Monthly Archives: February 2011

A Product of My Environment?

Some of my "Environment" friends as we completed a 260 mile relay in two days!

So this past Sunday, I’m running down a familiar stretch of road, finishing mile 8 of 14 on the road I grew up on in Hunterdon County, NJ…and about a 1/2 mile up I see a familiar stride coming my way…it’s one of those very distinct strides….one of those where it looks almost effortless for the person… that some of us might love to hate…while others of us can only appreciate….and sure enough, within a brief minute or two, my sister passes me going the other direction with a smile and wave….

Another quarter mile, and I see another familiar gait…this one also coming my direction, and moving at an impressive rate…this one’s a reminder that just when you think you’re pretty good (at my age..haha)…there’s always room to improve as the friendly face (probably about 15-20 years older than me) passes me wearing his Boston Marathon jacket with a friendly hello.  Just one week ago, I had the humbling pleasure to run with this gentleman, a 9x Boston Qualifier, sporting a sub 2:50:00 personal record in last year’s event….that’s faster then 6:30 / mile for 26.2 miles! Wow!  He’s an impressive runner, and we’ve already made some tentative plans to do some long training runs together…it’s always good to have someone who’s “been there” push you!

And yet another quarter mile in….I come up on my wife, finishing her first distance run of the season…a 6 miler….and with all of this happening one right after the other, all on the same stretch of “homeland”….I started thinking……”man, I better be out here or my family / community is going to leave me in the dust”….and so goes the launch into my day dream of how one is a product of those they associate with…those they care about….the community that surrounds them….their environment…..go figure, my brother (not exactly a slacker on the endurance front as he gets ready to tackle his first Ironman!) began his blog last night on a similar topic (follow him at…but mine has a different twist…so read on to see what kept my mind wandering for the next 6 miles.

I started thinking about this whole endurance training & running thing I’m doing…and in a way started laughing.  You see, although I never considered myself a runner, my Dad was training for and completing marathons while my Mom was lugging me around for 9 months…I’ve always wanted to do a marathon….chalk it up to a 30 year old still looking up to his father (he’s a pretty impressive dude).  But maybe because my parents shared in endurance training for 9 months (aka pregnancy and dealing with a husband “in training” for my Mom, and marathons for my Dad), “marathoning” is something I was “born to do”….or at least over the years….something my environment has conditioned me to place value on.

Actually, corny side story….my parents have this joke that my first words were going to be “Shoe-Goo” instead of “goo-goo”, in reference to the glue (called goo) that held the soles of old shoes together…(before the days of “GU” endurance gels)…a pretty bad joke….but not as bad as my Dad’s training partner naming his son (born around the same time as me) “Miles”……like the name…get it “Miles” for a runner…..ughh…thank fully my parents humor has evolved after raising 6 of us!

Anyway, back to being a product of of my environment….can it really be true?  Well consider this, of the 9 colleagues I work regularly, in the last few years this group has completed:

  • 7 Marathons
  • 18 Half Marathons
  • 3 Sprint Triathlons
  • 1 Olympic Distance Triathlon
  • 1 Half-Ironman Triathlon
  • 1 Ultramarathon (50 miles)
  • Countless 5k’s & other various distances

And with 3 half marathoners, 2 marathoners, 1 Ultramarathoner in training, and 1 Ironman in Training…’s a pretty motivating group (and sometimes a little tough to keep up with:)….and oh yeah…only 1 of us was really ever an endurance athlete pre-college!

So if I take myself as a case study….seems like my environment and those that make up it have had a pretty big impact on ensuring I’m LIVE.  I’m sure we can all think about examples where our environment has impacted our life.  Make sure you ask my colleague Nick Pfaff (follow him at about how his environment & social circle has helped guide him to healthier eating….

But be careful…..your environment can work to your detriment too….did you know that according to Harvard Medical School, a person’s chance of becoming obese increases 57 percent if a friend becomes obese, 40 percent if a sibling becomes obese, and 37 percent if a spouse becomes obese?  The impact of one’s environment can be frightfully powerful!

So take a hard look at your environment, what are the things around you that support your goals and efforts, and what are bringing you down?  Choose your friends wisely, surround yourself with like-minded people…and maybe a few you aspire to be like…you’ll be surprised how quickly they can make you feel (a)LIVE!


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Baby Steps….

