Tips for Getting Over Gym Fear

Tips for Getting Over Gym Fear

When you’re just beginning your fitness journey the gym can be an intimidating place. From the large assortment of machines that you may not know how to use, to the people lifting heavy in the back and grunting, it can be enough to deter you from starting any resistance training. In college I was so scared of the weight area that I just did the elliptical on repeat. Not exactly what you’d call a well-rounded training program. If your fear of the gym is holding you back from resistance training here are some tips to get you feeling more comfortable:

Come with a plan

Knowing exactly what exercises you’re doing and how to complete them will make you feel more confident and less out of place. If you’re unsure how to execute an exercise, leverage resources like a trainer or YouTube videos that show proper form. Do your research ahead of time so you’re not trying to watch videos in-between sets. If you’re still feeling uneasy about a certain exercise, practice a few reps at home so it feels more comfortable on your body once you get to the gym.

Know your equipment

Before getting to the gym, make sure you know all of the equipment you’ll need for the workout and how to properly use and adjust them. YouTube can be another great resource here if you don’t want to approach your gyms staff. If barbells scare you, start minimal! Bodyweight and dumbbells can be a great jumping off point for those new to exercise. When I was first starting out in the gym I would bring all the equipment I needed to one area so I could zone out in my small space and not worry about what else was happening around me.

Remember that everyone was a beginner once

Yes, even that guy grunting and lifting twice his bodyweight had a first day in the gym. The only way to feel more comfortable and get more seasoned is to keep going. Everyone has to start somewhere and everyone there is working towards their own goals. Though it may feel like it at first, no one there is paying attention to you attempting your first hip thrust or skull crusher. Remember why you’re there and that it’ll get more natural each time you step onto the floor.

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Self-Love and Self-Improvement Can Coexist

Self-Love and Self-Improvement Can Coexist

In today’s media climate, we are exposed to so many opposing messages about what it means to love ourselves. From product marketing, influencers, and health professionals, it feels as though we are being pulled in so many directions as to how our relationship with ourselves is supposed to look. While I believe it’s never cookie cutter for everyone (how could it be?), there is one aspect I feel really drawn to talk about: and that’s how there is an idea out there that acknowledging we want a different result than we currently have must imply we are coming from a place of self-hatred or insecurity.

“You want to lose weight? There’s nothing wrong with you! You can love yourself the way you are!”“You want to earn more money? You are ungrateful for what you have!”

“You want to move into a bigger space? It’s a shame that you don’t see how fortunate you are to have a home.”

Does this sound familiar to you? How many times have you mentioned about the love and goals you want to create, and were met with negativity and scarcity? How many times have you heard people tell you that self-love isn’t real, or yours is fake because of x, y, and z?

Here is the distinction that I want to make:

  • Self-love is not a constant state of being
  • Self-love is action based
    • It is taking actions consciously out of love for our bodies, mind, and soul.
    • It is from a place of creation, moving forwards, and from a place of care.

The definition of Self-love from Psychology Today states this: “Self-love is not simply a state of feeling good. It is a state of appreciation for oneself that grows from actions that support our physical, psychological and spiritual growth.”

The act of losing weight can be fueled by self-hatred, just like it can be fueled from self-love. Leaving a job can be from a place of hating your boss, or going to a company’s whose mission you believe in. Pay attention to who tells you it’s from a place of self-hatred, as those are people who are seeing it through their own filters. They tend to operate from that place, or believe the idea that love means to accept things as is, at all times, no matter what. They tend to be the ones who live in complacency, self-judgement, and nothing ever feels good enough.

Check-in with yourself when making goals and decisions. Where is the decision coming from? Is it from love and abundance, or fear and scarcity? Are you thinking things are not good enough as they currently are?

