What You Can Learn From Shaun T: You Can Do This!

“Every person has a unique gift or talent that they are meant to share with the world. That is why you are on this planet . . . . because you have something to offer that makes everyone better. Let your light shine today and every day. Because without your light, the work would be dark.” – Shaun T

Flickr Photo by: Vital Worldwide

Flickr Photo by: Vital Worldwide

Shaun is known for his big guns and ripped abs. He’s also got a big heart and a passion for helping other people be the absolute best they can be. He’s worked hard for his fitness icon stardom and had to overcome some challenges to get where he is today.

Before Shaun became known a fitness icon for Beach Body’s Hip Hop Abs and Insanity series he was a dance choreographer in New Jersey. In a podcast for NPR’s “My Big Break” series, Shaun says at the time, he was in an abusive relationship with a partner that was not supportive of his career.

He got a call from a friend in California that encouraged him to come out to Los Angeles for a vacation. While in L.A. he auditioned for a new dance agency. Out of the hundreds of people auditioning for the spots only seven men and five women made the cut. Shaun was one of them and was told that he would be contacted in a couple of weeks if they were interested in him.

Shaun tells NPR, “I was at the laundry mat, with my pocket full of quarters, when I got the phone call that the agency wanted me to move to LA to pursue a career in dance.”

Shaun T Meets Beach Body

“Believe it or not, Insanity is very difficult for me to do!” — Shaun T

He moved to L.A. to lead workout dance classes. In not time his classes were full.  That’s when Beach Body discovered him and set his iconic career in motion.

Shaun’s first Beach Body project was Hip Hop Abs, then Rockin’ Body followed by Focus T25 and finally, Insanity. It’s amazing to hear him admit that Insanity is difficult for him to do! He goes on to say that when people that are new to Insanity do the workout with him for the first timey they notice he’s out of breath too.

In October 2012, Shaun Thompson married his best friend and became Shaun Blokker. He made a choice to get rid of the negative influences in his life and go after his dream.

“People, you have no idea. I understand why you feel weak and why you might be not as confident as you want to be,” he says. “All you have to do is tell yourself you can do this, and I know that it’s possible.”

Be Social! Share!

What You Can Learn From Jonathon Walters: Quit Quitting

“Quitting is unlike anything else in life. It is only hard the first time you do it. After that it is a habit and almost impossible to break.” — Denzil John Walters

Eight months ago Jonathon Walters weighed 477 pounds had high blood pressure, high cholesterol and severe fatty liver disease. Today he weighs 270 pounds, runs 10 miles a day, lifts weights and works out at the gym.

Walters says that his weight loss was 100% natural with diet and exercise.  He didn’t have surgery, use pills or weight loss supplements.  How did he do it on his own?

He quit quitting.

Flickr photo by Christine

Flickr photo by Christine

Jonathon Walters was the ‘big kid’ in grade school.  At five years old he weighed 95 pounds. By the time he was a junior in high school he was over 300 pounds and was bullied every day. He says that high school was such a nightmare that he quit.

And that began a cycle of quitting. He quit school, quit jobs, and quit caring about his health. Then when his father, Denzil Walters, died at the age of 53 of a heart attack, his world collapsed and he hit bottom. He ate to numb the pain of losing his father and put on even more weight.

But Walters didn’t stay at rock bottom for long.  His father’s death was a wake-up call and the words that Denzil said to his son when he quit school stuck with him.  Denzil told Jonathon that “quitting is unlike anything else in life. It is only hard the first time you do it. After that it is a habit and almost impossible to break.”

Jonathon realized that if he didn’t make some changes he wouldn’t be around for long either.  He made up his mind to quit quitting and his 200 pound weight loss journey began.

Quit Quitting

Over the last six months he has gone from not being able to walk without getting winded to running a mile in under nine minutes. He typically runs about 10 miles a day and works out on machines at the gym.  He’s replaced his fast food favorites with fruits and vegetables. He’s lowered his carbohydrate intake, and increased protein. Fried foods and soda pop are no longer on the menu.

