Monday, October 18, 2010

Game Plan Launch - the New Home

I know that not many of my readers used TwitterThis post is NOT about Twitter so keep reading.  But the micro-blogging platform has opened my eyes to a whole new world of people, relationship, conversations and information.  It's also forced me to develop my writing here at the Game Plan.

To that end, I'm launching a new project today.  Here's the premise: I want to take my blogging to the next level and create a more professional platform for myself, both personally and professionally.  I have learned a lot on Blogger, starting a total of four blogs and consulting for two others.  I have been challenged by some very successful people to take the Game Plan and make it a more suitable "home base" for everything I do online. 

The goal is to be more professional.  But the process is one that could take months, even years to develop.  And that's not the point.  The point is to get out there and allow it to grow.  I continually coach clients to start small, establish consistency and build a new lifestyle for themselves.  So I need to practice what I preach.  There will never be a good time to launch this new project because I'll always want to make a few more adjustments.  I simply need to jump in and make my adjustments as I go. 

Since this is a soft launch, I'm going to skip the disclaimers.  There's a lot more work on my end to make this project more complete, but the location and structure has been set.  I'll fill in the pieces as I go. 

So let's Go!  My new home is  I hope you'll join us.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Project Launch

Forgive the cliche, but there's no time like the present.  There's no better time than right now to do that project you've been "Planning" for months, if not years.  For many of the people I talk to, this is in regards to working out, losing weight.  That's why Nike took the cliche and made the passive statement an active one: Just Do It.

Earlier this week I listened to an interview that mentioned a phrase called "analysis paralysis."  The idea was that someone could get stuck analyzing a situation so much so that it actually paralyzes them from making a decision and proceeding with action. Analysis paralysis is one hurdle to getting things done, or in this case launched.

There's always a couple really good reasons why you don't launch a project, right?  In the exercise world, you don't know how you'll find at least 20 minutes per day to workout.  And even if you do, how can you do this 3-5 days per week like ACSM recommends.  And there's so many exercises to choose from.  How can you do them all, or which ones should you do?  And then of course you know that life will get busy, and you'll probably never stick to the workout routine.  So it never starts.

What about other projects?  For me right now, I'm working on an online project that has taken me months to “complete”.  I've watched the pros do it and I want to launch my own.  But the pros are so good at it.  How could I ever get to their level?  I don’t want to do this if it's not the best. So it's been put off month after month.

What I'm working on is a new blog.  It will be a website, really.  When I say I’ve been working on it for months I mean that i've dabbled with it here and there.  Realistically it gets very little of my time.  But still I’ve been procrastinating a launch because it’s not quite where I want it to be.  I want to put a professional foot forward and have a product I'm proud of.  And that's where I've been hung up. 

That's the inspiration for this post, because I've made a decision. 

The website will never be ready to launch.  There's always more time and money to be put into it.  Actually, the time component which has been holding me up is the component that I could control (and start) right now!  The sooner I launch my new website, the sooner I can get the “project launch” out from under me.

So the point it this: I'm in search of progress, not perfection.  There's never a perfect time to start a workout program.  So you should start tomorrow morning.  For me, there's never a perfect time to launch my new website.  So I'm starting Monday morning.

All the details will be there on the opening page.  To get there, you'll have to come back here.  So it’s a date? 

See you Monday for the launch!


Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Principle of Overload

There is a principle in fitness training that is essential to experience any type of improvement in performance.  It's called the principle of overload and here's how it works.  Our bodies get really good at performing the demands we place on it.  If you ask your body to run 2 miles every other day, your body will get really good at that.  If you ask your body to do 60 push-ups and 60 sit-ups every day, your body will get really good at that.

What about at work?  If you tell your body to walk around the store room and move a few boxes, your body will get really good at that.  But what if those boxes got heavier?  You'd struggle!  Or what if you were asked to move 30% faster?  You'd struggle!

This is where the principle of overload comes in.  When you overload your system (i.e. your body) you systematically break down your muscles so that they grow back stronger.  This is the only way to improve performance, by breaking down muscle fibers.

I experienced a perfect example of this on my 12 mile run this morning.  I'm training for a half marathon in Middleton at the end of the month.  Training has gone well so far, but my longest run was last week and it was only 8.75 miles.  To jump to 12 miles was ambitious, but I know my body and it's abilities.  Typical distance training calls for small increases in "long runs" once per week.  To go from 8.75 to 9.5 or even 10 would have been very comfortable.  But that additional two miles was excessive overload today.

And I felt it.  My route was three 4-mile loops, and on the third loop I was halfway through when it hit me.  I knew it was coming, but knowing the principles of overload and progression made the feeling even more pronounced.  I had entered a mileage where my body was completely stress because it hadn't been there before (during this particular training session).

Of course this brings up another topic - the fight.  What do you do when you are at a place you've never been before, but you need to make it to the finish line?  Another post for another day.

Back to overload.  This morning's run was excessive overload but it was a controlled situation and it was a place I've been before, albeit one year ago.  Still, the overload is necessary for improved performance.  (I'll have to remind my legs throughout the day that this is for their good.)

So what about you?  Training, work, personal, spiritual.  If the principle of overload says that you must exert greater than normal stress on a system to grow it stronger, how are you doing that?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Change in Race Schedule

Katie and I are signed up for the Chicago Half Marathon in two weeks, but have to change our plans because we could not find a babysitter for Norah.  Now don't you all start jumping out of the woodwork now - we've already made our decision.

It's tough for me because I've wanted to run Chicago for years and this year my mom bought my entrance fee as a birthday gift!  Well, it just wasn't meant to be.  Katie is really bummed too because she's been training so hard.  I wish I knew how many 5-mile runs she's done pushing both kids in the double-jogger. 

But fear not: the Schiefelbein's will not be denied!  We've decided to sign up for a half marathon in Middleton October 31st.  This entails a rededication to our training.  We're going to taper down a bit and then build back up to peak in about 8 weeks.

As for me, I'm hoping this little rest will allow me to ramp up my training.  I'll admit that I lost interest in the last couple weeks.  My long runs have been good, and I'm getting faster.  But the short runs during the week haven't been happening.  So this little adjustment may be just what I need.

I've been training with my Five Fingers occasionally.  This will allow me to get back into regular training once a week barefoot.  Also, I haven't had the time this summer to train on the track doing sprint work which was a goal of mine.  I guess I'm getting a second chance here.

Are you training for anything this fall?  There's always a good Turkey Trot somewhere locally.  And a good (cold) Jingle Bell run is always fun! 

Friday, July 09, 2010

Vibram Five Fingers

Have you heard of the barefoot running craze?  Did you know that the Stanford track team practices barefoot and only puts on their Nike shoes for competitions?  Barefoot running sounds hard on the feet... could it actually be good for your health and training?

When I heard that the book Born to Run was based on an ancient tribe in Mexico and their ultra-running culture, I was immediately turned off.  It just sounded a little too far-fetched for me.  But it was recommended by Michael Hyatt, CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishing and a voice I highly respect.  It took me a couple months to get into the book; Katie and her dad beat me to it.  They said it's a must-read.  So read I did.  And it's changed everything.

