Being Fit Happens Now!

As winter begins, like clockwork – it’s time for me to deliver the “no nonsense” pep talk as we head into 2019. I’ve been writing this column for nearly ten years and have been a proud member of the fitness industry for two decades now (yikes!). I’ve had the pleasure and displeasure of witnessing a plethora of fitness gadgets ranging from the cardio glide to god help us – the shake weight. All promising instant results with virtually no effort. And if you order now we’ll throw in a bottle of “instant six-pack abs” cream for free! I have no doubt we’ll be bombarded by the next craze come January. WARNING: Don’t believe the hype! If it looks and sounds to good to be true I have news for you – it is! Besides, shouldn’t we care a little more about the journey of our transformation? We get so caught up in wanting it all NOW that we often look past the most gratifying part – the path in getting there. All great stories that captivate and inspire others involve overcoming challenges and adversity. And if you adopt the following principals, you too can write your own epic journey in 2019.

Embrace the Challenge!: Most people think that exercise is an adversary, keeping a sharp focus on either the perceived suffering it may bring and/or the desire for it to be easy. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase as often as I have – “If it were easy everyone would do it.” Perhaps, but honestly how boring would that be? Brushing your teeth and washing your hair is easy, but beyond good personal hygiene does it bring tremendous personal pride? No! Physical and mental strength is built through challenge. Embrace it! Nobody shouts “LOOK AT ME” and beats their chest the top of a mole hill! They do it from the mountain top. So stay diligent, dedicated, and challenge yourself – it will keep driving towards the mountain top.

Have “Inspired” Goals: Take a quick guess at what most people’s (maybe yours too) top three workout goals are for next year. “To lose weight…” “To tone up…” “To get lean and/or lose fat.” Two problems with this. One, those are all essentially all the same thing which makes it only one goal. Two, they aren’t “inspired” goals. Here’s what I mean by inspired. It takes something extraordinary to keep you on the path. Having a goal like doing the 50k Frenzy, completing a Spartan Trifecta, running Robie Creek, doing a triathlon, competing in a body building show, are extraordinary feats that require true commitment to accomplish. Taking on something a little more profound than what the scales says will catapult you further than you ever imagined for yourself. It goes without saying, my clients that reside and train in this domain are the ones killing it and get results! Those who come in simply want to “get toned” will most likely be beating their head against the same wall again next year! So go within, take a deep dive, and find your inspired goal.

Stay in the present: There is a Rivers to Ridges trail that I absolutely love called “Five Mile Gulch.” It’s primarily a three mile climb with a soul crushing vertical gain of 2000 feet (most of that is the last two miles). Okay – maybe it’s more “love/hate” but I certainly lean more towards love and here’s why. It keeps me present. The hill simple demands your attention – the entire time. Which in turn keeps me focused on the task at hand which is to continue to chip away at the hill. I can only do this by maintaining my running form (what’s left of it), keeping my intensity where I need in order to improve, all while getting immediate feedback if my pain threshold is improving. Specifically, I love the process because I’m grounded in the moment and know in the back of my mind I will come out mentally and physically stronger than before. So get your mind right and remember to stay “in the moment” each and every workout because that is when you level up.

There is no “next year”: Above all, you have to go all in and start now! Under no circumstances will “life” put itself on hold, clear your schedule, or manage all your personal matters to make working out a convenient thing you have the luxury of doing. Not in November, not “next year” period. It must become a non-negotiable part of what you do and who you are. Once you truly commit, you stop finding reasons to put it off and finally “resolve” to find ways to always get it in, 365 days per year – till death do you part.

How to Align Yourself for Success

I’ve had the pleasure of being a personal trainer for over 14 years now.  I’ve seen all walks of life during that time. Despite everyone’s differences, when I ask people what their goals are the vast majority will answer the same things, to “lose weight” or “tone up” or “lose fat.”  Not surprising considering 70% of the American population is overweight with nearly 30% of them being obese. The who, what, when, where, why, and how is a complicated, multi-faceted issue that we’ll save for discussion another day.  On a superficial level I understand.  We all want to look good.  But honestly, more than anything we want to feel good and we think by achieving the ideal body it will do just that…make us feel good.  Unfortunately, most won’t allow themselves to feel good in the present moment until the body fat goal is reached.  This is a double edged sword and where a lot of people can get stuck seeing little or no change.  In order to see the change you have to become the change and this requires you to align yourself energetically and emotionally with the feelings you are after.  If you are constantly in a state of dissatisfaction with how you look and not achieving your goals in light speed that’s exactly where you end up staying.  Essentially the process becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.  However, the good news is that we can utilize the same principle by embracing the process and emerging ourselves in the journey towards our goals.  How you may ask?

The first thing that you can do is change your approach to the process.  Rather than having all of your happiness ride on how much the scale says, begin to focus on the benefits and feelings that exercise produce.

More energy – Despite what you may think, energy begets energy.  By working out consistently your physiology changes to the point where your body is able to deliver more oxygen to the body, this increases it’s efficiency to produce and utilize more energy, which of course allows you to handle the demands of the day to day grind with ease.

Mentally clarity – Life can feel like an absolute shit storm sometimes, leaving you feeling overwhelmed and paralyzing you to the point of being unable to think straight.  Working out eradicates this feeling almost immediately every time.  The fog lifts so to speak, answers to questions you have suddenly come to you, and your problems seem to shrink exponentially by the time you’re done.

Empowerment – Nothing can help you gain confidence more when you begin to realize your true strength and potential in the gym.  Having the strength to do a pull-up, bench press your weight, running a personal best in the mile, or simply being in the best shape of your life is HUGE for your self esteem.  And it carries over to every other area of your life as well.

Getting high – No I’m not talking about drug use!  I’m talking about the natural high from the feel good hormones that are released during exercise…specifically endorphins.  These babies are what give you the euphoric feeling from a workout.  J. Kip Matthews, Ph.D, a sport and exercise psychologist explains, “Endorphins, which are structurally similar to the drug morphine, are considered natural painkillers because they activate opioid receptors in the brain that help minimize discomfort.”  So getting in and getting your “natural” high on will certainly have you feeling good more often.

Increased libido – No explanation necessary! 🙂

The second step is to develop solid “fitness goals” that empower and fulfill you.  If you have personally read even a fraction of my writing you’ll know that I’m big on finding a fitness event to train for.  It produces greater purpose to our workouts and puts us on the track for long-term success. It could be anything from running your first marathon, doing a Spartan, or participating in a triathlon. As long as it’s an activity you find enjoyable and is within the realm of physical fitness, you are on the right track.

Always remember this…the scale can have you jumping for joy one day and crying the next, but the exhilaration of crossing the finish line after months of preparation and training is something that will stay with you forever.  And more often than not, the pounds will come off as a result of your training. So in addition to creating good memories and getting into fabulous shape, you become lean and mean in the process.

Here are three tips to getting started on your fitness quest:

1. YOU ARE ALWAYS READY: Does this sound like you? “I need to get into better shape before I can do that.” Quite the contrary! At any given fitness event, there will be a range of participants with various fitness levels. You don’t have to be an elite athlete to participate. So set the goal. You will get ready in the training process.

2. CHOOSE AN EVENT: This may seem obvious, but too often this simple step continually gets put off. Until you make the commitment and actually sign up, it’s only an idea. After you register, you will have an official training deadline. You will be less likely to skip workouts because you’ll want to do your best for the big event.

