Do you ever get those days when you don’t want to get out of bed? You’re just so tired or stressed that you don’t even want to try to face the world! I had one of those days recently but rather than hide out under the covers I decided to go for a walk.
While out walking I started to relax and even (dare I say) enjoy myself. After a few months of being sedentary, due to health issues, I’d forgotten how good movement is for me. I remember having a discussion with John Feldmann once about how humans are supposed to be on the move and out and about doing stuff–back to the whole hunter-gather basic human instinct tip.
After feeling invigorated and clearer after my walk, I consciously made a decision to start to incorporate more movement into my daily routine. I’ve started walking most days and amped up my yoga practice. My Jhonny also picked up a Punk Rock Aerobics book for me on one of his op shop book reconnaissance missions. It’s full of D.I.Y. exercise programs; A top 6 punk rock physique list: 1. Henry Rollins 2. Glenn Danzig 3. Iggy Pop 4. Kim Gordon 5. Ian MacKaye 6. Joan Jett (thoughts? who would make your top 6?); cardio workout playlists that include Sleater-Kinney, The Clash & Ramones! There’s also Q&As with J Mascis, Thurston Moore and John Doe and more. Punk Rock Aerobics makes exercise super fun!
I also decided to get some health tips from a couple of my friends–Rob Fusco (Most Precious Blood/One King Down) and Erika Mitchener (Eightfold Path Records)–from the punk and hardcore community that are personal trainers. Here’s what they had to say:
What is one single thing that I could do/start doing right now that would dramatically improve my health?
ERIKA MITCHENER: For your body, do some form of exercise, EVERYDAY! Run, bike, walk, do lunges, pushups, crunches, jump rope, stretch…
ROB FUSCO: First off, thanks for taking a few minutes to ask a beginner like me a few questions. I’ll do my best to answer. That being said, my opinion is that any dramatic improvement in health must first manifest in the mind and perspective of the person. All change begins in the mind. If you can’t visualize it, whatever it is, there is almost no chance of manifestation in reality.
In terms of concrete steps that one might take, they’re simple: drink LOTS of water, don’t over-eat (in other words, control your portions and don’t eat when you’re bored – eat when you’re hungry), and get out there and fucking do something! It doesn’t really matter what. If you enjoy something, you’ll be more likely to stick with doing it as a habit, so choose a physically demanding activity which you can give yourself over to consistently. Remember that consistency of stimulus is more important that intensity. The body is a complex adaptive system which responds to the most consistent messages which it receives. Send it a message of sedentary life, corn chips and mountain dew, and it will adapt accordingly. If you send it a message of energetic activity, good hydration practices and quality calories, it will adapt accordingly. For over 75% of the human population, anything outside of total bed rest is going to produce an adaptation response. Once a person starts to hone their blade a little, only then will it make sense to periodize and get a little more specific with their training. Most people, however, have to undergo something of a foundation phase before any specific adaptations can be expected to occur.
Do I have to join a gym? (I don’t have a lot of cash)
ERIKA: One of my missions for my personal training business is to teach people that a real lifestyle change starts at home. I love to show people how to get results they want with a few pieces of equipment at home. You can get a kick ass workout with just a stability ball, a set of dumbbell weights, bands, yoga mat, jump rope and a watch to clock your cardio.
ROB: Not at all, unless you are on fire to do some kind of artificial-environment work, like olympic lifting or power lifting which requires specific equipment and environment. Probably one of the best things you can do is to invest in a good kettlebell, do some research from online and bona-fide live person sources on how to correctly swing, clean, snatch, press, squat and perform the Turkish get-up, and the possibilities and combinations of movements are virtually unlimited. You can swing a kettlebell in your home, in a park, wherever there’s room. It doesn’t really matter. Needless to say, I’m a huge KB fan. I would say that if you were looking for an exercise protocol which kept you breathing heavy and sweating profusely (aside from the obvious), kettlebell work is where it’s at. Outside of that, still, you can exhaust yourself and create a positive adaptation in the body just by doing standard bodyweight workouts.
Anyone who complains that they can’t train because they lack a gym or equipment or whatever is simply making excuses for their laziness. I have more respect for people who just say outright that they’re lazy and don’t care to do the work instead of creating excuses to justify themselves to other people. That shows a serious psychological flaw which must be addressed and corrected before anything else of value can happen. Give me fifteen minutes with such a person and I will guarantee you that after I’m done with them, they will NEVER complain about not being able to get an effective training session in due to lack of equipment. If you’re subject to Earth’s gravitational constant, you can be trained. That’s the only prerequisite, and I’m confident that most everyone falls under that category. There are no excuses.
