Monday, December 29, 2008

Hitting the "RESET" Button

With the New Year fast approaching, many of us take this opportunity to make some household changes in our lives. Some of us do it by choice, some out of necessity.

Last week, just before Christmas, my hard drive crashed and my back-up failed.


Some initially would think, big deal. What's a few family photos and some old school hip-hop mixes you downloaded off the web?

Well, it was actually a lot more than that...

-accounting records
-thousands of dollars worth of educational material (eBooks & on-line courses, etc)
-articles that I wrote or was working on for various publications
-my intellectual property bank of projects: new programs that I was writing, press releases, new workouts, my IDEA bank, my list of CONTACTS

I'm pretty much stuck as to what to do. I've taken my old drive to several Mac experts and they can't seem to do anything.

My last resort is to take it to a data retrieval company and pay an estimated $4100 to get everything little disorganized pieces.

So here's what I'm doing...

Out of necessity, I'm hitting the RESET button.

I had a lot planned for January - projects, major announcements, a website redesign - and I'm still going to push forward.

The way I see it, I've got a new blank canvas to work with now.

I just created a new workout journal.

I simplified my accounting process into one logical spreadsheet that will keep track of everything.

I'm aiming at writing 1 NEW article/blog post/program per day to play catch-up on all the things that I had lost.

This'll be an uphill battle, but what better way to start climbing than at the turn of the year?

So, my question to you is...IS IT TIME FOR YOU TO HIT THE RESET BUTTON TOO?

Do you need to de-clutter the house to make room better things in 2009?

Do you need to shed that extra weight that you've always been meaning to?

Will '09 finally be the year that you pay off all the debt you've accumulated over the years so that you too can wipe the slate clean?

Whatever it is, make preparations now and don't wait (like I did) for you to be forced into RESET mode.

Make the decision NOW and make a promise to stick to it for the next 4 weeks (because after 4 weeks, it'll probably become a habit).

Like my buddy Brad Pilon says, "Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone".

Over the next few days leading into and through the New Year, I'll provide you with some tools and resources that you can use to make 2009 YOUR BEST YEAR EVER!

From goal setting programs, to online resources to track food and exercise, I'll give you some neat tricks to help you get on track with your life so that you're prepared for anything.

Have a great day!

The FitAndBusyDad

P.S. CLICK HERE to get a head start on your New Year's fat loss goals.

Monday, December 15, 2008

FitAndBusyDad December Q'n'A

Equipment-less Exercises for Your Back

Q: Chris, I don’t want to buy the blast straps and I want to do bodyweight exercises that I can perform anywhere, even at work. I am having a challenging time finding an exercise for the back. Can you provide me a few examples?
Thank you,
Michael from Illinois

A: Hi Michael. I've got a few favorites for "equipment-less" back exercises.

I like stick-ups a lot and I find them great for posture. You can view a video of them here...

==>Stick-Up Exercise Video (within a bodyweight circuit)

I also like doing YTWL's for posture and find that this sequence is great for your upper back. Here's a video for that sequence...

==>YTWL Postural Video

Unfortunately, if you want to pack some muscle on your back (a HUGE muscle group), then you can't do much better than chin-ups and various rows. If lack of equipment is an issue, my suggestion is to go to a playground and do your FitAndBusyDad workouts there (using the monkey bars as your chin-up apparatus). You could also do inverted rows if there was a low parallel bar around OR you could even use the swings for some suspended inverted rows.

I hope that helps. Good Luck!

Re-think Parallel Squats

Q: As an older trainer (60 next month), I have learned over the past several years that working with older clients (over 45) is a different animal. Going past parallel is something that, in most cases, will create problems in the knees. Even those seniors who have trained for years begin to complain about the knees. I can usually trace the problem back to deep squats and/or too heavy lifting. In my training, I spot everyone doing the squat so that they maintain at least a 90% angle opening behind the knee at all times. Please be aware that to recommend anything deeper will introduce a higher probability of knee issues. I see it time and time again.
The benefits of a deeper squat are far outweighed by the long term negative of knees that 'talk to you' every day. If you want better glut and ham development, go to the lunge (if the knees allow you). In my own case, I lunge 120# for 20 reps on the 4th set. By the way, one rep = 2 steps, left and right.

Rick A.
Certified Personal Trainer from Georgia

A: Hi Rick, thanks for your comment. I find that issues related to the inability to squat below parallel actually result in poor upper back, hip and ankle mobility in older adults (actually in everyone - old or young) and that knee issues can be cleared up (somewhat) by addressing these restrictions in mobility. I also work with a fair amount of 45+ adults all of whom couldn't squat below parallel when we first started.

By using foam rolling/soft tissue techniques and increasing mobility in these areas using various drills/exercises, I can usually get them below parallel eventually (the time frame depends on the individual).

