Week 5 Spark Insight: Influence and Control

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ESSENTIAL ELEMENT:  Influence and Control

Critical Concept:  The Ability to Choose
We innately crave control in our lives. Control can manifest in many ways, but ultimately we need to feel safe.  We want to feel a sense of influence in our destiny.  We want to be able to choose.  Ultimately, we are terrifically loss-averse, and the loss of freedom to choose is one of our most primal fears.

The ability to choose is the hallmark of influence.

Hard-wired into our very core are innate values that guide our experience like a GPS system (Genetic Positioning System).  These values are the compass that directs our life experiences, relationships and decisions.  These Innate Values are not chosen.  They are inborn.

Our Belief Systems, however, are learned.  They are shaped throughout our lives by our experiences, interpretations, relationships and environment.  These beliefs make up our Paradigm – our viewpoint of the world.  They dictate all of our behaviors, habits and lifestyle patterns.  They predict what we think, what we say, what we do and what we feel.  They are dynamic and heavily influenced.

Our belief systems are learned, and therefore are chosen.

We can choose better belief systems.  A vital behavior for gaining greater influence in your life is the ability to choose a better belief system.  Once we recognize that the paradigm that has dictated every thought, response, choice, and behavior pattern in our lives is learned, we can also recognize that it can be re-learned.

In the Bonfire Spark Resources you will find several tools and exercises that you can use to examine your current belief systems and work toward creating the beliefs that are congruent with your values and purpose.

A best practice taught by Influence Master Stephen Covey is the understanding of what he refers to as our Circle of Influence (COI).  Covey teaches that our COI consists of what we think and what we do.  This COI exists within a larger circle – our Circle of Concern (COC).  Our COC consists of every stimulus that makes it onto our radar.  Everything that registers to our sensory systems exists within our COC.  He teaches that we only have influence on those things in our COI (what we think and do).  Covey goes on to say that the more we focus on our COI, the larger our influence becomes.  Conversely, the more time, energy and focus that we waste outside of our Circle of Influence, the less influence we enjoy.

Our lives can be reduced to a series of choices and the results of those choices.  Every choice, every day, we get to shape our lives.  Create an increased awareness of your Innate Values and choose Belief Systems that are in alignment with them – and watch your behaviors follow suit.

Peace of mind is chosen.

Week 5 Air Insight: Exercise Intensity

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ESSENTIAL ELEMENT:  Exercise Intensity

Critical Concept:  Kick it up a notch
Intensity is where the “Good Stuff” is found.

We wish that we could tell you that the greatest fitness benefits come from an apparatus that plugs into the wall and does the exercise for you while you lay on the couch.  We can’t.  As it turns out, and as you might have suspected - the harder you work, the greater the benefit.

“Virtually any physiological measurement that we can make improves with exercise and gets worse the more sedentary we become,” says Dr. Loren Cordain, a physiologist at Colorado State University at Fort Collins.  “There is no simple formula,” he says, “but if health is your goal, the optimal amount of exercise is much more that you’d probably think.”

In fact, the benefits of exercise read like a Well People wish-list:  normalized blood pressure, cholesterol levels and lipid profiles, blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity, arterial and heart function – all of which play a critical role in exercise’s well-documented disease prevention qualities.

In fact, in his landmark book Spark, author Dr. John Ratey, brain development and conditioning are the reasons to exercise.  Cognition, learning and memory improve.  Henriette van Praag, a neuroscientist at the National Institutes of Health says that “exercise helps prevent depression – even as well as depression medications” (without the adverse side effects of drugs, of course, and with all of the collateral benefits of fitness).

In fact, the harder you work, the greater the benefit.

As with all things in the Bonfire Lifestyle, we adopt new behaviors with a healthy respect for Transition and Progression.  Increase the intensity of your exercise gradually.  Use target heart rates as a guide for developing a training threshold.  Intensity is a relative term.  Regardless of your current fitness level, progression should be a priority.  Make it a goal to simply do more than yesterday.  Practice ideal technique as a correlate to intensity – never compromise one for the other.  Use the Bonfire Air Videos to guide you.  Always place equal emphasis on safety, mechanics and intensity.  The greatest health benefits will result from consistent training over time – compounding fitness.

If you want to save time and get the best results, make intensity a priority.  Research shows that the most effective fitness regimens are short interval, high intensity programs.  Although fitness programs should be constantly varied, the bulk of your training should include workouts that focus on short period, intense bursts of work.  Dr. Izumi Tabata, a Japanese Olympic strength and conditioning coach, determined the ideal intervals of work and rest for the athlete looking for serious results.  Can you believe that the greatest returns for your effort for both aerobic and anaerobic benefit (including fat burning) can be found in a four minute workout?