As a result, Walter’s has gone from a 58/60 pant size to 42. His blood pressure has dropped and his cholesterol has gone from 230 to 100.  Before his weight loss his resting heart rate was 116.  It is now around 65.

Most of all, he no longer calls himself a quitter.  He says he’s as determined as he’s ever been and uses his story to inspire and motivate others. He’s even created a Facebook Fan Page, JWALT Fitness.

This video that Walters created to provide motivation to his followers says it all:

What You Can Learn

I love writing articles for the What You Can Learn From tab. Because there are so many inspiring people in the world sometimes it’s hard to know who to write about, but Jonathon Walters stood out. We all have something that we can take from his experience.

If you have a story to share about yourself or someone else that we can learn from, please send me a link or an e-mail.

Be Social! Share!

What You Can Learn From B.J. Fogg: B = mat

“I’m obsessed with how behavior works.  Even on vacation I’m thinking about behavior, I’m watching behavior, I’m reading stuff on it.  I’m trying to understand it systematically.” — B.J. Fogg

What desired behavior change  are you struggling with?  Maybe you want to lose those last 10 pounds or get to the gym three times a week.  It could be that you just want to increase your productivity at work or keep the house from being so cluttered.

It’s all about getting and staying motivated, right?

Not according to B.J. Fogg, the Director of the Persuasive Tech Lab at Stanford University.  Fogg says that long-term behavior change doesn’t have as much to do with motivation as you might think.  It’s more about establishing tiny habits that are anchored to already established ones.

Fogg Behavior Model 2

Motivation applies to temporary behavior change, but not long term.  Fogg says “Relying primarily on motivation to change your behavior long term is a losing strategy. Motivation is very slippery. If you set yourself up to do something really hard and you have to somehow sustain the motivation, the motivation is going to drop down and there’s going to be a point where you won’t do it.”

He says the same is true of willpower.

In Fogg’s Ted Talk, Forget Big Change, Start With A Tiny Habit, he shows you how you can change your life and change your behaviors by making a series of tiny changes. He believes that if you design your goals around the outcomes you’re deisgning at the wrong place.  You need to focus on the behaviors that lead to the desired outcome.

For example, if the desired outcome is weight loss, there are many, many behaviors that lead to that losing weight.  As we create these tiny habits, little by little we will approach the health outcome in a very reliable way.

B = mat

Fogg has created a behavior change formula that consists of three elements:  Motivation. Ability. Trigger. There has to be some level of motivation present.  You have to have the ability to do the habit. There has to be a trigger to get you to do it.

In the Ted Talk he explains how the trigger is the key to the behavior change process and explains how to set up the triggers so that they work.

About B.J.

Fogg devotes 50% of his time to his Persuasive Lab at Stanford and 50% to industry innovation.  At his lab they focus on methods for creating habits and automating behavior change.  Over the years, improving health outcomes has become a theme.

Another focus of the lab is peace innovation and they are investigating how technology can help change attitudes and behaviors in ways that bring about global harmony. While they realize that is this an “idealistic project, and [they] may fail, given the state of the world, choosing not to pursue this line of research would be irrational.”

He has a body of work that includes a Behavior Design Boot Camp which is a two-day event that takes place at his guest house in Northern California and  a book titled Persuasive Technology: Using Computers to Change What We Think and Do.

Fogg was chosen by Fortune Magazine as one of 10 New Gurus You Should Know.

Join Tiny Habits

B.J. can help you create new behaviors through his Tiny Habits program that he has shared with over 20,000 people around the world. This 5-day method starts every Monday and he will check in with you via email Monday through Friday of the week you’re registered for to see how you’re doing.

Space is limited. The current session is sold out, so if you’re interested in joining, you will need to check the web site on a regular basis in order to get in.

What tiny habits are you working on?

Be Social! Share! 

What You Can Learn From Star Trainer Michelle Bridges: Just Friggin Do It!

