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 🙂

 

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Canned Fish and Individuality

My friend hates sardines.

He completely abhors them. I don’t get it. I love the little fishies. I think they taste great. Plus, they’re cheap and healthy. Beyond that, they’re insanely convenient.

That said, my buddy reels at the thought. He still gives me shit about recommending them.

“Jeff made me eat sardines. I shall never forgive him”, he says with the utmost disdain. I have to watch my back around him now.

Soon-horse

I forced him to do no such thing. I simply said they were cheap, healthy, and delicious. However, only 2 of those things were true for him.

When we read articles that say “10 foods to do this or that”, and we try them and they don’t jive, that doesn’t necessarily mean the article provided bad information. Maybe it just wasn’t a good fit.

This fitness stuff is all new. It’s all a big experiment. If we knew how to do it we would have done it already. Not everything we try will click.

Putting effort into a new behavior and “failing” is frustrating. It’s especially frustrating if we’ve tried millions of different things, and consequently feel stagnant.

A tactic can be still objectively effective, even if it doesn’t work for us.

Is it my friends “fault” that sardines weren’t a good option for him? Does his hatred for sardines(and now myself), and thus the failure to build a habit around them, mean that he’s a failure incapable of eating healthier?

Of course not.

Sardines just weren’t a good recommendation. Sardines didn’t meet his particular needs. Of course I had no way of knowing that.

The internet is full of good ideas. Some of them don’t work for us. Does that mean they don’t work? Does that mean they’re bad ideas? Or that we don’t work?

Hell. Freaking. No!

Fitness can be complicated, especially when considering how complicated life is.

The fact that it’s hard and you’re trying things that don’t work means you’re learning. This is all one big experiment. I repeat myself here because this is important.

The nature of experimentation is that we don’t know what will happen. We’re all figuring this life thing out as we go along.

No one said this was easy. If they did, they’re full of shit.

No one can tell us what will work for us. This can be hard to reconcile.

No one can possibly know what will jive with your lifestyle except you. And even then, there are only educated guesses. There’s no penalty for guessing incorrectly; it’s not wasted time.

Now you know one thing that didn’t work for you at this point in your life.

You’re one step closer.

 

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I’m A Fool

A damned fool.

Facebook just reminded me of this, and I’m pretty embarrassed about it.

Here’s what happened. Facebook does this thing now where it shows you things you posted years ago, whether you want it to or not. So 3 years ago I shared an article that spoke of the terrible evils of sugar. The piece essentially claimed that sugar caused all of the world’s problems from global warming to Donald Trump. And here’s the kicker. My caption: Wow, so sugar is apparently as addictive as cocaine.

picard facepalm

This is the type of fear mongering that I rail against today. While I’m damn embarrassed about this, it’s a nice little reminder not to be pompous about anything, because there’s a good chance I’m wrong(except about Donald Trump, if he becomes president I’m getting my ass to Mars).

My embarrassment stems from fear. My biggest fear as a coach is doing harm, that I’m not actually helping and that I’m making things worse. When I saw what I had posted 3 years ago, a knot manifested itself in my stomach. Perpetuating such nonsense is surely detrimental to helping folks build a healthy relationship with food. Ugh.

So what’s the point Jeff? You’re confessing your sins blah blah blah…get on with it!

Here’s the point!

Being an inexperienced fool is part of learning ANYTHING. And that’s completely Ok. Being wrong and screwing up is part of the process, it’s inevitable and necessary. And of equal importance, admitting when you’re wrong is how you get better.

And I can logically come to terms with this, but that doesn’t mean that I like being reminded of how bad I used to be at my job. Thanks Facebook.

Looking back and seeing where we’ve made mistakes means we’ve moved forward. That’s what’s important–forward movement. So long as we keep moving forward, we know we’ll get to where we want to go. Admitting when we’re wrong may feel extremely uncomfortable, but doing so is a crucial act of mindfulness that will help you build forward momentum and continue to get better.

2 Exercises To Improve Your Whip/Nae Nae

So here’s the thing, I may or may not actually know what a whip/nae nae is.

And don’t tell me to look it up cause that sounds like waaaayyy too much effort.

Ok, so I don’t know anything about the topic I’m writing about, or so it would seem. However, while I don’t know about whipping or nae naeing, what I do know is that getting better at Squats and Deadlifts gets you better at everything, including but not limited to running, jumping, swimming, climbing, throwing, reading, and shoveling snow without perpetually falling until the end of time.

