John Gottman can tell if you’re going to get a divorce. For decades Gottman has been observing couples and can predict with over 90% accuracy which couples will remain married and who will get divorced in the future...Read More
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We live in a tumultuous time filled with great change. A natural reaction to any unsettling transition is fear and a basic manifestation of fear is anger. But while anger understandable…iRead More
The first step to becoming well begins with a productive dialogue...Read More
A true commitment to fitness and the battle for wellness over the long haul can be a grind. Fitness is not about hitting some quick fix goal, but about working through failure...Read More
There are many ways to define the word resilience, but it isn’t an aesthetic quality. Ultimately your health, wellness, and fitness is not quantified by what you look like. But that’s not the message...Read More
It’s been said that everything in life comes down to two opposing forces – fear and love. Literally every action we take is based in fear, or it’s based in love. But however dominant a role fear and love play, we are often unaware of their subtle...Read More
Many of us spend a lot of time ruminating and obsessing over the state of what we look like. As a result, the fitness business has built a juggernaut of an industry predicated primarily on helping you manipulate your body to look a certain way. Indeed, for many ‘working out’ is synonymous with the work of getting their body to ‘look’ fit.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing - there’s nothing wrong with striving for improvement including the desire to have a better looking body. After all, you only have one body and you might as well walk around in one that looks presentable. We all yearn to look our Sunday best – for some that means leaner, while for others it means more defined. But ultimately, how your body looks is of far less importance than how it feels or what it’s capable of doing functionally. A Ferrari may look great, but its longevity and performance is nothing without the proper engineering, motor, and maintenance - not to mention the mentality and skill of the driver.
Indeed, while much is made over aesthetics, where it comes to fitness and wellness, very little focus is spent on how our body moves or feels. To that end, there is an interesting study that came out in Brazil a few years ago that revealed a startling finding – how well you move is directly correlated with how long you will live. The study had people sit down on the ground and then stand up again with as few points of contact as possible. Those that sat down and stood up effortlessly using as few points of contact scored well and those that didn’t and needed lots of support scored poorly. The end result - those with a score of 8 (on a scale of 1-10) or above lived twice as long as those who scored below 8. At each point below 8 participants had a 21 percent greater chance of dying prematurely.
That’s mind blowing to think about…statistically speaking, how well you move equals how long you’ll live. Yet when it comes to fitness, people frequently work out for every reason except to move better. Moving better means finding a functional, graceful, and coordinated way to exercise. Some contend that they aren’t coordinated, but I reject that notion. Being coordinated and moving better is something you can work on just like getting your body to lose weight or tone up. There are many ways to get present and move better. For instance finding a skill based activity (sport, dance, martial arts) helps immensely. A good coach can also help you see and feel what perhaps you cant. It wasn’t until I found a great coach that I found my true rhythm in boxing. In the end, you can’t simply keep manipulating your body to look younger, leaner, and fitter. All material organisms will decay and atrophy. But true fitness and wellness is about the ability to move well - to improve and maintain your grace, health, and functionality.
Following my divorce, I felt like such a failure for throwing in the towel and quitting after making a commitment before God and family. I had never felt such shame and embarrassment, until someone who helped me through the process reminded me that quitting isn’t always cowardly, while fighting isn’t always courageous.Read More
Those questions have become an ongoing dialogue and what started as a question in 2001 has continued on as a quest in 2016. As I now hit 'contol-alt-delete' yet again and embark on a new chapter professionally...Read More
Every time I have chosen the wrong path, my ego was at the center of it. I either had an over inflated sense of self worth, or not enough confidence. Ego...Read More
Perhaps it was his raw vulnerability that made her answer ‘yes’ or perhaps my friend was just being nice and optimistic for the sake of humanity. Perhaps the exchange meant nothing in the end...Read More
When it comes to exercise, we must ask why we are doing it. In the end it is about enjoying the present moment of moving our bodies.Read More
It’s tempting to think that The New York Times is right and we’re all doomed for the narcissistic tendencies that apparently hold sway nowadays. But even more than ego and self-importance, humans are hard wired for connection, love, and virtue. Ironically, it’s the perceived lack....Read More
“True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”
— C.S. Lewis
Some years ago, I was oft injured from over training. One day a practitioner said to me “Eric you can either age gracefully, or you can age foolishly, the choice is yours.” It’s a statement that has stuck with me over the years. That episode is an occasion I know all to well in life - getting served up a nice big slice of humble pie. And while humble pie isn’t easy to swallow, humility is a key ingredient to finding your bliss.
