March 18, 2017

Dear Diary (Health & Fitness Rants)

  • Read Time:  15-20 minutes
  • Author’s note: Thoughts expressed are personal opinions and should not be cited as research 😛
  • To the reader:  If you don’t have time to read this then you of all people should read this.

 

1)Ultimately, doing what you love will keep you coming back for more.

Whether you choose to Powerlift or Prancercise is completely up to you and the opinions of others shouldn’t mean a thing.  Physical Health is developed through consistency and healthy habits, both of which are correlated to enjoying the process of exercising.  If your workouts feel like punishment or abuse you will likely not stay consistent as people generally don’t like to fill their day with things they dread…unless you’re in to that kind of stuff 😉

2) Investing in an experienced and knowledgeable Coach is a great return on investment.

 In my experience, those who are financially literate are the ones who understand the meaning of value.  Yes, hiring a Coach is an expense but it’s an investment that will offer a return by providing efficiency, results, knowledge, guidance and accountability.  The amount of money the average gym goer will waste on minimally used or even unused monthly memberships could pay for a very useful hour with a professional.   If you can afford to go out on a weekly basis than you can afford the investment but you choose not to.  There are ways to do both; it’s called ‘Balance’.  If your health is not as important as your social life, that’s your prerogative, but refrain from going around convincing others that training is expensive and only for the rich.

3) Being able to move well is awesome but if you can’t open the pickle jar, well, then at least you can move well to go ask for help.

 With no question, having proper mobility and stability is necessary for optimal performance, both in the gym and in life.  With this new wave of “movement enthusiasts”, people are grabbing their foam rollers, bands, balls, body tempering tools and breaking down movement to their most subtle segmentations.  More than half of their workouts become preparation with little to no time spent on actual strength training.  Yes, people, keep working on your movements and freeing up your body but don’t forget that strength training is the glue; the application.  In a similar way, mobility without strength training is like the psychology behind ‘analysis paralysis’ so try structuring your programs to be more efficient in handling both! Besides, who doesn’t love pickles?!

4) Most of the time, the numbers on the scale will not match the way you feel.

Relying on the scale to dictate how you feel about yourself is a dangerous habit.  I encourage people to gauge their progress on how they feel from the inside out and to step away from the numbers until they have developed an internal system that is detached from external outcomes (like the numbers on the scale).  I’ve seen people literally reshape their entire week by sleeping more consistently, drinking more water, eating more whole foods and exercising on a regular basis to only feel discouraged that the scale didn’t move as much as they expected.  Expectations can be both good and bad depending on how realistic they are.  They can help to motivate but they can also discourage.  You can expect to feel and perform better, maybe even look better naked, so going by feel is a much better indicator of your progress.  I should note that numbers most definitely have their place in terms of performance and specificity but for the general public concerned with their health, a holistic approach may work best.

 5) Put your ego aside and work on your weakest links.

We have all seen the gym-goer that has been performing the same workout for the past 5 years.  We can anticipate where they will go next in their set and what equipment they will grab.  They appear to be superstars in the gym because they have perfected these movements so much that they look more like a performance than a workout. Look in to the Law of Accommodation!  The body adapts to meet the demands and so if variety and change is not presented, then progress diminishes.  In general, people do not like to fail.  We do not like to feel uncomfortable or at a disadvantage.  It’s not in our nature! This type of mentality will keep you from your full potential by keeping you in a “safe zone”, working on the same exercises, eating the same foods, and not addressing your weakest links.  “A chain is only a strong as its weakest link“, and I will add that “courage is proportional to fear” so don’t be afraid to feel vulnerable as you will only grow stronger in the end.

6) There’s a difference between grunts from effort and grunts for attention.

If you’ve ever truly pushed yourself then you will know that it’s almost impossible to not grimace or grunt (referring to any type of noise you must make to get through something).  Simply put, if you haven’t found your grunt, you may not be pushing yourself enough.  Human expression is rich in vocalization and there is much power and history behind these types of sounds.  Take the Haka for example: These fierce and raw expressions declare a tribe’s pride, strength and unity.  In a similar way, a grunt to an effort is like Haka to a cause.  On the other hand, grunts can also be used to simply grab attention, much like the mating call of a Peacock.  I think it takes some experience in the gym to be able to differentiate these primal symphonies.  Nonetheless, gym culture will be gym culture in the end.

