Where Have I Been?

It’s been quite a while since I’ve written something for myself, in fact, my last post I wrote for Mind & Matter Fitness was on February 28th.

That’s quite an anger-inducing amount of time.

Now I haven’t been silent due to lack of caring about this website or my thoughts, ideas, and motivations. I’ve been silent because I was experiencing one of the busiest times of my life to date.

From personal training at a big-box gym, to a promotion at my day job, to writing for The Well Path, (latest post HERE), to exploring new business ventures (more to come on that soon), things were hectic.

Now without complaining too much, I’ll get right into why this post to me is so important. I was really busy. I couldn’t even make time for my family and friends due to my schedule, and it was drastically affecting my mood, behaviors, and outlook on my life. And it wasn’t for the better. I’ve written about the choice to be happy, but as I got busier and busier this choice became harder and harder.

It really showed me how negativity can be so incredibly toxic. While laugher is contagious, negativity is infectious. It takes over you and it can spiral out of control.

It also opened my eyes to the importance of maintaining a list (even a mental one, at best) of my priorities. This list should serve as a means of asking yourself, what are the top 2 things I want to accomplish in the next month, 3 months, year, and what are the steps, people, and things I need in and out of my life to get there? And even though during this time, the activities I was pursuing kept me busy and felt like they were helping me to get where I need to go, I found that the tradeoff of doing too much and not thinking about my priorities outside of my jobs was not an advantageous one for my mental health and happiness.

Having priorities is extremely important to goal attainment, however priorities cannot exist in silos. While I was very busy and seemingly working towards what I ultimately want for myself and my career, other priorities like my own workouts, my friends, and my family, got put on the back-burner. This led to a feeling of unfulfillment and dissatisfaction. Our priorities must work synergistically. Because just like a well oiled machine, if one piece is malfunctioning, the entire system suffers and does not perform at maximum capacity or ability.

There’s a reason why we have priorities. And there’s a reason why they are priorities in the first place. They are the most important things in your life. And if you aren’t working to satisfy or accomplish those priorities as a whole, then they either aren’t actually priorities, or your life is not in balance, and you are choosing to put those priorities on hold which can lead to unhappiness and a sense of stagnation.

No matter how full our lives feel, or how much other people may tell you what you’re doing is right, it is extremely important to align priories with actions. If we aren’t working towards goals we set out for ourselves but also are not giving the proper time to the things we truly care about, it won’t take long before you start to feel unsatisfied and unhappy.

We need to always be working towards something. Striving to attain what it is we want. For those that already have the fire within them know that any activity not working for the vision is a distraction. For those that are in a smolder, waiting for a gust of oxygen to invigorate you into a flame, be honest with yourself and make an assessment of your activities and how they align to your goals and priorities. Are you doing everything you can to make you happy? Are there people, jobs, physical things in your life or in your way that are setting you back? More importantly, are there people or things in your life that must remain in your life in order for you to truly be happy and who will encourage you to accomplish your goals?

It is often more important to think not about what you can give up in order to accomplish your goals, but what you must keep in your life. I made the mistake of only thinking about what I could give up (personal time and sleep), and not what I needed (time with friends and family) in order to remain happy and help me accomplish my goals.

So when thinking about your priorities and setting and accomplishing your next goal, try to spend as much time (if not more) thinking about what you need to keep versus what you have to give away. This will allow you to make smart decisions about the true sacrifices you are willing to take, and who or what in the end will help you to achieve more.

Why Personal Trainers are a Scam

Just recently, I passed my Personal Training Certification exam with the National Council on Strength and Fitness. Everyone should be aware that while many big-box gyms require their trainers to have some form of certification to work there, you do not need any sort of certification in order to be a Personal Trainer. Anyone with any background can do it.

That aside, I’m here to tell you that the personal training business model is a scam. Now, not all personal trainers adopt the model I am going to talk about, but it’s important that you know the business of most trainers out there in order for you to make an informed decision about your health.