As a personal trainer and mindful health coach, I have found that people are very quick to assume someone must hate their body in order to make changes or go to the gym. There is so much evidence out there that exercise and a positive body-image shifts our sense of self-esteem, yet some people discount it immediately. Here are even some examples of how exercise is proven to have a positive impact:

From Medical Yoga Therapy, a medical journal by Ira Stephens: “Multiple studies have shown that yoga can positively impact the body in many ways, including helping to regulate blood glucose levels, improve musculoskeletal ailments and keeping the cardiovascular system in tune. It also has been shown to have important psychological benefits, as the practice of yoga can help to increase mental energy and positive feelings, and decrease negative feelings of aggressiveness, depression and anxiety.”

From Harvard Medical School: “Exercising starts a biological cascade of events that results in many health benefits, such as protecting against heart disease and diabetes, improving sleep, and lowering blood pressure. High-intensity exercise releases the body’s feel-good chemicals called endorphins, resulting in the “runner’s high” that joggers report.”

Wanting these things for ourselves in no way says that the way things aren’t good enough. Things can be great, and we still see a next level for ourselves in any domain of our lives. We can want a job that is fulfilling without criticizing the one we have. We can strive for a lower body fat percentage without hating the skin we are in. We can take initiative to have a healthier relationship without it being an insult to our partner. We are worthy of moving on to what’s in store for us, and reaching our goals.

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The Impossible Task: Mental Health during Covid-19

The Impossible Task: Mental Health during Covid-19

It’s likely that the ‘Impossible Task’ has never felt more impossible.

Many people have experienced it. Maybe it’s filing your taxes on time or cleaning out the refrigerator. Sometimes it’s as simple as showering or unloading the dishwasher. The impossible task, while rarely scheduled into our day, is the simple task that while seemingly easy to accomplish, is actually another symptom of anxiety and depression that hasn’t been discussed very much.

One of the wonderful things about the evolution of mental health awareness is that we’ve developed language to describe some of the hard-to-discuss concepts. As someone who has tackled mental illness my entire life, there have been countless times in which I’ve been plagued by a seemingly easy task that I struggled immensely to complete. I didn’t have a name for these experiences until fairly recently. I just thought that when I was depressed or especially anxious that I’d get exceptionally lazy and that I was to blame.

The ‘Impossible Task’, as described by M. Molly Backes in 2018 on Twitter, refers to a task that is rarely difficult to complete but for whatever reason seems impossible to accomplish. You know that it would likely take you less than ten minutes of your time, but your brain drags you away toward more immediately necessary tasks. All the while the impossible task sits in the back of your mind becoming more overwhelming the longer the task is postponed, perpetuating the cyclical nature of anxiety and how difficult it can be to snap out of it.

Some people may hear about the impossible task and think: Well, that just seems like a lack of motivation. And sure, pre-existing mental health conditions can certainly magnify feelings of being overwhelmed and can halt motivation. However, the impossible task isn’t just that one thing you hate doing every week (for me: laundry), it’s usually rooted in something deeper and can even be tasks that we typically enjoy.

Regardless of prior awareness, I’m likely to wager that in the era of social distancing and worldwide isolation: a lot more people know what I’m talking about.

How about this one:

I have so much time now, and yet I still haven’t gone through my 389 emails…

Or:

I always said that if I had more time, I’d run more. I’ll start tomorrow…

Or maybe:

I need to call my parents. I was supposed to call them days ago, but now it’s been too long…

The impossible task, much like mental health itself, takes on a different form for everyone. Nowadays, we have more time than ever to get that task done but it’s not that simple. That’s because we’re experiencing worldwide anxiety and unfortunately can’t see the future. Stress has proven to affect our ability to concentrate, focus, and dedicate attention to the things we love so if you feel like you haven’t been as motivated lately, you are certainly not alone. We’re isolated, stressed, and unaware of when things will “go back to normal”.

Morale is low and motivation has unsurprisingly followed.

While the impossible task is likely not “Make Bread” these days, it may have manifested itself most primarily within the ways we take care of ourselves. A pandemic truly shines a light on people’s motivation levels. People are being forced to motivate themselves for the sake of themselves, which sadly doesn’t always fuel people.

