Fitness Check In: Week 2 of ‘The Prep’ Got Harder And I Loved It

    After getting my ass kicked in Week 1 of this program it doesn’t come as a surprise too much that week 2 would be any easier. If anything it got harder and more intense. If anything that is exactly why I continue to come back to these Beachbody programs. Simply because they keep things interesting and you\’re never stuck in a repetitive way of doing things. You are doing a different set of exercises in a different way every week. The first two Beachbody programs I did were “30 Day Breakaway” and “Liift4” and they both followed the same format as well. The programs focus on getting you out of your comfort zone in order to maximize your results. Amoila Cesar brought the intensity up in week 2 of ‘The Prep’ and the last workout of the week named “The Crucible” was the hardest workout I’ve done in this program. So without further delay, lets dive in and see what I took on in week 2.
Total Body Push/Pull
        This workout combined push and pull exercises in one workout which is a switch up from week 1 where the program focused on ‘push’ and ‘pull’ on different days. I did 4 rounds of moves in this one which targeted the shoulders and back primarily. There were some hammer curls to work the biceps in this one as well, but in the same move he had you do thrusters after the hammer curls. So the theme of working multiple muscle groups in one exercise move continued in this workout. The last move is a push up on top of your dumbbells and then you pop up like a burpee and execute a bicep curl. All and all this was a fun start to week 2. Check out my Instagram post on this workout here.
Strength & Power
    Last week on day 2 Amoila Cesar had gave me an ass kicking in the form of a leg day. This week he gives you a leg day and an upper body day. This workout pretty much can be called a full body workout where every muscle group was just about worked.  He had had you start off with goblet squats and then has you lunge back and perform a bicep curl.  Other moves involved doing side lunges while holding the dumbbells at your chest level. He has you do a cool curtsy move while dipping a single dumbbell downward to work your arm and legs at the same time. He finishes off by having you burn up your abs with a slider downward dog move. He even challenges you to do a push up after doing that downward dog. The focus on doing multiple moves in one exercise move is really making week 2 interesting. Check out Instagram reel covering these moves for this powerful workout.
Cardio and Core
    No weights required for this workout. All you needed was yourself and the will to push hard in this bodyweight workout. Amoila doesn’t let up on you. The first half of this workout is a nice round of agility moves that has me looking like I’m dancing in one move. He has you switch from one high knee to the other on his command in one move while making it fun with the ‘Simon says’ format and tricking you up. The 2nd half of the workout I was so heated from the agility and cardio work that I took off my shirt to focus on the ab work.  He has you do a set of moves that target your abs and burns them up in the process. This was his first workout that he really focused on burning up the abs in the program as the other workouts he incorporates 1 or 2 ab moves, but this workout focused several effective moves. I decided to make an Instagram TV video for this workout so that you can get a look at all the moves and follow along if you want to give the workout a shot. Watch it here now. The next two workouts almost killed me as they were the hardest workouts of ‘The Prep’ that I’ve encountered.
Isometrics
    I was not expecting how hard this workout is going to be. I’ve read about Isometric moves in my ISSA CPT book that I’m studying, but Amoila showed me first hand how effective and difficult Isometric exercises can be. The timing of getting some dumbbell gloves was impeccable. This workout targeted the upper body primarily with a mix of moves such as a half bicep lift & hold while lifting up one leg for high knee in the same movement. One Tricep move got thrown in. The abs and obliques were worked hard in order to keep your balance for some moves. My hands were shaking by the end of this workout as the endurance needed to hold onto these moves while handling the dumbbells was heavily tested for me. I’m looking forward circling back to this one again for another round. The next workout below was still the hardest one out of them all, but this one is the 2nd hardest workout in my book. Check out my cool Instagram reel here.
 
 
The Crucible
    If this workout program was a video game, this workout would be the boss to defeat to beat the game. The Crucible stands for: A situation of severe trial. In which different elements interact, leading to the creation of something new. This workout is just that. It took all my muscles and strength to power my way through this workout. The severe trial consisted of 8 different workout moves where I did 25 reps each. After each move, I did what Amoila called “Army Crawls” where I got in the crawling position, positioned my feet on sliders and crawled back and forth for another 25 reps. By the end of this workout I had done 200 reps of “Army Crawls. My chest and shoulders felt it afterwards. What a tough, but exciting way to test your strength in this program. I’m looking forward to getting back to this workout again to finish up ‘The Prep.’ Check out my ‘The Crucible’ workout post here.
Final Thoughts
    All and all I like the direction this program is headed.  The workouts this week were unlike anything I\’ve ever done in my fitness.  The Isometrics workout really put me out of breath at one point while ‘The Crucible’ challenged me to draw out all my power and endurance to finish up the week strong. The last two weeks of ‘The Prep’ is going to be a repeated of week 1 and week 2. I’m looking forward to round 2 of week 1 which is actually week 3 of this program. Currently I’ve already completed day 1 and day 2 of week 3 already. There is nothing that feels repetitive about repeating this workouts again as they were fun and exciting to take on again. The leg day this morning kicked my ass. Literally. I’m just looking forward to finishing up the next two weeks of training so I can finally get my ass going on the real program, “The Work.

