Posts Tagged ‘encouragement’

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.



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)


Men vs. Women

Posted: February 15, 2013 by Justin M. Strawn in Encouragement
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Why do men lose weight so much easier than women?

Why do men lose weight so much easier than women?

I think we all know that men have an easier time losing weight than women. But why? What is it about men that gives them such an advantage in losing weight? Men can lose weight much easier than women and there are tons of examples of that. When I decided six years ago to get in shape, I only made a few minor changes and watched the pounds fly off. I eventually had to make additional changes to keep it coming off, but at first, it was relatively easy to lose the weight. I think I have some ideas about why that might be the case. Understand, I am not a nutrition expert, and these are all my assumptions about the differences between men and women. I don’t have any scientific evidence that verifies anything in this post. What I do have is common sense, and I think everything in this particular post makes sense.

The Height Advantage

Men typically are taller. I found different numbers, but the consensus seems to be that the average height of a man is about 5’10” or 5’11” and the average height of a woman is about 5’4″. The taller you are, the more weight you can carry. The more you weigh, the more calories you burn in a day just simply being alive. If men on average are 6 or 7 inches taller than women, then I think it is pretty logical they are going to start off with more weight which means they will burn more calories.

Staying Motivated

If men lose weight easier, then they will see more results on the scale. If they see more results on the scale, then men will probably be more likely to stay motivated. Also, women typically lose in areas that they don’t care as much about at first (i.e. arms, legs, breasts). So when a woman loses weight initially, she may not see the results in the mirror like she might prefer. This can cause her to lose motivation pretty quickly. Men almost always gain in the belly first, and then lose in the belly first; therefore they will see results that they like which will in turn keep them motivated.

It may be easier for men to lose weight, but that doesn't make it a competition.

It may be easier for men to lose weight, but that doesn’t make it a competition.

Society Sucks

The most important reason though may be society’s influence. Society gives women and girls such a horrible standard to meet through pop culture, the media, and the fashion world in general. Men, quite frankly, aren’t held to the same standard. Women are constantly being bombarded with images from all over that they have to be skinny, skinny, skinny if they want to be attractive, and this is such a tragedy.

And I mean tragedy. It’s a strong word, but it’s true. Women and girls feel so pressured to lose weight, and possibly lose at such a rate that they put their health in danger, that they can easily suffer an eating disorder.

The fashion world is so weird in how it does things. A fashion magazine can have one article devoted to healthy weight loss, and then on the next page, have a model who has obviously been starving herself modeling clothes. Where is the consistency in that. There are also numerous stores who have been criticized for airbrushing the pictures of their already skinny models to make them look thinner. If that wasn’t bad enough, most of those stores don’t want women who go over a size 14 to wear their clothes, so they simply don’t make them. One thing I have come across when reading other blogs is that women who are just getting started on the weight loss journey will often say one of the reasons they want to lose weight is to be able to buy clothes in stores they want, not just the ones that will fit.

Another problem is how the media and pop culture portray women and what they expect. I have never heard of a single actress who didn’t say the director told them to lose ten pounds when they began filming a movie. Whenever there is a reality show that comes on that focuses on a woman or group of women, weight is almost always one of the first things discussed in the media. It’s ridiculous how obsessed the media can be with trying to see just how skinny women can be.

Another serious issue is just men in general. Men have bought into this skinny-at-all-costs look for women. It’s been a number of years since I read this, but I read that in the 1950s, men found 50% of the female population attractive. Today, men find 10% of the female population attractive. That is just plain sad. I know lots of people who have said their husbands or boyfriends hassle them about their weight on a regular basis. If that guy is willing to leave you over your weight, then he is the one with the problem, not you.

Women have to be given support about their body image because so many have such a poor perception of it. This hits me personally on two levels because I have both a wife and a daughter. I love my wife for the wonderful person that she is, and will always be. I think she is the most beautiful of all of God’s creation, and no amount of weight gain or weight loss of hers will ever change that. My daughter is only seven months old, but I don’t want her to have some of these struggles. I want my daughter to realize that she is worth more than the number on the scale. I want her to be able to look into a mirror and like what she sees no matter what society might tell her.

With society hounding women like it does, I think it is pretty easy to see why so many women get discouraged on their weight loss journey. It would be so easy to become distressed about the scale. Society should encourage women to be healthy, not skinny. If you don’t think there is a difference, trust me when I tell you there is.

