Health Effects of Being Overweight or Obese

In June 2017 an article by the New England Journal of Medicine was released analyzing the health risks of obese and overweight individuals in 195 countries over 25 years. Here are the major conclusions of that study:

  • There is probable evidence that being overweight leads to 20 different diseases including back pain, several types of cancers, stroke, heart disease, hypertension, and osteoarthritis
  • The lowest overall risk of death was observed for a BMI of 20 to 25. Click here to determine your BMI.
  • Globally, 5% of children and 12% of adults are obese. Obesity is generally higher in women than in men
  • The prevalence of obesity has doubled in 73 countries in the last few decades
  • In 2015, high BMI contributed to 4.0 million deaths globally with cardiovascular disease being the primary cause
  • High BMI also accounted for 28.6 million years lived with disability
  • From 1990 through 2015, there was a relative increase of 28.3% in the global rate of death related to high BMI
  • “The results show that both the prevalence and disease burden of high BMI are increasing globally. These findings highlight the need for implementation of multicomponent interventions to reduce the prevalence and disease burden of high BMI”

Global obesity is increasing and the evidence supporting the resultant diseases of obesity at this point are irrefutable. What do you think we can do as a community to help prevent the further increase in obesity rates and further disease? Comment below.


Mental Toughness for Peak Performance, Leadership Development, and Success

Click Here to Purchase Mental Toughness for Peak Performance, Leadership Development, and Success on Amazon

Without mental toughness, regardless of how talented you are, peak performance will not be reached. Whether you are trying to run your fastest marathon or lose 10 pounds, Mental Toughness by J. Barnes will give you the tools you need to push past any difficulties and achieve your goals.

The Peak Performance Progression

Peak performance usually comes when you are both in a peak physical and mental condition and performing against others in competition. Mental fitness is often disregarded during training, but it is what may be the difference between success and failure. “Mental fitness is the ability to remain strong, directed, and positive through your thoughts, feelings, and actions in the face of physical, mental, and emotional stressors.” You can train your mental fitness and reach peak performance just like you can train your body. The Peak Performance Progression (TM by J. Barnes) is a method used to make this mental toughness training more productive. The progression is made up of 5 key elements: mental toughness, mental performance, emotional performance, physical performance, and results.

The Mental Toughness Loop

You can use the Mental Toughness Loop to progress your peak performance. This loop suggests that mental toughness is comprised of motivation, willpower, self-discipline, focus, mental stamina, and self-confidence. Barnes offers tips to train each of these, here are a few that I found particularly useful. You need to train your mind to eradicate self-doubt and negativity. If you find yourself being negative or lacking confidence, talk to yourself using positive thoughts, the way you practice or train often dictates your performance. You must approach practice the same way you will approach game day. 5 minutes of concentrated training is often more productive than 30 minutes of lackadaisical training. Focus.

The Mind Power Principles

Programming: You need to consciously program your mind to be strong. What you say, hear, imagine, see, feel, and do has a definite impact on your mental functioning and performance. Don’t allow yourself to be re-programmed by negative people or adverse circumstances.
Training: Like any activity, you must train your mind to have great mental toughness.
Attitude: It’s ok to be frustrated, regretful, and disappointed some of the time, but most the time you should think positively. You can think of this as thoughts that empower you or thoughts that disempower you. To help keep a good attitude, let go of perfectionist tendencies and habits. A champion’s attitude is focused on making mistakes and improving their skills.
Clarity: Be very clear about what you really want to achieve. By maintaining your clarity of goals, you will minimize wasted energy on actions that do not contribute to your success.
Commitment: Focus 100% of your efforts toward your goals and developing your mental toughness.
Passion: Have enthusiasm for what you are learning and doing.
Simplicity: Master the critical few techniques and skills that make the difference between winning and losing. Follow the 80/20 rule, focus 80% of your time on the critical skills, and 20% on everything else.
Reality: Acknowledge things are they currently are as opposed to how you want them to be.
Actions: This is the single most important and controllable determinant of success or failure. Don’t talk about it, be about it. Get out there and do it.

The Mind Power Attributes

The Mind Power Attributes are characteristics or qualities of an individual’s psychological or mental functioning. The goal is to develop all 5 of the mental attributes to have the greatest impact on the mental toughness loop.

Ambition: The strong desire to achieve something that is not common or easy.

Knowledge: Mastery of something does not mean you can stop learning, successful people are always acquiring new knowledge.

Belief: Have trust, faith, and confidence that you can achieve peak performance. “You cannot conceive or achieve what you cannot believe.”

