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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Ride of My Life

I rode on and on and on. No iPod. No company. Just me, my thoughts and my bicycle.

There is something magical about riding a bike all by myself for 4 hours on a Sunday morning. Magical. I felt good and I enjoyed the day. I think my reflections from my hours in the saddle may help to inspire and motivate others. That’s why I do what I do. I hope you enjoy my thoughts and perspectives.

The overwhelming thoughts in my mind were the blessings that I truly have every day.

My blessings and the world that I have made for myself didn’t come easy. Oh no. There were many bumps along the road. Sometimes I think and perhaps dwell on mistakes of the past. Sometimes I’ll even conjure up some “what if” scenarios. Those visualizations are quickly snuffed out by the me of today that has chosen to live with “no regrets”.

I believe whole heartedly that we are who we are and where we are today based on the decisions that we have made in the past. All the decisions. The good ones go right along with the bad ones.

I think back to some of the bad times in my life. All the dark days can be traced back to decisions that I made. They were conscious, in the now, decisions that I flubbed up. The details now are not important but results are. The results of these decisions drove me down roads that I didn’t want to be on and never want to return to.

None of that matters now. What matters now is that I don’t make those choices again. I need to learn. Many times I have and there are also times when I’ve made the same bad choice and gotten into the soup once again.

If it’s a good lesson the first time then what is it the second and third time around?

One of the things that I have learned as an adult is that I need to continuously try to improve myself and look for ways to make better decisions. I do this every day. I’m constantly looking for ways to be better. Constantly.

My wife will be the first to tell you that I need to keep the eye on the ball for this one. Some old habits are hard to break!

What do you keep doing over and over again that is wrong and you know it? What mistake that you made yesterday and the day before are you going to not make tomorrow?

For whatever reason I thought a lot about my mistakes and the lessons that I learned while on my bike that day.

I also thought a lot about my blessings. Believe me there are many, many, many more of those.

I am blessed with a family that stands beside me through thick and thin. I have a wife that has committed her love to me and that makes me proud and honored. I have son who is the joy of my life. I thought about all the people who don’t have this. I thought about what it would be like if I lost mine. The thought frightened the hell out of me. I am lucky to have them.

I thought a lot about my little family. The good, the bad, and everything in between. I thought about what’s good and how we can improve. I don’t know what I would do without them.

I have been blessed with many talents. Perhaps my best talent is that I acknowledge what I’m good at and use that for good in this world. I spend each and every day trying to inspire and motivate others to do better and be better. Wow. It’s an honor to have that gift and to use it!

When I get up in the morning I do a job that I absolutely love. That’s just amazing. I am blessed to get up and do what I enjoy doing everyday AND I get to help people. Does it get any better than that?

I don’t think it can.

I am blessed with physical talents as well. I learned a long time ago that I can bike and run better than most. This talent has taken me around the world to compete in multi-sport races. I inspire others when I do this. I am so honored with this talent.

Of course, life has its daily challenges. Some challenges are bigger than others.
My thoughts that day always came back to my Dad.
My Dad is going through the challenge of his great life as we speak. My whole family is going through it with him.

Sometimes music can go so much deeper than simply the song. Sometimes a song comes on the radio that taps so into your soul that it moves you to tears of emotion. When I think about my Dad there is a song that flows through my heart like a river runs to the ocean. It fills my soul with warmth and love. It moves me.

My parents divorced when I was 3. My mom took me and moved about three hours away. This broke my Dad’s young heart. He had three daughters but I was his pride and joy. This was a man that always wanted a boy to share his life with but was “blessed” with 3 girls. His world was shattered when I was taken from him.

For years my Dad drove 3 hours down Hyw 44 out of Plymouth, Massachusetts to come visit his boy in East Lyme, Connecticut. Early on it was just an hour long visit and later he would pick me up and bring me to his home for the weekend.

I can imagine how hard that was for him. I look into my boys little eyes and I can’t imagine him not being right there with me every day. It must have been so hard for him.

