Turning Your Excuses Into Progress

Excuses aren’t helpful. Agreed? Good.

Moving on.

More important are the reasons we feel inclined to make an excuse.

An excuse is used as a justification for a mistake or imperfection. Excuses seek to lessen blame or judgement.

Considering how fucking judgy the fitness world can be, no wonder it’s riddled with excuses. We hate feeling judged!

If we think we’re going to be judged, an excuse is a rational defense mechanism. We all make excuses for our imperfections, so there will be no high horses allowed.

get-off-your-high-horse

I don’t fault people for making excuses. That said, if we own the fuck out of our imperfections, we will nurture a greater capacity for growth and behavior change.

The excuses we make to ourselves hold us back the most.

Excuses prevent us from being honest with ourselves.

Self talk matters. When we make excuses, we shirk responsibility.

The missing factor here is acceptance.

We can’t fix our mistakes if we don’t accept the fact that we made them. To move forward we need to be brutally honest.

Excuses are sustain talk– they reinforce our internal status quo.

Taking responsibility and really owning our shit is hard, but it’s challenge worth undertaking.

Reasons, on the other hand, are an analysis. Reasons seek to objectively explain a series of events.

The search for reasons implies acceptance, mindfulness, and assessment. All of which are necessary to overcome our barriers, rather than continue to bash our faces against them.

So how do we turn excuses into reasons?

Build a habit of mindfulness around excuses.

Be on the lookout for excuses. When you notice one, dive into the fear shower and seek out the reasons you made that excuse.

You’re trigger for practicing this habit is guilt. Feelings of guilt usually precede excuses.

If you notice something else that would serve as a more consistent, obvious trigger then by all means use that.

We all have different relationships with food and exercise. I don’t mean to paint this issue as being black and white. My aim is simply to provide a starting point for exploring this relationship.

When you’re trigger happens, tell yourself out loud, “It’s OK”, ideally in the mirror. Next, try to objectively tease out the reasons for the decision in question. A journal where you reflect on your fitness journey can work wonders here.

Note that feelings (guilt, sadness, stress etc) can be objective reasons.

Objective simply means honest. Objective doesn’t mean denying your feelings. It’s actually the opposite. Objectivity means fully embracing and accepting that, “This is how I feel”.

torn

Be brutally honest. It doesn’t matter what the reason is, as long as it’s honest.

“I was tired and didn’t feel like it” is honest. “It’s OK because I went for a run today” isn’t.

If we can remove moral attachment to foods we can lessen food guilt and the ensuing excuses that stand in the way of our fat loss goals.

Another way to combat food guilt and excuses is to join a crew of people you know won’t judge you because they are experiencing the same struggles.

A culture built around growth and acceptance might be the best way conquer this. And I’m not just saying that because I want you to join the Tribe of Badassery Coaching Group. I promise 🙂

 

Did you like this post? Do you hate my guts and want to tell me personally? Either way, you should opt in at http://mortontrainingsystems.com/ and get my free ebook “Insanity Free Loss”

 

Danger at the Deli

I have a strange problem.

I can’t seem to eat a sandwich without somehow managing to cut my lip.

blood on the sandwich

To my knowledge, this is not something that happens to normal people.

The whole thing is baffling. Unless my sandwiches are getting laced with glass shards I really have no idea how this keeps happening to me.

Yes, I have a weird problem. This one is particularly wacky, but I have a lot of problems that other people don’t have in addition to the standard boring problems of the majority.

It’s OK to be weird.

It’s normal to have problems that are abnormal. Everyone’s experience is different. Naturally, the problems around our unique experiences can be just as unique, and odd.

We’re all weirdos.

Don’t get me wrong, it feels great when we meet people who are going through the same things as we are. It’s a powerful thing. However, we can take solace in knowing that our weirdness unites us, even if we’re weird in slightly different ways.

It’s easy to feel like we’re broken and fucked up in some way. The funny thing is that everybody feels like that. Doesn’t mean we are of course, but the feeling is a common one nevertheless.

Finding others who share the same struggles is huge in overcoming those struggles. Finding your tribe, or community, is extremely powerful. We can overcome tough struggles much easier as a group than we can on our own.

I want to help you find your tribe.

I am now accepting applications for my online coaching group. The group will be a community of fit folks looking to get leaner in a non-obsessive, sustainable way. No yoyo dieting, no strict dietary restrictions, just healthy, stress-free habits.

Coaching will begin on January 15 and spots are limited. Fill out a short application  to reserve your spot.

The Difference of Doing Things Differently

Different things work for different people at different times.

Whether or not something achieves the desired effect depends on where we are in that moment. For example, if I eat pizza everyday, cutting out pizza will have a huge impact on my physique, provided I don’t substitute the pizza with something equally energy dense(high calories/low satiety). However, if I eat pizza once a month, cutting out pizza will have virtually zero effect.

