This “Lost Art” Is Still Accessible to You

Breathing as a daily practice is mostly a lost art in the Western

I first became aware of the power of breathing through my martial
arts training and study. The first art I studied was a fairly
traditional, intensely taught style of Kenpo, which had both
Chinese and Japanese influences.

Later, I studied other traditional arts of both Okinawan and
Korean origin, which also integrated breathing practices and
specific breathing techniques. This provided me with yet another
angle on the practice and power of breathing.

However, my first attempts to practice breathing as a health
practice were actually inspired by my grandfather.

Paa Paa (as we grandkids called him) was a vital, active,
energetic man well into his 90s. As a kid, I used to wake up
early with him. And I mean, EARLY! Paa Paa usually woke up about

When he first got out of bed, he would do what I then thought
were funny stretching exercises. He did them from a standing
position. I would get up and imitate him. As I followed along, I
would also try to follow his breathing pattern. Each movement
had a distinct pattern which aided and enhanced the way the
movement felt.

After that, we would get cleaned up and go to the kitchen to
get some early breakfast. I would sit on his lap and he and I
would read the paper together and get the news from around
the world.

Years later as an adult, I discovered that my grandfather was
actually performing some pretty powerful breathing and energy
exercises that were taught back in the early 1900s as part of
physical culture practices.

Turns out, breathing as an art and a health practice is not
just an Eastern or “Oriental” invention. There actually is a
rich Western tradition of integrating breathing practices and
techniques into specific disciplines, including health and
fitness, as well as religion and spirituality.

It’s probably a direct result of my early mornings with my
grandfather, but….my tendency even today is to spend at least
a few minutes each morning, either at or soon after arising,
on breathing and energy exercises.

It’s such a powerful way to start each day.

The way I see it, this precious time – whether it’s a few minutes
or a half hour – is MY time devoted to self-cultivation and
improvement. I get it done early so that, no matter how crazy
or hectic my day may get later, I’m assured of fitting it in.

Then I get a cup of coffee and start my day.

These first minutes provide a sense of energy, control, calm
and balance that can be difficult to describe. Truthfully, any
time you go inside yourself – whether through meditation or
prayer, introspection or daydreaming – is valuable, creative
and soul-satisfying time.

But there are more concrete benefits as well.

For example, learning how to breathe properly and fully,
using your entire breathing apparatus, can help you quickly
and easily focus on any kind of mental or physical work you
are about to engage in.

Learning how to calm, slow and deepen your breathing can help
you overcome feelings of anxiety, stress, or anger which may
impede your ability to solve problems or overcome the typical
stresses of modern life.

Couple breathing with specific types of visualization and
imaging can be even more powerful, serving as the foundation
for incredible improvement in specific areas of your life.

I’ll have more to say on this subject in coming messages,
and will even share a few of my favorite breathing techniques
with you – ones that are simple and easy to learn and do,
but come packed with deep layers of benefits.

You should devote part of your time each day to the cultivation
of breath control and power. Making a small investment of time
in dynamic energy exercises – like the ones I teach you in “The
Secret Power of Dynamic Energy Exercise Course, Volume II”

will enhance the results you get from exercise, as well as your
internal energy and focus.

Breathing is the direct and instantaneous way to tap into the
life force, the vital energy that flows through each of us.

Performed properly, deep breathing coupled with dynamic
exercises is a powerful method for accessing and flowing your
internal power.

Doing these exercises strengthens your body from the inside
out, and has a more profound and lasting effect.

From a purely practical standpoint, this type of dynamic deep
breathing helps develop breath control, expand the capacity
of the lungs, and build stamina. It improves posture. It also
develops the diaphragm, abdominal and other core muscles in
such way that they are strong and coordinated – a key to
developing power for movement, as in athletics, martial arts,
even activities of daily living.

This type of dynamic exercise creates harmony between the breath
and the physical. Not only are you strengthening the muscles
associated with breathing. You also are creating and
increasing a sense of harmony and relaxation across both mind
and body.

It’s health-giving and life-extending, and I strongly encourage
you to tap into the benefits that await you from investing just
a few minutes a day – or a few minutes at the start of your
regular workouts.

To learn more, visit

You Can Do It!


