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5 Things El Salvador Has Taught Me About Travel

The Live Better team just returned from its third trip to El Salvador since late last year, with one more scheduled stop in November for our first public retreat. It is one of the few destinations across the world, among many I have traveled to, where I now feel I have another “home.”

This concept of “home” to a regular traveler can take on interesting meaning and significance. We have been lucky enough to travel, create, and meet with so many wonderful creative people who “travel” for a living - they create in the world in which they want to live, which may take them from Hawaii to California to Europe to the Bahamas…and back.

To them, “home" might not suggest as much a physical structure. It could represent the feeling they get in certain places or around certain people. It’s a feeling of comfort and acknowledgement of being cared for while everything else might be a bit foreign (hotel rooms, food, etc.). I call Chicago “home.” But I also feel home in many other places, including Cincinnati, Hilton Head (SC), Switzerland, and Vancouver, all for various reasons.

I can now add El Salvador to that list.

To be honest, I’m not even sure what most people’s perception of El Salvador is. That is one reason why we have taken on a project such as this - the world should know what a beautiful place it is, how beautiful the people are, and how beautiful the culture is.

The 5 things El Salvador has taught me about travel.

  1. People around the world generally want and care for the same things - happiness, enough food, shelter, and water to be healthy, sunshine, a sense of community, and to be smiled at on the street.
  2. Education is paramount to building up developing nations and providing opportunity for growth. Simply donating money is not enough. “Teach a man to fish…” Hands on experiences go much farther than your dollar.
  3. When you ask someone “How are you?”, expect a genuine answer. In the US, the standard response is “Fine, thanks, how’re you?” It’s a bullshit exchange of pleasantries, that while pleasant, don’t do anything in getting to know your neighbor. In countries outside the US, like El Salvador, they’ll tell you if something is off. Be prepared to have a human conversation (attempt it in the native language!) about life, love, and the pursuit of the best day ever, every single day.
  4. Have an end goal in mind, but be flexible in the path you take to get there. I’ve had so many unique experiences in El Salvador, some by pure chance, like visiting Las Flores Resort for only two hours on our first trip and deciding it was our retreat mecca. Had we not gone to visit the jungle resort we can now consider “home” on a whim, we might not have had the same success in launching our retreats. Travel requires flexibility, adaptability, and a PMA (hint: best day ever).
  5. Be proud of where you come from, and always take the chance to crush a few pupusas. And if you’re not particularly proud of where you come from, or what’s going on at home…do something about it.

#LiveBetter

 

 

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The "Funnest" Day Ever - Plan The Most Epic Day For You

You have 365 days a year.  Take .27% of that (one day) and plan the most fun day ever for yourself.  Of course, we plan to go to concerts (just saw Zac Brown Band - EPIC), travel (currently in El Salvador - LIT), or hang out with friends (had an amazing dinner party last weekend - AWESOME), but you can do more.  It's your day, and of course, this can happen more than once a year, but put some serious time into yourself and plan the "funnest" day ever.  Each year your passions will change, what you find as enjoyable will change, and where you are in your life will change, but your sense of fun will always be there.

We all put a lot of time into our careers, relationships, and growth, so now it's time for you.  Take the next few weeks to sit down and plan what your ideal day would look like.  Then make it happen.  Think about how much you can do in a day and turn that ideal day into a reality.  Really, think about this, map out everything you love doing and just plan that in your day.  It can be simple things like reading, writing, and running, along with big things like, exploring and creating.  Set a date.  Rip it.

Why do this?

You deserve this day.  A day full of your favorite activities and emotions.  It's about what makes you happy.  The most interesting part about planning this day is to take into consideration why certain things make you happy.  Reflect on what really makes you happy.  If your day is full of doing things with others, you can look into how important your friends or family are in your life.  If you day is about helping others, then you reflect on what meaning that has to you.  If you notice your day is full of "things" like shopping for new shoes, take time to dive into if the possession is what really makes your happy or is it the experience of being with your best friend and enjoying the conversations you had together.  Finding this deep meaning of happiness can make you realize that you can have this same outlook every single day.

After your day, you can look back and think about what you got out of the day.  What really made you happy?  What about your "funnest" day ever was the best!  Take some time to look beyond maybe the epic concert with friends into the deeper meaning that the music and getting together with that group that only gets together a few items a year really means to you.

How to plan

Step 1:  Make a list of the "funnest" things you did last year

Step 2: Make a list of what makes you happy on the daily

Step 3: Pick your favorite time of year

Step 4: Divide activities into time of day

Step 5: Create a day timeline

Step 6: Set the day

Step 7: Crush it!

The cool thing about this day, if you don't have to tell anyone you're doing it.  Just involve whomever you want to involve and plan the day with/without them.  Be where you want to be.  This can be your favorite place or a place you've never been.

Create your day.  Analyze it. Enjoy it.  Reflect upon it. 

Have the best day ever.

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5 Lessons I Learned During Year 27 That Changed My Life

Two years ago I gifted myself the ultimate present - entrepreneurship. My last day of corporate work was two days before my 26th birthday. I made a promise to a few choice family members that I would start this life I was talking about.

Fast forward two years, it’s been a wild, bumpy, sometimes out of control ride that I can barely keep on the track - I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s taught me lessons you can’t read about in a textbook. It’s taught me lessons you can’t ask from a mentor, peer, or colleague.

You simply have to live your own life in order to experience them, to really feel them.

27 was a year with all kinds of feels. I’m not one to promote any self-celebration, like a birthday. However, they are actually important to acknowledge from a point of self-reflection. Just like NYE, it gives you a chance to loopback on the year, enjoy the present, and look forward to the future.

Here are five lessons I learned at 27 that will guide me at 28:

1. Age is arbitrary, life experience is real. To experience more, we must do more. We must live more. Age is not an excuse to give up on things reserved for “someone younger”, nor is it an excuse to keep you from pursuing a life passion. You want to skydive at 75? Rip that shit. Start a business at 21? PLEASE. We’re counting on you.

2. Tasks expand in complexity to meet the timeline you give them. When you work for yourself, it’s easy to become distracted. No boss is looking over your shoulder, no reports to draw up. If you don’t create deadlines, you don’t get anything finished. I set some goal for Live Better and myself, all of which were accomplished! The year seems to fly by, but upon review you’ve done so much. In chronological order:

  • Joined Barry’s Bootcamp as a founding instructor in Chicago
  • “Hired” our first team member as part of Live Better, Mr. @ryhormel. The GOAT.
  • Participated in my first national Nike campaign for Training, and then my second three weeks later
  • Ran Live Better’s first Influencer Wellness Retreat in El Salvador
  • Completed a life goal of mine to give a coaching session sitting on the water during a surf lesson
  • Got engaged to the most wonderful woman in the world, culminating 9 years of love, friendship, and companionship
  • Ran Live Better's first corporate retreat in Whistler, B.C.
  • Secured dates and successfully sold spots on Live Better’s first public retreat and first media trip to work with a tourism board

3. The energy you put out into the world is real. The things you make happen, the things you give focus to, how you treat people, how you help people, and what you want in life come to life when you put energy towards them. Take every coffee meeting, serve first and lead second, and never, ever stop moving forward.

4. EQ (“emotional quotient”… vs. “IQ”) is the most important thing you can work on as human being. I firmly believe this should be a mandatory college class every single year at university - could even call it “mindfulness.” Our self-awareness, how we handle our response to situations, and how we interact with others is so important to both personal happiness and success in business, Many people are under the impression that people “can’t change…they are who they are.” I disagree. It takes hard, consistent self-review, but it’s possible, no matter the age, background, or life experience.

5. Two traits of grit and a positive attitude are both rare and so valuable. Last year, I made an unwavering commitment to find success, have fun, and pursue growth. In an age where it’s complain first and have someone else do it for you second, you gain a step. Grit take a challenge and burns it for fuel. A positive attitude takes you the rest of the journey.

