The New Year Rush

It's the start of a new year and the yearly rush of new gym goers is inevitable. The parking lot will be full, there won’t be much room to walk around, and there won’t be much access to weights or equipment. All of this gym traffic is great for the gyms’ business but overcrowded gyms are no fun for the patrons.

Gym goers would love to be able to reasonably access everything they're paying for. The gym itself doesn't care if it’s super busy or not. They just want people to contribute to them monthly. They want nothing more than for thousands of people to sign up and paying monthly dues. They don’t care how many people show up. In fact if everyone with a membership showed up the gym would have to be shut down by the fire marshall.

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No offense to new members but this time of year sucks for people who are committed and go to the gym year round. We're there all year and would rather the new members not even come if they aren't going to seriously commit. If you’re just going through the motions just cause it’s that time of year and everyone is doing the whole “get in shape” thing, please don’t bother.

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Don’t write me off as a selfish jerk just yet, it’s not all about what I want it’s about harmony in your own mind. When you do something that you aren’t ready to commit to it causes more damage than good. If you don’t truly want to workout but you do anyway there is no way you’ll enjoy it. You can only do something you don’t enjoy for so long without quitting, so you’ll end up quitting after a month or so.

If you don’t look or feel the way you want you probably have some level of guilt about it. The gym’s business thrives on that guilt, they rely on you to feel just guilty enough about not being in shape that you don’t cancel your membership. They want you to tell yourself you’ll go tomorrow but never actually go. They collect the fee and you collect no service, win-lose. I want the opposite but if you aren’t ready to stay committed for the long haul I’d rather you not bother.

If you aren’t going to still be in the gym come Valentine's Day I'd appreciate if you didn't come at all. Who am I to talk, nobody really but I am a committed gym goer and I take pride in the gyms I go to. I put stuff back where it belongs and I exhibit proper gym etiquette. The January to mid February people aren't there long enough to learn the intricate unspoken rules that make the gym a peaceful and freeing environment. They don’t take pride in their own goals so there’s no way they’ll learn the lay of the land.

Imagine you buy a new home in a community with an HOA. The common areas are beautiful and well kept. People don't make too much noise and you're able to access all of the amenities. You're getting the full benefits of the HOA so you are able to overlook the annoying rules since your property value is going up cause everyone cares about their investments and respects the environment.

Then some of the members of the HOA start to move out, but they don't sell. Selling would probably raise the value of your purchase since you'd be able to show comparable properties sold since you bought yours. Instead of selling they rent their place out. The people that take their place don't take the same amount of pride in the property since they don't own it so they disregard the rules.  They aren't careful with the property and could care less what they leave laying around. Your property value goes down.

I liken these renters to the January gym crowd, they don’t take time to learn the rules of the place and they don’t take pride in being a part of it. They’re there begrudgingly or out of guilt and we notice so it takes away from our experience. It’s not a good relationship between them and the gym. They take up space in the gym and the gym takes up space in their minds. It would be more harmonious for all if they just waited until they were ready to really go for it.

Don’t get me wrong, I consider my life’s mission to be getting people in shape and helping them be the best they can. I just know that unless you are absolutely ready to make fitness a part of your life forever that it will be an annoying fad that comes and goes. It will add more stress and guilt to your life and you won’t experience the plethora of benefits that come along with working out regularly.

Don't be a renter in the gym, take ownership in it. Rebel against the gym by actually committing whole heartedly and showing up frequently. Learn how to create habits that will keep you in the gym all year so that you’ll better understand my frustration. If you aren’t ready admit it to yourself and don’t go, you’ll be happier that way. If you’re ready we would love to have you in our gyms and I’d love to help you achieve your goals.

You’re Fit For 40

We were warming up for a workout and my best friend told me “You’re fit”. I thought to myself “Thanks..that’s an odd thing to randomly say”. In the time it took for me to think that he continued his statement “for someone in their 40’s.” Then I thought “Thanks…that’s a mean thing to randomly say.” I responded with “If that’s what I am, what’s that make you?”

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For some background, I am what doctors would call an appropriate weight for my height and I would consider myself to be more muscular and athletic than the average person. My bestie, at the time, weighed a good amount more than he should have. He has since lost about half of his goal weight loss and is making another strong push.

During the workout I was secretly a little angry with him for saying such a thing but I took it and cried. I mean I took it in stride. Our workout continued and I noticed I was trying a little harder. Trying to best him in whichever lift I could. For a few days the feeling of resentment continued, but it was accompanied by a burning desire to prove him wrong. You see, he said that we are in our 20s and we should be “yoked”. I never really had that as a goal, but I had always wanted to be a bit more muscular I just hadn’t actively worked toward it for a while. His comment gave me a little push.