“Transform Body Mind and Spirit with Dynamic Energy Exercise!”

Copyright, Karen Van Ness, 2014


Three Easy, Simple Ways To Maximize Your Energy and Focus

In my previous blog post, I extolled the benefits of taking time
off every so often to get away, have some fun and rejuvenate.

But what do you do when you can’t take time off?

This is pretty common these days. People in Europe have it better
than we do in the U.S. – they typically take 5 to 6 weeks of
vacation every year. Here in the U.S., people have been taking
fewer vacations, and fewer days off when they do go on vacation.
This has been a trend for quite a number of years.

The recent economic crisis and very slow, almost impossible to
detect recovery has made this even worse. For many working people,
it can be tough to get away. You’re expected to “do more with
less”; in fact, you’re probably doing the work that used to be
performed by three people.

Plus, in many companies (including a few I have worked at), it’s
an unwritten rule or expectation that you check in with the
office, or check and respond to email, even while you’re on

The reality is, the business world ain’t gonna give you any
breaks. You have to give yourself your own breaks. You have to
find ways to manage your energy and maximize your powers on a
daily basis.

If your energy is not well controlled, you may experience
significant levels of fatigue, malaise, and even depression.

Revving up your energy levels and giving yourself the
opportunity to rejuvenate and replenish each day, every day,
is important from a productivity standpoint…and from a life
management standpoint.

When you are manage your life, you feel more in control. When
you feel more in control, you enjoy life better.

So, here are a few things you can do to rejuvenate and
replenish each day.

First, make sure you get enough sleep. Easier said than done,
I know. But it’s worth making the effort.

I find when I get a good night’s sleep…or better yet, have
had two or three nights of good sleep in a row…I blast
through each day like a steamroller over hot pavement.

Second, tune in to your own natural energy rhythms during the
day. There are specific times during your day when you are at
your best.

Identify these times and try to schedule your most challenging
work or home related projects or tasks during this time.

Third, get regular doses of exercise. I speak about the benefits
of exercise often, so no need to repeat here.

Even if you don’t have time for exercise, you can always spare
10 to 15 minutes for some deep breathing and light stretching.

For an instantaneous energy blast, one that lasts all day long,
I highly recommend the exercises from the Secret Power of
Dynamic Energy Exercise Course, Volume II: The Dynamic Energy

Breathing and movement are natural, internal, intuitive and
awesomely effective ways to wake up your internal energies and
power. Tap into them regularly.

Here’s one more area to consider: your use of technology.

Most people I know in the work world have become slaves to

Once upon a time, I briefly worked for a guy who had one of
the worst Blackberry addictions I’ve ever seen. He couldn’t
get through a conversation – even a relatively brief discussion
– without checking his “Crackberry”.

When traveling, he was on it the entire time to, in and from
the airport. I think he probably was on it while he was peeing
in the men’s room.

I was in one too many meetings with him – including important
meetings with clients – in which he had that thing in his lap,
clacking away with his thumbs.

At one meeting, where his lack of attention to the discussion
was clearly – and embarrassingly – apparent to the client, I
felt like asking him if he was having fun playing with himself.
But I thought better of it.

Turns out, the Crackberry addiction correlated to a number of
deficiencies in his skills and attributes as a manager or
“leader”, as he fancied himself. He wasn’t at that company
much longer.

You can’t really lead your people or your clients if you sit
and play with yourself – ahem, I mean play with your Crackberry –
all the time.

OK, enough with the rant.

My main point is NOT to be a slave to technology. Establish
specific times you will check and respond to email or texts.
Turn the work device off when you are home. Put down your
smartphone or iPad and actually look at your spouse or your
kids when they are talking to you.

And by all means, especially if you value getting a good night’s
sleep: don’t keep the thing on your nightstand, turned on and

Email, cell phones, texting, etc., are meant to be tools, to
help you do your job better. They help keep you in touch.

But you have to turn that stuff off for specific periods of
time, so you can actually sit, concentrate, and get your most
critical tasks and projects completed. Or spend some quality
time with yourself, your family or your friends.

Sometimes, to get more done of higher value to your business
or your life, you have to stop doing things of lower value.