An important point to make is that I won't have them squat with load until they can get below parallel using their bodyweight and we won't touch load until they can do a PERFECT 20 reps.

Also, because of compression issues in their spine, I won't get older adults to do back squats (where the bar is resting on their back). I prefer to stick to front squats, dumbbell squats or kettlebell squats.

I guess the take home point is that people shouldn't be afraid to squat below parallel. Everyone's been scared into thinking that going lower will cause their knee caps to explode or something.

I agree that some people do in fact have structural limitations that won't allow them to squat below parallel, but for the bulk of us, old or young, I think going below parallel is definitely realistic if not necessary.

Let me know if you have any questions!

The FitAndBusyDad

Thursday, December 4, 2008

4 Tips On How To Get a Great Night's Sleep (Inspired by a Naked Dad)

A couple of months ago, I was in Stamford, CT for a conference. The first morning there, just before my first session I went to the hotel restaurant for breakfast.

I got to the hostess about the same time as another guy. I knew who he was, but I wasn't sure if he knew me. Still being half awake and somewhat shy, I didn't introduce myself. We waited at the front of the almost empty restaurant for almost 5-minutes and were both visibly annoyed that we were ignored by the hostess.

While we were waiting, Vince Delmonte came down, who just happened to be a common friend (I think Vince knows everybody). He introduced us and we've been emailing each other every week ever since.

That guy, was Mike Roussell.

Mike just happens to be one of the top nutrition experts in the world and runs a very successful nutrition program over at

Mike is also one of the busiest dads that I have met.

Back in September when we first started talking, he was in the middle of studying for/writing his comprehensive exams for his PhD, working on his latest fat loss project called Warp-Speed Fat Loss (a collaboration w/fat loss expert Alwyn Cosgrove) and trying to be an exemplary parent (along with his wife Emily) to (then) 6-month-old twins.

Mike sent me this email that I thought you busy dads out there would appreciate...

Hey Chris. Glad you emailed me. There aren't a lot of guys like us - family man, fitness, blogging - we should stay in touch.

You would appreciate this... Classic 'dad' night last night - driving
the kids around town at 1:30am to get them to stop screaming and sleep. Emily and I rate nights by what late night talk show host we will see before going to bed...

Jay Leno - great night (kids asleep before 12:30am)

Conan - average night (kids asleep by 1:30am)

Carson Daily - bad night (too late to remember)

Hope you're well,

I'm not sure if you guys are anything like me, but I've always been hung up on how much sleep I get (or don't get these days). In fact, based on my 10-years of fatherhood, I've got a pretty reliable rating system as well...

#1 Rating - Bath & bed time story =
7-8hrs of sleep...A GREAT NIGHT!

#2 Rating - Bath & bed time story followed by a tantrum =

#3 Rating - Bath & bed time story followed by a tantrum, pee in the bed & late night laundry session washing soiled sheets =

#4 Rating - Bath & bed time story, tantrum, late night pee in the bed and/or puke followed by another bath and a late night laundry session washing soiled sheets =
On a "normal" night (whatever that is), here are the 4 things that I try to do to make sure I get a great night's sleep NATURALLY...

1. Stop the coffee by 3pm. If I'm drinking espresso, I make sure that the last one I have is at 3pm. The 1/2-life of caffeine is about 3-4 hours in a healthy adult, so by having my last espresso at 3pm, I can ensure that most of the caffeine I consumed during the day is gone by around 9ish. That's just in time to...

2. Try to get to bed by 10pm. Your body wants to follow nature and the best possible sleep means that you're following sleep-wake cycles similar to that of the sun (darkness-daylight). If you're already going to bed too late, try to get up a little earlier each day, forcing you to hit the sack earlier, until your body adjusts.

3. Have your dinner earlier (or no later than 6/6:30pm). A lot of people use this trick for weight-loss, which I believe works, and it helps you with sleep quality because you'll make sure that your body's digestive processes are somewhat calm by the time bedtime rolls around (meaning that your heart won't be working as hard to feed all the muscles involved with digestion).

4. Calm your mind by using meditation or some form of relaxation. I just started using this technique and it's really worked out well. I'm the type who's always thinking...about what I need to do tomorrow, about ideas for my business, about whether or not my 3-year-old went to the bathroom prior to bed so I don't have a #3 or #4 kind of night. After reading the book "A New Earth", I learned that by just focusing on my breathing for 5-minutes, my mind stops racing and I'm able to really calm myself and relax right into a great sleep.

The FitAndBusyDad

P.S. Getting up at 5am after a great night's sleep has been part of my morning routine for almost 10 years now. It enables me to get a lot done while my wife and kids (and the whole world pretty much) are still in bed. It also allows me to get my metabolism revved up with quick intense workouts that really take no time at all!