just because it's there

Does your office supply bagels and cream cheese in the mornings, or have a table-full of snacks in the lunchroom?

Bagels, muffins, and danishes show up in my office's kitchen like magic every other Monday morning.

Does your significant other love baking desserts? Brownies, cookies, apple pie a la mode? Yum!

Maybe lunch was catered and there's a full spread.

Or a candy jar at your co-workers desk, always beckoning. You don't want to offend her, right?

Or you could have another helping of that terrific dinner, or an extra slice of pizza.


You don't have to eat it - just because it's there.

- Chris Butterworth


200 posts ago: Fit-20 Workout - sprints, renegade rows, squats

100 posts ago: choosing the right workout partner


running for dinner - or running from dinner

RunKeeper tells me I ran approximately 12 miles last week and burned about 1,400 calories.

I'm not saying whether that's good or bad, a lot or a little, and I didn't run all 12 miles at once. I ran 1-3 miles at a time over the course of 6 different runs. There was nothing particularly notable or astonishing about any of these runs individually, but the fact I was able to consistently get myself out of bed (when it's still dark outside) to get my day started with a run... That's an accomplishment which took some dedication and perseverance, even if only for a week.

This weekend was hectic around our house (even more so than normal), and we were getting into Saturday evening without a dinner plan. At one point while we were in the car I considered stopping at the local Applebees, just so we could take a break and let somebody else prepare dinner for us.

If we had eaten there, I would have ordered the boneless wings (810 calories) with classic buffalo sauce (200 calories) and french fries (440 calories) - that's 1,450 calories for dinner, and that's if I'm able to stick with water to drink!

Turns out waking up early and motivating myself to get out the door for a run 6 days a week is exactly what it takes to offset one dinner at a restaurant (1). Just think how much I would have to run if we ate out more often..!

Luckily for me our last event of the evening was behind schedule, and we decided it was too late to stop off for a long sit-down dinner.

- Chris Butterworth

(1) - I've written many times that it's possible to order small at a restaurant and be ok on your eating plan. But for me, hungry at the end of a long, hectic day, I would have ordered a "regular" sized portion that night, and I would have cleaned my plate!

200 posts ago: FDA approves new weight loss pill - just what we need

100 posts ago: goals and resolutions - an 8-point primer


potential is a dirty word

Potential is great, for kids. They're smart, industrious, inquisitive, funny, athletic - they can be anything they want to be, and the world is their oyster.

As you get older, potential isn't such a great thing. It usually describes what you could have been (or could have done), rather than what you are (or are doing.)

But we all still have the potential to be fit and healthy.

Eat a little less, move a little more. Slow and steady. Put your potential back to work - it's time to get healthy.

- Chris Butterworth


200 posts ago: Fit-20 Workout (shadow boxing / mountain climbers / sit-ups)

100 posts ago: the curse of open eyes - seeing calories everywhere you look

are organic vegetables healthier?

are organic vegetables healthier?

basket of vegetables
image from Microsoft clipart.

From an article titled "Organic food not necessarily better for children", consider:
"While organic foods have lower pesticide levels, they also have the same vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other nutrients as their conventional counterparts.
"We do not want families to choose to consume smaller amounts of more expensive organic foods and thus reduce their overall intake of healthy foods like produce," said Janet Silverstein of the American Academy of Pediatrics
A large-scale study by researchers from Stanford University published in early September found that organic foods were no more nutritious than conventional products but contained fewer traces of pesticides."
So, do we go all-in organic?

Like just about everything else, you'll want to tailor your balance of organic vs conventional based on other personal factors:

High vegetable consumption. Do you eat lots of veggies, all the time? You may be at greater risk for the accumulation of pesticides and chemicals inside your body. It's probably a good idea to supplement some of your conventional veggies with organic.

Low vegetable consumption. If you struggle to find your way to the produce isle, and veggies aren't a big part of your diet, you might want to focus your attention on eating these colorful foods first - let's start by increasing your nutrition intake, and you can worry about organic later.

What else do you eat? If you eat mostly pre-packaged snacks and drink diet soda, it's unlikely you're worried about chemicals and artificial ingredients anyway, so don't worry about organic either. On the flip side, if the rest of your diet is natural and artificial ingredient-free, your body might have more capacity available to process any chemicals you digest with your traditional vegetables.