Persistence: Despite difficulty or opposition, always persevere and carry on. Most people don’t realize that winners typically have failed more times than losers, but it’s the persistence and learning through these failures that make them a success.

Adaptability: If something isn’t working, adapt to the task at hand and change your strategy.


Motivation is the desire to do something driven by emotions. You are intrinsically motivated if you believe you have or can develop the skills to reach your goals, have the commitment to learning and mastering the required skills, and the acceptance of your power to influence your performance, results, and success. You are extrinsically motivated if the motivation comes from outside of yourself, such as receiving a paycheck. Barnes recommends using both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation methods to improve mental toughness. Try using music, friends, your family, or a coach to fuel your motivation. Visualizing your goal can also increase your motivation.

Willpower and Self-Control

Not having willpower is the number one reason people are unable to reach their health goals. You can strengthen your willpower by doing anything that gets your brain out of its comfort zone in a healthy manner. It’s also important to conserve your willpower for what matters. You can conserve your willpower by clarifying and prioritizing your goals, planning and preparing, simplifying your life, getting enough sleep and rest, staying healthy, tracking your results, and eliminating willpower killers such as negative people, drugs and alcohol, and excessive training. You can activate your willpower using 3 steps: pause, erase, then replace.

Pause: Before making a decision or taking action, engage your conscious mind and refuse to let emotions drive your decision.

Erase: Once you are in physical control of your thoughts, erase any unproductive or distracting thoughts. Throw away any thoughts based on temptation or emotions.

Replace: This is where your willpower is activated. Replace any unproductive thoughts with productive thoughts, such as your primary success goal.

You can train your willpower and self-control by doing small things that you otherwise wouldn’t want to do. Resist the urge to hit the snooze button in the morning. Practice the art of delay where if you want something, wait seconds, days, or years to get it. If you are distracted by something, consciously reroute your attention to your original task. Finally, take immediate action, if you notice you need to do something, don’t delay, go do it.


Would you rather be super intelligent or highly disciplined? Studies have shown that those who are highly disciplined are more likely to succeed than those who are highly intelligent. Discipline is extremely important to form habits, which are formed through “context-dependent repetition”. To form new habits, you must practice doing an action under a specific context until it becomes second nature. For example, a workout habit will form if you go to the gym every day after work, but may not form if you go at different times every day. New habits usually take at least 2 months to form, but for some people, for some habits, it takes as much as 8 months. Here are 12 steps to creating new habits:

  1. Clarify your motivation
  2. Prioritize your habit
  3. Focus on frequency
  4. Make it easy
  5. Use micro goals
  6. Schedule it
  7. Create environmental support
  8. Use your willpower
  9. Do it!
  10. Enjoy the habit
  11. Record it in a log
  12. Program the habit

To maintain your habits, it’s helpful to invest some time in the conscious maintenance of the habit. Every once in awhile go back through these steps and reform your habit. Remember that self-discipline is freedom! Some people believe that self-discipline represents restriction, difficulty, pain, and boredom, but really it opens up your life to better decision making, greater success, and greater happiness. Be patient with your training and development of self-discipline. Just like all habits, it will take time to develop.

Mental Stamina

To reach your health goals, you must be able to maintain focus during intense and prolonged periods. Just like you can train your body to run long distances, your brain can be trained for endurance as well. One way to improve mental stamina is to self-talk. Positive self-talk allows you to stimulate your action, direct your action, and evaluate your action as if you are looking from the outside in. You can use phrases such as “you can do this” or “let’s go!” to self-motivate yourself. You can use instructional self-talk to guide yourself to your goals. If you know how to do something but are having trouble taking action, then talk yourself through the actions like you are instructing someone else. Visualization is another way to improve your mental stamina. Barnes talks about visualization more than any other topic in this book. Visualization is a mental rehearsal for success.


You must believe in your own personal power and skills in order to be mentally tough. “Self-confidence is a feeling of belief and trust in one’s abilities, qualities, and judgment”. Lack of confidence is not always associated with lack of ability and is usually caused by being a perfectionist and focusing on unrealistic goals. You can increase your self-confidence by using the following strategies: gain experience through practice, take risks, model the behavior of successful people, learn vicariously through others, practice positive self-talk and self-praise, and reach out for social support. There are 7 key habits of self-confidence:

  1. Being optimistic
  2. Being knowledgeable
  3. Being prepared
  4. Being a doer
  5. Being supportive
  6. Being healthy
  7. Being grateful

To be self-confident you must also manage your fears. “Fear is an unpleasant anxiety or apprehension caused by the presence or anticipation of danger.” Fear is a biological action, but can be managed using these 5 steps:

  1. Acknowledge the fear
  2. Relax
  3. Know your motivation
  4. Trust your skills and training
  5. Stay in the present

Fear is often future-oriented, so don’t look too far into the future and that should alleviate the anxiety of future events.

