The Carrot or The Stick

What spurs you? Not motivates you. I don’t mean your purpose, mission in life, or your goals. Are you goaded into taking action by the carrot or the stick?

I’ve always been fascinated by this idea. The carrot is a promised reward, held always just out of reach. You take a step towards it, and it moves a step farther from you.

The stick is a threatened punishment. You keep moving forward because you don’t want to feel its sting.

In school I had many teachers and coaches. Some believed the best way to inspire greatness (or compliance) was through yelling or berating. Others did it more nicely.

We all need to be challenged. The most effective coaches and teachers seemed to intuitively know who needed a boot in the ass and who needed to be coaxed more gently.

I think it’s important to have a clear understanding of yourself (so did some guy named Socrates). Your internal mowq7b1wotivation is what’s going to drive you to go after your goals over the long term. But every once in a while, we all need a little nitro to give us a temporary turbo boost.

If that’s someone challenging your intestinal fortitude by calling you out of name, that’s cool. I’ve seen it work. If someone clapping for you and encouraging you, just one more rep or mile, that’s cool too. I’ve also seen that work.

I tend to fall mostly in the latter category. When I saw a coach screaming in a teammate’s face, spittle flying far too close, I thought it was funny. (I never claimed to be the most mature human.)

On the rare occasion when I was the object being yelled at, I never felt inspired. If the idea was to make me so enraged that I’d take it out on the opposing team, it didn’t work on me. It did, however, make me wish all kinds of horrible things would happen to that coach.

Circling back, it’s helpful to know which spur is going to work best for you. As a fitness coach, it’s imperative to have an understanding that everyone is different. You have to adjust to help inspire your clients to achieve their goals. Not that you have to be fake about it. People will see right through that. You want to see the situation (the desired outcome, the necessary steps, and the path) through the eyes of the client.

Hope this helps. Thanks for reading. Any comments or questions, leave ‘em below.

Advertisements

4th Quarter

It’s the beginning of October. That means it’s the start of the 4th quarter of 2017. Are you still on track for the goals you set for yourself this year?

If you are, you’re awesome. If you’ve already achieved what you set out to for the year… it’s time to pick bigger goals.

If you’ve fallen off, it’s easy to start thinking about ‘18. I mean, there are only a few weeks until the holidays and you may as well just slack off and enjoy, right?

Nope.

First, there’s still plenty of time left to put in lots of solid work towards your goals. For the sports fans, is there any greater thrill than a late-game comeback win? Who doesn’t love a movie where the hero overcomes the biggest challenge at the end? You are the hero of your story. If you truly want something, go after it. Take actions every day (every day) that put you closer to it. You won’t make giant strides daily. Small steps are still progress.

Second, you know “I’ll wait ‘til next year and then I’ll start” is bs. It’s just procrastination with no benefit. Why would you wait to improve your life? If it’s a good idea to start in January, it’s a good idea to start in October. As in now. Today.

Are you going to look back a year from now and say, I’m so glad I waited until January to get started? Or are you more likely to think you should’ve started earlier?

It doesn’t matter if your goal is to be more fit, drop that fat, build muscle, make a million dollars, write that novel, etc. Waiting is wasting. Go. Do.

You got this! Hope this helps. Thanks for reading. Leave a comment or question below.

So You’re Having a $#!tty Workout

You’re feeling great… until the barbell’s in your hands…

You’re in the gym. Your mind’s right. Your warm-up was good. You’re feeling great. It’s bench day and you’re ready to set some PRs. You sail through your acclimation sets and then… (sad game show sound effect) nothing.

The barbell feels way heavier than expected. You try to push through but it’s just not happening today.

You rack the weight, then rack your brain trying to figure out what happened and why.

Maybe the answer is simple. You didn’t get enough sleep or you’ve got a little cold.

But sometimes, it’s just one of those days. You got no juice. It happens. Most workouts are just pretty good, in the same way that most days at work are just okay. Some training sessions are awesome. And others are just a slog.

What should you do?

Be honest with yourself: maybe you’re just feeling lazy. If you are, c’mon, just fight through that.

When it’s not that, you should do what you can. Accept that you’re not going to set any records today. And that’s okay. Just make up your mind to get through the session. Once it’s over, don’t dwell on it. I know it’s frustrating. One bad workout isn’t going to derail your gains.

Perhaps there are other factors at play. It’s important to have the self-awareness to know they can impact your workout. While the gym can sometimes be a sanctuary from the every day life stress, it’s not an impermeable bubble. We all go through times of intense stress and it’s reasonable to expect it may seep into your time at the gym.

The most important thing is to do the best you can each workout. Sometimes that means hitting PRs. On other occasions it may just mean showing up just to stretch and break a little sweat. It doesn’t mean you messed up or failed. It means there isn’t always an immediate payoff for your efforts. Just keep trying and you’ll reap the benefits.