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The head of steam from that comment carried me for about a month and a half and I was noticing some muscle gain and fat loss from my workouts and better eating. So here I am, feeling good about myself again. The wounds from the backhanded compliment had healed and I was back to normal.

One day as I was talking to my fiancé she said “Why don’t you get abs? And maybe bigger arms.” I have been vocally against caring about such things in the past and never really elaborated on why. She wanted to finally know why, and maybe she wanted me to look a little better. When she asked I responded by saying “What’s in it for me?”

I never had a burning desire to look that way. I knew how much work it would take for someone of my genetic inclination (I’m prone to store body far in my torso and have never been one to easily pack on muscle) and I never saw that payoff to be worth it. This may have been true in the beginning when I first started working out years ago, but over the years I have inched closer and closer toward that possibility and while there would be a lot of work it wouldn’t be as much as it would have been in the beginning. The problem has been that I clung to that mentality for far too long. I made it to be this insurmountable task and as I got closer and it got more possible I never reexamined my thoughts and reevaluated my goals.

One of my possible subconscious objections was that I wanted to be approachable to the people I think I can have the biggest impact on. I’ve always known that by and large if I were to have a respectable shirtless picture floating around that I would attract more business to my online training. But I also knew that it would likely attract the business I wasn’t looking to service. My focus has been to get people to have a healthy body and mind. Instead of focusing on purely physical goals I want to make people stronger mentally so they have the mind state to succeed physically and in life.

Another subconscious objection to getting abs and arms has been fear. If I’m honest with myself I probably haven’t done it because I have been afraid I would fail. I had failing so much that I never took on the task since there was the distinct possibility (in my mind only) that I would not be able to accomplish the look so desired by most people. In reality, I have been weak and have not fully embraced what I have been telling people to do for years. I have not lived up to the best I can be physically.

I took these two comments by some of the people that mean the most to me to be an impetus for personal change. I have now set out to accomplish more physically visible signs of health and fitness. I have been healthy and fit for years, now I am challenging myself (fueled by the challenges of those I love most) to look the part. I have so much health and fitness knowledge, now it is time for it to show.

Things to take away from this:

  1. People in America are completely different than other parts of the world when it comes to fitness. I’ve heard many times about how people in other parts of the world will tell you right when they see you if you put on weight. In America we wouldn’t dare do such a thing, in fact, we only ever mention weight if we are trying to compliment someone on the two pounds they lost after they had gained forty. It may not be culturally acceptable to point out when someone has visibly gotten less healthy but it may just be the right thing. The thing they need to not fall on the slippery slope of weight gain.
  2. You need good, honest people around you. You need to encourage the people you love to call you out when you aren’t living up to your potential. It may hurt at first, but the resulting success if totally worth it.

Don’t get too high or low on yourself, but always be aware of where you are compared to where you could be.

The Office Cupcake Fairy

You wake up with a solid plan to eat right and workout. You ate a light breakfast and have your lunch bag packed with chicken salad and a banana for a snack in case you get hungry. You sit down at your desk sipping your coffee, no sugar or creamer, and you’re ready to tackle your day.

Mid morning someone from the office comes by and invites you to some cupcakes and cookies in the break room. You’re confused cause there was no memo about anyone’s birthday or anything like that. You wonder why there would be cupcakes and cookies on a regular old Tuesday.

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This is an actual picture from a break room I was once in, it was not a special occasion.

 

Instead of analyzing the situation and what is really going on, more often than not we go ahead and oblige. We have the cupcake that was never a part of our plan for the day so we can make the baker feel good. After the sugar high wears off we are left with a feeling of guilt and regret.

Is the person who brings the cupcakes being nice and generous or are they really being selfish? Let’s look at this a little deeper. They probably baked the treats because they enjoy baking. They may have had a bad day and baking is the thing that makes them feel better. They may even like to see the look on people’s face when they bite into those delicious sugary treat. They certainly think their intentions are good, but did they really give much thought to what they were doing?

By bringing those cupcakes (or whatever treat) to work they are inserting themselves into the lives of the people they offer them to. They are intruding on that person’s day and their plan for that day by introducing temptation that is hard to deny. They don’t consider whether people in the office are on a diet or looking to cut back on sweets or even if they have diabetes. They are thinking of how they want to feel better about themselves; not about the guilt that you feel when you give in and have that treat that wasn’t a part of your planned meals for the day.

