October 28, 2009
Introduction: In this podcast episode: powerful motivation techniques for exercise and sports, nutrition news from the Ironman Medical Conference, and a massive diet and exercise Q&A!
Ben: Hey podcast listeners, before I go into anything, I need to tell you something. I’m actually recording this podcast in an airport. I happen to be traveling down to Jamaica right now to do some media coverage for a triathlon down there called the Rose Hall Triathlon and it just happens, this is pretty much my only opportunity right now to bring you this podcast as I wait in the Charlotte Douglas International Airport to fly down to Montego Bay. So if you hear security warnings in the background. If you hear someone telling me not to leave my baggage unattended or if you hear someone shouting at Ben Greenfield to get over to his gate so he can catch his flight, that’s what you’ll hear in the background. I’ll try to filter out some of the noise but thought I’d just give you a warning, and wow. We have a jam-packed podcast today. Tons of Listener questions. You’ll notice too many for me to even list in our introduction as well as a fantastic interview with a sports psychologist who trains some of our nation’s top athletes namely people in the army at the Army Center for Enhanced Performance. He’s going to bring us a lot of information on mental toughness and just a bunch of special announcements and opportunities for you. So no matter what your exercise level or fitness level or no matter where you’re coming from, we’re going to have something for you on this show. It’s a lot of nutrition, a lot of exercise, a little bit of triathlon in there. Sit back and enjoy.
The first question this week comes from Listener Sarah.
Sarah Asks: Hi Ben, I was wondering what you think about the I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter spray. I have a hard time believing that there is no big amount calories in it but can’t find much online that tells me anymore details about it. Do you have any more insight about the good or bad of it?
Ben answers: Well the idea behind that spray that comes in the can Sarah, is that they’re taking advantage of the fact that in the US any serving that’s up to about 5 calories, a manufacturer is able to list as 0 calories or calorie free. They still have to state on that nutrition label what actually constitutes as a serving but in order to get away with a serving being less than 5 calories, what the manufacturer does is they just pick a ridiculous small serving to actually represent serving. And so if you look at the I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter spray, they have in about 12.5 sprays, about 10 calories and 1 gram of fat and it’s something like a 3rd of a second is the equivalent of a spray. So for most of us who are holding it for 3 seconds or so, we’re easily getting that 10 calories and 1 gram of fat in a serving of the I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter. 25 sprays, about a teaspoon – there’s 20 calories in 25 sprays which again are very, very small sprays. Most of us do not do the eentsy-teensie sprays they consider a serving and about 2 grams of fat in that. You take 37.5 sprays which is probably about how much you put if you were coating, say, a pancake girdle, that’s about 30 calories and 3 grams of fat. So if you take that entire bottle that says I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, calorie free, 0 calories, whatever – the entire bottle is 900 calories and about 90 grams of fat. So to answer your question, yeah. It does have calories in it. Now looking at the actual ingredients of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter spray, you have water, liquid soya bean oil, salt, natural sweet cream buttermilk which is mixed with a bunch of different ingredients. And really that’s about it. There are some natural and artificial flavors in there as well. I wasn’t able to actually figure out what the artificial flavors actually were but for any of us who are trying to limit our consumption of vegetable oils like a soya bean oil or trying to watch our salt intake who maybe don’t like the idea of spraying buttermilk on our food, you know, there’s probably better alternatives to I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter spray. What I would personally recommend is you get a little spritzer and you fill it up with extra virgin oil or grape seed oil and you use that for your low temperature cooking and for your salads and for your higher temperature cooking just use a very small pad of completely natural butter which is great for you in small quantities or a coconut oil. You can actually get extra virgin coconut oil. It’s solid at room temperature. Very stable at room temperatures. Also fantastic to cook with. So wouldn’t recommend the I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter spray.
You would have noticed right now a significant increase in the quality of the audio hopefully because I cut my flight and I’m now in my hotel room without quite as much background noise. So that being said, I’m going to go ahead and move on to the rest of this week’s questions. So the next question comes from Listener Chuck.
Chuck asks: Here is a question for you. I love steamed vegetables like broccoli and spinach. I usually have a large serving along with my dinner each night. Is it ok to have a really large portion of vegetables, or should I stick to an appropriate portion size like everything else? I figured since they are low calorie and healthy it’s alright, but I don’t want to over-eat. Thanks a lot, I really appreciate it.
Ben answers: Good question, Chuck. With all of my clients’ vegetables… assuming these are raw vegetables, not drenched in vegetable oil like you would get them at say PF Chang’s and just their normal unadulterated version, I let my clients eat as much as they want. You take something like asparagus. We’re talking about right around a cup of that or 100 grams of that, 26 calories, 90% water. Broccoli – 32 calories, 90% water. Brussels sprouts – 43 calories, 87% water. Cabbage – 24 calories, 93% water. You even can go as far as to look at what we would consider some of the more starchy foods and even pumpkin – 12 calories, 95% water. Now a few of the vegetables, like say yams… yeah yams would be about 110 calories and a portion sized equivalent of some of those other vegetables and only 65% water. But that’s kind of common sense. You can usually tell the ones that are more starch based. Corn would be along the same lines. So, yeah all my clients… when I write out their meal plans, vegetables… we’re typically not measuring out unless it’s just for logistical reasons so they don’t overflow the plate or throw the taste off. And then another question… this one is also from Listener Chuck. I think this is the same Chuck. Wow, Chuck, you’ve got a lot of questions this week because this next question is basically like a three part question. But I’m going to answer it anyway.
Charles asks: Hey Ben. I have a couple questions for you this week I was hoping you could answer. The first parallels the one I asked last week about how much steamed vegetables one can eat. (Yup. That would be the same Chuck.) I steamed a butternut squash yesterday and had that as a side along with some broccoli and chicken for dinner. Should I treat foods like butternut squash or acorn squash as carbohydrate side dishes same as I would treat sweet potato or brown rice or would they count as a vegetable? Would it have made more sense to balance that meal by having the chicken, butternut squash, and some brown rice?
Ben answers: Most of the squashes are going to fall into a similar category as pumpkin and not into the same category as rice or potato. Let’s just take like a simple summer squash – about one cup of that, chopped – you’re looking at 17 calories. 1.5 calories from fat. So again, I’m assuming that you’re just talking about the regular version and you’re not doing what a lot of people do with squash which is add butter, add brown sugar, add chopped nuts, etc. But the squash just by itself would fall into the same category as vegetables and yes, very rich in phytonutrients, antioxidants, high in fiber and a great source for a vegetable, especially in the winter. You can make soups, you can make stews, you can add them to stir fry, etc.
Chuck asks: Second, I have read a couple articles lately on cheat meals and the importance of them. The principle makes sense-not completely depriving yourself so that you will stay mentally healthy as well as be more likely not to binge and to stay on your program. Some of the articles also talked about the effects these cheat meals or days actually had on the body. The theory was that by eating a cheat meal, like a large burger and fries with a shake, the calories would shock the body and spark the metabolism, making it work differently than the consistent foods it is used to receiving. Some went as far to say that the muscles would store the fat as energy and would burn it in the next workout. I don’t know about that last part, but the rest of the theory seems plausible. What’s the truth?