How Being Aware Of Our Food Emotions Help Us Eat Better

We all love food. We were born to crave and need food.  We grew up having certain foods our whole life only to realize how much of the foods we ate as kids is not healthy. The foods we ate when we were younger shaped our emotions for eating. At such a young age, there is no way we would even think about how healthy food was for us or not. As we got older into adulthood, we’re then told that carbs and fat are the culprits. The fast food industry gave us such warm fuzzy feelings as a kid that when were adults we still gravitated towards fast food because it was cheap and it was guaranteed to taste great, which in turn always involves happy emotions. Lets not forget about the addictive emotions sugar creates for us our whole lives as well. So is there a way to eat the way we love and still get fitness results?  In order to do that, we need to make ourselves aware of the emotions involved too. Let’s dive in and I’ll share my experiences on how I’ve overcome my emotions over the years.

When I was 7, I got into a pretty bad bike accident. My sister baited me to go down a steep hill one day by calling me chicken. Of course after watching Michael J. Fox respond boldly towards being called “chicken” in the Back to the Future movies, I wasn’t going to back down. So I followed my sister and cousin down this hill and sure enough I spun out and landed on my right leg and scraped myself up. Little did I know that this accident was actually a positive thing. After getting X-rays done my bones were not broken from the fall, but somehow I had a benign tumor hanging out just below my right knee. At such a young age I had surgery in my leg to have it removed. I still remember getting knocked out from the drug anastesias to go under surgery only to wake up over a day later in a hospital bed with my parents close by.  The surgery was successful, but I would have crutches and not be able to walk on my own for 3-4 months. This span of 3-4 months was right in the middle of summer so it was a pretty inactive summer of watching “Saved By The Bell” everyday and playing video games.  Before finding out about this tumor, I was an active kid and skinny. However this summer of not being able to be active or able to run around like a normal 7 year old is where the start of my weight and diet problems began.  I would not only eat unhealthy, but I ate way larger portions then a normal 7 year old. I’d eat 4 microwave burritos in one meal. Some days I would eat 3 top Ramen soups in a meal and top it off with lots of butter most likely inspired by Homer Simpsons way of eating. I grew to love Taco Bell and McDonalds like they were my lifelines. My emotions for food started to really change at this point. It was a form of comfort since I wasn’t able to run around like a normal kid. I gained a lot of weight that summer and by the time my cast was off my leg the emotional damage had been done; my diet and need for big portions of food had set itself in. I would never lose the weight all the way through grade school. I would be known as the fat kid in school from that point. You can check out my previous blog about my transformation from 16 years old to 34 years old and consider this story a prequel.
My childhood emotions on how food felt to me didn’t really change till I was in my 30’s. Despite getting into fitness and working out in my 20’s, I’ll admit that I didn’t think about my diet enough. Don’t get me wrong I tried. I tried to do less carbs and fats. I tried to eat 2000 calories a day. I kept calorie journals and tried to be good at dieting better. However I would always revert back to eating poorly. Taco Bell and some form of fast food was always in the mix every week still. At 25 years old I ran a computer services business in San Francisco so I basically ate out all the time. The only reason I didn’t gain any weight was because I continued to workout 3-4 times a week. However the emotional eating I created as a kid was still part of me in my 20’s. I never became aware of how emotional eating was till I read a book that I borrowed from my cousins. The name of the book is called “It Starts With Food” by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig. This book really helped me understand my eating habits and really made me think deep about how I’ve been eating over the years. It was hard to face how wrong I had been eating. I would say I still didn’t make drastic changes to my diet even after learning about the emotions of eating, but it stayed in the back of my mind. At 29 years old I finally decided to take some steps to get my eating in the right direction. I reduced my carb intake by half and had some to no sugar at all in my diet. This pushed me to look at alternative methods to eat since I needed to reduce my carbs. I started appreciating lettuce wrapped burgers more as they were a lighter carbs option to have a burger still. I did have eat less pasta and spaghetti. Instead of making rice with every meal, my wife and I would opt for veggies. Instead of emotionally eating what came to mind first, I successfully planned meals better. This has carried over into my 30’s now and has only gotten better. I now can be happy with myself no matter what I eat. Even if I splurge and over eat or eat something unhealthy I will get back to my usual healthier eating and go back to being present about my food intake. I’ve learned not to be so hard on myself anymore about eating and allow myself to enjoy meals. This has allowed me to stay on top of eating healthier which in turn has helped give me better fitness results. I’m still working on this, but I’ve come a long way.
The main point I want to point out in this blog post is that our eating is based a lot on the emotions we feel about food. When were happy or sad we have a tendency to eat unhealthy or overeat. So what is important if we want eat better is to be aware of how our moods, emotions, and lifestyles that urge us to eat a certain way. Keeping a food log can help us make us more aware. Another tactic is planning meals one day at a time and sticking to it. One thing that has worked for me is telling myself to go with the healthier meal if I do have to eat out. I tell myself that no matter what my mind is telling me to eat, choosing the healthier meal will still fulfill my hunger. These days I stick to having one or two cheat meals a week to keep my hunger satisfied so that most of my meals are healthy and nutrition dense. Its a mind over matter thing when it comes to eating. The only one that can help you with this is yourself. You can read all the meal plans and get all the advice possible, but it’ll come down to you executing what you put in your body. Make it so that food is something you consume, not letting food consume you.