Tips for Dealing with The Impossible Task

Some of us have a lot of motivation all the time, like elementary school kids and certain yoga instructors. Some people have chemical imbalances in their brains that create motivation deficiencies. Regardless of where you’re at within that spectrum, understanding our mental state is key to pulling ourselves out of negative experiences. Times are exceptionally hard right now, and while it’s easy to shrug it off as “stressful for everyone” that isn’t fair to yourself. You’re still allowed to feel low, sad, and scared because suppressing those emotions takes steps backwards from understanding yourself. How are you supposed to battle your mental madness if you don’t allow yourself to become acquainted with it? Sometimes the best thing for your mental health is allowing yourself to take time and understand why you struggle in the way you do so you can set the future version of yourself up for success.

So how do you do that? And how do you finally find the motivation to complete these impossible tasks? Everyone is different so the answer isn’t a simple one. However, some coping mechanisms are well-regarded for a reason, and some that I find helpful include:

Establish Typical Habits

Things are not normal at the moment, but that doesn’t mean you can’t establish a sense of normalcy within your own life. How do you fill your time every day? What hobbies “spark joy” as Marie Kondo would ask? Establishing normalcy is something that you’ll do many times in your life, and knowing what habits are typically expected can help you recognize when something is getting rocky in the future. If you know that every other day you go on a walk, but you haven’t done that in two weeks, there may be something going on there that is more complex than “I don’t feel like it.”

Simplify the Symptom

Once you find language for the ways you experience pain those struggles are way easier to turn into triumphs. When you find yourself in one of these anxious spirals, it’s remarkable what actually naming your problem can do. I always think of the boggart in the third Harry Potter. That thing is next level spooky and hard to defeat until you understand that it’s actually a very manageable monster in the closet eager to show its face at random times. By understanding your condition and identifying it as a problem with a solution, it is much easier to minimize the experience as a symptom, not a permanent state.

Give Yourself a Break

Part of what makes an impossible task so universally difficult is that shame is anxiety and depression’s BFF. Shame makes us feel like we can’t talk to others about these issues and makes us embarrassed over experiencing them to begin with. Shame is not a motivator for getting tasks done, it is simply an isolator. Ultimately, shame is the voice in our head that tells us that we are not enough and that what we’ve done already is insufficient. Impossible tasks become very possible once shame leaves the room because we’re no longer tying our worth to our ability to complete a to-do list. The impossible task becomes a task and we become a human that is struggling to complete it, nothing more.

Baby Steps

Motivation is not an all-or-nothing game and it never will be, despite the many times we’re hyped to be the best version of ourselves. When tackling especially overwhelming tasks you don’t have to do it all at once or perfectly, despite this being a common way anxiety lies to us. Some ways to take baby steps toward accomplishing the task that we recommend:

Distract yourself with something you love (Habit Stacking)

Listen, I actually hate running. However, I love horrible reality television. I’ve made a rule for myself that I’m only allowed to watch Keeping Up with the Kardashians if I’m working out because even though I’m indulging in what I actually want to do (melt my brain, apparently), I’m also doing something good for myself and taking steps toward becoming a healthier person (to be able to watch this horrendous family for as long as I can).

The Chip-Away Method

This is when you can’t get yourself to complete the task, so you commit to complete only a portion of it. If your impossible task is finally doing the mountain of dishes in the sink and you keep finding yourself too overwhelmed to even start, maybe begin with only washing cups (stay hydrated!) The next day, tackle the silverware. Eventually, the task works its way into being much more realistically managed and you don’t have to buy paper plates anymore.

All this being said, we understand that mental health is a complex issue that works differently for everyone. During these fearful times there are going to be many seemingly “easy” tasks that may be more difficult right now. What’s important to know is that your worth and happiness shouldn’t be dependent on your motivation levels, which will ebb and flow with time. Instead, be good to yourself and good habits will soon follow.

 

Journaling and Personal Accountability

Journaling and Personal Accountability

In December of 2019 I bought a journal.

