Monthly Archives: January 2013

Your Attitude Determines Your Destiny

The Student Creed at my daughter’s Karate Dojo is as follows….

“I keep my thoughts positive… because my thoughts become words.

I keep my words positive… because my words become my actions.

I keep my actions positive… because my actions become my values.

I keep my values positive… because my values become my DESTINY!”


Strong stuff, eh?  Hearing it for the 1000th time the other night made me think of how valuable the words actually are.  Everything in our lives is influenced by the ATTITUDE that we adopt.  Positive people do more and enjoy more.  Here is a list of 10 things that having a positive attitude can bring you….

1-  More happiness.

2-  You feel less stress and are happier because of it.

3-  “Problems” are no longer problems, but become opportunities to grow.

4-  You see opportunities where others see dead ends.

5-  Your immune system is stonger.

6-  You achieve more and are more satisfied with what you do achieve.

7-  You expect positive outcomes and results and you usually get them.

8-  You have more energy (negativity can be very draining).

9-  You bounce back from setbacks faster.

10-  You have more perseverance since you expect things to turn out well in the end.  Because of that, they usually do.


If you just aren’t a very positive person, but you recognize the value of being one, here are 3 Attitude Adjustment Strategies you can use to change your state immediately.


1-  Smile and stand up straight!  Just as your emotions can change your physical body (ie:  when you are depressed you slouch, move slower and breathe more shallow), your physical body can change your emotions.  In other words, Fake It.  It is very hard to be sad and depressed when you’re smiling and standing tall.



2-  Use Questions to guide your thoughts.  Ask yourself these questions…. What is GREAT about this situation?  What am I happy about?  What am I grateful for? …and what EXCITES me?

Your mind will send you the answers in the form of thoughts.  Remember the creed…. your thoughts become ultimately become your destiny!



3-  Assume an, almost child-like, trust in the goodness of people and things around you.  If your waitress brings you the wrong order…. smile.  She might have a sick child in the hospital or might have just gotten an eviction notice.  If somebody cuts you off in traffic, breathe…. they might be rushing to the ER to be with their spouse.  If your customer service person is hard to understand, speak more slowly and think of them as your friend…. they are just another human being trying to make a living and this is your opportunity to help them and to make a difference!

In other words, don’t take on more burdens then you already have.  Remember the big picture and what is really important to you.  In the end, everything else is just small stuff.



Attitude Adjustment Strategy BONUS No. 4….   Imagine that you are Indiana Jones!  EVERYTHING in your life is simply “part of the Adventure”.  I am the child of immigrant parents whose childhood years were lived through World War 2.  By night, they were bombed by the allies and by day, their lives were dominated by the Nazis.  After that, NOTHING seems so bad.  They’ve taught us to live our lives with extreme gratitude.  Be thankful, be respectful, treat others how you want to be treated and enjoy the adventure.

Ernie Schramayr 

Pain for Gain?

If you’ve followed fitness trends over the last several years you will have noticed an interesting shift.  From the 1960’s into the 80’s, you heard about No Pain, No Gain.  Gym Rats talked about “feeling the burn” and how you HAD to be hurting if you wanted to get stronger.  From the 90’s until the early 2000’s, the No Pain, No Gain crowd has slowly been replaced by the more reasonable Gain Without Strain group.


Then something happened.  Namely… Crossfit happened!  In 2000, a new exercise style (and company) was founded that encouraged members to get back to basics, to get off of exercise machines and to work VERY hard.  Crossfit workouts are short and very intense.  While their popularity has skyrocketed, there are many critics that point to the inappropriate nature of the workouts for some and the high injury rate among participants.


Besides Crossfit, home exercise programs like P90X and “Insanity” also exploded in popularity on late night infomercials.


Based on basic, functional movements using minimal equipment, both of these programs are extremely high in intensity and not lacking in their critics.  Insanity, in particular has been criticized for it’s high risk vs. reward potential for many participants.  Simply put, if you have any joint problems, Insanity’s high impact, plyometric workouts will most likely inujure you at some point.

So, as an observer you might ask…. “Is THIS what I need to do to get in shape?”.

To that, I would answer… “It depends”.

In my daily work, I have had many, many people come to see me because they were injured doing Crossfit, or Insanity or some other high intensity boot camp style class.  The bottom line is, some exercise programs (and some exercises) have a higher risk associated with them.  Because of this, lots of people will get hurt doing them.  You’ve got to weigh the potential reward against the risk and determine whether it’s worth it for you.  If you’re training to become a linebacker, or a cage fighter, it’s probably worth the risk.  If you’re a stay at home mom looking after a couple of kids, the risk of herniating a disc in your back or tearing a rotator cuff in your shoulder probably isn’t worth it.