To give a strength training example, let’s say I want to deadlift more weight. I hear that strong hamstrings are the key to a strong deadlift. I start hitting my hamstrings really hard. After a month or so of beefing up my hammies, my deadlift weight goes up. Hooray!

hooray-zoidberg-300x186

However, that doesn’t mean this strategy will work for everyone. It will work for a deadlift that is stagnant because of weak hamstrings. But if the problem is core, grip, glute, or back strength, then hitting the hammies won’t yield the same benefit.

Whether or not a strategy works depends on where we are at. It’s quite possible to read a good article, try out the strategies provided, only to have them not work for you. Doesn’t mean the strategies don’t work, just that they weren’t written for you presently.

There are tons of articles that say this:

You aren’t making progress, because you don’t work hard enough.

And plenty of other articles that say this:

You aren’t making progress because you work too hard.

And they are both right. They are simply written for different people. It just depends on which end of the spectrum we fall on.

This is important to remember when experimenting with different methods. It’s frustrating to work hard on something and not progress. Especially if we’ve tried many different methods from seemingly reliable sources, it can seem hopeless, like we are broken. We aren’t broken, we just haven’t considered our context when focusing our efforts.

Going back to the deadlift example, strengthening my hamstrings is an efficient approach to this end so long as I know my hammies are my weak link. Otherwise, I’m just guessing which is productive if I take an experimental perspective. There is nothing wrong with trial and error. To the contrary! This article is meant to encourage trial and error. However, the implication of this method is the objective collection of data from said trials i.e. utilize information from your errors without emotion.

A fitness journey is a super long adventure into uncharted territory. We have no choice but to explore to move forward. We will inevitably take a few wrong turns, but blaming ourselves for these wrong turns is not only counterproductive but is also unjustified. Learning a new skill requires practice, and a LOT of messups.The nature of trial and error is that there will be errors we can learn from. It’s not called trial and success after all.

Furthermore, just because something doesn’t work at a given time, doesn’t mean it should be thrown into the trash heap and deemed a waste of time. If we learn something from it, it wasn’t a waste of time, but a necessary detour. Furthermore, maybe we just weren’t ready for it yet, or it wasn’t advanced enough for us. We can’t know this until we look at our errors with an objective and analytical lens.

Let’s say I’m trying to build a habit of eating vegetables at lunch. There are a million different ways of going about this. I could plan my lunch ahead of time, I could set a reminder in my phone, I could bring my lunch to work etc.

What works with my lifestyle won’t necessarily work with yours. And we won’t know what strategies work until we try them out. For me, maybe putting a reminder in my phone gets the job done. This might not work for everyone. That doesn’t mean it’s not a valid strategy. After all, it worked for at least one person. More importantly, a failed attempt at this habit via this strategy doesn’t mean that the habit(or you) is flawed. It simply means we need to experiment and find a strategy that better suits you.

In summary, it’s easy to get discouraged when our efforts don’t turn out the way we hoped. However, trial and error is an inherent part of the process of getting better at any skill. It’s natural to feel frustrated. However, I encourage you to remember that if you’re figuring out what doesn’t work for you, you are well on way to figuring out what does. Simply put, there is no way of expediting this process. Try to be patient and forgiving with yourself and you’ll get there.

 

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This Might Be The Silliest Thing I Have Ever Written

Half-assin it might be a quarter ass too much.

Us humans half-ass a lot of things. Frankly, I think we ought to full-ass things more often.

What if I told you that half-assing something might actually be full-assing in disguise? Or that half-assing could be a quarter-ass too much?

monty python general too silly

You following me so far? No? Good. If you were able to follow that I’d be concerned.

It does make sense, I assure you.

Ok, so just what the hell am I talking about?

Well, for starters I just wanted an excuse to say the phrase “full-assing”. “Half-assing” is in the common vernacular, but no one ever says “full-assing”. Why is this? It’s implied, no? If one can half ass something then surely one can full-ass something. Do we simply never have to glorious opportunity to say such a thing because half-assing is so rampant?

See I think we aren’t as lazy as we think we are.

I probably seemed pretty lazy as a youth. I never made my bed and pretty much did, what I felt, was the bare minimum in school. And I complained quite a bit about doing chores around the house. In comparison to the migrant workers working in the neighboring fields under the scorching Central Valley sun, I was quite the spoiled little shit. Then again most people are spoiled little shits compared to migrant workers. Truth is, I just didn’t connect mowing the lawn or making my bed with my values or identity.

I still don’t make my bed. But I’m also somewhat of a workaholic when it comes  to my job because I’m passionate about what I do.