Now there’s really only one thing you need to keep in mind when it comes to knowing the risks of falling into the trap:

Trainers Need You Coming Back in order to Make Money

Think about how trainers make money. You come to them with specific goals in mind, but do you know if your trainer is doing everything they can to help you reach them?

Personal Trainers need you to keep coming back to them in order for them to continue making money. So there’s a chance that your progress and best interests are actually being held back or drawn out due to the fact that your trainer wants you to continue to come back to them.

So what are the telltale signs of the Personal Trainer scam?

The most important thing you should be wary of when assessing your Personal Trainer and determining if you are falling into the trap is if you find yourself always confused at the end of every workout.

 Are you ending each session thinking “What the heck did I just do?”

This is one of the most common tactics Personal Trainers use to create a reliance on coming back to them.

Personal Trainers will have you come in for an hour, instruct you on a list of 12-15 exercises that are different every time you come in.

You may be getting in shape, but you’re reliant on the Trainer’s “knowledge” in order to feel like you had a successful workout.

This tactic ensures that you continue coming back to your trainer, because while you are learning how to do very specific movements and exercises, your trainer isn’t actually teaching you about how your body works, moves, and behaves in order for you to truly progress.

Why? Because if this is done, you’ll be able to apply the skills and knowledge you’ve acquired on your own and you will no longer need a trainer!

Conclusion:

Not all personal trainers are bad, obviously there is a spectrum. And sometimes, people are willing to use a trainer solely for the motivational factor alone. Some people need another person to tell them what to do for them to ever do it. And that’s a great reason to use one.

But if you are feeling like you don’t really understand the value in your trainer, you’re not quite satisfied with your results, or are feeling a little too reliant on your Personal Trainer, keep these signs in mind to make sure you’re making the most of your time in the gym and your money.

Ebbs & Flows of Training: Why It’s All Okay

For the last 5 or so months I really fell off my training game. Work picked up and was forcing me to stay later, and up until I moved recently, I was spending a long time commuting every day. All of these different aspects of my life (among others) were having a negative impact on my training. I was going to the gym fewer days a week than what I consider optimal, and I really had no consistent groove so I didn’t progress in my training at all. My numbers were staying the same, and I wasn’t following any particular program for a majority of those 5 months, which made skipping the gym even easier since I didn’t have anything to really follow.

Since, for the past few weeks or so, I’ve been back on my game and have had a much more consistent schedule, and I am on a new routine to help break plateaus to hit numbers I’ve only dreamt of.

But with this change came a lot of reflecting over the past few months, and for a while I had gotten very down on myself for the situation I was in, but more recently my perspective has shifted, and allowed me to see it in a whole new way.

When my training was off, I knew it. I knew it so much that it was actually causing a lot of stress. I had less time to go to the gym, and my days were so busy and long that when I did go, I often didn’t have the energy I really needed to have a worthwhile session. I would get mad at myself for not getting stronger and consistently breaking new PRs in the gym, and it would cause me to get down on myself.

But after looking back on it now, it is very clear to me that that period of time where my training was off was an incredibly important time to have, and I learned a great lesson from it.

We’re never going to be able to do all of the things that we want to, all of the time. Especially as it relates to the gym, there’s always going to be periods where we aren’t going as often as we should, which causes our progress to slow, if not halt. But what’s extremely important for us all to recognize is that this time is not wasted. We shouldn’t get upset or frustrated with ourselves when our routines get out of whack. This discomfort and uneasiness is a learning experience in itself. It teaches us patience, it forces us to slow down, relax, and take it easy.

Busy times force us to shift priorities and make sacrifices. But these busy times don’t often last our entire lives, and it is that recognition that allows us to make peace with your current state as it will pass in time and allow us to get back to our old routines where we will make more progress and be stronger because of our time away.

Going through periods of little training can refuel the fire to come back with loads of potential energy waiting to be converted – they shouldn’t cause stress, frustration, and sadness.

It is so important to appreciate the ebbs and flows of training because it forces us to soak in the present moment – to be okay with exactly who we are, where we are, and what we’re doing – not worrying about losing our strength or missing out on a training session.

