As humans we have an unconscious mechanism that makes us run from pain. This affects a lot of our decisions. For example, a child who touches fire gets burned and learns not to touch it again. But the fear of pain can also make people stop achieving their dreams or refuse to take a risk for a better life.
It is typical that as a child we learn that to avoid getting burned we should not touch fire. However, as we grow we can make more informed decisions. For example, if our loved ones are in danger and we can save them only by crossing a layer of fire, we will get burned to do it. We are willing to go through the pain of being burned to avoid the pain of losing our loved ones.
It is very important to understand pain and discomfort if we want to have a better life — we must accept some pain to avoid a bigger pain.
For instance, the other day a woman came to me because she needed help. She said that she had been trying to lose weight as long as she can remember. I always listen attentively to my clients to understand their stories. She told me about what she thought were injuries.
I noticed that she had some beliefs about chronic injuries and regular activity (mild) injuries. A chronic injury is a serious problem like a joint dislocation while a regular activity injury is minor problem like a muscle spasm. A dislocation might require surgery and could affect a person for life. A muscle spasm is only a problem until the muscle releases, though that could be as long as two months.
She told me about her ankle injury, her back injury, her shoulder injury and her knee pain. She was telling me that each time she starts an activity such as dancing or biking she gets injured, and she backs off from physical activities within two weeks.
After she told me about all her injuries, she started to tell me about the discomforts from not exercising, such as knee pain when she climbs steps, difficulty getting up from a chair and other daily tasks.
She told me the story of her dad. Her dad is over 90, and he is completely independent. He exercises and stretches every day. He is in a nursing home. While he can perform physical tasks independently, his peers are using canes, chairs or walkers, even though some of them are younger than him.
She can see the suffering of these older adults, and she does not want to go through the same life, yet she feels that she is reaching that point in her 60s.
As I listened to her story I concluded that she was afraid of pain, and any pain she had she perceived to be an injury. I told her what I thought, and she started to make conclusions about what her dad and her sister (a fitness instructor) told her, which was the same message.
While it is smart to pay attention to pains that can lead to chronic injuries, it is also true that many pains are normal or may lead to only a mild injury.
For example, I had a client who had a lot of knee pain, and he went to see his doctor, who determined that he had some cartilage loose from an old car accident. On the other hand, I had another client who had a lot of knee pain, and she went to see therapists, doctors, chiropractors and orthopedists and never found anything wrong. Then we discovered that the only reason she had pain was because she had tight knees. As soon as she started stretching, the pain was gone.
I have been exercising for 17 years now. I have had many ailments — back injuries where I could barely walk or stand up out of a chair, knee pain, shoulder pain, elbow pain — and I always recuperate with no chronic issues. The only chronic problem I had was when I dislocated my knee by playing with my friends in Mexico, and after that I never had a chronic injury in the gym.
In other words, there are pains that we need to pay attention to that tell us there is something wrong with our body. However, there many other pains (not soreness) that we need to go through to continue improving our quality of life, which is something active people understand.
Running away from all pain may not be the smartest option we have. There are pains that are telling us that there is something wrong, and there are pains that are stopping us from becoming better.
I am blessed to feel that my life is wonderful, even though it’s busy and stressful. You know why? Because hard work it pays off. When I want something, I dedicate time and effort to obtain it. It’s common in sense: you work for it, you get it.
The other day I had a conversation with someone who was interested in training at Custom Body Fitness. Let’s call her Penelope. She has many things to do, with two sons, husband, and work. In fact she would admit to you that she has a very stressful life. However, I have other clients who are in the same boat, yet they make the extra effort that it requires to get the healthy body they want and be happy.
Penelope told me that her sons are first in her life that she doesn’t really want to take time from them to exercise. She said this even though she admits that she is not happy being overweight. Of course, I didn’t council her to forsake her love ones. But it seems to me that often people waste more time surfing on the web, watching television, or doing other questionable activities instead investing time in something that will benefit both their bodies and their minds.