The idea of the book is this: our feet were made to run, and all of the "protection" of high-end running shoes inhibit their ability to get stronger.  Essentially the cushion prevents our feet from being stressed and this eventually weakens the feet, leading to injury.  In another post, I'll do a book review of Born to Run.  Today, I'd like to tell you about my experience with barefoot running.

My running career consists of two half marathons and three full marathons.  I have an educational background in biomechanics and exercise physiology.  Born to Run drew on these collective experiences and knowledge and convinced me to at least try to train part-time barefoot running.

I bought my Vibram Five Fingers three weeks ago partially on a birthday gift from my brother-in-law, Peter.   It is very important to know that you don't just jump into training barefoot.  So I've progressed from quarter-mile runs to about three miles yesterday.  This has taken place over the last three weeks.  Currently I'm on vacation in Sanibel Island, Florida and I just completed a 38-minute run in my Vibrams.

Many people ask, "How does it feel?"  Friends on Facebook are asking, "How do your ankles and calves respond?"  My answer aligns perfectly with one of my principles of training: progression is essential.

My feet hurt pretty bad after my first couple weeks of running in the Vibrams.  But I could literally feel my feet getting stronger.  I know the biomechanics of my feet and their high arches.  I know I've done a bunch of sprinting on the balls of my feet and barefoot running on grass and sand.  So I know the science says they'll get stronger.  But as with any form of training, there's a breakdown phase before there's a strengthening phase.  I'm starting to get stronger.

In Summary:  Born to Run convinced me to explore the barefoot running method.  I bought Vibram Five-Fingers and have been progressively training longer distances in them.  I have a long way to go to change my running form.  But as an athlete and a trainer, I've dedicated my life to helping people understand health and fitness.  This is just one other component to training of which I'm seeking to become an expert.

Any questions?  Find me on Facebook or ask in the Comments section.  In my next post, I'll talk about my first water-shed running moment - my first mile run in the Vibrams followed by four miles in my running shoes.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Family Camp 2010

For the second year in a row, Katie and I took the family to Fort Wilderness in Reinlander, WI for Family Camp.  This has turned into one of our favorite weeks of the year.  The Northwoods are so beautiful, but for us it has been about the community.

When I think back on our week at the Fort, I think of a giant family gathering.   How cheesy does that sound?  But here's the deal: the camp is full of families with kids of all ages.  Each family is so unique and so friendly.  We have met the neatest people there.  The Fort has established a sense of community that makes me as a parent extremely comfortable having my son freely walk around and explore.  This was my biggest memory from 2010: Sorin was able to walk around the dining hall and the walking trails on his own for so much of the trip.  Don't get me wrong, I kept a close eye on him.  But you can immediately feel the community love on these kids from the smiles, to the waves, to the gentle direction and watchful eye of a stranger who's about to become a new friend.

I watched for one week while Sorin walked more than he's ever walked in a week.   The camp is wide open and has trails that must be a path to adventure for a little kid.  Sorin had his first exposure to so many trees, the lake, trails, and even a playground.  I had him in our backpack for a couple trips and he loved the view from my back.  One of the warmest feeling I got was when so many of the men and women would look at him and call him by name.  To have other families embrace my child is very special.

My parenting years are only numbering two, but I feel it's safe to say that this type of community is not common for today's youth.  Sorin has an extended community of family and friends that make me excited to allow him to grow up as a Fort camper.

And Norah.  Well it was her first year and she was an angel.  Not really, but how do you follow up Sorin's experience with an 8-week old baby?  Norah didn't sleep so well so we had a long week in that regards.  To be fully honest, I slept pretty well - it was Katie that struggled.  All kidding aside, we did have a hard time with Norah.  We wouldn't have it any other way, but two kids under two makes "vacation" not the most accurate description of the week. 

Still, Katie and I had some nice times together on walks to and from meals and a couple times at the beach.  Of course we also had the added benefit of both sets of grandparents at Family Camp with us.  They helped quite a bit which is so nice. 

Katie and Sorin and I were in a tent for the week at Family Camp #1 last year.  This year with a newborn we decided to get a cabin.  Boy was that a great idea!  We had a huge cabin all to ourselves without a worry of waking up any other campers when Norah started to cry.  One of my favorite memories was around 7pm each night.  I'd give Sorin a quick shower to clean off his suntan lotion and dirt.  We'd get our pajamas on and sit around on the mattress that Katie and I slept on which was place between two bunk beds.  Sorin's pack-n-play was on the other side of a bunk and Norah slept on another bed or right next to Katie.  We had this whole cabin to ourselves to end our day as a family getting ready for bed.  It's moments like this that make me excited to create and continue annual rituals like Family Camp.

If you have children from newborn through high school, I would highly recommend Fort Wilderness Family Camp.  You can ask question in the Comment section or email me.  Kids these days have a lot of video games, tv, cell phones, and the cement of the city.  Fort Wilderness allows me and my family to get out into God's creation, see His beauty, and explore the great outdoors.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Common Thread of Competition

Last week our family was on vacation up in Reinlander, Wisconsin.  For the second year in a row we attended Family Camp #1 at Fort Wilderness.  I'll be writing about that experience this weekend, but right now I want to talk about a recurring discussion I was having all week: training.

When training conversations came up, I could feel an interesting vibe and buzz.  Maybe it's because I'm a fitness guy and that topic gets me jazzed.  But I think it's more than that.  It wasn't community because it was a bunch of conversations I had with individuals.  Still, being the common denominator in all of them I can't help but recognize the theme. 

Here's some of the stories I heard: one was doing her first marathon after just completing her first triathlon.  Another is doing her first marathon after realizing she signed up for the full instead of the half.  Another was asking me about doing her first 10K or even half marathon, but she's chosen to run around her hometown lake - no small feat, it's 17 miles!  One woman just got done with P90X and she and I were discussing the pros and cons of the training and what's next for her. 

When the topic of training was brought up, I certainly perked up and took extra notice.  Maybe that was part of the reason I was feeling a vibe each time.  But even if that was the case, there's no disputing our mutual excitement to talk about training.

If exercise and training evokes such positive conversations, why?  My guess is that each person feels a sense of empowerment and pride.  Their fitness is a challenge.  You don't hear people talking about their trip to the gym and the great treadmill work they did or the additional set they got through on their bench press.  But training for a marathon?  Now there's a lively discussion.

What about you?  Are you training for anything?  Katie and I are signed up for the Chicago half marathon in September.  I've got a bunch of friends doing other races and competitions this fall.  Would you be intrested in training for your first 5K?  10K?  Sprint triathon?

Or maybe you're just working out to get in shape.  That's cool, and great work! 

Feel free to comment below if you'd like to join our community of athletes?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Race Week: Just Observing

I am so excited for Race Week.  This Sunday is Madison Marathon and I'm excited for different reasons.  As Katie and I grow our family, we're in a season where I need to take some time off from training and competing.  For months I've gotten myself excited for this weekend because so many friends and family are running this year's Madison Marathon.

My sister is running her first half.  My father-in-law is completing his second, but first without injury.  My soon-to-be sister-in-law and her dad are each doing the full.  Cousins Matt and Amanda are doing their first half together.  Our friends Kate and Laura are running the half; Laura did a full in Chicago last year.  My cousin Kelly is running after doing Chicago last fall with Laura.  I'm probably missing someone.  Sorry.