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Why do office cupcakes never look like this?

 

I know for sure that these people who bake and bring the goodies to work are good people. My mom does it all of the time and she is one of the nicest people I know. What I do not know is if they have stopped to think about what their goodies might do to bring turmoil to the thoughts of their coworkers and to their waistlines.

So many times we are caught off guard by surprises and let other people’s agendas dictate how we live our lives. We start our day with a clear plan and honest intentions to make progress towards our goals, then someone else forces their agenda on us and we acquiesce to it. We need to be stronger than that and here are some options you can use when faced with the dilemma to eat the cupcakes or go to that impromptu lunch.

Actionable Options

  1. Say no thank you and move on. I’m sure everyone who is eating them would like for you to share in their fun and the more people who do it the less guilty they feel, but there is no wrong in simply saying no thank you and politely moving on.
  2. Take it with you to your desk and discretely throw it away. This way you get to give the baker or treat bringer the satisfaction of seeing someone take the results of their hard work and thinking they will eat and enjoy it.
  3. Politely tell them that you can’t eat it because it doesn’t fit into your meal plan and give them a recipe for a healthier option the next time they want to bake.
  4. Eat the treat and enjoy the company. I mean really enjoy it all, don’t allow yourself to feel any guilt just live in the moment and enjoy. Then make up for it later.

Next time someone brings cupcakes give it a little thought. Eat it with joy and no regrets or find a way to politely deny it. No matter what don’t act on impulse.

Workout For Success

Some people workout their entire lives and never get that body of their dreams. Does that mean they wasted their time? No.

Busting your butt in the gym is about more than just losing weight or fitting into smaller clothes. Deep down we all want the body of our dreams, but lets not let that be the only reason we workout. Working out is about building a lifestyle and a mindstate. A winning mindstate based on a solid foundation of hard work and accomplishment. It’s not just about the accomplishment of getting the body you want, that’s a great bonus to the hard work, it’s about living the life you should. A hard working and dedicated life. A life where you do what most people won’t. What most people are “too busy” for.

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When I set out to accomplish something I don’t think too much about what I have to do to accomplish it, I think about WHO I need to BE. Instead of focusing on doing certain things, I work on making myself into the person who deserves the body or the job or the house I want. If I didn’t already have my dream girl I would be working to make myself into the person who deserves to get her. Now I work to continue to be the one who deserves her.

Part of being the best person I can comes from the dedication and discipline that I have learned and used since I started my workout journey about 10 years ago. At times I have lost weight and I have gained muscle. There have also been times where I stayed at the same fitness level for a good while. I never stopped the process of going to the gym and I never will. Putting myself through the workouts when I wanted to make an excuse has paid off for me over and over again without even consideration of my appearance. Being dedicated to the workout lifestyle is about strengthening your mind and your will, not just your body.

In school they told you to do extra curricular activities to show your work ethic when the time came to apply for college or your first job. In a very competitive job market what will you do to set yourself apart when you work to keep your job or get a new one? Of course you aren’t going to talk about how much you can squat at your next job interview, but you’ll know it as you answer other questions. Working hard toward reaching fitness goals builds your confidence, your ability to form and keep good habits, and strengthens your will power to succeed. All of this can be applied to attaining real world success, not just gym success.

Dedicating yourself to a workout program and working hard will mold you into the person who deserves all of the success that comes your way. Even if you never get the body of your dreams you’ll get a respectably fit body. You can also get the life of your dreams by sticking to the process and the mind state of working out.

If someone worked out every day of their life and died of cancer at 55 years old some people might say all of that hard work was a waste. But what might have happened if that person hadn’t been so dedicated to their fitness program? Would they even have lived that long? Would their life have been as full and successful? When that person was hit with the news how would that have dealt with accepting it and fighting if they hadn't fought thousands of battles against barriers in the gym?

Crossing out failure and writing success.

The next time you start to second guess the reason you work so hard in the gym start to think beyond the gym and how the hard work and winning mentality translates to real world success. Be the person who takes action and fights the good fight, not the person who makes excuses. Hard work in the gym translates success in all aspects of life.

Tools, Motivation, and Habits

If you asked me I’d say my Uncle Mike has every tool known to man. He has tools in his work shop, his basement, and in sheds around his house. He doesn’t just have them he likes to use them and is generous with his time. So why then do I have an uncompleted desk sitting in my garage?! I have all of the right tools available to me but no motivation to use them.