So keep asking yourself, “What’s important here?”

Do I have to answer every email that comes in immediately? Or
should I carve out two hours to complete this project that will
push my business or career forward. Or should I take the time
to exercise, or play with my kids?

By giving your mental and physical batteries time to recharge,
you will become more relaxed, aware and alert…and achieve more
with less effort.

That’s a prescription for a more successful and enjoyable life.

You Can Do It!

“Best Breathing Exercises: Transform Body Mind and Spirit with
Dynamic Energy Exercise!”

P.S. Remember, breathing and movement are natural, intuitive
and awesomely effective ways to wake up your internal energies.
You can tap into the power, motivation and abilities you already
have – easily and consistently – through specific types of
breathing and exercise.

Tap into your own source of energy with the Secret Power of
Dynamic Energy Exercise Course, Volume II: The Dynamic Energy

Copyright, Karen Van Ness, 2013

Dust From Africa In Texas? How Could This Be?

We’ve had some hot, hot days here already in my beautiful corner
of Central Texas.

Unlike the East Coast, where I used to live, hot days in the
Austin area are typically dry days. And clear days. We don’t
usually experience that hazy, smoggy view in the distance
you get in more humid, urban areas.

This week, however, we have had several hazy, almost smoggy days.
Usually we have a lovely view across the hills and lake where we
live. But our views are a obscured right now. I see haze where I
should be seeing hills.

What the heck is going on?

Am I back in Beijing?

Well, it turns out this haze and smog is actually caused by dust
and sand which has floated over here from Africa.

From Africa? All the way to Texas?

Wow, that puts a whole new shine on the globalization thing!

Here’s the scoop from our friends at NOAA:

“Saharan dust often travels across the Atlantic thanks to a hot,
dry, dusty layer of air known as the Saharan Air Layer. Extreme
daytime heating of the Sahara creates instability in the lowest
layer of the atmosphere, lofting dust particles into the air.

The dust-laden air layer continues warming as it travels westward
across the Sahara. As the Saharan Air Layer moves off the west
coast of Africa, it passes over a cooler, wetter layer of air.
This temperature inversion (air usually cools with altitude)
prevents mixing, enabling the dust layer to travel across the
ocean intact.”

And continue on into Texas.

Mother Nature never ceases to amaze.

This reminds me of the time back in the 1990s when Mount
Pinatubo, a volcano in the Phillippines, erupted. It also
spread ash and dust all over the planet. This resulted in
beautiful, multi-colored sunsets over the next couple of years.

I bring up this latest “global dust road trip” because these
events obviously can cause people some irritation of eyes,
sinuses, and lungs. I have felt it in my eyes and my nose is
a little stuffy.

While mild, these symptoms remind me of how things used to be
when I suffered from asthma.

(If you’re interested in reading more about my asthma and how
I overcame it, click here.)

One of the best things I ever did when I was working on improving
(and eventually overcoming) asthma was to learn as much as I
could about breathing and breathing techniques.

And I learned a very important fact: the numero uno predictor
of how long each of us will live is….our lung capacity.

A number of studies, including the very highly regarded Framingham
Heart Study (which has been going on for over 50 years), have
found that lung capacity is the best predictor of longevity.

The bigger your lungs, the more air they can process, the longer
you live. Unfortunately, once you hit your 30s, your lung capacity
begins to decline. In fact, depending on how active you remain, by
the time you hit 70 you’ll lose about 50 percent of your lung

In order to improve and preserve lung capacity – and therefore,
YOUR capacity for living – you’ve got to build up a reserve.

You may think this means jumping into an aerobic exercise program.


To a certain point, aerobic exercise is OK. But unless you are a
marathon runner, there is no need to do a lot of it.

For a superior investment of time, focus on your breathing exercises;
perform shorter, more intense interval training two to three times
per week; and include two to three brief, well-rounded strength
training sessions per week.

Strength training can consist of lifting weights, performing
bodyweight exercises and other types of calisthenics, performing
dynamic energy exercises, dynamic tension….or even a mix of
all of the above. You get to choose your fun!

You can program your strength training so that it provides strength
and lean muscle building effects while also giving you the
cardiovascular work you need to improve lung capacity.