When you add up these three factors, height, motivation, and society, I think it is easy to see why women have a harder time. They are put behind the eight ball so to speak when it comes to losing weight compared to their male counterparts.

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


Mind Control

Posted: February 13, 2013 by Justin M. Strawn in Encouragement, Uncategorized
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Exercise begins with your mind

Exercise begins with your mind

It’s amazing what our brain can do for us. It is constantly working without us even having to think about it. It keeps all of our muscles and body systems working while we are completely oblivious. The human brain is truly a remarkable wonder.

As amazing as it is, it can also keep us down or hold us back from some things. This especially true of exercise. Our mind often tells us when we need to quit a workout before our body is actually ready to quit. Let’s take a look at how our brain helps and hurts us when we exercise.

It’s All in Your Head

The obvious way that the brain hurts our exercise routine is by thinking that we need to stop before we have completed a workout. If you have ever exercised, you have in all likelihood experienced this. Let’s be honest, exercise is hard and strenuous. You spend a lot of time pushing your body to its breaking point. Your mind will be telling you often that it’s time to quit, you’ve endured too much pain. I won’t lie, it’s tough to overcome. The key is to listen to your body, not your head. Your body will only do what it is capable of doing. If you’re doing push ups, your body will do as many as it physically can. When you can’t do any more, you will make it down, but you won’t make it back up. That’s how you find out when you are really done.

Getting your brain to match your body is a difficult task. Make your brain work!

Getting your brain to match your body is a difficult task. Make your brain work!

It can also be a hindrance when you think you can do more than you actually can. Last night, I exercised at night for one of the first times in a long time. It was different. I’m accustomed to being a little groggy when I start my workout because I normally do it early in the morning. Last night I was really wide awake and feeling like I could work myself harder because of it. My body disagreed. I kept going too hard, too quickly at points throughout my workout and was tiring out during some of the moves at the beginning of my workout. I eventually compensated for it and achieved a much more normal pace.

Let Your Conscience be Your Guide

Your brain, though, can be a valuable tool as well. One of the biggest problems most people have when they exercise is remembering to breathe when they are exercising. I know that sounds kind of strange, but it’s true. You can train your brain to breathe at the right time until it gets to the point where you aren’t thinking about it.

It can also help you get on a regular routine with exercise in several ways. For example, when I first started exercising as early as I do, it was tough to get myself up and awake that early in the morning. The more I have done it, the easier it has been to get out of bed and get awake enough to complete my workout.

Get your mind as strong as your body!

Get your mind as strong as your body!

It also will make you start to crave your workout. When you get consistent with exercise, you will start to feel bad if you don’t do it. The desire to do so will get stronger and stronger with each day that you complete your workout. Your mind will trigger those feelings inside you.

Your brain can definitely be a hindrance to your exercise routine. Just like your body, though, it can be trained to be a valuable tool in the process of getting your body in tip-top shape. With repetition and hard work, your brain will get in sync with your body and you will be knocking out all of your fitness goals ion no time.

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


Reason to Exercise #1: Confidence

Posted: February 12, 2013 by Justin M. Strawn in Reasons to Exercise
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Use these reasons to help motivate you to exercise.

Use these reasons to help motivate you to exercise.

I’m starting a new category for my blog about reasons why you should exercise. I believe your motivation is  a key component to staying with a fitness routine. If you have never done it before, or if it has been a while since you have, you might be having a hard time finding something that motivates you. I came across this picture, and I thought it would be a really great place to start. The first one is a great place to start, as it is one of the reasons I try to do it every day: confidence

How You Feel When You Don’t

If you don’t exercise, you may not realize how exercise and confidence go together. I didn’t either before I started doing it. If you don’t currently exercise, you are missing out on a great area to make you feel confident in all aspects of your life. Going without exercise is like a phone that hasn’t been sufficiently charged. It will make it for a little while, but it won’t last long. You will notice that others’ comments towards you will have a greater impact on you, both good and bad. When you make decisions, you will feel less sure than you would if you had exercised. Your self-worth isn’t going to be as high as it could be.

How You Feel When You Do

Exercising can make you feel like a super hero.

Exercising can make you feel like a super hero.

Exercise can make you feel like you can conquer the world. The level of confidence you possess is like no other. You feel better about yourself when you exercise, so when you talk to your boss you will feel much more confident about whatever you are discussing with him or her. Exercise boosts your confidence by making you feel like you have  accomplished something. You know you are slowly working toward your goals which will make you feel like you can accomplish things in all walks of life.