Bottom Line

All else being equal, organic vegetables are healthier than traditional vegetables. You get all the same nutrients either way, but organic veggies contain lower traces of pesticides.

That being said, all else is rarely equal, and traditional vegetables are still a good source of nutrition.

My guess is you have other places in your diet where you can get a bigger impact from making changes, so I would focus my energy on those areas first.

Be healthy.

-Chris Butterworth


are energy drinks bad for you?

are energy drinks bad for you?

Energy drinks have received some negative press lately, as the FDA is investigating their link to 5 deaths and one non-fatal heart attack. But are they really bad for you?

Let's take a look at the main ingredients inside most energy drinks, as well as what some experts had to say:

1. Caffeine

Energy drinks contain caffeine, but so do coffee and most sodas. Is this a bad thing? Let's start by comparing how much caffeine each of these contains:
  • Coffee: 100 - 150 mg in an average cup of Joe
  • Coke: 34 mg in one can of Coca Cola
  • Energy Drinks: 114 mg - 242 mg, depending on the brand.(1)

So, for an adult, energy drinks don't seem to contain an abnormally dangerous amount of caffeine. However, most people don't start drinking coffee until college or early adulthood. Yet energy drinks seem to be marketed to and consumed by high school and middle school students.(me) Experts say caffeine can mess with kids' appetite, sleep habits, mood, heart rate, blood pressure, and more.(2) (3)

Dr Maurice Schneider, former member of the American Academy of Pediatrics committee on nutrition, talks about some of the other ingredients' effects: "There's guarana, which is a plant extract and each gram of guarana is equal to 40 milligrams of caffeine as a stimulant. There's another protein called taurine, which potentiates the effect of caffeine."(2)

2. Sugar

Sugar is the easiest thing for your body to turn into fuel. It's a carbohydrate already broken down into its most basic part, so your body doesn't have to do any further breaking down. This gives you a rush of energy, as your body has this new found fuel to use, followed by a crash, leaving your insulin levels out of whack.

Sugar is the carb of choice in most energy drinks.(4)

3. Vitamins and Supplements

I talked about guarana and taurine above; let's focus on B Vitamins here.

Vitamin B is essential in converting food energy into ATP, which is the form of energy your body's cells can use. So it's critical to have Vitamin B in your body. However, having extra B Vitamins on hand doesn't make your body extra energy efficient. And you're probably getting enough Vitamin B from your regular diet.(5) (6) (7)

I like how Monica Reinagel described it on Nutrition Diva: You can't drive your car if it's out of gas - you have to have some gas in the tank for the car to run. But once you have a minimal amount, that's enough. Your car doesn't run any faster if the tank is full. B Vitamins are like this for your body.(5)

4. Calories

The basic variety of Monster energy drink contains 100 calories per 8 oz serving. But the basic variety comes in a 24 oz can, and I don't know anyone who shares their Monster drink with 2 other people. So, assuming you drink a whole can of Monster, you're drinking 300 CALORIES PER CAN!(8)

Forget all the rest of the discussion - a can or two of this per day will blow your diet up!

5. Dental Health

A peer-reviewed study published earlier this year by the Academy of General Dentistry found that energy drinks contain high acidity levels, which causes irreversible decay to tooth enamel at a very rapid rate.(9)

Of course, the American Beverage Association issued a rebuttal, which, in my opinion, sounded pretty flimsy.

I'd recommend avoiding energy drinks based on this one alone - once you mess up your teeth, they're gone.

Bottom Line

Energy drinks contain more caffeine than what's healthy for kids and adolescents, but if you're over 18 the caffeine shouldn't be enough to hurt you. However, it's probably better to substitute it for your coffee, rather than drinking them in addition to your coffee.

But the rest of the story paints a different picture.

  • They have lots of sugar; I usually recommend cutting as much pure sugar out of your diet as possible.
  • They have additional ingredients which amplify the effects of caffeine, which may wreak havoc with your sleep, eating habits, or mood, if you're sensitive to caffeine.
  • They are high in calories; I'm generally against drinking your calories, especially if you're trying to lose weight.
  • And most importantly, they can rot your teeth.

Personally, I don't think the upside is worth the downside. Drink a 2-calorie cup of black coffee instead.

-Chris Butterworth

slow cooked chicken and black beans

slow cooked chicken and black beans

Have you ever had a meal that was so good you were sad when you were done eating?

