Meet Brant & Mark

“Fitness” needs a makeover. It’s not about the size of your muscles, how fast you can run, or how much you weigh. There are plenty of physically fit people who are unhappy, eternally pessimistic, and drained of spirit. True fitness starts with emotional and spiritual wellbeing.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Winter - a time for introspection

by Brant Secunda

Hello from the Santa Cruz Mountains in California. Today is the first day of the season of winter. I want to personally wish everyone a beautiful winter solstice, a time of inner light. During this time of the solstice, your hearts and souls fill up with love and light. In this way our soul hopefully becomes brighter and our heart is open to the power of introspection, of going inside to find balance and harmony. The earth becomes quieter at this time and inherently and naturally charges herself up with the creative power of introspection. It is also a time for us as people to find our inner brightness and build character. Our character is constantly surrounded by qualities of life that make us who we are. Don Jose always told me to work to be a good person, to build a positive character and appreciate the gift of life. I am sitting in front of my fireplace remembering these wise words of wisdom.

On this first day of winter, the winter solstice, I am reflecting upon the beautiful year that has just transpired. Last winter our book, Fit Soul Fit Body, had just been published and since then it has spread around the world. I hope our book has helped to truly transform people in a positive way. It is important to build a soul with inner character and strength, as well as to develop a strong body. Together a fit soul and a fit body can help not only people but our earth and environment as well.

An exercise to practice during this season of winter to build character is to imagine you soul in the center of your heart. At this place is also your character that gives you strength on an emotional level. Imagine your soul or character surrounded by love, physical strength, intuition and intelligence or moral strength. I hope this helps you go through this season of light in a joyful way.

Have a happy and joyful Holiday Season.

Fiting in your Fitness

December can be a month where time gets even more crunched. Social and family gatherings get scheduled, the days are short on light, and the end of another year with projects that must be completed by the end of the month often eat into people’s exercise programs. “Normal” is rarely the case. So if you find yourself juggling commitments and cutting out time to move your body, here are a few tips to be able to at least hold your fitness through the month until the New Year comes.
First, for your aerobic exercise like swimming, jogging, or cross country skiing, the minimum to keep your fat burning engine in one piece is about 20-minutes in your training zones. Even if you have a longer workout planned, if time necessitates cutting back a workout, try to get your heart rate up for a 20-minute stretch. This will prevent a loss of aerobic fitness for quite some time, so that you don’t lose your hard earned gains. It may not take you to the next level, but at least when your schedule calms back down, you will be in close to the same physiological shape you are in now.
Second, strength training is key to maintaining the integrity of not only muscles, but joints, ligaments and tendons. You can modify this as well to fit a tighter schedule by doing, as a minimum, one set on all of the five following exercises;

• Lat pulldown
• Leg Extension
• Leg Curl
• Bench Press
• Squats

This works the bulk of the main big muscles in the body with a minimum of time in the gym. It helps to also maintain your lean muscle mass, which helps keep your metabolism humming along during a season where it can be easy to overeat and under-exercise. You can then always finish with abdominal work if you have time.
Third, use our tip from last month, which is to always have a bag of exercise clothing with you in your car or backpack so that if a chunk of time does open up unexpectedly you can take advantage of it and fit in a workout.

Looking Back - the past year

by Mark Allen

We just closed out the first year of our book at the annual Fit Soul, Fit Body weekend retreat in our home area of Santa Cruz. And what an amazing year it has been! Our official kickoff was another local event at a health club in our area that was started by one of Jack LaLanne’s training buddies from the early ‘60’s. We shared an evening with a packed house that was treated to the unveiling of our six-year journey through the world of publishing. Although Brant and I have presented the Fit Soul, Fit Body workshops for over ten years, the book gave us the chance to put some context and detail in our stories and advice that can only be done with the written word, in a way that provides a vehicle to reflect, reread and absorb the keys one morsel at a time. This has become a wonderful addition to the hands-on experience people receive in the workshops, where some of the related tools that are best conveyed in person are taught.

The book’s debut was perfect timing. Our nation was in transition from a period of seeming plenty to a clear tightening of the belt. Jobs were lost, houses repossessed, and optimism had dwindled. The beginning of 2009 was a moment in time where many people were searching for deeper answers to what is truly important in life, and most craved tools for bringing about positive feelings in life that are more enduring than those that only exist by favor of a good economy. Our answer to all this in the book is the same as it has always been… live Fit Soul, Fit Body. Taking some simple wisdom like connecting with nature, a person can always find solace by walking on the earth, consciously breathing the air, watching a sunset or just sitting under a tree, all of which are ways to rid us of frustration or doubt, and bring back hope and a simpler sense that if we are alive we still have one thing to be thankful for.

Our readers have shared a wide spectrum of precious moments, where they used something they read in the book to help them through life’s challenges, from athletic events to weathering financial storms, to simply regaining a simpler focus that works well in a time with scarcity. We had one of the oldest competitors in the Hawaiian Ironman Triathlon (a gentleman in his mid-seventies) attribute his ability to overcome the challenge of the day come from using our key of Quieting the Mind. He said it carried him through the moments when he wanted to talk himself out of continuing, that he just kept telling himself to quiet his mind, quiet his mind. And he indeed did finish that amazing race.

Another reader called just recently, excited to tell us that he had been struggling through a very tough time in his life, where he had been extremely stressed and realized that he was just down on life. He said his family had suffered, his health had suffered, and more importantly his outlook (which is usually very positive) had taken a nosedive. He picked up our book and started reading it. Not yet all the way through it, the biggest thing that stood out right away for him was to connect with nature to help reset one’s outlook on life. He then spent one afternoon hiking with his two small children in a park and the next on a lake near his home for a few hours just watching the ducks and a blue heron that was carrying on with life completely oblivious to his challenges. He said it was life transforming. All his worries seemed to just slip away, and he felt back on track with his normal trust in life and focused on what is really important.

The stories go on. If you have a personal experience using our keys that you would like to share, email us. We love to hear how you have felt the impact from our book, and are always grateful when we receive them.

Brant and I journeyed to many corners of our country with Fit Soul, Fit Body this past year from Seattle to Boulder, from Cleveland to New York and many other incredible places along the way, bringing our book to people from all walks of life. This as well as our community on Facebook has given us a window into each of you. And one thing that seems to be a common thread is that you all embrace change and the chance to move one step closer to indeed being healthier and happier. We commend every single one of you for your efforts and the changes you are making and thank you for your support of our book and our seminars this year. We send our good thoughts that the changes you are working toward come to be.

We look forward to what lies ahead in 2010. New cities will be on our Fit Soul, Fit Body tour for the year, as well as some of the places we visited in 2009. Keep tuned in for announcements about those.

Happy wintertime!
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