7) Working out to undo your unhealthy habits is unhealthy.

If you’re working out to undo the bottle of wine you drank last night and to lessen the guilt for tonight’s intake-STOP! I mean, it’s totally your choice how you choose to incorporate healthy choices in to your life but workouts are better used to build upon and not take down.  Taking one step forward and one step back isn’t going to get you very far.

8) Both Strength and Endurance have their place in overall health and performance.

What good is lifting 3 x your body weight if you can’t enjoy intimacy with your partner for lack of conditioning?  (Find your focus again…good)  On the other hand, what good is being able to run a marathon but not have the strength to carry your groceries home?  Strength training is efficient in that it can develop both incredible amounts of strength and endurance when properly programmed. Endurance training on the other hand will not really make you physically stronger but it can develop mental strength!  It takes a real control over your will power to keep moving forward when your mind and body are screaming to stop.  Building strength-endurance means to be able to display strength, longer.  No doubt, lifting maximal loads can develop a great deal of mental strength too, but the average of both is a good place to be.

9) People are likely not over-doing it in their workout; you are likely under-doing it.

The looks on some people’s faces when they are witnessing someone’s all-out effort in the gym is priceless.  It could be described as appalled, disgusted, agitated, concerned, and often paired with a sprinkle of jealousy.  In my experience, people tend not to push their capabilities and really TRAIN.  They have one foot in the uncomfortable zone and the other planted securely in the safe zone.  Intense effort produces many benefits, cognitive ones included, all of which can be wasted on mediocre effort.  Getting comfortable being uncomfortable truly transfers to life.  The more you can handle in your workouts, the more you can handle outside of them.

 10) Health is not a bowl of apples on your kitchen island or a sweaty selfie.

The picture of what ideal health looks like continues to be painted to fit our times.  Follow most social media influencers and you will see a life one can only dream of.  The picture that is painted is of an effortless and rich life full of colourful health, perfect fitness, abundant opportunities, exotic travel and social wealth.  This picture can leave many feeling unaccomplished, lonely, stationary, lacking and envious; not exactly a healthy or realistic picture after all!  It’s time to get real people!  True and ideal health is different for everyone so paint your own picture.  At the core of all healthy habits should be a focus on building your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual self while feeling part of a supportive and inviting community; whatever that looks like for you.  Go grab a blank canvas!

 11) An asshole with 22 inch arms is still an asshole.

I’ve always been a firm believer that fitness is better holistically, meaning that you should also work on your inner health.  Just going to the gym doesn’t make you a better person just as having numerous certifications doesn’t make you a great Coach.  Change is found in honesty, desire and application, all of which can offer profound changes in yourself and your life.

12) Schedule your workouts like you would a meeting with an Investor.

Not having time is one of the top 3 reasons people are inconsistent or never start on their journey to better health.  The real underlying issue there is that they have not yet discovered their ‘emotional buy-in’; the core of all goals.  For example, someone may want to “get jacked” so they can impress more girls, but if they dig deeper, they may discover that it’s a desire to feel wanted/desired/loved which, if dug even deeper, could mean that they wish to develop love for themselves which they are seeking in others through bigger muscles 😉 Money is a great contrast! Most people would be ok to have more money as it allows more security and possibilities, but they neglect to see that better health offers similar benefits in that it enriches all parts of your life by feeling and performing better allowing you to enjoy life with your family, friends and kids and not be set back by poor health and a lagging body.  Better health can help you to make more money just as more money can help you invest in better health.  Consider your workouts like an investment in your life (and by default the lives of those you love) and consistency, and maybe even those muscles, will appear.

 13) The time you spent foam rolling your IT bands could have been used to save a tree.

