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Breathing: Antidote to chaos – Part 1

By: William Valdes

Have you ever been in a situation where you were overwhelmed, stressed, and had no idea what to do? A kind of state of mind that feels like Best Buy on Black Friday and there is only one of everything – pure chaos. When presented with such times of hardship and uncertainty sometimes the best action we can do is step back and:

 

breath

 

Why is it that when we are in an anxious state, the simple yet powerful act of breathing can counteract this innate primordial act of stressing. Today I will briefly talk about how and why breathing is practically Dr.Jekyll and Mr. Hyde of our anatomical and psychological wiring. 

 

The Nervous system and breathing

The way we breathe gives us an opportunity to identify the connection between mind and body. Our breath is a window into our brain or subset called the autonomic nervous system (ANS) which is split into two distinct groups; sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. 

 

The sympathetic nervous system (rapid respiratory rate) :

This is our fight or flight response. This has been programmed into humans since the times of hunting and gathering. The good news is this kept us alive for many years i.e. getting chased by a saber tooth tiger. The bad news is our body does not know the difference between life or death situation or how you will feel right before giving a speech. Stress is Stress.

 

Inhalation: 

As we breathe in, we are bringing vital oxygen into our systems that need to be circulated throughout our bodies. Circulation is governed by an increase in the heart rate in which equals the sympathetic nervous system. From a neurological perspective, inhalation is governed by the sympathetic nervous system because as your body’s heart rate speeds up, your body needs to bring in oxygen to the systems overworking.

 

The parasympathetic nervous system (slower respiratory rate)

This, on the other hand, is our “rest and digest”.

Exhalation:

Now, let’s think about the opposite: exhalation. Oxygen has been moved throughout our systems, making its way to tissues and diffusing. Diffusing is caused via the complex interactions of gases in the blood into said tissues. From there, we are left with a decreased demand for our blood to circulate and a decreased demand for our heart rates to be high. So, reflexively, the parasympathetic system takes the wheel for the duration of the exhalation process.

Okay, so we went a bit deep on this one but I wanted to lay a bit of foundation for what’s in store. Breathing is vital not just for living but also for psychological well-being and anatomical build to name a few. We will continue this series with some exercises and also how more sporadic/sympathetic breathing patterns can influence muscles of the body. Also, I will teach you how to mitigate this as effectively as possible with zero equipment. Please share and comment below some of your approaches for reducing stress!!

Today’s Training Reality: More is NOT Better, Better RECOVERY is Better

By: Peter Beitia

Because lets cut the shit and call it like it is…

We’ve NEVER been more stressed out than TODAY. It’s brutal out there!

I’m no different. And neither are you!

Many of you have full-sized families all at home quarantined for over 15 days now, many of our businesses put on hold, and the inability to leave our houses. Yeap, safe to say…STRESSED.

There’s no shame in it. Having your stress amplified in times like this is NORMAL, but not being able to proactively combat these stressors is NOT.

Before we jump into WHAT do to do mitigate stress, let’s start off with a little addition by subtraction in your training, lifestyle and habits.

Here’s a shortlist of what NOT to do:

  • Have your eyes locked on the news ALL day
  • Discount the importance of SLEEP since you’re at home
  • Go overboard on your DIET, strictly counting calories in and out
  • TRAINING yourself into the ground as punishment

Let’s not forget about the power of continuing your self-care at a time where we truly need it. Those things that made you feel GREAT?

Yeah, those should be at the TOP of your priority list (along with staying safe and sane) during your new “normal” day in isolation.

A few things that have really helped me in this time (that truthfully I was doing BEFORE, but doing MUCH more now):

  • Daily walks of 10+ minutes OUTSIDE
  • Deep BREATHING and meditation morning, noon and night
  • READING for a minimum of 10 minutes per day
  • UNPLUGGING earlier at night (as hard as that can be)

But these are all simple lifestyle tips, what about TRAINING? Clearly you’re here because you are really into this shit, and YES this is still important.

But training has to be a little different now. Especially if you’re facing facility or equipment limitations compounding with the STRESS talked about above.

Now more than ever, training should be a TOOL to make your life better.