“Success is all down to how badly you want it.  Nothing will ever be handed to you, and if it is you never appreciate it anyway. Successful people are hard workers.  Period!”
— Michelle Bridges

There’s a lot you can learn from Michelle Bridges. Not just in relation to reaching your health and fitness goals, but about life in general.

Michelle has been a trainer on the Australian version of The Biggest Loser since 2007. She is the author of eight bestselling books including Crunch Time: Lose Weight Fast and Keep It Off, and Losing the Last 5 Kilos: Your Kick-Arse Guide to Looking and Feeling Fantastic.

Michelle Bridges

She started the on-line 12 Week Body Transformation program in 2012 and has helped people around the world lose over a million pounds.

Michelle has been a go-getter since she was 14 when she began teaching fitness to the other teenagers at her school.  At the age of 26 she realized that it was time to take her fitness career to the next level and moved to Sydney, Australia where, with $275 in the bank, she began her own personal training business, became a freelance group fitness instructor and a trainer for Les Mills.

The business that she began with $275 is now a multi-million fitness empire that reaches people across the globe.

Her enthusiasm for health and fitness is infectious and engages millions of people around the world. Much of her inspiration comes from her “don’t overthink it, just friggin do it” mantra.

Besides, “just friggin do it”, here are five things that you can learn from Michelle:

1.  Motivation Is Like A Bad Boyfriend – Michelle is shocked by the obesity epidemic that is facing many countries and says that people are eating their way to the grave.  She believes part of the problem is that people are hung up on motivation and if you’re waiting around for it, it may never come. Losing weight isn’t about motivation.  “No way.  Motivation is a crock, you see.  I’m in the motivation business; but motivation is like a bad boyfriend.  He’s never there when you need him.”  Michelle says being healthy is about forming good habits and practices.”

2.  No Matter What Exercise You’re Doing, Go Hard In the End – Michelle calls this the Final Blast and says it’s what you have to do at the end of every workout.  “Leave it all on the field.  Hold nothing back.  Go all in.”  Whatever you’re doing, whether it’s running, doing ab crunches or squatting, the final push at the end will help your fitness go up and your weight go down.

3.  Don’t Let Low Temps Keep You From Training – Michelle answers the age old question, “How do you stay motivated to exercise in the winter?” She says she likes to look at winter exercise as “a time of careful preparation for the coming spring and summer.” If you’re not sure how to approach exercise during the winter months, consult with a personal trainer who can help you put a plan in place. Whatever you do, don’t use the winter months as an excuse not to exercise.

4.  Unless You Change Your Mind Set Your Weight Loss Endeavors Will Fail – One of the biggest challenge Michelle faces in helping people achieve their weight loss goals is getting them to overcome the victim mentality and the blame game.  They say “It’s not my fault, it’s my children’s fault.” Or, “It my husband’s fault. When the truth is staring back at them from the fridge.” Her advice is to ditch the victim mentality and start accepting responsibility for absolutely everything you do. Everything.

5.  Accept Your Body For The Things It Can and Cannot Do – Comparing ourselves with others isn’t just bad.  It’s disastrous. You probably heard your parents tell you when you were young that there will always be someone better looking, smarter, and more athletic than you.  Michelle agrees.  “Put the work into your emotional self to get to a state of truly accepting your body as the gift that it is – the way it looks, and the things it can and can’t do.” It’s okay to be you.

Globe Trotter

Last year Michelle came to the United States to launch her 12 Week Body Transformation and is quickly becoming a fitness celebrity here too.  She is in the business of changing lives and works to help people conquer their mental barriers about weight loss, food and exercise.

According to Michelle, “The whole yo-yo—up-down, off-on, in-out is far more damaging than being overweight will ever be because that stuff messes with your head.  It’s almost like psychological obesity.  Then I come in with a sledgehammer and go, “Right. Let’s get real!”

For more information about the 12 Week Body Transformation, click here.

Be Social! Share!

