5 Signs Discipline Is Not Your Problem

(Snappy sentence to get the reader’s beak wet.)

(Paragraph explaining why this topic is important.)

(Bad Pun).

1. You wake up with an alarm

Waking up to an alarm might be the most painful part of the day. When my alarm goes off I shriek like I’m being stabbed in the spleen.

Yet somehow we manage to do this day in day out. It requires a metric shit-ton of discipline to do something that uncomfortable day in day out.

2. You have a consistent job

Staying at a job, especially one you hate, requires an additional shit-ton of discipline. In fact, eating better might be so goddamn hard because you exhaust tons of willpower holding your tongue instead of telling your boss what you really think.

3. You have kids

You don’t need to have kids to know that parenting is TOUGH.

While I don’t have kids. I was one once upon a time.

And I was a little asshole. I can’t even imagine how much discipline is needed to parent the most mellow children, let alone a specimen like myself.

4. You graduated

School is grueling.

If you made it through school, even with all the procrastination, you have demonstrated an immense capacity for persistence and discipline.

Writing tons of papers on topics you may or may not care about is no easy task, my friend.

The option of quitting is always present whether we consider it or not.

5. You’ve stuck with anything for an extended period of time

Fitness people don’t have more or less discipline than anyone else. They just have different habits. Furthermore, it’s what they LIKE to do!

Enter Entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuck :

“Fitness entrepreneurs want to do the minimal work and still expect a huge return. It’s easy for fitness entrepreneurs to do the push ups, to do the squats and deadlifts because that is exactly what got them to where they are now. They started in fitness and now they want to make money just by having those guns or that body. They default into what is easy without recognizing what is hard: running an actual business.

You know what was hard for me? Waking up early. Not eating what I wanted to eat. Powering through workouts. Yet it was easy to build 50M dollar businesses.”

This is why picking an exercise style you enjoy is the most important factor for success. Consistency trumps everything. Consistency requires the discipline to take things slowly.

When people tell me they need more discipline to get fit, I gently tell them I’m not convinced.

Simply getting through this struggle called life takes discipline.

discipline

While I may not have met you, I know you have demonstrated discipline and persistence in more than a few instances throughout your life.  

Justifications

You’re probably like me. Since you’re reading this I’m guessing you’re somewhat hard on yourself.

I can hear the justifications for why none of these “signs” are a big deal and that you do them because you have to.

Here’s the truth.

You don’t.

You could quit your job.

You could be a shitty parent who isn’t invested in their kids’ well-being.

Even if your parents were “making” you go to school, you could have walked away. Yes, your parents would have been pissed. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t an option.

We always have a choice– Even when there are physical repercussions or risks we still have a choice.

“I can’t steal a car because then I’d go to jail”

That doesn’t stop people from doing it. Legality alone isn’t what’s stopping you becoming a car thief. I’m willing to bet you have other reasons.

I can’t make anybody do anything. And I don’t want to.

Being too positive is delusional. However, us pessimists are dishonest with ourselves too. Excessive negativity perpetuates inaccuracy.

Being gentle with ourselves is about having a more precise, realistic view of how we navigate this shit-storm called life.

It’s about being honest for the things we have done well so we can do more things well.

One aspect of my role in  the Tribe of Badassery Online Coaching Group, is to help the tribe actualize the capacity for persistence they already have. We cultivate a culture of judgement-free self-honesty (read accountability and support) and trust. This means the members of the group can transfer their disciplined nature to their fitness struggles so they can carry groceries up the stairs without feeling out of shape and get rid of the anxiety of wearing a tank top.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it:

  1. Sit down with a piece of paper and pen. Write down at least 5 times you demonstrated discipline and persistence.
  2. For each of those times write out 5 reasons you were able to be disciplined and persistent.
  3. Write out at least 5 reasons why your fitness goal is important to. Try to find every single reason, but write down at least 5.
  4. Brainstorm some ways you could exercise persistence with your fitness goal.
  5. Join my free Facebook group and share your reflections with amazing people who are going through the same struggles as you. Sharing your reflection will help someone be a more awesome version of themselves, but there’s no pressure if you don’t feel comfortable with the idea. Either way, we would love to have you.

 

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” 🙂

 

Weekly Fitness Reads: 4/25/16

Five myths about our habits

This one nails it. Our problems often aren’t what we think they are.

A Stanford professor says eliminating 2 phrases from your vocabulary can make you more successful

These things can be a bit corny, but what we say to ourselves does, in fact, matter. Like, a lot. Granted, a difference in self talk won’t necessarily change everything, but every piece of the puzzle is important.

Is it better to eat 5-6 small meals or a few big meals if I want to burn fat?

There are many great questions every human must face at some point in their lives: Why are we here? Why are people such raging dick-wads to each other? Team Edward or Team Jacob?

This post doesn’t deal with any of those. However, it does deal with a different important question: How many meals a day should we eat? The answer might surprise you. Oh god, did I just turn into an Upworthy article? WHAT HAVE I BECOME!?!?

 

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 🙂

Make Yourself a Fancy Pair of Sandals

I once read an excellent book written by a really smart dude.