Well when I think of race week I think of realized preparation.  You've logged the miles, you've trained your body, and hopefully you've envisioned race day.  There's so many details that go into training for a full or half marathon.  I'm just so excited for all these friends and family to be able to compete with themselves on Sunday.

All that is left is a short run, two days of rest, and some nutritional prep.  I've always been a good eater.  Using food as fuel is very important.  I'm a firm believer in carb-loading.  When your body needs energy (and Sunday your body will NEED energy) it is going to the carbohydrates first.  So load up on pasta and bread on Saturday night.  Don't get sick, but eat a little more than usual.

On race day, I like to eat the following:
  • banana
  • bagel with peanut butter
  • one of Katie's homemade muffins
  • coffee (yes, one cup)
  • and probably another one of those muffins

This may be too much for you, but as I said - I like my fuel.  Don't change your routine too much, but don't run on an empty stomach.  You'll need nutrition on race day.

To all my friends and family, I'm honored to be watching you in all your glory on Sunday.  You've worked hard and are going to accomplish a big feat.

Enjoy the run.

Monday, May 17, 2010

EIM - Exercise is Medicine

When I decided to pursue my certification as a personal trainer, I knew wanted the best.  And the gold standard in exercise and fitness is the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).  They are the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world:
ACSM’s Mission Statement reflects this goal: The American College of Sports Medicine promotes and integrates scientific research, education, and practical applications of sports medicine and exercise science to maintain and enhance physical performance, fitness, health, and quality of life.
With some experience in the industry, I have grown to love the work of ACSM.  Their newest initiative is called Exercise Is Medicine.  The idea is to get physicians to consult with each of their patients about the importance of exercise at each visit. 

It's a very ambitious initiative but it's already caught my attention.  Doesn't it make sense?  Think about it: exercise IS medicine.  Anyone who has exercise has felt the immediate benefits.  And anyone who has worked out for an extended period of time knows the long-term benefits and improved quality of life.

I share this with you in an effort to motivate you to make a change this month.  Sure, today is Frog Jumping Day, this week is Salvation Army Week, and pretty soon it will be Go Skateboarding Day (which actually sounds kind of cool).  But May is also now Exercise is Medicine Month. 

Let's make this simple:  Join the comments section below and tell me what kind of exercise you're getting that isn't normally part of your routine.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The New Recovery Drink: Chocolate Milk

(This post doesn't necessarily belong in the current series on Exercise Programming, but it's posted as a supplement.  Enjoy!)

At this point I hope that everyone has begun to incorporate some of this material into their exercise program.  My goal is for this website to be a resource for you, a place where you can get all your exercise information and motivation.  Need more?  Find me on Twitter, Facebook, or email.

If you've started to ramp up your exercise program, your body is working hard and needs to learn how to recover.  Our last post talked about the importance of stretching to facilitate muscle recovery.  One of the biggest omissions from an exercise routine is the area of nutrition.  Today I'm giving you permission to enjoy one of our favorite kids' drinks: chocolate milk.

Sure, you should drink the chocolate milk because you just had a great workout and "you deserve it."  But that's not why I'm telling you to drink it.  Current research has found that chocolate milk has the perfect balance of carbohydrates to protein to facilitate muscle recovery.  (You can read an interesting article with more details at here.)

I can already hear the experience athletes: "Hans, the last think I'd want to drink after a long run or bike ride is chocolate milk."  I can hear you because that's what I was thinking until I tried it.  It's way better than you'd think.  After I finished the Madison Marathon last year, they had small cartons of chocolate milk available for all the runners and it was the best drink I had all day.

If nothing else, go run for 30-40 minutes and cap it off with a glass of chocolate milk.  And if you're wondering which kind to buy, it doesn't matter.  I mix Hershey's syrup with 1% milk.  Bottoms up!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The X-Factor: Stretching and Flexibility (Exercise Program #4)

In the first two post of this series I have thrown a lot of information at you regarding cardio training and strength training.  Let's ease up a bit and do something a little less stressful, like stretching. Muscles work very hard. They stretch and contract in a brilliant way to provide us with the ability to move dynamically. This does not come without consequences. When you use your muscles for excessive movements, you're actually tearing and changing the composition of the muscles. Stretching is one of the best ways to recover from an exercise bout.

Notice we haven't talked about stretching until after our workout.  This is because active stretching is done most effectively after muscles are warm.  Also, there is very little evidence to suggest that there is any benefit to stretching before your exercise session.  If anything, the stretching will take some of the "bounce" out of your step, and could hinder higher levels of performance.  But this is beyond the scope of this post.  What you need to take away is this:  
  1. warm-up before exercise (light jogging to break a sweat; not stretching)
  2. stretch after exercise (muscle recovery)
You might be saying, "Hans, I've always stretched before a run.  It feels good."   I don't doubt that, but I'm just communicating the research which says muscles should be warm before a workout (they're not if you haven't run yet) and that there's little to no benefit to stretching before the workout.  Conversely, stretching after exerting your muscles is great for recovery of all that muscle activity.

So what kind of stretches are we talking about?  Glad you asked.  For the purpose of this post, I'm going to offer three stretches for the biggest muscles you'll be using:

  • Hamstrings
  • Quadriceps
  • Calf (gastrocnemius)
Here's the hamstring stretch:

And if you have really tight hamstrings, you'll want to increase the stretch of the muscle like this:

Here's the quadriceps stretch:

And finally, the calf:

Do you stretch enough?  Most likely, no.  And to be honest, neither do I.  Don't take it lightly.  I've gotten a lot better over the years in my stretching and you should too.  As we get older, our muscles take longer to recover.  Injuries happen much more readily.  If you have any questions or would like some other ideas regarding your stretching, you can find me in the Comments Section.

Looking forward to the next post?  I'm about to give you a recovery drink that will make you say, "REALLY?!!?" 

(Updated research:  I just found this related article on - Want a better workout? Don't stretch before)

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Strength Training (Exercise Program 3)

Strength training is an important component to an exercise program.  It also seems to be the most confusing part of the program for new exercisers.  There are many different variables in a lifting program: days, sets, reps, weight, rest.  But don't worry - I'll explain the essentials here and have you feeling stronger within two weeks, guaranteed.

Why strength training?  The easy answer that fits every individual is that strength training makes life easier.  That's right, when you are stronger you are able to do the ADLs (activities of daily living) much easier.  You can take those two flights of stairs because your legs don't get tired that easily.  You can bring in 4 bags of groceries instead of two.  You can pick up that box for storage, climb the step ladder and heave it over your head without fear of falling.  You name it, it will be easier after just two weeks of strength training.

The other reason I like to focus on is increased confidence.  When you've spent time "pushing weights around" and adding some strength to your frame, your frame and your confidence display your hard work.  You walk a little more upright.  You move around better.  You feel more confident in your body - both men and women.

As I noted earlier, strength training is probably the most confusing part of the exercise program.  This post will make you familiar with the essentials so you can start lifting this week.  Remember - think of this training in terms of progression.  Strength training provides the greatest feedback in terms of accomplishing a goal and moving forward.