On this day, I honestly can’t be more humbled, grateful, and fulfilled. 27 was an insane year for me, and I’m stoked thinking about every minute of it. My life has changed drastically heading into 28.

But whatever comes, I can be certain of two things - surfing, and the best day ever, every single day.

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The Power of Laughter

By : Bret Gornik

I've had to switch things up over the last month. Mainly, the way I move around Chicago. I am a Divvyer (meaning I ride the blue bikes EVERYWHERE around Chicago - last year I did over 900 miles). But, because I only have one arm, I've had to walk and take the "L" a lot more. This has slowed me down, but in a good way. I've noticed people a lot more. I am very observant. I pick up people's emotions through their mannerisms, their posture, and their tone of voice. As I was walking down State Street a few days ago, two friends turned the corner, and I didn't hear the joke, but one all of a sudden bursts out in laughter, and I mean tears streaming down the face, about to pee his pants, almost having a heart attack laughing. And all I could do was die laughing too. In this moment, the city slowed down, I had no thoughts about my shoulder, where I was going, or what was coming up next, I was in the moment and enjoying the feeling.

Remember the last time this happened to you, you walked into a conversation and at that split second someone just falls on the floor laughing, you have no idea the context, but you immediately join in! Laughter, just like yawns, is contagious.

Laughter is one of my favorite things. The definition of laughter is, "to make the spontaneous sounds and movements of the face and body that are the instinctive expressions of lively amusement and sometimes also of contempt or derision." Think about the last time you uncontrollably laughed - might have been at a Jerry of The Day video, MoveU video, your dad trying to make a funny joke, or after the most awkward situation ever. Remember the exact moment. Remember the feelings. Remember the joy. Remember the people. Now, right now. How do you feel? You probably just giggled a little about the moment. You feel warm. You feel good! That's the power of laughter.

Laughter brings us joy. There is an obvious physical component, but the feeling is something else. Remember the last time you made someone laugh their ass off. You told a story about a time in college and the whole room LIT UP. Again, right now... how do you feel? That slight sense of jubilation mixed with fulfillment. Making others laugh is something special.  Being able to add humor to someone's day makes them happier and when you are happier, you do more good.  Laughter is a catalyst to positivity.

As the famous Jimmy Valvano once said, "If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that's a full day. That's a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you're going to have something special."  Think about this and try and laugh every single day!  Make it a part of your day.  It's so important.

As I have had to slow down over the last month, due to my injury, I have become a lot more grateful for the little things. I have noticed more about people. I spend more time with others. I connect. Laughter has kept me going. Seeing someone smile when I say, or most likely do, something funny fills me with joy and any discomfort or pain I'm in washes away.

I've always loved to laugh. I try to find humor in most situations. I use the best day ever mindset to enjoy the moment.  Now more than ever, laughter brings me so much joy.  It's incredible the healing effects it can have on the body.  Sometimes, it takes something serious, like a broken collarbone, to take a step back and realize how something so simple, like laughter is so vital to life.  When you are around others that brighten your day, you are a better person.

Make someone laugh today.

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Is it impossible to avoid complaining for 21 straight days?

This month, starting Sunday, August 13th, 2017, I will attempt to go complaint-free for 21 straight days.

No whining about traffic, no tsk’ing at slow service when out to eat, no grumbling about flight delays or difficult people. If I slip up, it's back to square one: Day Zero.

I envision some of you might be thinking this is blind optimism, however, I understand some days won’t come without difficulty. It will be the best day ever, every single day, just like it’s always been, but it’s all a matter of your response. It’s understanding that it is on you, and always has been on you.

“You are pre-programmed to complain at certain times.” 

Without even considering what is making you frustrated or angry, you complain. “GET OUT OF THE ROAD!”, this and that…it’s all a pre-existing condition. We’ve made it a habit to blame others and allow our emotional response to life get out of hand.

Why am I doing this? My goal is try and understand what frustrates me, why it does, and then change my reaction to it.

Can I control the outcome? 

Yes? Great, do it. 

No? Great, move on…and quit your f*@*(n)8 bitching about it (talking to myself here).

Essentially, it’s the Elimination Diet for negative emotional responses. Control all the variables first, isolate the major issues, then work to fix them.

I am not a complainer to begin with, but I do foresee a few challenges to zero complaining, like the knee-jerk reaction to someone infringing on my day to day peacefulness.

Challenges I am anticipating:

1) Drivers not using their turn signal and trying to kill me when I ride my Divvy in the city.

2) Hearing other people (incessantly) complain about something trivial.

3) Being tired from lack of sleep, which causes my brain less emotional control

4) Forgetting to caveat an “observation” with an “emotional solution."

Which brings me to my last point. There is one rule exception. I am allowing myself to make an observation about something that may (in the past) have been construed as a complaint (e.g. I can’t believe it’s raining outside again, but you know what, I love running in the rain. Going out anyway”). Thank you, Tim Ferriss, for this nice little addition. It provides a way to find a solution.

I am wearing two Lokai bracelets on my left wrist (usually), but if I happen to slip up and complain, they’ll be moved to my right wrist for the remainder of that day. 

Annoying and in the way…just like complaining.

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Mind Over Matter. My Life One Week After Serious Shoulder Surgery

By: Bret Gornik

It is truly incredible what the body can endure.  Equally as incredible, is the body’s ability to rebuild.  One short week ago, I had surgery on my broken clavicle (collarbone).  I have a seven-inch incision where the doctor placed one metal plate and six screws to connect the broken bone.  I was heavily medicated, knocked out, and in surgery for over two hours.  As Sarah, my parents, and future mother in law waited in the lobby for over seven hours, I woke up disoriented, in serious pain, and forced to eat saltine crackers in order to take more pain medication.  Sarah greeted me in the hospital room, and I could tell I didn't look my best.  As they wheeled me out of the hospital, through all the pain and discomfort, I knew I was on the healing journey, but that it wasn’t going to be an easy path.

The first day home was rough.  I was in serious pain, nauseous, could not look at food, drugged up, immobile, tired, sore, and fatigued.  However, I had my team there; they sat in bed next to me, moved me around, got me water, and just were present.  In one week, I have regained so much.  I am up and moving and feeling leaps and bounds better each day.

Things I still can't do:

  • Raise my arm up or to the side - tough
  • Cut anything - love to cook, so this is tough
  • Ride a bike - this is my mode of transit
  • Lay down - I sleep in a pillow fort every night
  • Lift anything - my bicep has whittled away
  • Brush my teeth with my left hand - broke my left collarbone and I'm lefty
  • Multitask - it's one thing a time right now

Things I can do again

  • Write - had to learn to write with my right hand for sometime
  • Shower - took my first on my own yesterday
  • Get dressed - took me 5 days
  • Stationary Bike - feels great to move
  • Take the arm out of the sling - the feeling of straightening your arm is incredible
  • Do a bicep curl - I've worked up to a 2 lb. weight!  JACKED!
  • Teach at Barry's and get back to training - Needed this!

After I had my break, there was a serious shift in my lifestyle.  I am extremely active and mobile, so it was a challenge to not be able to do things I deemed simple (cook, clean, yoga, handstands, and bike).  However, my approach to this shift was been to learn and grow.  I've read a lot more, spent more time with Sarah, slept a lot (which I don't often do), and enjoyed the little things in life more.  It is truly incredible that within one week of being fixed up, the body can do so many amazing things.  Although tasks like getting dressed and showering seem nominal, when taken away, getting them back is monumental.

Recovery

Support Team

I have an all-star team around me!  MVP is Sarah.  She has been there and not only stepped up in doing all the household tasks, and getting damn good at cooking (avocado toast master), but she has been there emotionally by always being upbeat and there to help with anything I need.  I could not have done this without her.  My family has made multiple trips to visit me and is always checking in on how I'm doing.  Sarah's family has been extremely supportive and helpful with so much (like driving me to the hospital at 5am for surgery and baking my favorite dessert).  My friends have been texting and showing me support. The Northwestern Medical Team was incredible.  My therapy at Performance in Motion has been beyond amazing. This team is my backbone and it's amazing to be surrounded by such positive energy during a time of need.