It was a small and simple journal, around $12 from Target. Seemed sturdy, reliable, could fit in my bag with ease. My main issue with the purchase was grounded in self doubt- I mean, how many journals did I have at home with one or two pages filled, only to be neglected within a bookshelf of books I still haven’t read? So I made a promise to myself.

I’d do my best to write once a day, even if it was just one sentence, every single day. And if I could do that, I’d never stop journaling.

The idea occurred to me while I was taking David Sedaris’ Storytelling Masterclass during the slow months of winter (yes, people actually take those). He’s kept a journal for decades and urges people to keep a journal for many reasons. For creative material yes, but also to acknowledge our own stories more. We can grow from our experiences by re-reading our journal entries. It’s remarkable just how many opportunities to grow we miss just because we felt it was a passing thought, a small interaction, a forgotten memory.

At first, it was difficult. I didn’t really know what to write or what was important information to include. I got tripped up on “introducing” myself and the need to clarify who I was writing about. I’d give unnecessary historical context despite knowing that I was the only person who’d ever be reading it. However, similar to cardio exercise, it was one of those things that I just kept doing and didn’t stop. Were the entries that first month anything close to resembling literature? Absolutely not, at points it even read like the ramblings of a mad man. But I still did it every day, and over time I knew what I needed to actually focus on and where to enhance the little details.

Eventually, all of the pages were filled.

Nowadays I’ve upgraded to a moleskin and still manage to write something down every day. Some days it’s as simple as a short list of things I wish were true, others it’s the actual events of my life. The one trend throughout all pages is that I always focus on what I did that day and how it made me feel, like a one-sided conversation with a silent therapist with absolutely no input. But that’s where I’ve found the realization that everyone should be routinely journaling. Why?

The power of personal accountability.

Eventually, I got an actual therapist and during our first session together I mentioned that I keep a daily journal. She was ecstatic, partially due to her job apparently being much easier (which I get) but also because it made my life easier, too.

“Keeping a journal is one of the first things I recommend to my patients,” she explained. “Not only does it make it so much easier to understand where feelings stem from, it also just helps us stay accountable. How about you go back and highlight patterns. Recurring thoughts, trends, habits you may not be aware of. We can discuss those.”

I thought I’d done the hard part already by keeping a journal but the real work came much later. At this point I had almost a year of content about my daily operations and once I looked back I immediately pinpointed what things in my life could be improved upon. Wow, I really suck at going to bed on time (during stressful periods at work) or Yeesh, I drink too much (when I have too much free time). Certain self-doubting sentences repeated time and time again, failed dietary intentions and grocery plans, missed goals spread throughout the pages.

But with the bad there is always the good. I noticed a ton of progress within my writing style, hobbies outside of work began to flourish, I got much better at articulating my emotions and communicating healthily with my friends. It compelled me to get therapy and start being more mindful regarding taking care of my body. It was as if I was meeting my current self for the first time and I had all of the power to influence future journal entries to be positive ones.

If I held myself accountable.

When you’re honest about recording your life you start to notice the patterns you’d prefer to not be patterns. You can easily recognize what causes you to make poor decisions and it’s simple to see which goals and aspirations are more realistically attained than others. Journaling is humbling and in one of the best ways possible, but that is far from the only benefit that consistent journaling can provide.

As a recently converted journaller, I think that everyone should have a journal. Let’s explore some of the many reasons why.