The gym will always be there, progress is always waiting to be had and achieved. When life gets hectic and busy and makes seeing friends, family, and yourself more difficult, those things must be taken into consideration first and you should dedicate the time you do have to them. Without those people surrounding you and supporting you, whatever you do in the gym and in life will be that much harder because you will be on your own, with not a single helping hand to reach out to you.

So your progress is set back a little from a few months of busyness and under-training. But if it was always that easy to keep up with every aspect of your life inside and out of the gym, there would be no joy in the challenge, journey, and achievement of becoming the strongest, healthiest, and happiest person you can be. 

 

It’s Flag Day, Live a Little!

Are your ‘cheat days’ more like plain old excuses?

There’s no denying that I love talking to people about their goals and interests when it comes to living a strong, happy, and healthy life.

But because of this, I often see individuals deviate from what they know they should be doing to lead them to their goals, and instead fall into this trap that has become widely socially acceptable, making it even easier to fall into.

“I have goals to lose weight, build strength, and to feel better about myself overall”….”Oh come on, it’s the weekend! Calories don’t count!”

It’s easy to find ways to procrastinate and instead do what’s less difficult, but this sort of mentality needs to be eradicated in order for true progress to occur.

There will always be an event, a holiday, a weekend, a celebration, where we can make up excuses to cheat on our diets or skip our workouts.

Getting into the habit of making fewer excuses due to some perceived good reason or alternative will not only accelerate our progress helping us reach our goals quicker, but they’ll also quickly build a good habit of sticking to our diet and exercise program which will flourish into healthy lifestyle habits for as long as we live.

We will more frequently choose to forego the dessert and go to the gym after we realize how easy it is to simply not put food that’s bad for us into our mouths (or at least less of it), and get our butts in the gym even for a half hour.

And all of this isn’t necessarily our own individual faults – as I mentioned before it’s a problem that our society has accepted, joked at, and therefore welcomed.

I don’t think I’ve ever come across a situation where someone has said:

“We’re celebrating, eat whatever you want, it doesn’t matter!” 

And is met with a response of anything other than:

“Haha! You’re right!”

We all help each other deviate from our own best interests and goals, because we know we are doing the same from the influence of ourselves and others, so we pass that behavior on to those around us.

And while on occasion splurging is absolutely fine, and even encouraged from time to time, I see excuses of “Oh just this once” made far more often than just this once. 

Becoming the strongest, happiest, and healthiest you can be is hard. It is extremely difficult work that takes a lot of time, dedication, and focus.

Our goals we set for ourselves and our lives inside and out of the gym sometimes take years – lifetimes – to fully accomplish. But what gets them done is working relentlessly without excuse to make what you want for yourself happen.

Excuses are distractions and signs of faintness of heart – they tell us that whatever we’re making an excuse for isn’t that important and that there’s time for it later.

But living a strong, healthy, and happy life is ongoing and always evolving, which is why now is more important than ever to start your journey, without excuse, because you can’t get this time back, so make it the best and most affective you can, now.

We don’t always have to be 100% true to our diets 100% of the time, but you can build a diet that will get you to your goal while eating foods that are fun and taste good, and allow you to deviate slightly on occasion.

What we DO always have to be 100% true to is ourselves and understanding when we’re making an easy excuse and when we should harness our will power to reach our goals we have in fitness and in life with ease.

If you want to lose weight, watch this.

This video was shared to me by a good friend and I think it’s crucial that everyone who has, or is thinking about losing weight, should watch.

What are the takeaways? Well there’s really only one very, very good one.

Move more and eat less. 

This video does an incredible job of explaining where fat actually goes when you lose weight – something that most people don’t know how to answer. But what’s more important is the fact that Ruben Meerman says point blank, it’s really not that hard. The science proves it. All of the expensive products and gizmos that are thrown at us to lose weight fast with little to no diet or exercise simply don’t work. You may see temporary benefits and weight loss, but most of the time these products aren’t sustainable, and you’ll end up gaining it all back.

Start by setting attainable goals to get active three times a week and eat clean, low calorie foods, and let science and your body do the rest.