The truth is, aerobics can actually decrease lung size. Sure,
your lungs may become more efficient. But their overall capacity

On the other hand, focusing directly on your breathing – as with
the exercises in the Secret Power of Dynamic Energy Exercise
Course, Volume II: The Dynamic Energy Routine
– is the surest way to
build lung capacity.

These exercises tone and strengthen the muscles and structures
that support healthy, proper breathing. Proper breathing can also
lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and help you burn more

This type of program was the linchpin of my efforts to overcome
a debilitating disease, get back in shape and achieve the
health and energy I was missing.

Earlier today, as I thought back to those “bad old days” with
asthma, I was reminded of an old book I found and read. It’s
actually one of many I have found over the years on breathing,
health, and fitness. It was written in 1936 by a leading
exercise and fitness professor, Dr. Thomas K. Cureton, who was
professor of physical education at the University of Illinois.

In one of his books, he wrote several paragraphs that turned on
some lights in my head.

Keep in mind, I was desperate for some answers to my deteriorating
health. At the time, the meds and inhalers my doctors had
prescribed were making my asthma worse, and I hated becoming
dependent on them.

I also detested my inability to train at the high levels to
which I had become accustomed. I never knew if a martial arts
class or sparring match might become another asthma incident.

Dr. Cureton reached out to me across time and space with
the following bit of advice:

“Breathing is emphasized here because in order to achieve
physical fitness you must develop the habit of breathing
regularly while exercising so that you will (1) avoid fatigue,
and (2) increase the capacity of your respiratory system.

“If you pay close attention to yourself while you exercise
you will find that you have a natural tendency to hold your
breath, particularly when you are performing high-tension
or unfamiliar exercises. Rather than capturing more air in
your lungs and thereby giving you greater endurance, holding
your breath only serves to deplete the supply of oxygen,
speed up the accumulation of carbon dioxide, and cause your
muscles to become fatigued more quickly.

The habit of breathing regularly during all forms of exercise
can be developed through conscious practice of deep inhalation
and forced exhalation. Breathing drills also help to build up
lung capacity. A deep breath held for a few seconds will
increase the air pressure in the lungs by forcing air into lung
tissue that is not normally active in breathing.[You can] build
your lung capacity by breathing regularly and fully during all
forms of exertion.”

These three paragraphs were a godsend to me at the time. They
helped to confirm that I was heading in the right direction
with my initial experiments in fully incorporating breathing
into everything I did.

Whether you’re looking to increase your lung capacity, vitality
and endurance….are overweight and need to lose some L-B’s….or
could use some extra energy to propel you through your day…a
solid program of targeted breathing exercises, intervals, and
well-rounded resistance training is the way to go for optimal

You Can Do It!


“Best Breathing Exercises: Transform Body Mind and Spirit with
Dynamic Energy Exercise!”

P.S. The combination of deep breathing with specific, targeted
exercises that build lung capacity, vitality and stamina is a
true powerhouse — and the foundation of my own health and
fitness regimen. I teach and demonstrate this core set of exercises
in “the Secret Power of Dynamic Energy Exercise Course, Volume 2:
The Dynamic Energy Routine”. For more information, or to acquire
your own copy of the program, click here.

Copyright, Karen Van Ness, 2013

The Underestimated Power of Convenience

Here’s how a simple little thing can make a world of difference
in your life.

I work a lot at home. In fact, I’m fortunate to be able to do most
of my work from home.

Yes, I often have meetings, and sometimes have to travel, which
takes me away from my home and family. But having done the
corporate thing for so long in my career, I can tell you
unequivocally that I am much more productive working from my home

Working from home affords me other advantages as well, including
a short 10 second “commute” into my home office and more time
with my partner and my son.

I also enjoy the company of my “cubicle mates” – our two dogs,
ZuZu and Clint, and our two cats, Stella and Isabella. The four
of them hang out while I work. They occasionally “supervise” and
make sure I am staying productive.