Benefits of Journaling

  • Memory Improvement: Do you ever ask yourself, “Where has the time gone?” I know that I have, but definitely less so since I started writing about each day. Journaling can be very beneficial toward those that tend to let things slip mentally. A Cambridge study on the physical health effects of journaling mentions that “the beneficial effect of expressive writing is the development of a coherent narrative over time, increasing cognitive processing of the experiences.”
  • Therapeutic Benefits: Emotions can be a tough thing to manage, especially during exceptionally stressful points in our lives. Recording our turbulent experiences allows us to gain focus on what the actual issues are and help simplify the problem to find a solution. Our moods tend to be much more positive when we have a long-term relationship with writing our thoughts down, probably due to how stress relieving and cathartic the process can be.
  • Physical Accountability: Not only does journaling help you mentally, but creative writing has proven to have many physical advantages as well. That same Cambridge study found that after four months of consistent journaling, most patients displayed reduced blood pressure, less stress-related visits to the doctor, and improved immune system functioning. You may be reading this because you’re interested in getting healthier through the amazing programs offered at Rise Over Run Fitness. Keeping a journal is a great tool for physical wellness, too. Recording our workouts, gym goals, and meal plans can help build steady consistency in our fitness journeys.

Tips for Getting into Journaling

  • Get a journal you’re comfortable working with. I originally struggled to keep a journal because I don’t really enjoy writing at night. So I made sure to get a journal that could fit in my bag and was small enough that I could quickly jot ideas down at any point throughout the day. If you’re vibing in the digital age, there are even apps like Daylio and Five Minute Journal that you can download to get started. You’ll be using this thing every day, so get a journal that you know will set you up for success.
  • Don’t limit yourself on material. Your journal can be absolutely whatever you want it to be, the goal is to simply maintain consistency. Wanna use it as a weekly planner? Go for it. Fitness journal? You wouldn’t be the first. A meal planner? Sounds great. Don’t get bogged down by the “Dear Diary…” school crush imagery we tend to resort to when people talk about having a journal.
  • Be honest about the details. Going back and re-reading our journals is a great way to recognize our progress, set-backs, and motivations. So make sure to be honest with yourself and not hold back anything out of shame. That’s a little thing called denial, and it’s not like anyone is likely to read your journal anyway. Unless you have the worst roommate ever, it’s all worth including.
  • Start small and work your way into it. This is your journal, not a paid-per-word Charles Dickens novel. Focus on major points and events and then elaborate as you see fit. Don’t let yourself burn out just because you were focusing too much on having “enough” content. You can use doodles, lists, paragraphs, whatever works for you will work for you. Just as long as you try to journal for at least a few minutes every single day.

Personal accountability is paramount to finding success in our wellness missions. Journaling allows us to recognize where self-discipline is more necessary and also helps us stay more in line with our inner wishes. It may not feel natural at first, but if you keep writing your thoughts down you’ll be one step closer to maintaining personal accountability and achieving your goals one journal entry at a time.

Sources

https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/advances-in-psychiatric-treatment/article/emotional-and-physical-health-benefits-of-expressive-writing/ED2976A61F5DE56B46F07A1CE9EA9F9F/core-reader

https://www.active.com/fitness/articles/5-reasons-why-you-should-keep-a-fitness-journal

SMART Goals

SMART Goals

“Sometimes I start a sentence and I don’t even know where it’s going, I just hope I find it along the way.” – Michael Scott

I wrote this post with the intention of teaching you all how to set clear, well-defined goals so that you don’t have to play the guessing game in hopes of achieving what you promised yourself you would: whether it be to lose that pesky last five pounds, get a stronger bench press, or run your first 5k.

Don’t be a Michael Scott.

Working out is hard enough as it is. I can’t think of anything more frustrating than putting in an extraordinary amount of effort just to be left feeling like you’re spinning your wheels not going anywhere. This especially becomes an issue when your motivation is primarily driven by pursuing subjective goals such as how you look. Working out is a cruel process where you can do everything perfectly and still not see any noticeable difference for weeks.

So what do we do to make sure we are on the right track? How can we alleviate some of that stress of wondering if you’re headed in the right direction?

Introducing S.M.A.R.T goals.

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time Bound

Specific

“I want to be successful” Okay, cool! What does that even mean? “I want to look better!” Great, but what is better?

These aren’t the best goals because they are overly vague and too broad. Goals should be specific. You need to narrow down your focus to define what really matters to you.

