Located in Sterling, VA (703) 421-1200

January 2022

My Workout, by Ralph Weinstein

We only have one body and it's loaded with bones (206), muscles (640+), tissues, and cartilage, just to mention a few parts. We are responsible for maintaining our bodies. You can get help, but the responsibility is still yours and you only get one chance. There are no benefits to waiting. We age and you can't go back to the earlier years.

If you take care of yourself, as you age, you will be able to maintain your independence and mobility. The best way to do this is through strength training. I started strength training at the ripe age of 64 and 15 years later, I'm still working at it and enjoy it.

As you go through each decade your body slows down and wears out, and exercise becomes more challenging. I still do the activities that I have done in the past but with less frequency because I need more recovery time.

My strength training workout is by far the most important to me. At all costs, I will be there. There are times the night before I don't feel so good and think maybe I shouldn't go tomorrow but I go and I'm never disappointed. Doing anything is better than doing nothing at all.

When I'm ready to begin my workout, I clear my head. My wife Debby says," You shouldn't have any trouble doing that." My concerns are proper breathing and proper form. Correct breathing improves thoracic mobility and reduces shoulder impingement. Maintaining a neutral head position in alignment with your spine will help avoid neck injuries. Above all, breathe freely without forced or excessive ventilation and do not hold your breath at any time. Holding your breath (Valsalva) blocks venous return (the return of blood from the extremities back to the heart) and drives blood pressure to dangerously high levels.

Maintaining good form during strength training is important because it helps ensure correct muscular targeting. The good form ensures that the joints of the body are in the most ideal position to accept forces. Performing resistance exercise when our joints are not in proper alignment can lead to increased stress and wear and tear to the joints and other surrounding tissues that can lead to injury.

The instructor monitors your breathing and helps you maintain proper body alignment throughout the exercise. In addition, he is responsible for adjusting your weights and keeping the time for each exercise. I do not concern myself with the time for each exercise. I will explain how I evaluate it later.

I start each exercise under our slow protocol doing a 10 second positive and 10- second negative repetition. It is important to maintain a slow pace. As I progress the resistance builds. I will reach a point where I can't move the weight anymore. I hold it for six to ten seconds and then slowly lower the weight. During that time, I have created momentary muscular failure or "thorough inroad."

During those few seconds, I have created microscopic tears in the targeted muscles. It will take approximately 48 to 72 hours for those tears to heal and become stronger and possibly larger. My goal for each exercise is to reach a "thorough inroad."

I do not concern myself with the amount of weight or the time it takes to complete the exercise although both have been recorded. I regularly check my chart to see if it is necessary to raise or lower the weights based on the times. Under our protocol, we strive for one minute fifty seconds as ideal. I would adjust the weight accordingly if I was constantly over or under the preferred time.

I generally finish my work out on the abmat and say to myself "I did the best I could today." That is a statement that I have applied to myself throughout my career. Whatever happens, if I can honestly say, "I did the best I could today," then no one can be critical of my results, and I move on.

In a few weeks, I will celebrate my 79th birthday. Age is just a number. It is how you feel and what you can do every day.

I want to close with a quote from a very outstanding football coach and motivational speaker, Lou Holtz:

Ability is what you are capable of doing.

Motivation determines what you do.

But attitude determines how well you do it.

Posted January 28, 2022 by Matthew Romans

A Deeper Meaning

One of the best books I have ever read is "Man's Search for Meaning" by Viktor Frankl. It is a famous book, one that many of you have probably read at some point, and is a literary work that should be considered required reading for anyone that wants to learn something about themselves. Frankl details his experiences as a prisoner in several Nazi concentration camps during World War II, and even in the most terrible circumstances he was able to find the joy and meaning necessary to sustain himself until he was liberated by the Allies. Certainly none of us will experience in our lifetime the horrors that Frankl was forced to endure, but reading this masterpiece prompted me to do some thinking about my own search for a deeper meaning. The questions I hope to answer are, how does this relate to the work that I do and the people I interact with in the course of that work on a daily basis? What exactly is it that I hope to achieve? This is what I ponder.