How Exercise Affects my Confidence

Personally, if I haven’t exercised regularly, I feel less sure of myself at my job. It’s highly important for me to feel confident because I am a teacher. If I stand before my students feeling unsure of myself, then I run the risk of losing control of my classroom. I also will allow the antics of the students to bother me more and could lead them to unnecessary discipline action. I am not as sure of myself when discussing things with parents, and I could easily be convinced to do something for a student that is not in the student’s best interest because a parent asked me to do it.

Confidence is such a key component to all of us. Exercise is a great way to gain a little bit more of it, so it only makes sense to try to fit it into our everyday lives. You may not notice it at first, but the more you exercise, and the more consistent you are with doing it, you’ll see the more confidence you build up as a result. Have a great day ladies and gentlemen, and may all your fitness dreams come true!


I talked about some things you could do to exercise in this blog post. I thought today I would take a moment and talk about the differences between Cardio and Weightlifting. They are both extremely important for your fitness levels, and regardless of whatever your fitness goal is, you should try to incorporate both into your exercise regime.

Cardio Exercise

Some good examples of machines that specialize in cardio exercise.

Some good examples of machines that specialize in cardio exercise.

Cardio exercise is often thought of as what people do when their primary focus is losing weight. To a certain extent, that is true. Cardio work is the best way to burn calories, but that isn’t the only thing it is used for. Remember, cardio is short for cardiovascular. What cardio does is get your heart pumping at a higher velocity than it normally would. This is what causes you to burn calories. In the process, it strengthens your heart. You can be the model of perfect health, but you still need to incorporate cardio exercise into your daily workout routine to keep your heart strong.

But what if you only want to gain muscle, will cardio work make you lose weight? It might, but that goes back to eating the proper amount of calories based on whatever you are trying to accomplish. If you are happy with your weight and simply trying to convert fat into muscle, then make sure you are eating enough calories to balance out the calories that you burn.

Cardio is a great way to lose weight, but it is so much more than a weight loss tool. EVERYONE needs cardiovascular exercise to maintain a level of good health. If you haven’t started, I would suggest you start incorporating into your workouts as soon as possible.


Building muscle is the best way to burn fat.

Building muscle is the best way to burn fat.

Many people think weightlifting is only for people who want to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger. And just like those who think cardio is only for people who want to lose weight, this is also not correct. The most efficient part of your body that burns fat is muscle. You can lose weight without lifting any weights, but it will take longer, and I don’t believe you will be real happy with how your body looks after you hit your goal weight. If that happens, you might be tempted to lose even more which could put you at an unhealthy weight because you don’t weigh enough.

How much weight should you lift? That is where it gets a little bit more complicated. You need to figure out what you’re trying to accomplish first. Everyone should push themselves when lifting so that it is a struggle to get the last two or three reps in before you stop. If you want to stay thin and lean, go for a weight that you can get around 12 reps in per set. If you are trying to put on a lot of muscle, up it to a point where you can only get in about  8 reps per set. The difference in weight is substantial. You’ll find that it would differ by 10 to 15 pounds.

If you are trying to lose weight and have heard that you don’t burn too many calories by weightlifting, there is some truth to that. You can still burn calories with weightlifting. If you want to see the calories fly off, make sure you take as little time as possible between movements. If you can keep it to less than a minute between movements, you are going to burn calories and a lot of them.

How I Do It

I hate cardio and love weight lifting. Even though I hate it, I still do cardio though. One of the nice things about the current program I am on, Insanity, it kind of combines the two. You burn lots of calories while working some key muscle groups at the same time. Weightlifting I enjoy because those results are sometimes more visible, at least on my arms it’s more visible. I also like the added strength I get from doing it.

Whatever your goals are, make sure you are doing both. There is a lot of different ways you can go about getting both your weightlifting and cardio work done, just make sure that you make it a priority to do each of them. The results will surprise you if you haven’t done that up until now. Have a great day ladies and gentlemen, and may all of your fitness dreams come true!


What Exercise is Right for You?

Posted: January 30, 2013 by Justin M. Strawn in Encouragement
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Everyone approaches exercise from a completely different perspective. Choosing the right workout or exercise program will go a long way towards getting you to your goals. You will also find that your goals may change as you exercise which might mean that the type of exercise you do will change. Here are some things to keep in mind, depending on what you want to accomplish.

