Wednesday, December 1, 2010

1 Year Smoke Free!

For some of you, this isn't a surprise.  For many others, you'll be shocked.  December 2 2010 marks 1 year of me being cigarette free.

Many of you probably have no idea that I ever smoked.  I hid it a lot.  The only person in my family I smoked in front of was my brother once or twice.  My parents probably never knew.  A lot of my buddies knew because I'd bum a smoke at a bar etc.  Anyway, I just wanted to kinda hash out my life with cigarettes.

I didn't start smoking until I was 22.  That's a late time to start for sure.  I had smoked the occasional cigar from about 17 or 18 on throughout college.  No more than about 1 a week at the very most.  After college, a very close buddy of mine and I went on a month long motorcycle trip around the western US.  We started at our homes.  Me in Illinois, him in Ohio.  We met in St. Louis.  We told each other a few weeks prior to meet at the first rest stop west of St. Louis on I-70 at 8 am on a Monday.  We both showed up a half hour early.  My buddy smoked, but I didn't.  I bummed a few smokes from him at our rest stops the first couple days.  I was on a motorcycle trip, it seemed cool, and ultimately, I liked it.  Yes, cigarettes can be very pleasant in the very short term.  So, for the rest of that trip I was smoking about half a pack a day. 

After getting home from the trip I didn't smoke nearly as much.  I think I stopped for a month or two.  Then I went out for a weekend ride on a Saturday and bought gas and picked up a pack.  I'm not sure why, but it just felt right.  Riding my Harley and smoking seemed to go together well. 

I smoked off and on for the next couple years of my military career.  If I went out of town I'd buy a pack.  Monica hated me smoking.  However, I didn't realize exactly how much.  Here's a tip to women.  If you don't want your husband to smoke don't say the phrase, "I don't care if you smoke as long as you don't do it around me."  Men are simple creatures and will take that at face value.  I remember learning this lesson when Monica hung up my leather bike jacket and found two cigarette butts in the pocket.  I didn't want to litter and figured I'd throw them out in a trash can later.

I'd stop smoking for a few weeks, then I'd bum a smoke and this habit went on throughout my 4 years in the Air Force.  I rarely bought smokes unless I was out of town and away from Monica.  After I got out of the Air Force I ended up in a job working a night shift as a manager at a large distribution center.  I was working nights, getting home at 5 am or so.  Monica worked during the days.  This is when I started up smoking kinda seriously.  Some days I'd smoke almost a pack a day. 

I knew Monica knew.  She knew I knew she knew.  However I think to avoid a fight we both ignored it.  I quit for 13 weeks once, then I started again.  With my new job, the first year or so I was traveling.  I was gone Monday through Friday and only home on weekends.  I smoked when out of town then didn't when I was home.  Then I got more brazen and smoked during the day but not at home.  Then I'd quit for a few weeks, and start back up.

I smoked a lot when I was doing what you'd think of as "manly" activities.  Heading out to the gun range, grab some smokes. 

I don't know how many times I threw half a pack of smokes out my car window in anger and disgust with myself.

Then, last year, on December 2nd, I smoked my last cigarette.  I think it was a Wednesday.  I quit on my own...again...for 2-3 days.  On that Saturday after, Monica and I went out for lunch.  I finally opened up to her about it.  I told her that I needed her help in quitting.  I told her I wanted to tell her how I was feeling about it.  I asked that if I came home and said, "Damn I wanted a cigarette today so bad," that she'd listen and not judge.  I asked her to ask me if I had smoked. I needed to know someone was in there helping me quit and would keep me accountable.  Essentially, quitting smoking is hard enough on its own.  Especially if you are trying to hide the fact you're quitting.

So, this last year hasn't been that hard.  There have been a few days when I've had a really stressful day that I craved a smoke.  But nothing would be worth giving up my streak now.

One year smoke free.  I can't wait to make it two.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

30-Day Primal Challenge

I haven't blogged about it much, but about a month ago I got back on the primal bandwagon.  I have to say its been great.  My weight loss has been almost effortless and I've dropped 8 lbs of the sympathy weight I've put on during Monica's pregnancy.  I wanted to share this with everyone then I saw that Mark Sisson's blog, is sponsoring a 30-Day Primal Blueprint challenge.