Ben answers: It’s a little bit, to use the highly scientific term, “messed up” the way that you described it. In terms of it not really acting to shock the body and spark the metabolism when you eat a cheat meal. But what happens is if you are glycogen deprived, carbohydrate deprived, calorie deprived and you eat a high calorie meal, your metabolism will experience an increase. That’s why when people come into my lab for metabolic rate testing they have to fast anywhere from four to 12 hours prior so that they don’t get that caloric cost of digesting food. So in the sense that it bumps up the metabolic rate when you take in a large number of calories especially when you’re coming off a caloric deficit, well that’s true. The large number of calories doesn’t need to be an unhealthy meal. In fact, an unhealthy meal like a large burger and fries and a shake is going to give you the calories but it’s going to give you the transfatty acids and the free radicals, the toxins, the preservatives and everything else that you get along with the extra calories. So I’m all for a re-feeding day and giving your body one day where it’s getting a little more TLC so to speak from a caloric perspective but not if those calories are primarily from unhealthy sources. Now I do still think that there is some importance in having some junk food every now and again. If you want to go out to Dairy Queen and get a Blizzard once every Saturday night, and if you’re in training and you’re exercising and you’re eating well 90% of the time, not that big of a deal. But it’s not going to do anything magical to your body. It’s just taking in more calories in general will bump up the metabolic rate if you are calorically deprived. As far as the muscles storing the fat as energy and burning it in the next workout, the only thing the muscles store as energy is glycogen storage carbohydrate. The muscles can burn fat via something called beta oxidation. They don’t necessarily store that fat in the same way that they would store carbohydrate. So that’s not true. And it’s not true that you’re going to have increased fat burning capacity when you eat a large cheat meal. It’s just if you have more fatty acids circulating in your bloodstream, that you might tap into more of them. But the fatty acids circulating in your bloodstream are taking precedence over the fatty acids that could be mobilized from your adipose tissue around your waistline or your butt or your thighs or wherever you tend to keep it. So, that would not be a good way to get your body to burn more fat. Then the last part of your question, you say…
Chuck asks: Lastly, in the last e-mail you sent out on “How to get fat” you criticized Ensure drinks pretty hard. (And for those of you who didn’t read that post, go check out the post at www.bengreenfieldfitness.com where I talk about an upcoming book I’m writing called How To Get Fat.” I clearly understand why, but on the other hand, would you advise everyone not to drink them or similar products? When I was in-patient for my eating disorder a couple years ago, we were given Ensure Plus as supplement to help put on weight in a more nutritious manner. I was advised to keep drinking them once I got out until I reached and maintained my goal weight. Training as hard as I do, I still drink 1-2 Ensure Plus a day, usually mixed with protein powder and a banana as an evening snack. I figured this was a better way to get healthy calories, the overall calorie level being something I still worry about than other options. Is it ok for someone like me to drink Ensure or are there other options? Like whole milk?
Ben answers: Ok, this is a pet peeve of mine when nutritionists give people Ensure as a way to get them to gain weight, say, coming off anorexia, bulimia or whatever the case may be. But don’t educate the patient that that is fake food. It is sucrose or corn syrups or preservatives or basically… it also has cow’s milk in it which we know from other episodes on this show is chockfull of insulin like growth factor and a lot of other preservatives and hormones that can affect your body. If you were to use real food – if you were to take banana, some fat free organic yoghurt, you can use quinoa, you can use nut butter, you can use whey protein powder, pea protein powder, hemp protein powder, rice protein powder. There are ways that you can get a meal replacement shake without getting it in a can, without getting it with all those preservatives in it, with all that sugar in it. Ensure is basically glorified sugar water with a little bit of milk protein added and it’s the wrong concept. You need to eat real food. Not food that you can put in your pantry for two years, take it out, drink it and not be affected. So I’m going to have to say that I highly recommend that you make your own homemade healthy version of Ensure. I mean, if you’re mixing Ensure Plus with protein powder and a banana, just take that Ensure Plus substitute… there’s all sorts of stuff out there. You can get powdered goats milk as an alternative to cow’s milk. You can use almond milk, you can use rice milk and you can make your own protein smoothies and protein shakes at home. When I write out the nutrition plans for my clients, they’ve got like 8 different smoothie recipes that they can make at home that taste far better than Ensure and are far better for you. So don’t rely on fake food to nourish your body despite what some of the mainstream nutrition professionals are going to tell you. It sets you up better for life to be eating real food. So, we’re going to move on to a question from Listener Bob.
Bob asks: Hi Ben I am a new listener to your podcast and love the show. Please, can you direct me to a good multivitamin and give some information vitamin absorption. I have always been told that vitamins just make expensive urine. I have also run across this new company called ActivZ9. I am in the process of going over all the material on your website now. Having been out of the exercise and nutrition frame of mind for some 8 years, it is a little overwhelming. In 2001 at 40 years old I did my first and last full Ironman in California while really not knowing much about nutrition and training. Now a few pounds later and not much exercise I want to return to exercising and more important I want to start eating healthier. In the next few years I want to go to Kona Ironman. Thanks.