Mental Toughness Exercises

In order to exercise your mental toughness, you must experience and overcome one or more of the five stressor conditions.

  1. Mental confusion
  2. Mental fatigue
  3. Emotional distress
  4. Physical fatigue
  5. Physical pain

To have mental toughness you must be able to have the ability to perform effectively even under one or more of these stressors. Your mental toughness level is determined by how close you can perform to your peak performance under these stressors. You can build your own mental toughness training programs based on the pillars of fitness, skill, application, and education. Here is a sample training program to increase your mental toughness!

  • Cardiovascular training (3-4x weekly)
  • Strength Training (1-3x weekly)
  • Nutrition – Eat a healthy diet daily
  • Meditation (3-6x weekly)
  • Power Breathing (3-6x weekly)
  • Light stretching (3-6x weekly)
  • Focus on increasing your motivation, willpower, self-discipline, self-confidence, focus and concentration, and mental stamina

The Mental Toughness Pledge

Commit to the following behaviors to take to mental toughness pledge!

  1. Never complain
  2. Never criticize
  3. Never resent
  4. Always respect reality
  5. Always take responsibility
  6. Always focus on solutions
  7. Always use results as a guide
  8. Always learn from mistakes
  9. Always celebrate success as a team
  10. Always appreciate what you have

I hope you enjoyed the book summary for Mental Toughness by J. Barnes.

Quote of the Week – 26 June

“The Body is a mirror of how we live our lives” – Lissa Rankin, MD

When you look in the mirror what do you see? Your reflection not only shows you your physical appearance, but is a reflection of your work, hobbies, family, discipline, mind, and faith. Your health and fitness are a direct representation of you. If you choose to binge your favorite shows on Netflix every day after coming home from a desk job, your body will reflect that. If you choose to workout every day before work, your body will reflect that as well. Your body is not a separate entity from the rest of your life. It is important to connect the body and mind so that when you look in the mirror it shows the outcome of your thoughts and goals.

What is Obesity?

Obesity can be defined in many ways, but there is perhaps only one way we should look at it. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines obesity as “a condition characterized by the excessive accumulation and storage of fat in the body” and can be measured using body mass index (BMI). Simply put, if you are carrying extra fat and you exceed the medical standard for how much you weigh for how tall you are, then you are by definition considered obese.

There are two common ways being diagnosed with obesity are received by the patient: shame and logic. Shame is a feeling of emotional pain and humiliation that comes with insecurity and the failure to live up to their own or someone else’s standards. If someone has lived their whole life believing and reassuring themselves that they are not obese and someone informs them that they meet the definition of an obese individual, it is common for them to feel ashamed. This action and subsequent feeling of shame have recently been called “fat shaming”. In recent years, showing concern for someone’s health by asking them to exercise with them or eat a healthy meal has been considered an elusive but hurtful way of fat shaming.

The other way a diagnosis of obesity can be received is with logic. Being diagnosed with obesity should be thought of the same way as any other disease and a prescription should be made for diet and exercise. The truth is obesity is a serious medical condition that has a built-in positive feedback loop of exacerbated disease. This means the worse your obesity is, the worse you will experience other types of disease. Obesity leads to hypertension, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, sleep disorders, cancer, atherosclerosis, and diabetes. It decreases your quality of life through decreased mobility and increased joint pain. Your medical bills will be higher thus you will have less money, and you are more likely to experience depression if you are obese.

So what is obesity? It is more than just an opportunity to fat shame, it is a medical diagnosis that is likely a significant limiting factor in the patient being able to live a happy and fulfilling life. It is more than just a definition of someone’s weight, it foreshadows the story of one’s life by predicting both physical and mental disease. When someone feels they have been shamed due to their weight, they reserve the right to feel ashamed, especially if there was malicious intent. However, we as a culture need to start seeing obesity as a treatable disease that when cured can significantly increase the quality of someone’s life.

To help combat the rising obesity epidemic we need to start making health and fitness part of our culture. To learn more about how we can do this, read The Grassroots Health Movement, an article about changing our nation’s culture one person at a time.

