Walking w/ Sunny

Yesterday was the first Sunday in God knows how long when we didn't have some children's activity planned. Miracles do exist. 

Anyway, I decided to enjoy this free time by taking a jiu-jitsu class. I ended up walking back home with a guy from class, Sunny. Sunny is a blue belt, this means Sunny is a lot better than me. He asked if I had any good rolls during class (rolls are to jiu jitsu, what sparring is to boxing). I explained that I finally had the opportunity to roll with someone who was relatively close to my level. (Just because of when I can make it to classes, I usually end up being there with people who are a lot more advanced than I am.)

Sunny said something that, I didn't realize at the time, was very perceptive. He said rolling with higher level people can good and bad. It's good because you learn how to defend yourself. It's bad because you never learn how to go on the offensive. Sunny had perfectly described my experience jiu jitsu thus far. 

As day went on and I thought about this more, I realized that this is how most people treat workouts and diets. Let me explain. 

Most people make the decision they want to get fitter or stronger or lose weight then they choose blue belt level strategies. Blue belt level strategies (think Keto, Paleo, Crossfit,  powerlifting, etc) work. They just don't work for most people. 

Put another way, these strategies work but most people who try to implement them aren't knowledgeable enough and/or committed enough for the strategies to be effective. Especially in the long term. 

So even when these people see some positive results they are fleeting. Then these people end up spending a lot of time recovering (defending themselves) from self inflicted damage. This damage can in the form of injury or simply the fact that you've just really missed carbs and all you can bring yourself to eat is cake and pie (#cartmanvoice). 

These people never end up learning the basic skills that they can use over and over again to go on the offensive. Things like getting more sleep, burning more calories than you burn or learning how to do simple exercises like the squat or push up correctly. These foundational skills should be the first steps anyone should be taking to make lasting fitness or diet changes. The blue belt strategies should be used to put you over the top.

In the not totally unrelated department, if you're looking for a resource that will give you simple fitness and diet advice and tips that you can implement immediately you should follow my new Instagram account: @starting_line_fitness

On this account I share tips on how to properly do exercises, how to start designing your own workouts and nutrition practices that teach you how to eat healthy and lose weight without depriving yourself. Basically it's all the offensive skills I was talking about above.

 

Rules vs. Guidelines

You're making this way too complicated. Yes I'm talking to you. 

It's not your fault though. You're confusing guidelines for rules. So lets talk about the difference between the two.

Those are just screenshots from Google and Wikipedia respectively. To quickly sum up the relationship between the two: guidelines help you follow the rules.

GUIDELINES ARE NOT RULES!!!

So if you are trying to lose weight and/or burn fat there is only one rule you must follow to be successful:

***You must be in a caloric deficit!***

That means you must burn more calories than you take in. 

So, again, if you are starting a diet (whether it be Keto, Paleo, Weight Watchers, South Beach, Carnivore or any other one) with the goal of losing weight/burning fat* you must be in a caloric deficit. All of the diets listed follow this rule but they have different guidelines to get you to do it. 

So if you're precisely following Paleo or Keto or whatever and you're not losing weight, then you're eating too much or you're not exercising/moving enough or both. That's it.

*Interestingly enough many of these diets were developed for medical reasons, not weight loss. Weight loss just happened to be a byproduct.


 And, just so you know, I’m running a 28 Day Challenge that begins on 8/12! This is for people who are looking to take charge of their health & fitness in 28 days. It's a remote program so you can join from anywhere in the world.

I'm looking for 10 people to join the challenge who are ready to lose weight and be featured participants that I'll showcase over the course of the challenge. If that's you comment 'tell me more' below and I'll message you the details.

I Got Ghosted...

A couple of weeks ago a lady reached out to me on Facebook. She commented on something I posted about the 28 Day Challenge. Turns out she wanted to set up training in person. We spoke on the phone and set up an appointment for the very next day. 

The next day she ended up canceling about 45 minutes before we were going to meet; something about a contractor and tiles. Whatever. That was the week of 4th of July. I've reached out a couple different times and offered various times that we could meet. Basically I never heard back. 

This happens often. People will initiate the conversation and then when it's time to meet they disappear.

I'll keep following up with her for a while and we'll still be Facebook friends. So she'll keep hearing from me. I might not ever hear from her again.

So what happened? Here's what I think...reaching out and starting the conversation is the first step. I'm sure it's it's not an easy step. I post about challenges and other fitness stuff pretty much everyday. I have no idea how long she's been reading my posts or what made her reach out that particular day.

