I was listening to author A.J. Jacobs talk about his creative process when he is writing. He is a really interesting guy and goes all in with his book projects. One of his books is his saga of trying to follow every rule in the Bible for a year and another one where he read all 33 volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica.
You would think a guy like that would have no trouble with writer’s block, but it happens to him quite frequently. He has a simple, but effective technique he uses to combat writer’s block.
He just sits down and starts writing.
The writing could be complete nonsense, but the physical act of writing gets the creative juices flowing. The old fake it until you make it technique.
He based his actions on this quote by Habitat For Humanity Founder Millard Fuller:
“It is easier to act yourself into a new way of thinking, than it is to think yourself into a new way of acting.”
That is a great point! Your mind will eventually catch up to your actions, but you have to start first.
Science has proven that if you are upset, but if you can force your face into a smile it will trick your brain into becoming happier. Or if you are feeling insecure in a situation, ask yourself “What would a confident person do?” Then do whatever you come up with!
This all sounds crazy, but I have seen it come true over and over with exercise. It’s been proven both with myself and with my boot campers. I tell my clients, to just show up and the magic will happen. If you make it to the workout, you will make it happen.
Try asking yourself questions that are framed by your goals. Questions like “What would someone who loves to exercise do here?” or “What meals would a really fit person prepare today?”
It's only crazy if it doesn't work.
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I was reading an article about why Japanese children do so well in math compared to other countries. The reason was not what I thought it would be.
The kids do so well in math because their teachers allow them to struggle the longest with problems.
That sounds kind of counter productive at first, but it makes sense. It is hard to watch kids struggle! Have you ever watched a small child “help” with dinner, tie shoes, dress themselves, or learn how to walk? Your first instinct is to help them out and do it for them. You don’t want them to suffer through the process.
But the struggle is vital to make change and progress. Otherwise they will never learn to do things on their own.
We need to struggle to move forward. And that is especially true in exercise.
You have to continually struggle to get better, the workouts should not be a breeze every time, and some days you may even wonder why you try. Those feelings are natural and happen to everybody.
The one thing you must avoid is comparison to others. No one knows what all you have going on and vice versa you knowing about them. We all struggle in different ways and handle the struggles in our own personal manner.
Next time you are struggling, embrace it and don't give in. The struggle is helping you reach your goals, even if it doesn’t seem like it at the time.
This past weekend was awesome! Sunshine and 50-60s temperatures in February are ok by me.
My son and I were planning to go for a hike when I got a text from dad asking if he could come along too. Hiking was his passion years ago, but he had not been able to hike in awhile. Of course we picked him up and the three generations headed out to Monte Sano.
Due to multiple surgeries, injuries, and health problems my dad hasn’t been able to walk for very long at all. His plan was to read a book and enjoy a nice day in the woods while we hiked.
But when we got there his plan changed a little. He decided to hike for a few minutes and then come back. Then he wanted to go a little further. Next thing you know he had completed a 3 hour hike!
It was amazing and my son and I were both extremely proud of him. My dad just kept plugging on, resting when he needed to, and hanging in there. It was truly a gift to be out there with him and my son on a perfect day on the trails.
Your heart and passion can take you further than your body tells you it can.
There is absolutely no way he could have walked 3 miles on a treadmill. That would have been cruel and unusual punishment. But get him out in the woods, spending time with family, and telling stories he hung in there like a champ.
When you find some form of movement you truly enjoy you will push yourself further, you will be much more consistent, and those will lead you to much better results. And you also get to have fun! Win, win. Have you found your form of movement yet? If so, keep doing it! If you quit, get back to it.
If you have not found a form of exercise you enjoy, keep searching. I promise you it is out there. Every human was made to move, we just aren’t all wired the same. Once you find it let me know what is, I might like to try it too.
In my last message I talked a little about how this week is when people really start to drop off in their resolutions. How things started off so good and ended so bad.
You tried really hard for a few days and just could not get a year's worth of results in 10 days. You do good for the first few days. Workout went good, that broccoli and chicken breast at lunch wasn't that bad, and you didn't have one sip of alcohol or soda, etc...
Fast forward to now and life has set in. The hectic schedule is back, stress is back in full force, and everything has gone out the window. Workouts make you sore and cranky, you wish broccoli and chicken had a face so you could punch it, you are mixing alcohol with soda now, etc...
The main thing that happens though, is that the big picture has overwhelmed you. I can't continue to workout 4 days a week and eat right for the rest of my life, so why even try?
