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.


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.

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' 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]

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.

Your Metabolism Isn't Slowing Down

YOU'RE METABOLISM ISN'T SLOWING DOWN! Sorry for yelling but I've had a at least two different people (who don't know each other) ask how to combat their "slowing metabolism".

Ok now to be completely honest, as your metabolism does slow down a little, little, tiny, itty bitty, teeny weeny bit as you age. I know you've been told the opposite. Believe me.

So why have you gained weight over the years then?

One of  the women I was having this conversation with mentioned she's steadily been gaining weight. Now for context, she'd like to lose some weight but she is nowhere near overweight and she's 58 years old. She explained that she's gained like 10lbs since her 20's. She also explained that in her 20's she used to go on like 50 mile bike rides and run 5k's and half marathons on the regular.

At 58 while she exercises regularly she's never done those things since I've known her, which is going on about 6 years. I pointed that out to her.

The majority of the reason you've been gaining weight is simply because you're not doing nearly as much as you used to. You're working more and working out less. You most likely have more responsibilities (at work and at home) that push exercising to the back burning.

To go along with this, when you were younger you were probably more active in general (outside of working out) also. You walked more maybe because gas money was harder to come and you lived in the city. Nowadays you're buying premium in the burbs. It might not be to those extremes but you get the point.

The last thing I'll say about this is you're also gaining weight because you're losing muscle. Like I said you used to do more stuff. Now because you're not doing as much stuff, muscle you used to need is being turned to fat. Hopefully by now you've heard that muscle burns more calories than fat at rest. In other words, because you have less muscle you're burning fewer calories while you're sitting around not doing anything. Which again is most of the time.

What to do about it then?

This is preventable and reversible. It's actually quite simple too (not that easy though). The first thing is you've got to be more active. This includes working out more but you also need to be doing more non-exercise activity; things like walking more and taking the stairs. You can't go long stretches where you're sitting around doing nothing. At the very least every couple of hours you need to get up and move around.

Also when you do exercise, you must be lifting weights. Heavy weights. You have to keep the muscle you have and/or build more muscle. As explained above this will keep you burning more calories while you're at rest. Get on a good strength program.

There are certainly other reasons why you could be gaining weight as you age. These are probably the ones though. The main point is that it's not your metabolism slowing down.

You Can't Go It Alone

Last week a client told me she was going to have a "soup and salad" week. Meaning she was going to eat soup and salad for her lunches and dinners. She had already made a pot of soup to get her started. I trained her husband right after. I asked him about "soup and salad" week and he had no idea what I was talking about. Not a good sign. That was on Monday.

Fast forward to Friday. I was training her again and asked how "soup and salad" week was going. Turns out they had dinner plans with friends on Tuesday (which she had taken into account). Then Thursday night, somewhat at the last minute, her husband invited a bunch of people over for dinner and bought a lot of food that wasn't soup or salad.

She had a great plan. Soup and salad is a great way to limit calories (obviously depending on the soups and salads you eat). She even looked ahead and knew there would be one day where it likely wouldn't work (the Tuesday dinner party). What she didn't account for was the unexpected (Thursday's dinner guests).

How do you account for the unexpected? You can't expect people to follow the plan when they don't know there is a plan in place. So one way is to let everyone who will play a role in your plan know about the plan.

I know you think you can do it alone. You can't. This doesn't just telling your significant other either. It means telling your friends and coworkers too. When you tell your friends they can look for healthier options for weekend brunch or they'll be more understanding when you politely decline. Your coworkers will know not to tell you when Susie from accounting brings in donuts for the office.

While you can make a wide ranging public declaration, it doesn't need to be that. You just need to tell those closest to you and those who could have the biggest affect on your plan.

Also notice that telling others doesn't mean that they have to be on plan with you. It just means that they have to be respectful enough of you to not put you in compromising situations when it comes to your plan. On your end, don't take anything less and don't expect anything more.

You taken a great step by coming up with a plan. Now the next step is making sure that you can follow through with the plan. This step is going to require help from others. You can't go it alone.

