When I was a child, getting to Christmas day to open those presents under the tree was the goal. I also remember it being bitter sweet when it was all over. I would tear through my gifts in minutes and then the excitement and anticipation was gone. I had nothing else to look forward to. I was glad to have new gifts and toys to play with but the excitement was actually getting to Christmas day. I have more fun memories about the holidays leading up to Christmas than the actual gifts I received. Once again, that is why I now want to focus on the journey.
I want to have that same attitude towards my fitness training. Having a set goal is important but even more important, and more realistic towards actually achieving that goal, is to enjoy the journey that leads to the goal. If you are not enjoying the journey, you may never reach the goal. I have seen it time and time again. People will set a weight loss goal or a fitness goal, usually a marathon and soon after reaching their goal they returned to the lifestyle they had before. I have heard many people say while striving for and after reaching a weight loss goal that they couldn't wait to enjoy those foods they ate before the diet. I heard them complain about how hard it was to stay disciplined. The focus and the attitude was all wrong and led them back to the lifestyle they had before the goal.
Embrace the change. Embrace the journey. Embrace the new found discipline and healthier lifestyle. Christmas will come and go but your fitness can last the whole year long. It will be the gift that keeps on giving.
I did notice something the other day while watching another teacher eat a piece of cheesecake. I noticed that he spent between 5-10 seconds per bite. He was done within a minute or two. I immediately thought about the phrase of "a second on the lips a lifetime on the hips." This same teacher loves to point out that although I may be healthier and live longer, he has had way more fun. That is where I get the title to this post. What brings you satisfaction. Sure a piece of cheesecake would definitely be satisfying but for how long? Is it as satisfying as the image a fit person sees in the mirror each morning? It certainly wouldn't last as long. Is it as satisfying as clothes that fit great? Is that pizza and soda as satisfying as being able to climb stairs, go for a run, or play outside with the kids without feeling totally exhausted?
To each his own I guess. I believe many people excuse themselves from any long term satisfaction with the temporary satisfaction that comes from a lack of discipline and overindulgence. Again let me emphasise there is a difference between a small treat and overindulgence. But make no mistake, satisfaction for some may come in the form of a six pack you drink while to others may come in the form of a six pack you see in the mirror each morning.
The health and fitness craze that became really popular in the 1980's has created a multi-billion dollar nutritional supplement industry. Every health and fitness magazine is flooded with their advertisements. There is a pill or a drink for everything. Whether you need to lose weight, gain weight, need energy or have more consistent bowel movements, you bet there is a product marketed for it. And with these supplements, there is the fine print. That is my favorite part. Most people miss it but it is the first thing I look for. The fine print is basically the advice that should be taken instead of taking the actual supplement itself. Look at any weight loss pill, advertisement or commercial. They say their product can help you lose weight but that is really only if you read and follow the fine print. The fine print says that in addition to taking the supplement to also exercise and follow a balanced diet. As we all know, if we will exercise and follow a balanced diet, there would be no need for a diet pill.
I remember a similar product that was marketed as jump shoes. These were shoes that had a large, bulky piece of rubber on the front of the shoe which in turn made you walk on your toes. They were meant to work your calf muscles and therefore help you gain more vertical on your jumps. The fine print gave a specific workout that should be followed that incorporated the actual muscles that could improve jumping. Jumping power is increased by working the large muscles of the lower body, not the calf muscles, and working them with explosive movements. If you train the big muscles correctly, the smaller muscles like the calves are trained as well.
The point is that there are many supplements that promise all kinds of results. Energy drinks are all the rage right now but are usually loaded with nothing more than sugar or caffeine. My suggestion if you want more energy is to read the fine print where it says to eat a well-balanced diet and get 8 hours of sleep. You are more than welcome to buy one of the hundreds of diet pills available but following the advice in the fine print will be more effective than the pill itself.
If it sounds too good to be true it probably is. CrossFit says it best with their World Class Fitness in 100 Words.
•Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and NO sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat.
•Practice and train major lifts: deadlift, clean, squat, presses, clean & jerk, and snatch. Similarly, master the basics of gymnastics: pull-ups, dips, rope climb, push-ups, sit-ups, presses to handstands, pirouettes, flips, splits, and holds. Bike, run, swim, row, etc, hard and fast.
•Five or six days per week mix these elements in as many combinations and patterns as creativity will allow. ROUTINE IS THE ENEMY. Keep workouts short and intense.
•Regularly learn and play new sports!