We ate chicken with black beans and salsa the other night (slow cooked in a crockpot and shredded), and I ate to excess (and then some.) Then I brought leftovers to work today, and I was literally sad when my bowl was empty.

Photo courtesy of skinnytaste.com - it's not the exact same recipe we used, but it's pretty close (and unfortunately I didn't take a picture of ours before digging in!)

The big key here is portion control.

Doesn't matter why you like this meal so much, or what type of food it is - if you eat until you're absolutely stuffed (like I did the other night), you're taking a big step backwards on your road to healthy and weight loss.

Remember - the road to health and weight loss is filled with lots of little steps forward - mini victories, day after day after day. An overindulgence like this, while not the end of the world, could easily set you back a week or more against your goals.

Set yourself up with a fair portion on your plate or bowl, then eat. NO SECONDS. You can eat more tomorrow, and a couple days after that. You can freeze what's left and have it again in a couple weeks.

But eating it all in one sitting, no matter how tempting that may be, is not the right answer.

Be strong - eat healthy.

-Chris Butterworth


are fitness videos wanna be porn?

are fitness videos wanna be porn?

Try this - go to youtube and search for "fitness"..

Here are 9 of the 25 thumbnails that showed in my search results:

collection of fitness videos thumbnails

Don't get me wrong...

  1. I understand you've put in a lot of effort and have a great body to show for it.
  2. You are (presumably) showing a workout in your video. (I'd better not click to watch these from my office, so I'm not sure.)
  3. Sex sells (as does sexy), and ultimately you're looking to increase views / hits / sales / revenue.
  4. Maybe there's nothing subversive about these, and my mind's just in the gutter. (hey, I can't help it - I'm a guy.) Then again, with titles like "Hot to Trot", "Fitness is Sexy", and "Sexy Body on Fire", I doubt it.

I'm not here to argue for or against; I'm just saying. I occasionally browse videos looking for ideas and motivation, and I'd be afraid to click on some of these from my desk at work!

For another perspective, search on Triathlon or Crossfit, and you'll see a different theme running through the results - lots of dedication, motivation, and commitment.

Keep working out. Keep being healthy. Keep sharing what you've learned. But please, keep it clean.

Am I crazy and flat-out wrong on this one? Let me know in the comments..

-Chris Butterworth


playing the odds - healthy and longevity

playing the odds - healthy and longevity

We've all seen those headlines about diet and exercise reducing the risk of certain diseases, right? Consider this wellness letter from the University of Berkeley in California:

"For every 1% reduction in high blood cholesterol, there's a 2 to 3% decline in the risk of heart attack."

OK - so I reduce my cholesterol and I won't have a heart attack? Well, not exactly. The percentages can be deceiving - they work based on a large population of similar people, but not necessarily for any one individual person.

First lets look at some people who have had unexpected results:

Pope Benedict XVI - the Pope drinks 4 cans of Fanta soda each day, and has ever since he was a kid. (For those who don't know, Fanta soda was created in Europe during the late 1930s. Raw materials were slim due to the war, so they used the "leftovers of the leftovers" for this soda.) Yet, even with all this sugar-soda drinking, the Pope is a healthy 85 years old today.

Jim Fixx - Jim Fixx wrote the book on running. He was a smart guy, he knew about the benefits of being healthy, and he ran a lot. And he died of a heart attack at the age of 52. (turns out he had a family history of heart disease.)

My Paternal Grandfather - My Dad's Dad was not a vision of health. I don't ever remember a time of him being active, vibrant and full of life - he was "old" when I was a kid. (He was very smart though - more likely to challenge me mentally than physically.) He ate pretty much whatever he wanted. He drank more than what was considered healthy. He rarely, if ever, exercised. And through all that, he lived into his 90's.

My Dad - Unlike his father, my dad was Mr. Health. Lots of sports and exercise, with healthy organic foods in moderation. He lived, from a health standpoint, the way every doctor would recommend. And he died from complications of a major stroke at the age of 67.

Taking the emotion out of it, and just looking at the facts - the irony of my Dad's and Grandfather's lifestyles and lifespan brings home the point of this article.