Bob Wiley (Bill Murray) the infamous obsessive compulsive patient of Dr. Leo Marvin (Richard Dreyfuss) uses "Baby Steps" to overcome his obstacles and be (a)LIVE

Bob Wiley (Bill Murray) the infamous obsessive compulsive patient of Dr. Leo Marvin (Richard Dreyfuss) uses "Baby Steps" to overcome his obstacles and be (a)LIVE

If you’ve been reading along in my last few posts, I’ve been breaking down the components or action steps the research indicates are important as we look to overcome obstacles, induce personal change, function at our best, and lead a more (a)Live life!  Like anything deemed for success, planning is key…..but before we could move on to the “How” of planning to achieve goals or change in our lives, we had to first understand and outline who we were planning for, what we were hoping to achieve….and why (see previous posts).

Enter Dr. Leo Marvin (Richard Dreyfuss) and Bob Wiley (Bill Murray)….if you’ve never scene this 1991 satirical comedy that captures an obsessive compulsive patient’s (Bob) journey to overcoming personal obstacles through “Baby Steps”…be sure to check it out….hilarious!……….and ironically, ample research conducted by the best-selling authors of “Influencer: The Power to Change Anything” would indicate “Baby Steps” are not far off the mark when it comes to achieving goals or change.

Translation to plan English – focusing on the small baby steps, or consistent actions (also called “Vital Behaviors” in “Influencer”) that support the greater Who, What, and Why, has proven time and time again to be an effective planning and strategy for accountability and success.  A few examples that I’ve worked through in my professional and personal life below:

  1. Small Business Growth – fortunately or unfortunately, the reality is that the “big corporate advertising budget” just doesn’t exist in small business…so shelling out cash for advertising time and time again isn’t something consistently realistic….but delivering all I can in a customer service experience day in and day out, with the confidence that the word of this small consistent action will get out and come back through a referral – that’s something I can focus on….it’s a baby step…it’s slow and steady…but it’s winning the race thus far
  2. Weight Loss – know someone who wants to lose weight and has tried every “diet” on the planet…totally confused by the magnitude of conflicting info out there, and jumping from one “magic” formula to the next…only to be totally stressed out when they have to “get on the scale” because they’re so focused on the end goal number that they’ve lost sight of the consistent action it takes to get them there….and eventually it’s overwhelming and too much?  The consistency here is non-existent. Instead, those who are successful identify and focus on a few simple unchanging principles or actions that lead to weight loss:  1) know how much your consuming (i.e. logging)  2) consistently burn more than your consuming (i.e. exercise)  3) Eat as many fruits and vegetables as you possibly can  4) regularly monitor your progress and reflect.  I challenge ANYONE to put these “baby steps” into action consistently (at least 90 days straight) and prove to me that they don’t work for you.
  3. Marathon Training – 26.2 miles in a row by foot, without rest is difficult, painful at times, but extraordinarily rewarding.  But don’t be confused….the way to run 26.2 miles isn’t to just go out one day and say….”What the heck, I’m pretty fit….let’s give it a shot”….there are probably people who can do this…but I’d bet they won’t find it “extraordinarily rewarding”…..instead we need to break this lofty goal into small consistent and progressive action (i.e. a training plan) where we focus on they day’s training task…..or “baby step” instead of being overwhelmed by the end goal.  Some days it’s slow and steady mileage to focus on to build muscular and cardiovascular endurance, some days it’s anaerobic (max intensity) training with less distance but more exertion (speed, resistance, hill, etc.) to increase aerobic / anaerobic threshold, and some days it’s simply active recovery (cross train, stretch, ice, sleep!).

I encourage each of you to take a look and consider deeply what you really want…..why you really want it…write it down in a place you’ll view at least daily, then research / think through 2-3 simple actions that you can do each and every day to support it….schedule time in your day to actually do these 2-3 actions…and a brief few moments to reflect on if you actually did them….tell someone you care about what you’re going to do….and then tell them when you do it….and if you have an extra moment…share your progress with me by posting a comment on this blog…you’d be amazed at how others (including myself) will celebrate in and be inspired by your success!

Not too complex….but not always easy….consistency is key….best of luck as you take action to be LIVE!…and oh yeah, feel free to contact me if you could use a helping hand.

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Why Ask Why?

