Challenge Life. Inspire. Be TrueSapien.

Challenge Life. Inspire. Be TrueSapien.

Why do the majority shrink and shy away from challenge? Has this reluctance to commit to personal challenge become second nature?

Whether it’s a physical challenge, career, personal or some other challenge, people everywhere are systematically wasting their potential. Happy living their lives completely within their comfort zones and never experiencing what life has to offer outside of it.

A Life Of Convenience

Yes, modern lifestyles are made physically and mentally more comfortable to due technological advances. Is it acceptable though, to not use our remarkable bodies and minds to the limits they are capable of?

A Disease

The ACCEPTANCE of Mediocrity is a disease.
Think of the people you know. Not those that you ‘know of’ (that is an entirely different story, distorted by the ‘fake’ success stories on social media). Think of those in your circle of friends, family and acquaintances. How many people do you know that settle for mediocrity or even less when it comes to their health, lifestyle or physical functionality? You probably even know the shit excuses that many of these hide behind. One thing these people are great at is making their ‘excuses’ VERY clear and obvious to all around them. You may even count yourself into this category or at least remember the time that you could.

Mediocrity Everywhere

They are everywhere you look. You’ll notice them at work, in the street or whilst you’re out eating or drinking. It’s clear to see that they are the majority. They have turned their backs on their natural physical instincts and have  lazily resigned themselves to never challenging themselves. In doing so, what example does this set for our future generations?

Competition

Maybe it’s a symptom of our society. Because it no longer encourages healthy competition even amongst our young children! As a result, I’m embarrassed every time I attend my daughter’s ‘Sports day’ to the point I hope it’s fucking rained off each year!
Surely such lack of competition will only accelerate the many negative health and social issues that are prevalent today. These issues are caused almost entirely by the lack of challenge and activity that competition is the catalyst for!
We are a society conditioned to taking the ‘easy’ option at every opportunity. As a result, we repeatedly make excuses for underachievement.

Reject Mediocrity

Because it’s how the majority choose to live their lives DOESN’T MAKE IT RIGHT.
Can it be right to live your life in the sewers and gutters of aspiration? Shying away spinelessly? Hiding in the shadows of the few that do repeatedly embrace and seek challenge? Never to feel the exhilaration and empowerment that pushing boundaries and experiencing the unknown creates? NO!
Is this an environment that our human bodies and minds are aligned with? If this were so our bodies would be thriving, virtually free from ailment and disease. But they are not. Lifestyle related illness is at record levels and projected to continue to rise at unprecedented rates.

Be TrueSapien

The human body and mind reacts positively to being pushed, to being tested, to being CHALLENGED!
TrueSapiens reject mediocrity by repeatedly challenging themselves, pushing and striving to be the best version of them self. TrueSapiens respect and celebrate their physical abilities. They actively seek opportunities to challenge it’s boundaries.

It is our duty to demonstrate a better way. To lead by example and inspire those around us.
That is the TRUE spirit of the SAPIEN.

Reject mediocrity, challenge life and BE TRUESAPIEN.

Fitness Journey Of A Bearded Mud Lover. Being TrueSapien!

Fitness Journey Of A Bearded Mud Lover. Being TrueSapien!

Written by TrueSapien Matt Briscoe.

The fitness journey and changes I’ve been on have had a profound impact on my outlook on life and the kinds of challenges I set myself. I wanted to enhance my social profile and chose Instagram as my media of choice. I did not want to brag about the activities I was completing or to seem big headed in my approach. The aim of pushing my workouts and races was to inspire others to do the same for themselves.

In the relatively short time that I have been doing this (18 months) I have lost 3 stone and had a complete lifestyle change. Yes I still have cheat meals and drink (occasionally) but an overall change in emphasis has occurred and I am following a different path to the one I was on in 2016.

I stumbled across Truesapien as I was posting online and instantly jumped on board with their ethos and beliefs. Challenging yourself and not settling for mediocrity meant that I was being shown the progress of athletes online who promoted the brand avidly. Wearing the brand and going out of my way to improve myself has resulted in new personal best times in a number of distances during my training time.