Naturally, we hope to achieve success and find meaning along the way. Some might attach meaning with only the end result, but I think it's important to value the process just as much, if not more, than the outcome. There is joy and meaning to be found in putting in the work, in simply giving the effort necessary to achieve something great. I believe this is true no matter what your occupation is or what it is you are trying to accomplish. Many athletes, when they look back on a championship season, are likely to talk just as much about the practices and experiences in the locker room as they are about the penultimate game. If you are an artist, there is meaning to be found in the creative process, of actually painting or sculpting something from scratch. I would imagine that most musicians and songwriters derive immense pleasure from realizing a vision they have in their head and writing a piece of music or a song that only they could write. While great works of art and memorable songs certainly bring pleasure to others, I believe that creative people need to satisfy themselves before they can bring happiness or value to others. In other words, they need to find meaning in their work first, otherwise the effect will not be the same. As Frankl says, "Don't aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one's personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself."

How does this relate to exercise? I can speak about my own experiences as an instructor and in my own workouts, and while most people are probably not as enthusiastic about exercise as I am, I think that both former and current Total Results clients can understand my perspective. I look at each workout as a chance to accomplish something meaningful, not only physically but mentally as well. I often talk about a Total Results workout as being a metabolic event, and on the cellular level that is exactly what we set out to accomplish, but it's more than that. We all know that these workouts are not fun, but each session is an opportunity to prove your mettle and improve your mental focus and toughness. Your instructor will push you to test your resolve and go beyond muscular failure, but it is also a way to expand your intellectual ability. Learning how to think through the process, and execute instructions will help you to sharpen your intellectual capabilities. The mental component of this workout can never be underestimated. If you can maintain your focus while pushing through intense muscular discomfort, you have won a very important mental battle. Clients are able to adapt mentally to the demands that are placed upon them, and the most successful trainees are able to tell themselves that they will work as hard as they possibly can for a very finite period of time. This is something that anyone can do with the right mindset and proper instruction. It is far more than just a workout; it is a chance to incorporate something meaningful into your life.

My goal is to broaden the concept of the meaning of exercise to the individual, both from a physical and a mental standpoint. Ken Hutchins gives a very specific definition of what exercise is in his landmark book "Super Slow - The Ultimate Exercise Protocol", but I want to approach it on a deeper level. In my opinion, high intensity exercise is not merely a physical activity, although the primary purpose is to stimulate tangible physical changes in the body through meaningful loading of the muscular structures. I believe we also cross an intellectual and spiritual threshold during a workout, since understanding and attention to detail are required in order to optimize the exercise stimulus. One gets the sense and feeling that they have done all that they can possibly do with their mind and body to achieve the desired effect. That is a victory. In our clinically controlled environment, the instructor and client work in concert to achieve something truly special - the greatest metabolic experience possible. This requires patience and understanding on the part of both parties, and can only occur as a result of developing great trust that each person will hold up his or her end of the bargain. Many former clients have tried to replicate this experience in a commercial gym setting, but typically fall short. It is nearly impossible to get the same experience without the privacy, attention to detail, equipment, and knowledge that one has come to expect at Total Results. Simply put, it is very difficult to achieve that deep level of meaning anywhere else.

There is a deep feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment that I get in the succeeding minutes following a superb workout. These feelings are fleeting, but I wish I could hold onto them forever; that is what keeps me coming back every week and makes me exercise even when there are times that I don't want to. I get a similar feeling of pride each time a client completes a workout under my supervision. There is the sense that I have achieved something meaningful, in that I have helped someone else achieve something meaningful in their own lives. This helps me to know that I am on the right track.

The search for a deeper meaning is what gets us out of bed in the morning even when we would rather go back to sleep. It's what makes us work harder to get better at the things in life that we find important. A deeper meaning is what makes me enthusiastic every day about the concept of exercise and instructing our amazing clients at Total Results. A quote from Ken Hutchins says it perfectly: "Throughout the excursion, constantly strive to find meaningful resistance. Be on the search, the lookout, the quest, the hunt for meaningful resistance! If exercise has meaning in your life, then the essence of the meaning is the resistance - not the weight, not the movement, not the power, not the work, not the repetitions."

