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Wanting to be loved, looked at with high regard. This is not meant to be a malicious act but what happens when we take it too far? When it becomes impulsive? When the feeling of approval drives every decision in our lives?
We begin wanting to be everything to everyone for the wrong reasons, longing for the approval of other people. Conforming to the popular opinion, we try to fit in with everyone. We try to look, sound, and act like are surrounding peers when we are confronted by unconscious social norms. Giving way and matching beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors to fit in only for an instant so we can please those we are surrounded by. Nobody wants to be the outlier, right? 
I know I didn't. I still feel myself falling victim to the world, going along with the everyday flow of my life while I have an internal argument with myself. I used to have this prisoner feeling a lot more especially throughout my childhood. But I have learned a ton since, pushing the social norms away. I'm the guy that thinks wearing socks with sperrys is trendy, cuts sweatpants into shorts and will on occasion wear them to church, will openly admit to watching chick flicks on a Saturday night alone at the house (without Molly here), and being a strong male athlete that likes to read poetry, journal, and only had one life-long goal of someday being a great dad (yet to be determined). 
What I have done is challenge myself to become concrete in who I am as a person, defining my true identity, discovering my purpose, and knowing that if I want to be the man people need me to be then I better be authentic and not worry about pleasing everybody throughout the process.
When we are too concerned with what other people think of us, trying to please everyone, we end up losing ourselves, our true identity. It's time to break free.
1) Finding Peace and Confidence in Your Values and Beliefs
"Your life is your statement to the world representing your values, your beliefs, your dreams." - David Arenson
Spending time to clearly identify what you view as valuable in your life is crucial and often overlooked. Values and beliefs should have the ability to be listed off in an instant when asked, almost acting as a personal mission statement. What are your values? Love, family, servant leadership, authenticity, strength?
Don't stop there! Now specifically define them. What does each value mean to you? Why did you choose them? Separate people can have the same exact values, when in all reality they can mean something completely different. Once you clearly define your values you become confident in your decision making. Your values begin to take more meaning in your life as you can then use them as a filter to pass each decision through. When faced with a moment of uncertainty and feeling yourself about to give in to the social norms, take a second to remember your values to make a authentic decision, one that holds true to who you are.
Strength is a value of mine, defined with the following meaning: The ability to withstand life's inevitable adversity, and learn from it's lessons to grow stronger physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Knowing this value and having it defined helped me get through my heart surgery.
2) Understanding You are Unique on Purpose
"Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else." - Margaret Mead
The only commonality in life is that we are all completely unique. Literally everyone is different and that in itself is a miracle. There is not one single person in the world that has the same physical attributes, thoughts, or feelings as anyone else. We even have totally different backgrounds, raised differently, and experienced different circumstances throughout our lives.
Why not use your own uniqueness to your advantage, to stand out among the masses, to help others in need that could benefit from your specific skills, knowledge, and experience? This is exactly what I am doing right now, what Heartbeat Strength represents. We are unique on purpose, to play a crucial role in the worlds history, however big or small. Your talents, gifts, and ideas are needed in this world so much that you cannot afford to mimic social norms.
3) Breaking Free from Stereotypes
“If a man loses pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured, or far away.” - Henry David Thoreau
It is easy to find yourself being pushed into one realm of the world, labeled, and having our uniqueness ignored in an instant. Our social world is simplified by this idea of categorization leading to prejudice and bias. We even start to believe these stereotypes ourselves, thinking if others continue to have the same generalizations then they must be true.  
We are allowed to be more than one thing, breaking free from boxes that society has put us in. Even more, breaking free from the boxes we put ourselves in. Display courage and let your unique talents and gifts guide your life. Define your own identity, taking ownership of the life that only you have the power to create. Remember, nobody was made to fit in. 
"We are the makers of our own destinies, our own futures, our own paths. To blindly follow is an insult to the miracle of being human. To be human is to make choices; the moment you allow others to make decisions for you is the moment you do an injustice to not only mankind but to yourself.” - Kelseyleigh Reber
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It is hard to make coffee better than it already is. Coffee is the world’s beverage of choice, being consumed every day in almost every corner of the world. Try too hard to improve upon what is already a hit among the masses and you’re likely to fail right? Not so fast. I introduce you to Bulletproof Coffee.
The easiest way to describe Bulletproof Coffee is magical. Yes, more magical than your regular cup of Joe. Bulletproof Coffee was made famous by Dave Asprey, who discovered blending healthy fats into a single sourced black coffee can provide longer lasting energy, clearer cognitive function, and can help you cut fat and lose weight.
So what exactly is in Bulletproof Coffee? Glad you asked.
Bulletproof coffee consists of the following ingredients: single origin coffee, grass-fed butter or ghee, and medium chain triglyceride oil. These ingredients, when blended together create a brain boosting, energy expanding, lavish latte type of experience with each ingredient playing a crucial role.
