Archive for the ‘Encouragement’ Category

Getting healthy. That is the whole point of my entire blog. It’s not getting skinny. It’s not losing weight. It’s all about getting healthy. Being healthy deals with a lot more than just the number that you see on the scale. To get healthy, you have to start by liking the person you see in the mirror everyday. If you don’t have a positive body image, there are some things you can do to help with that. If you like these tips, you can thank my wife for these tips. She is the one who taught me all of these tricks!

Words of Wisdon

Words of Wisdom

Do Not Pick Yourself Apart Limb By Limb

You just stepped out of the shower. You happen to look in the mirror, and you start looking at everything you hate about your body. Next thing you know, you can’t find one thing you like about your body. The key thing to remember is that your body is not perfect and it never will be. There will always be things that you would prefer to look differently. Understand that, and only focus on those body parts when you are taking active steps to correct them. The rest of the time, focus on what you like about your body. If you continue to swear up and down that there is nothing to like about your body, at least try to find things that aren’t as bad as the other parts. Focusing on the negative all the time will make it seem like you are facing an insurmountable goal. Stay positive. It seems obvious to say that staying positive is essential to having a positive body image, but it can’t be reiterated enough.

Dress Your Body Appropriately

The biggest mistake most people make when they look at themselves in the mirror is they don’t wear clothes that make them look attractive. It is possible, regardless of what size you currently are. You may not think that is possible, but I promise you that it is. It’s all about picking out correct sizes and understanding what is going to look good on your body.

Don’t Wear Clothes That Are Too Big

A common misconception that many have who are trying to dress their body in an attractive manner is to wear clothes that are too big. I did this for years. The logic is that if I wear things that are too big, then people will think I am smaller because my clothes are so big. That couldn’t be any further from the truth. People are going to assume that there is more of your body there. On top of that, add in the fact that you look slouchy and unkempt when you wear clothes that are too big. Nothing about that is attractive

Don’t Wear Clothes That Are Too Tight

This is also true, but for the opposite reason. Clothes that are too big make people assume that there is more person under the clothes. Clothes that are too tight highlight areas that you don’t want highlighted, or they are going to squeeze parts of your body that don’t need to be squeezed. It’s not going to do anything for your self-esteem to see fat get squeezed into a ball because you wore a shirt that was one size too small. If you are trying to lose weight, I know you are probably wanting to get into smaller sizes, but getting into that smaller size too soon isn’t going to do anything to help you reach your goals. That brings me to my next point.

Don’t Be A Slave To Size

Every single clothes manufacturer makes their sizes a little differently. I like to think of sizes as more of a suggestion, not a hard fast rule. For example, I wear a size 32 for most of the pants I wear. There are a few brands where I need a larger size and some where I need a smaller size. Don’t let it get you down if you see that you lose weight and try on some brand new clothes, but your size according to the manufacturer hasn’t changed. It may just be they make their clothes smaller than most. Find something that fits, not a size you want to fit.

If you want to be successful, at some point, you are going to have to like your body. You can’t always hate it. There is nothing wrong with wanting to make changes, especially if your motivation is to get healthier, but if you are ever going to have a positive body image, you have to start thinking positively starting today. Changing that thought process isn’t easy. That’s the reason we have so many health problems related to our weight today. People just don’t like what they see in the mirror.

I hope this helps you to get the positive body image you need. Have a great day ladies and gentlemen, and may all of your fitness dreams come true.



Yes, you are Shaun T

Insanity is done. I promised that I would give you an update on how it went, and I am a man of my word. It has definitely moved to the top of my list as far as far as exercise programs go. It works you like nothing I have ever done before, and you can’t help but feel stronger after you complete one of the workouts.

Why No Pics?

There are three reasons I don’t have before and after pics on here. The first is I am doing you a favor by not including shirtless pics of me because of the body hair I have. I have a lot. Like, Chewbacca levels of body hair. It’s not easy to see muscle tone when you have a lot of body hair. Keeping it shaved is also too much of a hassle, so I just don’t do it.


