The Cost of Being Ill-Prepared

preparedI’ve got a test tomorrow, I’ll be up all night. I’ve got a wedding next month, working out seven days a week now. I’m sorry officer but I was running late to a really important meeting. How much does life suck when you’re behind the eight ball? It’s the price you pay when you are ill prepared for your day, for your life.
When there’s no margin in your life, the sense of overwhelm is daunting and beyond stressful. It’s like trying to meditate for 5 minutes before you have to leave for the office, take the kids to school, or make it to your spin class. Interestingly, people who live in this mode have made a choice to do so. The good news, there’s a chance today to start enjoying a more productive, peaceful life and it starts with a choice. More specifically, the choice to be prepared for your life’s demands.

Grab a sheet of paper, line down the middle. On the left side of the paper, jot down the events of your stressful day yesterday. It may be something like this:

  • Set the alarm for 545am, snoozed till 630am
  • Rushed to make the kids breakfast and rushed them to eat quickly
  • Flew out of the house at 8am to get them to school by 815am
  • Ran to my 9am spin class hoping theres a bike left for me
  • Swallowed down a bagel with cream cheese because I realized I never ate this morning

You can see how the rest of this day plays out…what choices could you have made differently that would have a positive impact on your day? On your life?

By the way, I’m about 20 pounds overweight, always tired and stressed, I mostly eat on the run, I struggle to get 6 hours sleep and my spouse says I’m miserable when I don’t work out. #thisismylife

STOP–lets pause here, take a breath and be constructive. This was your day yesterday but today is going to be different. It’s quite simple, don’t make the same decisions you made yesterday. Now on the right side of your paper, mark down where you could make some improvements. It may go something like this:

***Let’s focus tonight on what you’ve got to do tomorrow, write down the most important things you have to get done today, everything else is secondary.
Step 1 – Get up when your alarm goes off and walk directly to your simple plan for the day
Step 2 – Go make yourself and your children breakfast, wake them gently and not make your problems their problems
Step 3 – Leave 10 minutes earlier than you have to so you can enjoy getting your kids to school and “be” with them
Step 4 – Plan to make it to your SPIN class 15 minutes early so you can mentally and physically prepare for class
Step 5 – Head home to make the omelet and enjoy the fresh fruit you’ve prepared for yourself the night before

So on and so forth. Same person, same day, owning her life as opposed to reacting to it. This is all possible with a little preparation. The sensation that comes from being prepared for your life is indescribable but try it…you may actually start to thrive a little.

How to Think vs. What to Do

mac_life_cycle_butterfly_shawnfischer_comJust give me a diet and I’ll follow it. Just give me a pill and I’ll take it. Just tell me what to do and I’ll do it. Ah, if I had a dollar for every time I told someone what to do. I don’t do it anymore and it’s not because I care any less. In fact, it’s because I care that much more.

Could you imagine the caterpillar saying just stick the wings on me and I’ll act as a butterfly? It’s the process of transformation from caterpillar to butterfly where the magic happens (where the effort takes place). If you see a butterfly struggling to emerge from its pupa and you release it (do the work for it) you will kill it because it is during that metamorphosis that it develops the strength to fly.

So instead of telling my clients what to do, I teach them how to think for themselves. Of course there is a process of education, application and integration of new habits but the rest is a management process that can only be driven by the client.

The client IS the solution…I’m just a catalyst. All damn day!

#thinkingforyourself
#youarethesolution
#struggletofly

Regardless

bodyDid the scale move down this week? Did you make it through that 5K without stopping? Are your arms looking more toned in your dress yet? Has anyone complemented you for how good you are looking?

Regardless of the answer, you keep going, you never quit, you make the same choices over and over and over until it becomes automatic and then…you’ll see all the evidence of your hard work and efforts.

Give your body time to catch up with your brain.