Coffee itself doesn’t just taste good and supply energy through caffeine, it has ingredients that play a massive role in maintaining great health. You can find essential B vitamins, potassium, manganese, bioflavonoids, and a ton of antioxidants that decrease your risk of degenerative diseases, make you smarter, improve your mood, and boost your physical performance and metabolism.
So I know coffee is good but I thought fat made you fat? Good question, the answer is no.
Fat is an essential part of your everyday diet, and has been vilified by mainstream news until over the years. Studies show that a diet with increased healthy fats is actually better for your overall health and longevity. The key is healthy fats, such as grass-fed butter, ghee, and medium-chain triglycerides (MCT). Grass-fed butter and ghee are extremely healthy fats, essential to your overall health as well. It provides you with lasting energy, can suppress hunger, acts to balance your hormones, increases your brain power, and reduces inflammation throughout your body. MCT oil provides the added benefits of boosting your metabolic rate, supplying you with immediate energy.
Long story short, you’ll basically turn into Superman! Are you ready for your first cup of Bulletproof Coffee yet?
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Serving others, lending a hand, helping out: This seems to have been ingrained in our DNA. We offer our time, energy, attention, and advice. We have been conditioned into "yes men", taught at a young age to be kind and perform good deeds. This is essential and also the easiest way to spread love throughout the world, but "yes" can be overwhelming as well. Saying yes every time can become mentally and emotionally draining, wreaking havoc on our health and happiness.
The problem isn't saying yes, it is saying yes to the wrong things. In an instant we agree to tasks that don't fall in line with what we view as valuable, working hard and essentially wasting time. Time we could be spending on meaningful and engaging actions that run parallel with our own purpose, values, and beliefs. We are productive, but productivity in the wrong direction is a dead end street.
I for one fell into the "yes man" trap for a majority of my life. I still find myself there from time to time. My purpose is to serve others, making their lives better. I loved being the person people could rely on, dropping things in an instant to lend a hand. I tried to always come through in the clutch. There can't be any harm in that right? Wrong.
I was in over my head, trying to come up for air. My daily actions were consumed by others tasks, my thoughts were consumed by others voices. I was saying no to myself without intending to do so, losing myself in the process. While my purpose in life is to serve others, I was taking the wrong approach, over-operating and completing other people's purposes. I needed to take a step back, take a deep breath, and serve myself first. I re-figured my values, started saying no to the right things (very awkwardly at first, but I embrace awkward situations luckily), and prioritized my own mental and emotional health so I could then use positive energy to create a more productive version of myself. 
Saying no is scary. We have to let down our boss, coworkers, family members, or friends. It is not our purpose to please everyone. We deserve to be selfish, to serve ourselves so we can then better serve others. We have to switch the mindset, start using our values and beliefs as a filter to challenge our decision making. Understanding that sometimes saying no to others means saying yes to our own purpose and goals. By saying no, we create time and energy to complete the tasks that will improve ourselves. We build confidence, take control of our lives, set boundaries, gain self-respect, and learn to prioritize our own health and well-being. 
Be brave and give yourself permission to say no without feeling guilt and the need to explain yourself. It can change your life.
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Heartbeat Strength by Shelby Reichle Cscs, Cpt - 8M ago
Whether you are active in the gym, a recreation softball league, or with your kids at home, chances are you have experienced a muscle strain or pull at some point. You may have felt that extra stretch when you fell in the yard, or that slight tug on your last rep. You may not even feel it until you wake up the next morning. Regardless, it feels tight and your first reaction is to stretch it. Despite stretching, over the coming days and weeks, it continues to be painful. At some point, you begin to wonder if you should go to the doctor. When you finally do, he gives you muscle relaxers and steroids, and tells you to rest. A few months later, you find yourself in the same situation with the same muscle.
This cycle takes place year-round in active adults and even youngsters. I see it all the time in the gym, playing rec softball, and training athletes. There is a better way to handle these pesky little injuries to get you back in the game sooner, and without scheduling a trip to the doctor.
Disclaimer: if the painful area is black and blue, or you experience pain when it is completely at rest, you may want to consider seeing a doctor. It is likely you are experiencing a more severe tear, or tendon/ligament issues.
Steps to Muscle Strain Recovery:
1) DON’T stretch it. I know, I know, it’s so tempting! Here’s the thing: if you have a muscle strain, it means the fibers in your muscle are slightly pulled apart. Stretch it, and you’re pulling them apart even more.
2) DO “be nice to it.”This is what I tell all my athletes, because it means this: don’t do anything that irritates it. Rest it. Move about your day in such a way that you do not feel the strain, and even forget it’s there (for a while at least).
3) DO use heat or ice – whichever you prefer, so long as there is no swelling. If you are experiencing some swelling, use ice only.