The book Lone Survivor offers some good advice that can help you get some perspective. The book is about a Navy SEAL who is the only one from his team to survive a mission gone bad in Afghanistan. There is a part where it talks about the insane amount of mental and physical training you have to go through to become a Navy SEAL.
During part of the training a man named Joe Maguire, who is a highly respected SEAL legend came into to give the prospective SEALs advice on how to make it through this enormous task ahead of them.
Here is part of his speech:
"Whenever you're hurting bad, just hang in there. Finish the day."
And another part:
"Don't let your thoughts run away with you, don't start planning to bail out because you're worried about the future and how much you can take. Don't look ahead to the pain."
That's great advice for whatever your goals are.
Trying to lose weight? Don't think about the 50 you have to get rid of, it's the first pound you worry about first.
Want to run a 5K for the first time? Don't think about the 3.1 miles you have to cover, just worry about the next step your foot is taking.
Signed up for a 4 week boot camp and you can't imagine getting through the whole thing? Get through the next repetition of the exercise you are doing right now.
Doing a 6 week nutrition challenge and you are struggling on day one? Stay in the moment and do one thing at a time.
Break that huge goal down into what you are doing that second and take care of it in the moment. You can't do anything about the future until you get there anyway. It will just intimidate you when you think of how much pain (mental and physical) you will have to go through to get there.
Don't give in, finish the day.
Chances are you saw Lady Gaga’s halftime show at the Super Bowl. It was the second most viewed half time show ever with 117.5 million viewers. Katy Perry’s performance has the most views of all time (120.7 million) if you are curious.
It was an amazing performance! Although I did get a little embarrassed when I looked down and I had the same outfit on that Gaga did. Faux pas for sure.
Through all that I kept hearing a similar comment from social media and other “news” outlets. “Yeah it was a nice performance, but what’s up with her jelly roll?”
I thought I was crazy because I hadn’t noticed. I was too busy being blown away with her cardiovascular fitness! She did not breathe hard one bit or even stammer despite being all over the place and jumping off of high places.
First off, this didn’t hurt Lady Gaga one bit. She sold 150,000 albums and singles on Super Bowl Sunday. Can’t imagine what that number is now.
But onto a bigger point. You never know what that person you are criticizing has been through.
That lady you admire in the gym that seems to have the perfect body, the guy who likes to flex in front of the mirror, or Lady Gaga. Exercise is a coping mechanism for a lot of other problems people face. Lady Gaga has been vocal about her struggles with eating disorders and body image issues.
I’m no Lady Gaga fan, despite all these Gaga facts I’m throwing out here. I am a fan of people who are bold and focus on their strengths, despite what others think.
Focus on getting stronger, not skinnier. Focus on getting healthier rather than getting into that old pair of pants from college. Focus on changing your lifestyle, rather than getting ready for that event you have coming up.
When you change your focus something weird will happen. You will still fit into smaller clothes and you will still look better but hurtful comments will not derail you as easily.
You do you, baby you were born this way.
PS- I realize this has cost me my man card, but I don’t care. I’m too busy trying to get my cardio to Gaga level.
Your challenge this week is to do one thing to eliminate one major source of stress in your life.
What's the thing in your life that causes you the most negative thoughts in your life? When you read stress, what immediately popped into your head? That's what you need to attack.
Whatever it is, just do ONE thing this week that starts to work on the stress source. You will feel so much better just by doing one thing!
I am a true believer in the AAA principle.
Action Alleviates Anxiety
No matter how big the situation is, pick out something to do. In debt and can't see your way out? Start a budget. Does it immediately solve your problem? No, but it's a start.
Are you so out of weight and have so much weight to lose you feel paralyzed? Start keeping a food journal, do 10 minutes of exercise, or eat one healthy meal. You didn't put all of that weight on overnight and it's not going to come off overnight. Start the process now.
Do you find yourself stressed out by the political climate in America right now? Do something positive in your community. Does it fix the entire country? No, but it sure beats worrying and feeling helpless all the time.
When all you are doing is worrying about a problem it becomes a much bigger problem. You become more negative and the stress continues to build. When you start to do something about the issue, you can begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Take action and you become an active participant in getting the stress resolved, rather than just being a victim. These may seem like small, worthless steps but they will help I promise.
Do one thing this week to help with your biggest source of stress.
I have just started to listening to the book Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg on CD. Shout out to the public library. It’s full of free stuff!