Go on over to Mark's site and check it out.  A direct link to the challenge can be found by clicking here.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Amazon Prime addiction!

 This is a bit "off topic" however I'm going to be including more here about my everyday life and less about just fitness.   I figure that way I'll blog more.

That out of the way.  Let me say, I'm a huge fan of Amazon Prime.  To me, it is the best offering out there.  For those of you that don't know what Amazon Prime is, the short of it is you pay $79 a year for a Prime membership.  That gets you free two-day shipping on all your orders from Amazon.  Also, if you're in a hurry, you get $3.99 next day delivery per item.  At first, some people may balk at that $79 fee and think this is not for them.  However, you have to look at all the factors before deciding.
  • Right now there is free super saver shipping for Amazon orders over $25.  How many times have you needed a $20 item off of Amazon then added a $7 paperback you didn't really need to get the free shipping?  I know I did this a few times.  Now, I just order the $20 item and forget about it.
  • Sales tax.  In Illinois Sales tax is outrageous.  For example, I was looking at buying my iMac from the apple store in Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg, IL.  Sales Tax in Crook Cook County is 10.25%.  So, that $1499.99 iMac would have been $1653.74 out the door.  Amazon had the same iMac for $1449.00 and I opted for next day delivery.  The cost was $1452.99.  So, right on that order alone I saved $200+. 
  • You can't beat Amazon's prices.  Sure, there are rare exceptions, but 9 times out of 10, the most affordable price you can find online is at amazon.  Amazon Prime eligible items are items housed at an Amazon warehouse.  But, there are thousands of retailers and companies that send their products to these warehouses for Amazon to ship.  That means you have thousands of companies competing for your business all on one website.  
  • It's not just books anymore.  Everything is on Amazon.  Monica and I have bought diapers, hard to find health food items, water filters for my fridge, furniture, electronics, etc etc etc. You name it, it's available on Amazon.  In fact, I've been looking at buying a case of coconut milk off of Amazon for a few days.  It's to the point right now that I look to Amazon first before anywhere else.
  • Subscribe and save options.  If you look around, you'll find items available for subscribe and save.  For example, we recently ordered a bunch of Pampers.  By signing up for a subscription, we save 30% per order, and have free 2-day shipping.  We can change the frequency, add an extra shipment, change the size of the diapers, and have free returns.  You can't beat it!
  • Release date delivery.  Another new feature is release date delivery for video games and movies.  If you pre-order certain items, like the newest version of Halo, the item will show up on your door on the release date.  
So, there's my plug for Amazon Prime.  We just ordered a changing table off of Amazon two days ago.  I checked out the UPS tracking info and it's coming via UPS 2nd day air from California.  It's a 50 lb package going from Cali to Illinois.  I did a quick check on UPS and for me to ship this item 2nd day air it would have cost me $212.  I don't know how Amazon does it, but it works.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Chest and Back and Closets? What?

Great workout today.  Went to a gun show to promote ASC then came home and knocked out Chest and Back.  This workout is a good one.  The variety of push ups and pull ups is a great well rounded workout that "just gets it done."

Why is it that days where you get a workout in, you continue to be more productive throughout the rest of the day.  Monica and I went to Home Depot and Menard's to work on getting our house ready for the baby.  The one thing that we have in the house are crappy closets.  The builders put in crappy cheap closet racks that don't utilize the space well.  We  got three closet sets to make over two closets.  The one for Kylie's room (Kylie is the baby's  name if you've missed it.)  The other two will be combined to get our master bedroom closet redone.  Monica has had the walk-in master closet to herself for nearly 3 years.  With some planning and effort we hope to share this closet.  Wish us luck.

Tomorrow, it will be PlyoX in the morning.  Then we'll get at least one coat of paint up in the baby's room.  We'll go see a matinee of Inception then come back and finish the paint and start working on the closet system installation.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Sweetness 5K & 8K

We're excited to have a sponsor table at the Walter Payton Sweetness  Run in Yorkville, IL tomorrow (June 5th).  If you're looking to enter a last minute race, check out for more info.