My Spartan Race A Year Ago Inspired Me To Train Harder

    The Spartans were fierce and courageous warriors who faced adversity like they were born for it.  One year ago today I did the hardest physical challenge I’ve ever experienced.  I did my first Spartan race at Oracle Park in San Francisco in November of 2019. I completely got hooked on doing these races and soon after scheduled my next race in February 2020.  The Spartan race consists of a race course that has 20-30 obstacles to complete in order to continue on with your race. The obstacles are fun physical challenges such as a wall climb, rope climb, monkey bars, bucket carry, barbed wire crawl, and a spear throw because we all know Spartan warriors threw some bad ass spears to take down their enemies. In my point of view a Spartan race is a playground for adults that want to physically challenge themselves while running a 5K,10K, or a 22K. The one that I did in November 2019 is called a Stadion which is a Spartan race set at a professional stadium, which is normally home to a professional sports team. After doing this race and experiencing the challenge of taking on a Spartan race, I knew I wanted to do more. So I set myself up to do the longer race called the ‘Super; in February.  Little did I know I would be challenging myself physically like no other.
    I woke up on a beautiful Saturday morning and ate a solid breakfast. I prepared everything I would need to survive the grueling Spartan challenge I had for myself today. I had my shoes, my under armor runner hat, hydration pack, and my running pants ready to go. My wife and nephew also came with me for the trip as we decided to also make a it a family day trip. I felt the butterflies before this race.  I had never ever even run more then 6 miles before doing this race and today’s Super Spartan race was going to have me run 7.5 miles while being challenged to complete 25 obstacles on my way to the finish line.  So we made the drive out towards the middle of California in Diablo Grande. When we got there, I realized that the morning routine and preparation had gotten me there pretty close to the start of the race.  I was force to abandon my wife and nephew in order to get to the race before I ran too late. So I pretty much warmed up by running to the race event from where we parked. My heart was racing and thoughts of the imminent challenge before me started to set into my reality. The race festivities were a blur as I had a lot of adrenaline going by the time I reached the event. Luckily I still made it with my group of racers with 10 minutes to spare. I looked around and saw many other Spartan racers like me about to take on this challenge. I did the age group race so the racers around me weren’t completely competitive. I saw a couple who liked they were ready to go on a mild hike and then some people were dressed up in costumes to my amusement. There were some competitive racers too, but a good all around crowd of racers overall. Just before I knew it the race started and I was off.  I got into a good running pace and started out nice. The butterflies and anxious feelings went away now that I was able to start moving. I felt good starting and keeping up with the racers at the beginning of the pack.  The first obstacle came real quick and it was a simple mud ditch that I had to go down and come back up. Unfortunately it wasn’t as simple as I thought. When I finished the obstacle, my heart completely dropped.  I had lost my wedding ring and it was nowhere in sight.
    I’m sure you’re thinking what an idiot I could be to be wearing my wedding ring for this race. I can be careless at times. I’m only human. So I had a choice either to keep going or to stop racing and dig through the dirt. Of course I chose the latter and went back to find my wedding ring my wife got me. As I went the opposite direction towards other racers feeling super embarrassed, I wasn’t going to let that stop me. I made it to the dirt obstacle and started my search.  I digged through the dirt in desperation as I retraced my steps while dodging out of the way of other racers. Other racers were asking if I’m okay and once telling them what I was looking for, they made an “oof” expression and continued on their way. I felt helpless and hopeless as I searched for my ring. The negative self talk made its way into my mind and heavily criticized how careless I was not to take it off before the race. I almost gave up, but somehow some way I managed to find it at the bottom of the dirt hill in the first obstacle.  I scooped it up quickly and put it in my hydration pack pocket. I zipped it up tight and finally after 15 minutes of searching for my ring, I was ready to continue racing.
    Finally lets talk about the race. After the first obstacle I ran for a bit and the course took us into the hills of the Diablo Grande where the course steered us towards an uphill that was the steepest hill I ever faced. My negative self talk still hung around to guilt me and told me that this hill is my punishment for almost losing my wedding ring. My self talk can be a real ass sometimes. Haha. I took on this hill and pushed harder to get up to the top. It seemed like it took forever, but eventually I made it up and stared at a beautiful view of the Spartan race festivities. The downhill was a nice recovery. This was just the first mile of the course so they really kick your ass to start these races.
    I proceeded to charge forward and continue the race. I did wall jumps, and uphill bucket carry’s. I attempted the monkey bars and other similar upper body obstacles, but I was not able to complete them. If you aren’t able to complete an obstacle, you have to do 25 burpees before proceeding. I did them and kept going. My body was not ready for this race at all. Just before halfway through the race, I honestly felt like I was a lifeless zombie just moving without being too present. It got harder to focus as the race went on. As the race went on, I just focused on not stopping. “Don’t stop. Keep going,” is what I kept telling myself. I took water breaks at the stands they had during the race course. However I didn’t take more then 5 minutes as I wanted to finish this race. It would take me 2 hours and 21 minutes to finally reach the finish line where I exhaustedly made my way over seeing my nephew and wife waving for me at the finish line. You can check out the video here. What a race this was. I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t train enough or condition enough to take on this race, but I did get inspired to push myself to be a stronger runner from this point on.  I also want to go for being a Spartan Elite someday and really build strength on doing those upper body obstacles.  After training hard for the last year since this race, I can honestly say I would do this Super Spartan race in way less time then 2 hours and 21 minutes. I’m a stronger runner now after running 483 miles in 2020 (See my 2020 running journey blog post) and with the Beachbody programs I’ve been grinding through since October 2020, I’ve gained a lot of muscle strength since then. I’ll be ready to take on Spartan races with a vengeance when this Covid-19 pandemic ends. Until then I’ll continue to train hard for when its time to go race as a Spartan again.