Here's ZuZu and Clint - Hard At Work

Here’s ZuZu and Clint – Hard At Work

Because I do a lot of work on the computer, I used to be tethered
to my desk. Then I set up a wireless network in our home. This
has allowed me to work from anywhere in the house, including out
on our back porch, which is set up like an outdoor room including
living room, dining table and chairs – and a lovely view of the

When the weather is nice, I love to work from outside. I can
work, do calls, get some sun and fresh air…all at the same

This was a minor, not very exciting change… but it has made a
world of difference to me.

I work a lot. Mostly because I love it, but also because I have
to. So anything that makes work more efficient or enjoyable is
a big deal to me.

BUt this small example has a larger meaning too. I call it the
power of convenience.

The more convenient you make it to do the things you know you
should be doing – or want to do – the more likely you are to do

If you want to eat healthier, make sure you have healthy foods
and snacks in the fridge and pantry – and in your briefcase,
backpack or car.

If you want to exercise more consistently, set up an area in
your home or apartment. Or keep your sneakers out and near the
door, so you can quickly slap ’em on and go for a walk or run.

Find a gym, yoga studio, etc. that is on your way to work, near
your office, or near your home. If it’s on your normal route,
you’ll see the dang thing every day and have no excuse for not
going in and exercising.

I’ve developed all of my programs to leverage the power of

For example, performing breathing and energy exercises – like
the ones I teach in the Secret Power of Dynamic Energy Exercise
Course, Volume 2
, are the ultimate in convenience.

In this program, you’ll discover one of the cornerstones of my
daily regimen: the Dynamic Energy Routine. This is a series of
simple yet powerful exercises that open and free your breathing,
build up lungs and stamina, and radically increase your energy

I encourage you to try these exercises, because I believe they
can make a huge difference in your overall health and quality
of life.

And talk about convenient! You don’t have to wear any special
type of clothing. You don’t need sneakers. You can do the
Dynamic Energy Routine in the buff, if you like. (Just make sure
your shades are drawn.) And you’re actually better off doing
them barefoot, so you can pull in energy and stability from the

Best of all: the Dynamic Energy Routine can be done in a few
minutes, so it’s easy to fit into your day.

These are minutes you will reclaim immediately in improved energy,
focus and productivity.

One of my martial arts instructors used to say that the key to
success in anything in life, is “repetition, repetition,
repetition – coupled with enthusiasm”.

Making things convenient helps foster the repetition and
enthusiasm that will propel you to success in all areas of your

Leverage the power of convenience for yourself. Make it easy to
do the right thing.

You Can Do It!


“Best Breathing Exercises: Transform Body Mind and Spirit with
Dynamic Energy Exercise!”

P.S. You CAN have the energy, vitality and stamina you desire.
If you think otherwise you’re selling yourself short. Your breath
is your power: How well you breathe can have a direct impact your
physical wellbeing…which in turn affects how well you are able
to perform in every aspect of your life.

Discover how to cultivate the true source of your body’s energy
with The Secret Power of Dynamic Energy Exercise Course, Volume 2:
The Dynamic Energy Routine
The program is easy to learn, only takes about 15 minutes, and
can be easily woven into the fabric of your life. Once you feel
what it’s like to have the health and vitality you’re supposed to
have, you’ll never want to go back.

Copyright, Karen Van Ness, 2013

Can You Really Relax Your Way to Getting In Better Shape?

The best way to get in shape may be to spend more time doing

A new and growing body of research, clinical studies and just
plain old experience shows that spending LESS time exercising —
including shorter exercise sessions, less time spent “working”
in each session, and greater time spent recuperating – boosts
your fitness, resiliency and health.

If you read my last blog post, this may sound familiar to you,
because we discussed how you can relax your way to being more
productive. Yes it’s true: the best way to get more done may be
to spend more time doing less.

This definitely goes for exercise. And I’ve been a proponent for
shorter, more “pulsing” type exercise sessions for years now.

I was literally forced into taking more of a pulsing or interval
approach to my training – by my asthma.

As you may know, one of the reasons I really got into breathing
exercises and dynamic energy principles was because I suffered
from moderate to severe asthma (which unfortunately went
undiagnosed for years). I found out the hard way that following
the typical approach to aerobic or cardio activity – which is
to exercise at a steady-state, “aerobic” level for a decent
length of time – was the exact opposite of how you should
exercise if you have asthma.