Positive Attitude

I always have the best day ever, every single day.  That is a choice.  Just because I’m temporarily down one working arm doesn’t mean that changes.  Every day since my break has still been the best day ever.  I learn new things, spend time with people, feel the love and support, and get back to the basics.  Life throws things at you, and it's how you choose to let them impact you that defines you.

Fuel

After getting off the pain meds and antibiotics as fast as possible, I had to reset the body and fuel myself to recover.  I always eat with a purpose of improving and getting stronger, but now it's even more important.  I have focused on bone building foods, hydration, supplements/vitamins, rest, compression ice therapy, grounding, meditation, and essential oils to aid in the healing process as much as possible. 

 

One week.  Seven days.  168 hours. 10,080 minutes. 604,800 seconds.  Breaking it down shows that a lot can happen in a week.  That goes for anything.  Any goal.  Any opportunities.  You have the chance to start something new, heal something, grow something, or change something.  Take each second, minute, hour, day to improve.  Use your team, stay positive, and fuel yourself to be the best ever of all time.  Succeed.

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Rock Climbing: Creativity Meets Fear Conquering

Question: When was the last time you went rock climbing? Maybe not since Galyan’s existed?

Over the past few months, I’ve been a regular climber at Brooklyn Boulders (BKB) in the West Loop. It’s given me a place to be physical, work, eat, chill, and meet new people. The climber community is special and very tight knit. The language is unique. The family is welcoming.

BKB is a giant mecca of fun: climbing, yoga studio, workout facility, slacklines, ping pong tables, you name it. It also has a space for tables to work at, which has given me a space to be creative (…off the wall).

The first day I walked in to boulder (think shorter wall, no harness), I barely accomplished a V2. Each wall is graded related to its difficulty - V0 is the easiest and it goes up from there. I could barely feel my hands afterward and my forearms were sore for two weeks. I was hooked.

I’m now comfortably completing V4’s, but stuck on V5’s. Climbing is an interesting combination of strength and skill, like much of everything that is a skill in life. Even if you can do 50 strict pull-ups, it doesn’t guarantee you a successful route up a difficult problem. It’s also how to grip, where to step, how to hang, and when to breathe.

That’s why I love climbing so much. Everyone climber is unique in both their physical and mental approach to the wall. Our bodies have different sizes, shapes, and capabilities. Our minds approach these puzzles with different visualization, especially mid-climb. It gets me out of my head and into my body where nothing matters at the time except not failing and not falling.

Everyone, whether you’re Chris Sharma, Alex Honnold, or just plain old you, has a fear of falling. The first time I stepped up to the bouldering wall, I lifted off the floor and immediately death squeezed the first hold (probably why I was so sore)…just three inches off the mat. Over time, that voice gets quieter and quieter, however, it never fully goes away. It drives you further up the wall, with more confidence, as you flex that skill - fear conquering.

I love watching new climbers shed the timidness they walk in with. They realize they’re stronger than they give themselves credit for. Apply a little technique to this newfound confidence and they're usually rewarded with a smile at the top of the route. When I’m giving advice to someone new to climbing, this is the ultimate reward.

To me, climbing is a place where you get to feel like a little kid again. Unrestricted movement, play, laughter, and taking risks. You get to be creative, add healthy stress (your heart rate will go up when climbing the first few times) while taking away negative stress (through physical activity), meet and play with other awesome people who share a passion, and get really strong in the process.

Who wants to go climbing?

#LiveBetter

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Full Send

By: Bret Gornik

Sendy: Definition - To push the boundaries in an activity.  In a sentence:  Travis Pastrana got a little sendy when he tried the triple back flip. 

We just took an epic trip up to Whistler, Canada to spread our ideas on how health and wellness fuel top performers.  After our talk, we hit the hills.  The trails up there are LIT.  Jason and I joined the group on a mountain biking excursion.  On our third and final ride down this magnificent hill, I got a little too sendy.  As I banked around a curve, my front tire hit a gravel patch and instead of hitting the turn, I sailed directly off the edge.  My shoulder made direct contact with a very large boulder, and crack... I now have a fractured clavicle (collarbone).

As I laid on the side of the path, the thoughts going through my head were: Am I ok? Can I move? Is it broken? How long will it take to get better? Will I be able to dance at my wedding?  I am getting married in 60 days, so now I have to put all my energy towards being ready to rock for that!

At the end of the day, as I wrote in my One Line A Day Journal, with my right hand (I'm a lefty) I still ended the page with BDE (Best Day Ever), because the experience really showed me how much people support me and how I have developed the best relationships ever.

I am a pretty sendy guy.  I take on every opportunity full force, whether that is starting a business or taking the fastest Divvy ride around Chicago.  I balance that with taking time for yoga, meditation, and chill time.  I know I have a 4-6 month full recovery in front of me.  That means no handstands, lifting, yoga, biking, running, rock climbing, or whatever new skill I want to get into next for quite a while. 

As a fitness professional, I am moving around the city non-stop to train clients, to teach at Barry's, to lead yoga at the JW, and to just be outside.  For the next few months, the nicest ones in Chicago, I have to switch things up.  I will not let this slow me down. I'll work on other skills.  I'll read more. I'll listen to podcasts and work on building Live Better in different ways.  This is an opportunity, not a setback. 

There will be tough times along the way.  Surgery is Monday.  Physical therapy starts right after.  There will be physical pain, but I cannot let that shift my mindset.  I need to go full send in other ways.

I am blessed to have my support system.  Sarah has been there from the second I got home, Jason spent hours in the hospital with me the day of , my mom was there for the first orthopedic appointment, and my friends and family have all been texting me with their positive vibes.  I may not be posting pictures of me hanging from anything for a while, but it will give me more time to think of other crazy ideas... 

This speed bump is only that - something that will no doubt hold me back physically, but that is it.  I still have control of my mind and my attitude.  I appreciate everyone's support.  Any Hi Vibe acai bowl deliveries are more than welcome. 

Make your day the best day ever.

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How to Prioritize For Less Stress & More Happiness

Maybe the most important skill in your arsenal is prioritization. It likely makes you very good at your job, strong in the gym, and happy everywhere else. Prioritizing the right task over the wrong saves time and energy, which translates to money at work and happiness in your personal life.

We arrive at one of our favorite topics at Live Better - routine.

"Discipline = Freedom"

Having a routine, both AM and PM, saves brain power units and primes you to succeed in your day. The AM routine might include drinking water, taking a few deep breaths instead of checking your email right away, or getting a workout in.

Your PM routine might include foam rolling, some journaling, light reading, or just avoiding your phone a few minutes before bed.

Why is conserving brain power important throughout your day? Because of a concept called decision fatigue. You don’t have unlimited energy (as much as we wish that were true), and using your brain throughout the day spends that cash.

Consider it like you have 100 points to use, and no more, before you run out of mental energy. Each decision costs a varying number of points, depending on time and complexity.

Things you shouldn’t spend (excess) time on: what to eat, clothes to wear, simple errands, email checking times, packing for business trips.

Things you should spend time on: major life choices, business deals, relationships.

There are two ways to maximize your “points”:

1) Increase the number of points (better health = more energy = more points)

2) Save points (meditate, formulate a routine)

Consider this example: 

You’re in busy season at work and about to pull an all nighter. Tasks requiring your brain to work hard deplete glucose in your brain more rapidly, which leads to that “brain fog” feeling (the dull headache you get when you say “my brain hurts”). We can’t think clearly and often times make poor food choices under this weakness. In an argument, this is often times when we say the things we most regret afterwards. When the brain is asked to do too much, it starts to shut down. Unfortunately, the fatigue usually carries over to the next day as well (after elevated stress levels keep us from quality sleep).