I know people always talk about the first step being the hardest but in this case I disagree. Here the first step is kind of abstract. It's just talking. The next step is the tough one. This is the step where you actually have to do something. You have to go and do the work. Work that you probably haven't been doing or haven't been doing well. And you have to do that work with someone you don't know well (yet). It's understandably intimidating. 

I said I might not ever hear from her again. Here's what will probably happen: she'll comment on something I post again. It'll start this process over again. It might actually happen two or three more times before she takes the next step to actually meet up for a session.

Mid Year Check-In

Believe it or not, we're already half way through the year. Are you where you want to be at this point in 2019? Now would be a good time to check on that so you can make the needed changes.

At this point I'm about 70 workouts for the year. As long as I keep this pace, I'll finish the year with about 140 workouts. That's pretty much a workout every 2-3 days. 

I'm counting any organized/planned bout of exercise as a workout. So for me this year that would include about 50 lifting sessions, about 10 cardio (runs) and about 10-15 jiu-jitsu classes (there've been a few days where I've lifted and done a jiu-jitsu class, I've counted those as one workout).

At last check (last Wednesday) I'm down 6 pounds since midway through January. Not bad considering weight loss hasn't really been a focus. I've been able to run further and faster on shorter runs. As far as jiu-jitsu goes there's been some improvement (I think). 

Now I'm telling you this for a few reasons. The least of which is to pat myself on the back, but that's definitely a reason also.

  • Keep a log: I know all of this because I keep a log of all of this stuff. I track dates of my workouts and what I do in them. I also periodically track my weight and certain strength numbers. Nowadays most cell phones will have a built in app that will do this for you but I use mapmyfitnessfor my runs and google keepfor my lifting workouts. The log becomes a progress tracker and a motivational tool.

  • Unintended benefits: consistency of workouts can bring some pleasant surprises. Weight loss hasn't necessarily been a goal so it was nice to see a lower number on the scale. It's also nice when someone else notices for you. These benefits aren't just weight loss related either. Better sleep and stress relief are a couple.

  • Accountability: the only way to know if you're on pace for reaching your goals is knowing where you are in the moment. This requires that you check in periodically. Depending on the goal(s) this might checking everyday or it could mean checking every six weeks. Be careful with you check-ins though, depending on your personality type, checking in too often (or too little) could cause more stress than it's worth.

Know What to Expect

Beginning of session; client's back after 2 weeks of travel

Me: Welcome back.

Client: Bad news, I haven't lost any weight...I didn't gain any either.

Me: That's not bad news. That's a win. 

******

This was part work trip and part fun. There were trips within the trip. The client described the trip as a "nice change of scenery but not necessarily relaxing." When clients travel the only expectation I have is that they enjoy themselves if it's recreational and that they practice some healthy lifestyle practices if it's work travel.

Losing weight, and reaching other goals, is hard to do. Things need to be near perfect. When you travel or life throws you other curveballs things are never perfect. You don't have the foods you're used to eating, you don't have your own bed to sleep in, your gym to workout in...yada yada yada. 

Things are not perfect yet clients come back from two-week trips in which they gained no weight and call it bad news. People expect perfect results from imperfect situations. Don't do that.

Stop expecting perfect results from imperfect situations.

Instead celebrate the wins. In this case not gaining weight, during a stressful trip that included at least one scotch tasting and more than a few beers, is a win. The fact that my client averaged over 15,000 steps/day is a win. The fact that he recorded his meals about 80% percent of the time is a win. The fact that he scheduled and made it to a training his first full day back, that's a win. 

 

Selfishness > Selflessness

When is comes to your health and fitness anyway. This sounds harsh but it's true.

Now before I go on, I just want to say I'm not a selfish jerk. Actually, if you ask me, I'm a pretty swell guy.

I'm telling you this because I'm such a swell guy and I want to see you be successful reaching your goals. The biggest reason ("reason" is a nice word for excuse) people give for why they can't work out is time: they have to work, they have to pick up/drop off the kids, they have social events and so on.  Here's the thing though: TIME IS FINITE!

People treat time as though one day they're going to wake up and all of a sudden they'll have more of it. So are you going to quit your job? Willing to dump your friends? Giving up the kids for adoption? These are the only ways you'll gain more time. 

Now like I said, I'm a swell guy so I would never advise you to give up those things. They are important to you and you (hopefully) derive joy from them. But....

You are going to have to say "no" to some of these things some of the time. 

(This is the part where I say something cliché about "me time" but....actually that's exactly what I'm going to do.)

Listen statements and phrases get to be cliché because there is/was truth and usefulness in them. You do need "me time". You can't keep coming in fourth (to the three examples I've used) and expect to make any progress towards your goals. 