Now, as he fights his battle with cancer, I hope he understands that I appreciate all that he did those years to be part of his little boy’s life.

What mistakes in your life are you going to learn from and not repeat? What are your blessings? Please take my message today and make yourself better.

Please enjoy the song that rolls through my head now almost all the time. It is dedicated, of course, to my father Richard Copley.

Hyw 20 Ride – Zac Brown Band

I ride east every other Friday but if I had it my way
The day would not be wasted on this drive
And I want so bad to hold you
So much things I haven't told you
Your mom and me couldn't get along

So I’ll drive
And I think about my life
And wonder why, That I slowly die inside
Every time I turn that truck around, right at the Georgia line and i count the days and the miles back home to you on that Highway 20 ride

A day might come and you'll realize that if you could see through my eyes
There was no other way to work it out
And a part of you might hate me
But son please don't mistake me For a man that didn’t care at all

And I’ll drive
And I'll think about my life
And wonder why, That I slowly die inside
Every time I turn that truck around, right at the Georgia line and i count the days and the miles back home to you on that Highway 20 ride

So when you drive
And the years go flying by
I hope you smile
If I ever cross your mind
It was a pleasure of my life
And I cherished every time
And my whole world
It begins and ends with you
On that Highway 20 ride....

Thursday, March 11, 2010

My inner cynic bursts out!

People make things way to complex. It’s really pretty ridiculous.

Why do people make things complex? Well, they really don’t want you to succeed so they confuse the crap out of you trying to get you to buy more and more of whatever they are selling. Really, it’s quite a scam and it’s so widespread it’s silly.
Look at the diet industry.

Who would argue that the diet industry is not a multi-billion dollar industry?
Are American’s losing weight?

Look at the food and the drug industries. Good lord, I could go on all day about this one. What drugs really HEAL? Not many.

Which of the best selling foods are really healthy? Not that many anymore.
Don’t get me started on fast food.

The diet industry throws out lots of new stuff all the time. Low sugar vs. no sugar. Low carb vs. no carb vs. high carb. Fat is bad, fat is good. Yea, protein, boo protein. Blah, blah, blah.

The health club industry is even worse. Why do you suppose they have all those machines? Does a calf machine really work? Of course not. Why would they spend $3000 for a machine that serves no purpose and they know it?

The same reason they put nicotine in cigarettes. The same reason they put addictive “preservatives” in food. The same reason there are 4 billion different diet books in ever book store in the country. It’s the old smoke and mirror trick. Look over here while we steal more of your money…

I apologize for being so cynical. That seems to be my mood today. It’s about to get worse.

Why do these industries continue year after year to hurt the people they claim to be helping? We all know which direction the obesity epidemic is going, right? Dozens of industries and agencies, professionals and quacks, programs and facilities… and still our health is declining faster than Al Gore’s popularity when it snows in D.C.


Hello, people!! They are not on your side! The food industry sells more food to fat people. The health club industry sells more memberships (to people that don’t use them) to fat people. Doctors don’t see patients that are healthy.

Am I being overly cynical? I don’t give a crap.

Let me lay it on the line for YOU. Do you want to be healthy and look great? Do you want to walk by a mirror naked and stop to admire the view?

I should hope so.

Stop listening to the “experts” that say to buy yet another book, machine, membership or program and get down to brass tacks. All you need are three things and you are guaranteed to be successful. What are they?

Number ONE. Eat right. All the diet programs you hear about on TV or read about online are useless. You need to stop eating and drinking crap and start eating good food and drinking water. No it’s not alright to cheat. No “high fructose corn syrup” isn’t all that bad just because a web site (you’d never guess who put up that web site) says so. No, Diet Coke isn’t better than Coke. No, you don’t need to add Crystal Light to water to make it taste good. What did you eat yesterday? Was every bite good food? Likely not. Change that and you are on the right path.