True story.

If you’ve ever been kept inside from PE on a rainy day, you’ve seen ”Searching for Bobby Fischer”. If you haven’t, it’s based on a true story about a child chess prodigy who isn’t Bobby Fischer.

bobby fischer

That prodigy, Josh Waitzkin, grew up and wrote a book called, “The Art of Learning”. He claims learning is a skill just like any other. Skills can be honed. In the book, we learn how to learn so we can win at life.

One aspect that resonated with me was the chapter, “Making Sandals”. The topic is encompassed in this quote:

“A man wants to walk across the land, but the earth is covered with thorns. He has two options – one is to pave his road, to tame all of nature into compliance. The other is to make sandals.”

Sandal making skills are essential for fat loss.

Because in reality, most of the time, the earth is covered with fucking thorns.

thorn elemental

Life WILL play this asshole card

Conditions won’t change, not on our whim at least. And it’s certainly problematic to wait until the thorns shrivel and die before walking the path. That event might never happen.

Life is full of adverse, unideal circumstances.

Assuming otherwise is a flawed hypothesis.  We must accept life’s challenge as inescapable fact.

Point is, we can’t treat adversity as a fluke, as a random event that distracts from all the good stuff. The inevitability of tough times needs to be incorporated into our strategy and perspective.

So how do we ready ourselves for the storm?

One my clients, let’s call him “Gerald”, phrased it wonderfully. He said that when life was going smoothly it was a good time to build infrastructure. When the sun’s out, that’s when we bring the guns out that’s when we should start laying down sandbags.

This means we build a foundation so that our new habits are more sturdy and resilient in the face of shitty weather.  Our house needs to withstand the inevitable stormy season if we want to continue having a place to live.

What does creating infrastructure look like?

Anything that sets us up for success during a hurricane.

This often looks like cementing new habits. When life is crazy, maintaining new habits is AMAZING progress. With sturdy infrastructure, we’re in a better position to maintain our new habits during the storm. We don’t have to worry about building momentum, just maintaining it.

Building new habits during the storm, while possible, is pretty damn hard.

During the storm is when we are tempted to say, “Fuck it. I’ll start on Monday”. This is why simply maintaining inertia is so incredible. We’re not quitting our new habits when life desperately wants us to.

Progress doesn’t always look like forward movement. Oftentimes maintaining is the best progress.

While we can never predict when life will kick us in the balls, we know that it will, repeatedly.

What a dick.

 

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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. 

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.

What Jurassic Park Can Teach Us about Fitness

Jurassic Park is both one of my favorite movies and books. Naturally, if I have an excuse to tie it to a fitness concept, I will. While we could go pretty deep in discussing the themes and messages of the film, the idea I’d like to discuss today is this:

Just because we can do something doesn’t mean we should.

I’ve done a lot of stupid shit i.e. things I was able to do, but probably shouldn’t have.

A few years ago, I was completely obsessed with becoming an amateur MMA fighter, with the delusional hope of going pro one day. Why? Truth be told, I think I needed something to focus on, to feel like I had direction, when in reality I had no idea what the hell I was doing. That along with some body image issues that I had harbored since I was a teenager certainly didn’t help, or add any clarity. I was really insecure about the size ratio of my lower to upper body; I felt my thighs were way too gigantic and my upper body was narrow and disproportionately small. Add to that, Muay thai fighters usually have skinnier legs(or legs that my dysmorphia perceived as skinnier) which makes it easier to whip around their legs like baseball bats. This perpetuated my dislike for my thighs(I hate the way they look AND they’re preventing me from kicking faster!? Gah! Fuck you genetics!)

As an aside, once I started squatting and deadlifting and realizing what large legs are good for, my legs became something I became proud of. They made me feel strong, as opposed to misshapen.

At any rate, I never considered these motives which I could only see in retrospect. I just picked a direction and decided to charge at it with all I had. In my eyes, this meant I had to the sacrifice EVERYTHING else. Balance was for suckers. I viewed balance as the enemy, and that if I was going to succeed I needed to work harder than anyone else, be stricter and more disciplined than anyone else. Most importantly, I felt I couldn’t afford to slip up with my training or my nutrition, ever. Genetics and age be damned, hard work trumps all.

During this time, I was immensely hard on myself. I put myself in complete isolation from the outside world. The outside world yielded temptations that would hold me back: going to bed later, eating “unclean” meals, drinking, missing training sessions– basically anything fun. All of these things were the forbidden fruit that I knew I would succumb to if confronted by them.

My solution was to avoid them, regardless of the cost. The cost was my happiness and friendships. Truly, I missed out on a lot. And I while I can’t say I fully regret this time as I definitely learned a lot, I regret all the time that I could have been growing closer to old friends as opposed to more distant. Furthermore, I didn’t give new friends or relationships a chance. It was a very lonely time for me.

I was cognizant of these sacrifices, but I told myself that that’s the nature of excellence; you must make sacrifices. And I still believe that, but what I didn’t realize was that those sacrifices weren’t worth it for me.