First, some definitions:

  • repetitions (reps): number of times a weight is lifted, ranging from 8-15
  • sets: number of times a group of reps are completed, ranging from 2-4
  • weight: come on, you know what weight is

Some debate exists on how often strength training needs to occur (per week) for benefits to be seen.  At minimum you need to lift two days per week.  This is mostly for maintenance, but it's a good place to start.  Ideally I have my clients lifting three to four days per week.

Without me being able to demonstrate the proper technique of these lifts, I'm giving you homework.  If you are unsure of how these lifts should be done you should search YouTube for proper technique.  As always, I'm available for individual consultation in the comments section or on Facebook (

So how do you put together a strength training program?  Let's start with two days per week and six lifts.  (Remember, you have to look these up for proper technique)

  • Bench Press
  • Bent-over Row
  • Bicep Curl
  • Tricep Extension
  • Military Press
  • Squat

There are a couple reasons for me including these lifts but all I want you to walk away with is the understanding that these are the building blocks for a complete strength training program.

How much to lift?  That's up to you, and it will require some trial and error.  Your goal is to lift each weight 8 times (reps) and do this for three sets.  You should lift in the order listed, and you can do two exercises at a time, alternating.  So it would happen like this:

  1. bench #1 followed by row #1 (which would be first set)
  2. do this for a total of three sets
  3. move to curl #1 followed by extension #1 (which would be the first set)
  4. do this for a total of three sets
  5. finish with military press #1 followed by squats #1 (which would be  - you guessed it - the first set)
  6. do this for a total of three sets

Have I mentioned I'm available in the Comments Section?  You can also email me at Hans416 [at] gmail dot com.   (Sorry, I'm a little paranoid about spammers.)

Two weeks.  

That's all you'll need to grow out of the first set of weights you started at.  You'll see increases within two weeks if you lift 2-3 days per week.  All the gains won't happen that fast or that often, so enjoy it while it's there.

Strength training is important for so many aspects of your health, both mental and physical.  I'll write about that more in later posts.  Have you experienced any benefits of strength training?  Share your experience with me and this community (you're not the only reader, mom) in the Comments Section.

Do you know someone who would enjoy this post?  Please consider sharing the link via email, Facebook, or Twitter.

Happy Training!!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Big Rocks First - Cardio Training (Exercise Program #2)

Essential reading:  Stephen Covey's Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.  The principles in this book are foundational for successful living.  One of the ideas from this book has to do with today's topic: cardio workouts.

The principle is this:  organize your schedule inserting the big rocks first.  The idea is that when you're looking at a schedule, agenda, priority list, etc. it's important to put the most important elements (big rocks) in first.  Then the little rocks (less important or even unimportant) fit it around the big rocks.  

You can see the application.  In my world of exercise, health and fitness the Big Rock is cardio.  I don't care how flexible you are.  I don't care how big your muscles are or how much you can bench press.  And I certainly don't care if you can do 125 sit-ups without stopping as you display your washboard six-pack abs.


What I care about is the health of your heart.  The cardio component is the Big Rock in your exercise program.  It's the most important aspect of your training that can never be neglected.   Why?  Because nothing compares to the health of your heart.  Your heart makes everything else work.  It pumps oxygen rich blood to muscles and living tissues of the body.  Your heart is the workhorse - why would you neglect it?

So what does a cardio workout look like?  First, a cardio workout should happen three days per week.  This may seem like a lot - it's almost every other day.  But that brings us to our second component - duration.  A cardio workout needs to be 20 minutes long to have any cardiovascular benefits.  Walking?  20 minutes.  On the bike? 20 minutes.  Running or jogging?  20 minutes.  Combination of theses?  20 minutes.

It's important to remember that every aspect of your exercise program should be seen as a progression towards something more challenging.  I'm not suggesting that you'll be running 90 minutes for seven days per week.  But I am insisting that you push yourself a little bit each month.  That's right, each month.  More later.

In review, a cardio workout is:

  • the Big Rock in your exercise program
  • should start at 20 minutes of activity
  • should happen three days per week

Simple, right?  Start with these guidelines or leave me a message in the comments section and we can discuss your fitness training.

If you found this post helpful, please share it with a friend via email, Twitter, or Facebook!

In our next post, we'll discuss strength training.

Happy Training!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Creating an Exercise Program (Exercise Program 1)

This is my second series on creating an exercise program.  The first was called the J2K Fitness Challenge, and it centered around the principles and organizational structure of an exercise routine.  It discussed dealing with previous exercise failures, setting goals, keeping records, and bumps in the road.  Take a few minutes and review them as we continue this series.

Now it's time to get to the nuts and bolts of an exercise program.  Most likely this isn't the first time you've ever attempted an exercise routine.  There is no shortage programs out there.  So this is my take on the essentials.  Please use the comment section below or email me to make this an ongoing discussion.  Conversation is good.

An exercise program should consist of the following:

  • strength training - lifting weights (machine or free weights)
  • cardiovascular training - "cardio" i.e. running, biking, walking, paddling
  • stretching - muscle recovery, injury prevention
  • core training - the bridge to the body

Today we are setting up the design of the program.  I want you to write down how much time you'll spend on each component.  This is not as easy as it sounds.  You cannot do all components each day of the week.  Check that - you could, but you'll burn out, injure yourself, or actually decrease your results.

As a personal trainer, I consult individually with each client to understand their history and goals for their exercise program.  I'm happy to consult with you if you comment or email me.  But 95% of the time, here's what a typical exercise program looks like:

  • Cardio:  3-4 days per week
  • Strength:  2-3 days per week
  • Stretching:  after each cardio workout
  • Core:  3-5 days per week

I always start with cardio.  When push comes to shove, cardio must get done.  Cardio is what strengthens your heart and it's too important to put anywhere but first.  So start there.  I suggest M,W,F and a weekend cardio workout.

Then strength training gets worked in.  If you can do this opposite cardio days, you may find it more productive.  Then you're looking at T,R and maybe a weekend day.  This gets full on the schedule.  If you want to get two birds with one stone (trips to the gym) you can lift after a cardio workout.  More on the importance and details of a strength program on Friday.

Most of my clients are adults and none are getting younger.  Stretching is an essential component to a program and it is by far the most difficult one to remain faithful to.  As you begin your training, start with designating 5 minutes at the end of your cardio to stretch.  Five minutes will feel like an eternity, but it's actually a minimum and will most likely increase with experience and age.

Finally, core training cannot be ignored.  Think about those you know who have lower back problems.  Maybe it's you.  Core training is critical to maintain all the activities of daily living and to connect our cardio with our strength training.

Don't be nervous.  I know it seems like a lot but it becomes second-nature after a couple weeks.  And as always - progression is key.  If you start for two weeks and do just cardio - GREAT!  I promise we can work up from there.  That's really where the personal in personal training comes in, so for the third time, please feel free to contact me.

In review, go buy a 99-cent notebook and call it your Fitness Journal.  Take the first page and write down some thoughts of exercise programs of yester-year.  Then write your current situation and goals.  Then on page two make a calendar for yourself and plan out cardio, strength, stretching and core training.  Figure the following time-frames:

  • cardio - 20-30 minutes
  • strength:  15 minutes
  • stretching: 5 minutes
  • core: 10 minutes

Happy Training!  See you in the comments section.  And please feel free to share this post and series with your friends via email, Facebook, or Twitter.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Birth Announcement: Norah Katie

It is my joy and honor to announce that Katie gave birth to our second child, our first daughter Norah Katie Schiefelbein on April 22, 2010. Norah weighs 6lbs 14oz and is 19 inches long. Katie is doing great.