What is your current daily fitness/nurturing routine?
ERIKA: I’ve been eating A LOT. Generally, I try and stay away from highly processes food, sugars, wheat and soy and coffee. Sugars are my weakness. I work part time at Trader Joe’s, so I’m surrounded by sugar treats in the back room and people baking things like pineapple upside down cake for fun. Breakfast is generally the most important for me and I try to not eat at least 2 hours before I go to bed. I like to start out the day with a complex carbohydrate, healthy fat and protein.
I’m pretty spoiled as far as my daily fitness routine is concerned because I live in Santa Barbara, CA by the beach. I either ride my mountain bike from my house on a sweet mountain bike track, or I go for a run through a local park, go up and down a GIANT KILLER sets of stairs that lead to the beach. When I go for my run on the beach I stop at park benches and do push ups, triceps dips, crunches.
ROB: There is no such thing for me. The only consistent work I do is in the evenings on my C2 erg and my airdyne bike before my bedtime routine. Otherwise, my daily workout(s) can consist of anything from recovery movements and body weight stuff to high-intensity circuit work, barbell complexes, kettlebell work, tabata circuits, Olympic lifting, plyometric and jump training… and every so often I take a rest day, though that’s rare. My main point here is that there’s no single workout I do every single day. I test myself to see which energy systems need the most work, I program out for the month, get after it, and make tweaks and adjustments along the way based primarily on my ability to recover. And in so far as nurturing… well, that’s not a word I would readily use to describe just about
anything that goes on in my life. The definition is relative, I suppose.
You practice vegetarianism/veganism, what are the biggest health benefits you’ve experienced since changing your diet?
ERIKA: I’m not a vegetarian anymore. I stopped started to include fish into my diet for health reasons. For the record I was the expert on vegan bodybuilding in my personal training school. I did a great job clearing up a lot of the myths about protein. I found out that I was actually allergic to most forms of foods that vegetarians and vegans get their protein source from, and had to accept a change. So I opted for fish. Ironic, because I HATED, HATED, HATED seafood and ALL fish as a kid. But, choosing between a fish and a cow, I choose the fish. Spiritually and emotionally it was really hard for me make the initial change.
ROB: My diet, regardless of macronutrient ration and the sources thereof, is based around my training and recovery. Again, since changing the way I THINK about diet, my health and overall fitness level has improved. I reiterate: much depends on one’s perspective. You’ll get nothing out of a “diet” you put no thought into. The same holds true for just about anything. To get the juice, you’ve got to squeeze the orange.
Photo of Rob by Natalia Balcerska
Tell me about the benefits of practicing yoga/martial arts?
Erika: OHHH! My favorite questions so far! I do both, depending on what I’m energy trying to work out. When I practice yoga, it restores my sense of groundedness. It gives me more ability to focus and be more mindful in my speech and actions. Like after yoga class, I’m just so level headed and not stressed out about anything. Sometimes it’s hard for me to even have a conversation after yoga class and I move slower with more awareness.
My martial arts practice is about self discovery and working out my negative emotions. There is nothing better than that! (Except maybe a Cro-Mags set at CBs) Martial Arts was my first outlet for emotions because I started training when I was 12 with an adult class. It taught me confidence, kept me away from the temptations of drugs and drinking, and gave me a place to fit in socially. The dojo was not just an after school sport, they became more like my family. So as an adult, when I’m faced with hard times, get depressed, frustrated, hurt, unclear about my future, I bring back my martial arts practice into my life on some level.
What are your all time favourite health tips?
ERIKA: Everyone should know their daily protein intake needs. I get asked that question the most. Also, when people try to do the high protein/ low or no carb diet they totally off balance their needs. Instead of no carbs, which will makes you tired and cranky and leave you dragging in your workouts, choose healthy clean burning complex carbs. Instead of eating twice as much protein and having your kidneys have to break down all the extra and pee it out every 24 hours, eat just what is needed for your weight. For your weight in Kilograms Weight in kg x 0.8 Example: 82 kg x 0.8 = 66 g of protein For your weight in Pounds Weight in pounds divided by 2.2 = weight in kg Example: 130 lbs. ÷ 2.2 = 59 kg Weight in kg x 0.8 Example: 59 kg x 0.8 = 47 g of protein.
