Vail Daily column: Focus your fitness regimen |

Vail Daily column: Focus your fitness regimen

Ryan W. Richards
Make It Count

If everything is a priority, nothing is a priority. Today I will discuss priorities conceptually, as I had a wonderful epiphany about fitness priorities while enjoying an extended vacation in Maui over the Thanksgiving holiday. A very dear friend of ours was participating in the exchange of wedding vows, and my family was looking for an excuse to leave the mountains for a few days.

It never ceases to amaze me how it snows in abundance whenever I skip town. I hope you all enjoyed the fresh snow as you navigated the post-Thanksgiving food coma.

Coincidental snowstorms aside, one of my passions is the preparation and enjoyment of good food. Well matched cuisine and the comfort of loved ones is hard to beat in the pursuit of quality living. Given my enthusiasm for food, it was befitting that I volunteered my services for preparing Thanksgiving dinner for the 34 wedding attendees that flew to Maui for the ceremony that took place the Saturday following Thanksgiving. We all threw down and rented a monster of an estate in Kula; this luxury complex was perfect for preparing a large feast.

Even though I have cooked for large parties before, the circumstances were different because I had a range of requests for specific dishes. The timing necessary to make sure all dishes were perfectly cooked and served hot required attention to detail I’m not accustomed to in the kitchen.

The menu consisted of two roasted turkeys that were stuffed with herbs under the skin and basted in a salty maple syrup glaze; traditional mashed potatoes; dripping gravy; caramelized onion, pecan, apple and sausage stuffing; sweet-potato-banana puree, rum, brown sugar and almonds; sauteed Brussels sprouts, purple cabbage, and andouille sausage glazed with red wine; a pasta dish; a rice dish; a butternut squash soup; and a salad. Desserts were purchased ahead of time as baking isn’t something I’m inured to.

I didn’t prepare the pasta, rice, soup or salad — but I had to coordinate the timing of the preparation and cooking of those dishes to interplay with the entire course. All went well, but not great. The turkeys came out earlier than anticipated. You can never let a well prepared bird rest too long, but nonetheless other dishes weren’t close to serving, while others were ready to go. I ended up throwing both potato dishes and the stuffing in the oven to keep them warm; they ended up drying out too much for my liking. Most of the dishes were just OK, although the turkeys were perfect. The festivity was spectacular considering that holiday celebrations are never about the food, how clean the house is, or whether or not you serve the right wine. It’s always about the people and the shared connections together.

Our current landscape of fitness isn’t much different than the average meal I prepared. Listen, there is nothing wrong with the desire to be everything in the fitness realm of possibilities. Desire and reality can be two very different things. The problems arise when we try to create too many fitness qualities when we should be focusing on a few key qualities at any given time. You can’t concomitantly train to gain muscle size and strength, while also minimizing body fat, train for increased endurance and attempt a marathon within the same training cycle.

In hindsight, if I had prepared turkey, two side dishes and a salad, the meal would have been exceptional. Too much emphasis on too many dishes delivered a modest result. Most people teeter between several fitness programs, never really putting a dent in the fender of progress. Stay tuned — next week I will discuss the priority process and what you need to be focusing on. It’s good to be home!

Ryan Richards has a B.S. from Ohio University and is a certified strength and conditioning specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He is the personal trainer at the Sonnenalp Golf Club and the owner of R2HP, an athlete consulting and personal training company. Richards’ passion comes from overcoming childhood obesity and a T1-L3 spinal fusion. Contact him at or 970-401-0720.

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