And to be clear, I get it. It's hard to tell people no. Especially when they are people that you like and love. Well that's exactly why you should tell them no. You want to give those that you love your best. That means you have to take/make time to take care of yourself.

So when it's between you and your significant other to drop off the kid a practice sometimes you're going to have to put your foot down and say "no you do it, I have to go to the gym." The great thing is if your relationship is where it needs to be then they'll understand and even be supportive. 

If the relationship is not where it's needs to be, well that's another blog post.

20 Years Ago Today...

It was on this day 20 years ago that I graduated from high school. At that point I was officially a former high school athlete and never really thought about my own health and/or fitness. I was going to college for Athletic Training/Exercise Science so I did at least have other people's health on my mind somewhat. 

Anyway over 20 years I've learned a few things. So why not list some of them out. Don't worry I'm not doing 20. You wouldn't read that many and even if you did you wouldn't remember half of them.

  • Most people know what they should be doing. The internet will explain how to do most of it. So for most people it's a matter of being motivated enough to just take action. This goes for all things, not just health & fitness. 

  • Don't respond angry and above all else BE NICE! I need to practice this more but I'm loads better than I was 20 years ago. 

  • A little progress is still progress. Don't take it for granted.

  • You think you've been tired and then you have kids and realize that you've never actually been tired. 

  •  Time is precious. Stop wasting it by trying to figure out everything for yourself. 

  • Money certainly isn't everything. That being said though, everything is easier when you don't have to worry about money. 

That's enough for now. This was a fun activity to look back and find the lessons. It's fun because most of these lessons come with a corresponding story that either made me laugh or think "I'm certainly never doing that again." 

Give a shot, you don't need a milestone like a graduation anniversary. Just pick a time frame and go from there. I think you'll be surprised at what you'll come up. I also imagine that the older you are the more meaningful the lessons are. Though I'm curious to know if these lessons will be replaced with new ones or if they'll grow deeper in meaning over the next 20 years. 

Let me some of the lessons you've learned over the years. I'm interested to hear back from you.

Reps- Quality over Quantity

Let's talk about reps, as in repetitions, for a minute. The number of reps is how many times you're going to repeat an exercise before that set is done. I have a lot of clients who get caught up in the number of reps they have to do. Lots of times they won't be able to start the exercise without knowing how many reps they have to do.

I get it, the number of reps sets an expectation for the exercise. If you only have to do 4 reps of an exercise, it's probably going to be "harder" than if you have to do 15 reps of the same exercise. This is good to know. 

Reps become a problem when you get fixated on the exact number. I often see people rush through a set just to hurriedly get to the prescribed number of reps. Or people will stop a set early (before they reach appropriate fatigue) just because they reached the number of reps. 

If the world were perfect, you would look at the rep scheme as more a suggestion. As a matter of fact when clients ask 'how many' I'll often give a range. The range will be based off of whatever the goal of the exercise or session/program is for that day. The most common rep range suggestions would be as follows:

  • Power- 2-4 reps

  • Max Strength- 3-6 reps

  • General Strength- 5-8 reps

  • Hypertrophy (muscle growth)- 6-10 reps

  • Endurance- >10 reps

So depending on what you're trying to accomplish you'd pick the appropriate rep scheme. 

The thing is you don't have to be stubbornly committed to whatever rep range you choose. Particularly if you're working out for general fitness, just trying to lose weight and get stronger. 

So if not a particular number of reps, what should you be looking for/working toward?

On one end of the spectrum you need to be aware of technical breakdown. Technical breakdown is the point when the form of the exercise begins to degrade. This usually happens when you're fatigued. So if you feel the form start to go on rep 4 out 8 on your squats, stop. Rest and recover. Live to squat another day (or another set, you know what I mean). Technical breakdown is where injuries occur so avoid it as much as you can.

On the other end of the spectrum you need to do enough reps to elicit a training effect. So  if you get through all 8 squats and feel like could've kept going you're probably not working hard enough. You either need to increase the weight/resistance or increase the number of reps. Again your choice will depend on whatever your goals are.

Your workout program should have appropriate rep schemes. The point is you don't have to be stuck on those numbers though. Use the numbers to help you make the necessary adjustments; especially when you're approaching technical breakdown. 

Motivations of Expectations

Let's talk about expectations.

We all have them and they can be very motivating.The motivations of expectations are where the problems lie, especially when it comes to health and fitness. You would think that something that motivates someone would be a good thing. Normally it is. The problem is motivation built on false expectation ends up becoming demotivating.