Instead of wanting to be successful, let’s go with “I want to get a promotion to X job title so that I can gain more responsibility within my company and make a larger impact.” Instead of saying I want to look leaner, try “I would like to lose 10 pounds to improve my body composition because that would help my confidence, improve my energy levels, and make me feel better.”

If you can’t pinpoint what you want, how in the world are you supposed to know how to achieve it? That would be like hopping in an Uber without ever telling the driver your destination and expecting to show up somewhere you want to be.

Me: “I want to go to a restaurant”
Uber Driver: Okay, which one?
Me: Hop to it
Uber: But like, McDonalds?
Me: You’re at 4 stars now, sir. Keep it up
Uber: No neighborhood? I’m not sure what to do here
Me: Do you know how long this is going to take? I’m very late for important meetings
Uber: *Sigh*

Measurable

The next step in creating a goal is to make sure that it is measurable. This is probably the most important one of them all. You will never know if you are headed in the right direction if you can’t track the progress along the way.Using one of our goals above, let’s show a good and bad example of measurability:

Good: I want to lose 10 pounds. Pounds is a unit of measurement that can actively be monitored. You have a scale that can be used as a tool and you can track that data in numerous apps to see how you are trending week to week.

Bad: I want to look better. What’s better? At least with the lean example, you can measure body fat levels to track if you are losing fat, but if you are relying on some society-driven ideal, you are going to drive yourself nuts. How can you possible track improvements in certain things that are completely genetic and are out of your control? You aren’t going to change your proportions, hip width, height, etc. Looking “better” is a magic dragon you won’t likely catch. I strongly advise my clients to pick performance based goals so that they can steer away from situations that might negatively impact their confidence and self worth, especially in the social media, comparison age.

Achievable

When I was a little kid, I wanted to be Batman when I grew up. More than anything in the world. I didn’t have any English butlers in my network, so that dream was short lived.

Most fitness folks have a “you can do anything if you put your mind to it” mentality and that’s nice in sentiment, but not realistic in practice. You should always push your limits and try to reach your full potential, but let’s not aim to represent the United States in 2020 for the 400m butterfly if you can’t even be in the deep end of the pool without water wings.

Relevant

You can have a specific, measurable, and attainable goal that isn’t ideal because it’s simply not relevant to your life. Is it worthwhile? Is it the right time? Does the amount of effort it is going to take align with the payoff? “Is the juice worth the squeeze?” so to speak.

Saying that you want to be a brown belt in karate while you are unemployed with a mortgage and four kids isn’t the most admirable goal. It’s not relevant to your needs

Time Sensitive

Finally, the last step in creating a meaningful, SMART goal is to make sure that it is time sensitive. Draw a line in the sand. In combination with making sure it is achievable, set a deadline for your goal that is realistic. This timeline will hold you accountable and allow you to break up your larger goal into smaller, more digestible deliverables.

If I have an 8-week goal of adding 20 pounds to my bench press, what does day 1 look like? How much progress should I be making by week 2 to make sure I’m still on track to accomplish my goal?

Maybe it isn’t the goal that is the issue but it’s the time frame I am trying to accomplish it in. Sometimes, things take longer than anticipated.

Additionally, if a realistic timeframe has passed for your goal, but you aren’t seeing the results you were expecting, it might be a sign that your process is at fault and you need to re-evaluate your approach and seek some guidance.

Implementation

I don’t believe there is a best way to do integrate SMART goals into your life. It’s simply whatever is going to get you to do it! Write it down in a notebook, bathroom mirror, cell phone, etc. Just try. Write down your goals. Follow the guidelines mentioned in this article and try, fail, revise, try again, and repeat until you get where you want to go.

Always remember, you only fail when you quit. If you keep trying, you will eventually get to where you want to go.

Buy a Program Today!

Want to level up your fitness? Check out the workout programs we offer! All profits go towards raising money to cover the expense of teachers’ classroom supplies.