3. RECRUIT YOUR FRIENDS: Why do it alone when you can have buddies be a part of the process? There is added accountability and a tendency to strive for better results when you have the positive support of your friends. Plus, people create a special bond when they sweat together, and you will just have more fun!

And last, find other activities and hobbies that get the good vibes going.  These can be fitness or non-fitness related.  As long as they aren’t counterproductive and/or destructive to the path you are on.  Physical activities could include hiking, yoga, cross-country skiing, mountain biking, sports.  Some non-fitness related ones, meditation, hanging out with friends/family that help lift you, playing a music instrument, reading things that inspire you, etc.

All in all, the objective is keeping yourself in alignment with feeling good…NOW!  This is the best way to ensure that you achieve your goals without being at the mercy of the outcome and realizing that the journey itself is the ultimate reward.

What does it take to get results?

Over the past 14 years I’ve had the opportunity to train hundreds of individuals.  All with their own stories, histories, and expectations.  And during that time I’ve developed a pretty keen sense in reading people.  More times than not I know within the first five minutes of meeting someone if they are truly going to “make it” when it comes to changing their lifestyle.  That’s not to say that it won’t happen for them at some point, but they simple aren’t ready yet.  You see…people come to me in hopes of being inspired and motivated, but the fact of the matter is the ball is always in their court.  At best all I can do is create opportunities for success, guide them along, and be their cheerleader.  But ultimately…if you REALLY want to change it’s something that only you can do.  Don’t get me wrong!  Having a trainer and a strong supporting cast does play a major role in the process, but it’s still a secondary one and putting those pieces in place is only the start.  At the end of the day it’s you that has to find the motivation to get up and burn while the rest of the world continues to sleep. It’s you that will have to spend less time with people who subconsciously want to keep you exactly where you are.  It’s you that will have to indulge less and actually start acting like you give a shit about what you put into your body.  And it’s you that will need to realize that you deserve to feel and live better than you currently are AND also do what it takes to get there.  So the question is how do you do it?  Or even better…what type of person do I need to become to do it?  Lately I have been reflecting on that exact question and even more specifically, I have been thinking of those I’ve had the pleasure of training over the last 14 years who were truly awakened, embraced the process, took power and ownership of themselves back, and became the change.  So without further ado…here’s what I have discovered.

Finding a purpose: It all begins here.  Getting into shape just for the sake of being in shape will not create the solid foundation and driving force to keep you in the game for the long haul.  Nor will body image goals like “getting skinner” or “losing the beer gut.”  Body image goals are the equivalent of chasing a carrot on a stick.  We constantly keep the lens focused on what we don’t like about our bodies even once we have reached our original weight or body fat goal, ultimately leaving you in a perpetual state of dissatisfaction.  There’s nothing “healthy” about that.  Besides, results are measured far beyond “how we look.”  I understand the nature of wanting to look better, but it’s the feelings we associate with it that we are after.  Having more confidence, feeling empowered, increasing our self-esteem, and overall happiness is what we are truly after.  Once you start training with more of a purpose you quickly make a mental shift towards the feelings you are after.  Your purpose can be a wide variety of things.  Being able to have the stamina to keep up and play with your kids…being their role model.  Participating in a event you’ve always wanted to like a 5K, Spartan Race, Backpacking Trip, or even playing in a sport you enjoy.  Getting out of a state of chronic pain.  I’ve known too many people dealing with back, shoulder, and knee issues on a daily basis.  Getting your body to the point where it complies to what you want to do instead of limiting what you can do is incredibly empowering!  Find and establish what is going to drive you as soon as possible and let that be the life force to your workouts.  Then fitness becomes a part of who you are opposed to something that you “have to do.”

Get Competitive: There’s nothing wrong with being competitive and this is something I encourage you to fully embrace.  I’m not saying that you have to beat everyone in the gym at everything.  But at least be competitive with yourself.  Establish goals within the workout.  How many reps you want to do?  How much weight do you want to lift (safely)?  How fast do you want to complete a circuit?  Drive yourself.  Challenge yourself.  Push yourself.  Your here to get better right?  Then train like it.  Begin to get a sense of where your fitness comfort zone is and push yourself just outside of that when you train.  The only exception would be on a recovery day or unloading week.  But even then you want to stay focused on being disciplined and seeing the benefit of holding back in that moment.  Once you discover where you fall in this fitness realm then you can begin to size up everyone else if it suites your personality and drives you.  It is said that we are the average of the five people closest to us.  This goes for training too.  Trying to hang with someone that’s just a little more skilled and fit can propel you to the next level.  So again…embrace being competitive…you’ll be amazed at how much more you’ll accomplish.

Know your numbers: We use 12 fitness tests in our gym that measure strength, muscular endurance, and cardiovascular endurance.  We track these numbers and test quarterly.  This is how fitness is measured.  More specifically, this is how RESULTS are measured.  Bigger, stronger, faster it what we are after.  Ironically, this is how you catch both the carrot and the stick.  I’ve never seen a person with an elite level of fitness that didn’t look like they were chiseled out of stone.   Working to improve in all of these areas will have you accomplishing more physically and mentally that you could possibly imagine.

Be a Weekend Warrior: Workouts should carry over into life outside of the gym.  Don’t get me wrong…I enjoy my workouts and improving at my fitness test, but not nearly as much as what it allows me to do everywhere else.  Continuing to play at a high level in all areas of life is what the workouts give us.  For me personally it’s being able to participate in Spartan Races, play football, softball, volleyball in recreation leagues at a competitive level, having the endurance to play all weekend with friends and family without feeling like I got hit be a bus for a week afterwards.  It can be different or the same for you.  These are just my examples.  But I implore you to find something that keeps you active and that you’re passionate about outside for the gym and let that be another source of fuel for your workouts.

Workouts are non-negotiable: It’s simple.  The ones who “make it” always find a way to get a workout in opposed to finding an excuse for why they can’t.  This is because of all the previously stated points.  The workouts are now a part of who we are and not only improve the nature of who we are physically, but who we are mentally.  Workouts make you sharper, more focused, more efficient, and overall a friendlier and better human being day to day.  Cheating yourself from a workout now means you are cheating your true self.  Whether it’s your stress reliever after your work day, recharging at lunch, or setting the bar first thing in the morning, it becomes a necessity.  Again…it’s a part of you.

Take Nutrition Seriously: There are two extremes that need to be avoided.  One is the thinking that exercise gives you a hall pass to eat whatever the hell that you want.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Garbage in garbage out.  And your exercise performance and results will reflect that.  Two is thinking that food needs to be restricted to ridiculous proportions in order to get lean and mean.  Again, nothing could be further from the truth.  You shouldn’t fear food or fear calories!  If you deprive yourself of food you’re only slowing metabolism down and increasing how much fat your store because your body thinks there is a famine. Food is fuel.  Do you freak out every time you put gas in your car? No. Food is the same thing for our bodies.  Want to get lean and mean?  Then you better start eating clean…and often!  Fruits. Veggies. Whole grains.  Lean Proteins.  Health Fats.  And the occasional indulgence is acceptable and healthy as well.  I’m not the food nazi…far from it!  I love a good beer.  Sometimes several.  A small dessert after dinner…etc.  But 80-90% of what goes in is high efficient fuel that will drive my performance, give me energy, and keep me healthy.  So I encourage to gain knowledge in this area.  Pay attention to what you are eating and how you are eating.  There isn’t a one size fits all approach and nutrition is highly individualized.  Start with the basics, then tinker and modify to until your body responds in the most positive way and you discover the formula that works best for you.

