The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. It is the most efficient, effective, and fastest way to get from point A to point B when you don’t consider any other variable but the empty space between A and B.
Your impatience is that straight line, assuming that lifting weights works faster for you than anyone else. You will program hop, coach hop, and generally grow disillusioned if your progress isn’t as quick as you feel it should be. You are quick to blame the program for not being that straight line but have you looked at your stress level, your diet, your sleep, your overall recovery, or even taken into consideration how hard you are training?
Your life, effort, and buy-in value* (more on this later) determine how straight that line from A to B is.
It is virtually impossible to create a perfect environment for progress but you can set yourself up for success with the tools you have in front of you.
1 – Poor mindset, no faith in yourself or what you can achieve. This is a low self-esteem and low self-worth zone that requires professional counseling in order to break out of the cycle of self defeat.
2 – More bad days than good when it comes to self-esteem and self-worth. You want to change but you doubt your ability to do it; therefore, you don’t give it much effort besides superficial.
3 – You are about 50/50. You have good days and bad days. Somedays you feel like you can take the world on, somedays you feel like you can’t even tie your shoes correctly. This prevents you from taking the next step in progress because your mental outlook holds you back when it matters. A 3 isn’t failure, but a 3 means you can do better for yourself.
4 – You are headstrong, dedicated, about as close to posting motivational quotes over selfies as it gets, and actually meaning it. But in all seriousness, this is an ideal place to be. It isn’t “perfection” but it means your mindset is focused on getting ahead, sticking to your plan, and executing it to the best of your ability. You have the occasional bad day but you don’t let it affect the whole. You recognize it for what it is and you move forward.
5 – You are a robot incapable of bad thoughts about yourself. This person doesn’t exist.
If you picked 1 and 2, you have some work to do to develop a better mindset about your life and choices. This often requires counseling which your friendly neighborhood personal trainer isn’t equipped to handle. Just because someone can count reps doesn’t mean they are remotely qualified to help you deal with issues of self-esteem or self-worth. Chances are that trainer has their own self-worth issues they are dealing with; in fact there are a number of people who seemingly look they have their shit together who are using physical prowess to mask mental anguish.
I know, I was one of those people for a long time and there are more like me out there.
Mindset has both everything and nothing to do with training. You can be lacking in self-esteem and self-worth and still look like a person who belongs on the cover of a magazine or even be winning platform finishes at a PL meet.
What is different about mindset is who are you doing it for? Are you doing all of this for you or to prove something? That separates a healthy mindset from one of obligation and feeling like you are not enough.
A healthy mindset will use your training as a stepping stone to your success both in and out of the gym. An unhealthy mindset becomes an obsession which never truly fulfills you.
It all comes down to how you view yourself.
1 – You sleep 4 to 5 hours a night on the max. You have that stupid nonsense in your head of, “I will sleep when I am dead” and you probably watch too many Gary V videos. You feel constantly tired, workouts are lethargic, you can’t focus without caffeine and you post pictures of Monster energy drinks to your Instagram story.
2 – You sleep in on the weekends at least, foolishly thinking two days of 8 hours of sleep cancel out the rest of the weeks’ 4 hour REM lacking festivals. You will feel pretty good on Monday because you slept in a little but as soon as Tuesday hits, you start to revert back to “why am I so tired, I got sleep this weekend?” never truly putting 2+2 together.
3 – You get about 6 to 7 hours a night. You are functioning well, so you think, but deep down you crave more sleep and by the time 7-8pm rolls around you are ready to crash while watching re-runs of Friends.
4 – You sleep about 7 to 9 hours a night. You are in line with the average sleep needs of human beings. Every once in a while you lose a night due to circumstances but you are consistently on point with it. In the modern world, this is the ideal number because most of us aren’t ….
5 – Sleeping 8 to 10 hours a night every single night. If you do this, I want your schedule because life isn’t always this cut and dry where every single night you can get the perfect hours of sleep. You are probably an alien.
