Determination

September 4, 2014

For the month of September we are going to talk about Determination and what Determination means to you.  Everyday on TV or social media, there are countless quotes, books, and stories on determination.  Let’s take a few commercials for example: Nike is famous for its slogan ‘Just Do It’; during the World Cup a few months ago Nike was also using the slogan ‘All In’; and how about the Misty Copeland commercial slogan ‘I Will What I Want’?

My question to you is: Once you set your mind on something (career, relationships, school, etc) do you make sure to see it through regardless of the obstacles? If you encounter a minor or a major setback, do you quit? Do you give up?

Determination is NEVER EVER GIVING UP.  It doesn’t matter how often you fall down, you get back up again and stay true to your course.   Make Determination one of your best assets.

“Determination builds character. It helps us become a more reliable person. It helps us meet our commitments. It helps us prioritize and manage our time to maximize positive results” (The Winning Edge, Linzy Davis).

Do not let your limitations be the reason you don’t go for your dreams or push for your goals.  For me, when the going gets tough I repeat loud of what my coach H’cone Thompson always says to me: “Keep Working. Keep Fighting” and I can immediately feel my resolve getting stronger.

Just like last month, I will post an upcoming video of how I stay determined.   And, as always, please feel free to post your videos and comments as well.

What is driving you?

July 31, 2014

Hi, this is Paragi and welcome to my (monthly) motivational video series.  This month we will talk about DRIVE.

With a month before school starting, athletes and students are busy getting ready for their sports or academics (hopefully both!)  If you’re a football player, this month is crucial especially since you’re about to start your two a days.

So what is it that DRIVES you to GRIND out each and every day with these activities? How do you define DRIVE and why is it so important? DRIVE is something that propels you to not only move forward but to do so with a specific purpose and passion.  You can have all the DRIVE in the world, but without putting in the time and effort – AKA the GRIND — DRIVE doesn’t matter nor will it lead to success.

Peyton Manning is arguably one of the best QBs of all time.  What DRIVES him every day when he’s waking up for training camp? It’s the second Lombardi Trophy that he’s been so close to getting twice. That is his purpose for continuing the daily GRIND.

What’s DRIVING you?

Post a video or comment or a pic of what DRIVES you on my Facebook, ParagiLLC page.  I will post an upcoming video of what DRIVES me as well! Make sure you’re living with purpose and passion and remember to always be game ready.

Are you mentally tough?

February 19, 2014

With high school and college basketball in the heart of their seasons, the following key factors play an important role in the outcome of the game:

-       Skill level/talent of the athlete;
-       Strength of the athlete; and
-       Conditioning level of the athlete.

But, when the game is close it all comes down to the final seconds and it’s all about who executes the shots at the “BIG” moments.  It comes down to mental toughness.  That’s what separates elite athletes from great athletes.  Mental toughness can also be shown in running a successful business, or in making difficult personal decisions, or in students knowing how to cope with their workload demands and extracurricular activities.

How does one become mentally tough? There are several characteristics:

-  Heart: March Madness is one of the most exciting times of the year.  Audiences root for their teams and cheer for upsets. Players fight for every possession, dive for loose balls, and never give up until the clock buzzes at 0:00. These athletes are playing for the name seen on the front of their jerseys; for the honor of something bigger than themselves and the team.  They are playing for their school, putting everything on the line.

-  Adaptability: Football players have to adjust their games for all scenarios – outdoors vs. dome, hot weather vs. cold weather, dry weather vs. rain or snow.  Elite athletes prepare themselves for all circumstances.  When they square up on the football field on game day, it is them against their opponents and not them against the elements/conditions.

-  Determination: What better example for this than Peyton Manning.  At 34, he underwent major surgery and endured an extremely challenging recovery.  Three years later, he took his team to Super Bowl XLVIII. He was named the 2012 NFL Comeback Player of the Year.  It is his courage and belief in himself – his resolve – that willed him to get better and focus on playing the best football (once again) that he’s capable of playing.

-  Preparation:  Rafael Nadal plays a very relentless, aggressive and physical all-court game. He played the longest-ever final in Grand Slam history in the 2012 Australian Open, a marathon match of 5 hours and 53 minutes.  What makes Nadal so tough to beat?  His practice sessions are played at the same intensity as game day matches.  Even his warm-up practice on game day is at 100% intensity.  His opponents have said that he plays every point like its match point.

-  Receptiveness:  LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined the Miami Heat in 2010 to help bring the city multiple championships.  Dwayne Wade was the face of the Miami Heat leading the team in assists and points scored before the arrival of his new teammates.  Wade’s openness to deferring to more talented LeBron James proved to be huge in the Miami Heat being world champions in both 2012 and 2013.

-  Integrity:  Defeat is difficult and humbling.  If you have given your all and still find yourself on the losing end, it’s important to show sportsmanship and give credit to your opponent.  Accepting your loss and learning from your mistakes is key.  Go back, practice hard and smart, so you are stronger, hungrier, and better prepared for a re-match.