Ben answers: That’s a really good goal, Bob. And I like your question about the multivitamins. And the whole idea behind the multivitamins is that all nutrition professionals will tell you that when it comes to vitamins, nutrients, minerals, it would be best to get as much as possible from real food when you can. Because the nutrients that come bundled together in real food are absorbed by your body a little bit more completely and utilized by your body more effectively than the isolated vitamins and minerals and nutrients you’re going to get from a multi. So if you look at plant fibers like vegetables and fruits, beans, whole grains. You’re getting your fiber from those. You’re getting your very important – what are called phytochemicals from those which help support and sustain a healthy metabolism. You take something like fish meat. That’s going to contain your vital Omega 3 essential fatty acids. Nuts are going to have a lot of really good, what are called mono unsaturated fatty acids. A lot of other nutrients, a lot of antioxidants and all of those will help. They’ll not only help stabilize your energy levels but they help prevent cancer and heart disease and diabetes. They don’t cure that stuff but they definitely help prevent it. Now the tricky part is that food processing can destroy nutrients. Fertilization can destroy nutrients. Modern commercialized agricultural processes can destroy nutrients, leach minerals from the soil, etc. and even lifestyle choices or lifestyle patterns can lead you to an inadequate intake of some nutrients. I have some clients who are super busy and the only way they’re going to get their vegetable intake during the day is from a powdered green ground up vegetable source. Fine. I’d rather they be doing that than nothing at all. Pregnant individuals sometimes need more vitamins than they can get from food. Older individuals who have reduced absorption in their intestinal tract – they can also have a higher need for various nutrients. So what it comes down to is for a lot of people, a multivitamin is a very good choice. The one thing I didn’t say which is probably most important in your case is that exercising individuals and especially individuals who are leaching as many minerals and using as many vitamins and minerals that you’re going to use training for something like Ironman, supplementation becomes paramount. So the RDA has kind of the recommended daily allowances, the minimalist approach in terms of the multivitamin supplements that Americans can be getting. But a lot of times you need a lot higher levels of nutrients than the RDA recommends. So, there’s not a lot of scientific data out there right now for the recommended maximums or the recommended minimums. They’re designed to maintain health in about 95% of the population. So that means 1 in 20 people might need more than what the recommended RDA is to maintain health. And there’s a lot of extrapolations and guesstimates out there about what our minimum should be rather than extensive scientific evidence. That’s why a lot of times you’ll notice that the recommended supplementation protocol for various minerals and vitamins will change. Magnesium has gotten higher and higher as the years have progressed as more research has come out that shows that people are chronically magnesium deficient. So, yeah. There is a definite case for multivitamins and there’s a definite case for taking multivitamins that might go above and beyond the RDA. Now as far as the expensive urine question, yeah. Some multivitamins don’t dissolve properly. They don’t absorb properly. There are two different types of multivitamins you can get. One is just a regular multivitamin. Think about it in terms of just letting all the nutrients in it out into the stomach in a single burst. And then you have time release formulas that are supposed to produce more of a steady stream release of the nutrients throughout the day. And the time release formulations are typically a little more expensive because the idea is that the body cannot use some of the stuff that gets released in a single burst, so it gets excreted through your urine or your sweat or your stool. So, what you could do is you could just take the regular tables and cut them in halves or cut them into thirds and quarters and take one with each meal of the day if you wanted to split the absorption up. I don’t know many people that are practically going to do that. Most people want to grab their multivitamins, drink them in the morning or swallow them in the morning or swallow them in the evening and just call it good, not have to worry about taking it at multiple points throughout the day. If you really want to find out if your multivitamin is going to dissolve quickly enough for you to actually be able to absorb it, then what you can do is you can actually take some vinegar – like white vinegar – you can put it in a bowl and actually warm that bowl of vinegar up to about 98 degrees, and the way that you do that is you actually put the bowl of vinegar inside a larger bowl of water that you fill with hot water until the vinegar gets up to 98 degrees. So you got a thermometer sticking out of that vinegar. Then once it reaches 98 degrees which is going to approximate physiological norms, you drop your multivitamin or whatever pill you’re looking at absorption rates in – you drop it in the vinegar and you kind of shake and jostle the vinegar about every five minutes or so. This is kind of a big task but it’s something you could do. A home experiment, do it with your kids. You could either stir the vinegar, but make sure you don’t touch the tablet if you do that. So if it dissolves within 30 minutes which is kind of the gold standard, especially for any pharmaceutical tablets, then it will be dissolved in time to get absorbed by your body. If it doesn’t dissolve within an hour, it’s probably not doing you a lot of good. So that’s one way you can look at the absorption rate. I would recommend if you’re able to that you just go with a time release formula. As far as the other inactive ingredients you’re going to find in multivitamins – that’s another thing that you need to be careful of. A lot of vitamins and tablets are going to have fillers. They’ll have… for example some multivitamins have a formula which includes oil and water and the oil and water doesn’t mix together well enough so the manufacturer will add some filler ingredients so that the tablet can be big enough or stable enough to hold both the soluble and the insoluble or the water soluble and the water insoluble ingredients. A lot of people are allergic to some of these fillers. They’re going to include lactose which is a milk sugar. So if you have lactose intolerance, you might not be tolerant to those pills. They’ll have cellulose, corn starch. A lot of times, sugars like sucrose, fructose, dextrose, all those are used as fillers. Whey can be used as a filler. Yeast can be used as a filler. They also put binders into multivitamins. Things like xantith gum and something that’s basically… it’s like an acrylic resin that they put in to help bind the ingredients together. A lot of times they will coat the tablet so they don’t break apart in your mouth. So it masks any unpleasant taste. A lot of times that coating contains colorants. So if you want to avoid dyes, if you want to avoid potential carcinogens then that’s something you would want to look for in the ingredient label. Then there’s a lot of times lubricants that are coating the outside of the table, especially with a capsule but that could be like a stiric acid, magnesium stirate, a polyethylene glycol and even hydrogenated vegetable oil. So there’s a lot of things that can be in that multivitamin. Now what you would want to look for is preferably something that just had a little maltodextrin based food starch in it and then other than that, not a lot of fillers, not a lot of binders and a lot of times those types of capsules or multivitamins – you have to take in a higher number of capsules per dose. So, for example the one that I take… I have to take 6 when I take my multivitamin, but that allows me to take a multivitamin that doesn’t have as many fillers and the binders in it to be able to compress it into one tiny little multivitamin. Probably the last thing to look for Bob would be that you get your multivitamin from what’s called a CGMP facility and that means Certified Good Manufacturing Practices facility and that means that the FDA has developed regulations that these facilities need to follow. So, there’s this act called the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act, and what that does is it lays down regulations that supplement manufacturers have to follow and still are required to follow for GMP regulations similar to those that they have for food. So you want to look for your multivitamin to be CGMP certified. So with all that being considered, let’s check out this ActivZ9 product that you mentioned, just to show you how to look at a multivitamin. So I’ve pulled out the food label on this and it looks like it’s getting its vitamin A from a carrot source, vitamin C from acerola cherry, vitamin D from yeast fermented with soy. If you have a soy intolerance you might want to consider that. The vitamin E is from mixed tocopherols, again from soy. Ok so if you’re a woman or you’re trying to limit the phytoestrogens you’re consuming, if you have a soy intolerance – something to think about. As I move down the list, all of their B complexes are made from yeast, again fermented with soy. Then we get down to their mineral profile. It’s got magnesium in it. Only 100 mgs. Most of my clients are taking 500 to 700 mgs of magnesium now. So you’d want to supplement with an additional magnesium source if you’re using something like this. And then they have what a lot of multivitamins have now, which is a whole food antioxidant complex. Their’s in particular is grape skin extract, grape seed extract, green tea extract. A lot of curry like supplements. Again good antioxidants, good for combating free radical formation. They have boron which is kind of an amino acid precursor. Vanadium, which helps to stabilize your appetite. They have a plant enzyme blend of different enzymes that help your digestive system function. So yeah, they’ve got some good stuff in there. Some stuff to be cautious with for some of the reasons that I mentioned. So yeah, it’s one that you’d have to look at yourself on a case by case basis and decide if that will be for you. The one that I take is EnerPrime. The one that my wife takes is called EnerEssence. And I talked about that on the show last week. I’ll actually put a link to that after your question Bob, so you could look at the EnerEssence or the EnerPrime and see what I’m currently taking for my multivitamin, what my wife takes and hopefully that will give you some direction. So great question.