Ok, calm down! I can hear the hisses from here! Now, let me explain that I don’t think using a foam roller is a waste of time; quite the contrary.  Research has concluded its usefulness in tissue health and circulation, treating trigger points though compression, and to awaken sensation.  The IT band itself has been described by the genius of Thomas Myers as being “big heavy sheets” and others claim they have the tensile strength of a Goodyear tire, thus none of the aforementioned benefits of foam rolling can do much to the IT band itself.  People get a bum knee and the first culprit? The IT band.  People feel restriction in their hips? That damn IT band again!  People tried working out and never saw the results!? Let’s just blame it on the IT band!! (Now I’m carried away).  The point here is to reinforce research.  I really believe that trial and error is an excellent way to learn hands-on, but at some point, you have to start questioning and researching the things you keep doing to ensure efficiency and productivity.  Bodyworkers, such as Structural Integrators have tons of hands on experience and can offer insight into the world of anatomy that research cannot; working on tissue that is alive.  Stop blaming the IT bands, they’ve done nothing but support you up until now 😉 Oh, here’s how you can now save a tree…

http:/http://internationaltreefoundation.org

14) Just because someone has abs does not mean they can give you the same.

It’s one thing to be able train yourself but coaching another to their goals is a different ball game.  People’s bodies are unique, built differently and therefore require specificity.  Having Mr. Hunchback do deep squats like you or having Sally Scoliosis doing burpees for time may not be the best approach.   An individualized approach, especially designed from a knowledgeable and experienced professional is a solid way to get to your goals.  Now, I don’t wish to discredit those who look awesome because many of them are very accomplished Coaches and in contrast, a Coach/Trainer should walk the talk and demonstrate a capacity to maintain a healthy lifestyle and physique.

 15) Corrective exercises should be renamed to Supportive exercises.

The name “corrective exercises” makes me cringe.  There, I said it! What, are you a teacher with a red pen?  Are you “correcting” the human body like a teacher is an essay?  These types of exercises are in place to help produce better movement & improve dysfunctional patterns, therefore supporting the body’s needs at that moment.  The body is a living organism that is continually rearranging itself throughout the day to meet its demands, environment and stimuli.  The “correction” that was made in a movement was likely temporary and so nothing was actually corrected, but instead it supported the body’s need at that time.  If you’re constantly having to correct something, is anything truly being corrected? If a tree falls in a forest… yeah…Let’s keep the red pens in the teacher’s hands.

 16) The longer you have trained, the longer you must wait for progress.

Newbie gains are the best.  God, I miss them! Increases in strength, hypertrophy, performance, body composition….the gains are endless! Hell, you don’t even have to have much structure or proper technique to see them.  When exposed to new stimulus, in this case the first time being exposed to resistance training, the body will meet the demands with physiological changes.  However, our brilliantly engineered body and mind will adapt quickly and thus the law of accommodation occurs.  We must vary the stimulus to keep the body evolving, especially as our training age goes up.  Our nervous systems can take much more after 5+ years of lifting so don’t think you can do what you we’re doing the first 5 years and reap the same results.  All the older lifters out there are nodding their head right now and grinding their teeth.

 17) Some people like to use the gym to socialize and to each their own, but be mindful that others are there to work so know the difference between a park bench and a weight bench.

I really encourage people to be part of an active and healthy community as part of their holistic health.  The gym is a great way to meet like-minded people and to create that network.  Please keep in mind that others may not be there to do the same and are there to put in the work, adhering to timed rest periods and combining exercises in to super and giant sets.  Use your spatial awareness if you are chit-chatting with another or if you’re on your phone.  Be courteous and share your equipment if you’re scrolling social media between sets.  I agree that everyone can do their own thing and that’s cool, but having respect for others’ time is a sure way to avoid these conflicts and encourage a community for all.

 18) “It depends” is not a cop-out of your question but likely the most honest answer you’ve received.