Wherever you are on your journey of fitness and wellness, the one thing that keeps you from whatever it is that you’re seeking is you. The way to triumph past the ego is through the practice of letting go - Letting go of your fears, letting go of false expectations, and letting go of judgment. Like all of us, I have a lot of work to do in letting go and finding humility. This checklist serves me as a helpful reminder:
- Humility is to define yourself by your interior. Ego defines self worth as your job, your body, and your things.
- Humility is the ability to listen. Ego is the desire to speak.
- Humility is the ability to look at your shadow and accept what you see. Ego avoids and/or pretends that there is no shadow.
- Humility is the ability to ask the right questions. Ego is the demand for answers.
- Humility is stillness. Ego is busyness.
- Humility is acceptance of responsibility. Ego is blaming someone else.
Humility is to define yourself by your interior. Humility is the Key Ingredient- EC Stevens
Hearing yourself is easier said than done. In addition to the constant noise that engulfs our busy lives, many of us also play other ‘tapes’ that don’t serve us - That of a parent who said you weren’t good enough, a teacher who said you weren’t smart enough, or a coach who said you weren’t talented enough. Sometimes those voices push us harder...Read More
The reality is that in a race versus father time, you will lose…every time. But that’s not what you see every day when you turn on the television. That’s not what you see in glossy magazines. You are told you should be leaner, younger, and more fit with each passing every year. How exactly does that work?Read More
Certainly you can find convenient ‘bullet point’ answers to those questions. Some will tell you to drink more water, take a pill, wear better shoes, do intervals instead of steady state cardio, do steady state instead of intervals, drink protein powders, and take supplements. But deep down you know...Read More
My favorite bedtime story as a toddler was a book called Busy Day, Busy People. I have fond memories of my Mom’s soothing voice reading aloud and the colorful pictures of people going about their busy lives to and from work and play. Little did I know how painfully accurate that book would become in my life and seemingly the lives of everyone I know. Life these days is busy. Very busy. Work, friends, family, email, traffic, errands, and social media all compete for our short attention spans. Even our leisure time activities tend to have a sense of busyness about them – almost as if we’re proving to ourselves (and others) just how busy we are. Exercise and fitness nowadays also tends to have a ‘multi-tasking’ feel – at the gym music blasts, flat screen TVs show us the latest news, and our fitness wearables count our calories. Indeed, life feels a lot like Busy Day, Busy People.
“The antidote to stress is to find peace of mind – that stillness in your body, heart, and soul. As important as our hectic lives are, the quiet spaces in between those busy moments are what truly matter. ”
— Eric Stevens
But lost in the ‘busy’ shuffle is the thing that matters most in our lives – our health. Health happens when we alleviate stress and being busy doesn’t tend to alleviate stress, it exacerbates it. The antidote to stress is to find peace of mind – that stillness in your body, heart, and soul. As important as our hectic lives are, the quiet spaces in between those busy moments are what truly matter. Especially these days, we must all strive to find the ability be present and listen to ourselves. Exercise and fitness offers us that opportunity if we allow it to. Try a walk in nature, a hot yoga class, or a long bike ride without any distractions and simply listen. See how you feel. Connect to your breath and allow yourself a reprieve from all of the busyness.
When I think back now to that fond memory of my Mom reading Busy Day, Busy People, ironically what sticks out most isn’t the message of being busy, but rather those peaceful and quiet moments with my Mom. Today find your quiet moment and embrace the stillness.