Quote of the Week – 19 June

“Always keep moving, even if you’re just walking.”

We all start our health and fitness goals at different levels, but the end state can be the same for all of us. The secret is no matter how far behind you feel, just keep moving. Momentum and consistency are what will lead you to success. If you aren’t getting the results you want right away, then do not give up. Keep walking, crawl if you need to. The goal is to keep moving forward, to never give up, and to establish good habits.

The Difference Between Aerobic and Anaerobic Exercise and Why it Matters

I’m sure you hear the terms aerobic and anaerobic all the time. The term aerobic has often been used synonymously with the term cardio and is sometimes confused with a type of fitness class from the 1970s. What exactly are aerobic and anaerobic exercises, and why does it matter?

It turns out that these are directly related to your metabolism and the way your body uses energy. The amount of energy your muscles keep stored at any given time only allows for about a second of maximum exertion and after that, your body needs to begin making more energy for itself. For the first couple minutes of a hard workout, your body will use carbohydrates in the form of blood sugar or glycogen (sugar stored in your muscles) to generate additional energy. These first couple minutes do not require additional oxygen to create the new energy, so it is called an anaerobic (no oxygen) process.

If you exercise extends longer than a couple minutes without a long enough break to allow your muscles to restore their energy, then your body begins to run out of glycogen and blood sugar to safely use and must find a new way to produce energy. Your body decides to start breaking down fats, carbohydrates, and even proteins to use as energy. If your workout lasts long enough, your body will even go as far as breaking down your muscles for energy! These metabolic processes require oxygen, which is why they are referred to as aerobic processes.

How you train determines what type of energy pathway you are using. If you are lifting weights, throwing a ball, or running a sprint, then you are using anaerobic processes to provide your body with energy. This type of exercise forces your body adapt to become better suited for short, explosive movements. Your muscles will start to store more energy and they will begin to grow larger. If you decide to go jogging, swimming, or dancing, you are using aerobic processes to fuel your body. The more you do these kinds of workouts, the more your body will adapt to utilizing and mobilizing fat, which could lead to a lower body fat percentage. Also, your ability to store and transport oxygen in your muscles will increase and your aerobic capacity will rise.

A good mix of aerobic and anaerobic activities are required to stay healthy and fit, but depending on your fitness goals you may want to choose to train one more often than the other. To lose weight, aerobic activities should be favored, while to gain muscle size and mass, anaerobic exercises should be your go to exercise type.

Living with a SEAL

Click Here to Purchase Living with a SEAL: 31 Days Training with the Toughest Man on the Planet on Amazon

Imagine hiring a combat-hardened Navy SEAL to be your personal trainer. This SEAL will live with you in your guest room for a month, and you must do everything he says regardless of how ridiculous it may sound. That is what Jesse Itzler did, and he documented his experiences in his book Living with a SEAL. This book is partly a self-help book, partly a health and fitness book, but it is mostly popular for its entertainment and comedy. While Living with a SEAL is mostly read for entertainment, it contains some great health and fitness tips that are worth sharing.

Itzler’s first workout with the Navy SEAL was an outdoor run when it was 14 degrees Fahrenheit outside. Most people would think it is crazy to run outside in such cold weather, but SEAL (the Navy SEAL’s name was not shared and he was called ‘SEAL’ throughout the book) ran in shorts, a t-shirt, and a pair of gloves. He explained that mental imaging and toughness can do a lot for your performance. If it’s 14 degrees out, pretend it’s 50, start running, and don’t think about the cold. Your body will warm up as you get going. Unfortunately, this method doesn’t work in hot weather. If it’s hot, it’s hot.

When Itzler needed to go on a short notice business trip, he let SEAL know they need to leave to fly cross country the next day. SEAL was not happy and used some strong words to say that he can’t get up and go on a trip while giving up on training. Training needs to be prioritized despite traveling for work. After the day of travel, Itzler is tired and ready to settle into bed at his hotel. SEAL knocks on his door and commands that he goes to the lobby in 10 minutes ready for a run. The lesson, even when you are tired and have other important factors in your life, you must prioritize your workouts.

One night, SEAL told Itzler to go grab the most uncomfortable chair in their home. He does and is then told to sleep in the chair instead of his bed that night. Another night, Itzler walked into SEAL’s room to find him setting up a tent that is designed to depressurize to mimic high altitude camping, which he then slept in instead of his bed. But why would SEAL do this? Putting yourself outside of your comfort zone both while training and generally in life is the only way to learn and grow. Later when Itzler was ordered to jump in a frozen lake then run back in the snow while barefooted, he did so with little hesitation. Don’t get too comfortable, find ways to get out of your comfort zone.