As a Coach, I get asked all the time for the secret recipe.  “What can I do to lose weight”? “What’s the best exercise”? “Should I go vegan to raise my vibration”? “It depends” is often time my initial response because it truthfully does depend.  Every case is different and so to spurt out biased opinions as factual answers can actually be a disservice to others.  I cannot explain to you enough the complexity of the human body! There are SO many factors and variables that can affect an outcome, from the inside out, that no answer is really that black or white.  We now live in the day and age of instant gratification and accessibility so patience is at an all-time low and the desire to get rich, fit, or whatever else- quickly- is cause for lots of the misinformation out there.  The next time someone tells you “it depends”, have a good listen as they might actually know a thing or two 😉

 19) The money you spent on fancy gym clothes and accessories could have been better invested.

Personally, I’ve never been one to dress up for a workout.  Then again, I’m usually full of chalk and hanging chains off my waist.  When I go to work, I go to get dirty. I know I will sweat profusely and the last thing I want to worry about is if I caused a pull in my Lulu’s.  I think today’s fitness fashion is really quite impressive and the array of accessories, such as weight belts, straps, wraps, and yoga mats to name a few, make going to the gym a little more pleasurable for the inclined.  These things are totally nice to have but if they aren’t supporting an actual program you’ve invested in (whether it’s by experiment or investment), they could very well be a waste of your money.  The Godfather of Powerlifting, Louie Simmons, said it best; “Don’t have $100 shoes and a 10 cent squat“.

20) Don’t rely on a single mind but instead go research it for yourself.

As you probably get by now, there’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ in the health and fitness industry.  It’s great to have mentors and educators you believe in and who’s theories you adapt but it’s equally important to listen to others for contrast and to form your own opinion based on critical thinking.  Challenge what others are saying (not necessarily to their face-this isn’t the Elections!) and go get the answers for yourself.  There are some great bodies of research out there so use them! “We were given two ears and 1 mouth so we can listen twice as much as we speak” -Epictetus

 21) Social Media should be used to inspire and not compare.

 If you feel depressed or lesser than after scrolling through your feeds, you should probably take a rest from them.  At one point, SM was used as a way to connect with others in our busy lives.  For many, it has now become an unhealthy obsession to gain more followers & get more likes, all for the sake of what really? Fame? Opportunities? Status?  At the root of it all, there is a very apparent desire to feel worthy, wanted and accepted and we’re seeing misleading representations of reality to fulfil these voids from within.  Do yourself a favour, and just like your workouts, book time in your week to meet up with the people you care about.  There is no platform that can compare to face-to-face interaction.

22) There’s nothing wrong with a 1RM Squat, crying tears on your journal and drinking herbal tea at the bar on Fridays.

I love that I can be in touch with my feelings enough to cry.  I also love that I can grind and squat the fuck out of a 1RM.  The former is very Yin and the latter very Yang; the balance of both is necessary for real health.  Although working out is very physical and involves our body, it can also be used as an avoidance to go inward.  Just because you lift weights doesn’t mean you’re in touch with yourself.  In fact, sadness is often masked with anger which is often deflected by tossing around weight and the cycle continues with no real emotional healing taking place.  It wouldn’t hurt to see pages in your training log being devoted to how you are really feeling 😉 

23) There’s a big difference between training with a program and going in for a workout.

 What I mean by ‘training program’ is some form of systematic cycle that has been designed after a needs-analysis and allows you to track your progress for post-evaluation & reconfiguration. If you’re lost by now, you’ve likely been doing workouts; winging it so to speak.  No real structure, no real thought, just a formation of exercises that feels like work.  Honestly, most of the general public do workouts as many have not had the chance to experience a program.  If you’re one of these people, you owe it to yourself and your goals to adhere to a training program.  The difference is like studying for an exam for 12 weeks or pulling an all-nighter the night before.

24) Instead of criticizing their bad form, why don’t you offer them help?

Without a doubt, there is some atrocious form happening in gyms today.  Bent over dumbbell rows that look more like a camel scratching its own leg.  Nonetheless, it’s wrong to whip out your device and film them so it can be ridiculed on social media!  The time you took to upload it and make a smart-ass remark could have been used to offer them some help.  Let’s be honest, not everyone is receptive to the form police but it’s all about how you approach the situation.  Speaking of being honest, you wouldn’t like it if someone did the same to you, would you? Of course not. So then don’t. Period.