Three Questions

choicesBefore you have your next energy drink, your next carb blocker, or your next pill for whatever, ask yourself three questions centered on Movement, Nourishment and Recovery–the building blocks of life. Are you leading an active lifestyle? Is your food providing you optimal fuel for your function? Are you sleeping 8 hours consistently? Minus these three things, your quality of life is bound to take a hit. You may be achy and uncomfortable, you might have poor energy and indigestion, or you may struggle to keep focused or like yourself. Call the manifestation what you will but know these are three areas often overlooked when disease is encountered.

We’re so quick to look for a fix, one that preferably doesn’t involve us changing. One that can be bought and not earned…one that can be swallowed, injected, rubbed on or sucked out. Why lead an active lifestyle until your diagnosed with hypertension? Why eat high quality food when fast food is so convenient and delicious? Why bother sleeping when you can live on coffee all day? Why? Because you can, because you care, because you matter.

 
When you find yourself dissatisfied with your situation, don’t go recreating the wheel to figure out how or why. Make three choices each day: move often, nourish well and sleep. Anything that gets in the way of these things has been given more priority than your quality of life.

That’s What “They” Said

theysaidAs a fitness professional, people automatically assume I eat a certain way. Egg whites no butter, coffee no cream, chicken salads no dressing, lean meat with veggies and no snacks. When I tell them I consume a stick of butter each week, thrive on sugar and avoid low calorie foods like the plague, I tend to get their attention quickly. This seemingly goes against everything mainstream…and that’s the point. Along with mainstream is a large revenue stream and people selling you things you don’t need because you want to take shortcuts on getting and / or staying healthy. It’s a difficult conversation to have, only slightly easier than discussing religion or politics.

 
In my experience, most people don’t have a background in food science and have formed their beliefs based on what “they” said. “They” are also the one selling you the dream. Butter equates to high cholesterol, sugar equates to diabetes and high calorie foods equal being overweight…so avoid them. “They” are also the one’s who have created carb and fat blockers, go figure. If this is you, no guilt, just realize you’re looking to change your situation without having to change yourself. It’s awfully convenient and never lasting. The strategy that works takes time and requires patience which doesn’t fit so well into a community built around instant gratification.

 
Success tends to find you when you stop looking for solutions outside of yourself.

Your Favorite is Passionate!

Your favorite sles-secrets-de-la-passionlice of pizza, flower arrangement, manicure, massage, haircut and color, convenience store and any other service you can imagine are your favorite because of passion.

The guy making your favorite pizza wants you to sink your teeth into his delicious pie. Your favorite stylist wants your hair to look better than everyone else’s in the room. Your favorite massage therapist wants to take every ounce of stress out of your body. To these remarkable people, what they do is not a job, it’s a passion. Pizza, hair and bodywork are just their platform to delivering an impeccable service experience.

And by the way, they want you to tell everyone you know about it. Spread the love and share the gift of passionate people!

Doing Your Job vs. Sharing Your Passion

80493-Passion-And-Purpose“Movement is a science to learn, an art to master and a privilege to teach.” Michael Rizk

 

During a conversation with someone, he mentioned it would be unlikely he’d ever work with a trainer again. So, of course, I asked why. He said I don’t need someone standing over me counting my reps…he added, it’s actually kind of immature. Unfortunately, that was based on his experience, which formed his perception, and is now his reality. It’s clear the “trainer” delivered a perfunctory service according to what his job required. As a Lifestyle and Performance Catalyst serving the same industry, I strive to deliver an experience because movement is my passion, not my job.

 

Here are a few ways my passion takes over a session:
1. I don’t count reps, my clients do, I monitor quality of movement
2. I teach people how to move well first, exercise second
3. I instill a positive mindset so they are empowered to continue the journey
4. I create awareness around habits that reinforce the lifestyle
5. I help them understand, respect and honor their individuality

The ability to do this has little to do with natural talent because I sucked about 15 years ago at it, although my heart was in the right place. It has more to do with being objective, respectful and passionate. The fitness industry has far more of an ability to impact the world than even the medical community. First, we need passionate professionals, the rest is simply a matter of connection

Floating or Focusing?

floating“It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.” Aristotle
Whether we realize it or not, we are part of a culture that thrives on you floating through life. That distraction though can lead to a state of emptiness over time. We tend to find activities to fill our time and fulfill us. Although, the strategies almost never lead to a state of long-term satisfaction.