Bare with me here.

When it comes to fitness and losing weight we often hear things like "drink this tea or wear this wrap and lose up 20lbs in a month." There is absolutely nothing true about that statement. Again, to be clear, there are no teas or wraps that will make you lose weight. This sets is a false expectation.

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If you didn't know any better (which you now do) that would sound like a awesome deal. Who wouldn't want to lose 20 pounds? In a month no less. See super motivating.

Until you don't lose the weight. Then you're like what happened. You drank all the tea. You drank it exactly when they told you to drink it. You only lost 8 pounds. That's no where near 20. Now you're thinking why'd you even bother? Not so motivated anymore right?

Here's the thing though: 8 pounds is a great and very sustainable amount of weight to lose in a month. It should be celebrated. It would've been celebrated if the expectation wasn't 20 pounds. The false expectation turned success into failure. That sucks.

(By the way, the made-up person above didn't lose weight because of tea. They lost weight because they ate less and exercised/moved more. For God's sake, teas don't make you lose weight.)

Whenever you're ready... here are 3 ways I can help you reach your health & fitness goals

1. Join My 28 Day Online Fitness ChallengeNext challenge begins June 3rd. You'll get daily accountability, nutrition plans and even a FREE cookbook. These challenges run once a month. If you want in just reply to this email and say challenge.

2. Work with me One-on-OneIf you're in Brooklyn or Manhattan you can schedule a complimentary training session in which we'll outline your goals and lay out the plan to help you reach those goals.

3. Grab a free copy of my e-book, Fitness 101: Get Started Lifting now.Use the book to learn all the equipment you'll find in the gym, how to use that equipment and all the exercises that you'll ever need to know. Let me know if you want it and I'll get you a copy.

Keeping Commitments is a Skill

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My wife teased/made fun of me as I was leaving for work this morning. It's like 40° and raining here. The high is only going to be like 50°. Just as I'm about to walk out the door, Alli tells the baby, "Daddy is committed to wearing shorts."

Yes I'm wearing shorts today. See I have a rule where once I wear shorts for the first time when it gets warm, I wear shorts everyday until it's too cold. Despite my wife's teasing, she's right, I am committed to this. I realize this is probably a stupid hill to die on. It's also not a macho "I'm tougher than cold weather thing" either as I'm wearing three layers on my upper body. 

It's simply that I've committed to shorts and I'm gonna keep the commitment. Here's the thing about the commitments: keeping commitments is a skill. That means that you can/should practice keeping commitments (assuming keeping commitments is important to you). So my (again, admittedly stupid) "commitment to shorts" has some merit. 

See for me to stay committed on a day like today, it requires me to consider the importance of the commitment and whether or not I want to remain committed. It also teaches that keeping a commitment usually requires some forethought. A quick check of the forecast yesterday would've told me maybe a pair of tights or long socks would've been a good idea. This would've allowed me to wear shorts and not be cold and wet. 

So even though this is a silly commitment it will have long term implications for my more important commitments in the future. Most of us only think of commitments as these big things that have a lot of meaning. In doing so we forgo a lot of opportunities to make smaller (& sillier) commitments. This robs us of the chance to practice our commitment keeping skills.

Calling It Quits...

I'm quitting on a workout program. I should say that I've already quit on it. I haven't done any workouts from it in over a week. I should also say that it isn't a bad program. It's actually pretty good, I mean I wrote it. The program has everything that you would want or need to get strong AF (as the kids would say).

So why am I quitting it?

The problem with the program is that I just don't like it. It's not fun. I don't get excited to go to the gym to do these workouts. I don't feel particularly good after the workouts are finished. That's why I'm quitting this program.

Now normally I'm all about telling you to stick things out to see the results. I'm still going to tell you that because it's good advice and the surest way to make progress. As I said, if I keep at this program, I'm sure that I would get stronger. I'm still quitting.

Now in my defense, I'm just quitting this program. I'm not quitting working out all together. I'll either put together a new program or go back to an old one I've had success with. The goal is still to get stronger. I'm just going to find a program that I enjoy more. This will increase the likelihood that I'll actually get the workouts done and not be walking feeling guilty that I missed a workout.

Most of us aren't being paid to work out or getting paid for any of the benefits that working out affords. So with that being said, it's ok for enjoyment to be the main criteria when choosing your workout routine. This way you'll ensure that you're being consistent. No one is ever consistent doing things they hate.

