainer to match your physical abilities and fitness level with the right exercises.

Disclaimer: Whenever starting a new exercise plan or program, you should always consult a doctor.

And finally, here’s a brief list of resources:

Thank you for sharing your time with me. I’d love for you to let me know what you think by leaving a comment. Is the content valuable and helpful? Did anything resonate? Will you take action? What else would you like to see in future posts?

If you know someone that can benefit from this content, I’d be eternally grateful if you would share this with them. And if you like what you see, you can SUBSCRIBE for automatic updates, LIKE US on Facebook, and spread the word about www.thin2win.net with your friends, family and social circles.