Sleep is the most underrated recovery tool for your training and lifestyle.
Sure you can “sleep when you’re dead” but that continual lack of sleep may actually hasten that statement.
1 – You eat like shit without a single regard to what you are putting in your mouth. Doritos and pizza is a habitual dinner, breakfast is a buttered roll with burnt coffee. You eat like a 5 year old chooses his dinner and you probably feel like it, too.
2 – Once a day you will eat decently but your other meals aren’t remotely healthy. You think that one dinner a day will cancel out the rest of the day’s shenanigan food intake. You know HOW to eat since you at least get it right once in a while, but consistency is out the window and eating for pleasure is at your front door with an axe.
3 – You have good days and bad days. You eat well for a few days and then throw it out the window on the weekends. Monday through Friday you generally are on point with a few treats thrown in. Those treats are sometimes planned but sometimes spontaneous, but the weekend is not good for you. You eat out and choose poorly, you snack too much, and your excuse is “well it’s easier to stay on plan during the week and harder on the weekend”. Yes it is but your body doesn’t exactly get a weekend when it comes to your health and progress. You can do better.
4 – This is more or less 3.5. Picture 3 with less deep fried wings and less beer. You order fries with your steak and tonic water with your vodka. You ain’t bad but you are prone to binging every now and then and regretting it. You take a treat meal and turn it into the occasional day of gluttony instead of a whole weekend filled with chips, salsa, and wine… which actually sounds pretty damn good right now.
5 – You are generally on point even on the weekends. You also realize we are living creatures who enjoy the finer things in life like a Reese’s Peanut Butter cup. You understand the occasional treat isn’t going to ruin your progress as long as you keep it in check and don’t allow it to start a chain of events in place which culminates with you piledriving your face into a bakery. You take vacations and know how to eat away from your plan, you eat out and know how to choose selections from a menu. You eat to live, not live to eat. You are fully capable of enjoying food without allowing it to control you. Why isn’t 5 perfection? Because never cheating is a sign of disordered eating.
Diet is the tricky one because disordered eating is a thing. Perfection isn’t healthy when it comes to this area because perfection is orthorexia. Sure, you can CHOOSE to be perfect but you will be a fucking tool at parties. I’d rather hang out with the people who can allow themselves to have a drink or a greasy burger once in a while than the person ordering a grilled chicken salad at Applebee’s.
In fact, if you choose Applebee’s don’t call me.
If you think you can out-train a bad diet, you can’t. There are very few people in this world who can pull that off and if you were one of them, you wouldn’t be listening to me.
1 – You are a walking heart attack, the fact that you are still alive is amazing to me.
2 – You are pretty stressed out on the regular but thanks to modern medicine like Xanax and medical marijuana you are able to find time to calm down. Your coping skills aren’t so hot since you rely on external sources to help you. I mean let’s face it, X and weed sure does feel great but use them as a tool for the last resort rather than the first thing you grab when your day goes south.
3 – You cope decently with your life but have days when you want to drive your car into a wall while screaming. You take a while to de-stress when you get to that point and sometimes it will keep you up at night. You would do well to fine tune some coping mechanisms in order to put a fire on the days when stress starts to rear its ugly head at you, but at least you don’t reach for the nearest bottle of Scotch when things start to get rough.
4 – This is where we all should aspire to be. You aren’t at the level of The Stoic wanna-be’s who let their own mother dying roll of their back but you are fully capable of taking stressful situations and turning them around into productive outcomes. When you do have moments of stress induced hair pulling, you step back, analyze it, and find a solution to the problem at hand.
5 – You are either an emotionless asshole or a sociopath. Stress is part of life, if nothing bothers you or affects you, I fear for your mental health.
Chronic stress can impair the immune system, can negatively affect your heart, sleep, and also hasten the development of cancer.
When it is said, stress is the silent killer, they ain’t playing. Chronic stress is debilitating to your health, lifestyle, training, and even diet.