The goal here is to place less demand on working memory (your brain’s cognitive horsepower) through better prioritization, or you bulletproof the body and brain to handle more stress and have more energy by bettering your health.

Remove the BS back and forth conversations about where to have lunch. Pick it out at the beginning of the week, make your food in batch at the beginning of the week, or pre-research the menu if you’re traveling. Lay out your clothes the night before, or better yet just buy the same T-shirt and pair of pants to wear every day for a year.

Spend time and energy on the things that matter to you. Conserve time and energy by prioritizing and creating a routine for the things that matter less.

It’s the best day ever, every single day. #LiveBetter

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5th of July: What To Eat Today!

We all celebrated yesterday and with that comes a few too many chips and an extra beer or three.  But now, it's time to get your week back in order.  Here are your patriotic breakfast, lunch, and dinner recipes to get you back at it.

 

Breakfast

America Bowl - You know I love my smoothie bowls and this one gives the U.S.A. credit.  Sub out the white for some green and get the party started.  This bowl is packed with nutrients, flavor, and power.

Base:

  • 1 Cup Coconut Milk
  • 1 Handful Kale
  • 3 Frozen Strawberries
  • 1/2 Avocado
  • 1/2 Cup  Gluten Free Oats
  • 1 Tbs. Peanut Butter
  • 1 Tbs. Superfood Greens Powder

Toppings:

  • Handful Blueberries
  • Handful Raspberries
  • Handful Goji Berries
  • 1 Tbs. Chia Seeds
  • 1/2 Cup Superfood Granola (this goes under the base)

Lunch

Red, White, and Blue Salad - This superfood salad is full of colors and amazing benefits.  There is no doubt this will give you day a pick me up.  Enjoy this outside!

Ingredients:

  • 2 Handfuls Lemon Marinated Kale
  • 1/2 Chopped Red Pepper (the red)
  • 3 Pieces Chopped Steamed Cauliflower (the white)
  • Handful Blueberries (the blue)
  • Handful of Walnuts
  • 1/4 Cup Quinoa
  • 2 Tbs. Olive Oil

Dinner

Patriotic Buddha  Bowl - As your mom always said, "Eat your vegetables". This bowl will pack those in!  I highly recommend getting all the produce for this at your local farmer's market.

Ingredients:

  • Handful Spinach
  • One Hard Boiled Egg
  • 1/4 Cup Brown Rice
  • Handful Roasted Brussels Sprouts
  • 1 Cubed and Baked Sweet Potato
  • Handful Sautéed Broccoli with Two Cloves Garlic
  • 1/2 Sliced Tomato
  • 2 Sliced Radishes
  • 1/2 Sliced Avocado

It is extremely important to enjoy your food.  Make it something worth posting on Instagram (that's why they have the stories). When you put the time into your food, it will pay dividends to how you feel, look, and live your life.  And by time, I really only mean 10 - 30 minutes.  Enjoy the end of this week, with the best food ever.

Try one or all three of these out and tag @livebetterco in your story so we can see how they turn out.

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Why Mobility Work is the Most Important Thing Missing From Your Training

As we age, physical activities become more difficult. We devote less time to taking care of ourselves, and the time we do spend is certainly not spent getting mobile.

A sedentary lifestyle starts catching up to us. Poor Posture x Poor Movement = Pain. Most of us aren’t at risk of overtraining, but at risk of training (i.e. moving) incorrectly or inefficiently. If you have trouble stretching to touch your toes, that’s a problem. But simply thinking that trying to touch your toes counts as mobility is an even bigger problem.

Mobility includes several aspects of what you might consider “warm-up.” Stretching (both static and dynamic, soft-tissue work (self-myofascial release “SMR”), and joint mobilization are all key players in a well-rounded routine.

I always find it helpful to keep this thought in mind: “The basics of life require movement.”

The “basics” of my life include running, yoga, training, swimming, biking, rock climbing, doing gymnastics, mountain biking, surfing, and any other downhill, gravity-aided sport.

The “basics” of your life may include some of the above, or they might be just being able to lift your carry-on into the overhead bin without shoulder pain. Carry a set of golf clubs (or simply play) 18-holes free of low back pain? Personally, I hope to be enjoying golf well into my 90’s. I’d like to live to be 150 years old, and to do that, I must hold mobility at the forefront of my physical activity.

Mobility helps me do whatever it is I want to do, better. Better body control, strength, and body awareness translates in any sport, whether that be for an NFL player on Sunday or for the championship of your intramural basketball league.

There are a lot of “all or nothing” people in the health industry, myself included. I push my body to the limit, often times without a plan to recover from the stress I place on it. 

Recovery is just as important to your training regimen as the work is.

If you work so hard (without recovery) that it puts you out of commission, or causes you sub-optimal performance, for your next workout, you’ve failed. The first step is identifying the tools and tricks to help you mobilize and recover.

At our first Influencer Retreat in El Salvador, we led serial travelers and adventurers through a movement and mobility workshop using Hyperice tools, such as the Hypersphere (side note: this vibrating massage ball changed my running life forever).

Chelsea (@chelseakauai), Quin (@everchanginghorizon), and Jess (@jesswandering) listen intently before starting the workshop. Mobility work is a huge relief to the demands and stress of travel.

Chelsea (@chelseakauai), Quin (@everchanginghorizon), and Jess (@jesswandering) listen intently before starting the workshop. Mobility work is a huge relief to the demands and stress of travel.

This is a sample from the workshop geared towards pre and post-flight travel. We started with a stretch and asked each participant to take note of where they felt restriction, pain, or lack of mobility. We performed two sets of a test-retest format, with the soft-tissue release in the middle. We then moved to dynamic movement, with stretching and activations.

SMR (Soft-Tissue): 15 minutes

Test Posture: Figure-4 Stretch

SMR Release: Hypersphere - Piriformis, TFL

Re-test Posture: Figure-4 Stretch

SMR Release: Hypersphere - Calves

Test Posture: Shoulder Sweeps

SMR Release: Lats

Re-Teset Posture: Shoulder Sweeps

Dynamic Stretch & Activation: 10 minutes

  • T-Spine Twists
  • Glute Bridges
  • Cat & Cow with T-Spine Rotations
  • 3D Hip Clock
  • World’s Greatest Stretch
  • Forward Fold to Mountain Pose
  • Walkouts with Forearm Plank

So what are the benefits of mobility work?

  • Injury prevention
  • Faster recovery time from training
  • Increased range of motion
  • Pain-free lifestyle
  • Increased flexibility
  • Longevity to our movement (I want to be able to lift up my grandkids, not have them need to lift me up…)
  • Better mind/body connection
Sam (@sam_kolder) deciding whether the Hypersphere feels great, terrible, or everything all at once during a calf release. Add this pre and post-run for better performance and faster recovery.

Sam (@sam_kolder) deciding whether the Hypersphere feels great, terrible, or everything all at once during a calf release. Add this pre and post-run for better performance and faster recovery.

How often should you implement mobility work?

The answer to this is daily. Stretching and soft-tissue work respond to long-term consistency with low intensity, meaning 15 minutes a day is better than two hours at at time, once a month. Try starting up your vibrating foam roller while watching your favorite TV show at night (pro tip: foam-rolling before bed can help activate your parasympathetic nervous system, helping you to relax and fall asleep more quickly)

Add mobility into your routine, and watch your strength, speed, and performance go through the roof.

#LiveBetter

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Summertime Chi - Get Outside

 

Today is officially the first day of summer!  Hell ya!  Let's get outside. 

When summer hits in Chicago, it’s time to come out of hibernation and crush the lakeshore path, rooftops, and parks. It’s incredible how much there is to do during the summer in the city...from street festivals to outdoor movies and yoga to just walking or working, being outside is the key.  As movement is one of our top priorities to live the best life ever, here are some epic ways to enjoy each and every day during your summer in Chicago.