One story in the book was talked about techniques that recruits use to get through boot camp to become Marines. When things get the absolute worst the recruits are taught to ask each other questions that start with Why.
This sounds a little strange, but there is a method to the madness. Duhigg explains, ”If you can link something hard to a choice you care about, it makes the task easier, Quintanilla’s drill instructors had told him. That’s why they asked each other questions starting with “why.” Make a chore into a meaningful decision, and self-motivation will emerge.”
Quintanilla is a young man who is going through boot camp. During a grueling portion of boot camp called The Crucible his buddy asked him “Why are you doing this?” His reply was, “To become a Marine and build a better life for my family.”
You have to have a Why in your life too. I want to lose weight is not enough. Dig deeper!
-Why do you want to lose weight? To fit back into that dress I haven’t worn in years.
-Why? To feel better about myself.
-Why? So my husband will be attracted to me again. Ding, ding, ding! This is the real Why.
That is a real example that I have experienced. When you get to that deep of a Why, you are almost guaranteed to be successful.
Tie your Why to the mundane task of chopping vegetables, prepping food for the week, or planning meals. Remember your Why when it is cold, your bed is warm but your workout is waiting. Remember your Why when you are shopping for groceries or trying to get through that last set of pushups.
The actual workout part is physical but the mental side is what will keep you going. Put the work in, it is worth your time to discover your true Why.
Let's face it. We are living in a Golden Age of haters.TV, radio, movies are all chock full of conflict and negativity.
And then there is the capital city of Haterdelphia, the Internet. Which is basically a breeding ground for a super species of negative people who live on a steady diet of hater tots and making people upset.
Quick tip- If you wouldn't say it to someone's face, don't put it on the Internet.
So here's is what I came up with to combat all the stress and negativity that we are surrounded with.
A Negativity Detox Program
Many of my clients have had success with the 21 Day Belly Blast program that detoxes your body of processed and junk foods. That works great, but if you are stressed you will not be able to lose fat. But many of you let me know you are still struggling with ways to beat stress.
Over the next 10 weeks I will offer one challenge every Monday for the week. The purpose of these challenges will be to purge you of the negative influences in your life and replace them with new positive thoughts and actions. To many of you this may sound silly, I understand. But if you are willing to trust me and just give it a try, you will be amazed at how much better you will feel.
First Week Challenge
Might as well start with one of the toughest ones first. When you are riding in the car this week, do not listen to the radio, talk on the cell phone, text, or anything other than drive. A lot of the stress we have in our lives is from sensory overload. Stop what you are doing right now and just pay attention to all that is going on around you right now. AC blowing, radio on, people talking, lights flashing, etc... There is a lot going on! You may not notice it, but your body does and all of that adds up. Give your body a break. Now if you have to handle work or kid related things in the car, I understand. The goal is to get 30 minutes a day of as much quiet as you can. You can do that at home or anywhere else as well. Use that time to plan out your day or week, plan your meals for the day, pray, meditate, problem solve, or whatever you need to do. You will be amazed at how much clearer your thoughts are without Ke$ha blasting in the background. Try it and let me know what you think. This is your challenge for the week.
I was listening to Tim Ferriss’ podcast where he interviewed Josh Waitzkin. The movie Searching For Bobby Fischer was based on a book his father wrote about Josh’s life as a child, chess prodigy.
Josh Waitzkin is a really interesting guy who has accomplished many amazing things, but what impressed me most about him was what he taught his son about how to react to the weather.
Whenever it rained or stormed he would hear other parents tell their children, “Well, it’s bad weather we can’t go outside today.” He did not want his son growing up with external factors deciding if it was going to be a good day or a bad day. So Josh flipped the script.
Josh and his son have gone out and played in every rainstorm that comes their way since he was born. Now his son will say, “Look Da Da it is a beautiful rainy day, let’s go play in it.”
I thought that was some amazing parenting right there. High five fellow dad, well done!
This is something you can apply to your life too. What are things you can't control in your life that make you decide it is a bad day or not an ideal situation?
I’ve got one that I’m going to fix today. The fact that it gets dark at 430pm has had an adverse effect on me. “Man this stinks. It gets dark so early, it feels like midnight!” Maybe I should go with, “What a beautiful night, there is no way my pasty skin can get a sunburn now!”
It’s a work in progress, but you see where I’m going with this. Only you get to decide if it is a good or bad day, why not make as many good days as possible?