Despite the rumors, Chewie and I were not separated at birth.

The second reason I don’t put them on here is because I am a teacher. The last thing I need is a picture of me without my shirt on being passed around by my students. It would be one thing if I could restrict the access of it, but in doing so, it defeats the purpose of having a blog.

The third will have to do with the results themselves. I was rocking along and seeing some awesome results for the first six weeks of the program. Then I got sick and there was a drastic change in how much I was able to exercise and how affectively I was able to do so. I gave back a little of the work I had done at the end of the program, so it wouldn’t look as affective as it was. I will try to find some pics before and after that weren’t taken solely for that purpose and post them at some point, but I haven’t found any good ones yet.

The numerous variation on push-ups will work your entire body.

The numerous variation on push-ups will work your entire body.

The Good

So what did it do for me? The first area that I noticed was the obliques. I’ve always had the dreaded love handles, and while I haven’t gotten completely rid of them, they are much less noticeable. There is a much straighter line down both sides of my body. I attribute this to the way Shaun T just pounds your core muscles. Almost every move of each workout focuses on the core muscle group. Had I not had such a hard time the last couple of weeks like I did, it think I would have been a lot closer to the six-pack abs that so many strive for.

Another thing that I have noticed is just how much my endurance has increased. When I did Max Plyo Interval last night, it was the first time I didn’t have to sit or lie down during the 30 second workouts. When I first started the program, it felt like I was about to die during the breaks.

One benefit that I did not anticipate is how much more intelligent I have become about exercise. I know the value of engaging your core in not just your abdominal work, but in pretty much any exercise routine you do. If you engage and work your core constantly, you can make all the other exercise you do a lot simpler.

The Bad

So what’s the bad of Insanity? Not much. It’s a complete body workout. There are very few parts of your body that the program doesn’t work. The only thing I missed throughout the program was really intense arm work. The program does have an Upper Body Weight Training DVD, but it can be difficult to find time to work it in.

The Ugly

Suicide Drills are aptly named.

Suicide Drills are aptly named.

The Ugly would be my form, especially at the beginning of the program. It has gotten better, and it continues to improve while I have entered my hybrid program of Insanity and P90X. If you have done it, you probably know what I am talking about. If you haven’t, your form will probably be pretty good for the first couple of minutes, but the more it pushes you, the harder it is to keep it looking clean. The thing I had to constantly remind myself of was that it would get better the more I did it. It takes a lot of perseverance to complete this program.

My overall impression of the program was overwhelmingly positive. I know I am in better shape for having done it. Perseverance is key. You have to know your limits and know how hard you can push yourself. It also helps to have a little dose of humility as well.

Have a great day ladies and gentlemen, and may all of your fitness dreams come true!

Buyer Beware

Posted: March 21, 2013 by Justin M. Strawn in Encouragement
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You’ve made the big decision to lose weight. Congratulations, it’s something you definitely won’t regret. And I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “It must be easy with all of the products that advertise how simple it is!” I wish that were the case, but it isn’t quite that simple. There are a lot of phrases that these companies use to sell their products. The other frustrating part of this is some these companies are legitimate weight loss companies and they use deceptive phrases to lure you in. Here are some things to remember when you are contemplating using one of the many products or services.


Weightwatchers likes to tout you can eat whatever you want.

This phrase or something similar is technically true. On a lot of diet plans, you can eat whatever you want. The key is how much of it you eat. Weightwatchers uses this phrase a lot in their advertising. I use it, and I have pointed that out on many occasions, so I obviously believe highly in what they do. And they aren’t lying. You just have to factor in how much else you are going to eat if you have a half pound hamburger covered in mayonnaise. You probably won’t be able to eat anything else the rest of the day if you want to stay within the boundaries of their program.