Now let's look at odds as individuals compared with a population

The thing about odds is they work for a population, but they aren't perfect for a small group, and they don't have any bearing on an individual. To illustrate this point, let's go to Vegas:

If you bet $100 on one spin of the roulette wheel to be red or black, you have a 47.4% chance of doubling your money. But the odds don't matter for this one spin; you're either going to have $200 or $0 when the ball lands on a number.

image courtesy of Microsoft clipart

Now, over the course of a thousand spins, you're likely to win about 47.4% of them and lose 52.6%, which means you'll double your money 474 times and lose your money 526 times, which means you'll turn your $100,000 into $94,800 - a losing proposition. (much like unhealthy eating and not enough exercise.)

What if we were able to make roulette healthier, and increase our odds of winning by 20%? (as if we could reduce the game's cholesterol level..) Now, instead of a 47.4% chance of winning, we have a 56.9% chance. That's a lot better, right?

Not necessarily for any one individual. Spin the wheel one time, and you'll end up with either $200 or $0; there still isn't a middle ground. The game might be "healthier", but many single spinners are going to end up with nothing. (like Jim Fixx, or my Dad - the game is healthy, but not everyone gets to live to a ripe old age..)

However, an amazing thing happens when you apply this to a population..

Over the course of 1,000 spins, this new, healthier version of the game is likely to turn our $100,000 into $113,400! (As a population, being healthy returns positive results.)

Bottom Line

You should eat healthier (less) and move more. It'll make you feel better. It'll make you look better. And it'll increase your odds of living a longer, healthier life. But it doesn't guaranty it. Some of you are going to eat healthy and still might not get to enjoy the fruits of longevity. (sorry to be a downer.) And some of you might outlive us all, even without being healthy.

However, if our population eats healthier (less) and moves more, and reduces this current obesity trend, we will have fewer diseases and early deaths among us - it'll be like rigging the roulette wheel in our favor!

Do your part, and help your friends do theirs.

-Chris Butterworth


Lance Armstrong - the ends justify the means

Lance Armstrong - the ends justify the means

Lance Armstrong wins his first Tour de France

There's been quite a bit of negative news about Lance Armstrong lately, and it's pretty much impossible to believe he wasn't involved with any PED (performance enhancing drug) shenanigans at this point.
  • In August, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) announced it had enough evidence to strip Lance of his 7 Tour de France titles.
  • Armstrong declined to continue the arbitration process with the USADA, which many took as an admission of guilt.
  • The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) are in step with the USADA.
This week, Nike has withdrawn its sponsorship of Lance Armstrong and his LIVESTRONG Foundation, and Lance himself has stepped down as chairman of the charity organization he founded.

livestrong banner

My take?

This is much ado about nothing - a lot of noise regarding nothing that matters in the present - and the ends do justify the means.

Let's talk PEDs in cycling

Cycling as a sport has a long history with PEDs. From a Wikipedia entry titled "Doping at the Tour de France":

"For as long as the Tour has existed, since 1903, its participants have been doping themselves. No dope, no hope. The Tour, in fact, is only possible because - not despite the fact - there is doping. For 60 years this was allowed. For the past 30 years it has been officially prohibited. Yet the fact remains; great cyclists have been doping themselves, then as now."

As much as baseball has a black eye from the "steriod era", we still only estimate about one half of the players might have used PEDs, and we're not entirely sure which half. Many of the all-time greats - Tony Gwynn, Randy Johnson, Derek Jeter, Ken Griffey Jr, Curt Schilling - have never been accused, tested, or even implied as having been on the naughty list.

The same can't be said for cycling.

Lance didn't make a choice of whether or not to use drugs. He made a choice of whether or not he wanted to compete at the highest levels of competitive cycling. Once he decided that's where his goals and dreams lay, the rest was just part of the process of trying to achieve his goals.

Exhibit 1 - Jan Ulrich was one of Armstrong's primary competitors. He won the Tour in 1997, and took second 5 times during Lance's run. Ulrich was later found guilty of using PEDs.

Exhibit 2 - Alberto Contador won the Tour de France 3 times, in 2007, 2009 and 2010, and was considered to be the best climber in the sport. However, he was stripped of some of his victories after being found guilty of doping.

Exhibit 3 - Miguel Indurain won the Tour de France 5 times in a row, from 1991 - 1995. Indurain was found guilty of using a banned substance in 1994, but was not stripped of his titles.

When the sport of cycling is clean, from top to bottom, then I'll join the witch hunt against anyone who cheats. But when the entire sport at the elite level is built around cheating, I'm not getting too worked up about one guy cheating better than his rivals.