Always Expect more:  Continue to be driven and expect more out of yourself.  Limitations are only illusions that the mind creates.  Avoid self-limiting phrases like “I’ll never be able to do that.”   You immediately build a ceiling for yourself be doing so!  Keep your mind and expectations open to all possibilities.  Be an inspiration to yourself and to others.  Find a way and get it done whether if it takes days or years.  Keep moving forward.  Whether it’s completing your first marathon or coming back from an injury, focus on the desired outcome and let it pull you forward.  And last…never become complacent.  We are designed to grow and evolve physically and mentally.  There is no place that we arrive.  Our journey if forever going.  Take the time to enjoy your accomplishments along the way, but continue to strive for more as you continue on your quest.  It’s your body.  It’s your mind.  It’s your soul.  You are the author.  Write your story the way you want it and go out and get it.

Go Inward

Too often we look for things to distract us in life. Television…celebrity gossip…drinking…anything to avoid looking within ourselves.  Exercise isn’t any different.  Go inside any big gym and you’ll see countless people mindlessly pedaling away on a recumbent bike or strolling on a treadmill, staring at the television, reading a magazine, simply to distract themselves and missing the opportunity to go deeper physically and mentally.  Pain avoidance beyond the physical.  Even in my gym at times, clients can be too focused on what’s happening outside of them.  “I need a better song to get through this” or simply going through the motions because they are overly engaged in conversation.  Don’t get me wrong…there are times it serves it’s purpose and we need to go at a lower gear to get through it. But most times it’s a squandered opportunity to truly accomplish something.  Growth.

The majority of time when I workout…I’m inward.  Sometimes miles…light years within myself.  Focused on reaching a new threshold and embracing the challenge to see what I’m truly made of.  But it’s also a process of self-discovery and a means to healing myself.  “Exorcising” my demons so to speak (How’s that for a play on words?).  I don’t exercise to hide or escape from my demons, but rather run right at them.  We dance in the flames created by my burning lungs and flesh.  Ultimately it becomes a contest to see which one of us will burn first…me or them.  God help them they don’t stand a chance.

The point is exercise is an opportunity to reflect and come to the realization that any of the physical pain brought upon yourself in the gym pales in comparison to moments in your life that have caused “real pain.” The loss of a loved one, having your heart broken, regrettable mistakes, pain you’ve caused others…insert whatever your “pain” is and those last two reps or final mile that you thought were insurmountable is pretty smooth sailing by comparison.  If you’ve survived “pain” you sure as hell can survive the toughest workout thrown at you.

The only way to reach enlightenment is to look at our inner darkness dead square in the eyes and go to work.  And that’s my approach…my inner and outer worlds colliding. Some days it can be cataclysmic, but I’m so much better for it every single time.  I feel renewed, a better version of myself, one step closer to healing old scars and more prepared for new ones that inevitably will come.

So I implore you. Go to that place and I promise you’ll truly morph into a “healthier” person as a result.

Stay physical and go inward.

 

The Mindset Needed for Permanent Fitness Success

I am going on my sixth year in writing this column and every January I feel this strong obligation to “keep it real” for you all.  As you embark on your fitness quest with high hopes and a renewed sense of motivation to conquer all of your goals this year, make no mistake that challenges will still come your way…just like last year.  There is no exception to this.  No one magically gets an “exemption status” from life when it comes to achieving their goals.  Life simply happens and quite frankly doesn’t give a crap sometimes.  But rather than viewing it as bad luck or thinking to yourself “here we go again” consider it life’s way of testing you.  Because ultimately that’s all it is…a test.  “How bad do you want it?”  That’s what is being asked.  And I have found that life rewards individuals who press on and continue in hot pursuit in accomplishing what they set out to do regardless of what is thrown their way.  Now in order to be able to work through the year and come out the other side both physically and mentally better than the previous one, these are the necessary requirements for you to solidify your chances of becoming that person you know you are supposed to become.

Fitness has to be a priority:   This absolutely has to be adapted right out of the gate…period.  If you are not willing to schedule your workout time with the same level of importance as you would for a work meeting and all other day to day obligations, your chances of success will plummet big time.  Something will always come up and you will quickly develop the nasty habit of finding reasons to skip a workout instead of finding ways to get it in.  Trying to simply fit it in when it’s convenient is damn near impossible if you continue to place it at the bottom of the totem pole.  And honestly it’s only yourself you are placing at the bottom of the totem pole.  Put higher value and importance into yourself.  You are worth it.  Start treating yourself that way and everything will start to shift.  Whether its 5:00 in the morning (my largest training group) before life has a chance to get in the way, a lunch break, right after work, or after you put the kids to bed, find what works for you and stick to it.  Remember this saying, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.”  Taking care of yourself will only enable you to take care of everyone else in your life to full capacity.

Take ownership: There is no magical workout plan, diet, or special cape that somehow you were unaware of and is the sole reason why you have failed to this point.  If you want to get lean and mean it’s YOU that has to do the damn work.  Don’t get me wrong, there is a method to the madness and there are approaches that are more effective than others.  But at the end of the day…you’re the one who has to show up consistently.  You’re the one that has to put in the effort.  You’re the one who needs to embrace the challenge.  The blood, sweat, and tears all must come from you.  As a trainer, I can motivate and hold you accountable, but at the end of the day you need to look in the mirror and be real with yourself and own it.

Exercise isn’t your enemy:  The path of least resistance will get you nothing in the results category.  There are no short cuts and there is no way around “real work” when it comes to this.  You have to get comfortable being uncomfortable.  And most importantly, you should never view exercise as your enemy.  It’s no coincidence that the exercises you hate the most give you the most results in return (i.e. Burpees, Squats, Lunges, Pushups, Running, Pull-ups, Box Jumps, etc, etc…).  I realize I’m in the minority when it comes to my love for “most” exercises.  But most of that love has come out of respect for what it has given me in return.  I feel just as good physically at 40 as I ever did in my 20’s.  I owe most of that to the exercises listed above.  An “enemy” wouldn’t give you closest thing you’ll ever find to the fountain of youth for only five hours a week.  An “enemy” wouldn’t help minimize the risk of cardiovascular disease, low back pain, obesity, diabetes, cancer, cardiac arrest, osteoporosis, or in general…premature death.  And not to mention other things like, improved sleep, mental well-being, self-confidence, increased libido….I think you get the point.  I’m not saying you have to love it all, but at minimum respect it and appreciate what you get for your hard work.

Free your mind and your body will follow: Too often going into a fitness program we put restrictions on what we think we are capable of.  Whether it’s being able to complete a half marathon, being able to do a pullup, or getting to your ideal weight, we’ve already made decisions on whether it’s possible or not.   Realize that your body will only perform and fall in line with what you believe.  It’s critical to catch and eliminate self-limiting phrases like, “I could never be that fit” or “I’ll never be able to run” and replace it with empowering phrases like, “I want to be able to do a pull-up” or “What do I need to do to reach my goals.”  Begin questioning the process of how you can and keep a blank page of what is possible going into it and you’ll accomplish more than you previously thought.  If you have a desire to go after a goal, go for it and lose the mental leash.  Free your mind and your body will follow.

Exercise is therapy: Everyone has personal battles they are going through.  It can come in the form of work or money related stress, relationship issues, regrets, basically all challenges that we will all face at various stages of our lives.  Rather than letting life issues paralyze you from exercising, make it even more priority to take care of yourself.  Resist the urge to stop because life is handing your ass to you.  It’s during difficult times that you need to keep exercising most because the mental benefits of exercise can far exceed the physical a lot of cases.  And I can tell you from personal experience that during some of the toughest moments in my life, exercise is the only thing that kept me from losing it.  You’re not alone.  Lean on a friends and family during your toughest moments and keep moving.   Bang some weights, go for a run or walk, hit some hot yoga, whatever suites your needs the most.   The mental war gradually softens, the clouds will clear much faster, and all of your problems will seem significantly smaller and more manageable.