Posted January 25, 2022 by Matthew Romans

A Plan of Action for 2022

A new year often brings an opportunity for optimism and a fresh start. Considering all the turmoil and insanity of the last two years, I think most of us would welcome a chance to wipe the slate clean and start anew. I generally don't put much stock into New Year's resolutions; for most people, they don't last very long. A perfect example is the commercial fitness industry. Take a look at the parking lots of most gyms right after New Year's Day. They are usually packed in early January, and then much less so by the middle of February. That is because the novelty of the resolution has worn off, and the real work that is necessary to achieve something meaningful and tangible becomes a reality. Many people that set goals or come up with New Year's resolutions are well-intentioned, but don't have a method for how they intend to accomplish what they want to achieve. What separates the successful from the unsuccessful in many walks of life is a plan of action and a willingness to implement that plan faithfully, day after day and month after month.

One needs structure, discipline, and a plan in order to achieve success; it doesn't just happen by accident. Ernest Hemingway is revered by fans of literature nearly as much for his novels as for his extracurricular activities, but the fact is that during the most productive periods of his life, he was an incredibly disciplined writer. He would write faithfully every morning from 6 AM until noon (a productive session might entail his using as many as seven pencils), even if it only produced a few completed pages. This formula helped him to become one of the most accomplished literary figures of the 20th century. Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones still performs in front of sold-out crowds at the age of 78 (and after heart valve replacement surgery a couple of years ago) and has lost none of his ability to sing and dance for two hours per concert after nearly 60 years in the business. Jagger maintains a very rigorous pre and post-show routine, practices meditation, eats an organic diet, and drinks very little alcohol (a far cry from the Stones' touring days of the late 60s and 70s). Sir Mick's routine seems to be working, as I can attest from having seen the Stones perform in Nashville in October of 2021.

You don't need to wait for the turn of a calendar year to develop a plan of action, although now is as good a time as any to do so. If you are looking to take charge of your health, improve your physical conditioning, change the way you look and feel, and get more out of life, then Total Results is the place for you. There is a method to our madness, but the structure of our workouts is only one part of the equation. We can help you prioritize what you want to accomplish, and then develop a specific plan to help you get there. In order to maximize your potential, you need to be willing to make changes to your lifestyle, specifically diet, sleep habits, and stress management. These changes don't need to be a major overhaul, but you need to be able to be honest with yourself and understand that the current course isn't working. This is not a sign of weakness, but rather a sign of strength and of maturity

It all starts with the workout. Do your best to be on time and attend every session that you have scheduled. As the old saying goes, showing up is 80 percent of life. Be focused and give a maximum effort in every workout. The workout is the stimulus that sets all of the desired metabolic changes into motion; without a proper stimulus, positive changes do not occur. Strive to buy the highest quality food that you can find, preferably organic. These are the raw materials that your body needs for fuel. I know that this can be a challenge in our current environment, with supply chain issues affecting grocery stores, but a little extra legwork and preparation will go a long way. Start adding in time restricted eating, such as intermittent fasting, to help regulate hormone and blood sugar levels, as well as optimize gene expression. Dedicate yourself to getting a consistent seven to nine hours of sleep per night. Many Americans carry a significant sleep debt that can be very easily corrected, if one sets a consistent bed and wake up time and limits exposure to artificial light just before sleep. Incorporate stress management techniques into your plan, such as mindfulness or meditation, and take the time to slow down and breathe. It's amazing how well this works. Finally, find ways to move throughout the day. The human body was designed to move, not stand or sit still.

I also recommend keeping a journal and recording changes in how you feel as you follow your plan of action. It's important to have a spirit and a mindset of accountability. This can help you to analyze how well you're doing. Don't be afraid to review your plan and make changes if you fall off track; remember, nobody is perfect. What works for one person may not work for another, so that's why we customize your workout to meet your individual needs. You are capable of so much more than you realize; it's time to start getting everything you want out of life. Create your plan of action and start on the right path today.

Posted January 14, 2022 by Matthew Romans