The other day I was all excited about my workout. I couldn’t wait to take a trip to Muscleville, population me.
I’m just a few sets in to my very first exercise and it happens. Stinking back spasms.
Not sure if you have ever had back spasms before but they are not much fun. The bad part is that is was completely my own fault that I got them.
If you were making a formula to give yourself back spasms, I came up with a pretty good one. First you get about 4 hours of sleep the night before, then, you drink lots of coffee to make up for that, do NOT rehydrate with water, eat not so great foods, sit a lot working on a project, rush through your warm-up, and then go too heavy too fast doing squats.
That will pretty much do it if you are looking to experience some sympathy back spasms with me. And I knew not to do all of these things, but I still did them. Do you ever get yourself in those situations where you know better, but do it any way?
The first lesson here is to always prepare for your workouts. If you are tired, dehydrated, your nutrition has been terrible, you’ve been sitting all day, and you halfway go through your warm-up chances are good you could injure yourself.
The second lesson was what I did after I got the back spasms. I obviously was finished with my heavy squats and deadlifts for the day, but that did not mean my workout was finished. I found some things I could do (wall sits, bodyweight squats, rear foot elevated squats) and not be completely miserable. Then the next day, I found upper body exercises I could still do.
When you have an injury, you can choose to give up or adapt. I always choose to adapt and you should too. It’s not time to throw in the towel because you are uncomfortable or it’s too hard. What CAN you do? Put the focus there.
Maybe it is time to clean up your nutrition, decrease your stress levels, or improve your sleep quality. If your lower body, upper body, or core is injured find what you can still work on and do that! Studies show doing something works 100% better than feeling sorry for yourself.
If you need help on finding what exercises you can still do, some lifestyle changes you can make, or anything else feel free to reach out to me. Don’t give in, awesomeness is still attainable at all levels of life.
One of the gifts I got my wife for her 40th birthday was a ticket to the Moon Over Three Caves Dance. We’ve been trying to go for years and I am so glad we went because it was awesome!
They had one of our favorite bands, Juice, playing. They actually played at our wedding, so my wife was really excited to see them.
On special occasions, I will take my unique talents to the dance floor. I give the gift of dance to all who are around me because I am a giver. I am familiar with most of the popular line dances, but they all tend to kind of run together for me until I find my way.
Juice played The Wobble at one point and I found myself in a familiar position of knowing just enough to be dangerous. I knew all of The Wobble steps, but I may or may have not had the correct order.
The dance floor was in a state of confusion. There were several people who were thrown off by the slightly different rendition of The Wobble. Some were thrown off by the fact they had no idea what was happening. And others might have been thrown off by the glare on my head.
Somebody needed to do something! They needed guidance. They needed a hero.
They needed a ginger.
So I went all in. I did things big, I did things on the 4 count. I did all the steps you’re supposed to do. I have no idea if it was in the right order, but I did it with gusto.
A funny thing happened. People started following my lead and doing the same flawed moves. It was like that dance scene in Can’t Buy Me Love if you’ve ever seen that.
There are a few lessons to take away from this.
1. You have control over two things in life: attitude and effort.
This is something we preach to our 11 and 12-year old football players all the time. You don’t have control over how fast or big you are, but you do have control over how hard you work and your positivity.
The same thing applies to your exercise program. You can’t control genetics, your schedule, and hundreds of other things. You do have control of how much effort you put into it and whether or not you are going to stick with it. Go hard.
2. Psychology trumps physiology.
One of the top guys in the fitness world, Alwyn Cosgrove says this. That just means there is a lot you can overcome going all in with the help of others. You don’t have to have the perfect exercise program to get results. Don’t overthink what exercises to do, how many times, how many days, etc… A group atmosphere has been proven to help you increase your intensity, overcome fatigue, and get you better results.
3. Be careful who you follow, they probably have no idea what they are doing.
Especially when it comes to dancing.
Retired Admiral William H. McRaven did a commencement speech at his alma mater the University of Texas. The speech ended up going viral, so chances are good that if you didn’t see it you probably heard about it.
The speech was called Change The World By Making Your Bed. What does making your bed have to do with changing the world? I hate making my bed, I’m just going to sleep in it in a few hours!
There are several reasons for making your bed, the first being that it gives you a sense of accomplishment. Gives you a little pride to start your day and that sets the tone for the rest of the day. Inspiring you to do another task, then another task.
Making your bed shows you that the little things matter. You can never do the big things, if you can’t first do the little things. Then if nothing else when you come home and you have had a terrible day you have a nicely made bed waiting for you at home. And that gives you hope that tomorrow will be a better day.
I just finished reading Admiral McRaven’s book “Make Your Bed: Little things that can change your life...and maybe the world.” Great, short read if you are looking for a book. And it motivated me to “make my bed”. I just have one problem.
There is still someone sleeping in my bed when I get up at 4am.
So I’ve started waking up and immediately doing 5 minutes as hard as I can go on a VersaClimber. Wakes me up, I get in a little cardio training, and no matter how busy the rest of my day gets I have at least done 5 minutes of exercise that day.