Heidi Asks: Hi Ben, I am a new listener and I think I am addicted to your podcasts. They are great. (Thanks Heidi.) One question for you. I was just diagnosed with Mono. I used to be in the gym doing cardio and weights nearly every day but now, I have zero energy and have packed on about 10lbs. It’s really frustrating because I know that I need to get back in the gym, but just going to work drains me. What can/should I do? Thanks so much.
Ben answers: Heidi, don’t be in a hurry to get back into the gym. Mononucleosis is pretty serious. It affects your liver. It affects your spleen and your body actually needs rest in order to recover from an attack of mono. I would be focusing on some natural home remedies to help you. I would be focusing on some specific dietary supplements and food intake rather than really chomping at the bit to get back in the gym because your body needs some R and R and you can’t force healing when it comes to mono. Some popular home remedies that I know of – one would aromatherapy, eucalyptus and lavender are pretty easy to get in terms of essential oils that you can just add to a warm bath and soak in for about 30 minutes on a daily basis to help relieve some of your fatigue. Garlic has been for thousands of years used as a potent fix for viral infections – not a fix, but a preventive medicine against viral infections and can often help you feel better if you’re taking it while you have a viral infection. If you’re getting a sore throat with the mono, a couple of things you can gargle with – again very easy to find and get your hands on that kind of coat your throat and help it to feel better – slippery elm bark is one. Licorice is another. And one that I do quite a bit is salt water. You can gargle with salt water if you feel a sore throat coming on and it works quite well. The other thing that you can use to help drain your lymphatic system or cleanse your lymphatic system – something called a wild indigo plant extract as well as a cleaver extract, and these are things you can talk to an herbalist about or you could go to your local health food store. A lot of times they’ll have a dispensary with an expert on staff who’ll be able to help you a little bit more with items that are known to be lymphatic system cleansers. And then things that can help reduce your fever like an elderflower or something called yerro can also have some medicinal properties for fever reducing. Now as far as your diet, one of the things you really need to do is adhere to a strict healthy diet plan to boost your immune system. So make sure that you’re eating several times per day. Try not to go real long between meals but keep nutrients coming in. So make sure you’re getting your fresh fruits, your vegetables, lots of unprocessed foods, shop around the perimeter of the grocery store. You’ve heard me say that before. Drink lots of water. At least two liters of water a day to flush toxins out of your body. Some supplements you should consider, vitamin D. That will help to boost your immune system and support recovery. Essential fatty acids, very big fan of those for immune system health. Magnesium, again a mineral that’s going to be crucial to supporting your body while it’s weak. Vitamin C and zinc, very good for the immune system. Another I would highly recommend as a natural antiseptic and antiviral would be oil of oregano extract which you can literally just put a few drops underneath your tongue before you go to bed at night or mix into a glass of water. I don’t travel anywhere without oil of oregano. I put it on my toothbrush when I’m traveling, into cups when I’m in places where I’m not quite sure if – like a hotel room where I’m not sure where the water’s been. I put that oil of oregano on everything. It helps out quite a bit. As a matter of fact, I just put some into my glass here in the hotel here in Jamaica and my water tastes like oregano now but that’s ok with me. Avoid meats as much as possible. You don’t need to eat a lot of meat. Avoid a lot of saturated fats. Avoid a lot of caffeinated or decaffeinated type of canned beverages or bottled beverages and avoid lots of exercise or stressful activity. In other words, give your body some TLC and let it recover before you think about getting back in the gym. I realize it’s hard when you feel like you’re losing your fitness but you really want to bounce back from the mono and it’s not something to play around with.
Eric asks: I have seen pro triathletes ride in their Ironman races carrying only one bottle that is typically tucked behind their seat. I have never seen any other evidence of other ‘places’ or potential sources like bulging jerseys with gel packs, etc. for fueling needs. Are these people just so well trained that they simply do not need to fuel much during their 112 mile ride, relying on their fat stores as fuel? If that is the case, how the heck do they do that? Genetics? Training?
Ben answers: Ok. What I did Eric was first of all I checked into this for you because over at www.slowtwitch.com, which is a great triathlon website, they take a lot of fantastic pictures of Ironman triathlon. They take the top 15 female cyclists and the top 15 male cyclists and in those pictures you can kind of see what these people are carrying. And definitely if you’re only one seeing bottle on a bike that means they are filling that bottle with water as they go through the aid stations and they may actually be grabbing fuel at the aid stations as well. It’s actually served at the aid stations. But while I have you listening, let me scroll through the top 15 Ironman World Championship finishers. Craig Alexander. Two bottles on the back. Definitely some bulges in his jersey. One bottle on the down tube and one arrow drink bottle. So four bottles total for him. Chris Leato, fastest bike split of the day. One arrow, two bottles, one big… looks like about a 28 to 30 ounce both behind him and one fuel flask on his bar as well as another water bottle on the down tube. So there’s another 3 bottles and a flask. Who’s this? Andreas Raelert? He’s got 1 bottle on the down tube, 1 bottle on the arrow and 2 on the bike. I’m just going to do the first five guys here. Because you’re starting to see the pattern. Chris McCormack has got one 20 ounce bottle on the front, one 20 ounce bottle on the down tube and his jersey is like overflowing with stuff. And then we’ve got Rasmus Henning, two bottles on the back, one bottle on the down tube, one arrow bottle – so that’s again four bottles total. And a lot stuffed in the jersey as well. So, I hate to say this Eric but I would say that you’re probably wrong about that in most cases, but when you write I’m guessing they’re getting that extra fuel just from aid stations as they go by if they’re not carrying a lot with them. We look at the top females. Chrissy’s got one front tube bottle. One down tube bottle. One bottle on a rear mounted water bottle. So she’s got three and it looks like she’s got some other fuel sources taped with electrical tape to her top tube. Miranda Carfrae, one arrow, two bottles on her seat, one bottle on the seat tube, and again bulges coming from her jersey where you can she she’s got gels stuffed back there. Virginia, the girl from Spain whose last name I can’t pronounce, she has one… ok so there we go. There’s somebody with one water bottle. Her foot’s up so I can’t see. She might actually have two but she’s got a heck of a lot of stuff taped to her top tube. Tereza Macel, she’s got… ok… wow. Ok, there it is. She’s riding a Cervelo P4 with that water bottle kind of stuffed in between the down tube and the seat tube. And then finally Samantha McGlone has a… looks like one down tube, one seat tube and a jersey packed with stuff. So there you go. Hop over to Slow Twitch and you can see some of those photos and what the pros are doing as they fuel. So they definitely are taking in fuel. But good question.