4) DO foam roll it if you have a foam roller. If you don’t, you can use a less glamorous, yet still effective, tennis ball. Put the implement on the strain and roll over it, or simply press the tennis ball into the spot. Yes, it hurts. That means you’re doing it correctly. You’re also increasing blood and nutrient flow to that portion of the muscle, and breaking up tissue adhesions that can slow down the healing process.
NOTE: This should not be an unbearable pain. More pain does not equal more healing. Experiencing mild to moderate discomfort is enough for it to be effective.
5) DO slowly return to activityand begin stretching it, doing only those things that allow for pain free range of motion.
6) DO make sure to warm-up properly, then cool-down and stretch after activity.
Keep your eyes peeled for our upcoming entry on proper warm-up and cool-down practices to prevent these (and other) injuries in the first place!
Shelby Reichle CSCS, CPT
Head Strength Coach at Grove City Christian School and Adrenaline Volleyball Club, previous owner of Sampson Fitness.
I consider myself a lifelong learner of all things strength and conditioning related. However, my strengths lie in weightlifting form (knowing proper form, recognizing and correcting movement restrictions), working relationally with young athletes, programming workouts for specific athletic purposes, scaling workouts based on ability, and pairing proper nutrition with working out/sport training. I am also very interested in sport psychology and have been continuing to read up on the subject.
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Squats and deadlifts are the 2 most common lower body exercises. These are ultra effective compound exercises to build strength and muscle mass, but they often overshadow the importance of single leg (unilateral) training. Unilateral exercises aren't as sexy as a heavy back squat or deadlift. They may not be Instagram worthy to many as they may not get many "likes".  What they can be is extremely beneficial for correcting muscle imbalance, preventing injury, creating better movement patterns, building strength and muscle mass, and increasing workout density due to the reps and sets you have to complete for both legs. All-in-all, these 6 unilateral exercises complement your regular old back squat and deadlift perfectly. 
Bulgarian Squat (Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat)
The Bulgarian squat is highly beneficial for increasing single leg stability and strength. This exercise can be challenging enough for some completed just with body weight alone. When beginning, focus on balance and control of the movement.
The Set-Up: Elevate the back leg, resting your foot on a bench, maintaining a flat back while holding dumbbells or kettlebells at your side. Your knee and toe should be pointing straight forward. Brace your torso as somebody were about to punch you.
The Movement: As you descend straight down into the squat make sure to achieve a full range of motion. A great cue is for your back knee to lightly touch the ground before ascending into the standing position.  
Pistol Squat
The Pistol Squat has been made famous by the CrossFit world and for good reason. This exercise is not only insanely challenging from a strength perspective but it involves massive coordination and range of motion.
The Set-Up: Standing on one leg, hold your opposite leg straight out in front. Brace your torso as somebody were about to punch you.
The Movement: Squat as low as possible (ass to grass) with an upright chest. Some lumbar (lower spine) curvature is likely to happen. Once you've reached the bottom of the squat, drive through the heel, standing tall into the set-up position.
Cossack Squat
The Cossack squat is a great variation to supplement into your training routine because of its strength, flexibility, and mobility benefits.  This exercise allows you to work in a difference plane of motion to target your abductor and adductor muscle groups. You can perform this exercise during warm-ups to open your hips or use it for strength purposes.
The Set-Up: Set your feet far apart with your toes pointing straight forward. Brace your torso as somebody were about to punch you.
The Movement: Lower to one side with your arms straight out in front of your chest or holding a kettlebell in a goblet grip. Keep a flat back and a big chest throughout the full range of motion. Keep your hips low as you slide to the other side, sitting down as low as you can during each rep.
Single Leg Deadlift
The single leg deadlift increases strength in the hamstrings and glutes. It also serves as a balance and anti-rotational core exercise for increased stability throughout your body.
The Set-Up: Hold a dumbbell or kettlebell in your hand on the opposite side of the single leg you're standing on (standing on left foot, hold weight in right hand). Brace your torso as somebody were about to punch you.
The Movement: Begin the movement by pushing your butt backwards reaching your leg straight back as well. Maintain a flat back as your chest turns towards the ground. The dumbbell or kettlebell should move right down the shin targeting the instep of your shoe. When the weight touches the ground return to the start position by squeezing your glutes, pushing your hips forward, and pulling with the heel on the ground.
Single Leg Romanian Deadlift
The single leg Romanian deadlift mirrors the benefits of the single leg deadlift. The difference between the Romanian deadlift and the regular deadlift is the depth of motion. 
The Set-Up: Hold a dumbbell or kettlebell in your hand on the opposite side of the single leg you're standing on (standing on left foot, hold weight in right hand). Brace your torso as somebody were about to punch you.