1. Play (Outside)

Hone in your inner child, get outside, and do something different.  Take an evening after work or full weekend day and set your time up to do something out of the ordinary.

2. Eat (Outside)

With so many outdoor spaces, make your food and create your own picnic, or eat out at a new restaurant.

3. Workout (Outside)

Yes, you still need to get in your hard days in the weight room, but move outside when you can.  Getting tan and working out is the best ever (yes I'm summoning Jersey Shore) - it's a winning combo!

4. Walk (Outside)

Whenever you have a chance to go anywhere, allow an extra 15-20 minutes to your commute time and just walk. We all want to be outside more, but you must add the time to make it happen.

  • Walk to work, every single day! OR, walk to the next L stop instead of the closest one
  • Take a nature walk through Lincoln Park
  • Walk through a new neighborhood like Logan Square

5. Explore (Outside)

When we have the time to get outside, make sure to do something new.    

  • Go to Starved Rock! Place is LIT!
  • Find a new rooftop, with a different view of the city
  • Turn off your phone, leave it at home, take the L for 25 minutes, and walk home

At the end of the day, did you spend more time indoors or outdoors? You have the choice.  You can work outside at Soho, eat lunch on the river walk, walk or Divvy everywhere, and finally relax on your balcony.  I challenge you this next week to track your time and have one day, besides sleep (unless you want to put a tent on your roof, which is the best idea ever) to spend more daylight hours outside than inside. See how you feel!  Play, eat, workout, walk, and explore outside and you are guaranteed to have the best day ever.

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5 Reasons Why A Live Better Retreat is the Best Ever

We travel to feel inspired. We practice wellness to feel good.

So why not combine the two?

Live Better just launched its first retreat at Las Flores Resort in El Salvador taking place November 1-5, 2017.

What is a wellness retreat all about, anyway?

Live Better Retreats have one mission: Help our family, community, and friends have the best day ever, every single day. We bring together cool people doing cool things around the world to expand our perspective, find our passion, and jump headfirst towards living the best life ever.

These retreats focus on all things wellness: physical, mental, social, and spiritual. It's combining the benefits of fitness, nutrition, sleep management, stress-reducing techniques, creativity sparks and flow states to be the best at whatever it is you want to do in life.

It's living life, well, at the next level.

Travel with us and you find out what life is (supposed) to be made of. There is no "back to reality" - this is your reality. You get to live life on your terms. You make the rules you operate by - if that's 9-to-5 or a nice balance of work and play, it's up to you. We encourage creativity, play time, movement, good food, good cooking...and a lot of surfing.

You'll make friends you don't yet know exist. You'll find happiness you didn't yet know could be felt. And you'll find a home with us, far from where you might describe your current "home." There is no time to waste, only time to spend doing exactly what you want.

So what does this retreat involve?

1) FITNESS & YOGA

Nike Trainers Jason Loebig & Bret Gornik will lead you through athlete-based training workouts on the beach that help you get strong, move better, and feel better. 

Daily morning yoga sessions are led on the rooftop deck overlooking the ocean. The mix of an incredible view, breeze, nature sounds, and the best vinyasa flow you've ever had create an intoxicating, life-changing experience for your breath, health, and mental clarity.

2) SURFING

Managed by surfers for surfers, Las Flores' signature break is a world-class, 300-meter-long wave that forms outside the point and peels across the cove up onto the sand just meters from the front of the hotel. The epic location of the Las Flores Resort directly in front of the wave is without rival. With multiple breaks to choose from, this surfing mecca provides waves for all ability levels, both beginners and experienced surfers alike (no surfing experience necessary!).

3) ONE-ON-ONE COACHING

Every retreat participant gets a one-on-one coaching session with either Jason or Bret. Coaching sessions will be pre-coordinated in advance to tailor the content to your wants and wishes. Want a personal training session? Private yoga? Life coaching? Business consulting? Jason and Bret will work with you to develop a passion, talk about life or business, and take your health to the next level, whether that means you're training for your first 5k or raising capital for your start-up.

4) SUNRISE ACTIVITIES & MORNING ROUTINES

With discipline comes freedom. Learn how to optimize your day by developing a morning routine. Our goal is to help you "jump" out of bed to do something you want to do, rather than something you have to do. Yes, this applies to the "non-morning person" just as much as it does the coffee connoisseur who can't wait to start their day. Vitamin D + the perfect morning = the best day ever.

5) PASSION DEVELOPMENT & CREATIVITY WORKSHOPS

This retreat experience invites you to look introspectively at the life you're living. It is, after all, your life. We want to help you find and develop your passions, through the lens of health and wellness. With good health, you can be the best at anything you want to be in this life. Pair that with on-demand creativity...a recipe for great success in your career and pursuit of happiness.

A full week of bathing in the sun with your new best friends, enjoying waves waves and cool smoothies, exploring your passions and relaxing by the water. Learn to meditate and relieve stress, move better with a Nike-inspired workout, and find your flow state during yoga. Wake up, feel the warmth from the sun on your balcony, sip fresh coffee, and take a breath of fresh air.

It’s THE BEST. WEEK. EVER.

Want to join us? 

livebetterco.org/elsalvador

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#Sweatworkingweek Day 2: "The Best Day Ever"

What could be better than a full day of wellness activities with new friends and the most amazing group of hosts in the world?

A Sweat Life is a special group of people, and we were honored to be able to curate activities we love for Day #2 with them during #Sweatworkingweek (like restaurant week for fitness).

Morning

Our day started at Brooklyn Boulders with a mobility workshop with Hyperice + bouldering session. We were excited to curate this as our morning activity for a few reasons:

  1. We encourage “play” as a significant source of exercise
  2. Starting the day with mobility (and soft-tissue release) is a great primer for working in a corporate environment (if you’re stuck at a desk or just releasing some “text-neck”)
  3. Many people fear climbing (or simply “heights”), and we like starting the day getting people out of their comfort zone

It’s so much fun, especially as a wellness coach, to watch someone face their fears and come out with a smile. One lap after another up the wall and you start to see the lights come on in someone’s eyes that this is actually fun.

It encourages creativity, taps into a place of happiness you felt regularly as a child but a place we rarely find as adults, and feels good to learn a new skill.

Afternoon

The afternoon sessions during #Sweatworkingweek are lunch and learns with the host of the day, moderated by Maggie and Jeana. Our topic - “How to have the best day ever, every single day.”

We chatted about why we started Live Better, how we approach difficult tasks and times with our mantra (“can every day really be the best day ever?”), and engaged with a wonderful set of people about our passions within health and wellness.

The Cliff Notes:

  • All good things take time, whether you’re cooking a meal or starting a business
  • Make your “mantra” a self-fulfilling prophecy; say it, then do it.
  • Long-term consistency outperforms short-term intensity every time
  • Practice a skill for 5 minutes a day (handstand, guitar, language, etc)
  • Schedule movement into your day and prioritize it

I love giving talks like these because it forces me to take an honest look at why I make decisions, dig a little deeper into my passions, and verbalize (which is the hard part) how I value my time and energy.

Evening

The culmination of the “best day ever” started on the bottom floor of Morgan’s on Fulton, a three-floor event space in the West Loop. The bottom floor was true #Sweatworkingweek - mix and mingle with your community (including a wonderful sponsor Vital Proteins) as you get ready to sweat with new friends.

Floor two was Live Better territory - a live DJ’d workout including HIIT, yoga, mobility, headstands, and partner fun. Bret and I yelling, moving, and instructing on the Bieber mics (our favorite).

Floor three (rooftop) was the last stop for activities and included a 30-minute guided meditation from Chill Chicago, a new meditation + massage spot in River North. We focused on counted breathing, love and kindness, body scans, and different breathing techniques.