 25) Not having the time to work out should also mean you don’t own a T.V.

Let me keep this brief as we’ve determined that workouts should be scheduled like investor meetings.  If you claim to not have time to workout, meal prep, or do self-care but can reenact verbatim this week’s prime time shows on Fox to the office crew, you better re-evaluate your priorities.

26) Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS) My Ass.

“Functional Training” is all the rage these days.  The more complex the movement and stimulus, the more “functional” it is and the more “stabilizers” are recruited.  Let’s not forget our ancestors and heritage, people! The fundamental lifts such as the Squat, Deadlift, Clean and Press, Pulls, these are all exercises that have been used with great success in the past and continue to offer the same benefits, and better yet, they are all “functional” too!  Yes, our understanding of the human body and sport science continues to evolve but it’s not like we’re growing extra limbs and therefore need to re-invent human movement.  We don’t need to catch ourselves on Bosu Balls, use the words “transverse plane” every sentence, or be innovators to train “functionally”.

 27) Your Coach is only your navigator but you need to be the driver.

A Coach is responsible for designing an efficient program that considers your specific needs. To an extent, we are also responsible for your safety by ensuring proper form and exercise selection and advising you towards better health habits.  Aside from that, you the client are completely in charge of putting it all in action.  If you’re “doing what your told” in session but then hitting the bar on your walk back home on a regular basis, you are then responsible for the possible lack of progress.

 28) Learn the Primal Patterns from the very beginning because heavy lifting doesn’t hurt you; shitty form and ego does.

 Exercises like the Squat, Deadlift, Pushes, Pull and Rotations are staple compound movements in many designed programs and should also be the meat and potatoes of your “workouts”.  They involve complex orchestrations of several body networks and offer the biggest bang for your buck.  They are also the lifts people tend to avoid or butcher to hell.  Learning to execute these types of movements properly, for your body type, will help you to increase your fitness longevity and prevent unnecessary injuries.  Just because you’ve been “lifting for years, bro” doesn’t mean your form is on point, it may just mean you’ve been lifting with shitty form for years, bro!  Check your egos people and seek some coaching so that you make the most of these foundational patterns.

29) Taping, wraps, and other therapeutic accessories are sometimes needed but if they become part of your wardrobe you may want to reconsider your life.

We all get bumps and bruises or tweaks and strains; we are placing our bodies under intentional stress after all!  Would you find it odd if your co-worker came to office with Band Aids plastered everywhere, every day and frequently wearing a sling?  Unless you’re doing the same, probably so! Well, if you’re having to tape, wrap, and basically mummify yourself to get through your workout on a continual basis, you may want to re-evaluate your current system.  Band Aids are meant to be temporary…unless you’re Nelly, then it’s fine.  Just sayin’. (E.I. E.I, Uh-Ohhhhhhh)

 30) Don’t think you can balance on a beam until you’ve learned to tie your shoelaces.

There has and always will be a ‘rite of passage’ in your life.  They are there to ensure you are taking the necessary steps of progression.  Your safety can depend on them.  When you were a child, if your parents didn’t hook up your training wheels, you may not have the same face structure today. The same holds true with healthy lifestyles! You can’t expect to see results without having put in the work.  You can’t bench 300 next week when you haven’t yet touched 250.  You can’t give up alcohol for the year if you haven’t been able to string together a week and you’re not willing to give up your Fraternity House Kegger Keys.  Well, some of this can & has happen but it takes a special breed.  Keep it simple.  Set realistic goals with realistic steps because even small steps forward will move you in the right direction!

31) CARBS KILL!