I recently developed a Pinterest addiction and found a steel pipe/wood desk that I wanted to make. I am currently typing with my laptop on a TV tray while an incomplete steel frame sits in my garage. Total project time should have been a few hours of actual work with time in between for paints and stains to dry. It’s been over a week.

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This gets me thinking about workouts and motivation. You can have all of the workout tools in the world available to you but if you don’t have any motivation to use them you will never take action.

As we start this new year you probably want to start a new workout plan or change a habit. The past few weeks have been outside of your normal eating and scheduling and it’s taken a tole on your body.  You're motivated to get it in gear.

But is starting a new habit really a matter of motivation? Most think that taking action requires motivation. That may be right but not necessarily. You can act with no motivation at all. People go to work daily and are effective at jobs they hate.

Motivation is a good thing to get you started but motivation will fade out. If you want to make lasting changes you need to develop habits that will carry you through the times where you’re busy or tired or just don’t want to do it.

How to Develop a Habit

Make Small and Attainable goals

We have talked about goals before, but its worth reminding you that your goal of going to the gym 5 times a week starts with going to the gym just once. Make the smallest step toward a habit then start adding on. Don’t get yourself into a routine that sets you up to fail.

Work New Habits into Established Routines

If your goal is to eat better but you eat fast food all of the time it may be too much to ask you to stop eating fast food. Instead of getting off of fast food cold turkey start by making better choices when you eat out. Linking new habits to old ones makes you more likely to keep the new ones.

Take the Options Out

You tell yourself you’re gonna go to the gym but when you get there you see all of the weights and equipment and you’re action becomes crippled by decisions. Too many decisions come from too many options. Instead of all of the options make a distinct plan, or let me do it for you, so you have much less to think about when you get there.

Don’t Forget the Process 

Sometimes we focus only on the end results, but it is the process that gets us there. Instead of thinking only about how you would look 15 pounds lighter think about what you’ll be doing and how you’ll be feeling along the way. How much better would just 2 pounds lighter feel? What would you eat and do to get those 2 pounds off?

Take Out the Derailers 

When you start a new habit it is easy to bail on it. You need to identify potential derailers to your new habit. There will be things that come up that will put doubt into whether or not you will go to the gym or eat healthy. Identify those potential problems before they arise and make note of new ones when they appear.

You plan to wake up early to go to the gym but you know it’ll be cold and you won’t wanna get out of bed. Set your heat to come on half hour before you wake. There is always a way to think ahead and stop a familiar problem before it happens. For the new and unexpected ones, analyze them and plan ahead for next time.

 

As you start the year off with a bang think carefully about the habits that will get you to success, don’t rely on motivation alone. It will fade and you’ll be left typing on a TV tray with an unfinished desk in your garage.

 

Source:

5 Scientific Ways to Build Habits That Stick by Gregory Ciotti

http://99u.com/articles/17123/5-scientific-ways-to-build-habits-that-stick

Holidays to Blame for Weight Gain

Think to yourself about the main reason you are not in the physical condition you would like to be in. You’re probably thinking its cause you don’t eat right or you don’t workout enough. That is likely true but consider this: the holidays play a big role in how much you weigh. 

It has been suggested that people gain between 7 and 10 pounds during the holiday season. In reality, as found in several studies, people really gain (and keep) between 1 and 2 pounds each year. That 1 to 2 pounds each holiday season adds up and you’re left wondering how it got there. It may not seem like a lot, but think about the 20 pounds you gained from age 20 to age 40 when you finally realize its time for change.

You may blame it on age, I blame it on lifestyle. Many of my clients will start to fall off from their commitment to their program near the end of October. It’s like they pre prepare for the temptations of the holiday by giving up their dedication to working out and eating right. Halloween comes and they start easing their way back into eating their old way. The way they’re planning to eat for the holidays.

Instead of staying committed to their fit lifestyle people will allow the few days that will be spent celebrating the holidays into a couple of months and they aren’t even thinking of getting back on track until it’s New Years resolution time. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard someone say, “I’ll get back on track after Thanksgiving” when it was barely after Halloween. That’s almost a whole month!

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My solution is to prepare for the holiday by staying committed and dedicated to your workout and eating program. If you plan correctly you can enjoy yourself and eat as much as you want during your time with friends and family in the holiday season.

It all comes down to preparation and sacrifice. If you know you’re going to be eating a lot one day you need to prepare by eating less the day before and/or after. You can have your cake and eat it too as long as you don’t let a few days a year turn into a few months.

In preparation for an abnormal day, a holiday where you will eat a whole bunch of tasty food, you need to have another abnormal day. During the day or days before the holiday you should be eating much less than you usually eat so that you can freely eat much more than you usually eat when the holiday comes.