What can you do to “make your bed” each morning? What can set the tone for the day and get you off on the right foot? Find what works best for you! Find that thing that no matter how bad your day goes, you will always have that one positive thing to look at as proof that this day was not a waste.
My pastor had a message yesterday about The Beast Within. Part of it was about that little voice inside that feeds your addictions. The voice that makes you buy M&Ms at the checkout lane or fill your drink cup with ice cream at Jason’s Deli. Have you ever seen that move before? It’s pretty impressive.
But I prefer to think about another entity that is inside of all of us. I’m talking about the concept that there is another person inside of you. This is the person that is able to go further than you thought possible, overcome obstacles that seem insurmountable, and give you hope when things look hopeless.
Check out this video from former Tennessee Vol football player Inky Johnson:https://youtu.be/mlPES2LXiF0
Inky used that motivation to become a scholarship football player at Tennessee with plans on making it to the NFL. His chances looked good until he got injured making a tackle. The play almost killed him (nerve damage and internal bleeding) and would result in a paralyzed right arm and then end of his football career.
That is when he discovered just how much the person inside could handle. A great message with several other nuggets to keep you motivated. Definitely worth 3 minutes of your day.
In the book The Compound Effect the author Darren Hardy poses an interesting question. Would you rather have 3 million dollars in your pocket today or a penny that doubles in value every day?
Seems like an easy choice right? Give me that 3 million and let me go buy some exotic pants and other stuff I don’t need ASAP! But if you break down the numbers it changes things a little.
At day 14 you would feel like a sucker if you chose the penny option. I’m over there taking selfies with tigers and you have $81 and some change.
By day 20 you’re doing pretty good, but still you only have a little over $5,000. But things start picking up towards the end of the month.
At day 29, you’ve almost caught me. You’ve got $2.7 million!
Then you wake up the next day and you have $5.4 million. Then on your final day of compounding that one penny, you wind up with a whopping $10,737,418.24 to be exact. Thank you very much penny.
I share this story with you for one reason. Your health and fitness works the same way.
I see it all the time with clients who have been beating their head against the wall because they are barely losing weight or inches even though they are doing the right thing. One pound here, couple inches there.
Then it happens, the tide starts to turn. All the sudden it seems like the weight is falling off!
This time period is different for everybody. I’ve seen some people that it takes a few months before it pays off. For some it can take much longer.
For one of my clients it took a full year to really see great results! She had a very stressful life, poor sleeping habits, and some medications that were holding her back but she kept at it.
She found ways to reduce the stress in her life, she found a sleep routine that worked for her, and she talked with her doctor about changing around some of her medications. This was along with eating better and exercising consistently.
No part of that is easy. That was a long, frustrating year for her but she said something pretty powerful to me though when I asked her how she stayed motivated. She said:
“Well, I can either keep plugging away at this or just quit and be miserable the rest of my life.”
Yes! Those really are your two options. Stay in the fight, keep tweaking your holistic program (exercise, diet, stress, sleep), and be consistent with what you do. Because one day it will happen, but only if you keep at it.
Don’t give up, you don’t have to be unhappy but you do have to work. Are you willing to do that? If so, I’m here to help however I can.
-I started my business during a recession.
-I met my wife in a trailer park. (that would be a great country song)
-Some of the best times in my life were times when I’ve been exhausted, dirty, and in pain.
Why am I sharing all this weirdness with you? Because too many people let their circumstances determine their happiness and what they are able to accomplish.
They become victims of what is known as learned helplessness. This is a term coined by Martin Seligman, a psychologist who specializes in positive psychology. My kind of dude.
Learned helplessness is when someone repeatedly experiences something negative that they cannot escape or avoid. That leads to the person giving up even when they can escape or avoid the negatives in life. They feel like they have no control over the situation.
When bad things happen in your life, how do you react? Do you automatically give in and resign yourself to the outcome? Or are you prepared to fight and overcome?
You can begin escaping this helpless feeling by asking yourself 3 questions next time something bad happens. These are questions from Daniel H. Pink’s book “To Sell Is Human”.
Here are the questions with some bad and better responses for examples:
1. Is this permanent?
Bad response: Yes. I hurt my knee, I will never be able to exercise again.
Better response: No. I may have to scale things back, but I will be as active as I can until I recover.
2. Is this pervasive? (pervasive means it’s everywhere)
Bad response: Yes. Everyone who takes fitness classes is narcissistic and rude.
Better response: No. Maybe it was just that one particular lady I was next to in class.
3. Is this personal?
Bad response: Yes. My coach picked on me because he doesn’t like me.
Better response: No. My coach showed me extra attention today because he was helping me with my form.
The main point is take back control of your life. You do have control of a great many things in your life. Attitude and effort are two of the most important things you control.
Bloom where you are planted, stay positive, and don’t let life’s ups and downs that are out of your control keep you down. You never know what that bad thing in your life might lead to if you have the right attitude. Might even find love in the trailer park like all the greats do.
It's been a life long dream of mine to write a fitness post crepe myrtles. Today that dream comes true.
There is a crepe myrtle in my backyard that has been plaguing me. It looks awesome, but it drops its petals on my sidewalk, they stick to the bottom of my shoe, and then I track them into my gym.