If you're visiting this site as a result of the race, thanks for stopping by.  Hopefully we got a chance to meet you yesterday, if not, feel free to contact us.

--John and Monica

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Decisions Decisons

One thing that I've noticed over and over again in life, is that decisions get stacked one on top of another.  If you make good decisions early in the day, you tend to continue to make good decisions throughout the day.  This can relate to many things.  If there's that one task at work that drives you nuts, getting it out of the way early in the day will make the rest of the day easy in comparison. 

Similar trends can happen in fitness and nutrition as well.  If you start out early in the day and get a good healthy meal in for breakfast, it makes it easier to resist the temptation in the office through the morning.  By saying "no" to the cinnamon roll bagel and cream cheese left in the conference room.  By passing up on that, you're now more likely to get a healthy salad for lunch and so and and so on.  Good decisions breed more good decisions. 

On the reverse, bad decisions can easily breed more bad decisions.  I've had days when I've been running late, so I grab a sugary gas station cappuccino and a do-nut for breakfast.  Next thing you know I'm eating hot dogs and french fries for lunch and choking down 3 cups of diet soda.  The attitude is always, "well, my day is shot anyway."  I might not consciously do this, but it happens.  By the end of the day, I'm feeling groggy, and craving sugar, fat, and carbs.  Out comes "depressed John" who orders up a pizza and a 2-liter of coke. 

What can you take from this?  First, try to start off your day with a good decision.  Think of the first hour of your day as the foundation for the rest of your day.  Get in that first healthy breakfast, or knockout a workout first thing.  Then your decision making chain is starting to get a few good links in it. 

If you should falter, don't sweat it.  I just had some Mike and Ike's not 20 minutes ago.  A co-worker handed me some and I took a few.  However, I'm not going to let that affect my decisions on dinner and later.  If you do happen to break your "good decision chain," take a moment, realize you did it, and recommit. 

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

One Man's Primal Journey

Hey folks, my buddy Dan started his journey with "The Primal Blueprint" a few months back.  He's had great success and blogged about it over at his own blog.  Go check it out, here's an excerpt.  Fair Warning: Dan's Blog posts are Long but great!

So how did I get to 197.4? I eat the stuff that I am genetically created to eat. Natural beef, chicken, pork and fish. Fresh organic vegetables, fruits and nuts. Farm fresh eggs (with the yolk!) by the dozens every week. My diet takes in about 20 times the amount of fat that it used to. I ate more fat in April that I did in all of 2009 combined! I avoid ANYTHING process like the plague. By body runs smoothly and without sugar highs and crashes. I eat a lot less. I sometimes go an entire day without eating because I don't crave anything. I listen to my body tell me when I'm hungry, but my energy level is through the roof! My exercise involves frequent walks with my wife, occasional sprint sessions to keep my testosterone levels up, and a general life of physical activity (I like to pick up heavy rocks and see how far I can throw them!). No guilt for not having the motivation to take a 5 mile run when I get home from work at 9:00 pm. No guilt for having a piece of apple pie for desert on occasion. No guilt for not being perfect. Instead, I have a sustainable plan to be a healthy person by making the right choice 80%-90% of the time, and to live a long and active life. I strongly recommend Mark Sisson's book 'The Primal Blueprint' for any of you who can identify with my struggles. Things have got to change.

Dan has really amazed me.   His motivation has inspired me to recommit more to the Primal lifestyle.  Thanks Dan!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Do What You Can Do

I've definitely noticed a pattern in my life.  During the fall and winter months, its not that hard for me to get my workouts completed on a regular basis.  I've done successful rounds of P90X etc the last two winters and done well.  Come spring, the world thaws in Illinois and I start into my routine.  For those of you that don't realize, competitive shooting (particularly modern rifles) is a passion of mine I've picked up over the past year.  I run a practical rifle program at my gun club and we have monthly matches.  Well, starting this program has taken up loads of my time.