Now let's talk charity work

Armstrong has raised $400 Million for cancer-related research and support since 1997. $400 Million! No other athlete has come anywhere close to that amount. Ever.

Barry Bonds used his juiced up numbers from 2001 to earn a 5-year, $90 Million contract in 2002. (after already being one of the highest-paid players in the league.) How much charity work have we heard about from Bonds?

Alex Rodriguez signed a 10-year, $252 Million contract in 1997. Then, in 2007, he signed another 10-year contract worth $275 Million. Oh, and by the way, he admitted to using steroids for part of his career. Over a half billion dollars earned. And his charity work? He gave about $4 million to the University of Miami to renovate their baseball stadium, which was then renamed as Alex Rodriguez Park.

Armstrong cheated, and used his popularity to raise $400 Million for OTHERS. OTHERS BATTLING CANCER! How he became popular is immaterial. So is how much money he's earned personally. The Livestrong Foundation is his story - his legacy.

If Armstrong had never used PEDs, and his rivals had won, would Ulrich have raised this much money for charity? How about Contador?

Bottom Line

Lance Armstrong probably cheated. He probably isn't the angel we all wanted to believe he was. But that doesn't diminish what he's been able to accomplish at all. He could have easily won his tours, filmed some ads, pocketed some sponsorship money, and gone off into the sunset. But he didn't. He's continued to work hard raising awareness and funding for those who need help, and fighting against a deadly disease called cancer.

You've done good, Lance. Real good. Keep it up!

(more photos below - all are clipped from recent stories online, and I don't have the copyright for any of them. Hmmm, speaking of cheating...)

-Chris Butterworth

** Updated 10/31/12

Armstrong has now been officially stripped of his 7 Tour de France titles. But the USADA is not awarding his titles to the 2nd place rider, or even the 3rd place rider, from those races. Why not? Because ALL the riders were dirty! Which proves my point exactly - when everybody at the forefront of the sport is dirty, there isn't an unfair advantage. Hey USADA - make the sport clean, legitimately, and then get back to me.

Per a Fox News article:

USADA also thinks the Tour titles should not be given to other riders who finished on the podium, such was the level of doping during Armstrong's era.
The agency said 20 of the 21 riders on the podium in the Tour from 1999 through 2005 have been "directly tied to likely doping through admissions, sanctions, public investigations" or other means. It added that of the 45 riders on the podium between 1996 and 2010, 36 were by cyclists "similarly tainted by doping."
20 out of 21 riders. And 36 out 45. This whole thing reeks..

/end update


high five or fist bump?

high five or fist bump?

Can we just decide, once and for all, which one we're going to use?

Justin Verlander and Prince Fielder do the fist-five mix-up as the Tigers take a 3-0 lead in the ALCS.

I like the high five in the heat of the moment, when adrenaline is pumping and you're all fired up about the great play your team just made. Slapping hands is a congratulatory, motivating, and team building action. And you can hit hands as hard as you want - whatever emotion you're feeling carries over into the high five, without having to worry about breaking anything or hurting anybody.

I like the fist bump better as a greeting - before the game, after the game, sort of a blend between a handshake (business settings) and a high five (in-game setting).

Either way works fine, but we all need to get on the same page. These "one guy's open hand covering up the other guy's fist" celebrations just aren't working out..

-Chris Butterworth


my fitness goal - October 2012

my fitness goal - October 2012

I like having a public record of what I'm working on, especially when I don't have an upcoming event hanging over my head and forcing me to focus my workouts. I'm at a point where I'm in pretty good shape and I'm happy with what I've been doing, fitness-wise.

That said, I'm also someone who likes to experiment with different workouts - exercises, frequency, intensity, and keeping a journal helps me make sense of the results.

One of my problems is that I've been getting really sore after my intense workouts. I feel ok the day after a workout, but day 2 is brutal, and day 3 I'm still too sore to push myself hard again. Maybe it's age related; maybe it's because I switch up my types of workouts frequently; maybe it's because I push myself really hard. Whatever it is, I'm going to stop trying to force 3 or 4 of these workouts each week, and give my body more rest in-between workouts.

So, all that being said, here's my plan for the next 40 days (10 workouts after the first one):

1.) A "Hard Workout" every 4th day - the kind of high-intensity workout that makes my whole body sore: Cross-fit, Kettlebells, Intervals - that sort of thing.

