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.