ROB: Drink water. Whatever you do, do it consistently and with focus. Don’t waste your time and energy on stupid people. Don’t eat like someone who’s trying to kill themselves with food – eat to recover and live. Get TONS of sleep – take naps before your pre-bedtime naps (people heal and grow only when they sleep). Don’t treat your body like a fucking dumpster. Stay off the drugs (alcohol in excess included) and cigarettes if you give half a fuck about yourself. Respect your body and listen to what it has to say. Don’t let your ego write checks your body can’t cash. Pay attention to recovery. Do what makes you happy.
What have been your biggest challenges in regards to your health and fitness and how did you overcome them?
ERIKA: My biggest challenge in regards to my health was coming to terms with the fact that I had to change my vegetarian diet. I had to honor my body and its needs over my mind and heart. It was weird, for a while I could just feel in my body that my diet(more like a way of life) was hurting me, and I was not the best Erika that I could be. So I had to be gentle with myself and not be so judgmental of myself. It was a good spiritual practice to go through this change. I know that sounds ironic to most of the audience reading this, because most people think that GOING vegetarian is spiritual. I think that accepting changes in life, no matter what they are, (especially if they seem hard at first) that is where we ultimately grow and progress as humans.
ROB: Diet, for sure (I owe much to Lisa Twight – thank you). Learning how to eat correctly is a huge step and it takes work and consistency and discipline. Once I sharpened up and actually paid attention to how many disgusting calories were going into my disgusting body, some pretty remarkable changes began to occur…and quickly! I was able to drop about 11kg in a matter of months simply by being truthful with myself about how many calories went in and how many calories went out. Once I was able to control that ratio, my body became a machine and my mind became a razor.
Is music an important motivator in your workouts? How is it important? What tunes have you been rocking lately?
ERIKA: Music is essential. It pushes me beyond my boundaries in every workout. Lately I have been into Crystal Method, The First Step, Excell, Tool, Slayer, Youth of Today, DJ Baby Anne, the essential Michael Jackson collection.
ROB: It’s an important motivator in LIFE. I would rather be torn to fucking shreds by wild dogs than even attempt to train to some bubblegum house techno or what have you…you know, the typical pretty boy gym soundtrack. It makes me physically sick to my stomach. I’ll go as far as to say that if I had to choose between training to that fucking mindless, talentless garbage and not training at all, I’d stay the fuck home. The 120bpm dumbbell dance party would I think do more harm than good.
Certain songs trigger memory and emotional response. Especially when lifting heavy and you have to take the leash off for the hunt, or if you’re going the distance on an erg, or really whatever your task, it’s crucial to have a correct soundtrack. Just try to do something really physically demanding while listening to something really tame or lukewarm…there’s an element that simply isn’t there. I choose songs that could serve as a soundtrack to a bombing of a city. It makes sense with whatever the fuck goes on in my head once the switch goes from *latent contempt* to *kill everyone and annihilate everything*. And people wonder why I train alone.
Tell me about the importance of nurturing mind, body & soul.
ERIKA: The best way we can honor ourselves, family and community is to nurture both the mind and body. I have a lot of hope for our generation and the next one because we are learning how vital the mind body connection is.
ROB: These are all links in the same chain. What pulls on one pulls on the others. The importance of self-care cannot be overstated. As much as we like to think that we have people around us who will “take care” of us, ultimately the responsibility lies with the individual to act for themselves and their own well-being. Just search a bit, find what works for you (what makes you happy), and unapologetically get after it. No one who respects you will offer an ounce of cavil.
How can I make exercising fun?
ROB: Find something you enjoy, like I said. Also, if you can buddy up or train in a group, that will not only ramp up the intensity, but it will create some friendly (note: FRIENDLY…don’t waste competitive energy on your allies) competition and help foster a sense of accountability.
How do you stay mentally strong and disciplined in regards to your health and fitness?
ERIKA: It is just as hard for me to stay focused and motivated as anyone else. Maybe more?! I’m sure that is why I choose being a personal trainer as my job, because in some way as I teach others, I am reminding myself how important staying mentally strong and disciplined is. I’m SUPER big on goal setting. I have a journal/planner that I keep write my 3 month goals for all aspects of life; fitness, finances, and funtime! I have a real nice planner where break it all down: What my goals are for that month? And lists of things to do for each week, and for each day. This way life seems more manageable and less overwhelming. And I actually accomplish things. in the past, I’ve have a bad habit of putting way too much on my plate and then not following through with half of the ideas, and feeling like I’m some totally loser who can’t do anything. But that’s because I was trying to do everything. The three month goal setting keeps me in check.
ROB: I look around me and see nothing but people who I’d rather be dead and buried than be like. That gives be just about all I need.