Breaking through the 20 minute mark for the 5km distance, smashing a year old 10km PB and half marathon times have been a number of achievements this year. It has changed my mindset and caused my to strive for new challenges to test myself. The completion of 25 miles at Europe’s Toughest Mudder has now resulted in the desire to complete even more in Germany later this year. I now constantly find myself looking at events online which have the potential to be the next big challenge and the guys at Truesapien have been supportive at every stage.

Being Truesapien has been motivational and the community of others is there at every step of the way to encourage you to push harder and further to smash goals and targets set!

We’ll be featuring posts from Matt’s Blog, ‘Fitness Journey Of A Bearded Mud Lover‘, on a regular basis as he continues his journey. If you want to read more in the meantime head over to his page!

CHALLENGE LIFE. BE TRUESAPIEN!

Kettlebells. How To Get Started With Kettlebell Training.

Starting anything can be daunting and overwhelming and that’s certainly the case with adding new and alternative training concepts to your plan.

One of the most popular additions to many functional training programs is Kettlebell Training. The advantages of Kettlebell Training are widely recognised and much lauded. One of the standout attributes to this form of training being that outlay is relatively minimal and training can be performed almost anywhere …… but to get optimal results it’s vital to get the right equipment for YOU.

Jamie Lloyd offers this advice. Jamie is ‘The Total Body Breakthrough Expert’, an award winning health and fitness coach committed to helping people achieve what they had believed to be impossible.

 

Buying A Kettlebell

It used to be relatively easy to choose a Kettlebell as there were few companies selling them. Now they are widely available and you can even purchase them at your local supermarket! But they are not all the same….

As you begin with this form of training it’s possible to get great results from just one Bell. But which one? There are so many different shapes, weights and sizes to choose from.

Kettlebell Weight

Now I’m going to be very generic here with these recommendations. You yourself will know whether your natural strength is above or below average so adjust by a couple of kilo’s either way accordingly.

When starting out, this is what I recommend:

  • Women – 8kg (18lb) kettlebell
  • Men – 16kg (35lb) kettlebell

 

If you do have the available funds to allow the purchase of more than one Kettlebell this is what I’d recommend for the average male and female:

  • Women – 8kg, 10kg, 12kg
  • Men – 16kg, 18kg, 20kg

The Handle

The Finish

When you’re performing repetitive swing, clean and snatches with the kettlebell and it has a rough handle or seam running down it, it will be extremely irritating. So have a good look at the handle and ensure it is really smooth and even. It’s usually the cheaper ones that have a poor finish to the handle so beware, don’t just take a quick look, run your hands over it to ensure it is free from blemishes.

Handle Diameter

The diameter of the handle is really important, especially if you have large hands. Decent kettlebells have a handle diameter of at least 31-33mm going up to even 38mm for the heavier ones. Cheap kettlebells come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some have rubber or really thin handles which make them almost impossible to hold during swings and very awkward during snatches. Also, avoid plastic kettlebells at all costs!

As mentioned earlier, most handle diameters increase in size as the weight increases. My personalfavourites however are competition kettlebells which have a uniform diameter of 33mm which is great for consistency as you progress. These can be a little more pricey though.

 

Summary

So there you have it. An honest opinion of the key factors involved when deciding which kettlebell or kettlebells to choose when starting kettlebell training. If you’re still unsure and in need of further advice seek out and speak to a professional. not somebody who has taken a weekend course but one who preferably competes in kettlebells. Or alternatively contact myself Jamie Lloyd.

 

Thank you to Jamie Lloyd for this article. Jamie is available for Personal Training, Nutrition Coaching, Sports Massage and Group Fitness Training.

 

Stop counting Calories!

Well…don’t stop exactly but stop making it the priority number one! Many diets look at the calorie count of food and it seems the norm to check the amount of calories in food when shopping. Packaging even has marketing ploys on them that home in on this trait by declaring that there is “Only…” so many calories in this bar, dessert, snack etc… Outside the shop and it seems restaurants have sections on the menu that are specific to calorie intake such as the “Under 300 calorie menu” and magazines have article after article about burning those last calories or the most calorific foods. We are calorie obsessed, and it is all in the name of losing those few extra pounds. If losing weight is our goal then it is true that calories burned minus calories eaten needs to be a deficit number in order to lose weight, however, this is a very black and white view on dieting and the human body is a highly complex machine that requires more than just fuel to work optimally and to carry on working to it’s full potential for as long as we live.