Trimming Down

Treadmills are great ways to get your cardio done.

Treadmills are great ways to get your cardio done.

If you are looking to lose weight without looking like a professional body builder, cardio will be your best friend. There are lots of cardio machines that will help get you going with cardio exercise. The best example is a treadmill, but there are others: stationary bikes, elliptical machines, and stair climbers are just a few. You don’t have to buy big fancy equipment though. You can walk, run, or jog without purchasing one thing (with maybe the exception of some good running shoes if you don’t have some already).

Some people who are only trying to lose weight are afraid to do any strength training because they are afraid they will get too big or won’t lose weight. It isn’t something I would suggest however. Doing some basic strength training will help your body burn the fat that you hate so much. Yes, it is true that the numbers on the scale might fall more slowly, but your body will get smaller. If you compared two men, both of whom were 6’0″ tall and weighed 185 pounds, but one did a small amount of strength training and the other didn’t, you would notice that the one who did would look smaller than the other. You will probably like the way you look more as well. It also doesn’t require a huge investment to do simple strength training. A small set of resistance bands will allow you to get some basic toning in.

Getting Big

Pumping some iron can build a lot of muscle.

Pumping some iron can build a lot of muscle.

You may be the opposite, you want to build as much muscle as you possibly can. If that’s the case, you need to start doing some weight lifting. Weight lifting is a great way to put some added muscle on your body. You can do some weight lifting with resistance bands, but you are probably going to have to invest in some dumbbell bars that you can adjust the weight to and some weight plates. You can go all out and get a Bowflex or some other type of weight bench, but it isn’t completely necessary. My advice to these people is the same as those wanting to trim down, don’t skip out on Cardio. The more weight you add to your body, whether or not it’s fat or muscle, will put added pressure on your heart. To keep it pumping properly, it needs to exercise and nothing does that better than Cardio work.

Exercise Programs

If you use an exercise program, make sure you choose one from the right intensity level.

If you use an exercise program, make sure you choose one from the right intensity level.

There are lots of exercise programs out there. Many of them are specialized and many of them vary in intensity levels. If you plan to start one, do some research before you make your purchase and plop sown all that money because they can be expensive. If you are just getting started, you might not want to try the more advanced programs out there. You can always work your way up to an Insanity or P90X.

The benefit to a program is that it gives you structure and guidance. You don’t have to wonder what types of exercise you need to that day because your program will already have it laid out for you. It takes a lot of the guess-work out of it.

What I Do

Currently, I am in week 4 of the Insanity program. I am not sure if he created it or not, but Shaun T is the guy who instructs on the videos. It’s tough, but like all exercise programs, the more you do it, the better it gets. It’s a lot of Plyometric stuff, which means a lot of jumping, lower body, core work, and simply using gravity as a way to strengthen your body. It was originally designed to train Olympic athletes, so you know going into it that it is going to be intense. I didn’t just start with Insanity though. I worked my way up to be able to do a program like that, and even though I am in week 4, it still wears me completely out.

Plyometric Exercises push your body to the limit.

Plyometric Exercises push your body to the limit.

Before Insanity, I spent a year and a half doing P90X. It combines both strength training and cardio work. It is also hard, and I thought I would never find anything harder than it until I met Insanity. I definitely got stronger from week to week as went through the program. I could barely lift anything close to what Tony Horton, the Instructor for it, was lifting, but by the time I finished my last round I was a lot closer to matching him. I never got as high on the weights as he was, but it wasn’t too far off.

If doing one of these programs, you will need to check your ego at the door. When you first start, you probably won’t be able to keep up with the instructor or the people demoing the movements. That can be deflating, especially if you think you are in really good shape before you get started. You will improve and it will get better. That wasn’t the first thing I did however.

The first thing I did was hop on an exercise bike six days a week. Three days a week, I did some basic strength training with a Bowflex we had bought. I did this for about four years before I switched over to P90X. It got me started to where I wanted to be. My fitness levels got better each and every week and I saw the pounds drop. Once I reached my goal weight, my goals for exercise changed. I wanted to get stronger and build muscle, so I made the switch to P90X.

You will have lots of ups and downs as you go through your battle with weight and exercise. You have to start somewhere. With perseverance and dedication, you can accomplish your fitness goals. Have a great day ladies and gentlemen and may all of your fitness dreams come true!