Talking with Penelope reminded me of a conversation I had with a young man recently. He was confused about life and had some problems. He confided to me that he felt alone and not accepted by his dad. He even started to cry as we were talking and told me something that I will never forget: “I don’t understand, the Bible says that I need to give before I can get, and people say that I need to take care of myself before I can give.” At the time, I told him, “I understand your confusion. The truth is that both are right. You just need to understand it. Before you can give, you have to have it. If you don’t love yourself, you can’t give love others. If you don’t have money, you can’t give it to who needs it. If you don’t feel safe, you can’t make someone else feel safe. Not that we need to be selfish. Care about you, learn, get it, understand it, but once you are blessed, then give it and care about others.”
So I told Penelope that to be able to give the best to her family, she needed to care about herself a bit more. It wouldn’t do her any good if she only worked like a machine, giving all with no thought to her own self. You have to take care of your health to be able to give the best to your family. And there’s the other concept that a parent needs to set an example for his or her family. Sometimes in my own family, I hear an adult tell a youngster to go to college, and the adult makes excuses that he or she is too old to go back to school. But this is nothing but excuses. Especially in the U.S., age is nothing but a number. If you want people to do something good for themselves or to make the right decisions, be a role model and do something for yourself, so in the future you are not a burden to them.
To conclude, if you really want it, you can get it. All it takes is an extra effort that, sadly, many won’t do. Invest your time in something that is beneficial for you and get rid of bad habits. There are other people in the same situation or even more difficult situations who are have done it. Help yourself so that you’ll be able to help others.
When I watch movies, I usually like to watch movies that offer a life lesson and move my heart, movies that make me cry, think or get excited. It’s been a while since I watched Traffic. There are three stories in the movie. One of them is about a politician trying to change the world by fighting drug dealers and Mexican drug trafficking. But what he did not do was pay attention to his family. Therefore, his daughter got into drugs. He did not understand what was going on, and his daughter’s problem got worse. One day he was giving a speech, and he noticed he was being dishonest with himself. That moment is when he understood that to fight drugs and to change the world he needed to start with his family.
My job is to improve other people’s lives. This is the only way they can lose weight permanently. I look for patterns they can change and how they can change them, and I think I have this ability thanks to being honest with myself. Now I always think about the message I learned from Traffic: The only way I can improve people’s lives is by improving myself. Start the change with me and then with those closest to me.
I find my mistakes and work on them. There is no way I can be better without finding my mistakes. Improving myself has not been easy. Recognizing all the mistakes I have made is hard because it’s painful, but there is no better way to learn and help others. That does not mean that I have to make mistakes to get better, but we all are going to make mistakes. Once again, the hardest part of this is recognizing it, then being true to yourself and others.
When we decide to be better, we can help others to be better because they know that we are genuine. In addition, the action of helping others gives us the courage to work to become a better person. It is a cycle that helps improve everything around us. We help ourselves, we help others and in turn we help the world.
One of the ways I find out that I have made a mistake is because I have anxiety. For example, if I have an argument with a close relative and I don’t feel comfortable afterwards, I feel anxious. That means that there is something wrong. These types of issues accumulate over time. This is why many people feel anxious as well, an accumulation of events that they aren’t proud of. While many people opt to drink, overeat, shop, party, watch TV or do drugs, I opt to go back and recall the argument to find out if I made a mistake, which most likely I did, which is why I felt uncomfortable.
After I find my mistake, I get desperate to fix it. Therefore, I take immediate action by asking forgiveness or by doing what I should have done in the first place. Once my mistake is fixed or I have done everything I can to pay back my trespass, all my anxiety goes away. This process causes me discomfort, which teaches me a lesson, so next time I make better choices.
It is hard to be around someone that you don’t like. This is one of the reasons people choose bad behaviors and are high, drunk, drugged or disconnected from the world — because they don’t like themselves.
I believe to improve oneself we must like ourselves, and the only way to like ourselves is by being completely honest with our feelings and true to ourselves no matter the consequences or losses that we are going to experience when we take the right action for everyone. No one likes a liar or someone whom can’t we trust. Why then would I like myself if I am a liar and can’t trust myself to do the right thing?
There is no way we can give money away if we don’t have it, and the same is true for love, knowledge and understanding. We also can’t save someone from drowning if we don’t know how to swim. If we want to give peace we must be in peace. To help others improve their lives we must improve our own. One step to accomplish that is being true to yourself and accepting your mistakes to better yourself.