Fitness Check In: How The Prep Kicked My Ass In A Good Way

It’s time to talk to you about the new Fitness Program I just started last week. So if you don’t know by now, I’m a Beachbody Coach and have access to bunch of effective fitness programs for a whole year.  I’ve crushed two of them so far since October.  The 30 Day Breakaway, by Idalis Valdez, is an effective running program that mixes in strength training and running intervals to help build you up to be a stronger runner. I did this program for two rounds in 60 days and lowered my 5K time by 2 minutes and 45 seconds. The latest program I finished 10 days ago is called Liift4 which at first glance makes you think it’s just a lifting program, but the Super trainer that heads this program Joel Freeman mixes things up well. He has you focus on lifting and building strength in your arms, abs, and legs, but he adds in his flavor of HIIT training and really challenges you. Here are my results from that program if you want to check it out. Now the newest program I’m doing is called the ‘The Prep’ which is a 4 week prep program to get you ready for the challenging program called “The Work.” Amolia Cesar caught my eye while I was in the middle of doing Liift4. I really enjoyed his energy and passion for fitness and knew I had to give his program a try next. So here I am powered up by my first two Beach Body programs ready to take on 10 weeks of ‘The Prep’ and the ‘The Work.
Push
Week 1 begins with a push which is fitting name to start a program because it’s always nice to get a push to start new things. However Amolia Cesar’s version of ‘Push’ is focusing on a lot of dumbbell and body weight movements that target your chest and shoulder muscles. He has you go through several rounds of dumbbell thrusters, push ups, burpees, and planks. It was a solid workout to get things going. I felt like I had Superman chest after this one no doubt.
Check out my Instagram reel that covers this workout.
Legs
They always say don’t skip leg day. Why would you? Training the legs is essential to building strength throughout your whole body. You kind of need your legs to do just about every exercise. Even when you’re sitting and doing arm curls on a bench, you are still using your legs for stability. Amoila’s leg day kicked my ass. I’m not going to lie. My glutes were on fire and really feeling it after. He mixes up different squat variations with some band movements while getting you to do some skaters to further punish your glutes and effectively work those leg muscles. As Amoila says in his explicit version, “We’re going to $%&# up those legs.” He wasn’t wrong. My next reel covers the work I did last Monday morning.
Endurance & Agility
This is where the program started challenging me. I’ve done a lot of the exercise movements from “Push” and “Leg” day, but this workout had me do some new moves that required some coordination focus on my part. The workout focuses on targeting your arm, ab, and leg muscles as he has you do a back lunge and has you follow up with a bicep curl while holding your lunge. This effectively is working multiple muscle groups at once. How nice of Amolia to make my fitness sessions efficient. The first half of this workout is lifting and then the 2nd half he burns you out with some agility moves. Thankfully for me my first two Beachbody programs have trained me in agility and HITT training so it wasn’t too bad, but it still made for a challenging end. There is reason Amoila recommends a rest day before this one. Check out my reel and get a look at this unique workout.
Pull
Alright it’s time to pull. You would think this workout just focuses on arm muscles, but Amolia is a smart man and he knows how to target multiple muscles in a workout session. This workout targets your back, shoulders, biceps, abs, and glutes.  The abs especially get burned in this session with some leg lifts, mountain climbers, and dumbbell back lifts. I decided to switch it up on the gram and do a carousel post detail all the work I did in this session.
 
