I am all for people searching for information, knowledge and wisdom on how to live the healthiest life possible. I respect anyone who relentlessly seeks answers to the struggles they may face. To those who want to know how to live to be the absolutely best version of themselves.
But aiming for perfection is just another form of procrastination. Yes, you can try to find the next best thing. The next “low-carb diet”. One more podcast interview or case study. But I doubt that it’s worth the effort. You already know enough, for now.
There’s a time when it’s time to take a break from researching and reading. A hard stop of turning all that knowledge into action.
For most people, knowing the basics is enough. It’s definitely enough to get started. The reason for not seeing results isn’t because you missed out on some new revolutionary training or diet advice. More likely, it’s because you didn’t consistently show up to do the basics.
Just because it works for one doesn’t mean that it’s the best, right, or even healthy for everyone else.
Being loud doesn’t make it right.
Being likeable doesn’t make it right.
Tribalism and cult mentality don’t override science.
Familiarity is not the same as expertise.
Being a brilliant at a skill doesn’t make one a brilliant teacher. Being terrible at a skill doesn’t make one a terrible teacher.
Deep and narrow expertise in one area doesn’t make one an expert in another field.
Having an opinion is not the same as having the facts.
What would happen if you’d commit one minute each day for sitting still? Allowing one minute out of your day for doing nothing. Regardless of how busy that day might be.
What could happen if you’d give yourself the daily space for deep inhales, long exhales and deliberate pauses?
Maybe nothing. Or maybe it’d be the start of something new.
When you’re first starting weight training, it can all feel overwhelming and uncomfortable. That’s all completely normal. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Here a two thoughts on how to feel more at ease.
First, ideally you have a plan, a program to follow. Something to give you an idea what to do. You likely won’t get it right the first time. Or the second. Or the third. Not that it matters. Because when you’re just starting, there isn’t right or wrong.
Which leads us to the second thought. Keep showing up. Once a week. Twice a week. Whatever works. Take the time out of your full schedule and show up.
Show up, even when you struggle to figure out every exercise. Even if you keep forgetting the terminology (hopefully there isn’t much). It doesn’t matter. Show up, accept the discomfort and do the best you can. That’s all that matters when you’re just getting started.
Then each time you show up, you’re getting a bit more confident. The warm feeling of familiarity takes over where the nervousness used to live.
And maybe on the fourth or fifth time you’re getting closer. You remember more of the terminology (hopefully there isn’t much) and the exercises. You might even remember some technique tips where it matters.
Then one day, not too far in the future, you’re training for the fiftieth time. And training has become a thing. Something that makes you feel about as nervous, anxious and uncomfortable as getting a loaf of bread from the local bakery.
How do you know you’re progressing? Is it a feeling? Maybe a state of mind? Can others see your success too? Or is it all in your head? Only for you to notice when you get there.
Is it something measurable? A specific goal with a simple yes or no answer to cross at the finish line? Is there an obvious point B? Maybe your success lives on a sliding scale? Or do you prefer to trust your intuition to tell you how you’re progressing?
Maybe you’re like me and prefer to make the process the progress? Measuring and ticking off the daily habits that over time contribute to your success.
There are many ways to measure success. A lot of it comes down to personality. But depending on goals and the reasons behind those goals, some measurements work better than others.
There’s not always a single best way to do it. But let’s make sure we measure the things that matter to us.
The best before date on comfortable actions, habits and changes is short. They might give us a moment of satisfaction or relief. Even a quick win. But the long-term outcome is rarely sustainable or fulfilling.
Still, we cling on to the hope of an easy, quick fix. Wasting our time taking shortcuts while avoiding the uncomfortable, even painful actions we know we need to take. If we want something worth having, we can’t run away from the discomfort forever.
Once we embrace the uncomfortable, we are free. Free from the pressure of bloated promises of easy solutions. Free from the dooming feeling we often have in our gut when avoiding the challenging actions. Free from cheating ourselves.
We progress when we accept discomfort as an unavoidable part of the process. When we learn to tolerate discomfort, we shift our beliefs, leap forward and break our ingrained habits that no longer serve us.
Our current culture of social media fame amplifies the loudest, and most narcissistic. The online narrative of the fitness industry is a shadow of a butt away from soft porn. It’s what gets the most “hearts”. And because those hearts are a cheap signal of success, there’s no shortage of the content.
And so we, the fitness industry, go the lazy route: skin gets likes. Each one being a virtual stroke on the ego. But there’s a price. It further alienates those who really need our help: the non-fitness people. That’s you.
We, the fitness industry, are too self absorbed. We are too lazy to observe and listen what the people most of us are meant to serve want and need. We think we know what you want. We are certain we know your needs. After all, we follow the likes.
We fail. We take shortcuts and anchor our content, not on what gets people to think and act. But on arousal and what gets the quick like and creates the most publicity. Making this whole circus a painful alternative reality.
The point of this rant? Not sure if there is one. But it’s worth noticing if the mainstream fitness narrative is pushing you down or lifting you up. Every “heart” is a vote for more of the same.
Then again. What do I know? Maybe tomorrow I’ll post a photo of me doing the naked splits on two eagles while licking caramel ice cream off a third.
Also, I can’t do the splits. And I’ve eaten way too much cake lately. Both to go naked or to stand on eagles.
Immediately. Once you accept that you’re going to feel challenged, uncomfortable, frustrated, and at times, struggling. None of it is easy. But the sooner you recognise that it’s the same for everyone else, it gets easier.
Instead of hoping for smooth, you prepare for the coarse. Instead of yarning for easy, you expect for it to get even harder. Acknowledging that there will be moments when you want to stop, retreat and fall back into your old habits will somehow make it all more bearable.
And then one day, it will get easy.
Changing how you feel. From lethargic, weak and in pain to strong and full of energy.
Changing how you engage in the world. From physically timid and reserved to someone who has the courage and deep desire to explore. Having the strength and energy to strive outdoors. Be it hiking or some other silent outdoor activity.
Changing how you age. From nervous and worried to someone who feels confident about the future.
Changing how you see yourself. From unfit to someone who can inspire others to take action.
Changing how others around you see you: as an inspiring role model who’s actions, habits and principles are worth emulating.
And because of the example that you set in your community: changing how others engage in physical activity. The long-tail, domino effect? Changing and reducing the emotional and financial burden of chronic illness.
Yeah, that sounds worth it.
When you’re dealing with an injury, there’s no need for a watered down rehab program that slows or stops you from reaching your goals.
Yes, we want injuries to improve. But most people also want to increase their strength, fitness and the possibility of fitting into old pants.
The good news? We can do it all at the same time without relegating to a rehab only mode. Even better, we’ll likely recover quicker from the injury by doing it.
With my clients, I plan their programs and workouts based on their goals, equipment, and even on what they enjoy (but we also need to do the stuff that we dislike).
Then I’ll adjust ONLY the exercises that need to be adjusted because of the injury and rehab. We’ll tick both the fitness and rehab boxes by choosing an alternative exercise that is the closest to the original exercise and can be done without aggravating the injury.
A person with a shoulder injury might not be able to do kettlebell swings or push ups. But they might still do a deadlift or an isometric push up variation.
Similarly, a person with a knee problem might not be able to do a full squat. But they might do a squat to a chair / box.
Then we sprinkle in whatever is going to help them get over their injury and/or whatever homework their physio/osteo/chiro gave them.
Voila, progress and rehab bundled in one.