There's an important caveat I need to mention here. By choosing that what you enjoy the most you could be choosing the "lesser" (from a technical standpoint) of the two options. Like I said, I wrote myself a good program. If I stick to it I know I will get stronger than I will on whatever program I start. I know this because I wrote the program to specifically get stronger. The new program will have more emphasis on enjoyment and less on strength.

I'm ok with this because it's an informed decision. Also, getting back to the consistency thing, is a program better if I'm not going to do it?

My Boys Weekend

I spent the weekend with my boys. All by my lonesome, no mommy in sight. Alli left Thursday morning and didn't get back until last night after both of the boys went to bed. In that time, I had to get them both to daycare on Thursday and Friday and then keep them fed and entertained all weekend. Luckily, some friends invited us to meet them at the Botanical Garden on Saturday and we had a birthday party that I had forgot about on Sunday. So the entertainment portion of the weekend was pretty much taken care of.

Every adult I came across was like, "wait, your by yourself...with both of them...all weekend?" People were treating me as if I was one of the Avengers. I was surprised at the level of praise I was getting (don't get me wrong, I deserve and will accept all praise hoisted upon me). I mean they are my children.

Now this isn't going to be a post about parenting double standards even though I did get the feeling that if Alli & I switched roles this weekend she wouldn't have gotten the same treatment. It's a post about the parenting stress and stress in general.

Parenting really boils down to, like I said above, keeping them fed, entertained and well rested (which will play a part in their entertainment). It doesn't seem like it should be hard. We spent the majority of weekend either home or in places where they could run freely. Easy enough right? Well that becomes, I haven't seen Graham in 15 seconds where is he? Or what's in Charles' hand....no no don't put that in your mouth. Then feeding: with one it was "oh my god, I wish you would just focus on eating" and with the other it was "oh my god, you've eaten so much you can't still be hungry".

I found myself living for nap time. Not for the peace and quiet it afforded but so that I could take a nap myself. Even that was ruined that too as one would invariably not sleep long enough or sleep too long. Yes even sleeping too much is stress inducing: is everything ok, is he sick....

The point is life is full of stressors. Everyone always talks about the stress of that big project at work. You should talk about those. You should also realize and recognize that your everyday life couple be, and probably is, stressing you out.

My 4yr Old, a 1000-Piece Puzzle & Your Workout

I started a 1000-piece puzzle on Friday. Like a literal puzzle. It's a panorama of Citi Field during a Mets game. I've had this puzzle for years in it's wrapper sitting on a shelf. For some reason I thought it was time for me and 4 year old Graham to tackle this thing.

"Hey Graham, you wanna do a puzzle?" That's how I proposed it to him and he was all about it. Now I'm pretty sure he thought that I meant one of his like 10-piece board puzzles. I tried to explain to him that this puzzle would take days if not weeks to complete.

(Sidenote: if you want to test your intelligence/reasoning, try explaining the passage of time to a toddler...)

Graham said he understood so we set off to put this puzzle together. Graham hung in for all of maybe 15 minutes. For some reason searching for the corner and edge pieces wasn't as intriguing as playing with Magnatiles. Go figure.

People treat new fitness programs like 4 year olds treat 1000-piece puzzles. They think "this sounds like fun". Then it's "oh, I have to do all this boring stuff before I can do the cool stuff?". Next step: "wow, we're still doing the boring stuff." Final step, "this is boring, that looks like fun, let's go do that." Repeat the process.

Thing is if you've ever done a giant puzzle you know that you have to find the edges and corners or else there is no cohesion. You end up trying to fit sections together that have nothing to do with each other.

The same goes for your workout routine and working out in general. There are corners and edges that you have to figure out before you get to the cool stuff. They would be a baseline levels of flexibility/mobility, strength and coordination to name a few. Now I'm not saying this isn't boring or that I enjoy it. I'm saying it's necessary. Necessary for safety and efficiency.

Also, I haven't touched on the other constraints that come into play. For instance I've commandeered our kitchen/dining room/mail/general odds & ends table for this puzzle endeavor. There's only so long Alli is going to allow this go on. Knowing that I need to get this puzzle together as quickly as possible.

Again the same goes with your workouts assuming you want to reach your goal as fast as possible. This makes finding the "edges & corners" all that more important. Also time won't be the only constraint that you have to deal with probably. The more constraints you add in the more you need the structure that the edges and corners provide.

Since Friday, Graham hasn't really sat down to help me with the puzzle. He has taken notice of the progress that has been made though. Hopefully he's realizing the importance of devoting time to the boring necessary stuff.