Losing weight is so important to so many that being healthy (a word that seems to be losing credibility) can be sacrificed. The “calories is all that counts” attitude means many are missing the required nutrients for a healthy living diet. I have even heard of people missing meals so they can eat that cake later or go out on the pop with friends. Makes sense, right? You can only eat so many calories per day so cut down on food throughout the day because Aunt Jackie’s birthday party is on this evening and it’s going to get messy and wine, beer and cocktails. On the other hand there is the calorie compensation too; a cake has manifested in the works canteen…the piece and a half you had needs to be offset somehow, another 20 minutes on the treadmill will make up for it. Again, makes sense? I mean calories in from the cake have been burned off by calories out on your run but once again; the human body is not simple, it is a complex machine and calories only define energy consumed / burned and have no bearing on the nutrients.

This is the mentality of counting calories brings about, we disregard all the other factors. If you are serious about “getting into shape” then I may assume that you are out of shape and that it didn’t happen over night. It’s the same to get your desired body;it takes time and, let’s face it, it’ll be a long and arduous task but it’ll work and it’ll be worth it. Not only slim but healthy, strong, mobile and all round performance will improve in all aspects, not to mention you will look better as your body isn’t just losing weight but gaining muscle.

So STOP making calorie deficit your only goal and change your lifestyle; eat healthy, keep hydrated and exercise regulary and properly (and have fun) – you’ll have the body you want and reap a whole host of benefits and bonuses that come along with a healthy lifestyle!

Pain in the neck…and back!

I’ve suffered from neck pain and lower back pain for years all down to having arthritis in my neck and spina bifida occulta, the mildest form of spina bifida which results in a small separation or gap in one or more of the bones (vertebrae) of the spine which is developed at birth. These two issues have meant a number of years of pain all along the back – right from the coccyx all the way up to the base of the skull. It generally means managing the pain through exercise but sometimes my methods slip or circumstances set off a pulled muscle here or a strained muscle there and it kick starts a bout of severe to crippling pain. Here I want to look at why this happens and how I have managed to handle the pain and work towards getting back from injury.

Two things seem to bring on the back pain; injury and extensive poor posture. To be honest, it’s generally a bit of both. I attack it three ways – treatment, posture and exercise.

Treatment – As well as some prescribed painkillers I looked at alternative treatment that might have helped too:

  • Heat therapy – I use heat packs and/or cold press at the site of the pain. Generally the heat packs help relax the muscle and the cold press reduces inflammation but I use whatever feels good or cycle between hot and cold every 20 mins for 2hrs.
  • Self-massage – yup, it can be done all by yourself. Some areas more difficult to reach but the idea is to relax and soften the muscle tissue so use hands or bear your weight on a golf / cricket / squash / massage ball at the site of pain an the muscles surround the area. It’s a bit painful at first but it feels good as the tightness dissipates. (Note: NEVER put pressure on the bones such as the spine, seriously…OW!).
  • Massage – I seeked my the loving partner…but ended up at the hands of a sports masseur. But the pain was worth it, kneed out those stubborn knots in my muscles with ease.
  • Acupuncture – the ancient Chinese “alternative medicine” using pins in pressure points has been constantly proven to help in injuries and ailments. So I tried it out once, and found it to be very effective. Tried it a few times since and still does the trick…rather than a fix though, it more just helped me move forward with rehabilitation.
  • Seek professionals – no matter what you try to do always seek your doctors advice. There are alternative professionals such as osteopaths and chiropractors and like doctors there can be good and bad ones so seek out reviews or recommendations from friends before setting up a consultation.