2.) A Moderate Cardio workout in-between each of the Hard Workouts: Jogging, Swimming, Versaclimber, Playing with the kids - anything that gets me moving at a moderate pace for 20-ish minutes.

Schedule / Results

Hard 1 October 1: Kettlebells - swing, clean, press, snatch, lawnmower pull (multiple sets)

Easy 1 October 3: 15 minutes versaclimber, easy pace

Hard 2 October 5: Kettlebells - one arm swing, snatch, lawnmower pull, burpees, mountain climbers (multiple sets)

Easy 2 October 8: played frisbee with my kids (20 minutes)

Hard 3 October 9: Fit-20 - pull-ups, circular push-ups, box jumps (15 mins)

Easy 3 October 12: rode bikes with my kids (about an hour)

Hard 4 October 13: Run 3.6 miles

Easy 4 October 17: played 20 minutes of soccer w/ some kids on my son's team

Hard 5 October 17: NOPE - October 18th instead. Kettlebell, Inverted Rows, Suicides. multiple sets, 16 minutes.

Easy 5 October 20: played 20 minutes of soccer.

Easy 6 October 21: hiked for a couple hours - family hike in Sedona.

Hard 6 October 21:

Hard 7 October 25:

Easy 7

Hard 8 October 29:

Easy 8

Hard 9 November 2:

Easy 9

Hard 10 November 6:

Easy 10

Hard 11 November 10:

Easy 11

Let's see if this schedule is something I can build on long-term.. I'd also be interested in hearing if anyone has tried something similar..?

-Chris Butterworth


going pink for breast cancer awareness

going pink for breast cancer awareness

on a health-related topic...

Breast cancer is too common (all cancer is, for that matter), and October is the month to raise awareness of and funding for research against this insidious disease. You'll notice pink in a lot of unusual places this month - that's a good thing.

I'm sure we all know someone who has been affected. On a personal note, my mom is a breast cancer survivor, and I'm thankful everyday that she stayed around long enough to meet her grandkids.

Want more information?

Stay healthy,

-Chris Butterworth


video of the day - Road Bike Party

video of the day - Road Bike Party

"Martyn Ashton takes the £10k carbon road bike used by Team Sky's Bradley Wiggins & Mark Cavendish for a ride - probably not what the manufacturer intended."

For my readers who don't watch the Tour de France (which is almost everybody!), this is a road bike, made to be ridden on roads, very fast, for long distances.

This is 5 minutes of awesome.

(click here to see video on youtube)

See that? Push the limits. Challenge yourself. Challenge the status quo. Do what makes you happy. Do what others say can't be done. Do what others can't. Do something remarkable. Have fun.

All good lessons. (and I bet he didn't learn how to do all that overnight...)

Hat tip to Chris Zoller for sharing on Google +.

-Chris Butterworth


failing on results is different from failing on effort

failing on results is different from failing on effort

Last week I wrote a post called "you can fail your goal and still move forward", and it's had me thinking about the concept - enough so that I want to write a follow-up. I need to be clear about this: there is a big difference between failing on results and failing on effort.

Failing on results isn't necessarily a bad thing; it could have more to do with your stated goal than your processes or your effort:
  • You set your goal too high.
  • You rounded up. (In my last fitness goal challenge, I thought 25 pull-ups might be too high, but setting a goal for 21 or 18 seemed sort of silly..)
  • You stated a goal of where you wanted to be, without regards to time. (ie: Losing 40 pounds is a realistic goal, but losing 40 pounds in the next 6 months might be too much.
  • Having a net worth of $1,000,000 is a great goal, but having a net worth of $1,000,000 by the time you're 30 is a very lofty goal..)
  • Your goal may be possible, but only with flawless execution. The longer your time horizon, the more likely it is that something can temporarily slow down your progress.
In any of these cases, you can fail your goal but still move forward. Maybe you only lost 20 pounds in 6 months, or you're worth $400,000 at age 30. That's not too shabby - and you're definitely on the road to success!

Failing on effort is a very different story.