Take your power back: I say it all the time and I will probably say it until I take my last breath.  Exercise is more than just what the scale says.  It’s more of reclaiming your power and becoming a better and more rounded person.  It’s about having the energy to get through your day and playing with your kids.  Being able to hike Table rock with ease.  Getting off your blood pressure medication.  Getting physically and mentally stronger.  Having less aches and pains.  Happiness…you’d be amazed how much happier and vibrant you will become.  Confidence.  Self-worth.  Being a role mode.  Basically, being the person you deserve to be.  You are all worth it and you have to believe that. We can all be inspiring to those in our lives.  Now get out there, get physical, kick ass, aim high, and conquer with a smile!

Jason Wanlass, the owner of Champion Fitness Training in Meridian, has more than 20 years of experience in the fitness industry. Contact him at championfit@live.com or championfit.net. He writes a monthly fitness column for Idaho Statesman.

Fitness Secrets Revealed…Well sort of

It’s a new year yet again ladies and gentlemen.  And as we all begin the annual mad dash back into the gym I thought now was the perfect time to clue you into the biggest secret I’ve come across in my twenty years in the fitness industry.  Okay here it comes…wait for it…THERE ARE NO SECRETS!  I’m sorry to burst your bubble but there is no magic pill, supplement, secret exercise, or fitness gadget that will expedite the process and will have you running faster than a Kenyan, make you more athletic than Jay Ajayi, all while turning you into a supermodel!  In short, it takes time, effort, and consistency.  Period.  No simpler way to put it.  However, I am willing to share what you should realistically expect in the process and what is takes to keep you on track this time…for good!

Be patient: I can never say this enough.  Ask any of my clients and they’ll tell you I say it until I’m blue in the face!  Don’t be in such a damn hurry!  Achieving your desired fitness levels and body fat goals requires the accumulation of work and sound nutrition of the course of your lifetime.  As long as you strive to make forward progress and keep moving you will get there.  But you have to keep expanding your levels of comfort along the way which brings us to our next point.

Get comfortable being uncomfortable:  Now I’m not saying you have to exhaust yourself to the point to being carried out of the gym by a stretcher, but I am here to tell you that you do need to push yourself outside of your comfort zone.  Also, the process that it takes to break a 10 minute mile or lose your first 20 pounds isn’t the same as the one to break an 8 minute pace or lose those last few “stubborn” pounds.  In short, your body will always adapt and training intensity will continually have to be raised beyond your comfort zone alone the way.  So embrace some healthy discomfort!

Your expectations should match your efforts: The lean and mean look that you see in magazines featuring fitness models or elite athletes comes at a high cost that most people aren’t willing to pay.  Specifically working out 5-6 times per week, eating cleanly 90+ percent of the time and being “that guy” people hate on in social situations where food and/or alcohol may be involved (yes…I’m “that guy”).  With that being said, you can still aspire to be leaner and healthier with simple adjustments which can add up to noticeable improvements over time.  So determine from day one what you want and keep it real with your expectations relative to your body and fitness.

Exercise doesn’t give you a free pass to eat poorly: Nutrition plays a much bigger role over exercise if you aspire to lose any significant amount of body fat!  Now, I don’t endorse any specific diet over another.  We are all individuals and what works for one person eating wise may be the exact opposite of what you need.  However, I do recommend the basic nutrition principles.  Eat fruits and/or vegetables with each meal.  Focus on “quality” carbohydrates and cut back on the processed, sugary carbs like juice, white flour, muffins and eat more whole grain breads and pastas, quinoa, long grain rice, etc.  Also, include protein dense foods and healthy fats.  Protein dense foods include lean meats such as ground beef, chicken, turkey, bison.  Other great protein sources include salmon, tuna, eggs, cottage cheese, tofu, beans, etc.  And eating a variety of meats, cheeses, nuts, olive oil, and a fish oil supplement are all great ways to getting our daily dose of fat.  Do this 80% of the time and you’ll be amazed at what it will do for you body, your energy, and your workouts!

Find what works for you: People always ask, “What do you do for workouts?”  Lots of things!  I personally include a combination of interval training, sports conditioning, and strength training for my “gym” workouts 2-3 times per week.  But I enjoy other activities as well.  I participate in Krav Maga 2-3 times per week, play in recreational sports leagues (i.e. Volleyball, Flag Football, Softball, etc.) year round, and have even began dabbling with hot yoga to balance it all out.  Of course this is what I do.  Point being, variety is the spice of life, especially with fitness.  So go out and try out different activities and workouts along the way until you find what you enjoy most and works best for you.

There you have it!  I encourage you to go forth into 2015 with a heighten self-awareness of what it is you want to accomplish, push your limits, find what works for you, have some fun along the way, and become the person you’ve always wanted to be.

Stay motivated by finding your why

I’ve been in the fitness industry since 1994, and I’ve witnessed the same thing. Every. Single. Year.

As we near the close of yet another year, and with the holidays just around the corner, most of us will simply shut it down until “next year.” Then January will roll around, and in droves people will pack the gym for about two months before the vast majority begins to drop out by March once again.

So the question is, what makes or breaks one’s success? I’ve found that most of it boils down to motivation. But what is motivation? The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as, “The act or process of giving someone a reason for doing something; the act or process of motivating someone.”

While that may provide a simple answer, it obviously runs a little deeper than that. What is it specifically that’s going to make you “act” and become the change that you’ve been chasing after all these years?

Simply put, what is your why? The sooner you start asking yourself that question, the sooner you’ll begin to see your motivation levels rising. And in turn, the mental and physical metamorphosis can begin.

• Visualize: Close your eyes and think of a time when you felt completely empowered, a moment in which you were in complete flow and felt unstoppable, confident, driven, with laser-like vision and focus. Success wasn’t a matter of if, it was only a matter of when.

Seriously – take a few minutes to do this. Don’t wait. Do it now. OK, open your eyes. Did you feel the energy in you shift? Perhaps you feel a buzz throughout your body, an increase in mental clarity, but most importantly, don’t you feel more inspired to move now? It’s what we are naturally driven to do. So whenever you’re “not feeling it,” just using this simple technique can flip the motivational switch we desperately need at times.

• Get emotional: Take a moment to really process the impact that changing your mental and physical makeup will have not only on yourself, but on those around you. What would it mean? How would it make you feel to be a positive role model to friends and family? The sense of accomplishment of completing that half marathon you’ve always wanted to do, being able to share in the joy and blissfulness of “actively” engaging with your children in play, rather than being a spectator.

The goal of this is to intuitively find what resonates with you most and feel the emotions that it brings out and serves to drive you through it all. Don’t overthink it. Usually, it’s the first thing that comes to mind. For me personally, it’s my kids. Just become still and ask, “What is it for me?” The answer is in us all – you just have to ask.

• Take your power back: In other words, don’t play victim. The instant you begin to blame your circumstance with phrases beginning with “My job, … ” “My husband/wife, … ” “My friends, … ” is the moment you give all of your power away. You need to take your power back and remember that change is 100 percent up to you with anything in your life. Position the people in your life to serve as a supportive cast as opposed to antagonists. “Loved ones” are called that for a reason! And if the people you surround yourself with truly care, they will naturally get on board and ride the whole way.