I write this post at 9pm from a pull-out couch in one of the birthing suites at Meriter Hospital. Katie has just fallen asleep with Norah resting on her chest. The two sleep together for the first time, mother and daughter. I reflect as I write. I am in awe and full of pride and joy.

Katie was due last Friday (April 16) and because she had a previous c-section, they wouldn't let her go more than a week past her due date. If any of you remember Sorin's birth, it was a scheduled c-section (breech) for 8am, but due to emergency c-sections we didn't go in until 4pm. It was a long, hard, stressful day. Today we were only 45 minutes behind schedule and everything went great.

Katie and I were in the operating room together just talking through her feelings and what pics and videos I was going to get. We were so calm. Katie did great. I am so proud of her getting another child healthy all the way through nine months of pregnancy.

When I tell the story, I talk about this being our second c-section. We had a huge advantage and blessing to be able to process everything happening and soak it all it. The meds went in well and we waited at the end of the bed together. My camera in hand, I filmed our baby girl entering the world and we both couldn't hold it back. They brought her around the curtain and I filmed the whole thing. They brought Norah right next to Katie's face as she lay on the table and we had a wonderful moment together. It was a powerful moment, and I'm proud that our love is loud.

Family came to visit and it was a great day. We're tired. We're full of joy and anticipation for this new life with our new addition, a daughter - Norah Katie.

Here's a few pictures. Of course many more to follow.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Creating a Fitness Routine Part 5 - Putting it all together

I hope you've enjoyed my series on creating a fitness routine.  I truly hope you've learned something or taken some time to reflect on your exercise routine or habits and have been able to implement something from this series.

Here's where we've been with the J2K Challenge.  We've all failed at fitness at one time or another (or even more times than not).  So the challenge is to identify those shortcomings and move forward - failure will lead to success.

After we critiqued our failures, we compiled some goals, but not just any goal - S.M.A.R.T. goals.  Then we discussed how we'd keep ourselves organized.  I wrote about keeping good records and gave some examples of different ways to monitor your workouts, mostly online.

From there we realized people were starting to implement their new exercise program but the inevitable always shows up - distractions and changes in the schedule.  So we talked about making adjustments to your plan so that you can stay on track and move towards your goals.

Have you noticed that I haven't talked about exercises specifically?  There's a couple reasons for this.

  1. I'm establishing a framework for a fitness routine before I discuss the details.
  2. I have to establish an audience before I get into specific exercise recommendations.  
  3. I didn't know quite what to expect with a series and I've used this as a learning experience.
Now as I write this, I'm already a week past my self-imposed deadline for finishing this series.  If it seems like it's coming to an abrupt end, that's because it is.  But the story is not over.

I'll be taking feedback from this series and launching a new series within a week.  Of course most of you know Katie and I are expecting our second baby any day now.  So depending on that arrival and our sleep patterns (or lack thereof) you can look forward to that series.  

Please give me your feedback in the comments below.  Bloggers relay very heavily on those comments.  Also, if you feel like you know someone who would benefit from or enjoy this information, please subscribe their email to my list.  Just kidding (it wouldn't work anyway).  But seriously, if you would be so kind as to pass this blog on to a couple people I'd enjoy the additional conversations.  Thanks.

So to put it all together, I encourage you to do just that - read over the 5-part series which will take you about 15 minutes.  Reflect on some of the things I've talked about and make a plan for yourself.  If you're interested in some personal training or some accountability, I'm available in the comments section.  Post your email and we'll go from there.

Thanks for joining me in the J2K Challenge.  Get outside, be fit, and join me for the next series on the specific components of an exercise program.

Monday, April 12, 2010

They weren't supposed to be here

Success has been described as where preparation meets opportunity.  Preparation is the hard work.  It often goes unnoticed.  At least until success makes everyone notice all your hard work.  Take for instance this year's NCAA mens basketball tournament.  What a great tradition in sports.  64 teams earn the right to be in a tournament that determines the National Champion.

Does any team prepare more than the others?  Probably not.  I think if you looked at the work ethic off all 64 teams, you'd find more similarities than differences.  But that doesn't mean all the teams are the same; certainly they are not.  Evidence of this is seen on Selection Sunday when the brackets are announced, seeds #1-16 are matched up to formulate the tournament.

All the teams prepare.  All the teams have an opportunity.  But success will most often fall to the team with the best preparation, rather than the one with the best opportunity.

This was demonstrated very clearly this year as the talking heads debated which team was the strongest of the #1's (seed) and which was the most vulnerable.  Do you remember who was picked to win the tournament?  This year it was Kansas or Kentucky.  Most agreed they were the most balanced and most skilled teams in the tournament.  And which team was most vulnerable?  Which team was most likely to go down before reaching the Final Four?  Duke.

Where preparation meets opportunity.  Duke was not supposed to make the Final Four.  Their team this year was constantly being compared to the Duke teams that have dominated the tournament the last 15 years.  This wasn't really up for debate.  Compared to previous Duke teams and compared to the rest of the field, Duke was having a down year.  But as the tournament progressed, our two factors - preparation and opportunity - began to play a significant role.

Duke will always be prepared.  Their coach, the legendary Mike Krzyzewski, is one of the basketball's brilliant minds and leaders.  He may go down as the best of all time.  He's the best in the nation right now, which is why he's also the coach of the national team.

Opportunity arose when the two dominant teams, Kansas and Kentucky, lost in the 2nd and 4th rounds respectively.

Duke wasn't supposed to be in the discussion.  Not this year.  Not with this team.  But they they prepared for excellence with the players they had and they maximized their opportunity when opponents went down.  The result was a National Championship.

According to comparison with other teams and commentary be "experts", Duke wasn't supposed to be a major contender.  I wonder what I'm not supposed to be doing because I can't compare to the Kansas' or Kentucky's of the world.  I wonder what opportunities might present themselves if I prepare for excellence like this year's Duke team prepared for excellence.

And you?  What game do you have no business being in?  Where are you so out of your league that the big dogs are going to destroy you?

Duke prepared so that when the opportunity presented itself, they were prepared for success.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Some Reading Material

One of my biggest frustrations is not being able to find time to read all the good stuff I come across on a daily basis.  First, of course, are the books I have going.  As I mentioned back in December, my reading list is long.  Currently I'm getting back into Principle of the Path so I can get a family book club blog back up and running again.  I've also started to read Where Men Win Glory by Jon Krakauer.  But as I mentioned earlier in the week, the GRE has been my main text for the last few weeks.

So there's the books, but then there's the internet.  Critics will have a field day with this, but Twitter has put a huge burden on my reading list.  I follow some pretty smart and compelling people on Twitter - you should too.  And I don't want to hear that you don't have time b/c it's as much or as little as you make it.  Sure, I'm kind of complaining about Twitter adding to my reading list.  But I'd rather take time to sort through the stuff than not be connected like I am.  Anyway, Twitter feeds me with articles about blogging, fitness, news, and leadership which I all find completely fascinating.