If you look at your goal (losing 40 pounds in 6 months), and think to yourself, "heck, I'd be happy even if I only hit 80% of my goal and lose 32 pounds," you're starting down the path to being unsuccessful. Those thoughts are often followed by actions, where you make successful choices only 80% of the time.
  • I've eaten really well for the whole day, so it's ok if I have a piece of cake after dinner.
  • I've went for a walk yesterday and the day before, so it's ok if I skip today.
  • I don't feel like going to the gym today; I've gone every time I was supposed to so far this month - it's ok if I miss once in awhile.
  • I've been eating pretty well for almost 2 weeks, and I read about XYZ celebrity who gives herself a cheat day once every two weeks, so I'm going to have fun at happy hour tonight!
These choices - failing on effort - won't lead to achieving 80% of your goal. They'll lead to COMPLETE FAILURE. When you sabotage your effort towards your goal, you won't see the results you want, which you need for further motivation. That's when the doubts creep into your mind. You'll start thinking, "I've been eating pretty well for a month and have barely lost anything. This just isn't worth the effort.." Once you start losing motivation and doubting yourself, you're done.

Bottom Line

You want to dedicate yourself 100% to your goal. Every action, decision, and inaction will have a direct impact on your success. If you give your goal everything you've got and you come up short, you're still probably miles ahead of where you started. But if you short-change your effort, you'll end up right where you started.

-Chris Butterworth


dogged dedication

dogged dedication

I read a great post this week from Doug Robb on his HealthHabits blog titled "the eat like a dog diet." Here is the short version:

Wife began to diet and exercise as a way to get healthy. Shortly thereafter, Husband and Dog were put on a healthier diet (not by their choice). 3 months later, the Dog had done the best job of losing weight!

dog before and after
(no - those aren't really the same dogs!)

So what did the dog do better than the husband or the wife?
  1. He never cheated on his diet. He ate what he was given, then he was done eating. No snacks, no desserts, no seconds, no cheat days.
  2. He never skipped a workout. Tired, lazy, sluggish, sore, busy.. whatever the excuse, the dog never used it. Anytime anybody grabbed the leash, he went for a workout.
  3. Consistency over time. The dog didn't win by having one good day, or even one good week. It's the accumulation of those good days, one after the other, which turn into weeks and then months - that's where results are achieved.

Slow and steady, a little bit at a time - is the way to big, lasting change.

So, can you be as dedicated as the dog?

Chris Butterworth


healthy from history - the Tarahumara

healthy from history - the Tarahumara

photo of tarahumara

The Tarahumara are a small tribe of Native North Americans, most famous for their central role in Christopher McDougall's best selling book "Born to Run". They live in an isolated labyrinth of mountains and canyons in northern Mexico (the Copper Canyons), where their lifestyle has remained virtually unchanged for the last 500 years. (Until the last decade, but that's a different story for a different time.) They've watched from the sidelines as the rest of the West was impacted by the Spanish Conquistadors, the founding of America, the Spanish-American War, the Industrial Revolution, the Gold Rush, the Wild West, and the Modern Era.

Why they're considered healthy

The Tarahumara tend to live into old age, with no instances of our modern diseases, and their geriatric population is able to climb mountains and run great distances with the rest of the tribe.


Their diet consists of 3 primary foods.
  • Corn - either as pinole (where it's ground and mixed with water) or as a beer. (grain, carbohydrate)
  • Chia Seeds (protein, antioxidant)
  • Mice (protein, fat)
  • * Deer, Gazelle (protein, fat) * I can't determine if the present-day Tarahumara hunt these anymore. If so, this would be a 4th primary food.


They spend virtually their entire lives exercising, either as passive or active exercise.
  • Working their fields
  • Village Communication - their closest neighbors live further away than you can see, so just walking next door is a long walk. The next closest village might be 30 or 60 miles away.
  • Running for transportation - they run from village to village. Communication, socialization, competitions, collaborations, warnings of danger. Whatever the reason, they don't think twice about setting out for a 60 mile, 2-day run.
  • Running for sport - their pastime, unlike our slow-moving baseball and our rest-between-plays football, is a game where they divide into teams, then take turns kicking a small ball down the road or path. Except they don't get to a goal at 100 yards; they kick this ball (and run after it) for 24 hours straight, and sometimes longer. Yep - you read that right. They get two villages together, throw a big party, and then play a running-kicking game for 24 full hours.
  • Persistence Hunting - they can run all day long, chasing a deer or gazelle, until it overheats and dies.