What You Can Learn From Olga Kotelko: Winning At Any Age

“It’s not how old you are; it’s how you get old.” — Olga Kotelko

For people needing motivation to stay active, eat whole foods, and not stress out over the little things, you have a role model in Olga Kotelko.

Olga is a 94 year old retired school teacher from West Vancouver, Canada that entered her first “masters” track and field competition at the age of 77. At age 85 she broke 20 world records in one year.  Now, at 94 she is the only woman in the over 90 age group that still competes in the sports of both long-jumping and high-jumping.


Minister Ralph Sultan and senior Olympian Olga Kotelko talked about her world record success over her cover of McGill’s Headway magazine.  Flick photo by BC Gov Photos

What’s her secret?

Olga shared six ‘lesson’s in a recent interview with Parade Magazine.  While Olga seems to have found the fountain of youth, there is nothing out of the ordinary in the lessons:

1.  Swap the Sudoku For Sneakers – You might suspect that Olga thinks it’s important to keep moving.  Olga has been active throughout her life and hasn’t slowed down in her golden years.  At age 75 she was playing baseball with a rag-stuffed ball when she got ‘tackled’ by an outfielder going after a pop fly.That experience spurred her to look for a safer activity.  That’s when she joined the masters track program, hired Harold Morioka, one of the most gifted masters athletes ever, to coach her, and began breaking records in her age group.

2.  Stay On Your Feet – Lesson number two is to spend as much time as you can out of that death trap known as The Chair.  She climbs the stairs in the home that she lives in with her daughter and son-in-law about 50 times a day. Beyond that she keeps busy with hobbies and activities that help her avoid a sedentary lifestyle.  Olga hasn’t given in to spending the majority of her day in front of the TV which, unfortunately, is where most people in Olga’s age group spend much of their time.

3.  Eat Real Food – Olga isn’t vegetarian, vegan or Paleo. She eats a balanced diet based on whole foods and consumes carbs and red-meat in moderation. She eats four to five times a day.  Her lighter meal in the evening.  She doesn’t skip meals or eat fast food. Olga doesn’t take vitamin supplements but does take a baby aspirin each day to prevent blood clots.  She takes glucosamine daily for joint support.

4.  Be A Creature of Habit – Olga is a creature of habit and has a schedule that she follows each week. If it’s the day when she goes to the track to run, she goes to the track and runs.  She has a stretching routine that she does each morning, bowls on Tuesdays, and goes to bed at the same time each night. Certainly being disciplined and not simply relying on motivation or the ‘mood’ to hit you will help you stay on top of your game.  The people that I know that are extremely disciplined (okay, sometimes I refer to them as anal) are the ones that seem to get the most done.

5.  Cultivate A Sense of Progress – I love this lesson. It’s easy to get stuck in those things that we didn’t accomplish, but Olga applies the “move the yardstick” strategy to her life. Moving the yardstick means that you gauge your progress by where you are now.  If you’re 50 you’re not going to be able to compete with a 20 year old. Accept that and set your goals accordingly.  Olga’s not trying to be 50.  She’s trying to be the best 94 year old she can be.

6.  Lighten Up – Stress will kill you.  We all know that stress is bad for our health.  Olga says she doesn’t have time to stress out over every little thing. Her motto is to enjoy life and not be ruled by stress.

Does One Lesson Stand Out?

If you had to pick the one lesson that has propelled Olga to do what no one else her age is able to do, what would it be?

That’s the question that struck me as I read about Olga.

When I first read the article in Parade Magazine I thought something would stand out as the ‘ah-ha’ factor.  I thought there would be one or two things that would jump out and I would think “that’s it”! That’s her secret. But nothing did. Olga is doing things that I think many health-minded people do at any age.

Maybe it’s that she is combining the healthy habits that she has practiced for her entire life and they are working for her.

Or maybe she was dealt a good hand genetically and is just lucky.

I’m certain part of it is the ‘can-do’ attitude that keeps her competing in – and winning – track and field events at the age of 94.

