I know this is February. My timing is a little off. Articles about goal setting, which dovetail perfectly with New Year’s resolutions, should have been written for December or January issues. But I felt compelled to write an article on goal setting because it has had a significant impact on what I’ve accomplished over the years. There are naysayers that believe goal setting has limiting effects. I’m not one of those people. All of my life, I’ve always set goals and have had an unwavering commitment to obtain them and then some.
I remember when I was in grade school (K- 8th grade), I wanted to get all As on my report card. However, it was more important to me to get all As in the “Effort” category. That was my goal. Let me circle back and explain. When I was in school in Southern California, report cards had 2 columns: “Achievement” and “Effort”. I received the customary A, B, C, D or F in each column. So, for example, in Math I would get an “Achievement” and “Effort” grade. Now, I wasn’t the smartest kid. But I worked very hard. And, come hell or high water, I was always going to get straight As in the “Effort” column. That was my goal and I obtained that goal.
When I entered high school, my focus shifted to sports. I wanted to make my high school baseball team in the worst way. That was my goal. My Dad would work me out for hours. I played third base. I remember this crazy drill my Dad used to put me through. He used to blast hundreds of ground balls at me ON A CONCRETE SURFACE! He would say, “Kid, if you can pick these ground balls up, you’ll be able to pick up anything in a game.” Needless to say, my Dad and I established quite a reputation among other players and coaches for my work ethic. I wanted to make that team and do well. That was my goal. And I accomplished that goal.
New Goals for a Sense of Achievement
As I progressed through high school and college, it quickly became evident that I just didn’t have the athletic talent to continue my baseball career. However, I needed that competitive outlet, so I turned to endurance events. I remember my friends competing in endurance events. They were much better athletes than I. I was envious and admired them from afar. Then, as I mentioned in my December article, I saw a world-class triathlete by the name of Julie Moss stagger to the finish line in the 1982 Ironman triathlon in Kona. She inspired me like you can’t believe. I immediately signed up for an Olympic distance triathlon (1-mile swim; 25-mile bike; 10K run) with the goal of GETTING TO THE FINISH LINE. That was my goal. I was 22 and had never done an endurance event in my life. I was scared to death. I was especially terrified of the 1-mile open water ocean swim. But, I trained like a maniac and accomplished my goal of getting to that finish line.
Now, as I mentioned earlier, some believe that setting goals can be limiting. Why set a goal when you can achieve something even greater. Well, I contend that setting goals can lead to greater achievement. For example, my success in grade school gave me the confidence to go on to successes in college and graduate school. My baseball career was short-lived, but my successes on the diamond gave me the courage to explore other athletic endeavors that were truly “out of the box” for me. And once I completed that first triathlon in Solana Beach, CA, and accomplished my goal, I was a man possessed. Almost 30 years and 300 events later, I am still going strong. By the way, I mentioned earlier how terrified I was of my first open water swim. Well, since then I have swam the Alcatraz channel 8 times (from Alcatraz to the mainland – 1.5 miles) and completed more than a dozen 2-mile ocean swims.
At the time of this writing, I am preparing for my 92nd marathon – the Carlsbad marathon – a beautiful 26.2-mile coastal run in Carlsbad, CA in January. As my mind percolates, I begin to think what has shaped me. Why am I the person I am when it comes to goal setting and achieving in life. In the early years, I think it was a combination of things: youthful exuberance, the fact I had not started my family yet so I had much more time, and probably a measure of ignorance. But as I made my way through my late 30s and 40s, I became wiser (as we all do with age) and my actions became more calculated.
New Challenges to Overcome
My job has had a lot to do with that. I am one of the fortunate few to work in a job that dovetails with his passion – health a wellness. For almost a decade, I have worked for Jarrow Formulas, a very well respected nutritional supplement manufacturer based in Los Angeles. Over the years, I have had the opportunity to work with Jarrow Rogovin, the brilliant owner of the company, as well as a whole host of word-class scientists that have embraced me and taught me more about health and wellness than I could have ever dreamed of learning. And this has translated to heightened personal goals in the areas of longevity and anti-aging. As I get older, there are challenges that confront me that weren’t an issue a couple of decades ago. There are new challenges physically, mentally and emotionally. I now have sore joints, my memory isn’t what it used to be and I have periodic depressive symptoms. However, as I mentioned earlier, with age comes wisdom. I’ve learned to deal with these challenges. The cliché, “Working smarter, not harder” often applies. And this will help with future goal attainment.
Now, if I were to go to a mainstream physician, I’d likely get prescribed the pharmaceutical Celebrex for my aching joints or Prozac, Zoloft or Paxil for my depression. According to www.drugs.com, if I were to take Celebrex, the following are common side effects: Constipation, diarrhea, dizziness, gas, headache, heartburn, nausea, sore throat, stomach upset and stuffy nose. Hopefully, I wouldn’t experience any of the following severe side effects (also according to www.drugs.com): severe allergic reactions; change in the amount of urine produced; chest pain; confusion; dark urine; depression; fainting; fast or irregular heartbeat; fever, chills, or persistent sore throat; hearing loss; mental or mood changes; numbness of an arm or leg; one-sided weakness; red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin; ringing in the ears; seizures; severe headache or dizziness; severe or persistent stomach pain or nausea; severe vomiting; shortness of breath; sudden or unexplained weight gain; swelling of hands, legs, or feet; unusual bruising or bleeding; unusual joint or muscle pain; unusual tiredness or weakness; vision or speech changes; yellowing of the skin or eyes. The list of antidepressant side effects is just as long and dangerous. You get the point.