The other day, a friend and I went for a hike. As we hiked, we had a long conversation about controlling our thoughts. I was explaining her that our thoughts become our emotions and our emotions our reality.
When I got home after the hike, I started to read The Ultimate Weight Solution by Dr. Phill. He mentions that the one person who we talk to the most is ourselves which I consider true for many of us. Many people avoid talking to themselves; this is one of the reasons why people can’t be without music, television or talking on the phone. Once again, pay attention around and there are many people who can’t just walk without distraction such a companion, headphones or cell phone. Carlos Cuauhtémoc Sanchez noticed this. He claims that we are afraid our facing ourselves or to be more specific our thoughts.
When we face our thoughts, we can control our emotions and, therefore, our reality. Anger was one of the topics we discussed with my friend. I was explaining to my friend that anger is normal to all humans. However, how we deal with such thoughts is how we are going to respond. We have to understand that we don’t have control of the world, but we do have control in how we see the world. I told her that my clients say that I’m very patience. Patience is not something we are with born with. It is a virtue that we practice and manage. Controlling thoughts can lead to be patient.
Going back to the way we think, many people think that they don’t like to exercise and they can’t eat right. These thoughts become emotions. The body becomes depress and don’t have the energy to exercise, as an example. It is the emotion of giving up to a new behavior. This is one of the reasons why some people can’t adhere or be consistence to an exercise program. The thought of not having the time is another reason. It becomes the emotion that we always in a rush. This becomes reality and we never make it to the gym.
In other words, it is very important that we control our thoughts. Exercise requires some level of effort. However, if we set up our mind with positive thoughts about exercise, we will have positive emotions towards exercise which, in turn, it will help us to adhere to an exercise program. And therefore achieve our fitness goal.
I love my time alone and have real and deep conversation with myself. I recommend that you do the same. You will find out what a great companion you have. And by the way, stay away from people who give you negative input.
Myths are popular in our society. There are myths about money, ghosts, cars, science … and, of course, exercise and food. Myths are beliefs that are not true. Obviously, if myths are not true, but people believe them, they can become a barrier. Any person can believe a myth, from your neighbor to a professional with a high-level degree. This could be one of the reasons why myths are so popular and can make people powerless.
Since I hear many myths about exercise and food, I’m going to uncover some of them in this article:
- Weight lifting makes women big. No, eating the wrong foods make women big. The reality is that women have 95% less testosterone than men. Testosterone is a muscle-building booster, and it is unique to men. I have at least 80 female clients, and many of them lift heavy weights. Many of them started lifting weights being afraid to “grow big.” The more they lift the smaller they become, and their muscle tone improves. I have not come across any women yet who grow big muscles (maybe they don’t take any testosterone).
- High repetitions will tone muscles. High repetitions will waste your time. After 20 repetitions, your muscles are not challenging themselves. They have no resistance to work against anymore. The only thing that they are doing is building lactic acid. Therefore, if you want to see results, lower repetitions and more weight will help tone your muscles.
- Lactic acid makes the body sore. Lactic acid is a sign that your body has no more fuel and needs to remove waste. Soreness comes from a microscopic tear of the muscle. When you have these tears, it means that you have challenged your muscles, and your body needs to rebuild them, making more live tissue. You spend energy making this process happen, hence burning more calories. Anyway, the microscopic tear makes you sore, not lactic acid.
- Cardiovascular training is all I need to tone my body. Cardiovascular training will help you lose weight and in fact is a great contributor to that. However, it may burn some muscle as it’s burning fat along the way. Cardiovascular training works the heart, lungs and blood vessels. To tone muscles, muscles need to be built, and any strength training will do that, such as weight lifting and rock climbing.
- Sugars will make me fat. Refined sugars — those removed from their natural state — will make you fat. However, sugars that are in a natural state, such as those in fruits and vegetables, will contribute to your weight loss. Fruits and vegetables are low in sugar and high in water. Plus, their sugars are naturally made, and the body breaks them down differently compared to the processed or refined ones. Also, processed sugars and refined sugars are very high in calories, while fruit and vegetable calories are low. In addition, fruits and vegetables have all kinds of vitamins and minerals with benefits, while refined and processed sugars have only calories.