No Counting Calories

You here this one a lot. The selling point behind this is it is difficult or annoying to count calories. Once again, this is based in truth. Programs that promote this don’t make you count any calories. They typically give you pre-prepared meals. This doesn’t mean your calories are being restricted. Typically, these programs typically keep women to 1,200 calories or so, and they put men on about a 1,500 calorie diet. You are still getting your calories restricted, it is just someone else is doing it for you. As long as you don’t venture outside if the pre-packaged meals, you should see a lot of success with these programs. Just don’t go into it thinking that you are going to be free to eat as much as you want.

Nutrisystem can keep you from counting calories.

Nutrisystem can keep you from counting calories.

You Can Have The Sculpted You Want In Five Minutes A Day

Is there truth to this? A little bit. You can spend five minutes working one body part a day for five minutes everyday and see results. Will you see it on your entire body? Not unless you are spending five minutes a day working each body part. There simply isn’t any way you can spend that short a time frame with one piece of equipment. You also are going to have to incorporate some changes to your diet as well.

This dude didn't get this ripped just using the Shake Weight.

This dude didn’t get this ripped just using the Shake Weight.

Why Do These Companies Advertise Like This?

It boils down to the one thing we all want, a quick fix. We get frustrated with how we look or how we feel and we want it to go away and go away now. As hard as it is to believe, we don’t get unhealthy overnight. It takes time to put ourselves in that kind of situation and it is going to take time to get out. These programs aren’t lying to you, but they aren’t necessarily presenting themselves in the most truthful manner. They can help and many of them are great tools that you can place in your weight loss toolbox. If you’re looking for a quick fix to your weight problems, I’m afraid you are going to be out of luck.

Have a great day ladies and gentlemen and may all of your fitness dreams come true!

Broccoli is a food that strikes fear into the heart of many children.

Broccoli is a food that strikes fear into the heart of many children.

Exercise is awesome. It makes you feel great, you get a huge boost in self-confidence, and you take a major step toward gaining a healthy lifestyle. The problem is if you don’t eat appropriately, it doesn’t matter how much you exercise. You’re just going to be spinning your wheels. This is a challenge for a lot of people who don’t like healthy foods. Is there hope for them? Absolutely, but it is going to take some serious determination.

Slow And Steady

I could have filed this under confessions, but I chose to go with encouragement. The reason it could have been a confession is because I spent about the first twenty years of my life being one of the poorest eaters possible. I wouldn’t eat anything that was remotely healthy. I lived on a mostly fast food diet. I have chronicled how I got up to around 260 pounds on my blog, but that wasn’t always the case. I didn’t eat that much in high school, and I stayed pretty active during that time, so my weight was never really an issue. The weight problems started when I got to college. I wasn’t nearly as active as I had been, and I had a lot more down time on my hands. It didn’t take long for weight to start heading northward.

So what made me change? The biggest thing was embarrassment. When I was in college, I spent two and a half years as a part-time youth minister. The members of the church would often invite me over to their homes after services were over. It became apparent that they all thought I should eat like an adult. I knew at that point I had to change and it wouldn’t be easy.

I didn’t all of a sudden start eating a vegetarian diet. I would try to add in something I didn’t usually eat one at a time. There were times when I thought I wouldn’t be able to expand my diet, but the more I tried a lot of things, the better they began to taste. I also made a decision to try things that I once thought I didn’t like.

Now, I eat a lot more than I did 15 years ago. That’s not to say that I like everything I once didn’t. I still am not fond of tomatoes, and there aren’t many fruits that I enjoy. The point is, if I had tried to incorporate a bunch of new foods into my diet all at once, I probably still would have the appetite of a 4-year-old.

Improve Stuff You Already Like

My newest food craze, the omelet.

My newest food craze, the omelet.

There is typically a way that you can make almost any food you currently eat healthy or at least healthier. My current food craze is the Omelet. The great thing about it is you can make it pretty healthy. You can also put just about anything in an omelet. If you want it to be healthy, put healthy stuff in it. If you want to indulge, you can do that as well. Burgers can be made with ground turkey. Steaks can be eaten in smaller portions. There are lots of things you can do to make what you currently eat healthier.

My preconceived notions about Greek Yogurt were way off base.