Number TWO. Move. Our bodies were meant to go out the door and not come back in until we’ve hunted down dinner. We don’t do that anymore so we need to exercise. No, the calf raise doesn’t count. We’re talking functional, compound movements because that it how are body is supposed to move. Walking the dog doesn’t count either. If you’re not running you’d better be walking awfully fast and pumping those arms! Crunches don’t count either. They’re dumb. Plus they don’t work, so why bother?

Number THREE. Smile. You could also define part three as ATTITUDE. If your attitude sucks then so do you. If you have a bad attitude then you’re lazy butt won’t get out the door for your am walk and you’ll stay unhealthy forever. Count this as factual. However if you have an attitude that nothing is going to stand in your way and you will be successful well then you will be. Take that with you the next time you go to the bank.

America is fat, fat, fat. We are this way because industry is greedy and we are inpatient. We keep buying the books at the store. We keep letting apathetic doctors give us useless meds. We sign up for gym memberships over and over again and quit over and over again right on schedule. We stop at McDonalds over and over again because it’s quick and we are in a hurry. We drink and smoke because we need to relax because we are stressed out because we need to buy this or that….

I could go on all day.

I’ll stop now.

Listen, it starts with you. You need to take 100% responsibility for your health and your life. Move, eat right and have a good attitude. It’s hard, true. It is, however, what you need to do.

OK, last thing. What do I do? You might be thinking that I’m here railing against myself. Oh, the irony. Not true. What I do is provide coaching and support. When people really want to change and strive towards maximum potential I stand next to them and coach, motivate and inspire them. I encourage people to eat right, show them how to move and make them smile. I hold people accountable. If clients don’t want to put forth the effort well then neither do I. I’m not in it for the money. I’m never going to be a millionaire. I do what I do because it’s why I was put on this earth and I relish the opportunity to serve.

You have the tools. If you want me to stand with you on your journey then I will. I won’t do it for you and neither will anybody else.

Good luck to you. I am here if you need me.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Life lessons from Muppets

I used to have a lot of books when I was a little kid. I always enjoyed learning to read yet another book. My mom used to sometimes read to me. I was reminded of one of those books just today as I was walking through the airport. Of course I managed somehow to apply a lesson to those of you on your fitness journey.

The book that I’m thinking of I honestly don’t recall the name or the particular characters. I’m pretty sure it was Sesame Street. That doesn’t matter.

The story featured colorful, keenly named Muppets walking through a museum. The museum was a museum of real life things; ordinary things. The cool part of the book was the end. In the end the colorful characters opened the exit door and there was a sign that said, “Everything else.”

That’s really cool.

I’m about to explain to you why most “programs” or “gadgets” don’t work and how I learned how to succeed on my fitness journey while reading children’s books as an 8 eight year old.

When I teach Boot Camp classes I’m always talking about “the other 166”. There are 168 hours per week. If you work out in a class 2 hours you still have 166 other hours that you need to worry about.

It doesn’t matter what you do in the 2 hours of working out if you mess up the other 166.

That’s where I draw in the example from the children’s book; you can only fit so much good in the walls of a museum (or an exercise program). The rest of the world (or your other 166) is what really matters.

Now let’s look at a diet program. Say you are on some silly diet where you eat this or that. Does the diet change your emotional state? Does it change you toxic environment? Does it exercise for you?

Does a treadmill get you complex carbs? Does the ab rocker give you needed protein?
Do you see what I’m saying? It’s not what you do within the confines of a program or gadget; it’s what ELSE you do.

It’s not what you see in the few hours in the museum, it’s what you see the rest of your life.