Could vs Should

You've decided you're going to lose weight. That's awesome. You've taken the first step. Now I need you to slow down and possibly stop. Hear me out.

After taking that first step the tendency or the desire is to take a whole bunch more right after.   I can pretty much guarantee that by doing this you'll end up not taking any more steps. A better approach would be to take your time and carefully consider what you want/need the next step to be.

We all know there many steps that you could take. I'm asking that you figure out the steps that you should take. The difference between "could" and "should" may be the reason why you're not seeing the results you want to see.

Now I know there's someone reading this that's saying, "well what step should I take?". I have no idea what step you should take. This is the part where you have to carefully consider what will work best for you in your life. The Keto diet might've worked for your bestie but that doesn't mean it's going to work you. Again I have no idea. YOU have to figure out what will work best for YOU.

The main thing to consider when you're deciding on your next step is: is this something that I can easily do everyday? This is why you shouldn't be focused on all the things you could do. Trust me you can't do them all everyday.

The one thing you can do the easiest everyday is the thing you should be doing. Figure out what that one thing is. Then do that. Do just that. Everyday.

The Three Parts of Change

If you've been reading these blog posts for a while you may know that I have 2 sons. A 10 month old and a 3.5 year old (he would get very mad if I didn't add in that half a year). At some point I've probably mentioned that getting the older one to eat is one of my biggest daily frustrations. It's not that he doesn't eat, it just takes FOR-EV-ERRRRR (#Squintsvoice). He likes to talk and have stories told/read to him and play with whatever is in reach. Left to his own devices, a meal could easily last over an hour. My wife and I have tried just about everything to get him to eat faster. We've told him if he eats he'll have more time to play. We have a countdown clock where as time goes down it's shown as a red area that gets smaller and smaller. We've begged and pleaded. All of these techniques may work for a minute and a half. Then he's right back to doing everything but eating.

All our techniques focused on what Dan & Chip Heath would call the rider from their book Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard. The rider is described as the rational part of the brain. As I type this it strikes me that expecting a 3yr old to act rationally probably was never a good plan to begin with.

In the book the Heath brothers explain that there are two other ways you can affect change: the elephant and the path. The elephant refers to the less rational, more emotional part of the brain. As the name suggests it's much bigger than the rider. The path refers to all of the outside factors that are in play.

When it comes to Graham's (my 3yr old) "elephant" we try to coax along the path by having food choices for him. Having choices allows him to have a say in the process which helps.......most of the time. We also try to have at least one thing we know he'll eat, usually a fruit, to get the process going.

Then there's the "path". Things go best when we can all sit down and eat at the same time. Unfortunately, this doesn't work out most days for us timing wise; he just eats too early. One thing we're testing out right now is we've turned his table so he can see us and still be eating. Before he would be turning around to talk to us if we were in the kitchen or wherever. This leads to falling off his chair and food all over the place. By turning his little table 90º he's been able to see us and still eat. So far it's at least led to a little less clean up.

All of this is to say that when we're trying to change something (exercise or eating habits, sleep patterns, anything) our first strategy is often to attack the rider; to try to think of ways to change. However change is usually highly irrational (the elephant is always going to be bigger than the rider). So you're going to need to figure out the emotional reasons why change is beneficial. And even before bothering with the rider and elephant you'd better make sure there is a clear path.

4 Things You're Doing Your Trainer Hates

I'm gonna let you in on a little secret. I love all of my clients...I just don't love them all equally. Like with all loving relationships, there can be those little things can irk you and make you want to pull your hair out. You don't do that because love and all that good stuff...and you like having hair. Well they always say you should talk about these things and not keep them bottled up. So with that in mind, I'm going to list out the 4 biggest things that my clients do that drive me crazy.