My preconceived notions about Greek Yogurt were way off base.

Be Adventurous

There are always foods that you are scared to eat because you have either heard horrible things about them, or you just think they look terrible. At some point, it would be a good idea to try them and make up your own mind about it. I did this with Greek Yogurt. I had a little a help with a stomach bug to push me in that direction, but I got there. It’s actually really good.

I hope this helps if you are a picky eater. Have a great day ladies and gentlemen and may all of your fitness dreams come true.

Getting Back to the Grind

Posted: March 18, 2013 by Justin M. Strawn in Encouragement
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It’s been a long three weeks since I posted regularly. I came down with a nasty stomach bug at the end of February, the grading period at school came to an end (I teach for a career), and then Spring Break came. All of which led to irregular posts. That comes to an end today.

I plan to get back to my regular fitness updates. I also hope to do about three or four encouragement articles a week. Those are all done when I have the opportunity, but I can normally squeeze in three a week.

So what has happened since you last heard from me regularly? Well, the stomach bug hit me a lot harder than I would have liked. I missed about 5 days of exercise, and when I did start back, I could tell I still wasn’t 100%. Everything was much harder than it had been. There were some of my Insanity workouts that I simply couldn’t complete because my body just couldn’t keep up. As a side effect, when I don’t exercise like I should, I don’t eat as well as I should. Last time I checked in I weighed 190.8 pounds. Today, I came in at 194, so I gained just over three pounds. I don’t like that I gained weight over this time period, but it could have been a lot worse since I wasn’t exercising the way I prefer.

Last week, I started a hybrid exercise routine of P90X and Insanity. Three days a week I do the strength training videos from P90X. The rest of the week is Insanity Phase 2. I saw no reason to go back to Phase 1 of Insanity since it seems to be more about preparing you for Phase 2.

One thing I keep trying to tell myself during this period that I haven’t done as well: there are always going to be bumps in the road. It’s a journey, and you will have minor setbacks. This is one for me. Nothing I can do to change it, but I also don’t have to let it completely derail me either.

I hope you have a great day ladies and gentlemen, and may all of your fitness dreams

Is it Over Yet?

Posted: February 27, 2013 by Justin M. Strawn in Encouragement
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Is this how you feel when you start exercising?

Is this how you feel when you start exercising?

So, this may be what you are thinking when you are starting an exercise routine. You are all pumped and motivated, and then you start exercising and can’t wait for it to stop. How can you get past this? I’m not going to lie, it’s not easy. You are so motivated to want to get your body in shape, but your body tires out so quickly. There are a few things that you can do if you train your body correctly.

Start Slowly

This may sound easy, but it is a lot tougher than you think. Whether its running, getting on an exercise bike, or lifting weights, when you first get started, it seems pretty easy. Since it seems easy, you start to push yourself. Then out of nowhere, you’re struggling to catch your breath or put one foot in front of the other. You have to force yourself to go a little slower than what you think you should if you don’t want to wear yourself out.

Another problem with going too hard too fast is if you don’t wear yourself out during your first workout or two, you may wake up really sore and in a lot of pain the next day. Nothing will end your resolve to get in shape faster than hurting too much to do it. That just leads to frustration. There will come a time she. You can push yourself as hard as you can, but it takes time.

One last thing to remember is to consider your current health when exercising. If you have had health problems recently, you may need to wait before you start trying to exercise. This will cause you to over exert yourself earlier than you would like, which will also lead to frustration.

Don't do anything too hard to start with.

Don’t do anything too hard to start with.

Start Easy

Just as you want to start slowly, you want to start easy as well. There is no reason to start with a
program like Insanity or P90X if this is the first time you have done any exercise. Those things are tough, and you really need to be used to exercising before doing something like that. Yes, there are people who have never done any type of exercise and picked those things up a d done very well with them, but they are the exception and not the rule.