But, above all, Olga has a wildly competitive spirit. That is her secret.  Olga may not be competing with anyone but herself.  Olga might not  recognize that she fiercely competitive.

I do know that not many women at the age of 75 hire a top-of-the-line coach to help them fine tune their running skills unless they want to win.

Olga wants to win.  She wants to win at track and field.  She wants to win her age group. Most of all she wants to win at life.  That, my friend, is Lesson Number 7.  That is Olga’s secret.

Be Social! Share!

What You Can Learn From Tony Horton

“Do NOT say you “can’t”! You can say, “I don’t want to”. You can say, “I’m not willing to put forth the effort”. But DO NOT say you CAN’T!” – Tony Horton

Tony Horton, one of my favorite fitness icons has released another workout DVD, P90X3, just in time for the holidays.  P90X3 is a series of 30-minute high intensity interval training workouts that promise to get you lean and mean in 90 days. You can watch the clip below to see it’s not your mother’s workout (whatever that means) but can be modified so that it is doable for almost everyone.

I do love Tony Horton’s workouts.  I was a big fan of the 10 Minute Trainer series that he launched in 2007.  From the 10 Minute Trainer evolved the revolutionary concept that we don’t have to work out for an hour everyday to see results. The radical suggestion that people can get fit in 10 minutes a day is now a mainstream belief in the world of fitness training.

Most of all I love Tony for the infectious enthusiasm he has for life, the quirky Tonyisms that he delivers throughout all of the workouts, and the way he projects the notion that if he can do all of these things, so can you and I. Tony is an althletic trainer, leader, mentor, and coach and there’s a lot we can learn from him.

About Tony

Tony was born on July 2, 1958 and raised in Trumbull, Connecticut where he attended the University of Rhode Island.  By 1980 he had left his home state and moved to Los Angeles with the dream of becoming an actor.

While in LA he started working out at the World Gym in Venice, California where he collaborated with former-triathlete and Ironman competitor Mark Sisson who introduced him to interval training.

Tony became a personal trainer and started his own business, ASH Fitness, in Santa Monica, CA where he became the trainer for the stars.  Some of his clients included Billy Joel, Tom Petty, Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks and Bruce Springsteen.

In the early 2000’s Beachbody recruited Tony to help them develop a workout video in-home boot camp program called Power 90.  In 2004 Tony developed the first P90X series which took the Power 90 program to the next level. In the P90X program, Tony introduced the theory of muscle confusion that has been proven to help participants achieve maximum results and shatter a plateau.

The P90X2 series was launched in 2011 and now, the most recent program,P90X3, is on the market in time for the holidays.  Tony’s home workout series has reached $500 million in sales and he continues to inspire people to get fit without leaving their home.

Tony’s World

There is plenty you can learn from Tony by visiting his web site Tony Horton’s World.com.  He has a question/answer style blog and a ‘Bring It’ sound clip where you can listen to Tony answer fan’s questions about fitness and nutrition.

You can learn the most about Tony by doing his workouts where you can benefit from his persistently intense energy, his ‘no excuses’ outlook, and the Tonyisms that he disburses frequently throughout the program. Here’s a few of my favorites Tony Horton quotes:

  • Don’t let your ego get in the way of your success.
  • Focus on the present moment. Stay in the moment.
  • If you need a break, take a break.  Look at me.  I’m taking a break.  I’m the leader. I can do whatever I want.  But when you’re back, you’re back with a vengeance!
  • Hamburger bad. Fries bad. Coca-cola bad. There I said it. Drink your water people.
  • Do your best and forget the rest.
  • Feel free to laugh, because these are all really funny jokes.
  • Don’t just kinda do it!
  • Clear your mind of all bad things.
  • Yes, I know it’s hard.  It’s supposed to be.
  • Happiness is right here.

Is P90X3 on your holiday wish list?

If you like this article, you might also like What You Can Learn From Diana Nyad and What You Can Learn From Chris Cardell, J.D. Meier, and Pink.