Full Body Tempo
The finale intense workout of week 1 wasn’t an easy one. Amoila wouldn’t let you off that easy. More new movements for me on this workout. When I have to coordinate more, I typically have to focus and practice a bit in order to nail the movement. It adds another of layer of difficulty. The exercise that kicked my ass in this session has to be the front lunge and thrusters up and down. It was a combination of working the shoulders and legs. The abs I’m sure got some work as well on that move since the abs needs to keep me stable so the move doesn’t kill me where I stand. The last few moves had me use some sliders while working the abs and arms. The sliders are interesting to use for these workouts as they force you to stabilize and balance or you’ll slide out and split yourself in half. Just kidding, but you still need to work hard to not slide out. Overall this was a fun workout to finish the week on. Check out my reel that finishes out the intense workouts in week 1 of ‘The Prep.’
Final Thoughts
The ‘Range and Repair’ day has to be one of the best recovery workouts I’ve ever done. After having Amolia Cesar yell intensely at us in the other workouts he tones it down to yoga calming voice in this 40 minute stretching. This stretching session helped me work out all the kinks from the damage from week 1 of this program. It was for sure needed because the first week when it was all set and done kicked my ass. It took this stretching session on day 7 to help me realize that. Overall I’m super excited about the start of this program. The results I’m going to get from this ass kicking program is going to be pretty good. Week 2 already takes a different route with a different schedule of workouts so the program doesn’t get repetitive and keeps you on your toes. You can check out my Instagram to see how the first two days look. I’ll come back next Sunday or Monday with another blog covering week 2 of ‘The Prep.’ There is for sure no B.S. about this program though.

Do You Have Limiting Thoughts Hindering You In Life?

    I’ll be the first one to tell you that I’ve had limiting thoughts hindering me my whole life.  From High School to even the present I still struggle with this. I’m constantly in an ongoing struggle with my minds thoughts.  There are even some days I wake up and don’t want to work out and have to tell myself, “Just wake up and get to your workout. You always know you’ll be good when you get started with your fitness training.”  After I got laid off from jobs in 2018 and last year, my confidence got crushed both times and limiting thoughts took over me. Life is an ongoing struggle as just when you have things figured out and working the way you want, life finds a way to challenge you in the most unpleasant way.  Life doesn’t have a hand guide or directions on how to deal with our own personal challenges. So how do we deal with life and the hands it deals us? Are we just as helpless as we are at a blackjack table where the house holds all the cards or is there another way we can deal with life’s curveballs?
    Based on my own experience, there is really only two options for when life challenges us and puts us in a position we are not comfortable in. We can do nothing and allow the new uncomfortable change become our new normal despite what consequences are to happen in hindsight. Those consequences end up typically making things worse as problems in life that don’t get resolved will usually come back to bite you one way or another. The other choice is we can ‘Adapt.’ We can learn to deal with the new personal challenge and figure out how to overcome it. The latter option is the harder choice to go through with no doubt. It takes courage to climb out of your comfort zone and figure a new way of doing things. At times when we’re challenged to do something different to overcome difficulties, this is the stage when ‘limiting thoughts’ creep into our minds and make us do a double take on what we should do in life. For example, I’m a Beachbody Coach who offers a variety of workout programs and protein packages to others that want to improve their fitness life. I signed up 3 people in my first few months and thought I was on my way to getting this business of network marketing going. However as I’ve learned by now, being a Fitness coach and networking marketing a lot harder then I thought. So after putting in some effort in my first few months, I struggled to keep my confidence up. I wasn’t able to sign up anyone else and it didn’t seem like anyone was interested in the fitness packages I was offering. The constant rejections eventually put my mind in a whirlwind of limiting beliefs such as, “Its probably because I’m a guy that no one wants to be coached by me.” Or “Its probably because I don’t have a solid physical physique like all the other popular fitness folks on Instagram.” So I shied away from reaching out to others about the Beachbody program and decided to just focus on my own fitness training. After months of getting more results in Liift4 in 9 weeks, I felt a renewed confidence to give my coaching and networking marketing another try. While I still haven’t gotten anyone else signed up, I’m reading and learning weekly on improving knowledge in fitness, fitness coaching, and networking marketing because I’m determined to overcome my own personal struggles. I want to move past my own ‘limiting thoughts.’
Some people say life is short, but I kind of think the opposite. Life is actually long and with that kind of mindset in mind that means there is lots of time in life to overcome internal struggles. Personal problems in life don’t have to be fixed in one day. Its actually not realistic to think that problems can get resolved so quickly. Sure we would like things to get fixed like Mary Poppins does with the wave of her umbrella, but in order to take on and face off against your own limiting beliefs, you have to take time to understand them. Understand why you’re having them and then figure out how to overcome them and this process takes time. If you spent years not dealing with mental struggles and constant perceptions of life then most likely it’ll take months to years to overcome them.  Why else would I suddenly run 483 miles in 2020 at 34 years old, but not even push myself to try to run more then 100 miles in a year in my 20’s? It’s because my mind took years to mature and grow stronger over time. This why I truly believe this process of fighting back against your limiting beliefs is one that takes time. So my advice is don’t go for the quick fixes or the easy route to make things better. They don’t really work out in the long run. Instead work on gradual improvements and baby steps toward resolving personal problems. I’m in no way an expert myself in doing this as I have my own personal struggles and limiting thoughts I deal with everyday. However I acknowledge that there there and I plan to tackle them step by step and continue to always work on self improvement in my life.