What about you?  What are you reading?  Do you have a regular source for keeping up with the world or your personal interests?  Of course I'd recommend finding some interesting people on Twitter.  Tell me your interests and I'll try to point you towards some smart people.

Blogs are also great for finding good stories.  Recently I came across two great posts I want to share with you.  The first is from Spence Smith who works for Compassion International and has a great blog.  This article is called Leaders Who Blog Engage Their Audience is a great argument for why leaders should blog and the influence they can experience.  Look around Spence's website for other articles -  I read him every week.

If blogging and leadership aren't your thing I've got a compelling story for you.  Katie found this blog from a friend of hers and I'll give you three guarantees: (1) you will see beautiful photography and excellent writing, (2) it's a long read (3) you will thank me for pointing you to this when you're done.  If it doesn't affect you, check your pulse.  Enjoy the story of Nella.

Most of my readers know I'm really into social media - blogging, Twitter, Facebook.  The whole point of social media is to be social.  So I'm sharing what I'm reading.

Do you have anything to share with me?

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Hiatus, the return

Hiatus: recess, break, a break or interruption in the continuity of a work, action, etc.

I'm just coming of a few weeks of being immersed in study - I took the GRE yesterday and prep for that has consumed me until now. So this blog post will be me essentially catching everyone up to speed on my life. If that's not compelling enough, just think of our little girl who is about to be born in the next couple weeks. Do I have your attention now? Good, because she's worth it.

So's my wife. Katie has been through her second pregnancy and is doing extremely well. Until last night. The discomfort and anxiety is starting to compound. I'm trying to be especially disciplined to put all things "Hans" aside so that I can do as much for her and Sorin as possible.

We are so excited about the impending birth of our first girl. How do you even write about this? I guess that will come the week she does! Katie's hoping that's sooner than later.

I had a rain day today, and it's a Tuesday so I was able to take Sorin to the library for Story Time. It's a wonderful thing to watch him interact with the other kids. His facial expressions are so different that when he's around the house. I cannot wait to see his reaction to our little girl.

The GRE was pretty tough, but I'm happy with my score and will see if it's enough to get me into grad school. It was good to be back studying again - I miss academia. My plan is to pursue a Masters Degree in Physical Activity Epidemiology.

That's it. I basically wrote this b/c I haven't touched base here in a few weeks. I've been itching to write but haven't had the time.

Have you checked out my latest series on Creating a Fitness Routine? It's called the J2K Fitness Challenge and it's based on the idea that we continually fail at exercise programs ("we", not "you" -- I'm in this too). Please take a few minutes to read the 4-part series. I'll be writing the fifth and final installment this weekend, that is if we aren't welcoming our little girl into the world!!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Creating a Fitness Routine Part 4 - A Series of Adjustments

I can still hear my defensive coach from high school.  I can see him out of the corner of my eye, pacing around the team and insisting that "life is a series of adjustments."  Very few - I mean very few - phrases have stuck with me over the years.  But Coach Lecher ("lek-er") had a phrase that I'll never forget.  He used it in such a brilliant context - defensive football.

In the game of football, the defense can game plan and strategize all they want.  But often the defensive unit will succeed based on their ability to adjust to what the offense is doing and find a way to stop it - make and adjustment.  "Life is a series of adjustments."

In part 1 of this series we talked about recognizing previous failures at exercise and using this as a learning tool for moving towards a successful plan.  In part 2 we talked about SMART goals.  Part 3 had to do with keeping detailed records of your fitness routine.

Today I'd like to encourage you to listen to Coach Lecher with me - "life is a series of adjustments."  You've undoubtedly had weeks where you didn't get all your workouts in.  You've had workouts where you couldn't workout as long as you had hoped.  One day of lifting was you vs. the weights, and the weights won.  This happens all the time in exercise. You're good, but if you're so good that you never have setbacks, what are you really accomplishing?  (You need more challenge.)

Life happens - and we need to adjust.  I'm learning this right now with our adjustment to life with a kid, and soon two kids.  My time gets pulled in new directions in this stage of life.  I'm also a personal trainer - I hear the excuses all the time.  (I think I heard the worst one this week, but I better keep it to myself in case he's reading.)  We all have a list of things that take up time and then other lists of things that seem to just pop up and take even more of our time.

So when things get in the way of your workouts, or a workout beats you up pretty good one day, what's your response?  Will you be passive and allow the set-back to just happen?  Will you promise yourself it will never happen again?  Will you play the blame game?  Will you chalk it up to bad luck?  Or will you process the set-back, regroup, and find a way to move towards your SMART goal?  Tim Sanders wrote about this last week.

Engage with your workouts.  Engage with your goals.  Engage with all the details of your life and then come up with a game plan.  When you get knocked around a bit, try to hear the words of my defensive coach, "Life is a series of adjustments."  Big or small - make that adjustment and take another step towards your goals.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


I feel extremely compelled to write this morning.  Productivity has been heavy on my mind this week, and it was reinforced this morning during my run.  I'm only giving myself 10 minutes for this, though.

My blog is currently in the middle of a series entitled "Creating a Fitness Routine." If you haven't read about our process check out the three posts here:
I have to admit that staying productive can be tough for me.  Most days at work we're very busy with the tree work, training, and keeping things up and running efficiently.  But when I sit at the office in front of a computer there are so many things reaching out for my attention:  Facebook, Twitter, Google Reader, email (personal, business), and that doesn't even include news sites so I can know what's going on in the world. 

How is a man supposed to concentrate when everything is so readily available?

This isn't new information, but maybe just a reminder.  Or maybe it's just me processing this on my blog.  What it comes down to is prioritizing.  For me the question is not "What do I do first?"  The better question is "What do I not do?" 

  • I don't need to have email open all day.  I can check it 3-4 times rather than always having it in real-time.
  • I don't need to have Twitter open all day.  Checking for 5 minutes twice per day is plenty.
  • My Google Reader will keep those items stored and unread, also for the end of the day or even better the weekend.  

I know this post may not make sense to my readers, so sorry for the little rant here.  If I were giving this more than 10 minutes I'd explain more of what I'm doing (specifically) to stay productive. 

For now, I'll just tell you that saying no to email and Twitter is a good thing (albeit very difficult).  My Moleskine notebook is my best friend.  And I'll live today with my favorite line from one of my favorite books, Four Pillars of a Man's Heart:
"Organize and lead.  I say it again, organize and lead."

Any successful leader must first be able to lead himself.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Creating A Fitness Routine - Part 3: Keeping Records

If you're new to our series on becoming more fit, please check out the first few posts.  In part one we talked about how we've all failed at fitness in the past.  We all do it - just admit your with the rest of us and move on.  Failure is critical component to success.  It wasn't the first time you failed and it won't be the last.  (We'll be getting into this later in part six.)  In part two we talked about SMART goals.  As an experienced personal trainer I feel this is top-three important!  Working out for the sake of working out very rarely works - so don't try to be the exception.  Read about creating a SMART goal and you'll find a lot about yourself and your motivation.

In this post I'd like to talk about record keeping.  One of the biggest challenges I have is keeping good records for my clients.  Doctors have nurses and administrative assistants to take notes and update records.  But it's up to me and me alone to take notes during my sessions with clients and then record them on their programs so that we know where we've been, what we've discussed, and new developments and goals as the come up.