Jason Asks: My question is about weight training in the off season. In the past coming from a mindset of weight training for muscle size I have always lifted in an Olympic style of lifts, but now going into my 5 season of triathlon I am considering a more core style of training. The workouts that I have looked at as far as mass produced are P90X, Cyclo-Core, and the book Tri-power.So my question is if I only have 2-3 days for strength what should I focus on, or if I have 3 days what do you think of doing 2 core workouts and one Olympic workout? I have seen a improvement in my run from a little more core work out last year but I am not sure how to judge my core fitness to give myself the appropriate workout. P..S I really appreciate your podcast and all the great information on diet and exercise that you put out there, I think that you are making a difference in the fitness level of America.
Ben answers: Mmm. It kind of depends what they’re doing when they listen to this podcast, Jason. If they’re sitting around on the couch eating bonbons and Cheetos… hopefully not. I think most of the people out there are swimming, biking, running, weightlifting or engaging in other physical activities while they’re listening to the podcast. So hopefully I’m making a difference in the fitness level of America. But to answer your question, I don’t know if you know this, I have written a book about weight training for triathletes that includes some offseason instruction. It’s over at the www.thestrongtriathlete.com. That’s the www.thestrongtriathlete.com. You can check this out, but here is what was used to create that program. The idea that periodization is important – that actually focusing on something specific in the offseason is important and in this case a foundation of supportive strength. So you’re looking at wanting to do a little bit lower number of repetitions. Usually in the 8 to 10 rep range. Anywhere from 3 up to about 5 sets choosing full body exercises like some of the Olympic style lifts that you’re talking about as well as if you push for time, doing things in a circuit style format with minimum rest between each exercise. Now, there are a lot of different spinoffs of that program you could do. For example, one of the programs that I have a lot of my athletes on Training Peaks do is we have a lot of single leg exercises. A lot of rotation exercises. A lot of kind of difficult… make smoke come out of your ears types of exercises that are all designed to improve neuromuscular balance, stability, mind-muscle connection and the stuff you’re not going to spend a lot of time doing race season. And I call those… I’ve basically got a swim, a bike and a run phase one that they do for four weeks, phase two that they do for four weeks and phase three that they do for four weeks. I actually did put that workout up on Training Peaks as a separate plan that you could buy by itself. I don’t remember how much it is. I think it’s something like 59 bucks to get that 12 week program. But what it comes down is not worrying a lot about fitness. Worrying a lot more about your foundation, about your strength. About your neuromuscular coordination and worrying about fitness later on when you’re going to need a lot more if you’re doing this in terms of wanting to get ready for a race season. So hopefully that answers your question.
Ace asks: Hey Ben! I’d like to suggest a topic for one of your upcoming podcasts. I am very curious about the impact of triathlon or heavy training on the female’s reproductive system. There seems to be two paradoxical cases: Female triathletes who manage to have kids, despite being on the pill for many years of training. Being on the pill to avoid menstruating during races and training. Second paradox or case – female triathletes who have apparently permanent amenorrhea, and are not sure if they ever can have kids. Also, between progesterone, estrogen and testosterone, which one an amenorrheic female athlete lacks and what impact does that have on the long term? Second part of that question, if the athlete has a healthy diet and had enough calcium, potassium, vitamin D and magnesium in her diet, can she still risk having osteoporosis?
Ben answers: We could fill up a whole show with the answers to those questions, Ace. So what I’ve done is I’ve contacted Dr. Caroline Dean, Dr. Caroline DeMarco and Dr. Roby Mitchell – three of the top kind of women’s hormones type of specialists in the country and I’m going to have one of them come on the show sometime in the next couple of weeks to address those questions. So, I think those are really good questions. But I think it would be too much to try and fit that question into today’s podcast. So look at an entire podcast in the future being devoted to female athletes and some of the hormonal issues that they face during exercise.
And then I have a couple of call–up questions. The next one is from listener Madeline with a question about swine flu.
Madeline asks: Hey Ben, my name is Madeline. I went to the gym the other day and I was asked by the staff if I wanted to get a swine flu shot. I was wondering what you were thinking about all that stuff. Thanks. Bye.
Ben answers: Ok, the night that I played this voice mail, CBS actually came out with their report that showed that reports of the swine flu were grossly estimated and that our “epidemic” was far less serious than what we had been led to believe. I am not a physician. I’m not the expert on swine flu. I do have a very strong opinion on this topic. Similar to the last question there’s not a lot of time to get into it. So I’m going to devote an entire episode, and because I know this is time sensitive, it’s going to be the next episode. We’re going to devote that entire episode to the swine flu. And again, I’m going to have one, possibly two physicians on that show. So look at podcast number 67 for that. I do have an opinion on it. I’m sure that some of you can guess what my opinion is on the vaccinations, etc. But we’ll save that for the next podcast. And the last question is from Listener Nick.
Nick asks: Hi Ben, this is Nick in San Francisco. I have a triathlon specific question for you regarding road bike versus time trial bike used in the winter months. I know a lot of folks that are finishing their race season and they’re excited to get off their time trial bikes and on to their road bikes for the winter months. I realize that it’s good to break up your year and move away from a race set up for a while to recharge your batteries mentally. But I just happen to like the way my TT bike feels and I’m not anxious to get off of it. As we move into the winter months where we’re spending a lot of time indoors on our trainers, I’m wondering are there any physiological reasons to switch over to your road bike and away from your TT bike set up? If your position on a TT bike feels comfortable and you’ve gotten to the point where you can spend hours in your arrow position, is there any real reason to let that go during the off-season? And on a side note, I just wanted to let you know that I just finished the entire Triathlon Dominator training plan and all the awesome bonuses that come with it and I firmly believe that there’s no better value out there on the market for someone who’s training for an Ironman. So I really wanted to thank you for putting that together for us and I really personally feel confident that that plan will deliver me to the starting line next year for my Ironman, prepared and ready to go. So I just want to thank you for that. It’s a great, great deal. And I’m just excited to get started on it. So thanks again and I look forward to your response on this question. Take care.
Ben answers: So, Nick, thanks for the kind words about the Dominator package. I’m glad you like it. And to answer your other question – it depends. If you are a strong cyclist, if you’ve put a lot of time on your time trial bike, if you’ve done a lot of racing throughout the season then not only do you rarely need to get on your time trial bike during the off season but sometimes you don’t even need to get out and bike all that much, at all. We’re talking about triathlon. The guy that won Ironman Coeur D’Alene a couple of years ago, Tom Evans, the word on the street was he didn’t bike or run at all until something like March for that race and that race was in June and all he did was skate ski, which is similar to cross country skiing in terms of the effect that it has on your VO2 max in terms of it being a fantastic cardiovascular and leg strength based workout. So crosstraining would not only be a fantastic mental break for the already strong cyclist but it also could indeed maintain or even increase in some cases weak areas in your cycling protocol. Now for weak cyclists, I do definitely recommend that you not only get on to the bike that you plan on racing on about once every week to week and a half, but you do skills and drills – high speed spin-ups, single leg pedaling efforts, low gear type of mashing efforts to improve your strength, your speed and your skill on the bike in the offseason – that being said I had a fantastic triathlon season four years in a row where all I did was teach spin classes all winter long. On a spin bike. Not on my road bike or my triathlon bike but on a spin bike and I can tell you that this season, I’ve actually purchased skate-skis for both myself and my wife and we plan on utilizing skate-skiing during the times, during the winter – say last winter – we would normally have been on an indoor bicycle trainer. Just to get a change of pace, mental break. A little bit different cardiovascular workout. What it comes down to though and we’ll hear this during the sports psychology interview today is you got to enjoy… if you like sitting on an indoor trainer and it’s a cool way for you to get your aerobic workout and you love your bike and you love the way you feel afterwards, man, go for it. Enjoy what you love to do. But if it’s a drag for you, it’s very easy to build fitness on the bike and if you’re planning on, say, July or August a high priority race, you don’t really technically have to truly start hard core cycling until January. Yeah you can get to be a better cyclist over the winter, but you don’t have to. I have quite a few athletes right now who are touching their bikes about once every two weeks, that I’m coaching and we’re gradually going to increase the frequency of that as we get closer to the New Year, but yeah it’s definitely not necessary to get on that bike all the time if you’re preparing for a cycling event or a triathlon next season.