Best practices for keeping your workouts intense include the following:  incorporate the use of a timer or stopwatch for you workouts.  The simplest way to increase intensity is to lessen the time that it takes to complete an activity.  Check yourself:  if it is easy to carry on a conversation – ramp it up.  You should progress toward a target heart rate of 80-90% for your intensity intervals.  Training with a partner or a group, competition and encouragement always turns up the heat.  Use a greater load, go a longer distance, or do it all faster and harder and you’ll be on your way to ideal intensity and the greatest results.

Remember, if you are going to take the time to work out – get the most out of it.  Moving, sweating and panting are sure signs that you are heading toward optimal health.  Increasing your intensity will not only get you there faster, but it ensures that it will be over sooner, as well.

Week 5 Fuel Insight: Increase Healthy Fats

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ESSENTIAL ELEMENT:  Increase Healthy Fats

Critical Concept:  Fats are Good
What if a critical secret to improving your health was to increase your intake of FAT?  For years fats have been at the center of nutrition confusion.  You’ve been told that all fats are bad, that they increase your chances of heart disease, that they cause cancer and promote weight gain and obesity.  This is simply not true.  In fact, eating the right fats has been proven to reduce the inflammation associated with artery disease, normalize blood lipids and cholesterol, reduce multiple forms of cancer, and actually combat obesity.

Although it may seem terribly counterintuitive, the intake of the right fats can actually be one of the best health strategies you could ever adopt.

Fats are commonly categorized as either “good fats” or “bad fats.”  They could be more accurately designated as either “great fats” or “terrible fats”.  Some saturated fats, all trans-fats and all hydrogenated oils are considered “terrible fats” (coconut oil is an exception when it comes to saturated fats).  These fats have been shown to increase blood serum cholesterol, alter blood lipid profiles, and promote the inflammation associated with heart disease, as well as many types of cancers.

“Great fats” like polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are essential nutrients that reverse the damage created by these “terrible fats,” as well as performing a critical role in countless physiological functions.  Omega-3 Fatty Acids are widely considered to be one of the most vital nutrients in regards to healthy cell function.  They are instrumental in almost every organ and tissue, including the heart, skin, eyes and brain.

EPA and DHA Omega-3 Fatty Acids are considered essential fatty acids.  Nutrients are considered essential if a) they are required by the body for health, and b) the body cannot make them, and therefore they must be consumed in the diet.

Deficiencies in Omega-3’s have been linked to breast, colon and prostate cancers, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and strokes, diabetes, arthritis, digestive disorders, vision problems, dementia, hormonal and reproductive problems as well as osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s and depression.

DHA and EPA deficiencies have been shown to be a causal factor in development and behavioral issues with children – even ADD and ADHD.  DHA is one of the most critical elements in human breast milk.

Eating mid-sized, cold water, wild fish is a best practice that will provide a great source of Omega 3’s.  Avoid farm-raised fish - they have inferior fatty acid profiles and impact the environment negatively.  Also, eat grass-fed beef, wild game and range-fed chickens and eggs.  These are the foods that your ancestors ate.  In fact, they considered the brain and organ meats a priority – due to their high essential fat content, no doubt.  Nuts, seeds and avocados are also excellent sources of healthy fats.  Unfortunately, Omega-3 FA deficiency is extremely common.  Our diets are terribly low in this vital nutrient.  To make matters worse, we over-consume Omega-6 Fatty Acids, upsetting the delicate balance in the very important Omega-6 FA: Omega-3 FA ratio.  This imbalance creates silent inflammation in the body which leads to a litany of chronic disease issues.

Our over-consumption of vegetable oils, combined with our consumption of processed grains and cereal grains, both of which are high in Omega 6 Fatty Acids contributes to this imbalance.  A diet high in grains (breads, pastas, baked goods and cereals) is considered highly pro-inflammatory.  In other words, grains promote inflammation in your body and should be reduced or avoided.  Unfortunately, the food pyramid has promoted a diet-style that has lead to the greatest heart disease, diabetes and obesity epidemic that the world has ever seen.

It is difficult to consume sufficient amounts of Omega 3’s to re-balance and maintain a healthy fatty acid ratio.  Additionally, the oceans have been polluted so dramatically that many fish are too toxic to safely consume.  A vital behavior to ensure fatty acid sufficiency is to supplement with a high quality fish oil source.  The oil should be pharmaceutical grade, pure and in natural EPA/DHA forms and ratios.

If the thought of consuming fish oil every day causes you to wrinkle your nose, just think of the sweeping health benefits you’ll receive.  If that doesn’t work, you can always go back to eating the brains, organ meats and bone marrow that your ancestors enjoyed.