Be Social! Share!

What You Can Learn From Regina Brett: Get Up, Dress Up, and Show Up

I’m sure you’ve probably  seen the 45 Lessons Life Taught Me that Regina Brett created when she turned 45.  When she turned 50 she added five more lessons to the list.

Yes, this is the same ’45 Lessons’ that you see being shared on Facebook with the picture of a 90 year old woman attached to it.

Somewhere along the way, the real Regina Brett’s 45 lessons became popular and were shared numerous times through e-mail and Facebook.  And, for some reason, Regina suddenly aged. Drastically! She is in fact in her mid 50’s but her lessons are attributed to the charismatic 90 year old woman pictured below.

Who is this woman that is getting the credit for writing the 'Lessons'?

Who is this woman that is getting the credit for writing the ‘Lessons’?

Not that her age matters.  I’ve read 45 Lessons several times and find that they are good tips that will reduce stress (#47), remind us that gratitude is a pillar of good health (#40) and encourage us to live each day fully engaged and in the moment (#41).

One of my Facebook friends shared the lessons this week and people began posting comments about which one was their favorite so I followed along.  It was easy for me.  Lesson 46 has always been my favorite: No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

That, my friends, is the secret to living a purposeful, productive life.

It is also the secret to reaching your fitness and weight loss goals. Don’t give into spending a day with your head tucked under the sheets because you’re just not ‘feeling it’.  There are too many of those days to count and they tend to multiply if you make a habit of surrendering to them.

This approach to life is best suited for dogs.

This approach to life is best suited for dogs.   Photo by Eugene 0126jp

1. Get up.

Getting up. The hardest, but most critical, of the three.  You can’t really do much if you don’t get out of the bed or comfy recliner, or push away from the computer. The longer you stay in a reclined position the harder it is to get motivated to get up and take that walking break, do your Be Fit workout for the day, or complete day five of your Couch to 5K program.

As soon as you feel the first pang of procrastination seeping into your thoughts, get up and get dressed for whatever it is you promised yourself you would do today.

2. Dress Up.

One of my pet peeves is people that schlep around the gym in P.E. shorts and a faded, over-sized t-shirt.  How can you put your best effort into a workout if you’re dressed like you sneaked out of the house hoping you wouldn’t run into anyone you know?

You don’t have to be dressed in top-of–the-line fitness attire, but wearing clothes that are colorful, fit right and are made for exercising will increase your motivation.  The better you look, the better you will feel and the more confidence you will have in your ability to accomplish your goals. Target, TJ Maxx and Wal Mart have great deals on workout clothes that won’t blow your budget and you’ll feel like a million bucks in them.

There’s no reason not to dress the same way if you work out at home, are going out to walk the dog or for a quick run through the neighborhood.  Plan to dress for success whatever your workout plans are.

3. Show Up.

This is the easiest of the three.  Once you’ve accomplished steps one and two, your motivation is clicking and you’re set up for success.  You’ve peeled yourself away from Law and Order re-runs or Pinterest (not easy to do) and put on your favorite yoga pants. What comes next is up to you, but the hard work is done.

Don’t’ forget to dream and set big hairy audacious goals (BHAGs) for yourself. Once you understand the importance of Lesson #46 and begin to practice it daily, your dreams will become a reality

What’s your favorite lesson?  Please share by leaving a comment in the box below.

Be Social! Share!

What You Can Learn From Diana Nyad: Never Give Up.

I have added a name to my rather short ‘favorites’ list of fitness icons. It’s not that I don’t follow people in the fitness industry like Jillian Michaels and Kelly Coffey Meyer.  But I only have three people that I am semi-obsessed with meaning that I faithfully follow them on Facebook, watch for their tweets and anxiously wait to see what there next venture is going to be.  They are Tony Horton, Cathe Friendrich and Chalene Johnson.