Wow, I think that actually finishes up this week’s Listener Q and A. So I apologize for the length on that. And also for some of the background noise when we were at the airport. If you have questions, email [email protected]. If you’d like to do a call-in question like some of the Listeners did, you can simply call 8772099439. I will put the email address as well as that phone number in the Shownotes where a bunch of other cool information is. We’re going to go ahead and move on to this week’s featured topic.
Ben: Hey podcast listeners, this is Ben Greenfield and I know that a lot of you out there want to know more about mental toughness. You want to know more about how to motivate yourselves and you’ve been asking for that here on the podcast. So I decided to go out and get one of the experts – one of the guys who actually trains psychologists in the army on how to introduce more mental toughness at the Army Center for Enhanced Performance. This guy’s name is Bernie Holliday. He’s got a PhD in sports psychology. On top of that he’s a certified strength and conditioning coach. We actually both happen to be alumni from the University of Idaho and I happen to know that Bernie was a fantastic athlete and coach down there and he’s got a great background in both sports and sports psychology. So Bernie, thanks for coming on the Show.
Bernie Holliday: Hey Ben, it’s good to be here. I’m excited to be here and thank you and I want to thank your audience for having me.
Ben: Awesome. Well before you go and tell people how they can walk out their front door and run a marathon and it’s all mind over muscle…
Bernie Holliday: I hope so.
Ben: Why don’t you give us a little background in athletics and in sports psychology in where you’re coming from for the people who want to know what experience you have in sports psychology?
Bernie Holliday: Sure. I guess it’s safe to say that I probably share a lot of the passions that your audience shares. I love to be physically fit. I love to be athletic. I love to push my limits and to see where my limitations lie. And just to keep upping the ante as much as possible in my physical development. So I got started as a collegiate tennis player and kind of collegiate tennis head case which is probably what got me into sports psychology in the first place. Just learning about why I compete and how I can compete better and how I can be more tough out there on the court. And once I threw the rackets under the bed forever, I picked up volleyball and played about 15 years of competitive doubles volleyball, grass volleyball, beach volleyball up and down the east coast and just enjoyed approaching that with a different mindset from tennis. Recently it’s been hard to get a lot of volleyball participants and partners where I’m at in New York now so I have recently shifted gears and I guess I’d describe myself now as an ultra-trail running wannabe. I like (audio break) really far, really slow. And I’ve recently picked up this whole CrossFit thing so I’m a bit of a CrossFit newbie. I’m enjoying that but I’m brand new, just trying to figure out the whole community. Sports psychology wise, yeah I went to grad school right where you did, at the University of Idaho. Since then I spent some time teaching mental tissue at the (Everett) Academy in Florida and spent the last six years here at West Point at the United States Military Academy, first helping cadet athletes be better on the field, on the court, be more mentally tough in competition. And more recently I’ve worked with the actual soldiers out there in the army so they can be more mentally tough when they deploy and in their day to day army jobs.
Ben: So to cut right to the chase, Bernie, because it sounds like you’ve just been doing tons in the realm of mental toughness and motivation, what do you think is the underlying cause for someone to not be motivated to compete at the level they’re capable of or even to walk out the front door to work out or to exercise?
Bernie Holliday: Well, this is a hard thing to talk about. I know we talk a lot about whether or not there’s a personality aspect to it and I don’t necessarily think that’s the case but I do think there’s a cultural aspect to it. We talk a lot about how you learn from the culture you’re in. You learn from your community and what to value, you learn to pay attention, you learn how to think, you learn what types of goals to set by the folks you’re around all the time. Now, when you think about means… the concern there is that the majority of the people you’re dealing with are very average, normal people performing in a very normal, average way. So you learn to think in very normal, average ways and set very average, normal goals. That’s (unintelligible) pursuit, but I love working with people who want to be extraordinary in what they do. They want to go after their potential. They want to see what they really have available. They want to set their limits and that means to some degree resisting this social evasion and breaking free from some of these cultural beliefs that you’ve been around all your life. Some of those beliefs might be you don’t want to set a big goal because you’re just setting yourself up for failure. So set something reasonable. Set something realistic. When you feel these nerves kick in when you’re about to do something important, you need to be afraid of them, you got to make them go away because they’re bad. You got to think about your faults so you can fix them and get better. All these things are things that we’ve been taught from society and at the same time they kind of get in the way of a person reaching their potential. A lot of my work is done helping motivate people by helping them resist socialization and start to think in a more extraordinary way about themselves and their capabilities.
Ben: Interesting, so it’s almost kind of like that social norms theory where you look around you and you kind of hold yourself to the standards of the people you tend to associate with, and what you’re saying is you kind of have to rise above the crowd you might be hanging out who thinks that maybe a 30 minute 5k is all you’re capable of or all that they’re capable of or all that the average working individual might be capable of.
Bernie Holliday: Yeah, there’s a guy by the name of Dean Karnazes. He’s a big ultra runner in the ultra running field. He’s written a book called Ultramarathon Man. It’s a great book, if you ever get the chance to read it. But there’s a really absurd quote from him when he’s about 185 miles into a 200 mile race, he comes up with this realization that we as a society seem to have mistakenly associated comfort with happiness and if we’re comfortable, we must be happy and if we’re uncomfortable, we must be sad or we’re unhappy and therefore make that discomfort go away. He has learned through his running career that quite the opposite is the case. And I think that’s what you see with a lot of folks that really excel at the highest level. Not only did they learn to embrace discomfort, they embrace pain. They embrace being a little bit different. But find some kind of meaning and pleasure in it. It’s a bit absurd, but it’s a different mindset from your average person trying to accomplish average things. These extraordinary people take pride in the fact that they can push beyond and they can find pleasure in pain and they can think about a challenging situation in an exciting way as opposed to a threatening way.