So I started off solving this problem by continually sweeping out my gym. Take that myrtle! As you can guess, that didn’t really solve the problem. I was sweeping those petals out every day.
So I really got smart and swept the sidewalk where the petals were sticking to shoes. Listen I didn’t graduate high school with a 2.3 GPA by being a dummy. But guess what? The petals just kept acomin down and that became my new daily sweeping chore.
But if I really wanted to solve the problem, I should the sweet spot where all this is coming from right? By trimming up the branches that hang over the sidewalk I could prevent all this from happening.
There is one caveat for that though. It is not my crepe myrtle. I can trim the ones that I can get to, but there are some that I can’t. I will just have to make it work.
I am a little slow in learning this stuff, but I see the same thing with people with their nutrition and exercise habits. People that try to exercise like crazy to overcome a poor diet.
Then they switch to strict nutrition habits, but then the exercise habit starts to fall off. It becomes too much to handle.
So how do you get to the sweet spot of exercise and nutrition? By changing your mindset.
Don’t try to outexercise a bad diet. That is impossible.
Don’t put yourself on some crazy, restrictive diet that makes you miserable. The sort term results you get are not worth it because it is not sustainable and you will gain all the weight back.
The sweet spot is found where you find some form of movement that you enjoy and you can stick to. Then you find a way of eating that nourishes your body, makes you feel good, and actually tastes good! When you add consistent, effective exercise to consistent, effective nutrition you start seeing tremendous results. And these are long term changes that will stick around.
Then there is the things that are out of your control, like rogue crepe myrtles, thyroid issues, or genetics. If you can’t control it and nothing you can do will change it, then it is time to let that go. You just do the best you can with what you got.
Don’t get down on yourself and don’t use it as an excuse to quit. Just do your best and keep your focus on what you have the power to change.
I was speaking to a group at a college a few years ago and I came to the potentially dangerous "Are there any questions?" part of the talk. I have had some blush inducing moments there, so I always get a little nervous.
But this time, it was not blush inducing. It was more anger/frustration inducing. He actually had a comment and he said "Well, this is good information, but we can't all be successful."
What??? Why not? It drives me crazy when people say stuff like that. You may not be able to get 6 pack abs when you are 60 years old or run a 5k in 15 minutes, but you can do better than you are now. You can improve at any age if you are willing to put in the work.
If you start with that attitude, then I guess you are right. You won't be successful if you are walking around with a self defeatist attitude all the time. Things are not that bad, buck up buttercup!
My wife is a nurse and she mainly deals with older patients. But she met a patient one time that had let herself go to the point that she will probably be bed ridden for the rest of her life. This person is not that old, but she is facing what I would consider a nightmare because she neglected her health for so long.
Don't you think she would trade anything she has to be in a body that could move? A body where she can take care of herself? I'm sure she wishes she would have taken a few more walks and made better food choices, while she still had it in her to do so. I feel so horrible for her because she is a prisoner in her own body and it was totally preventable.
Don't let that be you.
Are you healthy enough to move? Then you can be successful and you can reach your goal. Someone in a hospital bed is wishing they could do the things that you take for granted. Stop doubting yourself and start helping yourself!
Here is your action step. Go 21 days without complaining about anything that relates to your health and fitness.
As a way to keep yourself accountable, use this technique I learned about from minister Will Bowen. Put a bracelet (or a rubber band) around one wrist. Every time you complain, you move the bracelet over and your complaint free streak starts back to zero.
Are you up for the challenge? I hope so because it will absolutely be worth it.
In Monday’s post I talked about how discipline can equal freedom. Then I offered 4 tips on how to increase your self discipline.
Today I want to give you a little warning about what happens when you let your discipline begin to slip. This is something I have seen in my life as well as the lives of the people I work with.
Maybe you’ve been working really hard, so you decide to take a day off in your workout routine. Then you decide to take off a couple of more. Next thing you know, you have not exercised in a month and you feel awful.
The same thing can happen with healthy eating. You cut down on the shopping, prepping, and cooking food at home. That leads to more eating out and more fast food.
With both of these scenarios it gets harder to come back because you feel so far away from where you used to be. You dread starting over at your workouts and you can’t imagine fitting meal prep back into your busy schedule.
The best way to prevent this is to recognize when you first start to slip. Everyone needs rest days, so missing a workout here and there is no big deal. Eating out is not a problem and is a very enjoyable part of life. Just be cognizant of when the occasional deviation from the plan becomes a regular thing.
What about when you feel like you are so far away it’s not worth starting back? That is when you have to break things down into mini-goals. Don’t get overwhelmed by the big picture.
A mini-goal could be exercising one day this week. Just one day! Maybe eating out one less time per week. One less day! You know you have found a great start back goal, when it seems so easy it is ridiculous. That is actually what you want!
It is all about creating mini-successes for yourself to build momentum and stay motivated. When you get to where you are consistently working out at least 1 day per week, add in another day. Eat out 2 fewer days per week, after 1 per week becomes an easy habit.
It’s never too late to get back in the game. There’s time, but why wait? Do something today, that your future self will thank you for.