F@ck your selfie.
F$ck your detox.
F%ck your “fitness”.
If you are trying to lose weight, lose fat, get fit, or just get healthy; it can be a really confusing place out there. People screaming that this workout is best, this detox can cleanse you, or that diet can help you lose 30lbs in 30 days. We are inundated with picture perfect models on Instagram and airbrushed goddesses on the covers of every magazine.
We want to get fit and we want to get fit NOW. There is no time to waste, I need to get to the beach and look like Zac Efron or The Rock in Baywatch.
This leads us to want to believe all the fit salespeople out there. We WANT to believe that we can look just like them in 90 days, or become a primal paleo person with the snap of your fingers. We believe that we can spend two hours in the gym, create a perfect meal plan, and do everything else in our life. We can make it work, because we want to be fit.
This #fitnessmotivation lasts for about four days, then comes crashing back down to reality.
A reality slathered in comfort, convenience, and bbq sauce.
This cycle of thinking, that a certain tactic or framework will get you fit, is usually followed by not quick enough results. We then sink back into old habits that lead us to our old lifestyle that wasn’t serving us to begin with.
Growing up, my family had a huge tree in our backyard. A tree so tall, it blocked out all the sunlight on a warm summer’s day. We would climb the tree, swing on the branches, and pick the leaves away as they turned to beautiful shades of red and orange in the fall. The tree seemed like a family member (with a last name like Arbour it might have been..).
This past summer, something strange happened. No leaves grew. There was no shade in the summer. It remained barren just as it would be in the winter. Tree professionals did some tests and basically said the tree had died.
Something happened to the roots.
Someone may have cut a root while mowing. It got infected and died.
You can pull leaves off a tree, cut branches and trim it, but once you get into the roots; that’s where the living and thriving actually happen. Feed the roots and the tree grows, hurt them and it dies.
Everything you see sold on TV or on YouTube is a branch or fleeting leaf of the fitness tree. We need to get down to the real causes, the roots, of the issue.
There is more noise out there then ever. We’ve got webinars, social media influencers, emails, notifications, fitness trackers, and boutique fitness businesses popping up like Starbucks; but our obesity and overweight numbers continue to reach highs we have never seen before.
As a society we believe that all these tactics, all these branches, all these leaves, are going to do the job for us. We ignore the roots. Some of us might not see them, or know to look for them. Other’s probably don’t want to deal with the real issues, the deep and emotional issues that have led to their current state.
It’s time to get back to our roots.
The first root that we must nurture to build a strong health and fitness tree is that of self awareness.
Too often we put blind faith in a leaf and hope it does the work for us. We must do the work on ourselves first. This includes digging deep into WHY you want to make a healthy lifestyle change, creating a vision of your future healthy self, and documenting what you actually do before you can make positive changes.
Finding and committing to your one, deep, meaningful WHY for getting healthy, losing fat, or getting stronger, can be the most impactful exercise you undertake on your road to a healthier life. It doesn’t sound sexy, and it doesn’t sell, but it can push you on the days you feel like giving up.
Journal about the topic. Go buy a journal, like with pages and lines, you should use it often. Ask yourself the question, “Why do I want to (insert goal or lifestyle change here)?” Allow yourself to brainstorm on this question for 20 minutes without judging any answer that may pop into your head. Maybe you want your ex to get jealous, write it down. Want to learn how to prepare a delicious healthy meal? Write it. After you are done with the brain dump, get down to the one that hits you in the most visceral level. Some examples that usually do the trick:
“I want to walk my daughter down the aisle…”
“I want to be able to keep up my energy and be there for my kids..”
“I want to get more attention from that cute guy at work..”
When you find your deepest WHY for pursuing this lifestyle improvement, the next thing you should do is create a vision for your healthy self. What is different because you have made this decision? What relationships are deeper? How do you feel? Write it as if you are in your perfect health at a time in the future, at least a year out. Write this in your journal. An example could be:
“I’m sitting here outside my downtown apartment in the summer heat of 2018, I am so proud of the healthy life I’ve carved for myself and the decisions I’ve made along the way. I’m so grateful I read Adam’s post in 2017 that helped me create a foundation for my path. I can now whip up a healthy meal in no time and consistently prepare and eat my meals at home. I LOVE going to the gym and have made tons of friends in the process. My energy is higher and I have more passion than ever. I can actually go outside without a shirt on and not feel self conscious. My friends and family have all supported me throughout this journey and I’ve helped them at times make healthier choices. I feel like a positive role model and my default decisions are to do the healthy thing now. I regularly go to local farmer’s markets, find myself in the produce section, and enjoy cooking my own meals.”
You get the point. Allow yourself to go as deep and vast with this exercise, have fun! It will create excitement and writing it down in a journal will make it feel that much more real.
[If you want to learn more about the power of creating a vision, check this out.]
The last part of creating a self awareness surrounding your health lifestyle is recording what you actually do every day. Try it out for a couple weeks to a month. This will be the foundation for your future healthy changes. You will need a baseline of what you currently do, so you can create better habits in the coming weeks and months.
Write, log, and track anything that involves your health. What you eat, drink, how much you consume, what you do for exercise any irregular movement, how much you sleep, etc
Eat a double cheeseburger? Write it down. Eat a piece of cake at that work birthday party? Track it. At the end of the day, you might not write down everything, but your body never messes this part up. Look in the mirror and it tells you what you ate and what your workout program looks like.