What they DON'T do

Sometimes it helps to see another community's traits by what it is they don't do, rather than by what they do. The Tarahumara don't:
  • Eat pre-packaged food
  • Eat fast food
  • Eat foods with any added nutrients, chemicals, dyes, sugars or sugar substitutes
  • Over eat, eat to indulge
  • Watch TV
  • Sit at a desk
  • Sit on a couch
  • Use a computer
  • Target specific ratios of proteins, carbs, and fat
  • Drink sports drinks or power gels while running ultra marathon distances
  • Wear heat gear, moisture-wicking fibers, or modern running shoes
  • Taper before a big game/race. (They'll often run 60 miles to get to the village that's hosting the 24-hour game/race!)
  • Retire
  • Get cancer, diabetes, vascular disease, or any of the rest of the top 10 health risks facing American men

Supporting Documentation

I've cobbled my information together from a number of sources. See the links and videos below for further reading.

Best-selling Book - Born to Run, by Christopher McDougall

Video - 15 minutes - Christopher McDougall speaking at TED.

Quote from above video: "If you read folklore and mythology, any kind of myths, any kind of tall tales, running is always associated with freedom and vitality and youthfulness and eternal vigor. It's only in our lifetime that running has become associated with fear and pain."

Forbes article discussing they have low blood sugar levels (with no prostate or breast cancer), despite eating 80% of their calories from carbs. This means it is possible to metabolize carbs and your body's fat efficiently. 

Men's Health magazine, quoting from Born to Run: "When it comes to the top 10 health risks facing American men, the Tarahumara are practically immortal: Their incidence rate is at or near zero in just about every category, including diabetes, vascular disease, and colorectal cancer."

Wikipedia entry for Tarahumara People

Video - 10 minutes - National Geographic discusses their extraordinary endurance

Tarahumara Recipes - recipes including pinole and chia

Bottom Line

The Tarahumara don't have any of our modern "nutrition", "wisdom", or medicine, and yet they live into old age being active and free from modern diseases. They're a great example of an "eat less, move more" society - proof that you don't need anything fancy, even a program with a fancy name, to be healthy.

To your health,

-Chris Butterworth


you can fail your goal and still move forward

you can fail your goal and still move forward

The more ambitious your goal, the more difficult it is to achieve. Duh, right? But there's a bonus hidden inside that goal, an Easter egg just waiting to be discovered:

"Even if you don't reach your goal, you can make considerable forward progress!"

Take a look at what I did over the last few months..

I published my goals on this site, here: My Next Fitness Goal.

Then I published my progress each week, good or bad. If you click through to that post and read my progress updates, you'll see I hit my goal only 5 of the 12 weeks. There were another 5 weeks where I made good progress but didn't reach my goal. And then there were 2 weeks were I failed miserably.

So, if we were handing out trophies and report cards, I would have failed. 5 out of 12 means I only had a 42% success rate. But if you take a step back and look at the overall progress over the 12 week period, I actually made a lot of improvement. I'm significantly better at what I set out to do than I was 12 weeks ago. So even though I can't claim success on that particular goal, I still made a good amount of forward progress.

Never forget, the Process of Continuous Improvement is about the long-term. It's forward progress, getting better over time. There aren't any permanent finish lines - as soon as you cross one line you start working towards the next. A few weeks ago I wrote "what long term looks like". Here's a quote from that post:

The process of continuous improvement is a long term process. It's a series of tiny improvements made over a long time period. Nobody is keeping score, and the calendar keeps turning pages.

Of course I wanted to hit my goal. But what I do AFTER the goal timeframe is more important. If I hit the goal but then take 3 months off, I'd be in worse shape than if I miss the goal but continue to move forward..

-Chris Butterworth


the after-dinner walk

the after-dinner walk

Autumn is almost here, and the evenings have been beautiful lately. I know this because we've been outside, strolling around the neighborhood after dinner. Shorter walks when the kids have homework to do; longer walks when time permits. Sometimes as a whole family; other times it'll be whoever's around the house.

Last night my wife had taken my younger son to soccer practice, so my older son and I got out of the house together. Heck, I even missed a good portion of Monday Night Football!

boy and girl walking dog
image courtesy of Microsoft's clipart - that isn't me!

And it was worth every minute.

Not only are we getting some Passive Fitness, but it's a great opportunity for quality time. No TV, no video games, no cell phones. Just walking, talking, and noticing things we don't usually have time to see.

This is something I wish everybody did. If more people got outside and walked, we'd get the double bonus of having a vibrant neighborhood with lots of people being outside together, in addition to being healthier.

-Chris Butterworth