  1. Not giving 100% effort: my job is to figure out, actually help you figure out, what you can do. In order to do that I need you put everything you have into it. If I've asked too much, I'll make the necessary adjustments. No need to worry. This goes for outside the gym also.
  2. No-show's/Late Cancellations: you shouldn't be doing this to anyone. It's just rude. I get it, things come up from time to time that are unavoidable. When the unavoidable becomes commonplace though well then it's annoying. For most of trainers, that's time that could've been used prepping for other clients or, better yet, sleeping. I haven't even mentioned loss of income because if you do it to me, you will be charged. Unfortunately in this business, time is money.
  3. All or nothing attitude: this one is just silly. People always chase perfect. Then when things inevitably aren't perfect they start over completely or worse they quit. Perfect doesn't exist. It's a mythical creature. The sooner you realize that, the sooner you'll appreciate the progress you've made.
  4. Self deprecation: I can't tell you how many times I've had clients list all the great stuff they've had happen while training: stuff like weight loss, getting stronger and learning new skills. Then they'll quickly shoot down it all down by saying the "results probably won't last" or "maybe the scale is broken". After I finish banging my head against the wall, I point out this negative self-talk and prohibit it in the future. You work too damn hard to dismiss quality results as accidents.

These are just a few things that drive me a little crazy. There's a common thread between all of these things. The fact is that all of these things have to do with you, the client, sabotaging your own success. All I'm asking is that you show up consistently, give it your all, recognize and appreciate your progress and successes. Is that too much?

Make a Plan...Stick to the Plan...Even if There's Puke

Here's the story of a man with a plan. This was going to follow through on this plan if it was the last thing he did. This is the story of a man's perseverance. This man is me. And if you give me a couple of minutes I promise it'll relate back to fitness. Here's a backstory before the story. I usually set my alarm for 5am. Even on the weekends. This past weekend I was up early on Saturday as usual. Went through the day blah blah blah. Saturday night I made the decision I was going to sleep in Sunday morning. This was a big deal for me. It's been a while since I slept in. So I decided to stay up late to get some work done. So at midnight I headed to bed with every intention of not waking up before 8am.

A few notes before I go on:

  1. At this point in my life, midnight is late on a Saturday night. Save your pity, I'm sad for myself.
  2. At this point in my life, 8am is sleeping late. Again save your pity.
  3. The way I figure it, I've got 10 years before my kids are old enough for me to get my life back. So there is an upside.

Ok, here's what happened. The baby happened. He woke up around 5am, which is normal. Normally he eats and falls back to sleep. Sunday morning, his pajamas are wet. Turns out that was an omen. After changing his clothes, my wife, Alli, goes to feed him. Then I hear a gag and a "" from her.

He vomited. I'm talking a Mt Vesuvius level eruption. To be completely honest, a small part of me is saying "that's all happening on her side of the bed and has nothing to do with me. Stick to the plan." I didn't do that though, I got up and helped with the clean up efforts. This involved changing the baby (again), Alli changing her clothes and changing the sheets. In the middle of this there was diarrhea.

All in all there was about an hour of changing clothes, sheets and doing laundry. Then Alli is like you go back to sleep, I'lll stay up with him. Within 5 minutes she was back in the bedroom changing her and the baby's clothes. He had puked again.

He continued to puke throughout the day. This story's not about him though, it's about me. Around 6:30am, I laid down again. It took me a little while but I fell back to sleep and didn't get up until 8:30.

The point of this story is I had a plan. Things didn't go exactly as planned. But as soon as it was possible, I got right back on the plan. This is for sure very tongue & cheek and I'm definitely making light of my son's illness. The point still stands though.

You have to have a plan. Things aren't going to go according to that plan. You have to realize that going in. Things aren't going to go according to that plan. Got that? Good. As soon as possible get back to the plan. If you want to reach the goal, you have to get back to the plan.

The 6 Steps to Change

Making a change is difficult. Most of us know that. Most of us think we just decide to change and then go about making that change. Most of us don't really know there are steps that lead to a change. This is true for every change that we make and if you look back at changes you've made I'm sure you can see these steps. If you know what to look for. To help you realize this, here's a story about something that happened in my household over the weekend.