How The Covid 19 Pandemic Pushed Me To Become A Better Runner

I never liked running all the way through High School and my 20’s. When I was 320lbs I was the kid at P.E. that opted to walk and not even try. My outlook of physical activity was covered in my earlier blog post this week (Fat & Depressed at 16 to Passionate and Fit at 34). Even in my 20’s I just had no drive to push myself to run.  I would go through maybe a few weeks or 1-2 months where I would really build myself at running and get to 4-5 miles on the treadmill at the gym. Right. The treadmill as I never pushed myself to run outside much and if I did, it was once in awhile.  I lacked so much drive to continue going and never got my niche for running in my early 20’s. I’m pretty sure my depressed teenage years where I faked an injury while running during Baseball had a negative effect for me. However in my late 20’s and 30’s I did start building more of a habit for running, but I never ran more then 40 miles a month and averaged about 15-20 miles doing about 5-7 runs a month. For me, it was a simple way to get some cardio and change things up from going to the gym. It wasn’t till 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic that I would suddenly find my true passion in running.

    Losing the gym March of 2020 was a big blow and I was at a loss on how I would continue my fitness at first.  So I did the only thing I knew to do. I reverted back to doing mostly cardio except this time I had no exercise machines. No elliptical or treadmills to auto pilot on. All I had was the ability to run. So I ran I did and while normally I would’ve burnt out on running and doing the same thing in a month or two like I normally did in my 20’s. Yet this time was different.  I was unemployed thanks to this pandemic in April 2020 and I also had a baby on the way.  While most people would brood in negativity over this situation, it somehow drove me to continue my running and not give up. I began consistently using the Nike Run Club running app to track all my runs. I started out simple and ran 25 miles in April.  It then progressed to 38 miles in May where my wife and I had our first newborn.  The running for me didn’t stop there as I continued on to run 64 miles in the month of June as I hit a new monthly PR in running for me that month. I kept running steady at 55 miles in July and then charged things up again in August running 65 miles.  I had somehow pushed past my running limits that I had in my 20’s and no longer had anything holding me back. In August I had gotten a new job and was now a new Dad with a working job. However that didn’t seem to slow me down as I went on to soar to new heights in my birthday month of September and ran 100 miles which is a goal I set at the start of the month. However I didn’t make it easy for myself at all. I had only run 30 miles by September 19th and while it looked grim that I would meet my 100 mile goal I wasn’t about to give up.  I pushed hard and ran the 70 miles needed from September 20th to the end of the month and on the last day of September made it to my goal of 100 miles.  I completely became a competitive runner right before my very own eyes. I had no plan to do this. This seriously happen organically and it was something I never expected until it happened. I’m now inspired to join more running races in the future especially Spartan races.

    I’m lucky to be blessed with living in a peaceful nice town such as Foster City. I can run either at night or during the day and feel very safe.  I also have to give props to my Siberian Husky Leia who is a strong 5 year old running partner and she kept me motivated as well to keep pushing at my running. She ran over 120 miles herself in 2020 while I topped out at 483 miles of running in 2020.  I had never even ran 100 miles in a year before 2020.  I hope this blog post proves to anyone that no matter what happened in your life or what is happening in your life in the present, there is always a chance to make a big change that’ll impact your life for the better.  I look forward to when this pandemic is over and I can enter into some races and Spartan races. I’m so motivated and driven to kick some ass in some competitive racing when it comes time.  Until then, I will stay training hard and continue to work on getting stronger and stronger till its time to unleash all the running strength I gained from 2020.