I now have a new fitness icon to add to the list. Diana Nyad. The 62 year old swimmer that is the first person to swim 110 miles from Cuba to Key West, Florida without a shark tank.

It isn’t the physical feat of making the swim that is so inspiring – not that that in itself isn’t incredible.  It’s her amazing spirit and incredible tenacity that fascinates and inspires me.


Flickr photo by Cuba Gallery

Not An Easy Swim

It took Diana 52 hours and 54 minutes to swim from Cuba to Key West.  During the swim she vomited constantly, making it nearly impossible to stay hydrated.  She was sun burned, endured jelly fish stings, and had unbearably swollen lips from the salt water.  Yet she kept going.  How?

At a news conference on Tuesday she revealed some of the tricks that she uses to keep swimming such as counting her strokes in English, German, Spanish and French and singing songs to herself.  She says there’s a song list of 85 tunes in her brain. Neil Young is her favorite.

But for most of us there are no songs that we could sing in our head, or any language that we could count strokes in that would keep us swimming through salty, churning ocean waves for 110 miles while vomiting, getting bit by jelly fish, and suffering from dehydration and extreme exhaustion.

Inspiration From Diana Nyad

After reaching the shore at Smathers Beach in Key West, Diana was surrounded by news photographers and fans that wanted to know how she did it.  Here are some of her responses along with quotes from the new programs she was a guest on the following day:

  • On CBS This Morning “…. All of us suffer heartache. All of us suffer difficulties in our lives. And if you say to yourself ‘find a way,’ you’ll make it through.”
  • Upon reaching Smathers Beach Diana had three things to tell her onlookers: “One is, we should never ever give up. Two is, you’re never too old to chase your dreams. Three is, it looks like a solitary sport, but it’s a team.”
  • Remarking on her motivation to keep going:   “I am stunned, at age 61, at how fast it all flies by. My mom just died. We blink and another decade passes. I don’t want to reach the end of my life and regret not having given my days everything in me to make them worthwhile.”
  • “Never, ever give up. And find a way. … And my age, they’re looking at me as a baby boomer, saying life is not over at this age by any means. So I’m more of, shall we say, a human spirit story than I am a sports story.”
  • In a Today Show interview: “You can dream, you can be vital, and you can be in your prime.  I may not look it right now, but you catch me on a good day, I’m in my prime.” (check out Diana here and I’m sure you will agree that she is in her prime.)
  • “You’re never too old to live your dreams.”
  • From PBS News Hour – “The thing about aging is, it’s true that the clock seems to be ticking faster as you get older. It isn’t, but it seems to be. Time seems to be running out. And I wanted to swim this endeavor not to just be the athletic record. I wanted it to be a lesson for my life that says, be fully engaged.

Never Give Up

Diana had attempted the swim four times without success prior to the September 2013 swim. Once, in August of 2011, she was unable to complete the swim because of shoulder pain and winds that blew her miles off course.

In September of 2011 she attempted the Cuba to Florida swim but was defeated by box jellyfish and Portuguese man of war stings.  In August of 2012 her swim ended before she reached her goal again due to bad jelly fish stings and a lightning storm.

The final attempt landed her on the shore of Key West, Florida on September 2, 2013 at 1:14 p.m.  Her web site simply says, “She freaking made it.”

What can you and I learn from Diana?

Never, ever give up on your dreams.

“I think that a lot of people in our country have gotten depressed, pinned in, pinned down with living lives they don’t want. I do write all the time about — you tell me what your dreams are. What are you chasing? It’s not impossible. Name it.” –Diana Nyad (CNN news article)

Are you inspired by Diana Nyad?

Be Social! Share!

What You Can Learn from Food Network Chef Chris Avtges

Losing 140 pounds hasn’t just given Chris Avtges a new lease on life.  Chris has dropped his “fat is flavor” philosophy and has found a completely new way to cook.

As a recent contestant on a special weight-loss episode of the television show Chopped, Chris took park in the “Cook Your Butt Off” episode that highlighted four chefs from around the country who revamped their cooking styles to achieve significant weight loss.  The Cook Your Butt Off episode also included a cook-off competition where the chefs had to use surprise ingredients.