So, I was forced to change my paradigm. I read and studied the
ins and outs of interval training, adapted it to my situation,
and discovered that I actually got into BETTER shape – with
shorter workouts…more time between workouts (because interval
training is meant to be intense, your body needs more time
between sessions to recover)…and with less actual “work” or
exercise in each workout!

But how can this be? Why is an interval or pulsing approach to
training so results-producing and efficient?

First, let me give you some basics on what interval training
actually is.

Interval training consists of interspersing brief periods of
intense activity with periods of lower intensity activity or

A boxing match is a great example of intervals: The boxers box
for three minutes, then go to their respective corners for a
one minute rest. They repeat this cycle for 12 rounds.

Interval training arrived on the fitness and sports training
scene in a big way about 25 to 30 years ago. Over time, it has
been proved that a program of intervals, interspersed with
adequate rest periods, is the fastest and most efficient way
to build both anaerobic and aerobic (endurance) capacities.

Here are a few examples of interval training:

– Doing 100-yard sprints interspersed with walking;
– Running up a hill, then walking down;
– Biking for 2 minutes at an accelerated rate of speed, then
slowing down to an easy rate for 2 minutes;
– Walking fast for five minutes interspersed with walking
slowly for five minutes.

Interval training is applicable to just about any activity or
exercise you can think of. Here are a few variations to get
you thinking:

– Lifting weights: Perform an exercise for a certain number
of repetitions (a set); then rest for one to two minutes
between sets before repeating;
– Calisthenics: Perform push-ups or body weight squats for a
certain number of repetitions, or for a certain period of time
(a set); then rest for one minute before repeating;
– Boxing, Kick Boxing: Hit the heavy bag for three-minute
rounds interspersed with one-minute rest periods.

Why is incorporating interval training in your fitness routine
so beneficial? Interval training and its variations are
recognized as the most efficient way to achieve cardiovascular
fitness. Your heart and lungs work hard during the interval.
Then they work even harder during the beginning of the rest

You’re basically pushing your heart, lungs and involved muscles
to new levels of effort – with each interval, and each interval
workout, you literally expand the capacity of your
cardio-pulmonary system. This is so important not only for
fitness, but for your health and longevity.

Here’s another benefit to this type of training:

Performing a series of intervals accelerates fat burning and
weight loss. It also accelerates muscle growth by taxing or
stressing the muscles more intensely, and by stimulating the
release of growth hormone.

And here’s where the “relax to get more fit” comes in:

Incorporating intervals into your fitness regimen reduces the
time required for you to achieve a training effect. Each workout
is shorter. And within each workout, you are actually “working”
much much less than you would doing steady state activity, such
as jogging, doing the elliptical, doing an aerobics class, etc.

And, you get fitter faster.

One last, important point:

You should enjoy your fitness routine. With a properly
structured exercise session, you should feel good when you
finish. You’ll have a warm feeling of tiredness or fatigue – a
”good” tired. You’ll feel great because you’ve moved that body
and completed the most important “to do” of the day.

I’ll have some more pointers for you on my own approach – that
makes interval training even more effective – in my next post.

You Can Do It!


“Best Breathing Exercises: Transform Body Mind and Spirit with
Dynamic Energy Exercise!”

P.S. Breathing and dynamic exercises, like those in the Secret
Power of Dynamic Energy Exercise Course, Volume II
are naturally interval
in nature. They give you a surefire way
to target, develop and maximize the work performed by your
lungs, as well as the structures that support proper breathing.

If you’re serious about improving your physical condition and
health, you should make it a point to focus on expanding
your vital capacity and ability to breathe properly. Dynamic
breathing exercise will help you get fit more quickly. And it
provides the foundation for robust health and longevity. Read
more about it by clicking here.

Copyright, Karen Van Ness, 2013

How the Wrong Type of Exercise Can Set You Back

Here is the second in a three-part series on the 5 most critical
mistakes people typically make when starting a fitness or weight
loss program – AND how to avoid them so you stay on the fast track
to radiant health and fitness.


This mistake could also be described as, “Doing too much too soon”.

When beginning a new fitness program, most people have a lot of
enthusiasm. So much enthusiasm, in fact, that they are prepared
to take drastic action to get their body into shape.