The Movement: Begin the movement by pushing your butt backwards reaching your leg straight back as well. Maintain a flat back as your chest turns towards the ground. The dumbbell or kettlebell should move right down the shin targeting the instep of your shoe. When the weight reaches the middle of the shin return to the start position by squeezing your glutes, pushing your hips forward, and pulling with the heel on the ground.
Single Leg Hip Thrust
The single leg hip thrust targets your glutes and hamstrings. This exercise is essential for proper and full glute development. This exercise is challenging with body weight alone. After further development you can challenge yourself by holding a kettlebell, dumbbell, or barbell across your hips.
The Set-Up: Rest your upper back on a bench or box as you're sitting on the floor. Extend one leg out in front of you bending the knee. I refer to this as a 90/90 knee position. Slightly raise the toes off the ground.
The Movement: Drive your heel into the ground, squeezing your glutes and extending your hips towards the ceiling while maintaining a neutral spine and braced core. Do not arch your back during this movement. Slowly return to the start position by touching your hips to the ground and repeat.
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What we truly value often has attention taken away by tangible distractions and perceived ideas of perfection. Our lives have grown more complicated, filled with an idea to compete in a fast paced, achievement driven society. This idea has captured many, concealing us in a one lane road leading towards consumption and comparison. As many are caught in this movement, the modern world has seen a trend in opposite direction, one towards a deeper understanding of values, beliefs, and success.
Minimalism is that trend. I have seen the idea of simplification sweeping across the world in design, fashion, fitness, nutrition, even in home decor (thanks Joanna Gaines). The idea of minimalism is simple in itself, less is more.
My journey with minimalism started as I discovered I wasn't feeling a great sense of achievement and satisfaction in my work life, social life, or spiritual life. I was stressed, anxious, and dissatisfied with myself. I didn't lack any resources or quality personal relationships, it was actually the opposite. I realized I had consumed a lot of "stuff" and made myself busy with things that I didn't truly care about. I was overwhelmed, obsessed with pleasing others, and fell pray to the comparison game of social media. 
Minimalism was my answer. It was achieving more with less, simplifying the aspects in my life to regain true understanding of my values and the tasks I wanted to complete. I started to apply this idea of minimalism to 4 areas of my life and have experienced tremendous ease and peace, not to mention I feel physically fit and more energized than ever. 
Simplify Your Nutrition
To simplify your nutrition, first identify foods and drinks that you want (cravings) and need (natural nutrient dense items). Try to eliminate the foods that you don't necessarily need in your life, the ones that are causing more harm than good. The foods you choose to eat should be natural whole foods, ones with little to no ingredients list. With those food choices decide on staple meals, ones that are your favorites, could easily prepare, and could eat weekly. A minimalistic idea on nutrition might just be the correct view you've been looking for, as it definitely made a difference in my decision making.
I started a boring diet. I simplified my nutrition by trying to only consume chicken, fish, red meats, vegetables, fruits, oils, and nuts. This idea gave me a clear direction in my everyday meals and food choices. Chicken, broccoli and sweet potatoes became a staple. Grilling burgers or steaks with seasoned and charred brussels sprouts, onion, and pecans was another favorite. Stir fry is also king!
Along with my boring, yet effective diet plan I started intermittent fasting. I drank bulletproof coffee in the morning, took vitamins and minerals, and didn't consume anything but water until 12:45pm everyday.
By simplifying my nutrition I lost weight, decreased inflammation in my body, became more energized, spent less time prepping meals, and saved money at the grocery store.
Maximize Your Exercise Routine
Eliminate the unnecessary details so that you can maximize your fitness results. A simple and consistent exercise routine may seem boring compared to the training program that professional athletes are completing or even less extravagant than the bro at the gym with the cut off t-shirt and overly tanned skin. To get results you don't need to balance on a bosu ball or use 5 different pieces of equipment in the same routine. Performing quality movements with some sort of overload (resistance, reps, sets, time, etc.) is more than enough to reach your fitness and physique goals. You should concentrate on quality, not quantity and strive to do fewer things better.
To maximize my fitness results in the weightroom I stuck to a very simple plan. I performed 5 simple movement variations throughout the week - squat, hinge, push, pull, carry. These are all compound movements (movement with two or more moving joints) that give your body the most bang for it's buck. I chose very basic reps and sets schemes - usually 3x12, 4x8, 5x5, 8x3 depending on my goals. I also incorporate short, simple interval training to get a cardiovascular response. I spend 45 minutes in the gym maximum, have fun while I'm there, and move on with the rest of my life.
If you're interested in online personal training I'd love to lend my sword to your fight. Achieve real results using an effective approach.
Declutter Your Space
Have t-shirts you never wear? Items you purchased and forgot to return? Impulse buys that aren't serving a purpose in your life? We have been targeted by companies with marketing schemes to consume, consume, consume. We end up with more than we need, more than what is purposeful in our lives. 
