Set reasonable goals
Ok, so we would all like to be able to say we train 6-7 days a week, hard graft, yet still fit all the usual aspects of daily life in. This is plausible, however you’re more likely to drop the ball. I always say it’s better to carry a small ball indefinitely, rather than hold a massive one for two weeks, only to drop it, and regress back to your slobbish, filthy, despicable ways. You animal you. Kidding.
let’s take that more literally though, you are going to find it far easier to carry a 2kg ball around for months and months, compared to say, a 15kg ball. So try to ease into a regimen. Start with 2 days a week in the gym for 6 weeks. Boom, there you have a realistic goal you’re far more likely to achieve. what’s more, you can enjoy the fruits of your work upon completion! You may even find you can chuck in the extra session to make it 3 times a week. Far more rewarding to your psyche than having to miss your targets for being over stretched. This rolls nicely into my next point, which is a by product of realistic goal setting. Sustainability.
This is an area many of us fall foul, unfortunately. One of the top mistakes people make are unrealistic goals, as we just discussed. Why is sustainability important? Well, we are far more likely to enjoy our fitness improvements and fat destroying physique for a start. You see, we need to forget about this get fit and lean in 2 weeks nonsense. “But the guy in the magazine pulled it off!” Yeah, sure he did, how did he look a month after that photoshoot? You may be in for a surprise.
Looking at it over 6 weeks, the first week you will generally regress slightly, you’ll be stiff and sore and barely able to move, should you demolish it! This is what happens when you experience a completely new workload. The next four weeks, should you train hard and eat well, you will experience a rapid gain period. This is what really gets you going, you’re feeling the difference and you’re loving all of it. So you press on! Then comes week 6, from here on, you will inevitably plateau.
This is the prime time to switch things up! Why would you keep going at something that was no longer rewarding you? Restart the six week time frame with a new set of work outs and goals. This will keep you motivated and feeling awesome, not to mention looking awesome too!
At the age of four to five years old we used to ask question after question after question. This invariably facilitated a steep learning curve for us. Have you ever thought about what the daily average number of questions we used to pose was? 50? 60? Guess again. The average number of irritating little questions we used to bombard our parents with at that age ranges from 300-400 question a day, according to a study. That’s fairly ridiculous. Though accurate or not, as the years go by, that number decreases. Was that such a good idea?
Especially now we are older, we can certainly pose more intelligent questions that go beyond the scope of ‘Why don’t clouds turn yellow?’ After all, good, well thought out questions will fetch better answers. Pride and humility comes into this one I believe. Don’t be the next person who doesn’t have an ounce of a clue in the gym. Ask questions! be friendly and humble, strike up conversations with people you ultimately share a gym with. Collective knowledge and good communication always makes a big difference to any environment. Another way to make your visit to the gym all the more enjoyable.
Let’s face it, if you truly understand a given exercise, why and how it works, what can maximise the work out, you will boost your gains. So the next time you hit a work out, ask yourself. Do I really understand what I’m doing? If not, go up to the nearest PT or gym go-er, slap on your best smile and ask! You may even find it blossoms into a good friendship. We are social beings, stop being so antisocial in the gym.
Smash it. No, seriously.
Whatever you chose to do, swimming, running, rowing, cycling, boxing, calisthenics, martial arts, (my personal favourite) endurance training, gymnastics, double backflips or even moon walking. Put your absolute heart and soul into it.
If you give your precious you time, that you have dedicated to bettering yourself, if you give it your heart and soul, it’ll give you heart and soul back, and you’ll be singing. I have always been the active sort, I competed nationally for motor cross since I was just 5 years old, from 14 I have embarked on a wonderful journey with Taekwon-Do, supplemented with consistent gym visits every week.
During this span, one of the most frequent problems I notice amongst many other gym go-ers, is not so much what they’re doing, but how hard they’re doing it. There seems to be a bit of a misconception to what defines hard enough. People on treadmills jogging at a pace that only really gets a light sweat on, that isn’t enough. Doing ab crunches and stopping as it starts to ache, that isn’t enough. Doing box jumps and stopping as the burn just becomes a bit too much, I’m sorry, but that isn’t enough.