- I should not eat late at night. Not eating late at night will make you overeat when you give up. What makes people gain weight is not the time of ingestion, it is the type of foods people snack on. And usually they snack on junk food during the night in front of the TV. The body burns calories 24/7/365 days. This does not mean that you must eat at night, but you set up a healthy schedule that allows you to eat at night if you need to.
- Carbohydrates make me gain weight. If you don’t eat carbohydrates, you will be a zombie all day. This myth is the same as the sugar myth. It is very important to understand that carbohydrates are good for the body. However, there are so many processed carbohydrates that people eat that make them gain weight that they tend to blame all carbohydrates for the cause. If you get bitten by one dog that does not mean that all dogs are aggressive. Not all people from the same nation have the same habits. Choose the right carbohydrates to have energy during the day.
- I’m not drinking mixed alcoholic drinks. Instead, I’ll drink plain drinks. Drinking one drink will make it easy for you to drink two, three and so on. There are 9 calories in one gram of fat, 4 in one gram of protein or carbohydrates, and 7 calories in one gram of alcohol. Alcohol has empty calories. What does that mean? It means that when you eat protein obviously you are getting protein and some minerals, such as iron. Carbohydrates have all kinds of minerals and vitamins that are too many to list. In contrast, in alcohol there is nothing other than calories with no benefit to your body.
I recommend that you research the topic that you are most interested in and find out more about myths. My goals is to help you take some obstacles down, so you get to your goals more quickly and easily.
In what ways are you different from everyone else?
You wake up early, have a shower, cook breakfast, prepare your lunch with veggies, get your workout in, get to work, have a healthy mid-morning snack, focus on work goals, eat lunch, slog away all afternoon, finish the last task at work, and go home. You pick up the kids on the way there, take care of the household chores, cook a good dinner from scratch with the family, and eat with them. Finally, you give yourself 20 minutes alone before bed and choose to read a self-improvement book instead watching TV. Then it’s late; you get ready for bed and go to sleep.
Even if you’re disciplined enough to follow this healthy routine five days a week, perhaps some part of you wants to live a less responsible way: to eat junk food for meals, to stop at the bar after work, to plop onto the couch at home and veg out watching TV instead of reading. But you’ve e tried that before and recall that it didn’t contribute positively to in your life, so you stick to your wiser plan.
The good news is the payoff: After a few months of sensible eating and regular exercise, you start to notice a change in your body and your mind too. You feel fit, have more energy, and have been several months without getting sick. In addition, you breathe better, your back is not in pain anymore, you run around with your kids after work, you feel more alive, and wonderfully you find that YOU ARE LOSING WEIGHT! How exciting. Also, you are smarter, your mind is clearer when making decisions. You perform better at work; in fact people have started coming to you for advice. The healthy habits of exercising, eating healthy and reading good books are now paying off in your life.
Your family has grown stronger as well. Your strong bonds have deepened with this change of lifestyle.
You feel proud because you know your life makes more sense now. Your life and health goals—some of make New Year’s Resolution—are coming true. It’s not like last year when you didn’t do it even though you tried. Back then healthy goals were merely a wish list. But now it’s real. You’ve learned that positive change doesn’t happen unless you do something about it, and you did do something about it! You’ve taken your life under control and your quality of life has improved.
This is the reason why you are special, because you pay the price of good habits, every day and every hour of your life. You are improving your life, your family’s life and your community over all.
I know you are a leader, and have changed your life for better. Something inside of me tells that I’m not alone in this world and that you have changed your life, because you know you deserve more. This is the reason why you continue reading this newsletter.
I have faith in your, your family have faith on you and the world have faith on you…
A couple of weeks ago I had just finished a great training session. All of my clients were happy to be finished and ready to continue on with their days. One of my clients was waiting for everyone else to leave so that he could approach me. Once the studio had cleared he said, “Sandro, I noticed that you have many new people and they are getting great results. Who lost 15 lbs. in 5 weeks? Here is the deal: I have been with you for almost two years and I don’t see the same results.”
It was my turn to talk and I responded, “Do you remember when you started? You had very good results in the beginning, right? Now, you tell me what happened.”
“Yes, I lost a significant amount of fat, but I’m stuck. I do not know what happened. I’m eating right; I’m coming the days that I should be coming. I don’t see where I am making a mistake.”
