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. 


Gaining Perspective to Gain Happiness

This post has taken a lot longer to write than I thought it would. Not because the words didn’t come naturally, but because I really wanted to make sure that what I am trying to say is clear in order to really get my point across. This is one of the most important posts I’ve written and I really want to make sure I get it right.

We are all stressed at some point in time or another. Something happens in our lives or just rubs us the wrong way and gets us mad and tense and we seemingly can do nothing about it, it’s just the way we react and we can’t help it.

I’m going to share with you a two-part epiphany I had a month or two ago while going through a really hard time in my life.

The general summary is boiled down here: don’t sweat the small stuff. There are very few reasons why we should stress, get angry, and have a general apathy for people and life in general. Why? Because in the grand scheme of things, whatever you’re stressed about probably doesn’t mean anything or matter in the long run. Let me take you through my experiences in order to attempt to explain my point.

The first, was late at night (well I guess in the morning), at around 2am right smack in the middle of college final exams. I was standing in my room in total darkness just sort of meditating. Thinking about everything that was going on in my life and how it was affecting me, and it was all affecting me mostly for the worse. Then, all of a sudden in some sort of weird experience and thrill, my subconscious sort of snapped, turned around 180 and I was happy. I don’t know whether it was the sleep deprivation talking or not, but my mind was telling me that there is no reason to hate life and to be stressed and angry. Whatever happens, life goes on. The small stress over my stupid final exam that had been brewing for weeks instantly became not even a slight worry because I realized how trivial it all is. Whatever grade I get, life goes on. Those around me aren’t affected in any way by the grade I get, and long-term in 10 or 20 years, I will not be able to care less about the score I got on my one final. Nor will I probably remember it.

My worries about my relationship were gone as well. And I realized that we should just embrace life and those in it for what it is and who they are. Whatever I was feeling towards certain people seemed to get lifted off of my shoulders because we are all the same, and there is absolutely no reason whatsoever to be mad at people or hate people for certain things. It’s pointless. We’re all here to live and to be happy coexisting. Why spend our time stressing and hating when we have so much potential to be happy and enjoy life and those around us? It’s just a huge waste of time. If people are in your life who are making you unhappy, they shouldn’t be in your life. Cherish the moments you spend with ones you love and those who make you a better version of yourself and focus on strengthening those bonds, instead of trying to repair and patch those with ones you don’t love or who make you weaker. This doesn’t mean that at the first sign of a struggle you give up, but there comes a point in time where certain people tend to make you a weaker version of yourself for too long, and that needs to be recognized and addressed.

The second half of my epiphany came when I was driving to my new apartment with a car full of stuff to move in, when all of a sudden I hit major traffic and the highway turned into a parking lot. I was taken over with rage and annoyance that I couldn’t even sit still. To top that off, I realized that I had forgotten my keys so I had to turn around and go back home. I couldn’t believe it. I was so angry and it completely changed me in that moment. Then, that little voice came back inside my head. I immediately had this eerie sense of calmness within me. I told myself that it was absolutely ridiculous for me to be so genuinely angry at my current situation. I was in no rush at all, I wasn’t going to be late for anything at all. I was just annoyed at traffic, an inanimate idea, and at myself for forgetting my keys, a simple mistake that would take maybe 20 extra minutes to fix. I fell back again into this reasoning that there was no logical reason for me to be so stressed, annoyed, and angry. Traffic is out of my control. I had forgotten my keys and had made peace with the idea that it was a mistake and I would correct it as fast as I could. I realized that I was happy just to be alive, safe, and healthy and that in the long run, even an hour down the line, I would not care at all about how I just forgot my keys and was stuck in traffic. If this anger and stress is so fleeting, why should we waste our time with it at all? Matters of such little importance do not deserve what we put ourselves through. Not by a long shot.

Now, stress can be a good thing. There are good stresses that make us more productive. Certain emotions can be both positive and negative, it’s just the context that we have them in is what determines their value and benefit. Pay close attention to the kinds of feelings you are having in a given situation or towards a certain person. If it is a negative emotion, as yourself “why?”, and if it is a positive emotion, ask yourself the same question and figure out what it is that makes you tick and what truly makes you happy to become a better, stronger version of yourself. We need to care more about the ones we are close with and whom we love and value the presence of. And those who reciprocate those same feelings. We are lucky to even have a chance at life – why should we waste it by being angry and stressed over people and things that don’t matter at all and who are bringing you down? You don’t have to love and be passionate about every single situation or person you meet, but appreciate those moments and those people as human beings, who all just want to be happy as well.