What gets measured, gets managed.
Measurement equals motivation.
“Got any other measurement quick hits?”
We must first measure our baseline, what we do that has gotten us here, so that we can make steady adjustments to improve from our current state.
Go ahead and take a selfie to document where you started the process. For the love of Buddha, don’t post it on Instagram #fitspo
After we have a steady dose of self awareness, we can then jump to understanding the two most important words in healthy lifestyle change and success…
Consistency and patience.
Understanding the simple wisdom in these two words and practicing them will lead you to the results you seek. Too often, we lose sight of one or both of these words and give up on the process entirely.
How many times have you committed to eating a healthier diet and you go hard for three or four days. You become so proud of yourself and decide that you can cheat a little bit since you’ve done so well. Then you end up eating a dozen doughnuts and taking a nap that lasts for an entire day. No one else? Just me?
To create lasting success, we must create a lifestyle around our health and fitness.
Lifestyle: the habits, attitudes, tastes, moral standards that constitute the mode of living of an individual or group.
We must change these habits, tastes, attitudes, and standards that we have set for ourselves and our health. Consistency and patience will allow these changes to take hold and make permanent in your life.
As long as we are looking up words in the dictionary:
Consistency: steadfast adherence to the same principles, course, form, etc
Patience: 1. The quality of being patient, as the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like. 2. An ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay. 3. Quiet, steady perseverance; even-tempered care; diligence.
When we look at our newsfeeds and social medias, we see the sexy bodies of our friends, the perfect meals made from others, and the perfect lives that others seem to have. What we don’t see are the countless hours that person spent in the gym, the 57 shitty meals they made, and every imperfect moment that no doubt triples that perfect picture. We are lured into thinking that success is a snapshot when in reality it’s a long series of constant struggles.
This is where consistency and patience play their role. Endure the roadblocks, enjoy the struggle, hold onto your WHY and vision and know that better times are ahead. Remain consistent and patient and you will reach your vision of health.
One way to help yourself remain consistent and patient is through the power of accountability.
As Stephen Covey puts it, “Accountability breeds response-ability.” It creates the drive and leverage to take the only kind of action that will help you reach your goals: massive action!
Three ways to create accountability in your life are self accountability, finding an accountability partner, or using a coach to help guide you and keep you honest.
Self accountability is the easiest starting block, but the hardest to maintain. This can come in the form of your health journaling. It could be a daily weigh in or measuring some other metric you want to improve. This accountability could also be in the progress pictures you take that you hopefully keep off any social media channel (just for further emphasis…).
The lowest buy in usually reaps the lowest and hardest reward. This was the path that I took and it’s like driving in the middle of the night without your lights on. It’s scary and you have zero sense of direction.
The next level of accountability is in the form of an accountability partner or buddy. You both might have similar goals, so you ask each other to text motivation throughout the day, make sure you are eating correctly, or if you made it to the gym. Your partner might even accompany you to the gym to workout. They could live in your house, or on the other side of the globe. The main point is that they should care about you and the goals you’ve set for yourself. They should also be able to stand up to you when you’re being stubborn, it will happen.
I’ve seen this relationship lead to great results and great bonds between partners.
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” Proverbs 27:17
The highest form of accountability is that between you and a coach. A coach knows the way, shows the way, and helps you go the way. They shed light on any potential pitfalls, help guide you to your goals, and is dedicated to your success. They can answer any questions you might have and will be a shoulder to lean on when times get tough, and they will.
Most importantly, they will be the highest form of accountability you will ever encounter. You will find a way to give yourself an out or an excuse. “Just this once…” “I’ve earned this doughnut..” “I can make up my workout next week”. Your workout or accountability partner can pester you, but at the end of the day, they might not want to hurt your feelings. A coach is paid to get you results. You have put up money to reach your goal. They know what you want deep down inside and hold you to that standard, not your feelings in the moment. High buy in, high reward. Go big or go home, baby.
Lastly, when we are f*cking up your fitness, you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. You can find enjoyable ways to reach your ultimate goals.
Off the top of my head, here is a quick vomit of eating protocols: paleo, ketogenic, counting calories, if it fits your macros, clean eating, organic eating, vegan, vegetarian, pescetarian, mediterranean.
And again with workouts: crossfit, yoga, walking, high intensity interval training, running, lifting, olympic lifting, barre, spin, pilates, beachbody at home, sports with friends.
There are countless combinations to help you reach your goals. They key is to be open to experimentation and finding out what works for you. You are the epitome of an n=1 experiment. So many of us see the results others have doing one particular protocol and believe that we will get the same exact results if we do the same thing. The hard part is understanding that we all have different genetics and lifestyles. That person who looks like a greek god doing crossfit might not have kids and can sleep for 9 hours every night.
Don’t look at the other cars on the fitness highway. Stay in your lane. If you aren’t getting where you want to go, try another experiment. As long as you are looking to improve your health, you will win. Remember, there is no win in comparison.
So fuck your fitness, fuck those selfies, and fuck comparing yourself to anyone else. Let their journey be their journey. That progress pic you see your friend post comes with way more than the picture. We don’t see the struggle, the adversity, and the tough times. We need to remind ourselves that with every success comes struggle and with every goal comes grit. Forget the tactics, they are the last experiment we should pursue. We need to dig deep down to the roots of our relationship with health and fitness. We must create self awareness, trust in patience and consistency, get some accountability, and then experiment to see what tactics and branches work for us.