Ben: Now do you think that someone actually has the power to do kind of a mind over muscle trick? The reason I ask was I was just down at the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii and I watched the athletes cross the finish line there and they would literally be sprinting for the final 400 meters of that race after being out there for 8, 10, 12, 15 hours. They would cross the finish line and you could literally see almost this disconnect between their head and the rest of their body where they were smiling but their body kind of just melted underneath them like jello. Is there a technique that some of the top athletes use to be able to push themselves to that level that gives them the mind over muscle – the ability to push outside of what they might physically think they’re capable of?
Bernie Holliday: You know, I certainly hope there is. I believe strongly in my heart there is. And what you experienced down there at the Ironman World Championships… was that in Kona?
Ben: That was down in Kona, yeah.
Bernie Holliday: Ok, yeah. That’s really what motivates me. That’s what gets me fired up. Watching people that are able to do extraordinary things that most people would say is impossible to do. It got me real interested to figure out why is it that somebody can pursue a monumental task like that and really accomplish it – defying what a lot of physiologists would say are the odds. And I know a lot of folks really battle internally with that. That runs constantly in their heads. If you’re a 5k runner, a 10k runner – especially if you’re a half marathoner or you want to get involved in half marathons or a marathon distance – you got to learn how to tame that inner voice. Because that’s going to be chirping at you the entire time. And the more it hurts, the louder that voice gets. But we have a saying here, “You got to get in the last word.” Meaning no matter what your thoughts are, no matter how much you battle with yourself and try to convince yourself you don’t have what it takes and you’re going to fail and you got to stop or you’re going to hurt yourself – it’s about getting in that last word. I had a mentor once tell me that your thinking doesn’t have to be perfect. You just got to make sure that the healthful thoughts dominate. And when we speak about the human mind, we typically think about 50,000 distinctly different thoughts every day. And for most normal folks, about 40,000 of those are hurtful or get in the way of you accomplishing goals. So I think the trick is really learning to manage that voice, learning to harness it and exercising what we would call free will. The ability to think about what you want to think despite what circumstance you’re in. I think, Ben, that word “exercise” is key there. Just like you know, in the exercise world – exercises is about getting reps and practice and having a training effect. Well when you exercise free will it’s the same way. It takes practice, it takes commitment and relentless pursuit in controlling your mind, just the way you train your body.
Ben: Well in the same way that being able to push yourself outside of what you might be capable of can help the elite athletes perform at that level or even the non-elite athletes be able to push themselves 12 or 15 hours, are you familiar with what’s called the central governor model? Which kind of implies that you’re going to be able to perform as far as your brain thinks you’re capable of performing? Do you have any thoughts on that?
Bernie Holliday: I don’t know very much about it. I looked a little bit into it… I had a recent discussion about it and it’s the first time I’ve come across it. It may kind of explain why I’m more into sports psychology and more into the exercise psychology realm but I got a little bit fascinated with the idea. I looked into it a bit recently and it confuses me. I’m not really sure what happens. I’m probably not even in a position to speak about what happens, but let’s just say if it does exist I do strongly believe that the people who can really tap into their potential and extend beyond what they thought they were capable of – those are the people who know how to override it. And overriding it is a skill. I can’t put a number on this or a certain date or a certain person, but I have heard multiple times that the brain fatigues about 10% sooner than the body. Like I said, that’s a number that’s very arbitrary but it does, I think, prove a point that the mind tends to give up before the body gives up and if you can learn to have goals, pursue the goals, use effective thoughts in pursuit of those goals, you can sometimes extend that mind’s resilience a little bit further which gets more out of your body.
Ben: Almost kind of like a Jedi mind trick that you actually are capable of running a 6 minute mile and you don’t have to be held back to the 6:15 or the 6:10 you may have run in the past.
Bernie Holliday: Yeah it may not even be a Jedi mind trick as much as it is a Jedi mind skill. It gets better with practice.
Ben: Right. But since I’m not a sports psychologist, I can throw terms around like Jedi mind trick.
Bernie Holliday: Absolutely.
Ben: So what I’m curious about is how about you guys? How do the experts actually motivate themselves to exercise? The sports psychologist walks out the door to go on a run or needs to go to the gym… do you have special techniques that you, yourself use, Bernie, to motivate yourself to exercise?
Bernie Holliday: I’m certainly not the guy to look at here in this regard I can share with you what I do and it may not be the right answer. It may not be the best answer but it’s worked for me. It’s kind of funny you mentioned that because I stumbled across this more recently than something I’ve done for a long time and for me I got to have something on the calendar. I’ve got to have something on the calendar that is going to be pushing me, stretching my limits and making me uncomfortable. So I’ve noticed when I have a race coming up, when I have some kind of a big event planned out three months or six months down the line, it’s so much easier for me to get out and get excited about working out, get to the gym, get out on the trail and just push myself. If that isn’t on the schedule and not on my calendar, man it’s hard to drag myself out of bed to get excited about going out there and suffering for a half-hour, 45 minutes or sometimes longer. For me that’s a big thing.
Ben: Do you think that’s because you want to push yourself to new levels in the competition or because you don’t want to be embarrassed when you show up?
Bernie Holliday: That’s a good question. And it’s one that we come across a lot. You know, I guess when we look at motivation, we typically see three types of individuals that are motivated in three types of ways. It’s probably a blend of all three to be honest if not one specific type over another. We’ve got folks that are motivated to be the best and to come out on the top of the standings. We’ve seen the other group who are just the opposite. Their main goal is not to look bad, not to come in last place, not to be the last person across the line. But then there’s a third group that are much more self-motivated. They don’t look externally to other people but turn inward to see, what was my personal best? What would it take for me to beat my personal best and how could I do that next time? And it seems that these folks who turn internally and look to themselves and try to beat their personal best seem to have more consistent motivation over the long period than folks who look outward and try to beat others or try not to come in last place.
Ben: Interesting. Now your recommendations for people to actually at least try to have some kind of a goal, something on the calendar to push themselves to actually get out of bed in the morning and go for the run or hit the gym in the afternoon after work when they’d rather drive home… to me that sounds like kind of the macro goal that would be out in the future for someone. But what about when somebody finds themselves in the heat of competition, Bernie? When they are hitting mile 20 of the marathon or they’re in the final quarter of a basketball game. Is there a certain technique or a set of techniques that people can use to push themselves through the pain or make themselves step up their effort? Something that you use over there at West Point in terms of teaching mental toughness when you get late in the game.
Bernie Holliday: You know, this probably has to be set up prior to that moment. If you hit that moment, it’s probably too late. Unless you planned for it in advance. So in the army, they have this concept of having a battle buddy and you use your battle buddy to hold each other accountable. You have a battle buddy that can support one another and if you want to apply that to exercise, fitness and health – peer pressure is a great motivator. And I’d encourage anybody who’s going to do their first 10k to tell anybody who will listen that you’re going to do it. Because I’m telling you when you hit that 5th mile and you just feel like quitting and everybody else is way ahead of you, and you’re starting to question yourself, the fact that you told 500 people that you’re going to run a 10k that weekend… it’s probably going to push you a little further than if you didn’t tell anybody. It’s a lot easier to quit and pull over to the side if nobody knows that you’re doing it. So, I think using battle buddies in that way – announcing to them, asking for their support and they’ll pop into your head when you start to struggle in that moment. I think you’re not just performing for yourself then, but you’re performing for your battle buddies so you don’t let them down. That’s always been a great motivator.