Over the last 7 years I’ve had the privilege to work with many determined individuals reaching for personal bests.  It’s something that many of us think of often, especially around the turn of the calendar year…some strive for personal happiness or self-worth, some to avoid physical or emotional discomfort, pain or disease……Think about it….it makes sense…be it health and fitness related, professional, athletic or just life in general…..who doesn’t want to “Live Better”? ..

**Side Note** Did you know some research indicates that less than 10% of people keep their New Year’s resolutions:(

In my last few posts I referenced “Who” (i.e. You are the only one accountable to and responsible for your actions), and “What” (i.e. your vision that you are moving toward)…..but before we can draw up a plan (“How”)….we must first understand “Why”?!!…..Why is it that we, as individuals, want to pursue our vision…..our “what”?

In my experience, I have found that those people who can truly answer “Why?” are time and time again the same individuals that develop realistic action plans, set specific milestones and accountabilities, and achieve!  Seems like a deep question for a blog, huh?…..hmm…maybe there’s more to this being “LIVE” thing than a few challenging workouts and fruits & veggies….maybe we’ve got to peal back a few more layers….and reflect on “Why” at the visceral level…..maybe your knee-jerk response to “why” is because “I want to look better”, or “I want to be my best”….but what does that really mean?….I encourage you to take a few minutes…..dig deeper…much deeper.

For me, it’s pretty simple…..I’m a pleaser by nature….but what I most value…. what I am truly driven by… “Why”…is not just about serving others….but is rather the intrinsic feeling of self-worth that comes when I’ve helped guide someone I care about to advancement in their endeavors.  But here’s the trick…..for me, it’s not about simply doing for another person…but achieving together.  And I am only driven to this feeling of self-worth when the other individual(s) I’m working with meet me step for step.

Maybe it’s a client with fitness goals, a friend who’s child needs help focusing in school, or a member of our Pro-Activity family who is proud of what we’re building professionally.  When working together in these times, I am most fulfilled….it’s why I’ll work an additional couple hours when needed….it’s why spending an extra few moments is important and worth it…it’s why it’s important for me to be at my best…it’s why I choose to eat the way I do…it’s why I train for and race endurance events with our company logo proudly displayed….it’s why I pray for those I care about…it’s who I am…it’s why I’m (a)Live!


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Insane in the “Man-Brain”?

So if you, like me, were still in school (middle – college) in 1993 you may remember the catchy tune released by Cypress Hill, “Insane in the Membrane”…..this little ditty popped into my head last week as I stepped outside for what was to be my last base-workout in the  current “base-training” phase I’ve been completing for an upcoming marathon (more on that in another post).  It’s funny, outside of the famous chorus (“Insane in the membrane….Insane in the brain!”), I can’t even recite one line of this former #1 single….but as I ventured out into what felt like the coldest day ever ( said it felt like 7 degrees)….I couldn’t help, “What am I thinking?….This is insane!”……and well…with all the “fun” that Old Man Winter has brought recently…rightfully so….

But while I trucked down Country Club drive and the blood began to leave my numbing fingertips…there seemed to be just enough juice  left in my “man-brain” to reflect and muster up a few insightful thoughts as to why anyone might leave the warmth of their home on a day like this.   A day where the couch looked especially enticing….a day that followed a late night filled with friends, a little too much food, and some “socially responsible” fun…a day where it would be so much easier to just hang out.  But as I hit mile four (of thirteen), and questioned why I was doing this, I remembered something I once read – people, in general, take action to:

  1. move away from or avoid consequence, pain, or detriment………..OR
  2. move toward something truly desired

Think about this for a second…sounds simple, right…and either strategy can be applied in so many instances, both effective.  I firmly believe (and am only further reinforced in my experience as a trainer and coach) that these simple principles are the root of effective personal goal setting, and are a critical first step in personal fitness, personal success, and effective lives!  If last week’s post was the WHO (i.e. “We” should Get Moving), this is the WHAT (to get moving toward or away from).

For me…. WHAT I’m moving towards is a personal best (hopefully) in the Boston Marathon this coming April……and let me tell you, with my fingers freezing, heart pounding and legs pumping throughout Hunterdon County… was most definitely a LIVE experience.   But WHY….HOW…..more on that later…stay tuned!

What are you moving toward in 2011?

This guy is definitely "Insane in the Man-Brain"

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