Here we go again.

lemmings

Hold on to your hats gym-goers. It’s that time of year again. Your favorite place to worship at the temple of sweat is about to be overrun. The resoluters are coming; the resoluters are coming…..

Like lemmings drawn towards the sea they come. Sporting their new workout gear, full of energy and optimism with their new shaker/water bottle clenched in their fists, they will most surely occupy the machine/bench or rack you were looking to use. Just like that person who wanders over and stands in front of the exact item in the grocery store that you wanted. What are the odds that there are two people in my area that both want toasted sesame seeds at that exact same moment in time? Be patient. They are new. They may not have goals, or be too familiar with gym etiquette. Statistically 6-8 weeks from now 75-90% of them will be gone. Maybe they met their goal and don’t need it any more. Maybe that gym in particular wasn’t a good fit for them. Whatever the reason, the herd will thin out.

Now if you happen to be one of those small percentage that survive the mental selection process that happens for people new to fitness, or are returning from a long break, then to you I say Fantastic! You obviously have motivation and discipline. Here are some handy survival tips for sustaining your new healthy lifestyle. I have developed these over the years through a combination of research, firsthand experience and observation.

First, memorize this phrase if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it. That’s right. You need a baseline. A form tangible metric to use as a starting point that aligns with your goal. I don’t care what your goal is. If there is no way to measure it, it’s not a good goal. If it’s weight loss or gain, you need to be on that scale. If it’s mass you want to gain or body fat you want to lose, you should get out that tape measure. If its strength you want, then how much and in what area? You need to know your one-rep max. Your goal is a 5k?  Cool, then how fast? Or is it to just finish? If so how far can you run right now?  That benchmark is your first step on the journey of a thousand miles. And test your metric periodically. Do you want to get to the end of your 8-week program and find out your plan didn’t work? Periodically, check and adjust.

scales

Second, educate yourself. If the fitness industry is good at any one thing, it’s starting marketable trends. There is always some trendy new fitness plan, cleanse, shake, supplement or gadget, etc. Block it out. You will be better for it, I promise you. There is no substitute for consistency and effort. While some of these things can certainly help you, I assure you their contribution is minor. The internet is a wealth of information, most of which is conflicting or just downright bad. Try and stay with reputable sources. You will know you are in the right place when you don’t see any frills.

Third, get a role model. Someone who inspires you and aligns with your goals. Someone who has already successfully done what you are looking to do. When you emulate success, you will most often become successful.  Be choosy and be realistic. If you are new to fitness and looking to lose 15 pounds and get in better shape overall, maybe following pro-Bikini competitor on Instagram probably isn’t the smartest idea.

                                                           pitt trainer.jpg

Last, beware of “trainers”. There are many reputable ones out there. The ones that work at your gym, while technically “trained” and “certified”, can often lack experience. Sure they are experts at implementing the cookie-cutter basic fitness program your chain-fitness center subscribes to. And yes, a twenty-something that lives/works at the gym is generally in phenomenal shape. More than likely they got that way by following a program they created or found and that is not what they are giving you. Too often I have seen a house trainer putting someone through a workout that is either in a booklet in their hand or a template on a clipboard. And if you are not going to engage with a trainer consistently (several times a week at least) it isn’t worth it. If you want a real trainer, go out and find one. They will generally either have their own facility, or have a number of gyms they work out of.

There you go. It’s not pretty. Not sexy. Sometimes it will suck. You’re going to fail once in a while. Not every day will be another step in your progression. But you are in charge, and only you can decide to make it work or not.

I wish you all continued success on your journey.

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It’s the most scammer-filled time of the year…..

You all know at this point the holidays are here. We all sit here contemplating eating and workout strategies to counteract the bad food, stress and hectic schedules that come with it. Each of us fighting our own battles. Whether it be monk-like abstinence or hedonistic holiday ritual binging, The holidays really magnify any holes you have in your fitness game. As a famous German military strategist once said:

helmuth_karl_bernhard_von_moltke

 

No Battle Plan Survives Contact With the Enemy”.

So true Helmuth….so very, very true.

Anyway, here we are. Some of us will stay within  the herd of conventional wisdom. Unfortunately, just like on Animal Planet, there are those that will stray form the herd. Enticed out by fitness gypsies with empty promises. Driven by desire for quick results, or the frustration brought about by lack of progress, they fall prey to these predators and their quick-fix gimmicks. We have all heard them “Take this pill, by this gadget, drink these shakes, reduce the bloat, remove that toxic sludge buildup”, etc. etc. etc.

Well what the hell right? It’s only $19.95 plus shipping and handling. Hell, I get a second one free (that should always be a red flag), and if I don’t like it I can return it for a full refund (again, red flag). They know your mental state. You are in a hurry. Your frustrated and want quick progress. So they play on that sense of urgency by promising quick results. They throw in some b.s. science terms as a pedigree to get you to trust the product. And then to beat down your skepticism, if it still remains, they give you the safety of the guarantee. It’s marketing 101 folks, and if you are not informed, you don’t stand a chance. The system is designed to exploit psychological weaknesses that we all have.

I follow a bunch of YouTube Fitness Channels as do a lot of us who are interested in fitness. One of them is Chelsea Lifts. If you are not familiar with her, she is fairly young and new to the game, but pretty sharp. She has a gym, does online coaching, I believe she is a certified nutritionist….but what I like is her openness and her fairly basic approach to fitness.  Eat healthy, workout regularly, and track your progress, both food and weight consistently. So she posted a video about a quick weight loss transformation and 14 pound weight loss in 14 days. Form the title and the before/after images, at first glance you will swear it is one of those gimmick-selling videos. Trust me it isn’t. She explains exactly how she did it and why. She also explains the tricks that people who make these videos or ads use to give results that are misleading in order to get you to buy something.  I have included the link below, so check it out. This is not a shameless plug for her channel, I am just sharing what I think is good information to educate you as a consumer.

Is it possible you cold buy this wonder gimmick and it could work? Sure. But if it worked for more people than it didn’t , whatever it was would be flying off the shelves ad it would be all over the place. Be skeptical, and if in doubt then just stick to the basics. It may not be slick and sexy. It may not be fast. But I can assure you the results will be more sustainable. If you know someone, like a lot of us do, who is constantly “doing a cleanse” to remove bloat, or lose those annoying 5 pounds, they are most likely victims of “new school” thinking and not sticking to the basics.

Be skeptical, trust tried and true methods, and beware! Snake Oil salesman still exist. They just found a new market, weight loss.

Morning Coffee 12/16/16

woodsSometimes you need to stop and reset. I stopped this morning and spent a minute thinking. That’s when I took the picture. I reset my perspective and decided to start fresh. A new day dawns….just like the picture. Fresh. No footprints in the snow. Calm , peaceful……nothing has happened yet.

No failures or unmet expectations from yesterday. No victories to rest on.  Everything made fresh just for me. So really, only I can screw it up and only I can claim victory when it’s over.

 

Morning Coffee with Tom

Morning Coffee with Tom

“If you want to kick the tiger in his ass, you’d better have a plan for dealing with his teeth”

Tom Clancy

Strange, I know. But it sounds like some wisdom Grandpa would have handed down, doesn’t it?

Think before you act or things can quickly go bad. It doesn’t mean you should not kick the tiger once in a while, just don’t let what happens next be a surprise. Have a Plan.

Disclaimer: No Tigers were injured during the writing of this blog.  The author does not condone, support or otherwise agree with kicking Lions, Tigers and /or Bears. Oh my!