Exercise is honest. Are you?

“I never try anything I just do it. Wanna try me?”

You can, or you can’t. You will, or you won’t. There is a point in every hard workout where I contemplate stopping early. Eight hills are plenty for today. You don’t feel great. You didn’t sleep well. It’s OK to back off a bit. Twenty minutes in the gym is good enough. Fifteen pushups? Not this set, let’s stop at ten. The discipline to say yes to more is definitely not automatic. It’s not a born trait. It’s not genetic. Your behavior is cultivated through repetition. Therefore, you become predictable, in a good or bad way, successful or unsuccessful, with each and every decision you make. Do you look for solutions, or seek a way out?

Comfort zones stagnate. Time, distance, weight, repetition, rest, etc. all play their respective roles in progressing you towards improvement. Each element is adjustable. Each adjustment either increases or decreases difficulty. Staying at a consistent stimulus, or working within the same parameters, causes stagnation. A new normal is continuously being defined. As you adapt to stress, via exposure and absorption (rest), you grow. This growth is both physical and mental. The mental aspect is key. Once it’s been done you know that it CAN be done. And done by you, not merely another human being. Physical growth comes during the period of rest or recovery (period of easy movement) that follows a new stress stimulus. A little faster, a little further, a little higher, a little more resistance, a few more reps, a couple more sets. Choosing one, or a few and agreeing to “go there” is making a decision to improve. You’ve planned to expose yourself to something new. When the moment arrives and you follow through, you’ve just expanded your world. That one small present-moment decision changes everything.

Schedule (plan) these opportunities for yourself to improve. Place them in your schedule often enough to build decision making confidence and success. As always, things take time. These “growth days” are green light opportunities for your mind and body. Understand that your success cannot be rushed. Callouses form with repeated exposure. Revealing yourself to the effort and demand not only callouses the body but it hardens your mind as well. Through this process, you gain the ability to accept more (load, repetition, duration) and in turn, give more the next time.

Personal Story: The year is 2012. One week prior I completed the challenging Leadville Trail Marathon. A 26+ mile run beginning and ending in historic Leadville CO, which sits at over 10,000 ft elevation. Almost two miles high! Living in Albuquerque, at relatively high elevation (5000 ft), the altitude factor was not something I worried about. Having no prior experience with physical effort at altitude, I was soon to find out its effects. The race went surprisingly well. I finished in 6th place out of 500+ runners. Not a bad day on trail by any means. The following week is when the event exacted its revenge on my body. I was exhausted, hungry, and sore… all week long. Knowing I had the 50-mile race a mere two weeks after the marathon, I had to listen to the wants of my system while also looking ahead to the big event on the horizon. Thus, one week after the marathon, and one week before the 50-mile race, I set out to run a 25-mile loop in the Sandia mountains. The idea was to harden up the legs and callous the mind to the effort and elements. You see, Albuquerque in July is hot, windy, and incredibly dry. Often times the forests are closed due to fire danger. Meaning humans are not even allowed to recreate in them. Those three elements (heat, wind, dry climate) are a dangerous combination. Nonetheless, I set off with two water bottles and a few hundred calories of sports drink and energy gel. I chose a route that would take me up the iconic La Luz trail. A rugged, beautiful climb from roughly 6,000 ft elevation to over 10,000 ft in 7-miles. It presents a nice challenge amidst a long loop in the mountains. My plan was to re-supply with water at the top and if my body was not up for that length of a run, to take the tram down, shortening the run from 25-12 miles. Early on in the run, I went to close one of my water bottles by hitting the cap on the bottom of the other bottle. Just as I did this I heard a pop and saw all of my fluids quickly draining out. I had punctured the bottom of the bottle with this action. Now, I was down 16 ounces of fluid and one bottle. Surely I would shorten the run at the tram and cut my losses. I had plenty of fluids to get me to the summit and consumed the calories I had, figuring I may as well keep my energy stores topped off. My spirit was good and legs felt OK. Cresting the summit and reaching the tram I saw a sign posted. Closed due to high winds. Hmmm… that’s not good. At this point, I am almost out of water and calories. With an almost empty bottle of water, 100 calories and a couple of salt tablets on hand I had to make the trek back to the vehicle. The day was beginning to heat up. Add that factor and it was bound to be a character building experience. 90-minutes later I found myself descending a familiar trail, coming to a spot where I had always seen water pooling. It was a spring in the mountainside. Now, I’ve always been cautioned to steer clear of any water coming out of the ground for fear of giardia, which wreaks havoc on your GI system. Undeterred, I stopped at the trail and filled my water bottle. I downed it. Then I cooled my head, arms, and chest with the cool water. It felt amazing. Filling the bottle one more time, I tightened the cap and continued descending. My pace was slow, my steps a little unsure, but my resolve was strong. Mile after mile I kept moving until finally, I broke free from the dense tree cover into the exposed foothills. With close to two miles to go, it was now a full-on assault in the mid-day sun. I finished the run. Exhausted, depleted, yet satisfied. I’d did probably the hardest thing I had ever done in my life up to that point and did it solo. What’s fascinating is that to this day I can pull from this experience and use it to push through difficult endurance events. I did not know what it meant to endure until this moment. A week later I finished the Leadville Silver Rush 50-mile Trail Race. Coming in 10th overall I again exceeded my expectations. As predicted, the race brought many ups and downs. It reinforced the idea that the mind is primary. Once the mind has been exposed to new stressors and overcomes the desire to quit, stop, or feel sorry for itself, your potential is now greater.