The problem is that people don’t think ahead when it comes to holidays. They live the days leading up like they were just another day. They eat and move just as much as usual instead of eating less and moving more.

The end results is weight gain. Instead of balancing out for the extra calories they’re eating on the holiday they live like normal and those extra calories become stored as fat. They become those 1 to 2 extra pounds per year or that 20 to 40 pounds gained from 20 to 40 years old.

Prepare and plan ahead for the holidays so you can maintain and not gain. Heck with even more prep you could lose weight during the holidays!

Kids Fueled by Processed Foods and Sugar

Being a trainer and working with adults I often thought about the way my clients ate. But I never gave much thought to the way kids eat. When I started teaching PE in elementary schools my eyes were opened and it felt like lemon juice was sprayed in them. 

After weeks of seeing fruit snacks, chips, cookies, and lunchables at lunch AND recess I began to get frustrated. I began a mission to see what the students knew about the difference between healthy foods and unhealthy foods. I thought maybe they just didn’t know the what they were eating was not good for them. I was so wrong!

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I started by giving little quizzes. I asked the students “Which food is more healthy: fruit snacks or fruits? Apples or apple juice? Salad or sandwich? Salad with a lot of dressing or a sandwich?” The vast majority of students got the questions right and knew the difference between healthy foods and unhealthy foods.

After the quizzes we moved on to naming as many veggies, fruits, and protein sources we could as a class. The lists were quite long and impressive. Then I asked which foods are unhealthy and should only be eaten “sometimes”. That list was also long and impressive.

We progressed that to a game of freeze tag where the students were frozen by foods with too much sugar and fat and they had to be unfrozen by a veggie or fruit. Before they were unfrozen they had to name a veggie or fruit.

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In my quest for answers and solutions my first instinct was to blame the parents. After all they are the ones who pack the lunches and buy the foods. I figured that if the students knew then the parents definitely knew but were just cutting corners and taking the easy way out by going with more convenient but highly processed foods.

Considering the fact that I am not a parent myself and don’t know what it’s like to be one, maybe I was too hard on them. Maybe I wasn’t, either way placing blame without offering a solution is irresponsible and seems judgmental. Sorry.

I set out to find ways to help parents get their kids to eat better. Here are my solutions:

1. Set a good example

The first and most important thing a parent can do to teach their kids how to eat healthy is to set a good example. You can’t tell kids not to eat certain foods then eat them right in front of their face. That’s hypocritical and kids see right through it.

Go out of your way to eat healthy foods in front of kids and make sure that they are aware of it.

If you wanted to keep your kids from saying bad words you might use a swear jar system. If you are into that sort of behavioral modification then something similar can be used for junk foods.

Every time mommy or daddy eats an unhealthy food they gotta put so much money in the jar. Every time the kids eat a healthy food mommy and daddy puts so much in the jar. When the kids eat an unhealthy food you remove money from the jar. Kids collect at a given time each month.

2. Be careful what foods you introduce

When kids are born they have no idea what a piece of pizza or a soda tastes like. You can’t miss what you’ve never had. Wait as long as you can before introducing unhealthy foods to kids and introduce them one at a time.

When you do introduce such a food to your kids use it as an opportunity to teach a lesson. Let them know it is a privilege for us to be eating this, not a right. We use food to fuel our bodies. This pizza is not the best fuel, but we worked extra hard this week and we played longer than usual so we can get away with eating a little bit naughty.

Eating unhealthy food should be seen as something you earn, not something you have a right to. And it certainly should not become the norm.

3. Get kids involved in shopping and planning

When you go shopping and prepare meals for your kids take every opportunity possible to teach them the difference between which foods are good for them and which are not.

Take them through the isles of the store and point out the fact that most of the healthy foods are on the perimeter of the store and most of the processed foods are in the middle. Teach them that your body is made to use whole and natural foods as a good source of energy and processed foods are not digested the same and don’t provide the same energy. Also teach them what too much food energy turns into.

4. Watch what they watch

The vast majority of commercials on TV are for foods. The majority of those foods are unhealthy foods. In those commercials kids see their favorite character or hero telling them how tasty a baggie fully of sugar is.

Advertisements are made to make even the most developed minds susceptible to wanting a product. Imagine how easy it is for a treat company to get your kids to want their product.

Limit your kids exposure to commercials to limit the subliminal messages planted in their minds. Of course it would be best to have them play instead of watch TV but a good way to limit exposure to advertising is to change the way you let them watch TV.