The #Sweatworking House was an epic way to end the day.

Why are events like #Sweatworkingweek so important to us?

Live Better is built around community, engaging with people who want to take life to the next level and use their health as a catalyst for change. We’re committed to action, which is applying what you learn to improve your life.

We love doing live experiences because it allows us to put these ideas into play (quite literally). It’s the reason why we are so excited about our wellness retreats around the world.

Ultimately, it’s getting people out of their comfort zones to try new experiences (like Bret doing a headstand on live TV to promote #Sweatworkingweek), meet new, like-minded people, and add to what is already an amazing Chicago fitness community.

It can be the best day ever, every single day - you just have to mean it.

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June: #CrushTheCore

By: Bret Gornik

I strive for constant improvement. I know that setting up documented challenges for myself, and having others hold me accountable, is a great added fuel to crush it. This month, I want to focus on strengthening my core.  I'm asking you to join me.  Yes, summer is here, so looking good at the beach is an added advantage, but for real, the core is everything.  Within the last few months I have neglected training my core as much as I should.  I stress to my clients the importance of building a strong core, having core engagement in every movement, and that all strength starts from the core, but I have been not been fully practicing what I preach.  My handstands have not progressed as much as I want, my balance is not top notch, and my posture needs help.  Now it's go time!  I will be setting up a few key strategies for success.

1. Daily Routines (5 minutes in the morning, 5 minutes after noon, and 5 minutes at night)

2. Plank Progression (Goal is 10 minutes)

2. Full Workout Schedule revolving around the core

3. Nutrition plan to build lean muscle mass

4. Social Media posting guidelines to keep me accountable

5. Weekly Plank Time Challenge - To track progress

I want all of you to join! Starting Monday (6/5/17), the challenge is open, use #CrushTheCore or tag me in your Insta stories and Snapchats to be a part of the team!  If you participate in the challenge and help motivate me by motivating yourself, you will be entered to win a personal training session with me (or an online training session for those of you not in Chicago)! 

Let's get it going!

My Schedule

Crush The Corew.PNG

5 Minute Morning Routine

  • 1 Minute Cat-Cow
  • 1 Minute Bird Dog
  • 1 Minute Down Dog To Up Dog
  • 1 Minute Side Plank (30 each side)
  • 1 Minute Headstand Leg Drops

5 Minute Afternoon Routine

  • 1 Minute Legs Flat Sit Up
  • 1 Minute Feet on Floor Sit Up
  • 1 Minute Legs Bend at 90 degrees Sit Up
  • 1 Minute Toe Taps
  • 1 Minute Bike Abs

5 Minute Evening Routine

  • 1 Minute Side Crunches
  • 1 Minute Superman
  • 1 Minute Beast Crawl Forward & Back
  • 1 Minute Beast Crawl Left and Right
  • 1 Minute Up Dog Stretch

My goal is to put form to function.  Look good and feel good.  I want to take these core exercises and continue to get stronger.  Please help me by showing me your favorite core exercise.  I'll feature my favorite one every Tuesday.

Let's #CrushTheCore

Have the best month ever!

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3 Simple Ways Add Meditation To A Busy Schedule

A lot of us are “busy.” It’s difficult to find time to workout, eat right, see family and friends as much as we want, excel at work, and fit in time to relax.

Add meditation to that? Forget it.

If the above hit home (maybe add “I’m tired” to that list), a simple meditation strategy is exactly what you need. The benefits of meditation are plentiful, from reducing stress, elevated mood, better (and clearer) decision making, and less reactivity to bad traffic.

The number of times or length of time you meditate per day may not have an increased utility for you. What does, however, is the consistency at which you practice. Below I have provided three different, simple meditations you can practice on your own, depending on when you can fit it into your “busy” schedule.

Morning Meditation: “Just Breathe”

6am - Alarm clock blares and you wake, heart rate racing from the jolt. You sit up on the edge of your bed, facing the window. It’s still quiet outside, and you haven’t checked your email or social media yet…(right?). Set the timer on your phone or watch for 5 minutes.

Sit up in bed, either on the edge or against the headboard, and simply start to breathe. Focus on your inhales becoming smooth, and your exhales becoming long. The breath is felt in the belly - it fills with air and rises, it empties and falls.

Aim for a 4-2-6 cadence.

Four counts on your inhale

Two counts holding the breath at the top

Six counts on your exhale

These do not need to be full seconds at first but simply focusing on making the exhale longer than your inhale. The use of the belly is called diaphragmatic breathing, which has benefits outside of meditation (like in the gym).

Pro Tip: Random thoughts will pop into your head. We cannot control our thoughts, however, we can control what we give focus and attention to. Simply let the thought run its course, then refocus on the breath. Practice will make you stronger.

Afternoon Meditation: “The Sixth Sense”

12pm - It’s time for lunch at work, and everyone is already stressed out. Meetings are behind like a poorly run doctor’s office, and your email blew up the second you got to work. You can’t ever find time to meditate before work so lunchtime it is. Take your lunch outside to a nice sunny place where you can find some peace.

Sit up tall in a comfortable seat, whether it be a park bench or grass in the park, and just relax.

This meditation follows your five senses, which we tie all together to find your sixth sense (“presence”…not seeing dead people). First, we start with sight.

  1. Sight - Close your eyes. What do you see? Picture your surroundings as pleasant. By deactivating our sense that provides most of our inputs during the day, we heighten the other four.
  2. Taste - What do you taste? Have you been chewing gum during the day? Just finished your morning coffee? Reflect on what you taste as a way to be mindful about what you eat. What fuel have you been providing your body today?
  3. Smell - What do you smell? Flowers in the garden, or the smells of a big city? A food truck near by or a restaurant preparing lunch? Taste and Smell provide our strongest, most memorable set of senses.
  4. Sound - Really listen - what do you hear? The laugh of children playing in the park, the wind whistling by your skin, city sounds or the silence of nature? Be a passive listener and let the sounds come to you. What sounds have you been missing as you invite them in?
  5. Touch - What do you feel? Connection to your seat or the earth. Maybe you’re slightly warm or slightly chilly. Feel the wind across your face or sunshine on your back.
  6. Presence - Finally, we combine all five senses together and we get “presence.” 

You’re seeing, tasting, smelling, hearing, and feeling life. It is going on all around you - it’s just finding 15 minutes to stop and (see, (maybe taste), listen, touch) smell the roses.

Bedtime Meditation: “Declutter Your Mind”

11pm - Our busy day is finally done, but the stress and to-do list remains. You’re too tired to think straight, but your mind disagrees and won’t let you fall asleep - there is still simply too much to get done.

The first step is to transfer that to-do list to an actual written list. Outsource these worries to a list to free up some headspace. Make it six items long, and start with some easy wins to be completed in the morning. Now, you’re not actively trying to remember anything and you can focus on relaxing.

This practice is one more focused on mindfulness and gratitude.

  1. Consider three people you were grateful for today. Why did they make you happy? What did they help you complete? How did they make you feel? Concentrate a few deep breaths on those emotions.
  2. Consider three things that you accomplished today. What did you get done that made you feel successful? Did you make someone else happy? Did you excel at work or at play? Maybe it was a perfect swing of the golf club, or simply a good hug.
  3. Consider three reasons why you are the best person ever. What are you putting out into the world everyday that makes you unique? What do you do for people that helps them find joy? Are you funny, or caring, or thoughtful, athletic, or loving?
  4. Finish with three deep breaths lying on your pillow, smile while you take them, and have a beautiful sleep.