Habit Tracking & A New Challenge

This morning an old coworker/friend posted a facebook status about habits and particularly tracking them. Here's a screenshot of it:JasonHThere a lot of gems in this status. Jason mentions how tracking is the key toward maintaining progress and will help with decision making. He also mentions tracking includes tracking both the good and bad habits. This is super important because people tend to forget that progress is not only doing more good stuff but also (and sometimes firstly) doing less bad stuff.I mention this as I'm about to start another 28 Day Online Fitness challenge a week from today. The type of habit tracking that Jason is talking about is the backbone of the challenge. There are two things members of the challenge must do everyday: they must post a picture of everything they eat and they must post a daily gratitude post. The challenge basically works to instill these two habits on a daily basis.Sure there are personal nutrition plans and workouts and lots of info given throughout the challenge. That being said though, the people who get the best results from the challenge are the ones who adhere to posting their food pics and getting their gratitude posts up everyday. It's almost too simple for some people. Often at the beginning of the challenge I have to get people to concentrate on doing just those two things before they start trying to do too much.Since I brought up results. Let's talk about some of the results that people have gotten from the challenge. The most obvious one is weight loss. I've seen people lose 5-12lbs during the challenge. The great thing about this weight loss is that I can say that everyone who has lost weight has kept that weight off months later. I attribute this to learning how to track and maintain good habits.Some other results challenge members have seen are clothes fitting better, strength and energy increases, improved time management and increased confidence among other things. I might be more proud of these results than the weight loss (good news for me is that they usually come together). Particularly when people start talking about getting stronger and once again doing things they used to do regularly. Or when people mention they finally bought a new piece of clothing that they hadn't been comfortable buying before. These things really get me in the feels.This next round of the challenge begins on the 22nd and goes through May 19th. This will give you the chance to head into Memorial Day and summer having developed life changing habits and feeling like your best self. Intrigued? Fill out the quick form below and I'll get back to you ASAP.[contact-form][contact-field label="Name" type="name" required="1" /][contact-field label="Email" type="email" required="1" /][contact-field label="What do you want to get out of the challenge?" type="textarea" required="1" /][/contact-form]

Bringing Sexy Back

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A couple of weeks ago, I had someone suggest a topic they thought would be good for me to write about. This is much appreciated as topics can be hard to come up with. Here's the message she sent:Like I said this was sent a couple of weeks ago and I'm just now getting to writing about it. It's not that I don't/didn't think it was a good topic, quite the opposite actually. Especially since the vast majority of my clients are women who are either soon to be fifty (in a year or two) or are older than 50. It took me so long because of a couple of issues:

  1. I'm not over 50 or 40 for that matter

  2. I am not a woman

These issues could potentially make it very easy to give very bad advice on this topic. So I'm not going to give any advice. I will share some opinions on the matter and try very hard not to put my foot in my mouth.

  • I'll start with the actual training part because that's where I'm most comfortable. The training would be easy to figure out. I would write a program that looks like most other programs. The key here (and as always) would be fitting it into the client's life, making it simple enough that she can get through it consistently and with as few disruptions as possible. The consistency will lead to results which will build confidence. More on this later.

  • Men have these same insecurities. While we would probably never be as open about it, it is important to realize that. So the playing field is level. I think knowing both parties are uncomfortable in the situation, can make the situation more comfortable. I realize how oxymoronic that sounds. Just believe me when I say most men aren't in a rush to get naked either.

  • Sexy is not how you look. Sexy is something you project. So I mentioned confidence earlier. I think confidence is the key here. Confident women are sexy women. You can gain confidence many different ways: do good work (at work or at home), do something you've never done before, the list could go on. The thing is when you do these things you have to realize you are a badass for doing them (the lady that wrote that book should throw we a kickback).

That's where the consistency comes in. When you train for and complete a marathon (as mentioned in the text) you realize the time and effort you put into it. As a result as you're walking around for the next few days with the medal they always give after completing a marathon you're oozing with confidence.Again, to be clear, I'm not saying every woman should go out and train for a marathon in order to feel sexy.I'm saying people (women and men) should consistently practice something (can be anything). They should consciously try to make progress at that thing. Then when they do make progress they should wear it with pride just like they would a marathon medal. That's sexy.

Unexpected Benefits to Working Out

I haven't had a proper workout since last Tuesday. That's almost a week ago. I did do my third ever Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class on Wednesday but I'm not counting that (not because it wasn't a workout, because it doesn't work for the point I'm eventually going to make). I had planned/wanted to get some other workouts in but life and work had other ideas. ASIDE: Actually had I properly planned out my time, life/work wouldn't have had a chance to mess up my schedule. I tell clients this all the time so I guess I should hold myself to the same standard. Back to your regularly scheduled blog...