Thanks for reading. Any questions or comments, leave ’em below.

10 Ways to Get Everyone at the Gym to Love You

Become your gym’s favorite person!

Here’s a quick list of things you can do to make sure you’re the real MVP of your gym:

  1. Never wash your gym clothes. If you’re worried they might not smell great, take a cologne shower before you hit the gym.
  2. When you’re done using the equipment, don’t wipe it off. Leave a little sweat for the next person.
  3. As soon as you finish an exercise, leave the weights right there. Don’t strip the plates of the bar. Never, ever, ever put the dumbbells back in the rack.
  4. Everyone should know how hard your workout is. Let them know through a series of grunts, hisses, and loud swearing. Your effort is contagious. They’ll see it and up their training to match yours.
  5. Give each person a helpful tip about the exercise they’re doing. They’re probably not totally wrong, but you can definitely provide 5 or 10 pointers. Share your expertise with them. Sure, they might be wearing earbuds pretending to concentrate on their own workout, but trust me, they’ll be grateful for your knowledge.
  6. Train efficiently by using supersets on at least 3-4 pieces of equipment at a time. You must remain fiercely vigilant about guarding them all. Never let anyone work in with you, that shows weakness. You don’t go to the gym to be weak, do you?
  7. Ogle. Ogle. Ogle. No one comes to the gym to not be seen. By ogling, you give them the gratification that they’re obviously after.
  8. Along similar lines, make sure you dress appropriately to be seen. Stringer tops and nut-hugger shorts give everyone an opportunity to admire your entire physique.
  9. In the locker room, take your sweet time getting dressed. It’s a social place. Strike up a conversation with a stranger as you use the blow dryer on your nether regions.
  10. Remember, all the mirrors in the building are there for you to show off your front double biceps pose.

Thanks for reading! If you’ve got a tip to add to the list, leave it in the comments below!

Why Problems Are Good

We never really get rid of problems. We just exchange them for (hopefully) better ones. When you were going to school as a child, each grade was more difficult than the one before. Perhaps you thought, “when I’m an adult things will be better.” Are they?

Yes and no, is the answer, don’t you think? You are wiser, stronger and more experienced. And I’m guessing you have bigger and better problems. We’ve traded in the term papers and exams for bills and all kinds of other responsibilities. Hopefully you’re still exchanging them upward. But hoping that once you achieve this next goal, all will be gold and rainbows is a mistake.

When we hit the target, it feels great for a little while, but obviously there’s no such thing as a panacea. It doesn’t take long to figure out it didn’t fix all the problems in life. The disappointment that follows is often profound.

We don’t want a problem-free life. This is true even though problems can be frustrating. Solving problems is fulfilling. It feels awesome whenever you make a breakthrough, doesn’t it? The process of identifying and fixing problems is the process that gives us meaning.

For example in a fitness context, maybe you were overweight. Now to get in better shape, you wake up earlier and get all sweaty at the gym. That’s a better problem to have. Yet it’s still a mountain to climb. A more succinct word to describe having a better problem is growth.

Think of the hero’s journey in just about any book, tv show, movie, or story. The protagonist has to overcome significant obstacles in order to accomplish his/her goal. If it was easy it wouldn’t be compelling. Or think of sports. What’s better than when your favorite team is the underdog coming from behind to win?

Getting back to how this applies to fitness…

Don’t lie to yourself, there will always be struggle. The funny thing is, whether your one rep max is 50 lbs. or 500 lbs. It still feels the same: heavy. I say this because there’s such a strong tendency to believe, once I do X everything will be awesome. X could be getting a six pack, or dropping 100 lbs. or that last, tough 10 lbs. or benching 315. The truth is, it’s not going to fix your life.

Don’t get me wrong, those are worthy goals. Setting fitness goals is a good thing. Striving to accomplish them is even better. And when you do claim your goal, don’t expect all your problems to go away. Your life won’t suddenly become perfect. That’s okay. Identifying problems, figuring out a solution, being frustrated, persevering… all that makes us better.

Aim. Achieve. Aim higher. Keep chasing improvement. I feel so strongly about this that’s why I named this The Chase.

Thanks for reading.

Trigger foods

The hardest part about dropping weight is the food restriction. Whether you cut out certain foods or just reduce the amounts, there’s going to be some sort of calorie restriction. I don’t advocate cutting out foods you enjoy, mainly because I don’t think it’s sustainable to deprive yourself in the long term.

However, if you know there’s a particular food that you just can’t resist devouring, it may make sense to limit how frequently you have it. Again, I’m not saying you shouldn’t have it. Just save it for once in a while.