• Feel good now: Don’t wait for the results to come before you start feeling good about yourself. Get beyond the need for external validation. Otherwise, the journey becomes one of the metaphorical treadmill – constantly moving without truly going anywhere. Satisfaction with the process and who you are becoming begins right NOW. Build the internal rhythm of how you want to feel in unison with the external goals you are seeking. After all, it is our thoughts, feelings and beliefs that serve as the catalyst to our experience. Why not make it a rewarding and fulfilling one throughout the entire journey, not just when you “get there.” So wait no longer – because everything you’ve ever wanted to accomplish is in front of you. Right there and right now.

Consistency and Purpose for Weight Loss Success

Woody Allen once said, “80% of success in life is showing up.”  I would argue the same goes for fitness.  While the process may be a little more detailed there’s still merit to the claim.  Simply sitting on the couch and wishing for a better body, more energy and endurance, more libido (minus the blue pill), and quality health sure as hell isn’t going to happen by itself.  Also…going balls to the wall for one month out of the year doesn’t offset eleven months of being stagnant either.   You need to take action…consistent action.  Think marathon…not sprint.  Results take time…the goal is longevity.  Besides…what’s the hurry anyway?!?  I HAVE TO LOSE 20 LBS IN 3 WEEKS!!!”  Why?  Are you going to die in three weeks…and you want to look smoking hot in your casket?  Do you think you get to quit once you get there?  I’ve got news for you…there is no finish line in this!  It’s not a race.  It’s about expansion.  Think of it more as a high jump.  We don’t set the bar at two feet, successfully jump the bar and think we’ve made it.  We continue raising the bar.   Seriously…let go of the idea of being done.  It really is about the journey not the destination in this circumstance.  And ultimately what you’ll come to find is the journey is much more gratifying than any destination you originally had in mind.  But first, let me ask you a question…what motivates you?  And for the love of God…please don’t say: “To lose weight!”  Losing weight is simply a bi-product of the process.  I’m not trying to discard its importance and I respect that it’s a hot button for most people.  It can drive you for a little while…but there will always be a deeper part of you left unfulfilled.  Even if you do hit your goal weight, you’re left with…now what?  Or even worse…the fear of the weight coming back.

The reality is, as humans we always want more for ourselves.  Fitness isn’t any different.  Complacency has no foundation to keep us going.  But finding your true purpose will.  And then you’ll feel no reason for haste.  You’ll become engulfed in the process and release your attachments of what you thought you were after originally.  Then seemingly it all magically comes together.  Body…mind…purpose…continual expansion…and belief in yourself.  So…what’s my advice to you?  Go inward.  Be still. Be quiet.  And ask…why?  Why am I doing this?  What is my purpose?  What do I truly want out of this?  And lastly…be patient.  It may take a day…a week…a year…a lifetime.  But never stop searching.  The answer is there…but you have to ask first.

Bryan (Far Right) at 250 lbs from 2003-2005.

Enter my client and friend Bryan Wheeler.  Like most, Bryan’s purpose in working out was wanting to “lose weight.”  Gym membership…check.  Steady mix of cardio and weight…check.  Boredom beginning to set in…check.  It wasn’t until 2005 when his mother-in-law invited him to do a triathlon that things began to shift.  And to be more specific, getting beat by your mother-in-law can create spark!  Bryan recalls,  “It was a humbling experience losing.  I dabbled in other types of exercise, but found that training for endurance events was more rewarding.  The triathlons have helped with the boredom, has created a fun bonding experience by participating with friends and family, I have made new friends, and even inspire current friends with their goals.”  Since 2005, Bryan has competed in over 20 endurance events which includes, seven Ragnar Relays, several (he can’t recall an exact number…awesome!) half and full marathons, seven triathlons, and is currently training for the Half Ironman this June!

Catching some waves August 2011

And guess what?  A funny thing happened along the way. Bryan lost weight…70 lbs to be exact!  He began at 250 lbs. in 2005 and now weighs 180 lbs. today.  And you know why?  He kept showing up.  It didn’t happen overnight. In fact, Bryan only averaged 0.7 lbs of weight loss per month.  How many people do you think would give up on a strict “weight loss only” quest at that rate?  Thousands?  Millions?  Doesn’t seem too inspiring from that stand point does it?  You have to remember days turn to weeks…days to months…and years to a lifetime.  Slow and steady results…just like a marathon.

Bryan’s just like you.  He battled with self-criticism, negative self-image, and defeatist self-talk.  His metamorphosis came over time with small victories and surrounding himself with positive supportive people to re-program himself to the person he his today.

70 lbs. leaner and meaner in 2014

The moral?  Find a deeper purpose.  And it doesn’t have to be just like Bryan’s story.  I’m not saying go out and become a triathlete.  I’m saying…explore beyond the scale.  Try new activities.  Take up hiking…mountain biking…skiing.  Join a sports league.  Get into martial arts.  Search…for as long as it takes.  And make your own story.  Be an inspiration to someone too.  Your friends…your family…your kids…your neighbors.  If you do…there are no words to describe the magnitude of the impact you’ll have on everyone around you.  The weight loss is just the added bonus.

Now…are you ready to keep showing up?

 

Why do I burn?

Believe it or not, but there are days that I struggle to do this…where working out is the last thing I want to do. Running on fumes with little sleep the night before…dreading…hating each and every second of the workout.  So the question is why?  Why do I still burn anyway?  Because the pain of not doing it is much greater.  And the potential consequence of initiating a downward spiral to the “dark side” is worth the price I pay on days like these.  Because I take great satisfaction in being a role model to my kids…I’m their human amusement park. I take satisfaction in them trying to keep up with me.  I do it because it grooves a pattern of toughness each and every time…both physically and mentally, making everything else the day throws at me seem elementary.  I do it because in a World that can be uncertain and when life seems to be handing my ass to me,  it’s still the one thing I have control over.  Besides…your health is one of God’s greatest gifts to you…and I’ll be damned if I’m going to take that for granted.  I burn because I know energy begets energy…even when I feel I have none… I always prove myself wrong (right) each and every time. I do it because, with each workout, each set, each rep, I know after 23 years of consistency (and counting…) that it yields greatness beyond my wildest dreams.  I do it because it calms the storm inside, creates clarity, and allows me to hear that inner voice guiding me on life’s journey.  Most of my best ideas have come in the middle of a workout and have been a major catalyst to all of my most prized accomplishments.  I do it because I take great satisfaction in hearing others mutter, “That guy’s crazy” while I’m working out.  But the reality is…not doing it…that’s what is truly crazy.  Giving up your gift of health for everything that will be irrelevant in a day, a week, a month, a year…a lifetime. That’s crazy.  Your health is what is truly important.  It’s a gift that is within you…waiting to be unwrapped, opened…cherished.  It’s so much deeper than to “look good”…that’s just the added bonus.  Dedicating yourself and making a commitment to your health will open up all the doors of opportunity and self discovery.  So what are you waiting for?