You’ve likely heard of the acronym PTSD, which stands for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD is a very real disorder that affects everyone from our brave combat veterans to those unfortunate enough to have suffered abuse and trauma. PTSD is particularly daunting, for it’s the proverbial 'salt in the wound' - not only do people suffer a traumatic episode, they also suffer again and again in the aftereffects of that trauma through their disorder.
While many of us are fortunate not to have to face the demons of PTSD and the events that bring it about, all of us face significant challenges and suffering at some point in our lives. In the realm of sport and fitness, you will likely suffer setbacks and/or injury during your journey. But misfortune on the field of play and in the expression of our physicality need not be a setback in the long run. In fact, you might contend that setbacks are actually positives in disguise. Even when it comes to permanent injury, many wrongfully assume that those with a disability are likely to be less happy given such trauma. But studies show that this isn’t actually the case. Known as the ‘disability paradox,’ those with permanent disability can very much demonstrate the opportunity for productive lives, happiness, and growth. Much like its oppressive cousin PTSD, there’s also acronym for such growth - “PTG” or Post Traumatic Growth. PTG, also referred to as adversarial growth, suggests that no matter what difficulties happen to us, we can grow, thrive, and prosper in spite of and even because of such trauma.
“...no matter what difficulties happen to us, we can grow, thrive, and prosper in spite of and even because of such trauma.”
— Eric Stevens
My brother had a massive stroke at the age of 30. Among the things taken from him was his status as an expert level alpine skier as well as his passion for riding European motorcycles. Though he had a wonderful recovery and maintains a successful and active lifestyle, he does not have 100% complete feeling on the right side of his body. Double black diamond ski runs and BMW motorcycles are out. You might expect bitterness, anger, and perhaps even bouts of PTSD in response to such a dramatic episode. To quite the contrary, in the aftermath and years following his episode, my brother has gained both wisdom and clarity about his true essence. While I can’t speak for my brother, he almost seems more content because of the worst and most traumatic thing that ever happened to him. Why? The short answers are faith, humility, and the willingness to redefine himself.
“We have to be careful with labels because any material thing can (and most likely will) be taken from you at some point.”
Labels are things we use to determine our self worth – athlete, wealthy, successful business owner, artist, husband. Yet we have to be careful with labels because any material thing can (and most likely will) be taken from you at some point. Your gift isn’t a guarantee. Labels change - Bodies break down, athletes retire, kids grow up, and marriages break up. What matters is taking the good from your trauma to define your next label. Addicts can sober up and spend their lives helping other addicts. You might fail your marriage but what matters is getting that next marriage right. You pick up a new sport, a new gig, or a new hobby. You change the label. My brother turned to his faith and found his strength through humility. He didn’t need toys, activities, or even his physicality to define is self worth. Neither do you.
We are the culmination of all of the things that happen to us. The good, the bad, and the ugly. But circumstances aren’t the mark of the man. Rather, the mark of the man is the willingness to face the day in order to make better on the next one. In life we will define ourselves in many different ways at many different times. Sometimes you’ve got the world by the tail, and sometimes the weight of the world feels like it will crush you.
Changing labels is hard. It’s great fun to be talented and gifted. To feel life you’ve perfected your craft. But some day, you’ll face a trauma. Maybe it will mean the end of your career, marriage, or favorite activity. But maybe that end will mark the beginning of your next chapter. Success ultimately isn’t about talent or wealth, but perseverance - The willingness to try, to grow, to learn from your mistakes. To be better today than you were yesterday. Ultimately what matters is growth. What matters is progress. To learn from your setbacks and be a better person for it.
“We are the culmination of all of the things that happen to us. The good, the bad, and the ugly. But circumstances aren’t the mark of the man. Rather, the mark of the man is the willingness to face the day in order to make better on the next one.”
— Eric Stevens
Remember, being in shape isn’t about being skinny, it’s about being fit and healthy. Period.”Read More