Anyway this isn't the first time I've taken a week or more off from the gym. Hell I've taken months at a time off. I've said it here before but the truth is I don't love working out. I'm not one of those trainers/people that HAS to get a lift in. I don't mind the actual working out part; it's the getting to the gym and getting ready and blah blah blah. Once I get going (depending on what I'm doing) I'm good to go. And once I finish a workout, 99% of the time I feel better.

Which leads to the point, working out isn't about getting immediate benefits during the workout, for me anyway. Like I said, I always feel better after the workout. Better means a sense of accomplishment from completing something I had to do but didn't necessarily want to do.

That's not the only thing though. I notice that when I'm in a good workout groove, I'm less irritable, I sleep better and I'm more mindful of my diet. The latter two are direct result of the working out itself. The irritability always comes as a surprise because I don't notice how irritable I am to begin with. It's not like I'm flying off the handle at people on a regular basis. I just notice that things that might normally annoy just kind of roll off my back.

There's other stuff also like the progress I see physically and the mental acuity I gain. The  acuity comes from planning workouts (unlike last week). At this point I've done 36 workouts in 2019. If I keep up that pace I'll get in 144 workouts this year. I only know this because I've recording all of my workouts. This is something I haven't always done but I notice when I do it's easier to schedule and actually complete my workouts. Something about seeing progress and tracking workouts motivates you to keep doing it. Weird right? (#sarcasmvoice)

Anyway, if you're like me and working out isn't your favorite thing to do there's probably some benefits you could be getting that you're not considering. The actual benefits may not be the same for you as they are for me but I'm certain they are there.

Stop Falling For Complexity Bias

   

This weekend at music class w/ my boys (every Sunday we go sing Spanish nursery rhymes), a group of parents were talking about a documentary they had seen on Netflix (red flag #1). I think the doc was called Fed Up. I've never seen it (and probably never will). A quick Google search just showed me that Katie Couric and Bill Clinton are involved in some way.

Anyway the parents were saying how this documentary demonized sugar and advocated for some sort of 30 day sugar purge (red flag #2). In researching this "no sugar challenge" these parents realized that high fructose corn syrup in just about everything.

Now none of these people know that I'm a personal trainer or nutrition coach. So I was able to eavesdrop freely. It seemed that while health was a concern most of these people would just like to lose some weight. I know the simplest way to do this would be to eat less and move around some more. I'm sure they know this (at some level) also. This means if they simply restricted what they ate to what can fit on one bread plate vs an entree plate they would lose weight without changing anything that they actually ate.

Instead these people are going to spend time and effort searching out foods without sugar and then extra money to buy these foods. Now by the way I've presented this hopefully you get that the 'no sugar challenge' is unnecessarily complicated.

Thing is if I would've started this blog by asking, "what would be more effective for weight loss: using smaller plates or a 'no sugar challenge'?" The 'no sugar challenge' would win hands down.

This is known as 'complexity bias'. A client introduced me to this term. She was referencing a blog she just started reading called Farnam Street. The blog post explains that people tend to choose complexity over simplicity.

I'm glad my client mentioned this to me and that I read the blog post. I'm glad because I was beginning to think I was crazy. I try to get people to do the simplest thing for them all the time. I'm always met with skepticism and doubt that it will work. Doesn't matter what it is but it's always "too simple". Along the same lines, I ask clients what's the one thing they'll do this week to help their health and/or fitness. They will always list off 3 things. Always. Then they'll get mad when I make them pick one.

The blog explains that choosing complex over simple is actually a way to get out of solving the problem. When it's complex it's easy to say you don't understand and eventually give up. That's the biggest takeaway I got. Now when clients begin to overcomplicate things I'm just simply going to ask them if they want to solve the problem or not.

If they do I'll gently encourage them to try the simple solution first. If they don't that's cool too but they'll have to own up to that.

Knowing your priorities will make decision making easier.

When people find out that I'm a personal trainer/strength coach. The reaction is always the same: they either want to talk about the diet/workout they're currently doing or they start explaining how they wish they had time to work out. 99.3% of the time I don't care. I don't say that to be mean, I'm just being honest. I'd just rather talk about a lot of other things. Just like (I assume) a CPA doesn't want to spend their social time discussing my taxes.

See, I don't love working out.

I don't hate it either but there are a lot of other things I would choose to do before choosing to work out. For instance, if you invite me to watch sports in a bar when I'm supposed to be working out then the workout will become 12 ounce curls (meaning I choose beer drinking). See I really love watching sports and I also love drinking beer (and scotch; responsibly of course).