I found myself overwhelmed by the amount of unnecessary "stuff" in my life. I decided to start donating and selling items that weren't serving a purpose or weren't directly making me happy. I donated clothes, shoes, and hats to Goodwill. I sold and gave away equipment that I hadn't used in years. I cancelled cable. With this came a sense of emotional peace, allowing me to stop wasting energy on making unnecessary decisions throughout my day. That energy has been refocused to other areas in my life. I don't waste creative energy on what to wear, my wardrobe is pretty simple. I now spend more time reading, writing, playing, exercising, learning new hobbies, and hanging out with family and friends.
Declutter Your Mind
We can consciously choose the thoughts we want to occupy our lives. Our thoughts paired with the physical choices we make can cause worry, anxiety, stress, happiness, excitement, thrill, etc. By determining our values, what is meaningful to us, we can then work at dismissing the rest. This kind of clarity can give your life incredible depth. By taking a minimalistic approach to other areas in our lives it takes us on a journey past valuing "things". By simplifying our lives, we disarm our anxiety and make room for the most important things, which actually aren't things at all. 
"The less you do, the more you do... Do less."
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We often hear our lives are now made more convenient. We have been searching for ease and comfort trying to accumulate items to make our lives better, and now resources are abundant giving us information, products, and services faster than ever. So why are we still so stressed out? We got what we wanted, didn't we? New flash, our current world is almost designed to increase stress on a regular basis. A fast paced, instant gratification, fight or flight world is what we are currently living in, causing a spike in our stress levels.
It is time to take back the control of your lifestyle, thoughts, emotions, and overcome stress by making a commitment to these 3 ways successful people overcome stress.
1) Practice Gratitude
"Gratitude is the best attitude!"
Cliche but true... A positive and gracious attitude can be created if practiced, and once practiced each day can change your life. By keeping a gratitude journal you can make yourself aware of the aspects of your life that affect you in a positive manner. By doing this, you have now written a script for a positive life making you less likely to compare yourself to others, and increase your ability to combat stressful situations with a sense of gratefulness towards things you already appreciate. 
Challenge: Keep a gratitude journal for the next 2 weeks. Each night before bed write down 2 things you are grateful for that day.
2) Be Patient and Understand the Process
"Patience is a virtue."
Cliche and true, again... The uprising of ease and comfort in our lives has taught us some really bad habits. As a consumer we are looking for fast, easy products and services. This has caused an inability to practice patience in high stress situations when patience is the exact thing that is needed. Having access to whatever we want has changed us and not for the better. Internet won't load? Stuck in traffic? 5-7 business days for a product to arrive? Want to lose weight? Want to build a successful career or company? Mom, the meatloaf?!?! (For all my Wedding Crashers fans out there!)
Understand the process and practice patience when trying to achieve your goals. You may not be getting what you want in the present moment, but you become more understanding, compassionate, and emphatic with others. Your ability to positively process what you are currently going through increases, as will your ability to determine what it takes to overcome your current obstacles. Appreciate the process of hard work through adversity, understanding through that process is where personal growth comes from. This results in more fulfilling work, relationships, and lifestyle.  
Challenge: Purposefully practice patience by unplugging from all technology a couple nights a this week. You may put your personal goals on hold to appreciate others areas in your life.
3) Create Routines
"The secret of your success is in your daily routine." - John C. Maxwell
Not cliche, still true... Routine has been a word that has put me off since my childhood when I would purposefully try to avoid routine to spite my parents. Ha, I showed them! Now I have realized that great routines give me energy, purpose, clarity, and allow me to accomplish the important things in my life.
I don't believe in strict routines because if you fail then it creates this mindset of worry through unpreparedness. I believe that if you can create 5 habits you want to incorporate. If you complete 3 out of the 5 it's a win for that particular routine and day. Obviously 5 out of 5 will make you a rockstar though, so try to get all 5.
A solid morning routine sets yourself up for a productive day putting you in the right mindset of achievement and joy. But without a great bedtime routine you probably aren't getting enough quality sleep to practice your morning routine with intention. Both are very important as you can see.
Try incorporating some of the following into your morning and bedtime routines to combat past and future stressors in your life.
Time Gap: Give yourself an allotted time to wake up and go to bed (ie. 6:15 - 6:45 a.m. and 9:30-10:30 p.m.). This frees you from feeling anxious if you start your routine a little bit later on certain mornings/nights.
Reading: Reading allows you time to get out of your own thoughts. You can explore new creative minds in a fictional story or read a self-help book to learn a new idea and spark motivation.  
Mindful Breathwork: By slowing down and practicing mindful breathwork you can put yourself in a better state of mind, temperament, and overall health.
Meditation: Meditation can improve focus, reduce stress, improve self-awareness and happiness, and overall cardiovascular and immune health.