Little by little this became clear as I came to terms with how unhappy I was making myself. I was tired of bringing Ziploc bags of almonds to the bar, consequently feeling like an outsider among my friends. I was tired of feeling envious of people who could just have a cheeseburger and beer without the emotional hangups I had. I was tired of constantly getting injured and realized that I didn’t want to be grow old and be a wreck, riddled with pains, and have no champion belt to show for it.

Over time, I started making cuts to my uber strict training and nutrition regimen, forcing myself to let go. And each time I cut something out I felt anxious.

What if I lose my gains?

What do I do with all that time?

Who will I BE AS A PERSON if I quit? I don’t want to be a quitter! This is all I’ve known for so long.

These fears lingered as a knot in my stomach until I started making better progress(not to mention actually enjoying life more) to which I realized, ”Holy shit I’ve been doing this all wrong!”.

I stopped training twice a day, and eventually cut my training down to 2 days of Jiu Jitsu and 2 days of lifting a week, which is still a ton of training. Both of those activities are intense and require a lot of recovery time. However, compared to my earlier regimen it felt like I was slacking off.

My injuries started to heal and a funny thing happened: my performance went up–I start fighting better and oh yeah, I was much happier as I started to get my life back

This was a pretty big lightbulb for me. The practices that I thought would quicken progress were actually holding me back. The lack of balance was making it hard to walk forward.

It wasn’t easy to make that cut though. I felt a lot of anxiety at first about letting go of my regimen. At the time, my regimen was where I got my sense of identity. Initially I cut back simply to prevent overtraining, so that I could get closer to my goal. However, as I started to change course, it became easier to think of my training and life differently. It threw a wrench in the works and the tunnel vision started to subside.

That was when I really started to think about balance and sustainability and all of the ideas I promote on this blog. This realization that the best way to make progress was to balance training with the rest of life was huge. Then I started thinking about what I actually valued, and what I actually wanted to get out of martial arts and exercise.

I could say much more about this journey of mine, but this is already dangerously close to becoming a journal entry. Back to dinosaurs.

DSCN1450

Now, this was my own specific experience, but the principle can be applied to different contexts. There are many things we can do in our attempts towards our fitness goals, doesn’t mean we ought to do them. Just because we can push ourselves harder on a short term or long term basis doesn’t mean we should, or even that we need to.

Just because I could train for MMA every waking moment of my existence doesn’t mean I should have. Just because I could revolve my life, to the point of obsessive compulsion, around building an optimal diet, doesn’t mean I should have. Just because I could make myself miserable for my goals, doesn’t mean I should have. Just because I could engineer some sweet dinosaurs, doesn’t mean I should have.

Experience is a great teacher, but we still have to keep our eyes open because the lessons are easy to miss.

The specific lesson learned from my own story, was predominantly that more isn’t necessarily better. This is a very important lesson for sure. However, this is just one story and one lesson learned.

More broadly than that I think we ought to start analyzing our fitness with in Velociraptors in mind(OK, I know the V-raptors in the movies are more like Deinonychuses, as real life Velociraptors were like 3 feet tall, but whatever). Should I really have Velociraptors at my amusement park?

Weighing the potential risks and the potential benefits can be quite helpful. Everything has costs and benefits. We only have so much room in our suitcase,* and I sure as shit can’t fit a dinosaur in there with all this deadlifting.

*Suitcase rule: Think of your training/life relationship like a suitcase. When you travel you only have so much space in your suitcase, and everything you put in your suitcase affects everything else in your suitcase. Furthermore, I’m not going to bring every pair of shoes I own, just the ones I think I’ll need. It would be folly to bring more shoes and not have room for underwear and socks. Same goes with training and life. Everything we do has an effect on everything else.

Periodically sitting down and asking ourselves, “What am I doing? What are my goals? Why are these goals important to me? Is this working for me, and is this worth it?” can get us pretty far.

If my goal is to squat more weight, my workout should help me squat more weight; I should be getting stronger.

And if I am getting stronger, what are the costs? Am I so beat up from squatting that I can’t go hiking on weekends, or socialize with friends or(insert something important that’s impacted by a training/diet program)? Are my joints hurting? Is there a way to reach the same goal without sacrificing as much?  Is my squat goal conflicting with other, maybe more important, priorities and values?       

This is the macro view. The micro view entails looking at individual workouts and asking the, “I can, but should I?” question fairly often.

Yes, I could juggle kettlebells and rabid weasels on a bosu, but should I?

I could go a lot heavier today, but should I?

I could do a few more reps, but should I?       

Had I sat down in front of a mirror and been brutally honest about my priorities and values sooner, I probably would’ve started down the path to balance sooner, and my rotator cuff would probably feel a bit more solid.

To summarize, on a daily basis we can ask things like, “I know that I can squat 50 more pounds today, but should I?” And on a grander scale actually reevaluating our goals, priorities and actions and seeing if they line up.

We all make mistakes, and will continue to do so. However, by asking ourselves the right questions we can get the benefits of mistakes(learning) whilst making less of them.

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 would love to help!

Ready to lose weight in a healthy, no stress, sustainable way? Simply fill our a short application.