 

Apple Watch Series 5 Vs. Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2

     So one thing you should know about me is that I’ve been working in the IT Tech field for 16 years  now.  Which means its only natural that I use my technical mind to do some comparisons between Fitness technology. Later on I’ll also do a review between Fitness apps as well so that you can hear it from me on what I think of each one.  The Tech for Fitness has been improving more and more over the years. As a Techie, I really enjoy testing things out and seeing what gadgets and apps are being innovative enough to spark my interest for my fitness.

    I used to have an Apple Watch Series 5 before I switched to the Samsung world.  Now I have a Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 so I thought it was fitting that I could write up a blog between the two and share my thoughts on the pro’s and cons of each watch. So lets jump right in.

    Lets start with ease of use: Both watches were fairly easy to setup with the phones via Bluetooth as they had easy walk through instructions that helped you get the watches setup in no time. My wife who’s not a Tech was able to get both of these watches to setup very easily herself.  Then as far as using the watch and configuring it to how you want to use it, both watches provide you with a variety of choices to setup.  Setting up a cool watch face and being able to buy more is very simple. The only difference is that Apple Watch Series 5 gives you the option to configure a watch face using your phone while the Samsung Galaxy Galaxy Watch Active 2 only allows you to change the face using your watch.  However Apple and Samsung both give you the ability to add/remove apps using both the watch and the phone app. Both watches for me ran pretty smooth and without much delay when using a Fitness Activity. This is a key feature that I’m sure most fitness folks will appreciate. The ‘Always On’ feature is available for both watches as well.  This always comes in handy when you\’re running or in the middle of a workout as it gives you the option to glance at your watch and check and see how much calories or distance your at. I remember using the Apple Watch Series 2 for a few years and having to tap my watch in order to see how much time and calories I’ve burned and when you’re out of breath and in the middle of staying focused in a workout, it could be pretty troublesome. One thing the Samsung watch is better on (At least at the time when I had the Apple Watch Series 5) is that it tracks my sleep much better then the Apple Watch Series 5 when I was using it last year in 2020. However it has been awhile and its possible Apple may have improved this, but when I switched to the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2, tracking my sleep became effortless. Overall the ease of use between both of these watches is fairly similar and I didn’t feel like it was too hard to make the switch from an Apple Watch to a Samsung Watch.

    Lets get down to some technical specification comparisons. We’ll start with whats the same. Both watches are available in 40MM and 44MM so there is not much difference for options there except for the fact that Apple Watches are shaped as a square and Samsung Watches are shaped as a circle.  Both Smart Watches are able to survive underwater as deep as 50 meters and also able to utilize GPS and LTE technologies just the same.  They both come with an optical heart rate sensor along with also being able to utilize Apple Pay and Samsung pay respectively.

    Now lets finish up with the real battle between both these watches. Which watch is better then the other as far as technical specifications?  So as far as price, Samsung wins this round as the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 is available starting at $279 for GPS only version and $429 for the LTE version while the Apple Watch Series 5 (Now Series 6) is available for $399 for the GPS version and $499 for the LTE version. Also if we compare the Batteries, Samsung wins this next round with the Galaxy Watch as its able to handle 24-60 hours of battery life compared to the Apple Watches 18 hours of battery life. However the winning streak ends for Samsung when you start comparing thing such as display quality as the Apple Watch Series 5 has more pixels on screen for both its 40MM and 44MM versions compare to the Galaxy Watch Active 2. Also the Apple Watches have 8 times higher storage space with 32GB while the Galaxy Watch Active 2 only has 4GB of storage space for music and photos. The Apple Watch has a larger variety of colors to pick from compared to the Galaxy Active Watch 2, but for woman its key to note that Apple doesn’t have a pink Apple Watch while Samsung Galaxy Active 2 does have a Pink Gold option.

Also one more thing to conclude this watch comparison is that while both watches are both good at keeping track of running workouts pretty well utilizing their GPS features, the Apple Watch is far superior in tracking overall calories whether you are in a workout or not. There is a huge difference in my overall calories burned using the Samsung watch compared to when I had the Apple Watch. When I say ‘overall’ I mean my calories tracked throughout the day from my normal day to day activities. This is extremely noticeable when using my Samsung Galaxy Active Watch 2 for HIIT or weightlifting sessions. When I had the Apple Watch Series 5, one hour I was typically able to burn up 900 to 1100 calories during a HIIT session. My current Galaxy Active Watch 2 racks up just under 500 calories burned in an hour of doing a HIIT exercise. After researching this distinction, I found out that the Apple Watches base the calories more off of your heart rate through the workout or normal use while the Galaxy Active Watch 2 bases calories burned from the weight you set when you first setup the watch.