Journaling: Journaling allows a moment to vent, create, practice gratitude, set goals etc.
Exercise: Get your blood flowing with your daily workout or just get some light movement in. It can obviously improve your physical health as well as your mood and self confidence.
Visualization: Visualize yourself being successful in future moments. Imagine yourself completing tasks, and achieving goals to create confidence and improved self-esteem.
Challenge: Pick 3 tasks listed above and create a morning and bedtime routine. Complete those routines for a week.
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Traveling can prove to spark your soul. It requires engagement in exploration while allowing moments of rest at the same time. A good trip has an opportunity to create a very unique combination of promoting physical activity, self-awareness, and selflessness resulting in a sense of peace and perspective. It is necessity to put your life on pause and take a moment to provide yourself with full restoration of your well-being. By visiting a new place and seeking out a new adventure, you can simply become a better human being. This is therapy, a very real type of medicine that is good for the body, mind, and soul.
Make the most out of your trip with 8 reasons traveling changes your life and perspective.
1) Learn to Live in the Present Moment
We often get caught up thinking about the past and future which causes anxious feelings that can wreak havoc on our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Traveling allows us to escape past and future events and live in the moment. It teaches us there is more to life when we unplug, unwind, and appreciate the aspects that surrounds us. Take a step back and seek these moments out, big and small.
2) Value Experiences Over Things
Once you stare a majestic mountain range, experience the grace of exotic wildlife, or walk through an ancient city among the residents that still call it their home you can then appreciate experiences over things. We tend to accumulate random things that carry little to no meaning or purpose in our lives. Invest in magical moments that you will remember for the rest of your life instead of buying an updated electronic device, a nicer car, or another piece of clothing you will only wear once before it gets lost in your closet.
3) Gain New Perspective
Mountains, oceans, historical monuments, and the simple serenity of the calming noise the wind creates can make you feel so small. Among these, seeing how other people live their lives undoubtedly changes the way you view your own life. With a sense of wonder, empathy, and purpose you will feel more appreciative of your own life and the opportunities that lay before you. Traveling can make you reexamine your values and lead to a powerful movement into a holistic lifestyle.
4) Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
Sample new experiences! Getting out of your comfort zone is the essence of traveling and exploring. You may end up finding a new food you enjoy, picking up a new hobby, or maybe even a new idea or way of life. Getting out of your comfort zone is simply stated, you'll never know until you try.
5) Learn the Beauty of a Frustrating Moment
Frustration is created when reality doesn't meet our expectations. It is a rejection of the way things are. Remember there is beauty in each of these frustrating moments, especially when you are traveling and developing a new mindset. Things will go wrong and when they do it may point you in a new positive direction, an amazing experience that you wouldn't have had. Instead of reeling in frustration, look at it as a new direction of exploration on your adventure.
6) Become More Self-Sufficient
Intentionally putting yourself in a place that you've never been creates the urge to become self-sufficient. It is actually a must. You are purposefully challenging yourself to figure things out. Navigating through a foreign city, backpacking through mountain peaks, or even trying to figure out where the nearest bathroom is can challenge you beyond measure. These new skills of independence go a long way while at home in your normal routine.
7) Gain New Relationships and Become More Social
Traveling forces your hand to become more social. Most trips are associated with meeting new people. One of the most essential tools to have as a traveller is the ability to ask questions. Any question! Questions will lead to unique conversations that you will remember for the rest of your life. Actively participate in your surroundings with suggestions from locals. Most of the time it leads to non-touristy, authentic experiences. The ones you'll never forget!
8) Improve Your Understanding of Different Cultures and Ways of Thinking
As you travel around the United States and the world you'll tend to notice that each culture is uniquely the same. What do I mean by this? Each culture has the same needs but different means of how to achieve them. Love, growth, comfort, variety, and contribution are all needs that can be achieved through different actions. As you notice how we share similar needs and how we create relationships with others from different backgrounds and cultures, we begin to realize how we are all connected. You will discover empathy and the ability to see the best in people.
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We spend some much money investing in savings accounts and retirement plans waiting patiently to see if all our money garners a return. We are trusting the ebb and flow of the market as the only control we possess in this game is how much money and when to put money into our accounts. Sure there is in depth analysis you can look at to predict great returns on your investments but the lack of control still remains (My financial buddies might ring my neck for this one!). I am not saying that it isn't smart to invest in your future, it's brilliant. I myself love the game money presents, thinking forward in regards to my retirement funds, savings accounts, and mutual funds accounts. But I am here to preach about investing your money in a different way to gain physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual returns. It is time to invest in your health, the ultimate investment where you control everything. The quality of your life depends on it, and your future self will thank you.