“Here, I’ll tell you your mistake: When you began, you had a lot of motivation, you paid attention to your eating, you were progressing on your weight lifting, did your cardio, and simply, you did what it took. Now, you are complaining about your discomforts; you said that you feel tired, don’t want to do your cardio. According to you, you are eating right; not taking into account when I saw your junk food shopping in the super market. You said that it was the exception, but you know I don’t believe in coincidence.”
He had no excuses so I continued talking, “I will give you two examples: I had a client, who signed up for one year, she was so afraid of hurting herself that she did not achieve her goal. In the beginning, she started chest pressing 5 pounds, then she went to 8s, after 10s, 12s and finally 15s. She lost 5 pounds in one month because she was motivated. Unfortunately, her fear of getting injured never when away and she started to decrease her weight lifting from 15s to 12s, to 10s, 8s and finally 5s. Even though I tried hard, I couldn’t help her break her psychological barrier of being afraid of getting injured. Then you tell me what happened?”
He responded, “She gained back her weight and lost all her strength that she had worked for.”
“Correct! In contrast, have you see the results of “X’ lady? She has not even completed two months and she is already toning her body. Her abs are showing and she is losing body fat even though she was in a healthy category when she begin. And you know why? Because she knows what she wants, she pushes herself every single time she is here. She does not waste her time. If I tell her do battle ropes for one minute, she does it, not because I tell her, but because she knows is challenging for her and will lead to results. She amazes me because I see her in discomfort and she continues until I tell her to stop. Same happened with the guy who lost 15 pounds in five weeks. He is not wasting his time. He is doing what it takes here in the training studio. Plus, he is walking and eating healthy. This is what produces results: dedication. I only give the tools.”
I continued, “Don’t get me wrong, I do understand when someone is in real pain. I do not want anyone to be injured, pain that is coming from an injury versus discomfort are two different things. However, you have been complaining about your discomforts for a while, you got in the habit of doing one set of small weights, you are decreasing your weight lifting, you are not doing your cardio between your sets because according to you, you are tired. Plus, I have no idea how are you eating since you have been rescheduling our assessment. This is your problem: You are not motivated enough to get results”.
As we continued the conversation, we found out that he had some stress that he needed to deal with. However, this was a wakeup call to him because after this conversation he started to push hard. Now he is lifting more than 100% than what he was lifting before in his weight training and he is doing his cardio between sets. There is not more knee pain. Now, he started losing weight again. He lost 8 pounds in 4 weeks.
Conclusion, you want it? Do what it takes, trying won’t get you anywhere.
How many times have you started a weight loss program or a new diet and gave up in the first few weeks or within a month? If you are like the rest of us I would imagine that it has happened on more than one occasion. I can’t help but wonder what your thoughts were behind the actions that you took. So many times we have tried to make changed in your lifestyle and they just don’t stick. I always wondered why this was the case. Why did I give up so quickly? Below is a great video to help you set up your mind and become successful in your weight loss once and for all.
People cope with depression in different ways — with psychotropic drugs, alcohol, shopping or food.
I know how hard depression can be. I have been there. Therefore, I can empathize with people who have been or are in depression. It took me three years before I could regain my confidence.
Depression is a state of mind. It happens to everyone, especially when we suffer a loss, such as the death of a close loved one, a divorce, the foreclosure of a house in which we’ve invested part of our life or the loss of a body part such as our legs, eyes, arms, etc. It is common sense that we are going to get depressed when losing something that used to be part of our life and added value in some way.
I have a client who was overweight by about 25 pounds. After the death of her mother, she gained 45 more pounds. She weighed 185 pounds and was 5 feet tall. She was sedentary and overeating because she did not care about life. I called this autodestructive habit. She was living a depressing life for two years until she understood that her mother wanted her to be happy and let her rest.
My client changed her psychological outlook and started to walk, hike and eat healthily. She lost 15 pounds on her own. Then she got stuck, and even though she tried, she could not continue losing weight. She thought it was impossible to lose more weight, until she came to see me.