Everyday life tests your mental toughness.  How will you respond?

Pool Workout

July 11, 2013 — 1 Comment

I have always enjoyed swimming especially in the summer.  Jared Lawrence, Director of Performance Training, Inc. suggested that I try deep water running to mix up my pool workout.  I must say after trying it once, I am hooked because I get a break from my track routine while still getting an intense workout.

What is pool running?

It’s like running on a track, treadmill or road without any impact.  It’s mimicking the sprint and or the running technique in a deep or shallow water environment.

Technique and benefits -

“Take short, quick strides. A fast cadence intensifies the workout. Keep in mind, however, that water is more resistant than air, so your pace will decrease accordingly.”*  Pool running should all be done in deep water with the use of a flotation belt.  With proper technique and form this workout can be harder than running on land.  Pool running is a great way to cross train with an extremely low risk of injury to your body.  If you’re injured it can aid in recovery.  Most importantly it decreases the risk of sustaining injuries by eleminating the constant pounding of the stress the hard surface causes on your body (joints).

Kick board -

I have also added a kick board routine to this workout.  I use it because it allows me to exclusively work my legs, hips and abdominal muscles.

*www.usatriathlon.org/pool-running-for-optimal-training.

** Please consult your physician before trying the workout.

 

 

Your hip flexors assist the leg move up and down and stabilize the spine. Hip flexors are located in the abdomen and upper thigh and are among the strongest in the body. They are the most under-developed muscle group in strength training*. The reason for that is the lack of appropriate exercise. They not only aid in your overall performance but help in the prevention of injuries. Besides working on making the hip flexors stronger, don’t forget to stretch them out. Tight hip flexors can hinder performance, a common problem with many athletes and the general population.  The above video shows Chris Wright, a former Georgetown Hoya and a long time client of Paragi, LLC going through a series of basic hip exercises that you can do at your next workout or at your leisure.

Circuit # 1
(1) Up and down – be mindful of not bending the knee on the upward motion.
(2) Knee to chest – aim to drive your knee all the way to your chest. 
(3) Combination (up and down; knee to chest)

Circuit # 2
(1) Knee to chest
(2) Fire hydrant
(3) Up and overs – keep your knee straight when kicking the leg up.

Ross B. (2006) Hip Flexors – The most underdeveloped muscle group in strength training.

** This is a circuit workout.  Please complete a full cicuit of 1 minute or 20 repetitions per exercise before moving to the next one.

*** Please consult your physician before trying the workout.

 

Memorial Day marks the beginning of summer.  I want to share a few refreshing, light, yummy food ideas. Please mark your calendars now for the next date I will be at Trader Joe’s – June 8th, 11am – 12pm, Silver Spring, MD.  For those who were unable to make it to Trader Joe’s in May, here is what I shared:

Smoothies:

Be creative with your smoothies and have fun. You can add peanut butter, oatmeal, kale, etc. to shake things up.  The great thing about a smoothie is that you can add variety of food groups and enjoy a delicious drink.  Brandon Broadnax (owner of Elevation Strength and Conditioning) has me hooked on this smoothie recipe:

Spinach

Coconut water or coconut milk (summer is a great time to try some coconut water)

4 cubes of ice

Flaxseeds (optional)

Blueberries

Banana

If you want to add Kale instead of spinach then just add a few more berries for sweetness.

Salad:

My favorite summer salad is a basil, tomato and mozzarella salad.  You can add salt and pepper to taste and some extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) and balsamic vinegar.

Try tomato and mozzarella and add pesto sauce on a ciabatta bread or a baguette and you have a yummy, light sandwich.

Snacks:

Yogurt sundae – fat-free French vanilla yogurt topped with fresh berries and granola or chopped walnuts and almonds

Apple with (natural) peanut butter, especially before a workout

Carrots with hummus (olive oil on hummus optional)

A few weeks ago I blogged about “Does your workout lack intensity?”  In the blog I talked about:
-Focusing on quality over quantity
-Keeping your workouts between 30-40 minute duration

One of the ways to accomplish the most from your workouts in a short amount of time is doing compound exercises.  ”Compound exercises are movements that require more than 1 joint and more than 1 muscle group”. (www.muscleandstrength.com)

The following video shows a list of compound exercises that you can try outdoors for your next workout.   For this workout,  all you need is a sandbag or a medicine ball and a resistance band.  So go out, try the workout with your family or friends or by yourself,  enjoy some sun, and don’t forget to apply sunblock :-)

* This is a circuit workout.  Please complete a full circuit of 1 minute or 20 repetitions per exercise before moving to the next one.  Rest for 1-2 minutes once the entire circuit is completed.  Repeat the circuit once more or as you deem fit. 

**Always remember to warm-up for 3-5 minutes prior to your workout, and for a cool-down, stretch for 5 minutes.  Please consult your physician before trying the workout.