Stress can cause overeating, binge eating, and making poor food choices.
If you have issues dealing with stress, I implore you to seek help with it for your own benefit.
1 – You don’t workout at all, so why are you even reading this blog? You wear a shirt that says “Wine is my workout” and I roll my eyes at you because you are condescending enough to wear that shirt thinking your glass of shit White Zinfandel is cute. At least pick a better wine.
2 – Your workout is unplanned, sporadic, and inconsistent. Some weeks you go twice, some weeks once, sometimes you miss a few, and having a plan is about as foreign to you as consistency is. You will still tell your friends, “yea I go to the gym” but don’t tell them the truth which is you go once in a while and probably never train legs.
3 – You at least get to the gym two to three times a week but you still don’t have a plan in place. You train without a purpose but you are at least there giving an effort. This is most of what you see in a commercial gym, people there without a concrete plan but still doing work.
4 – You follow a cookie cutter plan, you are consistent about it but you don’t have that extra *insert salt throwing meme here* customization that comes with it. This is at least a solidified program but it isn’t tailored for you specifically. Chances are you are missing some key things along the way that could make your program pop like a bag of pop rocks in your mouth.
5 – You have a coach or you have done enough research to comprehend how building a program works. This is customized for you based upon your needs, wants, and abilities. You have a goal in mind, even if that goal is to “look like a damn badass” and the program is geared for that goal.
Programs are important because they define progress. Can you move more weight and is there a progression in place to make that happen? Can you move faster and is it repeatable and trainable? Do you have consistency with exercise selection and not a randomized batch of shit thrown at you? Does it address your weaknesses while giving you room to play to your strengths?
This is why programs are important. Not because “MY PROGRAM IS BETTER AND YOURS SUCKS” but because focusing on a task requires a systematic approach.
You will be hard pressed to find a successful person in life, in the gym, or in sport who didn’t have a plan in front of them to get there, stay there, and keep dominating.
Those people who say, “I don’t have a program, I just know what I need to do” are outliers who are probably not you. Just like the person who can out train eating like an asshole, they aren’t the norm.
I want you to look over this list and choose what you are from 1 – 5. Clearly the number descriptions are up for interpretation as they pertain to your life, but we have 4 areas to analyze and process:
Give this some honest thought. Go over it with your partner if you want to, ask them for feedback because they will often see things you don’t see about yourself.
If you get a 20 or 19 you are full of shit. That isn’t possible with life as we know it, so don’t try to lie to yourself. Nobody is perfect and nobody is immune to weakness.
18 to 16 means you have a killer buy-in value. You are the type of person who succeeds despite whatever the hell is thrown their way.
15 to 13 means your buy-in is high but you are prone to occasional lapses in judgement. You know what you have to do, but you are human. You are going to slip up every so often and you will know enough to drag yourself back up and fight again.
12 to 10 means you have the best intentions but that doesn’t pay the bills. The road to life is paved with good intentions, so I have been told, but the action behind those intentions is preventing you from realizing your best potential. You know what you have to do, but you just don’t do it.
9 and below means you have some work to do to truly have a high buy-in value. You may have a 3 with the gym and be hitting 2’s everywhere else which renders the work you do in the gym largely superficial and kind of like putting icing on a piece of shit. That is harsh but true. Even being consistent with one area mentioned above while allowing the others to go straight to the 7th level of hell is doing damage to your body and preventing you from seeing any meaningful progress and lifestyle benefit.
If you have a 4, may god have mercy on your soul.
I want you to consider this a tool to determine what your lifestyle and mentality are like.
An effective training program combined with a solid eating plan combined with the ability to cope with stress combined with a healthy mindset about your life and yourself equals a better life.
Yes and no.
After all you would be foolish to think that training and life exist separately from each other. They combine synergistically to form a lifestyle. How you live is as important and how you cope with living.
Health is the outcome, not the exception.
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