For many of my clients who are also challenges with the trials of today, here are some simple modifications I’ve made on their training programs:

  • Emphasize WARM-UPS and self-maintenance
  • Reduce absolute training INTENSITY
  • Reduce the TIME per workout to under 60 minutes
  • Increase PACE by reducing rest periods
  • Increase the FREQUENCY of training to almost daily work
  • NOT stress pushing the needle up a TON

To that last point, the key here during our time in isolation is MAINTENANCE. Not only of training but of the physique, movement patterns, and MENTALITY.

But we can only gain or maintain from a stimulus that you’re able to recover from. That’s where the FREQUENCY thing comes in.

Results matter, however, will not be achieved if you aren’t at your best, this includes doing all you can in terms of recovery. So make sure you’re FEELING GOOD like you should.

4 Tips for a Better Habit Building You, That Actually Works

By: William Valdes

The world is in a very interesting and anxiety-provoking place right now, more than ever. Many people are struggling with how much their day to day is changing in the midst of the COVID pandemic. Finding a rhythm can be just as difficult but with this horrendous situation that we are all in together, there is a silver lining, an opportunity. Just how we have a choice right now to stay home and do our part for society, you also have a choice to work on YOU.  This is a very unique time to have some introspection and cultivate new and more constructive habits.

Where we are today is a direct accumulation of our habits.

The level of fitness we have worked for, or not is our habits.

The level of happiness or unhappiness, habits.

What you repeatedly do (i.e. what you spend time thinking about and doing each day) ultimately forms the person you are, the things you believe, and the personality that you portray. We have all said these words at one point in our lives “Tomorrow I will finally start exercising, eating better, or maybe stop watching Gordan Ramsey videos until 3 am…..” Well, I’m excited for you, and in this short post, we will be walking through some actionable steps to take control. Let’s start making some new constructive habits with 4 actionable steps to Bruce Lee kick any old, not so awesome habits into a metaphysical K.O.

“Focusing exclusively on what is in our power magnifies and enhances our power.”

-Ryan Holiday

 

1. Small Steps for the Win

Motivation and Willpower two words that are usually interchangeably in direct relation with habits. The thing with these two is that they are not long-lasting in our journey to everlasting change. There is evidence that willpower is just like a muscle and will become fatigued the more we use it. Motivation, on the other hand, is like another fast and the furious movie, it comes and goes. There is even a name for such an occurrence which is called “motivation wave.”

The antidote for such a psychological barrier starts small. Give yourself the task that needs little to no motivation. Instead of reading 50 pages a day, start with maybe 5 pages a day. Instead of running five times a week, start with one time a week. The goal is to make the task doable and easy without the need for something that ebbs and flows like motivation.

“You cannot change your future; but, you can change your habits, and surely your habits…will change your future.”

 – Dr. Abdul Kalam

 

2. Breaking Those Habits into Bite-Size Pieces 

Building Momentum is vital and with just 1%  improvement each day for the next month, you will come to realize how quickly you have solidified your new habit. These 1% improvements are keeping you accountable and motivating you to continue making these bite-size changes. The longer you stick to your new habits, Motivation and Willpower will subconsciously build. 

 “Be clear about your goal but be flexible about the process of achieving it”

-Jerry Seinfeld

 

3. When You Fail, get back on Track Quickly!

Failure is inevitable. Being a Marine Corps veteran there was a saying before every mission, “Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.” When we start our journey to improvement we have to be prepared and plan for failure. There is research showing that missing your habit on one occurrence has no impact on long-term progress. So instead of trying to beat yourself up for falling off the horse, dust yourself off, and GET BACK ON, adventure awaits! Be consistent, not perfect my friends. 

“ Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.” 

-Aristotle

 

4. Patience is Key

Patience is very hard to cultivate in a world where the quicker we can have something the better. I’m not complaining about this fact because just having every “Lord of the Rings” movie at my disposal by a push of a button, makes life pretty sweet. Patience, however, gives us a glimpse of what true and meaningful (i.e. trust, love, health, relationships) aspects of life are about. A good example of this is the aspect of losing weight. The action and discipline is a direct derivative from the countless weeks and months of work you put in. The thing with solidifying a plan to a healthier you is small wins compounded through time. So stick to your new habits because this is a journey worth venturing in, to a new goal crushing you. 

Thanks for reading, please share and comment below, what habits are you planning on setting during this time????

 Stay Strong,

-Will