The key to maintaining my weight is really quite simple…I eat the same food every day. Now I’m sure most of you are making a face or saying, “yuck” or “how boring” or like “yeah right!” but come to think of it that’s exactly what it is…EAT THE SAME FOOD EVERYDAY and YOU’LL RARELY OVERINDULGE.  A celebrity that has been a prime example of this is Jennifer Anniston.  She ate the same salad on the set of “Friends” for 10 years in addition to staying active.

Want further proof?

- In Asian countries people are huge white rice consumers and in the South Asian countries people are huge bread consumers.

- Italians eat lots of pasta.

These carb-rich foods are a big taboo in America. This begs the question: Why are residents of the above-mentioned countries relatively healthy while the United States is fighting an obesity epidemic?  My theory is that they are consuming those same foods everyday and eating in moderation (portion control).

I’m not implying that you can stick to a daily 4000-calorie diet and not exercise. Loading up on a high calorie fatty foods (such as cheeseburgers) everyday won’t help to avoid weight gain (or provide you with the proper nutrition your body needs).  Nor can you stick to an all protein diet and live a sedentary life style and expect to yield long term results.  Sure those high protein diet work for short-term goals, a “quick-fix”.

My advice it to eat the same healthy food every day so it can eventually become a life-style.  For example – Let’s say you ate 1 cup of brown rice, steamed veggies and 1 slice of grilled chicken breast for lunch on Monday.  If you are a petite individual like myself, on Tuesday you may have 1/2 cup of rice with 1/2 slice of grilled chicken breast.  On Wednesday, you may try 3/4 cup of rice and 1/2 slice of grilled chicken breast.  Having tried a few options of what works best for you, by Thursday/Friday you will start recognizing the quantity of food you require for lunch to feel “full” and you will be on your path to maintaining your weight.  This has worked for me for years!

So pick your favorite 4-5 healthy breakfast, snack, lunch, snack and dinner options for the week and rotate them.  At first, it might be tricky but eventually you will fall into a pattern of knowing the portion your body requires to feel satisfied.   For optimum results you should exercise 3-4 times a week for 30-40 minutes.   Good luck but also remember to leave one day to indulge (in moderation of course).

I will be at Trader Joe’s (10741 Columbia Pike, Silver Spring, MD) on May 11th and June 8th from 11am-12pm.  I will talk about and show the food I eat on a daily and weekly basis.  I will also answer questions and help anyone who’s interested in healthy food recommendations.  The first three attendees for both May 11th and June 8th will win a $10 Trader Joe’s gift card.  Hope to see you there.

* This article is simply my opinion and I’m sharing what has worked for my clients and myself.  Please consult your doctor or your dietitian/nutritionist before trying this out yourself.

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Picture #1 – Set the crossramp on 6 or higher and pick a resistance level that challenges you (you’ll find both the cross ramp and resistance level selection on the dashboard of the elliptical trainer), go forward for 2 minutes as fast as you can. Picture #2 – Continue to go forward for the next 2 minutes while holding on to the side bars. Drop your butt, bend your knees, keep your back straight and continue at the same speed as before. For pictures #3 and #4 – Repeat the same as above for 2 minutes for each cycle except change directions (go reverse). Rest for 1 minute and repeat the circuit for 30 minutes.

Another good circuit training on an elliptical – Set the crossramp on 6 or higher and pick a resistance level that challenges you. Holding on to the side bars try to reach 500 strides in 3 minutes. Once you reach 500 strides, rest for 1 minute. Repeat the circuit for 30 minutes.

The name of the game is “Intensity” –but don’t get intimidated by that word. Intensity can be relative to your age and the current shape you’re in, barring you’re injury free.

Whether you’re an elite athlete or someone who wants to maintain their current form or someone whose trying to make exercise a part of their lifestyle you can add intensity to any routine.

Wouldn’t you rather go hard for 30-40 minutes either doing a cardiovascular workout or a strength-training workout than busting your behind for 60-90 minutes? Yikes!

This is what I tell my clients: Do something that you can do for the rest of your life. Sure when you’re 22 you can afford to be at the gym for an hour 4-5 times a week. Lets say you’re now 40 and have a family. Are you going to have time to workout for an hour like you did in your 20′s? Change in lifestyle is the reason why the majority of us gain weight and lose the motivation to stay in shape. So, if in your 20′s, set more realistic goals (such as working out for 30-40 minutes 3 times a week) you’ll have a goal you can most likely stick to for a longer period, dare I say your lifetime! I can speak from my own example. I have worked out all of my life but once I was a freshmen in college, I decided to make fitness and a healthy living my lifestyle and decided to do a realistic routine that I could continue for a long time.  My shorter yet intense workouts have helped me stay in shape to this very day.

Keep your workouts short and intense. Go by your rate of perceived exertion such as 1 being easy and 10 being very difficult and keep your workouts intense by your rate of perceived exertion. For example one may rate walking at a leisurely pace at an intensity level of 2.  And some may rate sprinting 100 yards, 10 times with short rest period at an intensity level of 9. Remember: it’s the quality and not the quantity that matters. Good luck!