My clients are all extremely dedicated, hard workers. I swear, getting them to take longer rest periods between sets is like pulling teeth, even on the days when they say they are feeling lazy. This is an example of the perception of half-assery when the reality is full assery, and maybe then some.

We may feel like we are half-assing our fitness efforts when we are, in fact, overly-assing it. Overly-assing it means we have taken on more ass than we can handle. If we can’t seem to make headway, we might be assin’ it too hard.

This is the paradox. Now, I’m of the mind that if we’re going to do something, we should full-ass it. However, that doesn’t mean we need to attempt to get everything perfect– far from it. What this means is that we should commit to things that we can easily full-ass, rather than commit to behaviors that are unrealistically difficult only to end up half-assing it.

This is really just a sillier way of saying that we ought to commit to small, reasonable habits that progress over time, setting ourselves up for wins. The alternative is setting ourselves up for failure by holding ourselves to impossible, impractical standards.

Diet rules are all entirely made up, by us. We make up these rules and then we follow them based on their intent, or we try to cheat the system we have created for ourselves, technically following the self imposed rules, but working around the reasons we made the rules in the first place. This gets us nowhere. Thus, we need to create rules that we don’t want to cheat. If we are making up the rules, we ought to set ourselves up for success, rather than failure by holding ourselves to unrealistic standards.

We ought to commit to behaviors that we are 100% certain we can full-ass. This will be a much quicker, easier route to success than setting the standards so high that we have no choice but to half-ass it.

That then allows us room to grow and expand on those habits, building on our successes, rather than retreating from what we perceive as failures. These aren’t failures, they are simply a mistake of committing to something that we could not ass to the fullest. Sometimes it feels like we aren’t doing enough, when in reality we are doing too much. It feels like we are half-assing our efforts we didn’t adhere 100% to our unrealistic plan. This leads us to think we are lazy, when in reality we let our ambition trump our patience.

Success begets success. If we have complete control over what we decide to commit to, let’s commit to something we can do right, rather than something we can’t. This doesn’t mean we are slacking off, it means we are working smarter, being in tune with our psychology.

When do this, we end up doing the same amount of work to greater success, but with less effort and stress. And of equal importance, we actually move forward, rather than stagnate. When we listen to where we are at, progress goes much smoother. The fastest way to climb a mountain is one step at a time.

Weekly Fitness Reads: 11/16/15

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/that-fit-person-whos-got-it-all-together-doesnt

It’s pretty easy to feel like we’re alone, like nobody else has the same problems that we do. How could we not feel like this? All we ever really see are people’s highlight reels, especially when it comes to social media. I think the issues discussed in this piece are essential if the fitness industry is going to actually help people.

http://www.adampine.com/uncategorized/sumo-and-conventional-deadlift/

Have you heard about how deadlifts are awesome and the answer to pretty much everything? Have you also heard that deadlifts will launch your spine across the room? Here is the answer to your apprehension and confusion. This comprehensive guide to deadlifting will get you started with the two common variations of the king of all lifts. All I can say is that I wish I had this article when I first started lifting.

https://www.t-nation.com/training/40-workout-strength-challenge

I’ve done this lifting protocol several times and my strength always goes through the roof. Pick one lift from each category: Push, Pull, Squat, Hinge, Carry. Do 2 sets of 5 reps for each lift 5 days a week. Keep the weights around 50%-60% intensity range. Get stronger. Easy enough, right?

Is It Worth It?

“Sonofa%*^%^$^S$&*Balls*(&^(%Cranberry&%*^($!!!!”

These were the words that escaped my lips ever so gently as an excruciating pain ripped through my ankle. I cautiously glanced at my foot. My ankle looked like an anaconda that hadn’t fully digested yesterday’s brunch of sautéed capybara .

Clutching my leg and attempting to gather my thoughts, I surveyed the flat, open farmland, which was quite beautiful at that time of day actually. My mind was elsewhere though. I was slightly more concerned with the large grapefruit that had blossomed in my foot.

My house was at least good hundred yards away, and the dry, flakey dirt was riddled with gopher holes. I looked up at the roof towering above my curled up frame. Doing my best to avoid the ubiquitous gopher holes, I grabbed my skateboard and hobbled away using my board as a cane. It didn’t work that well, but it was better than nothing I suppose.

Ow.Step.Ow.Step.Ow.Step.Ow.Step.Ow.Fuck.Ow.Step.Ow…etc.

Half an hour later I made it to the door of my house. When my sister saw me clumsily limping into the air conditioned refuge of my house, she gave a tremendous sigh, “What the hell did you do?”

“Ah, nothing it’s fine, just a sprain”.

scratch

My thinking at the time.

It wasn’t a sprain. I didn’t know it yet but that shiz was broken.