Any sport or physical activity will be improved by developing a solid base of strength and quality movement in some variation of these two lifts. With that knowledge I can comfortably say that learning to Squat/Dead Dead will help your whip/nae nae.

How can I give the information with such conviction having no flipping idea what a whip/nae nae is? Why are deadlifting and squatting so good at making people good at things?

It all comes down to the hips.

all in the hips

The hips are the center of human movement, so getting stronger hips transfers to stronger performance, pretty much regardless the activity. Squats and Deadlifts are two classic exercises for strengthening the hips.

And that’s not all. Squat and Deadlift variations do this thing where they work essentially every muscle in the body simultaneously. Anybody who thinks squats only work your lower body has never had a heavy bar on their back, and subsequently doesn’t know what it’s like to get stapled in the bottom of a heavy squat attempt. FYI it feels like this.

Strengthening the body as a unit has huge carryover to, well, pretty much everything. This is because, although certain muscles may in fact dominate a movement, it’s the coordination of the body as one piece that produces the complex, efficient, powerful, fluid movement helpful for sports, life, and presumably, a solid whip/nae nae.

This is why I can make this recommendation without knowing the finer points of what makes one excel in the whip/nae nae. This post isn’t really about that though. The point I’m trying to make is that most everyone can benefit from some variation of Squats and Deadlifts. Now, this doesn’t mean that everyone needs to squat and deadlift the same way; bone structure and mobility restrictions can prevent certain variations from being useful to the individual. Thus, we ought to experiment to see what our bodies respond well to, but let’s not overcomplicate things just yet. There will be plenty of time for that.

The takeaway today is that Squats and Deadlifts have a huge carryover to every physical activity I can think of, so we should do them.

Weekly Fitness Reads:11/30/15

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/healthy-habits-youre-already-doing

I love this. Saying the we need to change our behaviors to get results can be somewhat misleading. Yes, somethings will need to change but that doesn’t mean we need to change everything. Often times this change just means doing more of the things we are already doing. Most people eat some sort of colorful plant at some point, so that means we don’t need to completely flip around are eating habits, just that we need to increase the frequency of this one behavior that we are already doing.

http://tonygentilcore.com/2015/11/5-mobility-exercises-youve-probably-never-done-but-should/

Dean knows his shit. And he has a new product that I’m pretty damn excited to try out. Mobility has been gaining some traction in the fitness world, and for good reason. However, the purpose and concepts of mobility are often misunderstood and misapplied. This piece not only gives some great drills but also provides information on proper application and usage.

http://seanarmstrongfitness.co.uk/2015/11/26/get-food-diet/

I thought this was a pretty good explanation of how satiety and calories work, as well as how to balance them. It’s an important concept for sure. It’s OK, and I would argue necessary, to be full after most meals.  Leaving a meal satisfied means we don’t end up getting hangry and eating a tub of Phish Food when the new season of House of Cards comes out. Not that there is anything wrong with doing that(that’s probably exactly what I’ll do when the time comes). However, doing that too often can be counterproductive for weight loss goals. 

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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Weekly Fitness Reads: 11/23/15

http://www.losestubbornfat.com/thanksgiving-makes-fat-act-like-sky-falling/

Thanksgiving is just around the corner so it seems fitting that I share an article about dealing with Thanksgiving and weight loss. Around this time of year a ton of articles about how to stay on plan during the holidays, discussing ways to not stuff your face with as much delicious mashed potatoes and turkey. In light of this, the approach Josh takes here is refreshing.

http://anymanfitness.com/what-should-you-do-if-youre-not-naturally-lean/

As someone who has always been “naturally lean”(read:scrawny), I found this read pretty interesting. Anything that provides information from a different perspective is beneficial in my opinion. While I can’t vouch for these strategies as I’ve personally never tried them, they intuitively make sense and the author seems to know what he’s talking about.

https://gokaleo.com/2015/11/20/cognitive-dissonance-or-how-people-convince-themselves-that-dude-didnt-lose-weight-eating-mcdonalds/

A little bit ago, I guy did a little experiment where he ate nothing but McDonald’s while maintaining a caloric deficit. Naturally, dude lost weight and naturally, the internet threw a shitfit. This article explains said shitfit.