They typically begin with a high volume and intensity of activity,
such as long sessions of walking, running, lifting weights, doing
aerobics, or whatever their chosen activity is.

This approach is guaranteed to lead to undue post-workout muscle
soreness, excessive tightness in the muscles, joint pain, and
possibly even injury.

Also, long exercise or training sessions involving high volumes
and/or intensities usually mean sacrificing quality for quantity.
This leads to a focus on fatigue as the determiner of a “good”
workout, versus assessing how you feel as a result of a sequence
of workouts.

These long, fatigue producing sessions lead to a rapid decrease
in motivation. Pretty soon, that initial enthusiasm wanes and
excuses for not being able to work out start cropping up.

A better (and healthier) approach is to focus on the quality of
your workouts.

Focus on fewer exercises or modalities of training. Make a more
intense and focused effort at each of them. Until you have built
a solid base, keep your workouts short, say 30 minutes to one
hour maximum. The reality is, you can achieve excellent results
with only 30 minutes a day of training.

You need to give your body the chance to adapt to any new level
or type of activity. So begin rationally. Don’t do too much
too soon. Plan on doing less than you think you can handle.
Build up consistently.

In order to experience a training effect, your body only needs
to experience stress that is slightly greater than what it
normally encounters. There’s no need to kill yourself with mega
long workouts.

When scheduling your workouts, plan on exercising for an amount
of time you know you can fit into your schedule. Exercising for
an hour or two per day may seem impossible. What about 15
minutes? Is that doable?

Yes, “Only 15 Minutes Per Day” has become a cliché. But it’s a
good place to start if you haven’t been doing anything. Once you
get going and begin to experience the benefits of even 15 minutes
of focused activity, you will naturally want to do more.

You’ll make more time in your schedule for exercising because you
want to, not because you think you have to or ought to.


When beginning an exercise program, people often take up one
particular type of exercise and become immersed in it. They focus
all or nearly all of their time and energy on this one activity.
They don’t complement it with supplementary modalities that
balance and enhance the core activity.

Here are a couple of examples:

-The runner or cyclist with puny, underdeveloped torso and arms,
because he or she doesn’t do any strength training;
-The body builder with the impressive physique who can’t walk up
a flight of stairs without getting winded, because he or she
never does any aerobic activity.

Imbalances in training lead to imbalances in the body’s
development, muscle and joint problems, and overuse injuries
caused by repetitive motion.

Insufficient diversity can also lead to boredom and stagnation.
It deprives your body and mind of the variety that’s conducive
to growth and development.

To get the most from your fitness program, strive for a balance
between the following activities:

-Deep breathing and visualization for mental rehearsal, stress
management, and health;

-Strength training for development of strong muscles and bones,
good posture, and improved capacity to handle the activities of
daily living;

-Stretching for flexibility, avoidance of injury, and relaxation;

-Aerobic activities (or “cardio”) to improve aerobic capacity
and heart health, enhance recovery from strength training
workouts, and get yourself moving.

As you plan your fitness program, seek to integrate each of these
elements. You can include all of them (or some subset) within
each workout. Or you can include them over the course of a
series of workouts performed over a week or so.

You can also structure cycles in your program. Within each cycle,
emphasize one of these areas as your priority. Do enough in
the other areas to maintain. This is great way of keeping
yourself fresh and keeping your body guessing.

Many people think they should select aerobic activities as their
primary focus. Aerobic capacity is important, and regular doses
of steady state activities, such as running, cycling, swimming
and walking are beneficial. However, too much of this type of
activity can cause your body to lose muscle.

A better way is to incorporate intervals or “pulsing” into
your program. (I’ve written about this before in past blog posts).

Resistance training should be the foundation of your fitness
program. Building strength helps you function better in daily
life. It promotes better posture and is very effective at reducing
the risk (and even reversing the effects) of osteoporosis.

Studies have shown that strength training has a more dramatic
effect on body composition changes – that is, putting on lean
body weight and losing fat – than aerobic activity.

Stretching should also be a priority, especially when you are
first starting out. Properly done, stretching helps you learn
about and establish control over your body. It promotes
flexibility which enables you to move more fluidly and freely.
It also helps avoid injuries and relieves nagging aches and pains.