Itzler completed some of the hardest workouts he has ever done while living with SEAL. SEAL’s motto is “when you think you’re done, you’re only at 40% of what your body is capable of doing, that’s just the limit we put on ourselves.” Keep pushing even when you think you hit a wall, but never let your form degrade. Doing exercises correctly and with good form will give you your best results. “You get more out of 10 push-ups done the right way than 30 done improperly.”

SEAL was notorious for being a very good looking man and he was stirring up discussion in the office space when he would shadow Itzler at work. SEAL didn’t only care about his looks but wanted to stay healthy on the inside. He said, “you can be fit without being healthy, but you can’t be healthy without being fit, meaning you can be in great shape on the outside, but if you don’t eat great and take care of your insides, you aren’t in great shape.”

By the end of the 31 days, Itzler was able to do 1000 push-ups in a single day. He not only got in great shape but learned how to be mentally strong and push through workouts in extreme conditions. He leaves us with one last piece of advice, “if you push the body, the body will respond.”

Quote of the Week – 12 June

“Limiting the time you’re inactive is even more important than exercise.” – Tom Rath

What is more beneficial, taking 10,000 steps over the course of a day, or exercising for an hour and taking 5,000 steps during that one hour workout? I would take the 10,000 steps over the course of the day. Having a healthier lifestyle is not just a formula of exercise and dieting, it goes much deeper into how we spend our day. If we work a job that requires us to be on our feet all day, we will already have a leg up to staying healthy. Sometimes we cannot choose a job that allows us to be active all day, but we can choose our weekend and weeknight activities. On family night instead of playing a board game, try going to the park. Or instead of hiring a company to mow your lawn, do your own yard work as a way to stay active. The more sedentary you are throughout the week the more likely you are to acquire health concerns, even if you exercise regularly.

How to Stay Healthy While Working a Desk Job

One of the perks of working for a large company is they often have fitness programs and on-site gyms so you can squeeze in a workout during lunch or after work. However, your average company does not have the benefits that a larger company may have. This does not mean employers and employees can’t find ways to make the workplace a healthier place to work.

If you work an office job you probably spend at least six hours per day sitting down. Try to find reasons to get up and walk around. Organize your office space so that any time you need to print, scan, or copy a document you are required to get up and walk to the printer. Park in the farthest parking spot at the office to give yourself an extra few minutes in the morning to walk into work. Instead of calling a co-worker, walk to their office and see if they are available to talk in person. If they are unavailable, walk back later. Instead of sending a mass email to everyone, post information on a bulletin board that requires everyone to get up to read new information.

You can also push to have more programs like the larger companies, but with fewer expenses. An internal ‘biggest loser’ competition can motivate employees to lose weight by offering a nice reward such as a few extra vacation days. Spend a few dollars per person to buy everyone a pedometer and see who can take the most steps in a one month period and offer a reward for the most active employee. Offer a longer lunch period for employees who plan to exercise during that time. Work out a deal with the local gym to give employees a reduced price on their gym memberships. Also, you can cater a healthy lunch every once in a while.

Office outings can be a great way to build camaraderie and a healthier company culture. Instead of the office going to a sports game or someone’s home for a party, plan for everyone to attend a ‘high ropes’ obstacle course, play a sport, or play paintball. If your company is large enough, create your own internal sports league that meets and plays your favorite sport once a week after work. Or even better, challenge other companies in the local area to see who the best firm in the local area is.

Even if your company does not offer all the fancy perks to help you reach your health goals, there are plenty of ways to make your work life work for you and not against you. Pick your favorite idea and start talking to your colleagues about setting something up. It only takes a few people to like your ideas to get the ball rolling.

Quote of the Week – 5 Jun

“Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Bill Gates, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.” – H. Jackson Brown, Jr

Probably the most common excuse I hear preventing someone from exercising is they don’t have enough time to workout. In this quote, it’s brought up that we all have the same amount of hours in a day, but some people, such as the successful icons in this quote, still accomplished extraordinary feats. The same can be applied to everyday health and fitness. Any time you set a health goal and feel like you don’t have enough time, just remember there is someone out there that had the same goal and the same time constraints, but still managed to achieve it. Try to learn from the people who have already achieved the goal you want to achieve, because they too struggled in the beginning, but their mental toughness was too strong not to succeed. If they can do it, you can too.