My thing is teaching Boot Camp. When I start teaching my Beach Body Boot Camp class on March 8th I’m going to attempt to focus my participants on all areas of their life to get maximum results. Working out is part of the process. It’s just one part. If you don’t eat right the working out if for now. Here are 10 steps to achieving maximum results regardless of what results you are trying to get:

1. Have a coach. Without guidance and accountability failure chances rise exponentially.
2. Do cardio at least 30 minutes at least 5 times per week. This is not a choice.
3. Do intervals. Without progressive intervals cardio exercise ceases to be beneficial.
4. Exercise in a functional manner. (Mainly body weight movements like push-ups, squats, jumping jacks and sit-ups) Do this 2-4 times per week for 30 to 60 minutes.
5. Smile at least once per hour all day every day. Laugh at least 3 times per day.
6. Avoid eating sugar, artificial sweeteners, enriched wheat, white rice and other processed foods.
7. Drink water and nothing else. Avoid caffeine.
8. Eat as many fruit and vegetables as you can.
9. Set and achieve at least 10 major goals per year.
10. Sign up for Beach Body Boot Camp March 8th!

The way that you look and feel is the sum total of the decisions that you have made every second of your life. You can’t be perfect. No even worry about that. Just do your best.

You CAN make programs and gadgets work. But only if you change what you do the rest of the time. Everything else…

Monday, March 1, 2010

Riding in the rain

OK, so I have on my training schedule a 3 hour 15 minute bike ride. Without really looking at the weather I sleep in on Saturday thinking that I’ll be able to start when it’s a little warmer. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

As I was getting ready to leave the rain starts to fall. CRAP. I look at the radar and I see a wall of green. Of course I head out the door anyway. I made it about 100 yards before I turned around and came home.

I put on another layer and I headed out again. I knew that I was in for a full bowl of misery soup. I was ready to take it like a man.

Have you ever started something that you knew was going to be hard only to find in the middle that it was, eh, hard? Did this cause you to quit? Didn’t you know it was going to be hard?

Most people are like this with exercise and proper nourishment. You know what I’m talking about. You get up one day with a wild hair that says you are going to get in shape if it kills you. Well it day one it almost did so you didn’t have a day two.

Sometimes we just don’t understand what the hell hard really means.

Back to my bike ride.

OK, so I’m wet and cold. I’m fine. Just a little wet and cold. Then I get to Buckhill Road. Now I do a series of short but steep hills. Each hill was nice because it warmed me up just a little. For ever micro degree that I warmed up I was 10 degrees colder going down the backside. The last hill was Sugarloaf. I squeezed my breaks all the way down to avoid the wind!

Then it was several miles of slight downhill towards Astatula. Now the rain was heavy and the temperature had dropped to the mid-40’s. I was freezing my ass off.

That was hard. I knew when I left that it was going to be hard but actually being there, shivering uncontrollably, was pure and utter misery.

So this is what HARD is like. This is what it’s like to SUFFER. I was at least a little mentally prepared so I made it through. A warm bath and some tea and I would make it through the experience in one piece with a darn good story to tell.

I tell you my story of woe to make a point. My point it a clear one and please take it to heart. Here it is: When you arrive at the hard part you must remember that this is part of the process and you MUST find a way to fight on like I did on my bike.

Here is an example that I see all the time. You sign up for a Boot Camp class because you want to get in shape and your friends say the instructor is good and the class is fun. You KNOW it’s going to be hard but after the first day you are sore and you quit because you become “busy” or “your schedule at work changed” or “sick” or some other excuse.

Another example is with your diet. You start eating right and you do it for a few days. Then your office goes out to lunch and everyone else is pigging out on the wings and it’s just too hard to resist so you do as well.
I could go on and on.

Being healthy, successful, fit, strong, fast…. Takes HARD work. There is going to be a point that you reach when things seem impossible and you lose sight of why you are one the road that you are on. This you need to be ready for. You must fight and you must prevail.

Your fitness journey is up to you. You must get on the road and stay there. It WILL be hard. The question I pose to you now is this: What are you going to do when it gets hard?

Please don’t give in to the excuses and quit. Press on and do your best. You owe it to yourself to be your best and that’s what you will be. Never, ever give up!

Thanks for reading!

- Rick Copley “The Fitness Guru”