My first thought when I researched the Celebrex side effects was: Would a doctor prescribe me Prozac for the depression I was experiencing as a result of the Celebrex I was taking? Anyway, I digress.
Try Dietary Supplements – They Work!
Therefore, I write with very little reservation that the side effects experienced by taking these pharmaceuticals would likely be a major impediment toward attaining your goals. I have mentioned in previous articles that I have a comprehensive supplement regimen for my endurance activities. Well, I also take supplements for joint health, cognition and depression. My favorites are:
For Joint Health:
Glucosamine + Chondroitin + MSM combination: Glucosamine has been shown in clinical trials for decades to be effective at easing joint discomfort and increasing flexibility and mobility. Some studies indicate that glucosamine helps rebuild cartilage, something traditional NSAID pain relievers are unable to do. Chondroitin is another naturally occurring chemical found in cartilage around joints in the body and is a building block nutrient for promoting healthy joint tissues. MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane) is a naturally occurring sulfur compound and is a safe and effective natural remedy against the inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia and gout. For centuries people have visited hot springs rich in the natural element sulfur to soothe muscle aches and pains, so it makes sense that they would seek out the health benefits of MSM to soothe similar ailments today. Together, these 3 nutrients are optimal for joint health.
Silicon: Silicon is a liquid supplement in the form of stabilized silicic acid and is an essential trace element for the construction of collagen in human metabolism. Collagen is the building block of the various tissues in the body, including bones, skin and arteries. Silicon has been shown to improve the strength and elasticity of these systems. Additionally, silicon has a role in the synthesis of GAGs, glycosaminoglycans, a set of structural polysaccharides that are used to construct certain tissues like cartilage.
Alpha GPC: In both liquid and capsule form, Alpha GPC is extremely well absorbed and crosses the blood brain barrier. Derived from lecithin, it is a phospholipid metabolite found concentrated in neuronal membrane. It supports brain function and learning processes by directly supporting the synthesis and secretion of acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter. Alpha GPC protects neurons and improves signal transmission by serving as a precursor to membrane phospholipids.
Citicoline: Citicoline has been tested extensively in clinical trials in the areas of memory, verbal memory, recognition, recall and cognition. Citicoline is a naturally occurring intermediate involved in the synthesis of phosphatidylcholine, a major constituent of the grey matter of brain tissue. The mechanism behind this benefit is well known. Citicoline is a molecule that consists of cytidine and choline joined together. It is almost completely absorbed when consumed. Once Citicoline is ingested, it is broken down into its component parts and these readily cross into the brain and central nervous system. Both components are incorporated into the phospholipid fraction of the membranes and microsomes. Once in the brain, Citicoline promotes brain metabolism by enhancing the synthesis of acetylcholine, restoring phospholipid content and supporting the normal functioning of neuronal membranes.
Phosphatidylserine (PS): PS is the single most important building block nutrient for healthy, alive, and functional brain cells. It is now known that the loss of memory, cognitive skills, and the ability to concentrate can deteriorate as much as 50% over the course of a lifetime in people who are otherwise healthy. It is also known that as this cognitive decline occurs, there is a corresponding loss of healthy and functional nerve cells in the brain. PS is naturally found in every cell membrane in the body, but in very high amounts in cell membranes in the brain. PS is the key nutrient that regulates how brain cells work. It regulates which nutrients enter brain cells, how waste gets out of brain cells, and communication between brain cells (neurotransmitter flow). PS may improve mental focus, short-term memory, mood, coordination, concentration, and learning.
SAMe (also for joints): A remarkable substance, SAMe is utilized by the body in many ways. SAMe has been widely recognized as an effective way to treat depression and osteoarthritis, among other health benefits. It is used by the body to produce neurotransmitters, repair joints and it has been shown to be as effective as some antidepressant medications.
Fish Oil (also for joints and cognition): Fish oil is a fascinating nutrient and has mood balancing properties. Studies have shown that the Omega-3s found in fish oil helps prevent and fight depression, arthritis, and Alzheimer’s disease, as well as heart disease, cancer, ulcers, diabetes, hyperactivity and other diseases. While Omega-3s can be found in flaxseed, walnuts and a few other foods, the most beneficial form of Omega-3, containing 2 fatty acids – EPA and DHA – which are essential in preventing and fighting both physical and mental illness, can be found only in fish. Be sure to take fish oil products from companies that follow strict procedures to eliminate environmental contaminants to assure the highest purity of its fish oil supplements.
I want to make clear that nothing is all encompassing. There is a place for pharmaceuticals. But, IN MY OPINION (be aware that I am not a health professional), pharmaceuticals should be taken as a last resort. I encourage you to consult a doctor who has an integrated practice.
I will say, however, that I have personally experienced PROFOUND success with the above list of supplements (and my entire supplement regimen). My supplement regimen, along with other positive lifestyle practices, have enabled me to continue to pursue my personal and professional goals with a true vigor and vitality. I encourage you to set goals for yourself and make every effort to reach those goals. Do it now. I can’t tell you how gratifying it is.