This is when I met her. She told me her story and how she had lost the 15 pounds. She thought she was eating healthily. I bet she was eating healthier than before, but she needed some improvements in her eating habits. The walking and hiking was not enough for her anymore. So she signed up with our weight-loss program. My client now has lost an additional 20 pounds and weighs 150 pounds. She is losing an average of 5 pounds per month. She has being with us for 4 months now.
After my client figured out her problem, she took imperfect action, and when she got stuck she asked for a professional. She decided to continue her journey and not give up and regain the weight she lost. My client is very happy with her results and is motivated to continue losing the extra pounds.
Maybe you can relate to her story and you need some motivation or a model to follow that shows you that the extra weight you have can be shed. She told me that it’s never too late to try something new.
“If it’s revenge that you seek, you’d better dig two graves.” This is a Chinese proverb that makes a lot of sense in two ways, in my opinion:
In the first place, I come from a very poor area of Mexico. Dangerous gangs fight each other for territory and respect. When I was younger I used to hang out with a very mean guy named Beto. One day I saw him beating up a guy and stepping on his head because he was messing with his girlfriend. We all knew in the neighborhood that Beto was one of the most dangerous guys on our streets. He not only beat up guys, he would get angry enough to kill.
I am about to publish my book that talks about some dangerous situations I got into from hanging out with people like Beto. As for Beto himself, he lost many of his family members because he got into gang wars. He almost got killed many times, and I have no idea if he is still alive. The last time I heard from him, he was in jail.
The truth is that many people are full of anger and can’t forgive a slight. This is how the chain of revenge starts. For example, Beto lost family members because he was always seeking revenge, and one day it might be his turn to go.
The second example of how the proverb makes sense to me deals with a friend whose boyfriend left her for another woman. When I spoke to her, it was very obvious she was hurting from the decisions her ex made. She wanted the guy to feel the same pain she was feeling and make him feel destroyed and humiliated like she did. She had a lot of anger. She struggled to understand that her anger would do nothing to make this guy feel like she feels, and if she had the opportunity to make this guy feel like her, she would be spending a lot of her energy on revenge that would worsen the circumstances not only for him but for her when she could be focusing on her happiness. If she remains angry for life or until she achieves her revenge, she might die bitter and without happiness. In other words, she might be dying alive.
I made many mistakes and hurt many people, and because I am a human being and I understand how everyone else feels, I always ask for forgiveness from the person and compensate for the mistake. We are only human beings, and we are going to continue making mistakes. That does not mean that we should just make decisions without thinking and not take the consequences into consideration. It means a mistake is something that we took for granted because we unconsciously failed to consider the consequences. In other cases, we just become blind to reality.
Beto and I were not good friends. I just knew him from the street, but we never really got close. One day, he got very mad at me and beat me up; a couple of face punches and I was on the floor. Luckily that was enough for him to release his anger and leave me alone. I think I never sought revenge because I knew what could have happened.
I got unjustly arrested by a Glenwood police officer who treated me like a delinquent. I got angry at the time and was thinking about using all my resources to sue him, but I would have spent all my energy on something that does not really matter. I lost 10 hours of my life and a couple of hundred dollars and a gained a headache to reinstate my driver’s license. My only hope is that he is happy thinking he brought a very dangerous person to justice.
I have been left for another guy; I spent a lot of money on two surgeries that were not the right ones and had to be redone, costing more money; I have had money stolen violently … you get the point. However, I don’t live with anger or feelings of revenge. Of course, this is nothing compared to what has happened to other people. I have heard the worst stories. Nevertheless I have reasons to be angry and bitter, but I choose to be happy and forgive and understand everyone who has done wrong to me because I have done wrong as well.
Can you imagine if I would have gotten mean and fought Beto later on? Or if I would have gotten into a conflict with the police officer? Or lived my life with anger? I wouldn’t be where I am right now. I could be dead, exhausted, or not moving forward with the goals that really count. Or I could be dying alive.
I also keep in mind that the best revenge I can have is my own success, to show those who treated me unfairly that I am better than they think and that their aggression won’t stop me.
When we have anger and hunger for revenge in a negative way, we end up in wars, or become bitter from the anger, which in turn makes us self-destructive by overeating, doing drugs, drinking and so on.
So when the smart Chinese person wrote the proverb, “If it’s revenge that you seek, you’d better dig two graves,” I think he was giving us advice about how to live a better life.