  • Step 1: Inspiring Event- For us this event happened Saturday afternoon. I was at the gym and Alli has taken the kids to a class at the YMCA. When they got home, they were greeted to the sound of our carbon monoxide/smoke detector going off. This wasn't a low battery situation, it was legit alarming like something is wrong. Thankfully there was no smoke but that didn't rule out carbon monoxide (CO).
  • Step 2: Immediate Resolution- After checking on a couple of things and opening some windows and the alarm still not stopping, Alli called 911. The fire department arrived very quickly. Shoutout to the FDNY. Fully geared up firemen came into the apartment and checked on things, including using a CO meter.
  • Step 3: Realization of an issue- Turns out we just had an old alarm that needed to replaced. Had it not been for this we probably we would've never checked. (Yes I know I should be checking these things periodically...yada yada yada.)
  • Step 4: Plan to resolve issue- All of the above happened in a span of about 15 minutes. Alli had called me & told me what was going on. Before I could get home (a 10 minute walk) she was calling me to tell me the outcome and tell me to stop at a hardware store to pick up a new alarm.
  • Step 5: Enact plan to resolve issue- Now I've made it home with a brand new alarm. The emergency is over but I've still got to put up the new alarm. I thought I could just put where the old one was. Turns out I can't even reach that spot and the new alarm won't fit there even if I could. Now I'm going to need tools and a drill. I get out everything I need. Then I sit there for at least an hour doing absolutely nothing.
  • Step 6: Actually enact plan- I didn't do absolutely nothing: I ate lunch & watched Duke pull out a college basketball game. Once I actually got around to putting up the alarm, it took about 15 minutes and that was that.

Now this was me having to change a CO/smoke detector. These steps are involved in every change we make. Take losing weight: maybe you go through a break-up or your favorite piece of clothing doesn't fit anymore (step 1); you get new clothes or have a one night stand (umm, to each their own...) (step 2); turns out you can't afford to keep buying new clothes & sleeping with random people is not that fulfilling (step 3); you decide to join the gym (step 4); you go to the gym with no real idea of what you're doing (step 5); you make a real plan for the gym, maybe hire a trainer (step 6).

The first three steps can/do happen relatively quickly. These are the reactionary steps. You don't have to do anything to get started taking them; things happen to you, you respond accordingly. The next three steps are where things can get tough. These steps require you to be proactive. This can be/is hard. Especially if the momentum from the first three steps has worn off.


"Don't Yuck my Yum"

I did a bad thing. I didn't mean to do it but nevertheless it was a bad thing. I yucked somebody's yum. Now unless you have a three year old you probably don't know what it means to "yuck someone's yum." So let me explain. To "yuck a yum" means you're expressing your dislike for something that someone else likes.

My son was taught "don't yuck someone else's yum." It's a preschool/daycare lesson taught to toddlers to show them that people can/do like different things and that's ok. It's taught during meal times inevitably when one kid says something another kid is eating is gross. See, yuck & yum.

And as with most preschool lessons, this lesson extends well beyond its intended purpose.

Ok, who's yum did I yuck? (Aside: I'm having a lot of fun typing yuck & yum over and over. I might belong in preschool.)

Here's the story: My wife and I were sitting on the couch watching TV when she looked at her phone and expressed glee. A friend had sent her a post workout picture in a sports bra. I was like "what's the big deal"? Turns out it was a bucket list item for this friend to workout in a sports bra.

Here's the yuck: I stupidly stuck to my guns wondering what the big deal was. This is someone I know that works out regularly and is thin and attractive. I see less thin and less attractive women working out in sports bras all the time. (And to be clear, that's ok.)

Here's the yum: my wife explained that this had to do with confidence. Particularly her friend having the confidence to take a step she'd been avoiding for a long time. This shouldn't have needed to be explained to me but as I said I might belong in preschool.

I yucked her yum. That was bad. This was particularly bad considering that a really, really big part of my job is helping people find their confidence and realize they can and should do all sorts of things. I should've immediately realized what was at play here and been just as delighted as my wife. I blew it. Preschool.