We’ll conclude this series with Mistakes #4 and 5 – and how to
avoid them – in the next post.

You Can Do It!


“Best Breathing Exercises: Transform Body Mind and Spirit with
Dynamic Energy Exercise!”

Copyright, Karen Van Ness, 2013

Avoid These Critical Mistakes…and Get Off to a Rip-Roaring Start This Year

Happy New Year!

As I sit here typing, I’m thinking about my goals and plans for this
year. And I have already taken action this morning to get me moving
toward several goals in important areas of my life.

I know I feel better when I get off to a good start, be it the
beginning of a day, the beginning of a project….or the beginning
of a new year. In that spirit, I would like to share some thoughts
to help you get off to a great start this year: the 5 most critical
mistakes people typically make when starting a fitness or weight
loss program.

And, more importantly, I will tell you how to avoid these.

These mistakes commonly derail fitness programs, leaving the person
with a feeling of failure and frustration. This in turn makes it
that much harder to get going again.

The good news: these mistakes are avoidable. Avoid them and you’ll
find yourself on the fast track to radiant health and fitness.


When it comes to planning and beginning an exercise program, most
people don’t focus on what they really want. They know they need
to “lose some weight” or “get in shape”. They may have been
encouraged (or even warned) by their doctor to get more active, eat
better and lose some weight.

But most folks do not take the next step to set a specific goal,
or set of goals, that will attract and energize them.

Instead, they set off on a “get into shape” program without
identifying what exactly that means to them. Consequently, they
meander through various routines and diets. They often jump on the
latest fads.

They may lose a few pounds, but the pounds invariably pile back on
as they lose motivation.

Does this sound familiar to you? If so, don’t feel bad.

The same thing has happened to all of us at one time or another.

When this happens, you lose out on the feelings of achievement,
success and vibrant health that come from a rationally structured
fitness routine.

Having a specific goal or set of goals is the critical starting
point to a successful fitness regimen.

It’s best to focus on one major goal. This should be the one
thing above all that, if achieved, represents true success to
you. For example, your primary goal may be to lose 20 pounds
by the end of the year.

Then articulate two to three minor goals that support your major
goal. For example, you could set interim weight loss goals you
wish to achieve at the end of each month. Or you could set
activity goals, such as building up to walk or run for 30 minutes

Write down your major and supporting goals and review them
frequently, preferably every day. This is a key point. There is
tremendous power in seeing your goals in writing and saying them
out loud to yourself on a regular basis. This keeps them top of
mind and helps you stay focused.

Once you have established your goals, create a general plan for
how you will achieve them. Decide which activities you want to
focus on, such as walking or running, lifting weights or doing
bodyweight exercises, and so on. Also decide on which days per
week you will train, and at what time of day.

Be specific on this, but also be prepared to make course corrections
along the way as you assess how your plan is working.

A big boost to the success of your fitness program is to record
your activities.

Keep a simple log of your workouts and what you eat. Record not
only what you have done (the process), but also your results,
such as recording your weight once per week.

Recording your activities and progress helps you maintain focus and
momentum. It’s very satisfying to record a successful day during
which you completed your planned workout and followed your nutrition

Documenting the less successful days is also important. This helps
you identify trends in your behavior. For example, you may find
yourself missing workouts every Friday for three weeks in a row.
You realize that, by Friday, you are usually tired and worn out
from the hectic week. You are coming up with excuses not to work

Realizing this, you can take action. You can make Friday a recovery
day (a day when you don’t work out). This allows you to follow your
own natural rhythms, and sets you up for a successful and energetic
workout on Saturday or Sunday.

When reviewing your progress and setbacks, keep in mind you are
only competing with yourself, not with anyone else – and NOT
woth anyone else’s idea of what you should be doing. Progress at
a pace that makes sense for you. You’ll enjoy the process more
and will be pleasantly surprised at how much you can achieve.

Mistakes #2 and 3 will be coming along in my next blog post.

You Can Do It!


“Best Breathing Exercises: Transform Body Mind and Spirit with
Dynamic Energy Exercise!”

Copyright, Karen Van Ness, 2013