I don’t know if the message has gotten lost at all here, but what I want to emphasize here is that we shouldn’t let the unimportant stuff get in our way and bog us down. 75% of the stress and anger we face has such little impact on our lives in the long term that it is useless to let it take us over, even for a minute. Embrace happiness and embrace life and your loved ones. It’s just silly, and actually unhealthy, to live any other way.

Why everyone, I mean everyone, should lift weights

It’s quite obvious that a big part of this blog is dedicated to lifting weights, so here’s a post for those out there who think they don’t need to lift weights or who don’t want to lift weights. I ask you to please read this and hopefully I can change your opinion on weight lifting for the better.

Here are some of the benefits of lifting weights for both men and women who are skinny, overweight, in shape, out of shape, of all sizes.

1. Relieves Stress

If anything, lifting weights is a great stress reliever. Lifting heavy things off the ground for 45 minutes every other day loosens a lot of the tension that builds up throughout the week. Seriously, there is a reason why this is first on my list. Getting stronger is extremely important, but the mere therapeutic aspect of lifting weights is ultimately one of the best benefits it has to offer. There’s something to be said about throwing iron around and exerting all of your energy you have for that last rep. It allows you to get in touch with the primitive self in a way that nothing else can.

2. Makes You Tough

Running is great and can release endorphins to give you that runner’s high, but pretty much intentionally putting yourself in a painful position really makes you tough. Plus, endorphin releases occur while lifting as well. It’s very important for lifters, and those wanting to get into lifting weights, to understand that what you are doing is going to hurt. And if you’re doing it right, it’s going to hurt a lot. Now I don’t mean like you’re going to get all of these joint aches and pains and it’s going to feel like you are going to physically break all of your bones. The pain comes from tearing apart your muscle fibers and shocking your nervous system into reacting and lifting the weight. If you exercise in any capacity and it isn’t difficult or doesn’t hurt, you really aren’t doing it right. Lifting is no exception. But don’t let this scare you off, because soreness only means that you are growing stronger and doing it WELL. Once you have excepted that fact of imminent pain and soreness, you become tough and it doesn’t scare you, and it actually becomes a motivator. It’ll also increase your pain tolerance to soreness from other activities as well.

 3. Gets You Strong

This is fairly obvious for everyone, but some people tend to shy away from lifting because of a common fallacy I will point out. Lifting weights gets you strong. Your whole body will become stronger through lifting. Having a useful and strong body allows you to enjoy everything life has to offer, and if anything, makes moving furniture and doing manual labor around the house an yard a little less challenging. A lot of people, women, specifically (sorry gals), think that if they lift heavy weights they are going to get bulky looking and that’s not what they’re going for. This is extremely far from the truth. Lifting will get you very toned and sculpt your body and get you strong. Now if you diet and eat tons of protein, fat, and carbs in enormous excess, yes, you will get bulky. But a balanced diet and lots of exercise will naturally make anyone  more toned, defined, and strong. So don’t worry or think you’ll look bulky. You won’t, I promise you. I’ve been lifting for 3 years and don’t look like that so I can guarantee 3 months in the gym won’t for you.

4. Improves Overall Health

Lifting weights can improve your overall health in many ways. In fact, some of the benefits may seem counter-intuitive but they are all true. Lifting weights builds muscle and fights fat. It also has a lot of heart benefits and helps to regulate blood sugar. Something lifting weights also does is reduce depression and sharpens the mind. Lastly, in actually decreases your risk of back injuries and other types of joint and structural injuries that can occur. It can even solve current back and knee problems by using correcting lifting to fight muscular imbalances that can help to create these pains and stiffnesses. Without going into a ton of detail or explaining countless scientific research reports on all of the benefits, just take my word. It’s really good for you.

5. Makes You Look Good

Now this is something I really wanted to keep off my list but I guess deserves a mention. While looking good should really be your last priority when it comes to diet and exercise, it is a side effect of lifting weights that is definitely sought after and enjoyed. Lifting weights will make you look better. However be aware, a good looking body is not necessarily a strong one, however a strong and usefully body is in almost every case, a good looking one. Balancing heavy lifting with athletic training and cardio will give you the body you want while also giving you holistic and healthy strength that will boost your vitality and keep you young.

So if you’re new to lifting and/or have been convinced, where should you start? Well look no further because you can check out my Beginner’s Guide to Lifting, HERE.

I offer some starter routines for those looking to strengthen the whole body and get a great base strength.