Insulin Resistance (IR) is when your body’s muscle and fat cells are inefficient in absorbing glucose (carbs) for energy and thus blood sugar and insulin levels rise.  Interestingly, despite the Insulin spike being a result of glucose, research has shown that IR is closer associated with diets high in saturated and trans fat than high carb diets.  So, what does all this mean? Well, carbs are NOT the enemy! Unfortunately for some, such as pre/type 2 diabetics, the obese, those with Metabolic Syndrome, and chronic fructose junkies, to name a few, are predisposed to IR and should be mindful of the amount of carbs they consume.  For the general public, eating carbs won’t in fact kill you or necessarily make you fat. However, please note that this subject is a true “it depends” kind of one 😉

32) It’s about time women reclaim their strength and end the misconceptions.

For too long, a story was fabricated that women would get bulky lifting weights and that gyms we’re more of a man-zone. Media would portray the man in his element, lifting the cold iron, and the woman in hers, on the floor doing leg lifts (*insert sound of crickets*). Boy is that story starting to take a turn! I LOVE seeing strong women do their thing and nowadays, it’s not uncommon to see them out-lifting the opposite sex. All genders have an equal right to strength. Reshaping the way women feel about strength and lifting weights will help generations of girls grow in to their strongest beings.  Ladies, we love that you lift. We love that you’re taking back what’s yours. If we say we don’t, it’s because we’re scared our manhood is in jeopardy, because that’s our misconceived story and it still needs to be addressed.

33) Dropping science truth-bombs does go to show that you are smart enough to do your research but don’t forget that most studies are done on rodents so unless your name is Splinter…

I LOVE science! I love reading research and nerding it up.  As a Coach, it’s important for me to stay on top of current research so I can better guide my clients to their questions.  I do, however, realize that not all research bodies are of the same integrity and that most studies are performed on rodents so take them for what they are-information.  Just because research told you that sprinting and plyometrics are good for explosive power & performance doesn’t mean that Grandpa Norbert and his replacement hips should be doing them!

34) Saying “roids” to someone’s progress is like saying “luck” to someone’s wealth.

 For sure, roids are being used more openly.  There’s a box full of needles in the bathroom of the corporate family gym I attend.  Dudes (both male and female) are looking J.A.C.K.E.D. so it’s easy to put 2 and 2 together, right? No.  Discrediting some people’s sacrifices and effort is like telling a successful entrepreneur that they lucked out getting to the top.  That they didn’t get up and go to bed with their goal in mind.  That they opted for the easy way out.  Just because you could never commit yourself to that type of discipline does not make you entitled to judge.  Even if they we’re on roids, trolling Social Media and calling them out is clearly why your time is not valued and results are not showing.

35) Knowledge is they key but application is the car.

You can read a book until your eyes fall out of your face and take all the courses but unless that knowledge is being applied it’s potentially lost.  Fellow Coaches out there know what I’m talking about!  Do you know someone who is really set in their ways despite knowing better?  These types of people can often have a fear of change as it leaves room for feelings of uneasiness and loss of control.  The systems that they have been using and have grown comfortable with would need to be uprooted and reconfigured which can be a perplexing task to some.  For this reason, it’s important to be open to change and adaptation or else your books and certifications are just a part of your book case, not your life experience.

36) 60 x 5=300/10080=3%

 How many workouts do you complete in a week? If you’re getting in 5, congratulations! You are probably well above the general public’s average.  As baffling as it sounds, to put that in perspective, you, with your 5 x week of exercise are only using 3% of your total weekly minutes on physical exercise.  Oh, and let’s face it, not all 60 minutes are used on actual exercise in that time.  It becomes very obvious then that a healthy lifestyle, outside of your workout time, is absolute essential to make any real progress.  If you have a Coach, then only 300 minutes of the 10080 minutes in your week is being supervised, otherwise…it’s all you!

 

…I could literally go on but some asshole just told me to get off his bench so he can complete his set.  Must be roid rage!!  😛

Hopefully you’ve found time to read the entire article until this point.  Some of you may have your feathers ruffled, some of you may wonder if you will ever get those last 15 minutes back.  Perhaps some of you will have decided to “follow” and “like” me and maybe something I wrote may have resonated with you and provoked you to reconsider the way you will continue your journey.  I’m ok with it all and I hope someday you will be too:)

 

In Strength

Coach Ty

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