Have the best day ever. #LiveBetter

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Friendship: A Reflection on Camaraderie

Relationships are your guiding force in life.  This includes relationships with yourself, your family, your significant other, your dog, your coworkers, and your friends.  Having a solid group of friends is incredible.  You want a crew that supports you, drives you, and understands you.  I celebrated my Bachelor Party in Colorado this past weekend with my best friends.  It was a mix of my brothers, high school, college, and post-college friends.  I am blessed to say the least.  We trekked through rapids while rafting, tasted the Rockies, hopped from rooftop bar to rooftop bar, ate some great food, and enjoyed everything about beautiful Denver.  If I have learned anything over the last 27+ years, it's that having a good group of friends involves dedication, and in the end, it is one of the greatest parts of life.

There are a lot of changes in life – interests, life goals, where we live, who we date -  therefore, the people we spend our time with changes.  With that being said, there are some relationships that will never fizzle out no matter what change you go through, and those are the friendships you likely cherish the most.  When you no longer live down the street or in the same house as your friends like you do growing up or in college, the time spent with each other may decrease in quantity, but that likely means it’s increasing in quality because you understand that your time together is more valuable.  I believe that despite less frequent time spent together, by making your time more meaningful, a friendship can continue to strengthen.  It is not easy to make this work. Ask questions, challenge each other, and go deep into conversations to see how friends have grown. 

While we were all in Denver, hanging out on the roof of the Airbnb, I could not have been happier.  We laughed over hilarious stories (all my dumb college moments) and it reminded me how lucky I am to have such a strong community around me.  They all traveled to Denver just to be together and celebrate.  That's epic.  I was able to have great conversations with everyone individually.  It was amazing to have this time with so many great people to really converse about everything going on in our lives.

I have done a lot of reflecting on friendship over the past few months and have concluded that with work and caring about someone, friendships truly strengthen over time.  You do not need to be around someone everyday to be best friends.  I remember, literally, and yes, there are pictures, crying in the bar the last few days of college because I was so concerned about not seeing my friends every day.  But I now know that due to the care we all have for each other, my friends are friends for life.  I have challenged myself to ask the hard questions, really see how people are doing, invite friends over for events, initiate time together, and always be open to talk. As a guy, it's sometimes hard to open up, but when you know you are not being judged and everyone around you has your best interest at heart, you're an open book.   It is extremely important to share with others things that are going on in your life, so they are open to doing the same.  Opening up and learning how to ask questions to others has been a very important way for me to grow.

As I reflect on this weekend and the perfect mix of activities and recklessness, I realize that I am blessed with an amazing squad.  I challenge myself from today forward to continue to work hard in my friendships and cherish the time we spend together.  Friendships are relationships and relationships take work.  Do work and you'll be rewarded.

Special shout out to my crew! Matt Hirt thanks for planning the best weekend ever.  

Love you all team!

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Stop Exercising, Start Training: Why It's Important

I’d be super happy to never hear “I just want to get toned” ever again.

Why? Because it lacks specificity of any kind. “Toned” is really an increase in muscle mass with a decrease in body fat.

Training implies an intention. It’s specific, measurable, actionable…you know. It’s SMART. Training allows you to improve upon something and work towards something, whether that be a professional athlete training for the Olympics or the couch-to-5k athlete running their first race at age 50.

Training is sustainable. It’s useful for life, whether you like to golf or take long walks on the beach. Your mobility (that is your ability to move around restriction-free) is everything to your long-term health, both physically and mentally.

Exercising on the other hand is mindless. It brings to mind someone doing the elliptical in sandals at a 3 resistance watching their iPad. What’s the point?

If your primary complaint is that you don’t have enough time to workout (let’s actually change that verbiage to “train” right now…), be more efficient and train for something.

Have a plan.

Try signing up for a race, like a local 5k, or something more serious like a triathlon or Tough Mudder. Make it fun, and train with a buddy.

One of the first things I explain to a client is the progression of becoming fit. First, you gain more energy. Then your mental state gets a great boost - “I feel much happier.” Then the results start to pour in.

What was once an obligation is now a necessity. When you feel better on the days you workout as opposed to the days you skip, you’re hooked. The snowball effect of inertia starts to work - what is in motion tends to stay in motion. Your travels become a little more active, you spend weekends enjoying the outdoors rather than lying in bed, and the food you eat becomes fuel for living life at full tilt rather than a governor on your energy levels.

I love watching this transition. We’re all athletes, but somewhere along the way we sometimes get trapped inside our desk-ridden bodies, aching (literally) to get out and play like a kid again.

Why do I train, you ask?

I train for physical readiness. I never want to be bad at something and I never want to get left behind. In fact, I’d rather excel at everything. Any challenge, at any time, I want to be ready.

My goal is to be the best at being good at everything. I’d like to pivot from a triathlon right into golf season straight into snowboard season.

If there was a decathlon in mountain biking, surfing, yoga, rock climbing, golf, HIIT training, snowboarding, gymnastics, running, and swimming…. I’d like to win that.

I spend time in the gym so I can prepare my body for the demands of adventure. I don’t spend time in the gym to “get toned.” The “toning” comes in due time after the hard work in the gym and in the kitchen.

Nike got it perfectly right - stop exercising, start training.

#LiveBetter

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The Live Better Retreat Experience

By: Bret Gornik

Strangers --> Acquaintances --> Friends --> Family. 

What started out as a retreat with 11 strangers from across the country, turned into lifelong friendships.  Each person brought something unique to the table, teaching all of us new lessons.  We all individually grew, and more importantly, created an everlasting bond.

Live Better hosted its first ever Influencer Retreat at Las Flores in El Salvador.   This is not a "retreat." It's advancing on living the life you want to live. It's not an escape from "everyday" life. This is your life.

Our team brought together the top content creators, photographers, and videographers to join our movement.  This experience was about understanding how health is the sustainable fuel to crush life, how cultivating community helps us to advance, and how to experience everything with a higher sense of gratitude.

We hit all of the senses.

Sight

We experienced sight by creating views.  The rolling waves from afar set the mood for the week. As I looked out from my room, I saw waves, mountains, the sun, flowers, and energy. The world is full of views, it's how you view them that sets them all apart.

Jason's best wave ever was a sight only he witnessed and a feeling he'll remember forever.  The rest of us saw his ear-to-ear grin leaving the water, and we knew he experienced something awesome.

A photo says 1,000 words and this case maybe 1,000,000.  This experience was captured from different perspectives.  Quinn's fire shot brings night to life (shout out to the team for holding still for a full 30 seconds!) the community that was formed as we created and captured life.  Taking a photo through a viewpoint that induces feeling is magical.

Seeing is believing.  Believe me, we saw everything through a new lens.

Smell

Flowers mixed with ocean generate an aroma you wish you could bottle up.  Waking up and falling asleep to this fragrance sparks emotion. You feel different. You are different.

This is nothing quite like the smell of burning wood.  Fire is life. It creates heat. Our bonfire created family.  Our clothes soaked up this burnt scent.  

Craig pulled all of this together by truly capturing the entire evening while speeding up time to show hours in minutes. As he helped curate the actual fire, we truly captured an evening we will all remember. This time-lapse shows progression, building, and inducing the mind to want to create.

Touch

Wood, plants, water, grass, and sand. Texture, life, flow, growth, and support.

Sand on the feet is like no other feeling. Supporting you, your body, and your mind. The connection to the earth invigorates and heals you.  

As Jess walked along the beach, surfboard overhead, she left behind impressions not just within the sand but also within each one of us. She burst into the ocean to challenge herself with a new skill, the surf. Being able to feel the sand's support on the way to the waves grounds you.

A video can make you dream. To capture emotions and scenery by using time and space is next level.  Sam Graves went full send and droned the most beautiful shots off our time together. The views just make you want to reach out and grab the trees, feel the waves, and sink into the sand. These short films create perspective.  #betterthanyoudreamedit

Sound

Waves crash, family laughs, music vibes, stories are told, passions are shared. Sound evokes emotion and pulls at the heartstrings.