Posture – with many bad backs there is some form of posture issue. Whether this is brought on from an injury, lifestyle of pre-existing condition you will find problems with your posture whether small or large. While standing, sitting or even lying I made an effort to always try and maintain a relaxed but good posture, limiting the strain placed on muscles and ligaments during whether static or during movement or weight-bearing activities. I concentrated on three areas:

  • Standing – as my mom told you “stand up straight”. Feels like a string is gently pulling me up from my crown allowing my shoulders to sink down and back. This will help realign the posture and keep the spine elongated. Had to remind myself that my core should be doing some work too, my hips can drop back which leans my body leans forward. Tucking in the hips gently in and lifting then chest with my core helped maintain the posture.
  • Sitting – seems silly to say but doing stuff like not planting my feet on the floor properly or perching on the edge can start to cause fatigued muscles over time (and I do tend to sit for quite a while) and lead to pain. So i made sure i was relaxed, supported, grounded and not leaning toward a particular side to help keep the elongation of the spine.
  • Lying – yup, lying down too. I found i could still be hunched or bent so lying on the back (or otherwise). I made sure that however i was lying i kept a long spine, preference being on my back.

Exercise – this is where the real work comes in. The only way to correct my problem and maintain healthy was to exercise…exercise could have been the cause of a my back issue or at least a factor so it was important to get the exercise correct.

  • Mobility – one of the symptoms of my back pain was the lack of mobility as my muscles inflame and stiffen up making my ability to move very much inhibited. I made sure I take time out each day, maybe before you exercise to move through the complete range of motion of your body. This is not the same as stretching where we try to improve flexibility, but it will helped maintain my flexibility as the range of my muscles are used regularly instead of hardly ever.
  • Flexibility – to get my flexibility back it’s simple; stretch. This is nothing new, pretty much any PT, exercise blog or gym will advocate the use of stretching while warming up or cooling down or first thing or…well, they all have their own opinion on when to stretch and how useful it is for various things. My muscles will need help to loosen then up and keep them supple and stretching is the way to do it. There are many to try (see some of the links attached) – i just make sure i’m warm, don’t push to hard, relax into the stretch and make sure to breath deeply.
  • Cardio – Any kind of movement was painful but when I was able to move then i did. I just kept it steady (gentle walk) and built up slowly bit by bit, getting faster and longer.
  • Strength – when I was able to work the muscles I got back to a workout regime but focused on exercises to help correct the underlying issue and prevent further issues. Alike the cardio i kept it simple and steady. Bodyweight and band/pulley exercises worked well to build the functional strength

 

Note: I am a keen fitness and nutrition enthusiast who focuses on calisthenics and martial arts and have no medical background, but I do have tried and tested ways none of which requires medical treatment and none of which should conflict with any therapy you yourself may be undergoing. Everyone is different and it is possible to make matters worse so get some good qualified advice.

Sources:

http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Backpain/Pages/back-pain-and-common-posture-mistakes.aspx

http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/posture-power-how-to-correct-your-body-alignment.html

http://www.wikihow.com/Improve-Your-Posture

http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20446224,00.html

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/multimedia/back-pain/sls-20076817?s=2

The Gauntlet Pull Up Challenge – Update

UPDATE

Well, it’s June 8th so 1 week to go until the end of my Gauntlet Pull Up challenge. I set a 6 week timescale as I considered this short enough to be challenging yet long enough to make the required progress. However, I think I may have underestimated the challenge…

I have encountered a couple of setbacks. Firstly the pull up bar I ordered was unsuitable so I have been limited to simulating the pull up using my TRX cables. Not great but I don’t think this has hindered me too much. The only limitation it has is that I’m not able to perform the exact form of the pull up with my entire bodyweight. I figured though that it’s muscular endurance that I’m seeking rather than strength with this challenge as I’m already capable of lifting my bodyweight as demonstrated when setting my baseline for the challenge.
The major difficulty I found was fitting in the training without effecting my triathlon and martial arts training. As those were my priority and I viewed the challenge as secondary, if I was in a situation whereby I had to choose between my triathlon swimming training or my pull up training (pull up training would adversely effect my swim performance) I chose the swimming. This is what I must change if I’m going to succeed at this or future challenges. I mentioned in my initial post on this challenge the importance of accepting challenges that align with current objectives and beliefs. I initially believed that this challenge would help my swimming and martial arts with the increased muscular endurance it would bring. I should have stuck to my original belief rather than worried it would have detrimental effects in terms of fatigue. Either that or given myself a longer period to achieve the challenge so I could have fitted training in to my current regime more easily without the worry of fatigue.
Judging on my performance tonight I won’t be a million miles away on June 15th.
There’s a lesson to be learned in everything I guess!
Don’t forget to check out our YouTube channel to view video diary progress of this challenge.