We had a "Zombie Shoot" spin-off of this program which was another huge event I ran last year.  That drew 70 shooters and looks to be a huge event this year, with 150-200 shooters or more.  (If you want to learn more, check out for more info.)

What does all of this have to do with fitness?  Well, on one level, physical fitness is a huge help in some of the events I participate in.  No matter how good one is with a rifle, if you're stiff, slow, or out of shape, you can't fire the rifle in a quick and effective manner.  This past weekend we did a drill (you can view a video  of the drill here) that required getting into some rather awkward and uncomfortable firing positions.  I'd honestly say the flexibility and strength I've gained from P90X helped me to perform some of these drills very well.  However, these hobbies and passions of mine take up a ton of time.  On a Saturday, I'll be up and out the door by 6 AM to set up for one of our shoots and might not return home until 6 PM.  (On a side note, I did wear my bodybugg along to one of these shoots and burned well over 3500 calories for the day without getting a formal workout in. I burn more calories in a day out at the range than I do when I am at work and get a P90X workout in when I get home.)

Furthermore, these events take up so much time that I frankly am pooped and don't get in my traditional workouts.  I've looked at my calendar for the next 3 months and it is packed solid.  I have things planned every weekend through August it seems.  I know that for the next 90 days or so, I'll have limited success getting an intense program like P90X completed on a consistent basis.

So, my plan is to give Tony Horton's 10-minute trainer a try.  My goal will not to have dramatic weight loss, but to maintain my current levels and maybe drop a few pounds mainly through getting my diet back on track.  Looking through the program, the title "10 Minute Trainer" is a bit misleading.  The 10-minute workout is a bare minimum.  There are 3 workouts every day, each 10 minutes in length.  The bare minimum is to do the first 10 minute workout, if you have more time, do the 2nd, if you have still more time, do the third.  So, I'm going to do 10-Minute trainer for the next 30 days and document the results.  My diet for the last month has been atrocious.  I've not planned well and have taken advantage of too many temptations. 

So, Check back here for my review on 10 minute trainer.  I'll keep everyone posted.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A confession

Hey everyone. The last month has been pretty rough for me in a couple ways. The last day I updated here, there were some layoffs at my work. This meant that my schedule and such changed dramatically. Where I used to go into my office 1-2 days a week, I'm now in 4 days a week and more. On top of that, in mid March I got sicker than I can remember. I lost about 7 lbs in a couple days and couldn't eat solid food for about 5 days. 

Unfortunately, these setbacks were "ready made" excuses that I didn't overcome.  The last 3-4 weeks have been terrible.  My workouts have been non-existent and my diet has been terrible as well.  So, I'm back here writing, I need to get back on track. 

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Thursday, February 25, 2010

My Bodybugg Review...kinda

I was going to do a video blog about my Bodybugg. However, I ran across this.

I know that everyone would probably much rather watch Chalene Johnson talk for 2 minutes than my ugly mug.

The code she references is
"bbgcj24", all lower case. I don't know if that discount code is active any longer.

I have to just piggy back on what Chalene says. The bodybugg makes you so aware of your activity. It's changed my habits. I'm going for walks on my lunch breaks to get my calorie burn and step count up. On lazier days I'm making sure not to eat as much to maintain that calorie deficit that I need to hit.

It's an awesome fitness tool, no matter what your goal. If you want to increase mass, then eat a bit more than your burn. If you want to lose a pound a week, eat 500 calories less than your burn. It's simple.

I can't say enough good things about this tool.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

How many push-ups can I do?

Here is some info.

Check out Clippers for Carter for more information on Carter Hammond.

If you are willing to pledge for this great cause, please click here to send me an email!

If you want to see some info from Beth's day, check out her "I'm Going Bald" page on facebook.

I'm including two images below.

Beth Before:

Beth After:

Monday, February 15, 2010

Why P90X doesn't work.

