Wednesday, April 18, 2012

What I Missed in the List...

The one glaring omission in my Top Ten list is the role consistency plays in meeting your goals. I hint at it several times, but I didn’t shove it in people’s faces the way I did some of the other points. I’m not sure why it didn't come to mind. Possibly I felt it should be self-evident.  However, it seems to make everyone else's list so it warrants serious discussion.

By the way ETJ, if you read this, it’s for you bud.

Not actually ETJ, but this is how I think of him

Everyone I know or see that makes real progress and improvement does so by being consistent. Consistency in both the decision to deliberately exercise (I know Weight Watchers will give you extra points for doing house work, but unless you’ve never cleaned before you shouldn’t use them) and consistently using their method or program of choice. I’ll quote myself from Rule 8 of the list, “If you stop doing it, it’ll never work.”

There’s no reason for me to rail away about how people don’t follow through with this or that and they start and stop and still expect results. I think most people understand the concept that you need to continue doing something for a long period of time to get results. Mostly they just don’t know how long that time frame is. I blame the bullshit artists for this. If you don’t know what it takes to get visible abs, which product will you buy? A book that tells you it can be done with 6 to 24 MONTHS of dieting and hard work or a pill that promises lean and sexy in six WEEKS? I think the best thing to do would be to give the few hints and insights I have that helped me stay consistent.

Folks, do follow Rule 8 and pick a diet and method of exercising that you enjoy. If possible, your goals should speak to your soul. You should be able to cultivate them into a passion. At the least, it should be something you don’t hate. Training to compete in a sport helps, especially if there is a strong community built around it. If you are out of shape and overweight, those initial months of fat loss and general conditioning should be nothing more than a prelude to the bad-assery to come.

Don’t listen to anyone else who has a fragile enough ego to ridicule your passion either. I’ve been on both the sending and receiving end of that ridicule and now I just try to avoid it. I know it’s clichéd but life really is too short to get butt-hurt because some Crossfitter thinks Powerlifters are fat and slow and Powerlifters think Crossfitters are all too thin and weak. Just let the crap go, get off the internet and go enjoy your chosen hobby.

If your family and work don’t support what you are trying to do, it’s time to have a talk with them. Usually, I am against oversharing goals. I feel that come New Year’s Day a lot of people tell all their friends about their resolution, get a lot of pats on the back and never take one step towards getting anything done because they’ve already had a very easy to get reward. 

However, there are times when you need to tell someone to give you some time or space to do something that’s important to you. If your spouse doesn’t understand that every Friday is workout night or baseball practice or yoga or whatever and is scheduling you to babysit for their night out with the boys or girls, there are going to be some issues with consistency. If your co-workers insist on dragging you out to eat while you’re trying to shed pounds, things might not work out so well. You need friends, co-workers and family to support you or, at the least, let you do your own thing.

You have to work it as seamlessly into everything else you deal with in life as you can. It will never be completely seamless, but you need to work it all into your life as smoothly as you can. I hate to use the word holistic. I really do. I know what it means but the connotation is almost too much for me to take.

This guy could be your next personal trainer...

But it really is the best word for job. Your approach needs to be holistic. Not just training the whole body, but your whole life. If it’s a pain in the ass you will eventually quit. You can’t compartmentalize it into a daily gym session that has you commuting for an extra hour and a diet plan that has you struggling to find "options" on the local take out menu every day.

I train at home because I know I don’t like to leave the house in the evening. I work 10 hour shifts, when I’m done for the day I’m all the way done. I built a home gym in my garage because I understand that I will not drive, even a half mile, to the nearest big box gym. Or the three miles to the nearest gym that has will allow me to drop the bar when I do power cleans. I know that I’d last all of two weeks with this. So I don’t do it.

It’s the same way with my diet. I don’t love to cook, I hate to do dishes. I dislike dealing with the grocery store. So I do my best to get it all done on Saturday or Sunday. Yes it means I eat the same re-heated meal for lunch every day for a week or two. But I know I will not cook something every night and there aren’t always leftovers to take for lunch.

Again this goes for recovery. Can you give up Conan or Leno to get enough sleep in order to make progress in the gym, on the field or in your next race? If not, you will eventually wear out and stall. Or if you can keep going, you’ll stall because of lack of intensity. So pony up for a DVR if you must, but get to sleep at a decent hour. Can you make the other needed steps to ensure you fully recover from not just your workouts, but all the other stress (both good and bad) in your life? Are a few Friday nights at the club not worth getting what you want in terms of physical fitness?

The last tidbit I have for consistency comes from watching some of my friends again. Although many of the successful ones do compete in a sport or have some passion that drives them to exercise, the most consistent seem view their workouts a simply a matter of routine. They have them worked in to their lives however they can work them in and they simply go and do their thing, take a shower and leave. No pageantry, no muss, no fuss. They do the deed and get on with life. It’s so low key that there is no stress attached to it. An individual workout isn’t a big deal. 

For whatever reason, that check-the-box-and-get-on-with-it attitude seems to make a difference. A bad workout doesn’t matter, because the box was checked. Gained a couple pounds? No big deal, box was checked. Was your favorite piece of equipment in use for your entire workout session? No problem, you did it with dumbbells today and the box was checked. They’re patient and they understand that as long as they are consistent they’ll eventually get what they want and more.

I’ll close with this quote, because it fits so well:

"But diet? Exercise? Just pick one and go with it. Don't go in circles, have the courage to stick with what you're doing." –Dan John

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