This will do only what is necessary to keep you the same. If you aim to do 10 press ups, start counting when you really want to stop. Seriously, you have to dig deep and destroy your workout to reap the fruits of training success. Otherwise you get no reward, no reward no motivation, no motivation no sustainability, no sustainability, plenty of belly. Leaving you confused, etching a negative outlook on the justifications of staying active. “I tried everything and it didn’t work!” Remember what I said previously too, ask questions. You may get an answer that strikes a chord of realisation.
This is such a basic mistake, which does nobody any favours. Is there an easy way? Absolutely not. Even world class athletes have to go through the same difficulty and discipline, should they wish to improve themselves from their current baseline. Trust me when I say this, it is just as hard for them as it is for you. Great people are average people, with laser like focus. On my black belts, inscribed in Korean, is a virtue I take pride in, and you should too. Train with your heart as well as your body.
Don’t compare your chapter 1 with somebody else’s chapter 24
Comparing yourself to others is tantamount to beating down your confidence with a large stick. I’ve seen it for myself during my time teaching the beautiful art of Taekwon-Do. It is always a huge challenge to pluck up the courage to come down and watch a session for a club you’re considering joining. Even more so to say “Ah hell to it, let’s go!”
The predominant ‘walk away’ factor – pushing aside reasons like it just doesn’t capture you – I believe to be watching those who have been doing their chosen sport for quite some time. Popping back flips on demand, breaking house bricks, running up and down the hall non stop without breaking a sweat, to name a few examples. Usually people say to themselves, I can never do that. Big mistake, and believe me I’ve heard it too many times. Henry Ford holds a quote I think is relevant here. ‘Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.’
So by comparing yourself, a complete beginner, to an individual who displays the cumulative efforts of years of practice, then deciding you can’t do it. You have inadvertently sabotaged your own confidence, confidence you worked hard to bring up by visiting a new sport venture. That is such a shame! I’ll be honest, you are allowed to compare yourself. Not with those who are beginners too, certainly not those on an international level. Who then? Ah, I thought you’d never ask.
You. You, are the only person you should ever compare yourself to. Compare yourself to you, yesterday. Do this every single day, making progress with small bite size chunks you can manage far more effectively. Fear average by doing something above average every day. Do this 365 times a year and you will be enjoying some good personal successes I can assure you. It is a day by day process, not one huge gulf, which brings me nicely onto my next piece of advice.
Don’t look at the mountain, just the step in front
Got this far? feel like you’re learning something? Great stuff, consider me your wise old sage. Have you ever gone for a leisurely stroll, lost in your own thoughts, day dreaming. To snap out of it and find yourself at the base of Everest? Or K2 mountain? No, neither have I. I have watched and researched a lot about those two mountains however, and from the footage I’ve seen, it is utterly awe inspiring, terrifying even.Should somebody ask me to look up to the top, then they say, off you go! I would turn around and run away. You can mentally do this to yourself and I don’t advise it. Like I mentioned in the previous point, plucking up the courage just to visit a class you’re interested in, that is a step. One may feel they need to lose 50kg in weight, be more flexible, be much fitter and stronger, be more skilful in their body movement and dexterity, all these goals are absolutely fine.
Though when you put them all together and they start to feel more daunting, then boom, the killer thought creeps in. I can’t do it. Take small steps and let them add up. How? An example would be sit on your computer and search the internet for gymnastic classes near you, if that takes your fancy. Or just local gyms that provide fitness classes, to name another example. That will count as a small step for the day, you know where the classes are and at what times, so you know when to visit. The next step, just visit! Don’t put any pressure on yourself – “I’ll just go and watch” Done this? Great, a new step.
Do just one class and forget about everyone else, just focus on you and why you’re doing this. Ask yourself how you feel afterwards. Unless you had an unusually bad experience, you’ll most likely feel really pleased with yourself. Next simple step, sign up! It is important to take steps, let them add up for themselves. Just focus on being better than you were yesterday, for standing still never promotes any good, fulfilled feelings. You may be on the right track, but you’ll get run over if you just sit there.