Investing in Physical Fitness
Investing in your physical fitness is a tremendous way to live your life. If you invest your hard earned money into a gym membership, fitness equipment, or a knowledgable coach that has your best interest in mind you can see a hobby forming and outstanding returns. You will feel strength that enables you to be a part of special moments such as hiking a mountain or as simple as playing with friends or your kids. You will feel increased natural energy levels to achieve important tasks throughout your day, causing you to be more productive with the aspects of your life that really matter. You will feel more confident in your body knowing that confidence can overflow into other areas of your life.
Investing in Organic Foods and Natural Vitamin Supplements
Investing in organic food and natural vitamin supplements you may be deprived of can show massive returns to your health and wellness. Grocery stores and markets are filled with food items that actually do more harm than good for the chemistry in your body. Our bodies were made to absorb natural ingredients to ensure proper growth, recovery, cognition and satiety. We as a society have lost track of this and have gone for the easy fix to our busy lives, buying up processed junk foods or foods that contain GMO's and other harmful chemicals.
Organic foods and natural supplements might cost more money but the return is worth every penny. Eating foods the way they were made to be eaten can enhance the quality of your life dramatically. You will find yourself feeling more satisfied, not having the urge to binge. You will have more mental clarity, avoiding the mind fog that a majority of Americans experience. Hormone levels begin to balance out leaving you feeling more energetic and less emotionally distraught (say goodbye to mood swings!). Your body image and fitness will improve from fueling your workouts with high quality, natural, whole food sources. 
Investing in Books and Other Healthy Hobbies
Smartphones, televisions, and computers are great! I'm utilizing one this very instant to bring you this useful information, but too much of a good thing can sometimes go bad... really, really bad. We have found ourselves bed, couch, and desk-ridden with the amount of new technology we have at our fingertips. This not only can create a habit of a non-active lifestyle, but increased screen time can lead of other unhealthy factors. One major factor is a discombobulated circadian rhythm (a 24 hour internal clock managing your sleep/wake cycles). A large amount of screen time throughout the day and night can lead to hindered quality of sleep due to the inability to fall asleep or restless sleep.
Invest in books and other healthy hobbies to limit your screen time. Read a book that has caught your interest, learn to play a musical instrument, take up gardening, join a sports league, pick up a recreational hobby such as mountain biking or hiking. These will all serve you well by limiting your screen time but also allowing you an emotional outlet from everyday life.
Investing in Meditation and Stress Management Practices
Mindfulness practices are essential to living a happy, healthy, fulfilled life. Meditation is not just for the eastern religions or just the hippies (I've got hippy in my blood!). It is everyone's best interest to practice meditation knowing that it may look different for each of us. Meditation could be spending some time in prayer, practicing yoga, listening to calming sounds or music, or sitting in stillness with one of the many meditation techniques. Whatever you have deemed best for you, all meditation allows us to breathe deeply and step away from ourselves, the being that endures stress throughout the day, the one who is constantly thinking of past and future moments. It teaches us to slow our thoughts, act with intent, and be thoughtful in each moment in your conscious lives.
Investing in a meditation practice can be monumental in your health and wellness causing you less anxiety and stress throughout your day. You will be able to make sound decisions, be more creative with your ideas, and remain emotionally healthy in all situations.
Personal Thoughts
I have a hard time putting money away into accounts that I can't touch until I am at least 55, 59, 60 years or however old it is. Knowing my health history with the heart condition I have has made me realize I might not live to be that old. I joke around with friends and family saying I'm going to live until I'm 200 most days, thinking in my mind it actually isn't a joke. What I mean by that is I'm going to do everything in my power to live "200 years worth" in the time that I am given on earth. My plan to do that? I know how to invest in my body, mind, and soul. It's cliche to say I'm going to live life to the fullest, but I am honestly trying my damnedest.
What does this mean? It means...
Exercise daily to ensure good physical health which enables me to experience moments of triumph such as setting a new personal record in a strength movement, getting lost in time as I complete kettlebell and mace flows, hiking in the Rocky Mountains, walking along the Cliffs of Moher, hiking to see the Delicate Arch, among other unforgettable moments in my life.
Eat organic, natural, whole food products when I can while still maintaining a social life. I want to be as creative, clear, and concise as I can be while I strive to create a meaningful professional life.
Read books that will serve my mind and emotions well by challenging my own thoughts and way of thinking.
Participate in hobbies such as sport, travel, hiking, biking, learning to play the ukulele, and journaling to make life intriguing, give myself an outlet, and honestly allow myself to have content for interesting conversation.
Continue to meditate and pray daily knowing it will serve not only myself but the people around me while trying to become a master of my mind.
Throw in continuing to love my family and friends as they are an extension of myself and that's a hell of a life!
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Ever since I found myself immersed in the fitness world I have dreamed of having a home gym. Not a Bowflex and a couple dumbbells in the basement, a legit home gym where I could be in functional movement heaven (my apologies to Bowflex).