Only let them watch a streaming service like Netflix that doesn’t have commercials or DVR their shows and skip the commercials.

5. Fight the good fight, it’s worth it!

No matter how hard you try your kids are going to see unhealthy food. They’re going to think they’re cool and they’ll beg you for them. You need to fight the good fight. It is our job to make sure kids grow up strong and healthy. At times that means we need to be the bad guy and lay down the law. They may not like us at that moment but they will still love us in the long run.

It will be a constant battle to keep your kids healthy in a world that encourages the opposite but I believe in you and I am here to help.

The New Normal

Back in August my fiancé and I went to Hawaii for the first time. We wanted to look our best so we began a diet about three weeks before we went. We both looked ok but wanted to look a little better on the beach.

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Imagine BBQing here

I decided to limit fruit and nuts to one serving each per day. That may sound like an odd adjustment when you wanna lose weight but it wouldn’t if you knew I typically eat 2-4 servings of each per day.

Our diet adjustments were successful, we were both able to feel comfortable in our bathing suits as we went to the beaches of Maui. As I was walking on one of the little known beaches of Maui I thought to myself how my body had changed throughout the years since I started working out.

I’m not in internet picture shape but I would consider myself to be healthy and fit and I am fairly comfortable taking my shirt off given the proper setting. I wasn’t always like this, when I started working out I was 220 lbs and over 25 percent body fat.

As I thought about it I noticed a pattern in my transformation. I made big pushes toward goals and once I reached them I made that my new normal. I would have some event or self imposed deadline and successfully reach the goal.

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All I need is one branch (ode to Nas for the shirt on the head). Don't judge me it was hot and I'm pale.

After I reached each deadline I would notice that it was much easier to maintain wherever I was at than to reach a new level. I found it best to stay at the new me until it was easy and then get to the next level.

Think about babies when they start to move around: first they scoot around, then it gets easy and they begin to crawl. After they learn to stand they begin to walk. Once walking is easy they begin to run. They only stay at their current level of locomotion until it becomes easy then they move on. Once they make it to the next level they never go back. We should be no different.

If you are thinking about starting a workout program or taking the next step here is the best way to go about it:

  1. Realize that you’re at where you’re at

Don’t judge yourself and don’t feel embarrassed. Be true to yourself and come to terms with the fact that the body you have now is the body you have to work with. You will never get anywhere by judging or comparing yourself. The best thing you can do is accept and love your current situation and make a conscious effort to change it for the better.

2. Get to the next level

Once you know where you are you need to decide how to get to the next level. If you currently eat fast food 5 times a week and workout zero times a week it would be foolish to commit to eating out zero times a week and working out five times a week.

Decide the smallest and most sustainable steps to get you to the next level and implement them. With the example above you would commit to only eat out 4 times a week and you will begin to workout 1 time per week.

3. Get comfortable at the next level

Continue with this change until it becomes easy and automatic. If you are struggling with a current change it doesn’t make sense to introduce a new one. Moving on too fast will set you up to be overwhelmed and fail. It’s best to stick with your current change until it becomes comfortable and automatic.

4. Make a push to the next next level

Once you have stuck with your change for long enough that it is second nature and easy to sustain it’s time to introduce the next smallest sustainable change. Get your Brain McKnight on and start back at number 1.

5. Repeat until you get to your ultimate goal

Continue to introduce a new change and keep it until it is the new you. Then start the process over and over again.

This process if very effective but it requires that you don’t look back too far and you don’t look forward too far. Don’t set yourself up to be too overwhelmed and fail. Make small changes and stick with them until they become your new normal. Then make new changes and you will always be the best you possible.

Crawl before you walk, not after.

Workouts and Netflix

I remember when I finished watching the series finale of Breaking Bad and I told myself I would never binge watch another series again. I told myself I would only watch one episode per week. Then I watched the first few episodes of Walking Dead and I couldn’t stop. I should have taken a more tactful approach to limiting my Netflix consumption.

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I see people run into the same challenges when they start a workout plan. It’s new and exciting and you’re fed up with the way you look and feel. So you’re ready to workout every day. You tell yourself, “I’m gonna workout 7 days a week, sometimes twice a day. And I’m only gonna eat pieces of lettuce and boiled chicken.” Then something comes up and you abandon your workout plan, never to return until you get totally fed up again.

It’s a vicious cycle in an unhealthy relationship with food and exercise. You only workout and eat better when you’re fed up and hate yourself. What you need is to love yourself and take a balanced approach that you can maintain without sacrificing yourself and your lifestyle.