Food Network

Flickr photo by Karen Horton

Chris’ Journey

Chris began on his weight loss journey in 2010 when his son, Hunter 10, was diagnosed with celiac disease. With Hunter’s diagnosis, Chris began to take a closer look at the ingredients he was using and discovered ways to add flavor to foods without adding fat.

In 2011Chris was laid off from his job as a food service director for the public school district.  With extra time on his hands he and his wife, Tabatha, decided to join the YMCA where they worked with personal trainers and established an intense workout schedule.

Six Tips From Chef Chris

After a few weeks of working out at the Y Chris started using the iPhone app Lose It!.  Using the calorie tracker motivated him to re-evaluate his approach to cooking and he really began to drop the pounds. As part of his new lifestyle Chris made six significant changes to the way he cooked.

Here are Chris’ six simple tips that you can incorporate into your meal plans to reduce calories and fat:

  1. Use fresh herbs and boldly flavored vinegars for marinades.
  2. Substitute yogurt for cream or milk when making mashed or sweet potatoes.
  3. Grill. Grill. Grill
  4. Instead of thick sauces use homemade broths. He recommends using a vegetable base and adding flavor with lemon grass and other seasonings.
  5. Replace ground beef with turkey or chicken when making burgers, meatloaf or other dishes.
  6. Control portion with pre-plating.  Don’t eat family style.

Although Chris didn’t win the Cook Your Butt Off competition, he achieved his main goal which he says was “to have an opportunity to get my story out and to show the stereotypical obese American, that with some effort and determination, they can turn their health around.” As a result of his weight loss he has been taken off medications for diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.

Chris plans to use his newly developed culinary skills to work with students in K-12 to show them what healthy eating and exercise can do.

For more inspiration from Chris, check out his Chopped My Butt Off blog at http://chefchrisa.wordpress.com/.


What You Can Learn From Sheldon Silverstein

Listen to the Mustn’ts, child,
Listen to the Don’ts
Listen to the Shouldn’ts
The Impossibles, the Won’ts.
Listen to the Never Haves
Then listen close to me —
Anything can happen, child,
Anything can be.

Anything Can Be

I remember as a child I would lie for hours outside in the grass under big white cumulus clouds and dream that they were alive. One cloud was a pig that effortlessly morphed into an angel. Another was a gentle giant that dissipated into a small mouse. As the clouds floated across the sky they would take on shapes and lose them just as quickly creating a world that I could escape in.

It was very make-believe, yet at the same time, very real.

Dreams and make-believe are a big part of childhood. But as we grow up, our dreams begin to change shape. We become so busy and are under pressure from unending obligations that we’re no longer able to find the time to dream.

Or worse, our dreams have been squelched because we’ve allowed ourselves to be affected by the mustn’ts, shouldn’t’s and won’ts.

Learning to dream again is a big part of goal setting and achievement. If you’re stuck and are finding it impossible to push through a weight-loss plateau, can’t seem to find the motivation to exercise, and are finding it hard to be excited about life in general, the only way to get unstuck is to start dreaming again.

Take a step back and start creating a vision for your future self that looks just like you wish it did. Ask yourself the question, “If I rubbed a magic bottle and a genie came out and granted me three wishes, what would they be?”

Now, rub the bottle again and pick three more.

Write your dreams down and start putting a plan in place to make them happen. You might even want to start a Dream Jar where you can stow away your written down dreams. Keep the jar in plain sight and it will be a reminder to stay focused on achieving your goals.

Go ahead and dream big dreams.  There’s no need to set boundaries for your ideas.

Anything can happen, friend.  Anything can be.

The poem the Mustnt’s is included in a collection of children’s poetry, “Where The Sidewalk Ends” by Sheldon Silverstein. Silverstein’s poetry resides somewhere between written for children and loved by adults.

Be Social! Share!