Around the fire, hyper focus on our surroundings and the nature sounds of crackle and pop, Noel blessed us with extra vibes.  Turning on Everybody's Free To Wear Sunscreen, my eyes began to water as I gained perspective. Not only did the lyrics hit me, but I was filled with a new feeling. A feeling that transcends happiness. Maybe bliss. As I looked around, I felt like I could hear everyone thinking about how this experience was real. We created something special.

My favorite sound is laughter. Nothing makes me happier.  When I am the one to instigate laughter, my smile is the most genuine.  As I mellow out and begin to dream in the most comfortable chair with the sound of crashing waves putting me into a true state of serenity, the FAM decided to have fun.  1, 2, 3. AHHHHHHHHHH.  I burst awake in fear.  The screams jolt me from deep sleep into straight up terror. You hear Chelsea's laugh the loudest as she is overwhelmed with joy at my reaction. I am surrounded by the crew and they are all LIT. I begin to burst out laughing. We watch the video, over and over, and over and over, and over and our joint laughter is a sound I will never forget. Thanks, team.

Taste

Authentic cuisine. Papusas, soups, juices, and guacamole - all fresh and made with passion. We bonded over food and drink.  Stories were told and time was spent together over these meals.  Cell phones were put away for the most part, and we talked. Conversation flourished into bonds. The food tasted special because it was more than just ingredients put together. The juices were beyond fresh and created with perfectly ripe/authentic fruits. 

Ryland created pace. Some may say he's a slow eater, but he helped us enjoy the moment by utilizing conversation over our meals to help us all appreciate each other's company. Not only did he cultivate a sense of gratitude, but through his workshop he made us taste what success mean to us. He asked hard questions: Where will you be in your life on the last day of 2017? How will you feel? What will you drink? Where will you be?  Who are you with? What are you doing? With one hour to nonstop write, I went from smiles to tears to smiles. I felt it all. I was brought to life. I could taste my success.

Emotion

This crew was too much for five sense that I needed to add emotion.  We were all filled with it.  As we trekked around rocks, jumped into pools, climbed on moving buses, and overlooked volcanoes, there is no other word to describe the feeling than raw emotion. 

As Sam Kolder pieces together his viewpoint into a story, he brings us back to this feeling.  Capturing views, feeling, resonance, flavor, and fragrance into a unique portal of the growth of relationships.  I see the epic views, but I feel the building of everlasting bonds.  This ability to evoke emotion through art is something a select few can do well.  Being able to look back at this gives me the opportunity to never lose that feeling.

Andy's gratitude, attention to detail, and positive personality brought this to the next level. Early morning workouts, curiosity, and late nights brought us together. He had all the one liners that we will recite for years.  His genuine appreciation for everything set the tone for everyone. It takes a unique person to make everyone around you better.

Through this experience, eleven different people were brought together. We saw. We touched. We smelled. We tasted. We heard. We felt.

Thanks to everyone that joined the Live Better Family. Thank you Jason and Ryland for putting in the work. Thank your Nike for gear to crush beach workouts. Thank you Hyper Ice for more mobile travel. Thank you Axel and Ash so we can document our travels. Thank you Four Sigmatic for the brainpower. Thank you Santiago and PHG for the push to create this entire thing. Thank you Avianca for flying us to beautiful El Salvador. Thank you Las Flores for making us feel at home. Thank you El Salvador for your culture, positive people, beautiful landscapes, and excellent cuisine.

Join us on the movement - livebetterco.org/retreats  

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Food & Social Pressure: Why Support Matters & How To Combat It

Think back to the last meeting you had at work where lunch was served. What food was put out? My guess is likely pizza and salad…maybe sandwiches if you’re lucky.

If you happened to bring your lunch that day, did you still eat the pizza? Were you really going to be that guy (or girl) to sit there (seemingly “above” these unhealthy people) and not have a slice?

The number one issue I find with nutrition “mishaps” from clients or friends is always choices made under social pressure. “This was a one-off weekend. I had a birthday party. It was my friend’s wedding.” The list goes on and on for why you ate the cookie.

Guess what. Every single weekend (especially in the summer) is a one-off experience. Something is always going on, there is always a party to join, and bad decisions galore to indulge in. Somehow people are victimized by their environment, like the bar itself made you drink it.

This social pressure is strongest at home, at work, and out with friends.

If food is in the pantry or fridge, you’re going to eat it. If candy is sitting on your co-workers desk, you’ll grab that Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup every time you go by. If a round of shots comes out, are you going to be the one to refuse yours? Once someone goes for that piece of cake, it’s a cascade of group think that we’re not going to judge you for getting one too (which is how it should be), however, internally you write off the action of actually eating the food to “everyone else had a piece….”

Here is the simplest, most direct point I can make: You put the fork (or glass) to your mouth every single time you take a bite (or drink). Nobody “forces” you to do it. Hundreds of times a day, over and over again - you make the decision.

There is a time and place for purposefully enjoying these foods - I’m not proposing giving it up entirely at all - however, the time and place is not four times a week and every weekend.

Here are a few strategies to not be that guy (or girl)…

Create a 4-day food log for Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
It’s really powerful to write down each bit of food you consume. It’s suddenly easy to realize why changes aren’t coming about when sugar is consumed multiple times per day, you’re getting nickel and dimed by happy hour beers, and your breakfast is a bagel with cream cheese. The 4-day food log gets you two weekdays and two weekend days, with Friday as the transition day.

By tracking your eating and drinking habits, you’ll start to notice where you’re weaker at dealing with social pressure and where there are holes in your decision making process.

Were you tired and ate whatever was convenient? Did you work late and not plan for that contingency?
 

Plan out your entire week’s worth of food, even the food you will be eating at a restaurant.
Discipline creates freedom, plain and simple. If you’re perfect all week long, and planned for a “re-feed” period on the weekend, you’ve done your job.

This game is about consistency, and to win you must plan. There are simply too many important decisions to make throughout the week, ranging from work to family to play - what you eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner should not occupy that brain power.

Bring your lunch, and sit quietly through that work meeting. Don’t touch the pizza, and just state, “Hey I’m not actually that hungry today…I ate a big breakfast.” Then, quietly take a nice walk outside and eat your lunch a little bit later. You don’t have to flaunt your Superfood Kale Salad over the Meat-Lovers crew. Don’t be that guy (or girl).

Clean out your damn pantry and fridge.

If you did happen to indulge over the weekend, don’t leave the leftovers in the fridge. You’ll convince yourself you’re trying to save money, or that cold pizza tastes better, and it turns into Monday lunch. Then the whole start to the week is shot. Start off with a win, and pre-plan on Sunday. Get your food in order for the week, which includes subtracting the weekend festivities' leftovers.

Get your spouse or significant other on board with your nutritional aspirations.

It’s easier to cook healthy food together than it is to decide on two different places to eat. If you’re not supported at home, it’ll be the most difficult hurdle to overcome. Most couples operate on a similar frequency - you either both eat healthy remain active, or you don't….together.

Create a schedule to workout together. Create time to grocery shop and cook together. Share in a delicious, (healthy) meal that you labored over…together. It’s an amazing transformation in social support, and cuts down on any judgement given or received.

The last line of defense is simple avoidance.

If you know you’ve got a problem with pastries, don’t walk past the bakery. If you can’t have one beer and relax, don’t put yourself around friends that will get you to drink ten. Avoiding the social pressure (that is inherently present) is another great strategy when you’re trying to make changes. Environmental factors are the strongest pressure cookers due to a perceived expectation for how you should feel and act. For instance, when was the last time you went to a concert, sober? Maybe it’s just a simple reminder from the past that causes you to do something, like drinking a Coca-Cola at the movies. That felt good and it’s forever ingrained in your memory as something you just do when sit down to watch a movie.

Understanding why you make certain decisions regarding food (and otherwise) is very important in making long-term changes to your health. Stop to reflect for a minute (after reviewing your food log) on where you can make changes to your social support.

People are either helping or hurting, and it’s time to get everyone playing for the same team. YOUR TEAM.

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