THE GAUNTLET Pull Up Challenge

So the Gauntlet has been thrown down from a fellow TrueSapien. My challenge is to complete 20 consecutive pull ups. Considering I have only ever really been able to max out at 10-12 per set at this exercise means that it is a considerable challenge, effectively doubling my current capability, one that will require pushing myself in order to achieve. This is an excellent challenge for me as functional bodyweight exercises and calisthenics align to my main interests of martial arts and triathlon.

As with most exercise or fitness related challenges the first step is to set the baseline and see how many I can currently achieve. This is effectively a specific fitness test which can then be repeated to determine improvement and ultimately success.
Next stage is to set a timescale that’s both realistic but not too lengthy. I decided on 6 weeks, commencing on May 4th which gives me a deadline of June 15th.
Next is to determine the best way to increase my muscular endurance to achieve the required reps. As pull ups are an exercise I can currently do its not necessary to progress  to that exercise from easier variations such as assisted pull ups or suspended pull ups. If I were unable to complete pull ups then there is a wealth of information out there on progression exercises. My plan of attack will be to repeat my max number of reps every day. By Max I mean stopping short (1 rep) of failure as this may take too long to recover from than the 24 hrs. I will perform 3 sets of my max with a 2 min rest period between sets.
I’ll keep you posted on my progress, I’m planning weekly updates!

Swim Forest, Swim

I suck at swimming…i’d say it’s on par with my other nemesis exercise running. So when fellow TrueSapien and friend, and a triathlete, challenged me to a simple swim I was already cautious. The challenge:

Swim 250m in under 7 minutes, front crawl/freestyle only and no stopping.

It doesn’t seem difficult to many but I haven’t swam at all for nearly a year and haven’t had swimming part of a exercise routine for about 2 to 3 years and even at my peak I was terrible at front crawl and always opted for breast stroke. I’ve known my challenger Steve for a while and he is well aware of this so; thanks for the challenge Steve!

swim_badtime.fw
Training day 1

First session in the pool. Been so long such I’ve had a dip it was nice to just swim about for a bit. But enough of gliding around in breast stroke and underwater sneaking up to my girlfriend (which is thoroughly enjoyable even just for the scare factor) I was there for business and see just how good is my front crawl?! It was a 20m pool and first few lengths drained the hell out of me. “It’s all in the breathing” I’m told so I focused I gasping for more air. It paid off. Managed to knock out 4 lengths, which was a struggle, but it seemed that ensuring I got a full gasp of air would allow me to go for that bit longer…no brainer, right?! This was a small victory, but much more work on breathing technique is required. Off to YouTube we go for advice on improving my technique: How to side breath when Swimming Freestyle and Top Tips for Dealing with Breathing Problems in Swimming

Training day 2

This time I fancied trying a bit bigger pool. Found a local city pool, not quite the 50m pool I wanted but 25m means its a bit bigger and better suited. The breathing techniques i’d learned from research after training day 1 were put into practice and 4 lengths of the pool (now 100m instead of 80m) wasn’t too difficult on the breathing side of things. I still fatigued quickly, still felt myself gasping towards the end but I felt a whole lot more comfortable and a few tweaks I could knock out at least one more length. This time round was the muscle fatigue was letting me down. I had quite a hard going body workout the day before which wasn’t noticeable till I hit the pool. Post workoutr muscle stiffness and aching hit me after just a couple of warm up lengths. I continued and muscles started to cramp which made continuing for any duration quite difficult. It was obvious I had misjudged the post workout effects although I felt a more efficient and improved swimming technique would help me push out more strokes, even with tired muscles. I’d be faster and smoother in the pool, conserving energy, air and power. So next thing to look at is how to improve my front crawl / freestyle swimming technique: I found Swimming.org a useful resource, particularly Improving your Front Crawl technique and a video form Speedo called Freestyle Swimming Technique | stroke

 

Vegetarian diet. The step to Plant Power!