I had to get surgery. It was balls.

I spent a lot of time that summer getting sighed at. Many shook their heads in my general direction. Here’s the thing though:

I regret nothing. NOTHING!

regret

My thinking now.

Well sure, I regret breaking my ankle. But I don’t regret the attempt at skateboarding off that roof. I don’t regret taking the risk. I was fully aware of the potential repercussions of this dangerous hobby of mine. I wasn’t jumping off the roof expecting to land in the soft embrace of fluffy clouds. Don’t get me wrong, it would have been pretty sweet if I could have Gandalfed off the roof, but I knew that was wishful thinking.

There were plenty of attempts where I DIDN’T break my ankle. In fact, there were significantly more attempts where my ankle didn’t break than did. The outcome of that final attempt was less than desireable, but I still don’t regret it, even after being chided by every single nurse in Tracy General Hospital. If I would have succeeded(which I actually did the day prior, I’ll have you know) I probably wouldn’t have received the same amount of flack. That’s kind of the nature of risk taking– sometimes you get wrecked and end up spending an entire summer playing Banjo-Kazooie on the couch(which was actually pretty sweet) waiting for your ankle to heal so you can jump off more shit, that’s why it’s a risk.

banjo kazooie

At the time, jumping off the roof was worth the potential pride and satisfaction I would incur if I rolled away. The feeling of conquering my fear was worth it. And no, I’m not recommending jumping off the roof. It’s important to take risks, but we must be fully aware of whether or not the potential risk is worth the potential reward for us.

People who don’t take risks, don’t achieve much. Fear of failure, ridicule, or even success holds us back. That’s just how it works. Fear is the mind killer.

That said, when you break your ankle, people will give you shit. Hell, people will give you shit when you succeed. The only way to not have people give you shit is to be spectacularly ordinary. And who the hell wants that?

Anyways, I digress. I want to talk about analyzing the risks and rewards of our fitness attempts.

Answering the question from last week’s post, “Just because I can do something, should I?” entails analyzing not only risks and rewards, but how our priorities and values line up with said risks and rewards.

Looking at our goals is a good starting point. Once we have clear goals it becomes easier to weigh the risks and rewards. Because no matter what we do there is a risk. Always. It might not be the risk of a broken bone, but maybe a missed opportunity. By attempting to take no risks at all, I am risking stagnation. That said some risks are unnecessary. For example, it’s unnecessary to take every set of squats to failure if the goal is to get stronger.

Here some questions that can help clarify what we are doing, why, and if it’s really what we want to be doing:

What are my goals that I am trying to achieve with this strength training program? Then rank these goals in order of importance to you.

Why are these goals important to me? Write down every single reason why each goal is important to you. Every. Single. Reason. All of them. Dig deep into this. Like your trying to evolve your Diglett into a Dugtrio.

dugtrio

What are the potential benefits? What is the likelihood of the these benefits if I continue doing what I’m doing?

What are the risks? What is the likelihood of these risks?

Are the risks worth the potential benefits?

Is there a way that I can still reap the benefits while minimizing the risk? i.e. eliminating unnecessary risks?

Am I acting in concordance with my values? With the things that are important to me?

The question, “Is it worth it?”, doesn’t have an objective answer. Only the individual can decide this for themselves.

So now, after answering the questions listed above, I ask you this:

Would you still jump off the roof?

Weekly Fitness Reads: 11/9/15

http://www.tannerbaze.com/self-destructive-tendencies-why-we-actively-harm-ourselves-and-the-strategies-im-using-to-fix-it/ 

Ok, this is pretty awesome. We all work against ourselves at times, and it’s a tough place to climb out of. While the author humbly claims he doesn’t have all the answers, his strategies for overcoming the spiral of self-sabotage really resonate with me and seem spot on.

Oh em gee also,”you can’t get a rainbow without a rainstorm”. Genius.

http://www.startribune.com/95-year-old-shares-tricks-of-safe-falling/294726671/ 

This story tells of both a badass and a very intelligent 95 year old man. The statistics for fall related deaths and injuries are quite high. This guy is awesome and we could all take a page from his book if we want to live longer, happier, more adventurous lives.

http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2015/11/05/stuck-at-the-starting-line-find-your-gateway-change/  

I can’t resist a good article about building habits. Every journey starts with one step. In addition to loving that this website is aptly named “Nerd Fitness”, this piece discusses a tough subject with striking clarity. The hardest part of any journey is taking that first step. This article gives you the how and the why.

I’m currently accepting online coaching clients and I would love to help you lose weight and feel better. Online coaching offers the same accountability, support, and motivation as in person coaching, and I’d love to help!

Ready to lose weight in a healthy, no stress, sustainable way? To get started just fill out this short application.