Off-Season? There is no off-season. Life will inevitably punish those who have an off-season. We train to be fit and healthy all year long. I guess that is why diet is a four letter word. Diets are not meant to last forever and have a built-in off-season. The definition of off-season is a time of suspended or reduced activity. For many people it really is a time to be lazy and to excuse inactivity and poor dietary choices. Some people live their entire lives with off-seasons. Others eat right and exercise and then slip into their off-season and negate everything they had worked for.
I want my family, clients, and myself to be prepared for any given contingency on any given day of the year. If life requires me to escape a natural disaster, I want to be prepared. If life requires me to carry my groceries up several flights of stairs, I want to be prepared. If life requires me to handle the stress of a busy schedule, I want to be prepared. There are no off-seasons. I have to be prepared at all times and the fitness we promote will do just that. Save the off-seasons for sports. Health and fitness is year round.
My original thought was "Every person has two people living inside fighting to come out. One is strong, discliplined, and successful. The other is lazy, selfish, undisciplined, and very average." You may or may not have heard the Cherokee legend of the two wolves but it is very similar to my statement above.
An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. "A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy. "It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil - he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego." He continued, "The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other person, too."
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"
The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."
Similarly, the Bible also talks about a war going on inside every person between the flesh and the spirit. Galatians 5 says that the works of the spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The works of the flesh are basically the opposite of those of the spirit.
So the question that remains is which wolf are you feeding? Are you living according to the flesh or the spirit? I have found in my own life that my physical training helps feed my spirit. It creates and strengthens good habits that lead to more successful living. It is not easy doing the right thing. Usually that can be a guide as to whether something is of the flesh or of the spirit. But the more battles we face and win with our physical training, the more battles we can face with confidence and ultimately win in life. That is what I like to call Trinity Fitness.
I heard a preacher say something very profound the other day relating to this. He said, "Don't expect God to do something for you that you can do for yourself." Many people today are quick to blame others for circumstances that are under their control. We blame our work for the time constraints that keep us from working out. We blame the fast food industry for making us fat. We blame Hostess for making cupcakes that are just too hard to turn down.
One thing I have learned as an adult is that excuses never lead to success. We have more control over many of life's circumstances than we probably want to admit. Many of us are looking for a miracle whether it be from God or sitting on the shelf at the GNC. I can pray for Divine intervention to help me lose weight but I can't expect God to knock the pizza out of my hand as it heads for my mouth. I have to do that one myself. That is the way it works with fitness. It doesn't care about your busy schedule, your finances, or how delicious hot chocolate chip cookies really are. You are responsible. Not your thyroid condition, slow metabolism, or family history of diabetes. You are still responsible to do the best with what you have.
Take ownership. If you take a spill showing off your skateboarding skills to the teenagers down the street, don't blame the skateboard manufacturer for the bone sticking out of your leg. Similarly, if you are not leading the confident life you had hoped or if you are having a tough time seeing whether your shoes match, take ownership and make the necessary changes to remedy the problem. Doing your part shows that you have released your faith. The Bible says in James 2 that faith without actions is dead. So I ask you, what are your actions? Your answer could possibly move the hands of God.
I would like to say that it was all about this deep physical and spiritual journey. But like I said, this was a transition from boy-to-man and girls played a significant role in this process. I decided that I wanted to get stronger and more muscular. I wanted a better physique. So in mid April, me and a couple of friends joined the local gym about a half a mile down the street from the school. We would change after school in the locker room and walk to the gym everyday. We strutted down the street like we were made of nothing but 300 lbs of pure, rock hard muscle. We suffered with severe cases of what I call "imaginary lat syndrome." This is disease that strikes many young men when they first start working out. It is when you walk around with your arms puffed out like you are too muscular to hold them at your side.
We didn't have a clue as to what we should be doing that first week or so. We would just do some bench press, leg extensions, bicep curls, or anything else that made us look cool. One of the trainers there finally had enough and wrote us out a program. You know the classic 3 x 10 split body part routine. None of the movements we were doing had any functionality to them but we didn't know the difference. As far as we were concerned, we were getting bigger, stronger and were going to impress the girls that much more. We felt like we were separating ourselves from the average.
That is what that experience was all about. Don't get me wrong, we were getting stronger and more muscular but the physical transition paled in comparison to the change we were really making. We trained to build our bodies but the strength we built was our self-esteem. I went from being slightly insecure and unsure of myself to walking a little taller and being more confident to stand up for the person I was and was becoming. I guess that song fit perfectly into what I was going through at the time. For me to be happy and become the person I wanted to be, I had to first start with the "Man in the Mirror."