For instance, maybe it’s virtually impossible for you to have just a few chips. Or perhaps there’s something about pizza where one slice turns into the whole pie. Personally, it’s really difficult to just have a couple cookies. I tell myself I’m only going to have 3 and next thing I know, there’s an empty, crumpled up, plastic sleeve on the table.

It’s not a big deal though. I just make sure not to have cookies around very often. I find substituting another food works better for me. For whatever reason, I have no problem just having a couple spoonfuls of ice cream. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy my ice cream. I can have some without the little voice in my head urging me to eat the whole pint. This means I get to eat it without worrying about going over my targeted amount of calories.

I don’t think I’m unique that way. I don’t pretend to understand why. It doesn’t have to be just sweets either. If you can figure out a workable substitute for a food you find hard to enjoy in moderation, it’ll go a long way towards helping you achieve your goals. Obviously swapping out your pizza for broccoli probably won’t work in the long term, unless you really love broccoli. But maybe there’s a pasta dish that you like but are able to limit yourself.

Again, this isn’t about swearing off any particular food you love. Telling yourself “I’m never having that again!” just makes that all the more irresistible. Fitness isn’t about filling your life with “Never!” We just want to be strategic about the approach.

The easiest way to avoid temptation is to avoid temptation. If you know you can’t resist it, it’s probably a bad idea to have it in your home. Or at least buy it in such a way that you limit yourself. If ice cream is your weakness, perhaps you can buy it in those little single-serve cups one at a time, rather than by the pint or half gallon.

Let’s be perfectly clear: if you go overboard one day and just eat a whole sleeve of cookies or whatever, it’s not ideal, but really it’s no big deal. Don’t waste time beating yourself up about it. Don’t throw up your hands and give in and turn it into a bingeing weekend. Just get back to your plan as soon as you can. If you take nothing else from this, please remember this.

Hope this is helpful. If you have any questions or comments, leave them below. Thanks for reading.

Fitness and Time

You don’t have to get ready if you stay ready

Fitness and Time

If you’re wondering how fitness can fit into your life, there’s something I really think you should consider: Time.

We all think there’s too little of it, right? Too many things to get done in the day and too few hours to do them. You may believe you don’t have time to fit working out in your schedule.

It’s true there is no way to create more time. None of us knows how much we have left. Being fit can’t guarantee to give you more time. But it can definitely add more value to however much more life you have. It may be 6 months or it may be 50 years.

How Do You Want To Age?

Think about the quality of life you want for those years.

Being fit can definitely impact that in a positive way.

Fitness is an investment in yourself. Definitely for the present version of you, but more importantly it’s about the future version of you. You put in now and reap the rewards later.

Like any investment, there’s an upfront cost. Since it’s upfront it’s much easier to see than the rewards, which come later. You may have to wake up an hour earlier and sweat some. At first, it probably won’t be the most fun you’ve ever had. Likely you won’t see the payoff right away.

A few weeks in, or perhaps it’s a couple months, you’ll notice the quality of your life is already getting better. You’re less tired and lethargic during the day. You sleep better. Walking a flight of stairs is easier. You can keep up with your kids better. The groceries feel lighter. Your clothes fit better. You feel more confident. You’ll be better able to work. Even sex is better.

In short, being fit makes you more able to squeeze in more into each day.

In order to keep seeing the returns, you do still have to keep exercising. But guess what? You have the power of habit on your side now. Working out is part of your routine at this point. It requires less mental energy to get up and get started. Even better, maintaining being fit is a lot easier than getting there in the first place. I bet you even enjoy your training sessions.

We don’t stop moving because we age, we age because we stop moving. Yeah, it’s a cliche but I think there’s a lot of truth to it. If you’ve ever been in shape for a while and then let your fitness slide, you know how this works. I don’t mean you went on vacation or you took off from the gym for a couple weeks. I mean a real backslide. Maybe you built up to a 405 lb. squat. Or running 5 miles was a breeze. And now you’re ready for a nap after walking up a flight of stairs. You’ve experienced what it is to feel “man, that used to be really easy and now it’s really difficult.” It’s embarrassing to admit, but I’ve done this myself a few times.

This guy stays ready

One of my favorite sayings is, You don’t have to get ready if you stay ready. You pay the upfront cost, which is when you’re putting in the time and effort to get your fitness going. Once that happens, you can maintain for a long time, meaning you can enjoy the rewards for years to come. Whether that’s just having an easier time playing with your kids or hauling groceries, or if it’s still being able to move around unassisted as you get old, it’s worth it.

Maintaining fitness is easier than obtaining it in the first place. If you’ve let yourself go a little bit, it’s time to get back on your game. You got this!

Thanks for reading. Any questions or comments? You can leave those below, I’m happy to read them.