P90x doesn't work! It's just glitzy glam marketing and a waste of your money. You can spend your money on P90X, but you won't get in shape, you won't get leaner. Here's why:

  • You can buy the DVDs, but, then you have to do the workouts.
  • You actually have to follow a diet plan. They have a crazy theory that you need to burn more calories than you take in.
  • They actually expect you to workout 6 or more days a week. Who has time for that?
  • Tony Horton wants you to work out over an hour a day. Again, haven't you heard of 8-minute abs?
Obviously this is satire. I don't think P90X is a gimmick. I've seen it work for far too many friends and customers to think otherwise. I was reminded of this today when discussing the program with a customer. He said, "So and so has been doing P90X and has had good results." I thought, "Of course he has, anyone who actually follows the program has great results. It's the folks who 'modify' the program or only do it one or two days a week that don't succeed."

As a Beachbody coach, I've had lots of customers purchase P90X. Usually I can tell right away if a person is going to have success with the program. Some people buy P90X, but right off the bat tell me how they are going to modify the program. This is warning sign number 1 that this person isn't going to a.) complete the program, or b.) have much success.

Tony Horton didn't just haphazardly put the program together. All the routines are designed and scheduled to flow into one another. For example, just when you're dying of soreness from 2 tough upper body workouts in 3 days, the next day is a "relaxing" yoga day that challenges your muscles, while stretching them. Just what your body needed. Some folks think Kenpo X is too easy, but its designed to get your heart rate in the fat burning zone, not to get your heart racing.

My advice to anyone that is thinking about buying P90X is to only purchase it if you're committed to following the program to the best of your ability. This means committing to the schedule, the diet, the intensity etc. Now, no one is perfect. Everyone has to modify at times. There are days when I've been crunched for time and knew that doing half of Chest and Back is better than none of Chest and Back. These things happen.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

First Video Blog

Thanks for watching guys

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Video Blogging & Game Plan Chicago

So, just a quick question. Should I start video blogging? I've thought about it for a while and I think it might be a really effective way to talk about P90X and other Beachbody workouts. Just wondering, anyone have any thoughts?

Also, Monica and I had a fantastic time at the Game Plan Road Tour event in Chicago this past weekend. Had a great time learning about how to more effectively build your Beachbody business. But the best part of the weekend was the great workout we got to enjoy, compliments of Mark Briggs. The workout was fantastic. WE did some nice circuit training. Upper, Cardio, Middle and Lower (UCML) was the name of the workout. It was a killer.

If you ever have the opportunity to workout with Mark, take him up on it.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Jerry Stackhouse P90X endorsement

Case Against Cardio

I've been reading a great post by Mark Sisson entitled, "The Case Against Cardio."

I thought I'd share it here.

Here is the link to the original article over at

I have to say its making me definitely rethink some of my workouts. Not that I'm stopping P90X by any means, but I may modify some of the routines and add some different activities.

Its also making me think that my thoughts of running the Chicago Marathon might be a bit misguided.

I declared that a goal when I was a bit "fed up" with the fact that I had put some pounds back on. I thought to myself, "I know how I'll lose fat, I'll run like crazy."

Thing was, I watched a movie on Netflix called "The Spirit of the Marathon." I was a bit amazed how many fat marathoners there are out there. Overall, yes, very aerobically fit folks, but there are plenty of runners that don't epitomize the image of fitness.

So, I may be sticking to a primal plan for my fitness regimen. I'll keep you all posted.


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Primal Eating, So easy a caveman can do it.

As I mentioned a few weeks back I've been reading a book called "The Primal Blueprint" by Mark Sisson. While I'm hardly the first blogger to write about "Paleo" diets I just wanted to add my perspective.

For one, I'm a guy who believes in evolution. Clearly Mark does as well. The overall point of the book is that for millions of year humans have evolved eating a diet of a hunter-gatherer. They ate lean meats from wild game, fish, fowl etc. They also ate fruits and vegetables.

Then, 10,000 years ago humans decided they were tired of working all day to get food. They discovered farming. We started to eat crops that we never ate in the 1.99 million years prior in our evolutionary history. We started to heat up grains and discovered that after heating, we could eat them. So, our diet shifted overnight. We ate grains, lots of them. It was at that time our population started to explode, but as a consequence, so did our waist lines.

So, the thought behind the Primal Blueprint is to align your diet with what our ancestors had. Focus on lean meat, fruits, vegetables. Avoid grains (yes, even whole grains), processed sugars etc.