Food, the most solid point in the right direction.
This is by far and away the most misunderstood, underestimated aspect of them all. We are all so confused about what to eat, when to eat it and why. I hope to offer some guidance right now. Firstly, just how important is nutrition and training when it comes to getting fitter, leaner and healthier? Easily The two most important components, without mentioning mental approach. What do you suppose is the correct ratio of application, between nutrition and training? 50/50? 60/40? You may be surprised that within the professional industry they state nutrition and training is 80/20, to which I agree.
Nutrition is hugely important for your training endeavours. Swapping it around is like building a Ferrari V12, and giving it a coffee mug of diesel, it just wont work. There is something else too, that I feel even the majority of the professional industry is flummoxed about. I want to set in motion the mental cogs of realisation, and eventually self actualisation. What is actually healthy, optimal? You walk into any gym and their pinnacle nutrient, is plastered all over the walls, it is dribbling down the chin of all the muscle bound men snorting and grunting. There are even silly pink shakes cleverly marketed to draw the ladies in too, yup, you guessed it. Protein. I want to tackle this bad boy right now.
What I find doesn’t add up, is you’re told by government and professionals that protein should consist of 10-12% of your diet. Which is basically a small cut of lean meat. Yet the ads seem to imply that you need to annihilate protein, and people do, in its most unnatural form? Powder? Really? Let’s get real here, how does something as unregulated as protein powder, only decades old. Better the produce of billions of years of natural selection, something we have adapted to, and thrived off, such as vegetables and fruit? Thought I was going to say beef and chicken? Think again.
Without getting into the endless details as to why I personally choose plant based foods here, I do want to stress one thing. Get off the supplements, the products I would only hail in a situation where all natural produce disappeared from your reach, like you may find during a zombie apocalypse, or a wipe out meteor strike, for example. Or on a trip to Jupiters moons. These situations would justify resorting to a cleverly made substitute, where nothing else is available. Unless somebody figures out how to grow a banana tree on a space shuttle of course.
Whilst these things aren’t happening, and there is an abundance of natural goods, why choose powder and pills? I assure you that you’re being duped. For me, the way I came to truly understanding food on a level everybody needs to, is by reading. Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body, to stop learning in life is a very toxic act, much like stopping exercise. I advise you invest your time into a couple of books I’m about to recommend, get past the shallow titles you see about how to lose weight and get fit in 30 days. Learn why and how your body works and what is the best fuel for it.
If you can understand it for yourself, then you shall be able to navigate through the nonsense with unprecedented confidence and peace of mind, plus you will enjoy fantastic results to your training advancements and general wellbeing. Have an open mind, invest your time into an act you’ll use every single day for the rest of your life, and get it right.
My top three recommendations are –
Whole – Re-thinking the science of nutrition – Colin T Campbell
Skinny bitch/Skinny bastard – A diet book written by former modelling agent Rory Freedman and former model Kim Barnouin
Rethink food – 100+ Doctors can’t be wrong – : Amy-Lee Goodman, Shushana Castle
You don’t need to be a genius to read and understand these books, they’re user friendly I assure you. Collectively these three books have completely empowered me, shone a powerful beacon of light onto the myths and misconceptions of food, and changed the course of my food choices for the best. I am an International competitor in Taekwon-do, teaching the art for nearly 6 years, I am also a fully qualified PT. Understanding food has proved to be a powerful asset to turbo charging my endeavours, equipping me with knowledge that will boost results all round, and it will do the same for you.
I’m not telling you to eat cabbage every day, I’m not telling you to do anything. I’m asking you to read one of these three books with an open mind. What you do when you flick over the last page, I leave entirely up to you. If you’re reading this far I can rightly assume you’re keen to explore new avenues to change your life. I can state with confidence this will lead you to the end of the road. No more confusion of empty hope in a product sucking your wallet dry. Take action and follow the road. It’ll be the best choice you’ll ever make, a gift to you, from you.