I’ve always believed that spur of the moment lifestyle decisions are often the ones that are most reliable, in tune with our inner self and less likely influenced by someone else’s agenda or that of the masses (the sheep factor). So when, three weeks before Christmas, I decided to eliminate meat intake from my diet and become vegetarian, I wasn’t at all daunted by the annual turkey and pigs in blankets festive binge period looming large on the horizon.

Why the change?

I didn’t go into it feeling like I was going to be denying myself anything. I had recently watched a short video on global livestock farming practices which had set my mind to work. I won’t divulge any information  from it as I don’t believe I am in a position to preach on the subject (I’ve spent over 40 years eating meat compared to 4 weeks not!) but it brought the subject from the area of my mind filed ‘taken for granted’ into an area more open for debate.

So how has it gone?

Someone asked me yesterday this very question and on reflection I have to say I have only missed eating meat on one occasion. Yes you’ve guessed it, Christmas dinner.
This fact alone suggests that it has been quite plain sailing. I do the majority of my own and my families cooking and have found it relatively straightforward to replace my meat with fish or extra vegetables rather than going down the route of meat substitutes like Quorn. I’m still cooking meat for my family.

How do I feel?

I was warned that I could feel weak or lethargic adopting a vegetarian diet. Far from it. I have stepped my sport training up over the period (swimming, cycling and running) and if anything have found myself more energised than ever. I also feel less bloated after meals.
There is a wealth of information now available to those looking at alternative diets,  for the health benefits or ethical beliefs, whether that includes meat or not. It’s not necessary to go down the full Vegetarian or Vegan route either, as I still eat fish and eggs my diet is currently that termed Pescatarian.
This change to my diet has certainly pushed me to broaden my intake of a wider variety of fruit, vegetables, pulses and nuts which can only be a good thing even if I decide to start eating meat again (although I have no intention of this at this point in time!)
My advice is to try alternative nutrition programmes and see if they work for you. Listen to your body and your gut instinct, the only way you’ll know is by trying.

Plan To Succeed In 2016 With Your Resolution

So how do we do with New Years Resolutions? Not so well it seems. Although that shouldn’t be too much of a shock to you as you’ve more than likely witnessed failure first hand. Statistics show about 8% are successful and most fail before January is through.

Why is this important?

Well, in the top 5 most popular New Years Resolutions are losing weight, living life to the fullest and staying fit and healthy so it stands to reason there are a lot of people out there that are living their lives feeling overweight, feel unhappy with how they live or consider themselves unfit.
So if these are that important to us why do so many people fail?

Simple. The main reason is this. The goal that is set is too vague and/or too ambitious.
Targets (resolutions) need to be specific and measurable with timescales. ‘This year’ isn’t enough as it’s far too easy to start ‘tomorrow’ or ‘Monday’ as a year makes us feel we have plenty of time to recover a poor start.
The other reason is we focus too heavily on the big picture. While it’s great to visualize how you want to be or feel once you’ve reached your objective, goals are more easily achieved if they are as simple as possible.

Choose smaller ‘bite sized’ objectives that when repeatedly achieved will result in achieving the overall goal.

For example, rather than your resolution being ‘I want to lose weight’ first be specific about how much would be realistic over the year. Then break this down into 2 monthly periods so you have clear targets. Then it’s time to break your goal down by asking if you can simplify the goal. Rather than focusing on ‘losing weight’ ask if you can simplify. Maybe reducing ‘fast food’ from your diet would be a start? Or taking the stairs everyday at the shopping centre or place of work. Once you’ve achieved the mini goal, introduce something else.
You’ll soon be on the way to achieving your overriding resolution!
Make 2016 the year you make a better you and live a ‘life less ordinary!’