When you make the decision to change a behavior and/or form a new habit you will start out extremely motivated, but motivation wears off and reality sets in. So you need to make sure you form sustainable habits.

When you try to change a habit at an unsustainable pace it’s extremely difficult to stay the course when something comes up. If you’re trying to workout 7 days a week but you have to work overtime for an upcoming deadline that will be followed by an office party it’s easy to stray off course.

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After you suffer a setback or make a concession and excuse yourself from one of those days of working out it’s easy to make more excuses until you’re back to square one. When things come up you you feel like you can’t get back to the breakneck pace that you set a precedent with. You end up quitting because of how overwhelming it feels to change so much so fast. You feel like since you can’t do 7 days a week you might as well not even try.

The Solution

  1. Start slower than you want to.

You may currently workout zero times and eat 20 pieces of bread per week. When you decide to change you may feel like you need to workout out 7 days a week and cut out bread completely. Don’t do that, you’d be setting yourself up for failure. You need to pull the reins in and limit the restrictions you put on yourself.

2. Fix one aspect at a time until it gets easy.

Think about the minimum amount of time you can devote to exercise on the most busy week possible. Think about the minimum amount of bread you think you can have and still enjoy yourself. Start with that number.

You may decide that no mater how busy you got you could workout for 15 minutes a day, two days a week. And you could limit yourself to 2 slices of bread per day. Start with that and once it get’s easy think about the next smallest change you can make. Once that gets easy, make another change.

3. Stay connected to the process.

Don’t just go through the process blindly without reflection. You need to know why you’re succeeding when you do well and why you you struggle with what you are struggling with. Keep a journal of how you feel as you’re making these lifestyle changes. If you know the “why” it will be easier to make good decisions.

4. Reward yourself with positive reinforcement.

Don’t beat yourself up when you slip up. Make sure to give yourself a pat on the back when you do well.

 

When you want to make a change start out at a sustainable pace. It will be easy to get back on the horse when something comes up. Remember the story of the tortoise and the hare, slow and steady wins the race. And any other cliche you can think of. Just start small and do work!

Gym Basics: Know What Is What

We’ve all seen it before, a student really has to go to pee so they raises their hand and say “Can I use the bathroom?”. The teacher says “I don’t know, can you?”.

I don’t know what it is but our brains seem to be wired to get caught up in semantics and be a jerk when someone uses the wrong word but we know exactly what they mean. The teacher knows darn well that the student is asking for permission to go to the restroom and not asking if they have the physical capability to do so. But people like to be difficult. For this reason I want to take some time to go over the basics of the gym so you don’t have to deal with people calling you out when you misuse a gym term.

I will go over the basics of the gym ranging from what sets and reps are to the names of equipment in the gym. I’ll even show you ways to display proper gym etiquette so you can be more comfortable in the gym.

Gym Etiquette

Gym etiquette is a great place to start since its one of the most important aspects of being comfortable in the gym. The last thing you want is to be uncomfortable in the gym. And you don’t want to make someone else uncomfortable. Here are some ways you can behave in the gym to make it better for everyone:

Respects Others 

The rules of life also apply to the gym, you gotta be respectful. Guys, don’t get caught staring at the ladies and making them feel uncomfortable. Ladies, don’t get caught staring at the hundreds of guys actually working legs on a Monday.

Everyone in the gym has equal rights to everything thats in the gym. Don’t spend too much time on a piece of cardio equipment, the limits are there for a reason. If you have 20 sets of curls to do in the squat rack maybe your garage is a better place to do them.

Don’t rush others or make them feel uncomfortable

Even if someone is using the piece of equipment you want and may be taking longer than you should, you still shouldn’t rush them or make them feel uncomfortable. Simply go up to them while they are clearly between sets (never talk to someone in the middle of a set!) and ask them politely how many sets they have left. That is the international way of letting them know that you want to use the equipments they’re using. They’ll know exactly why you’re asking.

If they say they have more sets than you would like to wait around for and you don’t mind, ask them if you could “work in”. This means that while they are taking a break between sets you use the equipment. Then they work while you rest. If you do agree to “work in” make sure that you are helpful in adjusting the weight for your momentary gym partner.

Put it back

The last thing you want is to go to where something is supposed to be and have it not be there. Not because it doesn't exist and not because someone is using it but because someone didn't put it back where it belongs. If you use anything in the gym make sure it goes back where it belongs, even if you found it somewhere it didn’t belong.