How do you know until you know? You don’t. Create opportunities. Adapt to challenges. Broaden your experience. Create new definitions for both your capability and possibility.

Exposure. Environment. Execution. Expectation.

The Plan. The Process. The Commitment.

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Follow your plan and you will succeed. Quiet the doubts in your mind. Understand that they are natural, and will continue to come. Daily, intentional engagement will lead you forward, onward and upward.

Why You/I Need a Coach

Why you/I need a coach.

While shopping for solutions to your health and fitness needs you will run across a multitude of programs, videos, special equipment, and many other products. This is easy to create and sell. Generally the marketing of the products is centered on how simple it is to do on your own. This is where the problems can start…

Starting a self-applied training program is a big step in having some ownership of your health. You are making a commitment. Time in your day that once was given to some other activity is now being assigned to this new fitness endeavor. Comfort and security is traded for discomfort and insecurity. You are being asked to begin the learning process again. It’s easy to start, but will you be able to finish? Can you quell the voices in your head as the soreness sets in the next morning? Will you make the right nutritional choices so that your body can begin to work on changing its composition? These are big questions, but they are real.

So what can a coach do for me? We all have notions of what the role of a coach is, some are positive, some are negative, but for most of us we’ve never had a personal coach. Coaching is usually seen in a group/team environment, focused on the group’s outcome. In our adult lives most of our achievements are assessed on the personal level. How do you stand out? Why are you achieving? What’s holding you back? Fitness coaching and Health coaching are two sides of the same coin. On one side your have fitness coaching, which is mainly concerned about the nuts and bolts of your physical training on a daily basis. On the other side you have health coaching, which is concerned with who you are 24 hours a day. The focus here is on your life: your stresses, job, demands, time, health, habits, etc. As you can see a lot goes into helping someone become successful. In modern, urban life it’s not innate or natural to have balance. The scale is always tipped one direction or the other. Solutions are there to be found, but we can’t assume that we have the capability, time, or energy to invest in personally finding those solutions. It’s a complex web of factors that produce your current state of health and fitness.

A coach works with you to provide solutions. On a basic level, it is accountability and commitment. On a deeper level it is accessibility. Having a guide to answer your questions, not generally, but specifically, will arm you with real personal solutions. For me, knowing that I have a good coach, with my best interests at the forefront of their thoughts and actions is invaluable. General knowledge is helpful, but it is often communicated as “the way” when in fact there is no one-way.

In parting, keep this in mind:

  • Establish Goals
  • Develop Action Plans to Achieve Goals
  • Become a Part of a Team
  • Receive Individual Guidance
  • Be Armed with Knowledge to Make the Needed Corrections
  • Experience the Power of Personal Health Solutions
  • Own Your Health and Fitness

 

Accountability and Initiating Positive Change

Operating a private personal training studio is a really unique experience.  Clients are seeking my services out, knowing a good amount about what I am providing already.  This makes the transition from potential client, to active client, a rapid process.  Goals are expressed immediately as are opportunities and limitations.  The process has begun.

Example: I am the initiator of positive change.  Last week I was approached by a women in her early 50’s who was very frustrated by the recent changing in her body, brought on by inactivity and the hormonal changes that occur in a females body at that time.  She knew how much weight she had gained, where she had gained it, and what additions and subtractions needed to be made in order to succeed.  She also knew that a personal trainer or fitness coach was the next piece in the puzzle to initiate positive change.  Creating an outline, following a plan, sticking to the schedule will bring success.

The hardest part about making incremental positive changes is accountability.  When we become adults we have less people to be accountable to.  Parents, teachers, and other authority figures are not a part of our daily decision making process.  We are free to eat what we want, sleep whenever, spend our time any which way we choose.  Our fitness is often one of the first things we lose during this transition to adulthood.  It’s the thing that we “worry about later”.  Sometimes it is a slap in the face or reality check that is needed to elicit the need for positive change.

Everyone needs accountability.  Whether that be registering for a marathon, hiring a trainer or coach (health, business, life, financial, etc.), or even as simple as a book club.  In order to move forward their needs to be a direction, and ultimately a culmination of the process.  As an athlete that direction is the daily training and that culmination is the race day.

Success is the ultimate positive.

Commitment is the only way.

Get Fit.  Be Healthy.  Stay Confident.