Tips for Getting the Family Fit

Is seems like only yesterday, a beautiful spring day is already on the horizon and with only 12 hours of daylight to enjoy it.  Quickly I inhale my cereal before congregating outside with the rest of my friends for a marathon of outdoor activity.  Anything and everything is on the agenda.  Home run derby, a pickup game of hoops, WWE matches on the trampoline…all with our dirt bikes being the preferred mode of transportation.  For most adults this should sound all too familiar.  Activity was spontaneous and a natural part of our youth.  Unfortunately this is not the case anymore.  Today we live in a “virtual” world filled with reality television, texting, social media, and our activity now comes in the form of a video game.  The cost? Our health!  The facts don’t lie:

  • More than 30 percent of American children are obese or overweight. This is triple the number than in 1980.
  • Only 2 percent of school-age children consistently eat well.
  • Only 8 percent of elementary school students and 6 percent of middle school and high school students have daily PE at school.
  • 35% of school-age children watch an average of 5 or more hours of TV on a school day.
  • As a nation, we spend $119 billion annually on obesity-related health care costs.
  • Today’s generation is the first expected to live shorter lives than their parents.

As a fitness professional and parent this frightens me!  More than ever we need to lead by example, get involved, and become the change.  While we may face an uphill battle, I remain optimistic and confident that we can turn this ship around.  And with spring officially here, I can’t think of a better time to turn over a new leaf.  Here our some tips to help get our kids active again and foster permanent change.

1. Get the whole family involved:  This is probably the most important factor for overall success.  To elicit permanent change, it’s necessary that we as parents become the role model and go through the process with our kids.  Being a cheerleader right along side them not only will benefit everyone’s health, but will also improve your kid’s self-confidence and foster a stronger relationship with you as their parent.

2. Unplug:   It’s no news flash that we spend too much time in front of the television, computer, etc.  Designated a specific time everyday where all electronic devices are turned off.  Even if it’s only a half an hour, the point is to start somewhere.  Use this time for physical activity like a family walk, a bike ride, a game of soccer, anything that gets everyone moving!  Remember, energy begets energy.  It won’t take long for before 30 minutes turns into an hour.  Before you know it, your kids will be the one’s requesting to get out for some recreational play.
3. Make it fun:  The more game-like the activity the better.   Games like wheel barrel races and freeze tag not only are fun, but provide a killer workout!  Also, many adults enjoy games as well.  I’ve been doing outdoor games and drills with clients for almost eight years now and it’s amazing how kid like we all are!  And the best part, it doesn’t feel like a work!

4. Variety:  The more you can expose your kids to the better.  Activities may include traditional team sports like basketball, or other popular activities like martial arts or skateboarding.  Playing a variety of games and activities is great for overall motor skill development and a perfect way of finding what activities your kids enjoy most.  Bottom line, if your kids enjoy it, the more likely that they will stick with it in the future!

The Iron – by Henry Rollins

Few stories have resonated more with me than “The Iron” by Henry Rollins.

Henry Rollins is an American spoken word artist, writer, journalist, comedian, publisher, actor, radio DJ, activist and musician.

Not only is the story motivating, but Mr. Rollins perfectly shows the parallels between lifting and the life’s lessons.

Want to develop true character, patience, self-respect, and find out what you’re truly capable of?

Then develop the Iron Mind!

THE IRON

By Henry Rollins

I believe that the definition of definition is reinvention. To not be like your parents. To not be like your friends. To be yourself.

Completely.

When I was young I had no sense of myself. All I was, was a product of all the fear and humiliation I suffered. Fear of my parents. The humiliation of teachers calling me “garbage can” and telling me I’d be mowing lawns for a living. And the very real terror of my fellow students. I was threatened and beaten up for the color of my skin and my size. I was skinny and clumsy, and when others would tease me I didn’t run home crying, wondering why. I knew all too well. I was there to be antagonized. In sports I was laughed at. A spaz. I was pretty good at boxing but only because the rage that filled my every waking moment made me wild and unpredictable. I fought with some strange fury. The other boys thought I was crazy.

I hated myself all the time. As stupid at it seems now, I wanted to talk like them, dress like them, carry myself with the ease of knowing that I wasn’t going to get pounded in the hallway between classes. Years passed and I learned to keep it all inside. I only talked to a few boys in my grade. Other losers. Some of them are to this day the greatest people I have ever known. Hang out with a guy who has had his head flushed down a toilet a few times, treat him with respect, and you’ll find a faithful friend forever. But even with friends, school sucked. Teachers gave me hard time. I didn’t think much of them either.

Then came Mr. Pepperman, my advisor. He was a powerfully built Vietnam veteran, and he was scary. No one ever talked out of turn in his class. Once one kid did and Mr. P. lifted him off the ground and pinned him to the blackboard. Mr. P. could see that I was in bad shape, and one Friday in October he asked me if I had ever worked out with weights. I told him no. He told me that I was going to take some of the money that I had saved and buy a hundred-pound set of weights at Sears. As I left his office, I started to think of things I would say to him on Monday when he asked about the weights that I was not going to buy. Still, it made me feel special. My father never really got that close to caring. On Saturday I bought the weights, but I couldn’t even drag them to my mom’s car. An attendant laughed at me as he put them on a dolly.

Monday came and I was called into Mr. P.’s office after school. He said that he was going to show me how to work out. He was going to put me on a program and start hitting me in the solar plexus in the hallway when I wasn’t looking. When I could take the punch we would know that we were getting somewhere. At no time was I to look at myself in the mirror or tell anyone at school what I was doing. In the gym he showed me ten basic exercises. I paid more attention than I ever did in any of my classes. I didn’t want to blow it. I went home that night and started right in.

Weeks passed, and every once in a while Mr. P. would give me a shot and drop me in the hallway, sending my books flying. The other students didn’t know what to think. More weeks passed, and I was steadily adding new weights to the bar. I could sense the power inside my body growing. I could feel it.

Right before Christmas break I was walking to class, and from out of nowhere Mr. Pepperman appeared and gave me a shot in the chest. I laughed and kept going. He said I could look at myself now. I got home and ran to the bathroom and pulled off my shirt. I saw a body, not just the shell that housed my stomach and my heart. My biceps bulged. My chest had definition. I felt strong. It was the first time I can remember having a sense of myself. I had done something and no one could ever take it away. You couldn’t say shit to me.

It took me years to fully appreciate the value of the lessons I have learned from the Iron. I used to think that it was my adversary, that I was trying to lift that which does not want to be lifted. I was wrong. When the Iron doesn’t want to come off the mat, it’s the kindest thing it can do for you. If it flew up and went through the ceiling, it wouldn’t teach you anything. That’s the way the Iron talks to you. It tells you that the material you work with is that which you will come to resemble. That which you work against will always work against you.

It wasn’t until my late twenties that I learned that by working out I had given myself a great gift. I learned that nothing good comes without work and a certain amount of pain. When I finish a set that leaves me shaking, I know more about myself. When something gets bad, I know it can’t be as bad as that workout.

I used to fight the pain, but recently this became clear to me: pain is not my enemy; it is my call to greatness. But when dealing with the Iron, one must be careful to interpret the pain correctly. Most injuries involving the Iron come from ego. I once spent a few weeks lifting weight that my body wasn’t ready for and spent a few months not picking up anything heavier than a fork. Try to lift what you’re not prepared to and the Iron will teach you a little lesson in restraint and self-control.

I have never met a truly strong person who didn’t have self-respect. I think a lot of inwardly and outwardly directed contempt passes itself off as self-respect: the idea of raising yourself by stepping on someone’s shoulders instead of doing it yourself. When I see guys working out for cosmetic reasons, I see vanity exposing them in the worst way, as cartoon characters, billboards for imbalance and insecurity. Strength reveals itself through character. It is the difference between bouncers who get off strong-arming people and Mr. Pepperman.

Muscle mass does not always equal strength. Strength is kindness and sensitivity. Strength is understanding that your power is both physical and emotional. That it comes from the body and the mind. And the heart.