And you?  Maybe you're not the detail orientated person for the job.  But you should be - and here's why.  Writing down what you've accomplished is a great way to reflect on the physical activity you've done.  It also ensures you have accurate records for two, six, eighteen months down the road.  Even if you have a perfect memory I guarantee you'll appreciate looking back at your workouts in a couple years to reflect on where you've been.

This record keeping can take various forms.  Do what works best for you.  Some examples:

Google Documents - you can share (online) with friends, family, trainers (like me)
Word or Excel file on your computer - the Facebook for athletes in training
Journal - I love my Moleskin notebook
Or whatever works for you.

So what will it be?  Give it a try and tell me how you're making it work.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Creating a Fitness Routine Part 2 - Goal Setting

This is part two of our J2K Fitness Challenge.  In part one we talked about how we can learn about ourselves in our failures, and that in fact failure is essential for success.  I ended part one with instructions to write down some obstacles that have gotten in the way of your training programs in the past.

Now with those in the back of our mind, let's start writing some goals.  Goals, both short and long term, are extremely important in creating a fitness routine.  In college as I was learning about physical and health education we learned about S.M.A.R.T. goals.  At first it seemed a little over the top, but over the years I've come to realize how important each component is to the success of your goal.

S.M.A.R.T. Goals:

Specific           (What *specifically* do you want to happen)
Measurable     (How will you know when you've accomplished your goal?)
Attainable        (Is your goal within reach but still challenging?)
Relevant          (Is it your goal or someone else's; how does it fit in your life?)
Timely             (To be completed next week, next month or next year?)

Without a goal we will never accomplish what's important to us.  The world distracts us in many different ways, so we need to focus.  And when we establish a goal, it needs to have the five SMART components.

Take that sheet of paper and start formulating your S.M.A.R.T. goals.  Nothing is written in stone, remember?  You may write these goals and then make some changes a few weeks into the program.  Life is a series of adjustments.  But we'll continue our J2K Challenge by writing some goals.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Creating a Fitness Routine Part 1

Admit it - you haven't had that much success in this area.  You've had a few exercise routines come and go over the years.  Maybe you've tried running or getting on the bike, but it didn't last more than a couple weeks.  You've tried some diets that didn't produce the results you expected.  And weight lifting - after a week you were so sore you never made it back to the gym.

Score:  Intentions 44  

            Results   0
Deep inside everyone knows they could be a little healthier.  We all want to eat a little better and workout a little more.  We have something to prove to ourselves.  Forget the guy at work who always gets a good workout in - we have something to prove to ourself!

This is the first article in a new series called J2K.  Kind of catchy, right?  J2K.  It's a project for you, by you, with me.  But mostly it's for you.  This is a story you're going to write about your fitness experience.  "But Hans my fitness experience, if I'm really honest, has been a story of failure."  I'm with you.  I've failed too.  But luckily history provides proof that even when we fail, we can still learn and succeed.  Here's how the J2K Fitness Challenge derives its name.

Virgin Atlantic Airways is an airline owned by Sir Richard Branson's Virgin label, a forward-thinking business group known to be highly innovative.  In 2000 they made a $67 million investment to create sleeper seats, reclining seats for their business class.  
Although sleeper seats had long existed in first class, airlines had not yet adopted them for business class. Virgin was the first to announce it would be offering "a bed in business," says Joe Ferry, Virgin's head of design, who led the design of the J2000 seats. Within a year, however, Virgin's idea was one-upped by its chief competitor, British Airways PLC (BAB ), which rolled out a truly flat bed. While customers were initially enthusiastic about the J2000, some complained about sliding and discomfort. In the end, says McCallum, it "was wildly unsuccessful. Everybody acknowledged that it was not as good a product as our principal competitors'." Agrees Ferry: "We were an also-ran, which didn't really sit well with us."
But Ferry didn't get fired.  In fact, CEO Gordon McCallum entrusted Ferry with more money - $127 million to over-haul the upper-class seats.  The new version, launched in 2003, has been a solid success.  Called the "upper-class suite," Ferry's makeover made a design leap beyond merely being flat.  Flight attendants flip over teh back and seat cushions to make the bed, allowing for different foam consistencies for sitting and sleeping.  While Ferry hoped the new seats would eventually improve Virgin's business-class market share by 1%, they've already exceeded that goal.  (Source:

Failure is not the end of the story.  Many leadership experts and business professionals would testify that failure is in fact necessary for success.  So we begin J2K with a look at our failure.

When you think back to your attempts at creating an exercise program for yourself, what has gotten in the way?  What's made your routine fall apart?  What one aspect would you do differently to improve your chances at success?

The first part of the J2K Fitness Challenge is to get one piece of paper for some thoughts.  Write "J2K Fitness Challenge" at the top and brain-storm a couple reasons why exercise hasn't worked for you in the past.  That's it.  Come back in a couple days and we'll talk about what to do with those thoughts and we'll formulate some goals.  But not just any goals - we'll formulate S.M.A.R.T. Goals.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Training Log: I Use

After three seasons of running, it looks like this summer will be an off-season for me.  I've really enjoyed the different challenges of each race.  But Katie and I are expecting our second child this April and that means our household will be busier than ever.  Time for training will be hard to come by, so I'm planning on a much lighter exercise routine.

But as a personal trainer I have come to find great joy in helping others experience success and a healthier lifestyle.  I've promoted this lifestyle and these runs (half and full marathons) and a few members of our extended family have taken the challenge and joined me in these different races.  This season I'm focusing on two of these people, Jess and her dad Kevin.  Jess is the finance of Katie's brother Grant.  Kevin is her dad.

I've found a great website that will be helping us stay in contact with our workouts.  It's called DailyMile and it's free!  If you use Facebook you'll see the similarities.  Once you create a profile (which you can link to Facebook) you find other friends who join your News Feed.  When your friends post a workout or make a comment ("note") it shows up in your News Feed under "You and Friends." 

I am really impressed with the way technology is allowing us to create community in the exercise and fitness industry.  Sure, it can get overwhelming.  But with a little discipline and initiative it's possible to start a couple accounts on social networks and create some community as you get fit.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

What I Learned From the Haiti Challenge

This Haiti Challenge has been a mini-series on The Game Plan.  I've really enjoyed it and it's made me think of the project from many different angles.

It helped people: 10 days ago this money hadn't been given.  The need arose, people responded, and money was donated.  People benefited from our work.

Teamwork wins:  I'm very proud of the fact that my efforts in combination with the efforts of my team produced more dollars than would have been donated with just one person. Some would have donated anyway, some donated after reading the Challenge.  We formed a team.

Not everyone will join:  My biggest frustration and learning moment is that not everyone will join the cause, as good and as necessary as it may be.  I admitted in my first post of this series that,
It's too easy to pass up opportunities to help.  I've done it so many times in the past.
I knew only a small percentage of my friends on Facebook and the blog would respond.  My blog has a small readership, and I know I have exactly 416 friends of Facebook.  But I honestly thought I could get at least 20-30 people to donate $5 or $10.  This honestly baffles me.  Maybe it shouldn't b/c I've passed on other similar opportunities to give.  It's leaving a sour taste in my mouth, so I'm done digitally processing this thought.