I believe that all types of training have their place and can bring about positive results.  The problem that I have with some of the super-high intensity programs is that they are NOT appropriate (or necessary) for most, average people.  You simply do not have to push super hard all the time, every time that you exercise.


In the end, Crossfit or Boot Camp or Insanity… or Zumba for that matter are simply tools that you can use to bring you to a desired physical outcome.  The key to long term success is to have a strategy that allows for you to make changes in your daily life and that you actually enjoy and will stick to.  All programs (intense or otherwise) are simply ways to add a “stimulus” to your body that will force you to adapt in positive ways, by adding lean muscle tissue, burning fat and improving strength and endurance.  If your exercise program pushes you past your body’s ability to recover, then progress will stop and you will backslide.

Do your homework and never believe the hype.  Consider your own exercise history, your injury profile and your experience with exercise programs.  Balance the risks involved with the possible payoff.  Is it worth it?  Are you going to actually follow through?  …and are you going to be safe doing it?

Any program that you do decide to get involved with MUST be appropriate for you.  It has to involve an initial conditioning period and then must change in a progressive way as your body changes.

Choose your “tools” wisely and then commit to do your best.


Getting Started….. Again


As I sit here writing this Blog, I’m thinking of the week ahead of me.  Tomorrow starts my first full week back at work.  …And a return to my regular workout routine.  For the past two weeks, over the Christmas Holidays, I went sledding with my kids, did some skating, a bit of walking and even threw in a couple of quickie, “blaster”, workouts.  I’ve been able to maintain my fitness level somewhat, but, I’ve got some real goals for 2013 that won’t happen with the kind of schedule that I had over the last two weeks.

So… I’ll do what I do every year at this point.  I am not a big believer in “Resolutions”.  To me, resolutions are usually boring, uninspiring things that don’t really get you excited enough when the days get cold and dark and you just don’t want to stick with it.  In fact, most people give up on their resolutions well before the end of January.


Instead of picking a resolution, I create a road map to take me to places I want to go.  This is exactly what I do with every single client that I work with personally.  Take a sheet of paper with the months of the year laid out on it and write in “peaking moments” that you’d like to achieve this year.  Keep it simple. Start with the destination and then the plan to get there will take care of itself.

I am starting off the year with 5 main “peaks” to work towards.

St. Patrick’s Day 5K Race (March).  My personal best in the 5K is 20:30.  That was 18 years ago and before knee surgery!  This past year, I ran a 5K race in 23:45.  This year I would like to break 23 minutes.

Paris to Ancaster 60KM Bike Race (April).  I’ve been looking at this for about 20 years!  THIS is the year that I will finally take part along with a client or two of mine.


Warrior Dash (July).  This will be my third time doing the dash.  It’s just too much fun to miss out on.  I’ll make a goal, again, of not walking once throughout the course!

Hockey Season (October).  I haven’t played in a couple of years after a back injury (not hockey related) and a torn rotator cuff (from a hockey fall).  I’ll prepare myself to be ready to play in October.

Christmas 2013 (December).  I love going INTO the holidays in great shape to avoid all of the stress that comes from holiday eating, partying, relaxing etc…


There you have it, my whole training can be broken down into 5 “phases”.  Each phase gets broken down into 4 to 12 week training cycles where I will tweak and change how I train and how I eat to help achieve each peaking moment.

You’ll notice that I’ve picked activities to move TOWARDS.  I am very goal- driven, so it works well for me.  To focus on “getting lean” or losing weight does not motivate me at all.  It works for others, just not for my personality.  However, doing the training for each event will definitely keep me lean and keep my weight where it should be, so in the end it works just the same.

Some non- athletic peaking moments could be…

-Look great at a wedding or reunion

-Fitting back into a favourite pair of jeans

-A Doctor’s appointment where you are taken off of blood pressure meds….

Peaking moment No. 1 for me is 9 weeks away and I am not in “peak” shape or anywhere near it, so tomorrow I start 2 weeks of General Conditioning to get my body ready to start building towards the end goal.  After “conditioning”, I’ll move onto muscle building… then endurance and finally metabolic (performance) training.  Depending on the end goal and the time available, each phase length will be between 1 and 4 weeks.

The point is not to try to do everything right away.  Too many people start the year off by going way to fast, way to soon.  They burn out quickly and never really achieve anything, other than getting angry and depressed that they’ve failed AGAIN.

Start slowly.  Be consistent …and build over time.

Thumbs Up

That’s the way to do it!