Monday, May 21, 2007

Insight from the Experts

Hey everyone!

Just wanted to let you know that I recently contributed to a free special report for everyone who is signed up for the
Robertson Training Systems Newsletter (and if you're not, you really should be!!!). Here's a quick author list:

Craig Ballantyne
Chad Waterbury
Eric Cressey
Brijesh Patel
Mike Roussell
Tony Gentilcore
Zach Even-Esh
Craig Rasmussen
Nick Grantham
Joe Stankowski
AJ Roberts
Kevin Larrabee
Jimmy Smith
Keith Scott
Mike Yuhaniak
...and me!

If you're not already signed up for Mike's fantastic newsletter, head over to
Robertson Training Systems, sign up for the newsletter and you'll get a link to download it...you can also check out Mike's blog, another fantastic resource and must read!

There are some really great tips and articles in the book, so I hope that you all enjoy it!

-Jonathan


Sunday, May 20, 2007

Happy Birthday to Me

Thanks to Jay-Z, the rumor is that “30 is the ‘new’ 20.” But with all due respect to Shawn Carter, I’m not sure that I agree. After all, looking at my life right now as compared to when I was 20, there are certainly quite a few things that have changed over the years…

At age 30, I’m stronger than I was at 20 years old. My diet and eating habits are healthier. My body fat is lower. At age 30, my heart rate is lower, and so is my blood pressure. The bottom line is that, ten years later, I’m healthier than I was when I was 20. About the only thing that hasn’t changed is my waistline. Well, that and the number of gray hairs that I have on my head!

Rather than longing for years past and for the days of our lost youth, maybe we’re looking at this “getting older thing” all wrong. Whether this year happens to be your 30th birthday, or your 90th, we all have the power to make our lives happier and healthier, full of vigor and vivacity, at any stage of life! After all, we can’t stop the progression of time, or the inevitably of getting older…we can, however, stop the progression of getting old.

I’m not quite convinced that 30 really is “the new 20.” But maybe it shouldn’t be, either. After all, with some hard work and dedication to yourself and your health, 30 can be, well, the new 30!

…And that’s the best birthday present that I could ever get!

-Jonathan

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Rethinking the Question

My father sent me an amazing article the other day about new research in patient resuscitation after a heart attack, To Treat the Dead. The article describes a new way of looking at what “clinical death” really is, and amazing and ground-breaking research that could change how we not only treat patients suffering from myocardial infarction, but in the very way that we view the body itself, as well as what happens when we die. I don’t know about you, but I’d say that this is pretty amazing stuff!

Of course, everything that we learn and every new theory that we develop has come from the ashes of a previous theory, a challenge to a widely-held dogma, or a new way of looking at an old problem. It is the human condition, the thirst for knowledge and the inquisitiveness of our nature that drives us to explore, discover, to learn and to understand.

When was the last time that you questioned your world? Do you know why you do the things that you do, the reason why you believe the things that you believe? Self-discovery is as important to an individual’s development as is eating and sleeping. In the quest for self-improvement, self-analysis and reflection is our compass and map. They are the tools that we use to build a better life.

Perhaps less importantly (but more appropriately to the topic of my blog), when is the last time that you questioned what you do in the gym? When is the last time that you turned a critical eye to your own workouts and methods? Do you know why you are using a certain exercise, or using a certain number of repetitions or sets? Why three sets of eight? Why eight sets of three? Is your workout producing the results that you’re after? Could you be doing something that would work even better? When is the last time that you actually thought about your workouts, instead of just following them?

Learn to question everything that you do…Or risk learning nothing.

-Jonathan



Saturday, May 5, 2007

Fun With Technology

Just a quick update: You can now subscribe to my Blog using an RSS feed or through an email notification service...have a look under my bio to the left of the postings for the "FeedBurner" link and/or for a place to enter your email address.

Have a great weekend everyone!

-Jonathan

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Stressing What’s Important

Lousy title, I know, but I’ve just been “out of it” lately. I’ve felt nervous, uninspired, anxious, unfocused and restless. I’ve had a difficult time staying asleep at night, I’ve been quick to get “snappy” with others, I’ve found myself less interested in my work, and I’ve even been less attentive to my friends, girlfriend, and family.

In other words, I’ve been feeling some serious stress!

Looking at my schedule, it’s pretty easy to see why: with one more month of classes left before we begin our first clinical rotations for school this summer, I will be working on five case studies, two papers, one case study presentation, six practical exams and seven final exams…and I just finished a 103 question comprehensive exam that tested us on the material covered over the entire first year of grad school! It’s a wonder that I haven’t caved under the pressure like Jack Nicholson in “The Shining,” and it’s only going to get worse before it gets better, unfortunately.

In life, we all deal with stress. It’s a part of the human experience, and it’s even theorized to be a necessary and integral part of that experience. However, high levels of stress can significantly impact your health, both physically and psychologically. I’m getting stressed just thinking about it!

While I could turn this into an in-depth discussion of “Glucocorticoids-this” and “Adrenals-that,” simply looking at what stress actually does to our bodies through common experience is enough to paint the larger picture: lowered energy levels, decreased mental focus and attention, a negative impact on our immune system and healing, altered carbohydrate and fat metabolism causing weight gain, and increased blood pressure and heart rates, to name just a few. In addition, chronic stress has been shown to contribute to very serious health problems, such as cardiovascular disorders, gastrointestinal pathologies, insulin-resistance and diabetes. There is even a small (albeit inconclusive) amount of evidence linking stress to tumor growth and cancer.

Obviously, this is hardly a good thing, not only for our overall health and well-being, but for our physiques and weight management as well. Of course, you can't avoid periods of stress in life, but doing your best to get enough sleep, eating properly, and employing strategies to decrease and/or manage your stress will go a long way in building muscle, losing fat and maintaining good health. For some, setting aside time for leisure activities such as reading a book, watching a movie, or working at a hobby will help to stay calm and relaxed. Other proven strategies in combating stress include meditation, Tai Chi and other physical relaxation techniques, listening to calming or soft music…and exercise, of course.

No matter what the problem is, exercise always seems to be the answer, doesn’t it? Exercise helps to keep our minds off of what is causing us stress, unless, of course, the thought of exercising is what’s actually causing you the stress…in that case, you’re on your own, buddy. Exercise also improves our cardiovascular functioning, boosts our immune systems, improves our insulin sensitivity, increases our overall energy, improves cognition and mental focus, and leads to decreased blood pressure and lowered heart rates…in other words, it counteracts all of the acute effects of stress! Exercise really is nature’s perfect medicine, and you didn’t even need to go to your doctor for a prescription!

The simple act of finally recognizing my stress and understanding where it has been coming from has been the key for me in staying in control of it over the last few days, helping me to be more aware of myself and my behavior and feelings. I called up my girlfriend and apologized profusely for not being “there” for her this past week (luckily for me, she has the patience of a saint and is exceptionally understanding and supportive of me), and I’ve been making more of an effort to reach out to my friends and my parents, helping me to keep my spirits up and keep my mind off of the stressful issues.

No matter how you deal with life’s little bumps, remember that no single strategy works perfectly, and the most effective way to deal with stress is to approach it from multiple angles. What works for me may not work for you, and vice-versa, but the important thing to remember is that there is always an answer.

I don’t know about you, but I feel better already!

-Jonathan