Distracted Dog Syndrome

Distracted Dog Syndrome

When I was in college, I came up with the medical term, “distracted dog syndrome.” Let me explain the diagnosis: Imagine you are the proud owner of an excitable, tail-wagging pup that is staring at you with laser focus because you are holding a tennis ball in one hand and a squeaky toy in the other. You chuck the tennis ball as far as you can in one direction and Spike/Rex/Fluffy, as dogs are designed to do, sprints after it. But wait. Just then, you hurl the squeaky toy in the opposite direction and all of a sudden the puppy is frozen in their tracks. The good boy is torn.. he loves the tennis ball with all of his heart. 2 seconds ago, it was the only thing he ever wanted. But now, he also REALLY loves the squeaky toy. He stands paralyzed not getting either toy. All he wanted was to play fetch and instead he found himself in a love triangle.

“You know what I am? I’m a dog chasing cars. I wouldn’t know what to do with one if I caught it!” – The Joker, The Dark Knight

For me personally, DDS has been the biggest struggle in my fitness journey. The first 4-5 years was a constant flux of wanting to be shredded lean, but to get strong as an ox. I would think that I wasn’t muscular enough, but that I also needed to be athletic. Just kidding, I only want to be a little healthy and enjoy my social life. Ah, just kidding, lifting is my whole life: bring me Tupperware filled with chicken and broccoli.

My head spun.

I tried the infamous keto diet, high carb/low fat, counting calories, tracking macros, eating intuitively, intermittent fasting, you name it.

I would go through 4-6 week cycles in pursuit of a goal, not see immediate results, get frustrated and then change the ship’s course. Or even worse, I would pursue something to such an extreme that it would set me back months. An example of this is when I wanted bulk up by any means necessary so I ate everything in sight. Sure I got big and strong, but it took me months to lose the fat I gained and when I did that too aggressively, the strength gains disappeared with it. I never ended up reaching my goals.

Remember how Thomas Edison invented the light bulb on his 10,000 try or something like that and he was mr. positive and said “I just found 9,999 ways how to not make a light bulb”

Shut up Tom. Nerd.

Anyways I’m the Thomas Edison of fitness. I’ve found every way to not reach my fitness goals. And as you readers are my beneficiaries, I can share my experiences and hopefully you can take my advice and avoid these potholes. I feel like I’ve finally managed to gain some clarity and find what works for me. Only 8 years later! Better late than never, right?

So what I came up with are 6 thoughts of things to keep in mind in order to make meaningful, lasting progress. Give them a read and apply them to your life accordingly.

1. What’s best for you isn’t the best for someone else

This is annoying for you because I’m sure you sought out fitness advice for someone to tell you exactly what to do and how to do it. You want to know what to eat, the best exercises, and the exact oz of water to drink on a daily basis so you can reach your goals. Unfortunately, fitness isn’t black and white like that. The answer to most questions you ask any respectable health professional is most likely going to be, “it depends.”

“What are your goals?” “What do you have access to?” “What do you like?” “What can you stick to?”
Your body type might make you a better squatter than a deadlifter. Maybe your chronic low back pain means you should do this exercise, but take it easy on this other exercise. Maybe you have a hard time sticking to this particular diet so you should probably follow other guidelines instead.

2. Sustainability is the name of the game

The best plan in the world doesn’t mean anything if you can’t stick to it. I like the saying, “being perfect a little bit of the time is nothing compared to being solid the majority of the time”

Imagine my goal was to get lean for the summer:

Plan A:  4-6 week challenge. 2 a day workouts. Severe calorie restriction. No going out. Too tired to do anything. Weigh every ounce of food that goes down my gullet.

Plan B: Mindful eating and loose tracking. Have a treat every now and then and have no guilt in having a beer or two. Let’s say it takes 20-24 weeks in this scenario even though everyone is obviously different.

I’m going with plan B every. single. time. Plan A seems so attractive because you might be desperate and are convincing yourself that you can put up with the temporary suck. Well guess what? It’s not over once you reach your goals. Unfortunately, the hard work that got you there is going to be the new status quo to keep you there. So if you got there by living and dying in the gym and limiting your calories to the point of starving, guess what? When you go back to your old habits, that weight is going to come flying back on and often times even worse than before.

