Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Pains of Perceived Perfection

Not sure where you are with your current fitness level, but most anyone can relate to this:

Let's say you've been working out for a while (weeks, months, years) and you've seen a measured amount of progress. Maybe you're leaner, clothes fit better, and/or you're noticeably stronger than you were the last time you checked.

But you wake up one day and you just don't feel right. Sleep was less than spectacular, the alarm clock went off much earlier than your body was ready for, and you're pushing it to get to work on time. You shuffle through work (extra caffeinated please) and it's safe to say you're not firing on all cylinders. You know that after work you're going to have to get in a workout and you're just NOT feeling it.

By time you lift the first weight, you're shocked at how a weight that was so easy a week ago feels like a ton of bricks now. By the end of your workout, you know you didn't make one bit of progress. Depressed, tired, and aggravated you beat yourself up unmercifully the rest of the evening.

If you've never experienced this, you can easily switch out exercise for diet. You know, you eat REALLY well for a few days and you're already seeing weight loss, then you eat that cheeseburger and order of fries you told yourself you weren't going to touch. The next day you're bloated and the scale is laughing at you.

All too often, people expect perfection from themselves. I see it here with my clients on a regular basis. The thing is, NOTHING is that easy to perfect.

Your job doesn't operate on perfection and perfect accomplishments, recognitions, etc.
Your marital/intimate relationship isn't happiness and sunshine every day.
You don't have days of perfect parenting.
And most certainly, you don't have infinite days of perfect eating or perfect workouts.

I have 3 words I will affectionately say: Suck it up.

You may have heard the adage, "If it was easy, everyone could do it"

This goes for really any aspect of your life: work, healthy relationship(s), parenting, workouts, diet, you name it.

It's time to get away from the guilt of your less-than-perfect days. Not only are they inevitable, they're necessary.

The people who can work through the proverbial valleys of progress are the ones who appreciate and enjoy the peaks.
The people who cherish consistency and can forgive the detours they make, reap the highest benefits.

Understand that your body due to age, genetics, and any other imperfections will see different peaks and valleys.

Perfection, while admirable, is a bit misguided.

Aim for progress.
Hold yourself accountable.
Stop blaming external stimuli for everything you don't get accomplished properly.
And then remove the guilt from your misgivings and trudge on.

The people enjoying the spoils of their efforts have already embraced these things.

We can help!

Friday, October 11, 2013

158 in 52

When I've been asked about why I did it, I point my finger in the same direction: Pat Rigsby. In the fitness industry, Pat has been one of many influential pioneers. As a fellow fitness entrepreneur, I was reading one of his success manuals and he made the comment that he tries to stay ahead of the pack by reading constantly. To the tune of 3 books a week. At that point, I told myself: "If one of the leaders in my industry can do it, then I should be making the effort as well".

Little did I know, how taking on this task would change me both personally and professionally.

At first, it was a welcome challenge. I've always loved reading and I was already buying books at a faster rate than I was reading them so it seemed like as good a time as any to get started.

To help keep myself accountable, each Monday morning I would get on Facebook and list the next 3 books I had racked up on my mission. I had no idea how long I would keep it up for but I knew that if I made some type of public announcement, it would keep me honest and keep me on pace.

So that I wouldn't get stale on the reading material I would give myself one book on exercise, one on nutrition, and one on motivation/self-help/business etc. I didn't always stick very closely to that formula but that's how it started.

On average, I would consume 600 pages a week. Total time expended: roughly 2 hours a day. The longest book I read: Total Recall by Arnold Schwarzenegger (646 pgs). The shortest book: Flinch by Julien Smith (approx 60 pgs).

Along the way, several things started to happen either as a result of or pure coincidence: More thought went into interactions with clients, friends, and family. My business grew over 25%. I felt more confident as an individual, business owner, father, fiance, friend and son.

There were 2 separate occasions when I read 4 books in a week, hence the 158 books as opposed to 156. I'd be lying if I told you it wasn't difficult. There were a handful of occasions where I would be up reading on a Sunday night trying to cram in the last book so I could report in by Monday. I also had to get somewhat strategic about the books I read on a given week if I knew I'd be out of town or busier than normal. So there were weeks where the books were intentionally shorter in comparison just to fit them all in.

There were also times when I dreaded the task. Some weeks it took everything in me to head back to the bookshelf and grab another but I knew I had to keep it going.
Somewhere along the way, I told myself I'd make it a full year. There are a couple of certifications I've had in my sight and I know how difficult and time-consuming the studying process would be.

What does any of this have to do with a fitness newsletter?

Maybe more than you think which is why I thought I would dedicate this letter to each of you.

Picture yourself embarking on any fitness journey: losing weight, gaining strength, aiming for a competition (endurance, strength or combination).
You start off with a goal and you know it will take "X" amount of time to accomplish it. Maybe you're realistic with the time commitment and maybe you're not. But after a few weeks in, you realize that time won't always be on your side.

Despite your best efforts, careful diligence and sincere desire to succeed there will always be things that stand in your way: work, family, daily outlook, potential illness, vacation, holidays, etc.

One step you might take is making a public announcement of your goals. Tell your friends "I'm training for a half marathon", or "I'm trying to lose 50lbs in a year". Involve the people who you know will be honest with you in efforts to keep you going. Realize that some may (for reasons unknown) attempt to sabotage your efforts. Give yourself a mental plan for how you can stay on pace without affecting too much of your life.

Accept the fact that some days/weeks will be significantly easier than others and you still have to keep your eye on the prize.

There will be days when you detest the activity and it would be profoundly easier to back out, take a day off, and get off course.

Realize that every worthwhile goal takes both sacrifice and compromise in equal measure:

I own a business.
I work 50+ hours a week.
My work schedule is rarely the same from day to day.
I train myself 5 days a week (3 days strength, 2 days cardio).
I make every effort to have some semblance of a social life.
And despite all of those "obstacles", there was still time to fit in 158 books in 52 weeks.

No, I'm not asking you to embark on the same book frenzy that I did. But I am asking you to take a personal inventory and realize that health/fitness/wellness are an ongoing process and you can rarely succeed on your own. There IS time in the day for you to make time for yourself if you know how to schedule it accordingly. Trust that there will be imperfect workouts, imperfect nutrition, and many detours.

Where does your journey start?