(Alright, tt's still pissing me off)

People appreciate a good story:  I thoroughly enjoy researching a topic and presenting it to my readers and friends.  This story of course was a global disaster, but I took it and organized a sub-story for people to join.  If I'm frustrated with those who didn't join, I'm equally joyful with those who did.  They joined my story. 

Social Media will be a platform for really good things:  Not everyone is into Twitter and Facebook.  I hope they will see how quickly good information and stories can spread if we get involved in networks that are so viral.  And texting generated so much money.  Technology can be such a powerful tool.

Every cause needs a champion:  I'm not saying I championed this Haiti cause, but I moved towards it.  For 7 days I was a leader for a really good cause.  This disaster will pass, recovery will happen.  In the big picture this is a small story.  Serious but small.  What are the bigger stories?  What stories need to be told?  What stories need a champion?  How has God gifted you or given you experiences that have drawn you towards a cause or problem that needs to be solved?

I'm not going to go back and delete that point about my frustration with those who didn't join.  I know many may read it and be turned off by my harsh words, but I can live with that.  My frustration is equally directed at myself b/c in years past I haven't put my money where my heart was.  Hypocrite?  No.  I'm learning and I'm growing.  I'm willing to challenge people to excellence even if I can't always produce it myself.  I want to be in the game and leading myself and those I love towards goals that are bigger than ourselves.

Jack wrote his check to World Vision on Friday.  I wrote my checks this morning - $45 each to World Vision, Compassion, and Red Cross.  Thanks for reading about this Haiti Challenge.  Let's continue to do good things and cheer each other on to greatness.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Final Numbers for the Haiti Challenge

There was no way I was going to process the reports from Haiti and not do anything.  It was impossible.  Over a two day period I watched Twitter and glanced at nytimes and  I saw the tragedy unfolding and knew that as a God-fearing man and father of a little boy that it was my responsibility to take action.  Families were being torn apart and forced into extreme conditions.  It was my obligation to assist in whatever way I could to the relief efforts. 

What I did was not revolutionary.  It wasn't even my idea.  I was reading my Twitter feed and saw that Bebo Norman (singer from Nashville) was donating $5 for every person that mentioned that a link where you could donate: 
Help Haiti. Donate to Compassion's Disaster Relief. Roshare & I will give $5 for every person that RT's this link from TweetDeck

Bebo has 5,000+ people "following" him, so you can do the math and see how their bill could add up really quickly.  But the idea inspired me.  I talked to Katie about us donating, and then I decided to create my own Haiti Challenge.

I'm happy to report that my team raised $133 in six days.  The challenge was posted on Facebook and on my blog.  One of my blog readers then decided to match whatever I had to match.  So "Jack" is contributing $133.

Our grand total is $399!  Sorin just found four quarters in our couch, so you can tell people that the Haiti Challenge raised $400. 

I would like to thank each person who joined my team for this effort.  When people work together for a single cause, big things can happen.  $400 isn't even a drop in the bucket for the problems in Haiti, but that money will certainly provide assistance to someone who needs it a whole lot more than we do.

(Stay tuned: my next post will include additional thoughts about this project and I'll report when I write the check and where it goes.)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Last Day for Haiti Challenge

Tuesday January 19th will be the final day of my Haiti Relief Challenge.  In my last post, I challenged my readers here and on Facebook to donate to one of three organizations: World Vision, Compassion International, or Red Cross.  I asked them to post how much they donated (suggested $5 or $10) and I would match their gift.
(picture courtesy of Ruth Fremson NYTimes: Quikani Alakassis, 21, gave her 4-month-old daughter, Kiana Jean Baptiste, water from a bottle distributed by soldiers with the 82nd Airborne as she sits in her makeshift shelter on the grounds of the PĂ©tionville Club.)

BREAKING NEWS::  one reader ("Jack") has been inspired by this campaign and has offered to match what I'm matching!!    This means that if someone donates $10, I turn it into $20 and then Jack turns it into $30!  How cool is that?!?  Inspiration is a powerful thing.  There's also power in numbers.  Do you know someone who might want to join our team?  Please pass this on and tell them that they can join anonymously by posting at the bottom (comments) of this blog. 

And thank Jack for Jack-ing up the donation!!!
Haiti needs our help.  Please consider a $5 donation.  

 (Photo courtesy of Damon Winter NYTimes: Quake survivors fight over goods that were taken from a destroyed home supplies store.)
(Photo courtesy of Ricardo Arduengo NYTimes: An injured boy in a hospital bed in Port-au-Prince. Many hospitals were destroyed, and those that were not are swamped.) 

(Photo courtesy of Damon Winter NYTimes: Marie François, in the foreground, who lost three of her six children, waits with a son and daughter for a delivery of fortified biscuits from the World Food Program.)

(Photo courtesy of Ruth Fremson NYTimes: Soldiers with the 82nd Airborne and members of the Navy loaded helicopters with food and water.)

(Photo courtesy of Ivanoh Demers)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Haiti Challenge

I admit I haven't done much reading on this disaster in Haiti.  I'm just sitting down to write about thoughts that have been going through my mind for 24 hours with no time to process.  Yesterday the recurring theme on Twitter was, "Watching scenes from Haiti.  Wow.  Shocked.  Praying for Haiti."

From where I sit on a daily basis I get my news from Twitter.  I fire up my iPod Touch and read "tweets" from people who make sense to me.  But this post is NOT about Twitter.  It's about people's reactions to the world.  My Twitter feed has given me a very unique perspective on this event from people who I highly respect.  I don't hear from strangers.  I hear from very intelligent, thoughtful, and caring people.  And their response has been one of awe, compassion and action.  And that is what this post is about - action.

My life has changed since Sorin was born. The thought of my son suffering is unbearable.  And when I look at and and see the photos of Haiti, I see news through a new lens now - awe.  I see it through the parent's lens, and I know each person suffering is someone's child.  And they need help.

As I said, I haven't done much reading on this.  But really, what do you need to know?  You need to see pictures and hear a couple stories of what's happening.  From the
“You can’t do anything about the dead bodies, but inside many of these buildings people may still be alive. And their time is running out.”
--Eduardo A. Fierro, a structural engineer
inspecting quake-damaged buildings

Their time is running out.  I'm sitting on a laptop computer, sore from a hard day's work, and ready to get some sleep.  But their time is running out.  


I have no other stories to share.  Do you really need one?  My purpose is very simple:  action.  It's too easy to pass up opportunities to help.  I've done it so many times in the past.  Not this time.  I was inspired by Bebo Norman's tweet where he said that he would donate $5 for everyone who repeated his plea (on Twitter) for financial support to Compassion International.  My challenge is this:  
  • donate $5 or $10 to World Vision, Compassion International, or the Red Cross (texting "disaster" or "Haiti" to 90999 will take it right out of your phone bill)
  • write on my Facebook wall that you did this (or comment on this blog post)
  • I will match your gift 
I started the challenge this morning, and I have 4 partners on my team

If you'd like to forward this blog post to someone who may be interested, please copy and paste right after you visit one of the three websites above.

Awe   =>>  Compassion   =>>   Action