Why bother focusing on finding solutions when you can get away with floating through life? If we don’t like the way something looks or feels, there’s always a quick-fix in sight. Don’t like what we see in the mirror? A new wardrobe will help that. Lacking confidence these days? A fancy car or watch will make us feel like a million bucks. Oh, your knee hurts. Take this extra strength pain reliever. These strategies will instantly gratify our needs for today but what about tomorrow? It is all too convenient to float through life trying to fill a void but in the end we remain frustrated and in the same position.

Let’s trade-off a passive, floating lifestyle for an active, focused one by making the choice to make a change. It’s really simple to change our situation (conceptually speaking). When change is applied, it shows we’re serious about changing the quality of our lives (realistically speaking).

TAKEAWAY: Make a very general outline of your day and take some time to analyze how you spend your time and correlate that to how it makes you feel. For instance, if your tendency is to surf the web when you really want to lose 20 pounds, surfing the web is not an ideal choice or a priority given what’s truly important to you. After listing how you normally spend your day (floating), just below it write down what a better day (focused) would look like. Which decisions and behaviors would change? What activities are you engaged in that help you avoid addressing the real problems that when conquered will free you to fly? Focus on the differences between your floating and focused schedules and concentrate all your energy and efforts in those areas.

P.S. Old, comfortable habits reinforce who you are while new, challenging habits redefine who you are.

Maintenance is an Illusion

maitenanceI’m not sure I know of anyone on a “maintenance” plan. Really, either you’re progressing or regressing. As far as I’m concerned, maintenance is an illusion and a trap. You’ve heard the story: I’m following plan A to reach my goals and once I get there, plan B is my maintenance program. Unfortunately, when plan B is not a continuation of plan A, don’t expect to continue seeing plan A results.
Take any expert from any field–the way they maintain their expert status is to continue engaging in the activities that got them there. When it comes to health and fitness, somehow the rules change. You’re following a plan that gets you to your goals, then you modify or ditch the plan but expect to maintain your fitness level…ludicrous!
I always tell my client to live by this motto: Whatever it takes! Whatever it takes to get you there is what it takes to keep you there. That is “maintenance” and anything shy of that is an illusion.

I Know What to Do, I Just Don’t Do It

knowingisnotenough“Knowing is not enough. We must apply. Willing is not enough. We must do.” Bruce Lee

As you can imagine, I get this one all the time: I know what to do, I just don’t do it. This is a recurring theme that centers around human motivation. Two things though:
1. There’s a difference between knowing “what” to do and “how” to do it
2. Knowing what to do may not be the real issue

In my experience, I know what to do really means I know what I want to accomplish. For example, a client may come in and say I’ve decided to step things up and really watch my diet. They know they want to lose weight but fail to realize that operating from a deprivation state of mind is not a sustainable effort. In other words, burning as many calories as you can working out while consuming the least amount of calories possible is liking trying to drive across the state on a single tank of gas…call me when you need a lift. This specific strategy puts your body into survival mode and is why diet and exercise doesn’t work. There’s a big difference between knowing what to do and how to do it.

Every so often you do get someone who really knows what to do but is demotivated to make the change. Knowledge minus application equals homeostasis. I almost always find in these situations, there is a much bigger rock that needs to be addressed first. This usually has to do with issues of the spirit – there is a fundamental lack of love for oneself due to upbringing or environment or a situation that’s never reached a state of closure. When you have a situation like this, you tend to be unplugged from your own source of power and knowing what to do has nothing to do with why you can’t reach your goal.

In essence, I believe that knowing what to do is only part of the equation. If you do know what to do, apply it or don’t but make the choice. If there’s a bigger fish to fry, prioritize it. Know. Apply. Do. Repeat!