The time had finally come when my fiance and I recently bought our first house. We could remodel the bathrooms, we could rip up the carpet in the living room and stain original hard wood floors, we could build an deck extension in the back yard and create an amazing outdoor living space. These all were put on the back burner as the home gym was the first update on our minds. 
First question: Where do I create a home gym?
Answer: Garage
I've seen home gyms done in the basement of houses, but with that comes plenty of limitations. I love working overhead with different pressing variations so a low profile ceiling was not going to cut it. Luckily we have a two car garage and I believe in street parking like Rogue Fitness has so famously made... Garage it is!
Not only do we have plenty of space to assemble all the equipment we need, but we can also open the garage door to get some fresh air while training. You can't beat the view of our rural front yard.
We decided to keep the garage white so it seemed more spacious and open with one exception, we had to have a chalkboard paint wall to write up all my evil minded workouts that I make both of us endure. I decided to paint the section in between the two storm windows which is a great central location of the Rogue rack I've always dreamed of.
We also lucked out and had cabinets previously installed in the garage of ample storage space so we went ahead and painted them a slate gray color that was left over from the previous owner.
Second question: What equipment should I purchase for a home gym?
Answer: Whatever you want!
I already started a small collection of fitness equipment in our apartment. I splurged and bought an Assault Bike that sat in our living room... the perfect lounge chair next to our love seat. I also had an Onnit Steel Mace along with resistance bands. A respectable collection for a 700 square foot apartment.
Living in Columbus, the easy decision for the rest of the home gym equipment was Rogue Fitness. I took to Rogue Fitness through a personal friend of mine and Athletic Director at The Wellington School, Lindsey Smith, who in my eyes is a legend in the Crossfit world. If you have time look into what she has accomplished in her athletic life, it's insanely impressive! 
After deciding on a smart budget we felt comfortable with we scrolled through Rogue's website for an entire week making sure we had the final equipment list we wanted. We knew we wanted a power rack, barbell, and kettlebells as well as keeping everything black and red to match what I have built with Heartbeat Strength. The Heartbeat Strength Home Gym equipment list is in its entirety below.
The Equipment List:
Rubber Flooring (2 rolls 4' x 15')- Inc Stores
Matt Chan Barbell - Rogue Fitness
HG 2.0 Plates (4 pair 45lb, 2 pair 25lb, 1 pair 10lb, 8 pair 5lb, 2 pair 2.5lb) - Rogue Fitness
Rogue Kettlebells (97lb, 70lb, 53lb, 35lb, 26lb) - Rogue Fitness
RH-2I Reverse Hyper - Rogue Fitness
20lb Steel Mace - Onnit
Sandbag - Onnit
Assault AirBike - Assault Fitness
VooDoo Floss Bands - Rogue Fitness
Third Question: Is the home gym equipment here yet?!
Answer: Finally! 
We anxiously waited for all this equipment to come, eager to get it set up and start utilizing our massive investment. A home gym is exactly that, an investment.
Instead of paying money each and every month to use a commercialized fitness facility you can workout at anytime you want, any day, under your own rules. A home gym also brings an enhanced state of mind, one that isn't filled with comparison, judgement, and self pity. And because of this a home gym breeds a healthy life not only physically but emotionally as well.
Tips for starting your own home gym:
1) When planning a home gym thoroughly work through a feasible budget. If you have a limited budget, add pieces here and there as you start to create the home gym of your dreams. Start with equipment that gives you the most bang for your limited buck. For example, the rogue kettlebells can be used for strength training, HIIT (high intensity interval training), and endurance training. Trust me, we aren't done adding equipment to the Heartbeat Strength Home Gym.
2) Measure your space. Measure the square footage and height of your ceiling in order to assemble the equipment and have space to actually train. It would be a huge bummer to get a power rack and have the ceilings too low.
3) Buy a variety of equipment. Purchase fitness equipment you enjoy using and will be excited to work hard with. Also, buy some equipment that enables you to use a completely different style of fitness, challenge yourself by forcing your own hand to learn new techniques. I never used a sandbag or steel mace before this past year. Guess what? They've grown to be my favorite two pieces of fitness equipment I own because it's out of the norm and challenges me physically. That challenge has proven to enhance my cognitive focus and I'm immensely enjoying the journey they are taking me on.
4) Create a badass Coat of Arms for your family's home gym. Molly and I were trying to figure out what flags and banners we wanted to hang our home gym. Instead, I decided to put my creativity to the task. I created a coat of arms (family crest) that is filled with meaning and will constantly motivated us in and out of our home gym. When we have future family reunions you better believe this thing will be printed on t-shirts. 
If you want a full explanation of what each detail means reach out and I'll gladly share. Maybe it will spark your artistic side to create one as well.
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