Don’t stand in front of the dumbbell rack

It’s extremely rude to stand closer than five feet from the dumbbell rack. If you’re standing too close to the rack you’ll prevent people from getting the dumbbells they need. Find somewhere else to stand. You can still see your beautiful self in the mirror if you back up a little.

Claim a space

If you want to claim a space because you need to go get a weight or get a drink of water leave something behind to indicate you will be right back. A towel hanging on a machine or bench is a universal sign that it is in use. Hang your towel and come right back, if you won’t be right back don’t claim the equipment.

Smell good and dress appropriately

Don’t be a distraction in the gym. Don’t wear clothes that will draw undue attention to yourself. Dress appropriately. If you go to the gym wearing only a sports bra and yoga pants, it’s your fault people are staring at you, not theirs.

Another important thing is not to smell bad in the gym. Bad smells and hard breathing don’t go together. That doesn’t mean that you should be doused in cologne or perfume, it means that you should be clean. Sweat itself doesn’t stink, sweat mixed with dirts and oils does. Sometimes it’s good to shower before and after the gym.

Stay off of your phone

Nobody wants to hear your phone conversation at the gym and no one wants you to take up space and equipment at the gym just so you can talk on the phone. You’re there to workout, not to talk. If you have a call that you need to take, go to a non workout area of the gym and take it. Most gyms these days have wifi and seating.

Gym Equipment

Dumbbells 

Dumbbells are handheld weights, one for each hand.

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Barbells

Barbells are weight bars. You usually hold onto one barbell with both hands. There are fixed barbell that already have the weight on them and olympic/standard bars that you put weight plates on.

Fixed barbell
Fixed barbell

 

 

Olympic Barbell
Olympic Barbell

 

 

Weight Plates

Weight plates are round weights that you add to barbells.

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Clips

Weight clips are used to keep weight plates on barbells.

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Benches

There are several different types of weight benches. There are weight benches attached to bench press and incline bench press benches. There are also flat benches and adjustable benches used for various lifts. Another type of bench is a seat, often used for military presses.

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Racks and Cages

Weight racks are used for things like squats and standing presses. There are free standing weight racks that are adjustable and there are squat cages.

 

Squat Rack
Squat Rack
Squat Cage or Power Rack
Squat Cage or Power Rack

 

Cables

Cable machines are often adjustable in height and position and provide a steady resistance that is not dependent on gravity the way free weights are. Since cable don’t rely on gravity they can be used to do various exercises, especially for the core.

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Bands

Bands are a portable and inexpensive alternative to cables. They too do not rely on gravity and allow you to work different angles.

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Balls

There are several types of exercise balls that can be used during your workouts. Swiss balls (which are also referred to as physio-balls and other names) are large inflatable balls often used to create an unstable surface to work your core and other muscles.

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Bosu balls are half ball and half flat surface and allow you to work (even stand) on an unstable surface. Working on an unstable surface can help with balance and some core work but it sacrifices strength due to lack of stability. Strength is always key so they should rarely be used and never be prioritized.

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Medicine balls are used for core and explosive exercises. Again rarely used and never prioritized.

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Smith Machines

Smith machines look like squat racks but they have a barbell connected to a rail system that forces the barbell to go straight up and down. This is usually not ideal for most people since our bodies are unique and shouldn’t be restricted to that type of movement plane. Smith machines can be useful for push ups and rows.

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Foam Rollers

Foam Rollers are semi soft to firm cylinders used for soft tissue work and warm ups. Good for self massage.

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Workouts vs Exercises and Sets vs Reps

Exercises

An exercise is a single movement such as a push up or a pull up. There are several exercises within a workout.

 

Workout

A workout is the combination of a warm up and all of the exercises done in a single trip to the gym.

 

Reps

A rep or repetition is a single movement of an exercise. For example one push up is one rep.

 

Sets

A set is a series of reps of an exercise. Reps are done within a set in sequence without stopping.

 

 

Supersets

Supersets are achieved when two different exercises are done back to back without a break in between the exercises. Doing 10 push up immediately after doing 10 pull ups would be doing one super set. Super sets are used to save time and burn extra fat. When you see a superset in a workout program the moves are often labeled 1A and 1B.

 

Tri sets and giant sets

Tri sets and giant sets are achieved when three or more different exercises are done back to back without a break in between the exercises. Doing 10 push up immediately followed by 10 pull ups and 10 lunges would be doing tri set. Giant sets are the same but with even more exercises. Tri sets and giant sets are used to save time and burn extra fat. When you see a tri set or giant set in a workout program the moves are often labeled 1A, 1B, 1C, and so on.