There is nothing wrong with just trying to get your body used to exercise before pushing yourself as hard as you can. Going for a walk everyday is a great way to start. Another really good program is the Couch to 5K program. It slowly introduces you to running without overdoing it to begin with. It would be a great program to start even if you aren’t planning on entering a 5K race.

Your Heart Rate is the best indicator of how hard you work.

Your Heart Rate is the best indicator of how hard you work.

Start Monitoring Your Heart Rate

I talked in one of my first blog entries about the importance of monitoring your heart rate. It is extremely useful when you first get started. Your heart rate is the best indicator of how hard your body is actually working. Keep an eye on it when you first get started. Just because you may not feel a lot of stress on your body, if your heart rate is highly elevated,you need to make sure you don’t push yourself too much harder than what you currently are. If you start going too much harder when your heart rate is elevated, you will quickly tire out.

Getting worn out is one of the main reasons people stop exercising. The line between working too hard and working hard enough for your exercise to be effective is very fine. At the beginning, it’s probably a safer bet to go easier than you think you should than harder. You have stay motivated, and that won’t happen if you are too worn out shortly after you start.

I hope you have a great day ladies and gentlemen, and may all of your fitness dreams come true!


Get Healthy, Not Skinny

Posted: February 20, 2013 by Justin M. Strawn in Encouragement
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Exercising and eating right is about being healthy, not being skinny.

Exercising and eating right is about being healthy, not being skinny.

Our society is obsessed with weight. I wish I could say it was obsessed with health, but that wouldn’t be true. If it were true, I wouldn’t be writing this blog post because that would be a good thing to be obsessed with. Unfortunately, with the way our society projects what we deem to beautiful is often an unrealistic, unachievable, and on too many occasions, unhealthy body weight. So how does one overcome it? There are some things I believe you can do to make sure you don’t cave in to the pressure that society puts on so many people.


Confidence is such a funny thing. It can come from different areas for different people. One person can draw tons of confidence from their family, while another may draw a lot of confidence from athletic competition. I have often talked about how exercise is a great confidence builder for me. Regardless of where it comes from, the one place it doesn’t need to come from is the number that pops up on the scale. It can come from how healthy you feel, but health and weight aren’t always interchangeable. Your weight is only one part of having a healthy body, there are a lot of other factors that determine your health level.

Scale Obsession

It’s good to know your weight. It’s not good to use it as your sole basis for your health. One of the hardest things to do for someone who is trying to lose weight is to transition from looking at the scale to looking at how you feel to determine your health. You also have to use a little bit of common sense. If you eat a whole bunch of fatty foods over the course of time, you know you won’t be as healthy as you should be. If you are eating right, and exercising regularly, don’t just assume that you aren’t getting healthy if the number on the scale isn’t coming down. You could be adding muscle to your body, and it has been well documented that muscle is much heavier than fat. I’ll admit that I struggle with this as well, but I am better than I used to be.

This is not a look to aspire to.

This is not a look to aspire to.

Ignoring Society

There are a lot of good things about society, but the way we portray beauty and we perceive as beauty is detrimental. There is no reason that women who are around 6’0″ tall should weight around 100 pounds. That’s ridiculous. Being thin is something that most people want. That is a healthy goal. Being skinny is typically having too little weight. There are a number of health problems that you can acquire by having too little weight. I’m not going to go into them, but it’s just not a good idea. If you’re not happy with your weight, please ask yourself what about it that makes you unhappy. Don’t try to make your happiness dependent upon what someone else says or thinks. That’s good advice for all areas of your life, not just your weight. There are lots of reasons I can think of to be unsatisfied with your weight (diabetes, knee and back issues to name a few) but because someone tells you that you need to lose some weight that doesn’t have the letters Dr. in front of their name should not be one of them.

Healthy and skinny are not synonyms. It’s great to have goals that put you on the road to living a healthy lifestyle, but starving yourself to reach a certain weight is far from healthy. Don’t get your sense of worth from your weight, fashion or any other place that is ultimately insignificant.

I hope you have a great day ladies and gentlemen, and may all of your fitness dreams come true! (as long as they are healthy goals)