Ben: I would imagine especially in the realm of social networking, in the age of Facebook, Twitter and email and all that – it’d probably be even easier. I guess I’ve never really thought about that but I have before on Facebook logged in and said hey I’m about to go for a 10 mile run. Just kind of one of those narcissistic tell the world what you’re about to do on a social network. But you know I have noticed when I do something like that, I tend to go on the run.
Bernie Holliday: Yeah, you may call it narcissistic, you may call it strategic but either way it’s going to keep you on that run because you know people are going to ask you (unintelligible) I got a DNF. Did not finish. It’s a very hard thing to have to swallow so yeah it’s going to push you a little more. It’s a great example. Facebook and Twitter have changed our world and I think provided some opportunities for us to be able to leverage battle buddies and leverage that social support network out there.
Ben: Interesting. I think that’s a really good suggestion to use that peer pressure to push yourself when it’s getting hard. Now as far as the different types of personality types that are out there that you kind of briefly went over, Bernie, in terms of some people being externally motivated, some people being internally motivated… do you actually have screens or questionnaires or some way that you help people to identify how they are motivated and then kind of a follow up question to that – once you find out how they’re motivated, do you have a specific technique that you use with that athlete or that client to actually push them to the limit or push them to what they’re capable of?
Bernie Holliday: That’s a darn good question. And I don’t think I have an answer for it.
Ben: Well as far as the internally motivated people and the externally motivated people… if you have somebody that you’re working with, do you have a way to kind of easily tell how that person is going to be best motivated or some type of a system?
Bernie Holliday: Ben, this may steer that question a little bit off track but I think this might get at it as well in a side avenue kind of way. To me, it comes down to the goosebump factor. And that’s what I’ll call it. I don’t really have any kind of inventory or your set of questions where I look to categorize a person. But what I do try to do and I think what we found in our field is that we try to find out which folks have that goosebump image… that goosebump dream in their mind. And what I mean by goosebump is if you have something you really, really want to accomplish 6 months down the road, 12 months down the road and you envision it in your mind and it’s so powerful and meaningful that it actually gives you goosebumps or it actually gives you a chill down your spine when you see yourself accomplishing it… to me that is the first question I ask. What is that goosebump goal you have? If you don’t have one, that’s where we begin. Because you’ve limited yourself right there because you don’t have anything big and powerful and meaningful to pursue. Goal setting kind of works in two ways. You got to have this big, powerful, meaningful, personal goosebump goal out there and that’s what supplies motivation. But then having those day to day goals and the week to week goals, that’s what provides focus and keeps you on track. And you can’t have one without the other. So that’s usually where I start. We spend a good hour talking about goosebump goals. What gets you excited? What gets your blood pumping? What do you want to freaking do? What would be awesome to accomplish? And to let them start from there and work backwards on that.
Ben: Yeah, that’s interesting. You know Ironman Triathlon, which we were talking about a little bit earlier, is very popular and what you find is that a lot of times the race directors will open up those events the day after the race because so many people have been at the finish line the day before literally getting goosebumps and getting very excited watching everybody else cross the finish line and I know for me when I was down there, I literally did have goosebumps watching some of these people finish and it truly inspired me to go and I’ve done Ironman before but it inspired me to want to go do another one. Yeah, I think that’s a really powerful suggestions that you do have to be truly excited about what it is that you want to accomplish.
Bernie Holliday: The biggest mistake that I think we come across when it comes to motivation is this misguided belief that their goals have to be realistic. And to me that’s a little bit absurd because unless you really go out there, give it your all, put some time and effort into it, have the right attitude while accomplishing it – who knows what’s realistic? But there’s this belief that we have to be realistic and therefore we tend to always undershoot our capabilities. And you’re never going to have that goosebump dream of that goosebump goal if you try to limit yourself to what you think is realistic because I think human beings on the whole have undersold themselves. We’ve always shot a little shorter than our target. So, I think that goosebump goal is a really powerful way to gauge whether or not you’re thinking big enough, you’re thinking grand enough in what you want to accomplish.
Ben: Interesting. Now Bernie, do you have special books that you recommend to clients or the people that you work with or websites or resources that you find are good in terms of more information on motivation or sports psychology?
Bernie Holliday: Absolutely. Yeah, would you like me to share a couple with the audience?
Ben: Definitely. Yeah. You may have read Lance Armstrong’s book It’s Not About The Bike. Fantastic book. It talks about the art and science of suffering and how you can actually build the confidence from suffering and in an absurd sort of way use it to propel yourself forward. So I love Lance’s book. I have another mentor and colleague in the business whose mantra has really become learning to be comfortable with being uncomfortable and that’s where excellence lies. You got to become comfortable being uncomfortable and I think Lance Armstrong’s book does a nice job of teasing that out and painting a picture of what that’s all about. I also love a book by Bob Rotella. A lot of the work that I do is influenced by Bob Rotella who works a lot with PGA professional golfers on the mental game. And his book is called Golf Is Not A Game Of Confidence or Golf Is Not A Game Of Perfect. He basically talks about the fact that golf is going to test you, golf is going to challenge you, golf is going to make you look stupid and silly and foolish and that doesn’t necessarily have to impact your confidence. (Unintelligible) you could focus on the present hole at the present moment and get the job done despite the fact that golf will make you look silly. So it’s a great book that really provides some down to earth, down and dirty techniques on how to get the most out of your golf game knowing full well that golf is kind of a fickle sport.
Ben: Interesting. So we’ve got Golf Is Not A Game Of Perfect. I’m going to link to these in the Shownotes and then Lance Armstrong’s book Not About The Bike. And as far as you go, now you’re over in New York right now and you’re primarily working with the Army Center For Enhanced Performance. Do you do any private one on one work with any clientele over there in the New York area?
Bernie Holliday: I do. I take them on a case by case basis. I don’t have a whole lot of time but I’m more than happy to get out and do some talks with groups to take on individual clients who have some goosebump goals and dreams but they’re not quite sure how to pursue them or whether or not they’re mentally ready to go after it yet. Those are the kind of people I love working with. I certainly take some folks on one on one, beyond the army job where I’m working a lot with soldiers and working here at West Point.
Ben: Alright, well goosebump goals is going to be the name of today’s show and Bernie Holliday, thanks for your time, thanks for coming on the show today.
Bernie Holliday: Ben, it was my pleasure. I’m excited to be a part of this. Good luck with everything.
Ben: Thanks. Talk to you later.
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