My Fitness Journey Part 1 & 2
Why do we stop running fast after we get out of school? Think about it. When was the last time you ran like your life depended on it? When was the last time you ran like a dog was chasing you? Better yet, when was the last time you ran fast enough to catch the ice cream truck? Sure we all go for a jog or a comfortable stroll here and there but I am talking about running as fast as you can for as long as you can. I am talking about running wind sprints and intervals. I am talking about racing your kids, your spouse, or anyone else you can find. I don't care if you have to chase cars down the street like a bunch of wild dogs. Get outside and run like someone just threw a grenade in your direction.
Our workouts are wonderful in that they cross all three metabolic pathways but regardless of the run or the distance, they are never full sprints because most of the time we are trying to keep from passing out due to a lack of oxygen. If the run starts a workout we may run faster than normal but even then we tend to pace ourselves in preparation for the rest of the workout.
I feel like I was my strongest and looked my best when I was a competitive sprinter. Even now after finishing a good sprint workout, I am sore in places that I usually am not sore in from my other training. Also, just Google sprinting and look at the images that come up. You won't find better looking physiques than those of sprinters. I encourage you to start going to the track and sprinting. Race somebody, race yourself, race the clock and if you do that, you will no longer be losing the race against Father Time.
The same can be said about our bodies. Breakdowns are inevitable. When you engage in any physical activity, there is a risk of injury. Obviously many other factors will increase or decrease those risk but they are always there. Whether it be playing football, running, snowboarding at the Winter X-Games or even walking down the street, there is a risk of injury.
Fitness and training are no different. There is always a risk of injury. Those risk increase or decrease depending upon several factors including age, warm-up, the activity, diet, rest and numerous others. For example, I have noticed that as I age I require more warm-up time than I did in the past to prevent injury. I have also noticed that I can deadlift 300 lbs with no problem and then tweak my lower back bending over to brush my teeth. The human body is one of the most complex and incredible masterpieces in God's creation but we live in an imperfect world and our bodies are not perfect. Like any machine, the body requires maintenance and will break down from time to time.
An article from the Crossfit Journal states: "Injuries are a reality in any sport, but for some reason they receive more attention in the weight room. Given that sports such as basketball, hockey and soccer have far higher injury rates, it really makes no sense to overemphasize the so-called dangers of weight training." The fact is that you don't see near the same frequency of injuries in the weight room as you do in other sports. You would never keep your child from playing outside because it is too dangerous yet we avoid fitness programs that are statistically safer than normal recreational play.
Our training at Trinity Fitness is usually pretty fast and intense. We engage in movements that require running, jumping, lifting from the ground and lifting overhead. We push, pull, squat and move our bodies functionally. There is always risk involved with any type of fitness training including ours but they certainly don't outweigh the benefits of the program. We strive to prepare each person both in the warm-up and in preparation of the movements of each workout to reduce potential risks. Perfect technique is the goal but not always the reality. Another quote from the Crossfit Journal says "Perfect technique is to be strived for to be sure, but would you insist that a young athlete have perfect shooting or running technique before stepping on a basketball court, where he is more likely to be injured?"
The best part about being physically fit is that when injuries do occur, the recovery time is not near as extensive. Sometimes it may just be a simple fix like a new battery and you will be up and running in no time.
This video is from Crossfit and is a perfect motivator and reality check. When you see the incredible amount of difficulty it is for this woman to do simple movements that most of us complain about, it will hopefully cause you to have a better attitude and understanding as to why it is such a privilege to exercise the way we do.
Cut me some slack on this video. I am just trying something different. Hopefully I will get more comfortable in front of the camera and the same may go for you. I will start trying to do interviews with clients as well. I think everyone would find it more interesting than watching me.
I have heard a famous NBA basketball player once say that "you can tell when you are getting old when you talk more about what you have done rather than what you are going to do." I personally think that the past is a good measuring stick for the future. Some use their past victories or failures to inspire future victories. Some use past victories or failures to keep them living in the past, unable to move forward.
The key about the past is to use it for something positive. If you have great memories about past victories, use them to inspire and motivate in the present and future. If you have failures or negative memories about the past, use them as lessons learned and as a foundation of experience that leads to a positive future.
You have to make that choice though. You will never be satisfied with yourself if you are not living up to the potential that you know lies within. That is where self worth and self confidence comes from. It is about being the best that you can be. If you were fit and active 10 years ago and are not now, you will not be happy with yourself. You know that a higher potential lies within. Many try to excuse themselves by blaming busy schedules, old age, or the nagging knee injury from that one Jr. Varsity basketball game 25 years ago.
We all have more potential than we will probably ever realize but the goal should be to reach for new levels of victory. Whether it be a weight loss goal, a fitness standard, or to be a better parent, settle for nothing less than your best. If you were a success in the past, you know the potential is there to be a success in the future. If the past holds failures and defeats, you have no where to go but up. The best is yet to come.