I'm telling you this because there are probably a lot of new people in your gym right now. A lot of these people are stepping out of their comfort zones and trying stuff they've been scared/uncomfortable to try for a long time. Keep that in mind. Realize what may seem insignificant to you could be huge for them. Don't yuck their yum.

What I learned from doing 10,000 swings

So I completed the 10,000 swing challenge. It's was 500 swings/workout for 20 workouts across five weeks. I learned some stuff over those five weeks. Here's a little bit about it and how you can use it to help out with your 2019 resolutions.

  • Perspective Matters: 20 workouts is not that many. 5 weeks isn't that long. However when you start thinking about 4 workouts/week and 500 swings/workout it starts looking a little onerous.
    • So when things start to feel overwhelming try changing your perspective. Seeing things from another angle can give you the jolt of motivation you need to keep going.
  • Your Plan Matters: you're not going to follow it perfectly but you have to have one. A well thought out plan allows you to make adjustments (to the plan) easier. As you think about your plan you automatically think about what can go wrong. So planning primes you for when the plan doesn't go as planned. Weird right?
    • So spend extra time in the planning phase. This extra time will save you time when things don't go as planned.
  • Consistency Matters: consistency matters so much it's pretty much the main predictor of success (when it comes to health & fitness anyway). You must show up everyday. Tired? Still gotta show up. Bored? Show up anyway. There is no other way to say this: if you want to be successful you have to do the work (whatever it is) everyday.
    • So the key here is to just get started. Take your workout clothes to work, get an accountability partner, hire a coach/ whatever it takes to remove any obstacles that will keep you from starting.

With that I want to say happy New Year. I'm looking forward to helping to make 2019 the funnest, fittest and healthiest year ever for as many people as possible. So reach out and let me know what your biggest goal of 2019 is and I'll let you know how I can help and/or support you in reaching that goal.

I'm working on Christmas Eve...

It's 8:15am on Christmas Eve. I'm sitting in Starbucks typing this. This is not where I want to be. By now I'm sure my kids are awake and running around the apartment. I'd like to be home keeping the baby away from the tree and attempting to get the oldest to stop running back & forth through the apartment for maybe 5 minutes. Actually on 2nd thought, Starbucks is a lot more peaceful. Just kidding...kind of. So why am I here in Starbucks? I'm here because I'm committed to running/building my business. This means there are days/holidays where I have to sneak out of the house for a few hours to get some work done.

I'm only trying to pat myself on the back a little here. The main reason I'm telling you this is to show what it means to be committed something. There will be times where you'll have to do some things that you don't necessarily want to do. This is important to realize, especially as you're probably thinking about New Year's resolutions.

With that in mind here's a list of questions you can ask yourself to ensure that you have success with your resolutions. These questions will help you map out when the uncomfortable times are going to show up. This will allow you to prepare for them to make them as comfortable as possible.

  • Why?- why is this resolution important to you? Answer that. Now why is that answer important? Repeat this process 3 more times. This should get you to down to your most base motivation. This is what you'll come back to when things get tough.
  • What?- what do you have to do to be successful? Physically what do you have to do? Mentally what do you have to do (this might be more important)?
  • Who?- who do you need to help you be successful? Do you need to hire a coach or someone else?
  • Who?- who do you need to clear this with? Not that you need permission but you have to realize when you change your life it will affect the people who are closest to you. So you need to speak to with your significant other and family members and close friends to get their support.
  • Where?- can you do this at home? Do you have to go somewhere? If so how are you going to get there?
  • When?- when are you going to do it? Is it always going to be the same time or will it have to change weekly or daily? If it does have to change, have you scheduled in all the changes?

As you can see most of these questions lead to other questions. The thing is the more of these questions you can answer ahead of time the higher the likelihood of success. Answering these questions is like having GPS for a road trip. Good GPS will help avoid traffic slow downs and roadblocks. So take time to ask and answer these questions.

Ok I have to get back home with the kiddos and continue in the Christmas fun. Have a very merry Christmas and enjoy the time with friends and family.