3. Ain’t nothing in this life is free

Nothing makes me more disappointed than seeing headlines to articles and videos that say “hacks” like your evolution-built body can be so easily manipulated without it knowing.

No, you aren’t going to “trick” your body into burning fat. That’s ridiculous.

Everything comes with a price and it’s up to you to manage juggling everything life throws at you. For example, working out hard is great – but if you push too hard, your recovery is going to suffer. Caffeine is an awesome supplement that helps your focus and energy levels – but too much, too late in the day will interfere with sleep. Getting extremely lean could do wonders for your physique and maybe you’ll get a few hundred likes on an Instagram photo, but your energy levels, relationship with food, and hormones might be taking a massive hit.

This sounds negative and it’s not, it’s realistic. Find out what’s important to you and make sure the show is worth the cost of admission so to speak.

4. If you have a lot of priorities, you don’t have any priorities

This absolutely doesn’t mean that you can’t care about more than one or two things. That would be boring and I would be a hypocrite as someone who works full time, does a basketball podcast, runs this company, and tries to manage a social life of a normal 25 year old living in a city. This also doesn’t mean that you can’t put certain things on the back burner for awhile while you focus on another area of your life in the meantime.

Something is always going to come up. There is never going to be a good time. There’s the next vacation, holiday, birthday party, etc. You’ll have to work, pick up your kids, and get caught up on laundry. There’s always a million OTHER things you have to do, but at the end of the day you need to prioritize what matters most and let the rest of your life surround it in the meantime.
Nothing causes good ole fashion burnout like trying to be Superman in every part of your life.

5. Motivation is overrated

Instagram is filled with one minute Rocky style training montages set to Drake’s latest single. However, real life is long, difficult, often mundane, but simultaneously filled with little sparks of wonder. To me, motivation is like a campfire, nice to have but when it runs out, you better hope you’ve built a tent to sleep in. Your tent in that Pulitzer Prize winning metaphor is your habits. You have to become a do-er. Just do things. Practice doing. That’s a skill too. When you don’t feel like it, practice telling yourself that’s okay and perfectly normal to not want to do things, to be tired, to be uninspired, and to even question yourself. Take pride in continuing on the long bumpy road, because you’ll come to find that not only is the destination worth it, but embracing the actual grind of trying to accomplish your goals will be the most satisfying feeling in the world.

I feel motivated in the gym once out of every ten days maybe. And I LOVE working out. But I work out in the morning, my body is often tired, and the days where I feel like I can take on the world are few and far between. I just keep on inching forward. So when life swings, take it on the chin, shrug it off and keep going.

6. There is nothing wrong with trial and error

Have you ever been scrolling through Netflix trying to decide what you want to watch and you keep passing up movies because they are too long, but then you end up spending an hour trying to decide what you want before you eventually put on reruns of the same old thing you always watch? Yeah, same. It’s a tough habit. People do this with exercise and nutrition all the time. Instead, after realizing that the same old things have given you the same old results, try things! Have you always wondered about the keto diet? Knock yourself out! Want to try intermittent fasting? Go for it! You need to figure out what works for you just one time and then it could be for life. What’s a few months compared to an 80 year life? And why would you want to only take a few bloggers advice instead of see for yourself?

My only advice would be to give it at least a few months on whatever you are experimenting with. Give it a very honest effort. Sometimes things take awhile to get used to and it’s better to work out the kinks and make adjustments before throwing in the towel and completely ditching your plan. And honestly what’s the rush? Take things slow. Slow, little changes will add up over time and if it’s slower, that’s probably a good indication that it’s going to stick. Rapid changes are what I used to do with the distracted dog syndrome. Failure is the best teacher though, right?

7. Thanks for reading!

I don’t have anymore tips right now and I want to stop writing. Thank you for reading, your support is appreciated more than you could ever know.

 

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