Yukio Mishima said that he could not entertain the idea of romance if he was not strong. Romance is such a strong and overwhelming passion, a weakened body cannot sustain it for long. I have some of my most romantic thoughts when I am with the Iron. Once I was in love with a woman. I thought about her the most when the pain from a workout was racing through my body.

Everything in me wanted her. So much so that sex was only a fraction of my total desire. It was the single most intense love I have ever felt, but she lived far away and I didn’t see her very often. Working out was a healthy way of dealing with the loneliness. To this day, when I work out I usually listen to ballads.

I prefer to work out alone. It enables me to concentrate on the lessons that the Iron has for me. Learning about what you’re made of is always time well spent, and I have found no better teacher. The Iron had taught me how to live. Life is capable of driving you out of your mind. The way it all comes down these days, it’s some kind of miracle if you’re not insane. People have become separated from their bodies. They are no longer whole.

I see them move from their offices to their cars and on to their suburban homes. They stress out constantly, they lose sleep, they eat badly. And they behave badly. Their egos run wild; they become motivated by that which will eventually give them a massive stroke. They need the Iron Mind.

Through the years, I have combined meditation, action, and the Iron into a single strength. I believe that when the body is strong, the mind thinks strong thoughts. Time spent away from the Iron makes my mind degenerate. I wallow in a thick depression. My body shuts down my mind.

The Iron is the best antidepressant I have ever found. There is no better way to fight weakness than with strength. Once the mind and body have been awakened to their true potential, it’s impossible to turn back.

The Iron never lies to you. You can walk outside and listen to all kinds of talk, get told that you’re a god or a total bastard. The Iron will always kick you the real deal. The Iron is the great reference point, the all-knowing perspective giver. Always there like a beacon in the pitch black. I have found the Iron to be my greatest friend. It never freaks out on me, never runs. Friends may come and go. But two hundred pounds is always two hundred pounds.

What is your Vision?

Too many of us go day to day and simply let life “happen to us.”  The reality is we all have the ability to create our lives.  If you want a better relationship, career, physical health/body, etc, you must take the time to visualize exactly what you want and “Create a vision” for it.  Creating a vision is the first step before taking action towards your endeavors.  Think of it as designing the “blue print” for your life.

Everything starts with imagination…with vision.  The following is an excerpt from “100 Ways to Motivate Yourself” by Steve Chandler.  This story is phenomenal and illustrates how powerful and effective this process truly is:

Arnold Schwarzenegger was not well-known at all in 1976 when he and I had lunch together at the Doubletree Inn in Tucson, Arizona.  Not one person in the restaurant recognized him.

He was in town publicizing the movie “Stay Hungry” a box office disappointment he had just made with Jeff Bridges and Sally Fields.  I was a sports columnist for the Tuscon Citizen at the time, and my assignment was to spend a full day, one-on-one, with Arnold and write a feature story about him for our newspaper’s Sunday magazine.

I, too, had no idea who he was, or who he was going to become.  I agreed to spend the day with him because I had to…it was an assignment.  It was one I’d never forget.

Perhaps the most memorable part of my day with Arnold occurred when we took an hour for lunch.  I had my reporter’s notebook out and was asking questions for the story while we ate.  At one point I casually asked him, “Now that you have retired from bodybuilding, what are you going to do next?”

And with a voice as calm as if he were telling me about some mundane travel plans, he said, “I’m going to be the number-one box-office star in all of Hollywood.”

I tried not to show my shock and amusement at his plan.  After all, his first attempt at movies didn’t promise much.  And his Austrian accent and awkward monstrous build didn’t suggest instant acceptance by movie audiences.  I finally managed to match his calm demeanor, and asked him just how he planned to become Hollywood’s top star.

Mind you, this was not the slim, aerobic Arnold we know today.  He was pumped and huge.  And for my own physical sense of safety, I tried to appear to find his goal reasonable.

“It’s the same process I used in bodybuilding,” he explained.  “What you do is create a vision of who you want to be, and then live into that picture, as if it were already true.”

It sounded ridiculously simple.  But I wrote it down.  And I never forgot it.

And of course we all know that Arnold was in fact one of the biggest stars in Hollywood throughout the 80’s and well into the 90’s.

The point is this.  Life is short and the time to take action is now!  You have the gift of imagination and creativity.  So I ask you… Who do you want to be?  What do you want your life to look like?  What is your perfect day?  What is your definition of fitness…your ideal body?  Where do you want to live?  Who do you want as friends?  What is your purpose?  What gets you up in the morning ready to embrace the day…embrace life?  What have you always wanted to do?  Only YOU can change the course, answer the questions, and control your own destiny.

I encourage you to start asking more and expecting more out of yourself.  Start making you dreams a reality and go for it!  Not someday…”Someday is the road that leads to nowhere…”

This is your one and only shot.  Day to day we are moving in one or two direction…a life of fulfillment or a life a regret.  The choice I leave to you…

What do you believe?

With 70% of the American population being overweight and/or obese it shouldn’t come as any shock that countless people want to improve their health and maybe shed a few pounds.  Obviously changes need to be made regarding diet and exercise, but one area that is often overlooked is a person’s mindset.  Believing ultimately can make or break one’s success.  We see this all the time in professional sports, business, and even fitness.  Having a vision for what needs to be accomplished, the drive to achieve greatness, and most importantly…believing is critical.  Henry Ford says it best, “If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.”  Simple and true.  The battle is won or lost long before you even set foot in the gym.

But it’s  a little more than just belief, you have to shift to a mindset of “positive outcome.”  In other words, focusing on what is desired opposed to what is undesired.  Esther and Jerry Hicks, authors of the “Law of Attraction” looks at it from this perspective:

“From your place of lack, you will attract only more of that, and that is the reason most diets do not work:  You are aware of your fat – you are aware of your body looking the way you do not want it to look – and so when it gets bad enough that you cannot stand it anymore (either from your own perspective or because others are scowling at you), then you say, “I can’t bear this negative place anymore.  I’m going to go on a diet, and I’m going to get rid of all this stuff that I do not want.”  And yet, your attention is given to the stuff that you do not want, and so you hold it to you.  The way to get to where you want to be is to give your full attention to what you do want, not to give your attention to what you do not want.”

By overly examining what you do not like about your body and/or physical health only perpetuates the problem.  There needs to be a paradigm shift for true change to take place.  You need to “Believe it before you see it.”  How is that possible Jason?  I look in the mirror and the mirror doesn’t lie!  I realize we live in a society of “seeing is believing” but I simply encourage you to reflect for a moment on everything that has changed in the world throughout your lifetime.  Fairly recently, we didn’t have cell phones, internet, ipads, etc.  Even television hasn’t been in existence for 100 years!  Bottom line, people have vision and the ability to believe it before they see it!  The same rule applies when it comes to our bodies and physical health and the body will go only as far as your mind will allow it to.

Here are a few tips to help shift your focus and achieve the body, health, and life you desire.

Write down your goals:  The more specific the better.  But remember to state them in a what you want to happen manner.  For example:  “I want to lose 20 lbs in 6 months.” “I want to lower my blood pressure to 120/80 or less by next year.”  “I want to fit into my old swimsuit by June.” I want to improve my flexibility so I will feel better.”

Create your vision:  More specifically, create a poster board of what you want your life to look like.  Find pictures of yourself when you were looking and feeling your best.  Do you have fitness goals like running a marathon, competing in a triathlon?  Maybe you want to take on new recreational hobbies like rock climbing or martial arts?  Find images of these activities and put them on the board!  You could even go beyond fitness with your vision.  Images of places you want to vacation, a certain vehicle you like, the amount of income or job you desire, the sky is the limit.  This is a powerful too!  Having a image to view daily naturally puts your subconscious to work towards your goals.  Try it…you’ll be amazed at how effective it is!