For the past 3 weeks I've been giving it a go. Let me first say I haven't been perfect. I've had a couple Subway subs in the middle of my day (And of course the piece of peanut butter pie Monica and I split for our 7-year anniversary dinner.) However I've been eating clean with at least 80% success.

The one thing about me is that I'm cheap. I've got a pantry full of whole grain pasta and brown rice. It pains me to not eat it. However, I'll probably have some now and then, but I'm not buying more.

The results of this new diet? I'm down 6-7 lbs since starting. True I'm doing P90X along with it, but my energy levels have been great. Another part of Mark's philosophy I like is that he throws the conventional wisdom of 3 square meals, or the more recent 6 small meals a day on its head. Cavemen didn't know when their next meal was coming. Occasional fasting periods are good for you. To me, this fits. There are some mornings I wake up and I'm not even hungry. In the past I'd force down a bowl of oatmeal or cereal. Now, I just go until I'm hungry. This fits my personality rather well.

Another aspect is that Monica and I have been using the LoseIt app to track our calories. It's amazing how full you can feel on a rather limited amount of calories if you're eating a Primal Diet. There have been days where I've only hit 1300 calories in, and I'm not the least bit hungry. I'll have a big piece of grilled chicken, pile on fresh steamed veggies on the plate and go to town.

So, I think I'll be continuing this eating philosophy for the indefinite future. His book also deals with the misguided approach to what he calls, "Chronic Cardio." I think I may look into this closer as I'm second guessing my goal of running the Chicago marathon this year. But I'll write more about that later.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

P90X, 10 Days in!

Wow, I've got a lot to catch up on.

I started P90X again on the 9th of January. Now, this time I'm easing myself into it. Having done P90X before, I know what I may be capable of. However my strength levels aren't where they were 10 months ago when I had done P90X twice. So, I have to consciously hold back on some of the weight and reps I attempt.

Things have been going well. It's just funny how different your posture is when you're working out. I don't know what it is, whether it's the muscle soreness, or something else. I just know that when I'm doing strength training, I walk taller, my posture is different. It's a good feeling.

Now, things haven't been perfect. I've had a few really busy days. For example, this last Saturday, I didn't have the time for all of Chest and Back. So, I just BROUGHT IT, all out full speed on the first half of Chest and Back. To be frank, I was more sore from this than I was the week prior where I did both rounds of exercises but held back a bit. So, this s a good option for you now and then if you're crunched for time.

My diet has been great. I've been trying to follow "The Primal Blueprint" by Mark Sisson I've been eating very clean and other than the slice of peanut butter pie Monica and I shared for our anniversary dinner, my diet has been spot on.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

LoseIt App for iPhone. I love it!

I downloaded the LoseIt app for the iPhone last year. Its a great tool. However, through the recent updates, its been made absolutely great.

To give a quick overview, LoseIt tracks your calories in and exercise. When you download the app, you'll first want to set up your profile. That will include your age, height, weight and your fitness goal. I put in my current weight of 207 lbs and my goal weight of 188. I wanted to lose 1.5 lbs a week (a bit aggressive) and it gave me a daily calorie budget of 2112 calories.

Now, you can easily enter every meal. You can even create some of your custom foods. For example; last night I made stuffed green peppers. Monica carefully calculated all the ingredients calorie counts and came up with 252 calories per stuffed pepper. I found in the app a frozen dinner version of a stuffed green pepper and put it at 1 3/4 servings to indicate the same 510 calories I took in by eating 2 of the peppers. (They were damn good, I'll share the recipe later.)

The cool part of the app is the "Friends" section. If you have a spouse or workout partner you are using to keep you accountable, you can set them up as your "Friend." Then you can peek in on them and see if they're using the app. If they don't log in their intake for over a day the app shows them with a red icon under their name. This can help you check in on your friends to keep them accountable and vice versa.

Lastly you can input your exercise. The estimates are a little on the low side. However if you have a heart rate monitor or body bugg you can go in and enter custom exercise numbers. Its a great app.