I also don't love being/want to be fat.

This is why I go to the gym: so that when I look in a mirror I'm not grossed out by my appearance. There's some health reasons also but vanity is the main driver.

If I always did the things I love (in this case, drinking beer and watching sports), then I would be come the thing I hate (ie fat). Deep.

What I'm talking about here are priorities. Priorities drive our actions and depending on how you prioritize things your decision making process will change. So you need to know what your priorities are and have them in order if you want to be in control of your decision making process.

For instance this week the NCAA basketball tournament begins on Thursday afternoon. I will be watching and there's a 50/50 chance some friend will say, "meet at the bar for the games". Knowing this is would be stupid of me to think I'm going to work out Thursday at 3pm even if that is my normal workout time. I need to make arrangements where my priorities won't be at odds with each other. This means I'll be waking up really early Thursday morning to hit the gym.

The Myth of "Too Busy"

There's a myth out there that you're probably falling victim to. It's not just you, this myth has gotten most of us at some point. It will most likely get most of us a bunch more times in the future too. This myth has been around for so long that we just accept it as truth. No one even questions it anymore. The myth is that you're "too busy". I know that you're busy. You've got work and family. You're even trying to squeeze in some semblance of a social life. Most days you wake up not knowing how you're going to get everything done and you go to bed wishing there were at least a couple more hours in the day.

All that being said, you're not "too busy". It's a myth.

I know it's a myth because you start new things or add onto the things you're already doing all the time. For instance, when you're boss came to you with that new "important" project you didn't tell him/her you were "too busy". Also the spring sports season is about to start, are you going to be "too busy" to drive little Timmy to soccer practice? Or what about the time your friend got tickets to that hot new show and they invited you to go with them (this probably included dinner before and drinks after too).

The amount of time in the day didn't change but you somehow managed to do all those things and everything else that you would normally do.

See you're not "too busy". It's a myth.

So what gives? You do stuff when you're motivated enough or when you want to enough. You don't tell your boss to shove the new project where the Sun don't shine because losing your job would be a bad thing (motivation). You make time to drive to soccer because you could never disappoint little Timmy (want/motivation to be a good parent). And you ain't turning down that ticket because it's the hottest show in town plus you get to let loose for a few hours (want).

See we're motivated and want to do lots of stuff. The thing is those wants and motivations have to be high enough for us to act on them. If we are going to act on them, they also have to be high enough for us to either change or eliminate things we would otherwise be doing. Most of the things we're motivated and want to do don't meet those two criteria (and they probably shouldn't, it's not necessarily a bad thing).

This is where the myth comes in. We need a reason to explain why we didn't do all that stuff we were motivated and wanted to do. It doesn't sound or feel good to admit that you didn't care or want to enough. We all want to feel good, especially about ourselves. So the "too busy" myth works wonders. It gives you a convenient out for why you "can't" do something and it lets the person you're telling it to off easy.

Just remember you've made a choice, you're not "too busy". It's a myth.

Change is good. Change over time is a must.

As I type this we're in the middle of a snow day. Schools here in NYC were canceled by 6pm last night. This seemed kind of crazy to me. Yes it was already snowing but by no means was it a huge storm. I guess the snow that was being forecasted prompted the city to take preemptive action. Again this is crazy to me. When I was growing up (I've never sounded older), in the same NYC public schools, we only had one snow day from kindergarten through 12th grade. That's not an exaggeration. That's a fact. Talk to anyone my age from New York and they will confirm it. We wear it like a badge of honor and bitterness at the same time. Honor because we suffered through getting to school in plenty of storms. Bitterness because nowadays you get notified that schools are closed the day before (you don't even have to get early to check the news or radio).

Anyway, things have clearly changed. Despite my bitterness, that's a good thing. Things should change as time goes by. We have more knowledge and better ways to communicate that knowledge. We should use that knowledge to make better choices. Instinctively I think we all know this.

I can't tell you how many times I've heard, "I've been doing this same workout for years..." Now when I hear this I'll ask the person if they've been doing their job the same way for years. Or I'll ask what else they've been doing the same exact way for years. For most people that's enough to get them to at least consider updating their workout routine.

The point here isn't to say that the routine is bad, usually I don't have any idea either way (if we're having this conversation, we've probably just met). The point is to point out that we know more than we used to and that there are probably improvements that can be made.

So what have you been doing the same way for a long time? Same workout program? Preparing your food the same way? Do you know more now about these things than you used to? (Possibly.) Is there more to learn about these things? (Definitely.)

Take a look and there's probably some small tweaks you can make that will lead to big changes.