Surround yourself with positive influences: Post inspirational quotes throughout your work and home space, read self improvement books, write daily affirmations, and surround yourself with positive people who mutually want you to succeed.  Remember…positive attracts more positive!

Want to change your life in 30 days?  If you make a daily commitment to perform these three action steps, you will be amazed how much better you will look and feel.  Everything will seem like it’s naturally falling into place.  It’s your life!  Take control, take action, and become the person that you truly deserve to be!

Recommended Reading

Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway – Susan Jeffers

The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom – Don Miguel Ruiz

100 Ways to Motivate Yourself – Steve Chandler

The Law of Attraction – Esther and Jerry Hicks

Who Moved My Cheese – Spencer Johnson

 

 

 

Are there Crabs in your Bucket?

“You are the average of the five people closest to you.”  Take a moment to think about it.  Seriously…take a moment.  If you look closely at the five individuals of your inner circle, collectively you will share similarities in socioeconomic status, hobbies,  and of course nutrition and exercise habits.  With this in mind, you need to be mentally prepared for potential push back when you make the decision to start a fitness program.  Friends may try to entice you to grab a bite to eat at the Steakhouse instead of going to the gym, co-workers may conveniently bring a box of donuts to work, or your spouse may complain that you don’t spend enough time with them.  Most friends and loved ones don’t do this consciously, it’s more of a subconscious defense mechanism.  They have strong emotional ties to you and any change you make may alter the status of their relationship with you.  When this happens try the following strategies:

Invite your friend to join you for a workout.  It’s  a great additional outlet  and you can grab a healthy dinner after you burn some calories first.

Take  healthy snacks to work and keep them handy when the “Donut Avenger” makes an appearance.  If you have more snack choices  you are less likely to indulge.

When your spouse feels you are “taking away” their time with you, be positive and understanding.  Tell them you respect what they’ re telling you, but emphasize that by personally making these healthy changes it will improve the quality of the time you both spend together.  Also, you can always invite them to join you as well.

While these are great strategies, they won’t work with everybody.  In fact, some people in your life may have a “Crab Mentality” and want you to fail!

Crab mentality, sometimes referred to as crabs in the bucket, describes a way of thinking best described by the phrase “if I can’t have it, neither can you.” The metaphor refers to a pot of crabs.   Individually, the crabs could easily escape from the pot, but instead, they grab at each other in a useless “king of the hill” competition which prevents any from escaping and ensures their collective demise. The analogy in human behavior is that members of a group will attempt to “pull down” (negate or diminish the importance of) any member who achieves success beyond the others, out of envy, conspiracy, or competitive feelings.

The take home point is this…If you are surrounded by individuals at work and/or home who are negative and do not support your efforts to make a positive changes in your life… it might be time to find some who will.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying that you have to sever all ties, but you will need to find a strong support group if you desire permanent change.  Some options may include:

Join a network of individuals that work towards common goals.  This can be a hiking/running group, a recreation sports league, or fitness club.

Consider hiring a professional trainer or coach.   This can range from traditional private training or joining a fitness bootcamp.

The upside with either approach is that you will naturally develop a solid support group and forge relationships with people who share the same goals, have experienced the same struggles, and will help you escape the crab bucket for good!

 

Lessons Learned from Spartan

041Two days removed from the Spartan Race, I sit here and write with a respectable amount of confidence that I’ve finally washed away all the mud from those “difficult to reach” spots.

However, I’m still left with an insatiable itch for more. As I reflect on all the filthy goodness the Spartan brings, it got me thinking that there are many valuable lessons that can be learned from the madness of it all. More importantly, lessons that can be applied to one’s fitness journey.

All too often, our approach is backwards. We focus on and obsess about what the scale says and how our clothes fit. Don’t get me wrong — having weight loss goals are important and should be taken seriously on a certain level, just not to the point where our whole success and purpose boil down to what an inanimate object like the scale says. Besides, the scale is the master of cruel and unusual punishment. It can have you jumping for joy one day and crying the next.

Instead, why not switch to a “fitness first” approach? It’s no coincidence that the greater the fitness level, the leaner and meaner the body becomes.

So what does Spartan have to do with it? First of all, let’s begin with the end in mind. There is a great amount of exhilaration and a sense of accomplishment crossing a finish line. It’s where all of your hard work and dedication come to fruition. This is experienced at all fitness levels. Whether you’re just beginning your quest or are a seasoned (slightly aged) veteran like me, the satisfaction is always there — everlasting.

But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s not forget about the journey! And here’s where the Spartan reveals what the process should involve for true success.

YOU ARE ALWAYS READY

Does this sound like you: “I need to get into better shape before I can do something like that.” Quite the contrary! There’s always a wide range of participants — men, women, all with different fitness levels — every year. You don’t have to be an elite athlete to participate. The only obstacle you have to overcome is the decision to do it. But once you do, an amazing thing happens. Your training purpose changes automatically. Instead of worrying about mastering the scale, now your focus is on mastering your fitness.

CHALLENGE YOURSELF

Nothing worth accomplishing in life is void of challenge. And believe me: Trucking up Thomas Pence Ranch repeatedly will test your limits. Add mud, walls, rope climbs, bucket brigades, and elevation to the madness and even the fittest runners are reduced to slowing down to catch their breath. But continuing to push through and embrace the challenge only makes the accomplishment at the end that much more gratifying. Remember this: The greater you challenge yourself, the greater the results you will receive.

EXPECT OBSTACLES

You may not be aware of this, but life will always be filled with obstacles. Some will be small while others greater. Throughout the Spartan there are countless obstacles to overcome — walls to climb, muddy pits to crawl through under barbed wire, hurdles to jump, and walls to climb. Depending on where your fitness level is, how you overcome these obstacles will vary. Initially, an 8-foot wall may feel more like 80. But the more obstacles you have, the better you will get at overcoming them. Rather than viewing obstacles as a hindrance, look at them as a guide. And in time, that same wall will appear more as a small hurdle.

RECRUIT FRIENDS

You don’t need to overcome obstacles alone. Most people run the Spartan with a team. Throughout the course, everyone is positive and cheers one another on. Sometimes we need a little boost getting over the walls of life, and having a solid support group will only make the journey easier. So recruit like-minded people and friends for support — a little help from friends can go a long way.

REWARD YOURSELF

Any great accomplishment deserves a reward. And guess what was waiting at the finish line? A medal, some tall cold ones, and most importantly…the satisfaction of knowing you are now a better person physically and mentally after it’s all done!

HAVE FUN!

I am always amazed at the kid-like nature races like this brings out in everyone. It truly is the best part! Costumes are donned, mud wrestling may ensue, and everyone is time-warped into an ageless bliss. Remember growing up in a world where there were no deadlines, meetings, errands, etc? We simply played. Whatever your motivation for getting in shape, I encourage you to find your fun.

Life always comes with responsibility, but we can still take the time to reconnect with that timeless part of ourselves. Whether it’s the Spartan, going on a scenic hike or simply playing with your kids, take the time to do it every week. Follow this formula and you’ll achieve results greater than imagined and enjoy the journey along the way.

Jason Wanlass, the owner of Champion Fitness Training in Meridian, has more than 20 years experience in the fitness industry. Contact him at championfit@live.com or www.championfit.net.