-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.
I was listening to Joe Rogan’s podcast yesterday and he started talking about the importance of doing things you are not good at. He said it was crucial to become a beginner at something again.
That seems like a rough way to treat yourself, but I completely agree. It is good for you brain and your body to try things that are out of your comfort zone.
Never was this more alive to me than when I went sky diving for the first time last weekend. Check out that picture! Here is another one:
It was definitely out of my comfort zone, considering I don’t like heights or flying. But when your wife surprises you with the opportunity on your 40th birthday, you jump at the chance. No pun intended.
And it was amazing! That first picture is from the free fall, where you are flying through the air like Superman. An unreal feeling that I wish everyone could experience.
Was it comfortable? No. Was I nervous? My palms still sweat thinking about it. But I am so glad I did it. My life was literally in someone else’s hands and that someone was a stranger!
Stretching and growing isn’t easy, but it is worth it to get better. I had a speaking engagement a few days later and my wife asked me if I was nervous and I said, “I just jumped out of an airplane, this does not worry me now.”
What are you afraid to do because it is not in your comfort zone? Are you afraid to try something because you are afraid to fail? Don’t be! Look at it as a win, win. If you succeed, awesome! If you don’t, you learn from it.
Your homework for the weekend is take some time and figure out what you need to do to stretch and grow. Lift heavier weights? Try your first 5k? Learn how to swim as an adult? Take up kayaking?
Find something you are a beginner at, stick to it, and continue to challenge yourself! The hardest part is the beginning when you are not good at something. Persevere and you will so glad that you did.
Like all riveting stories, this one starts with me trying to open a door. It’s good to hook the reader right away with an exciting premise.
This is a huge, heavy door that does not have a doorknob to turn. All it has is a latch where you could insert a padlock to keep the building secure.
I am pulling on this latch and it is not budging, so I come to the conclusion that this door is locked and won’t be opening without a key. This is one of the dangers of not getting enough sleep, you come to silly conclusions. After a few minutes of hard thinking I realized it would be awfully hard to lock a door that does not have a knob or deadbolt.
So I gave the latch another pull and the door magically swung open! The big difference this time is that I was pulling with intention and belief. I knew this door could be opened I just needed to try a little harder.
Using intention and belief will serve you well in whatever you do. Self-doubt can cripple you and keep you from being who you want to be in life. “I won’t be able to accomplish this, so I’m not going to give this my full effort”. Does that sound familiar?
It sounds familiar to me because I’ve been there before several times. When I began to do things with 100% belief that I could make it happen, my actions became much more intentional and the results started to happen.
Look at the past few things you have “failed” at. Did you believe you could do it? Did you intentionally go after your goal with the time, effort, and passion it required?
Put this to the test and you can start even small. It could be your goal is to be able to do one pushup from your toes with perfect form. The physical part is important of course, but the crucial portion starts in your head. Whatever your goal is, combine the mental preparation with the physical preparation and the sky is the limit.
We are wrapping up our Lean and Clean Challenge this week and I wanted to share something with you. It is about how to keep perspective when you "mess up".
The object of the Lean and Clean Challenge was to eat whole, natural foods with no additives all day, every day. As you can imagine that is very hard, so people would sometimes find themselves feeling like a failure. That is not the case at all! It is about progress not perfection.
See if the Popped Tire Image can help you keep some perspective next time you aren't feeling so perfect.
Imagine you are riding down the road, you lose control of the car, hit a curb, and pop a tire. You get out, inspect the damage, and then pull out a knife and pop the remaining tires. I mean one got popped, why not pop the rest of them???
That sounds really silly doesn't it? But what about when you find yourself eating a fast food meal that was nowhere near your eating plan. Then you tell yourself you screwed that up, so what's the use? I might as well just eat terrible the rest of the day.
Don't slip into that mindset. If you have one bad meal, one bad day, one bad week even, it is not the end of the world. Assess why it happened (usually a like of time and/or planning), make a plan to prevent it in the future, and get on with your life. This does not mean beating up on yourself and feeling bad. It means you are human and still a work in progress like the rest of us.
This will be a life long journey where you will make tons of mistakes, that is a given. The important part is how you respond. Skip the pity party, have a planning party, and enjoy the "bad" foods that cause us to think we are messing up.
Just make sure those "bad" foods are something you truly enjoy, not just the "last person at the bar at last call" kind of foods that hang around until you have a weak moment. Food is meant to be enjoyed and healthy foods are not meant to be punishment.
Find the healthy balance that works for you and keep on keeping on.
Sometimes all it takes is one little spark to ignite a flame. It's the same way with getting started on a healthy lifestyle. One action step at a time. Picking out a specific action and making it a habit. Think about what you would like to change the most. -Your weight? -Your endurance? -Your strength? -Your eating habits? -Your energy level? What is one thing you can do this week to ignite that fire and start conquering your struggles? Here are 20 examples of what that one thing could be:
1. Get the junk food out of your house 2. Set an alarm and stand up for 5 minutes every hour 3. Avoid fast food this week 4. Eat one healthy meal today 5. Take a 10-minute walk 6. Use a foam roller for 10 minutes 7. Floss (it adds 6 years to your life) 8. Stretch for 10 minutes 9. No liquid calories today (soft drinks, alcohol, coffees, etc…) 10. Commit to one workout
11. Turn the TV off and go to bed an hour earlier 12. Take 10 minutes of absolute quiet by yourself to de-stress 13. Find someone who will keep you accountable (friend, trainer, group) 14. Go buy some new workout clothes or shoes 15. Write down your goals where you will see them daily 16. Rather than creating excuses for not getting healthy, create a plan 17. Start a sleep routine you will do every night 18. Eat a vegetable you've never tried this week 19. Take a picture of yourself and do your measurements so you can track the amazing results you are about to achieve 20. Cut ties with a negative person (AKA energy vampire) in your life The list could be thousands of things, but I want you to think of one specific thing you will commit to TODAY to take action on. Pick something you know you can do, keep at it until it becomes a habit, and then target your next goal.
Let's get this fire started.
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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