    So its safe to say that the Apple Watch Series 5 (And now the Series 6) is the superior fitness watch over the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2. I\’m looking to see if Samsung will improve their watch to one day be on able to track HIIT and weight training sessions much better in the future.  I honestly would\’ve stuck with my Apple Watch Series 5 when I switched to a Samsung Phone, but  Apple does require you to have an Apple Iphone in order to use the Apple Watch devices as there is no Apple Watch support on the Ipad.  So for now I’m content with using my Galaxy Watch Active 2 in hopes Samsung improves their next watch to support better calorie tracking.  Hope this smartwatch comparison has been helpful.

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How I Nailed My 5:30AM Morning Routine

 


    The elusive morning routine is not an easy one to create and maintain by any stretch of the imagination. I used to look at people that woke up early and think, “That’s crazy how early people are waking up.” I loved getting my sleep and when I was in my 20’s and read about the positives it is for your health to get 8 hours of sleep, I was big on making sure I got enough sleep so that I could maintain my busy lifestyle of being an hard working IT guy who works out 3-4 times a week. However that all changed when my wife of 4 years told me she was pregnant with our first child and I knew some big changes were on the way. My coworker from a job I had gave me some good advice about parenting a new born, “Surrender to not getting enough sleep. Ever.” He pretty much stated that its better for you mentally to have low expectations of getting enough sleep.  I’ve taken this advice to heart and before my daughter was born, I decided to work on developing an early morning routine in order to prepare myself for early morning wake ups.

    So while the Covid-19 pandemic just got me laid off from my job and the pressure of having a baby on the way in 3 months was my reality, it was a bit of a mental battle to worry about something as simple as developing a morning routine. However I pushed myself to still try. At the same time, I also really started amping up my running & workout regime. I’ve always used fitness as an outlet for everyday life stress and the pandemic wasn’t an exception.  While the anxious and fearful thoughts about my future hit me hard, I decided to focus on what I can control which was getting out and going for a run. I started small by waking up at 6:30AM at least 3 days a week to get my body used to waking up earlier. While it wasn’t easy at all and I had mornings where my mind said, “What the hell are you doing? You should go back to sleep and get your rest. There is no reason for you to get up early with no job to get to.” My mind can be a real prick sometimes. Haha. After a few weeks of waking up early three times a week, I started stepping it up to 4 and 5 times a week pretty fast.  After 1 month, my body really adjusted pretty easily to the new routine.  I even started getting into some early morning long runs at 10-12 miles which for me was the first time I’ve ever even run that long before. By the time my daughter was born in May, I was ready for the sleepless nights and early morning wake ups. My best advice for working on building a new routine is to smart small and then build your way up from there. This method sure worked for me in 2020.

    Fast forward to 10 months later to today. I now wake up to the alarm of my watch at 5:30AM and my initial reaction is to turn it off as quick as possible so that my 8 month old daughter doesn’t wake up as well. After that I take a minute or two to wake up before I crawl out of bed quietly and tippy toe my way out of the room.  Once I feel the cold morning air in my living room (Where I’ve been working out for 10 months now), I start waking up. I go for getting my Beachbody Performance Pre-workout ready. These days I’m not running as much as you can say I’m going for my bulk and more HIIT workouts more these days. Although I did run 8 miles two weeks ago so I can bust out and do a long run if I need to. However with no end of this pandemic coming anytime soon, I’m working on building strength vs. racking up the running miles. After about 15-20 minutes my pre workout called “Energize” kicks in and I’m ready to kick ass on my current workout program. Waking up early is easy for me now.  The 8 Mile run I ran two weeks ago at 4AM; I did it after I spent an hour and half trying to put my daughter back to sleep.  While most parents would be exhausted and want to get back to bed, I’ve really trained my body to be awake and aware in the morning. This wasn’t easy to achieve and it took me months for it to be normal to wake up at so early in the morning. After I finish my morning workout, I start my routine of getting ready for work at my full time job and face my day powered by my morning routine.

    I really appreciate my morning routine now as its the time I use for myself. Its the time I use to prepare myself for work day.  Its also the only time where I can truly have some “me” time which is very elusive when you become a parent. I currently just started a new Beachbody Program called “The Prep” where the intensity is pretty high for this program.  I almost get an adrenaline rush now from knowing I’m about to kick ass before my day starts. Its been a great routine that I use to help me be a stronger version of myself. Always be sure to make time for yourself. Whether you’re a parent or not, be sure to switch gears and focus on something you truly feel passionate about. You won’t regret the benefits of giving your mind what it needs to feel fulfilled.

Be sure to follow all my latest Fitness content on my Instagram: no_b.s._rich_fitness