Make It Happen Monday – Respect The Process

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I admit that I’m a bit biased, but it seems that almost every event, goal, and challenge I come across in life has a direct correlation in the weight room, training, and quest for favorable body composition.

As I’ve recently been dealt some raw hands coming back from surgery, and realized that they’re mostly of my own doing, I’ve been slapped with a reminder of this observation… right between my Icarian wings.

When it comes to nutrition/dieting and conditioning there are two great “truths”.

(Yes, there are always some exceptions, but don’t be the douchebag tries to pick fly shit out of pepper. Just don’t.)

Performance Truth #1. You can diet hard OR you can train hard. You can’t do both for long.

Performance Truth #2. If you start out at full throttle, operating at max capacity, you’re going to crash and crash soon. If you start sub-maximally and gradually increase volume, intensity, and complexity you’ll soon find yourself easily doing things you KNOW you couldn’t have done just a few weeks prior.

The first truth is the fuel of internet marketers and one that I’ve personally tried to violate for years. I always thought I could “game the system” by using little tricks and hacks to allow me to train hard, make progress on the bar or platform, and drastically under-eat in order to shed fat… simultainously. While all the little tricks helped a bit and some show some promise (more on those in another post) the end result was always the same: If I kept my food intake too low for too long my workouts sucked or stopped entirely, my motivation tanked, and my injury rate skyrocketed.

In contrast, if I prioritized training I found that I could keep my nutrition running pretty high, simply make some smart choices with what I shoved in my piehole, and the body composition would pretty much take care of itself. I hypothesize that in order to do a bodybuilding show I’d have to go a bit back to the other side, but I don’t plan on one anytime soon (and neither do the vast majority of you) so it’s a moot point.

Too much, too soon

As I said, despite my best efforts to the contrary, I’ve had far more success with myself and with my clients by following Truth #1. I’ve also observed that life is the same way. You can focus hard on one, maybe two things in your life at any given time. However, trying to make massive changes or push hard on all aspects of your life such as work, family, friends, fitness, nutrition, vice removal, debt reduction, or whatever just plain doesn’t work. You can start out like gangbusters for a few weeks but soon you totally crash and burn. Instead, focus on just one or two of those things at a time while continuing to slowly work on the others. When those are conquered you can move on to the next targets.

The second performance truth is another one often learned the hard way. What is the first plan of attack that comes to mind when you decide that you need to “get in shape”? I’m pretty sure the conversation goes a little like this:

“Man, I’m fat and lazy. Time to get my bitch ass in gear.

Ok, Mon/Wed/Fri I’m going to lift and do hard finishers afterward. I’ll follow up with a five mile run. Tues/Thurs will be hard conditioning, so I’ll do a couple of those Crossfit AMRAPs each day then I’ll run at night. Sat will be STRONGMAN day. That’ll only take a couple of hours, so then I’ll hit the battling ropes to finish it off. Oh, and Sunday will be rest day, so I’ll do a long, slow run.

What I think I'll look like in 2 weeks

Man, I’m going to be a beast in like two weeks!”

We’ve all been there. We aren’t happy with where we are so we decide to make a MAJOR change. The issue is that the body doesn’t quite adapt that way. This is one of the reasons why injured athletes who get dumped out of Physical Therapy mid-way through a season and start balling right away have a really hard time “playing themselves into shape”. It just doesn’t work. The people who try this usually just crash and burn after a couple of weeks.

However, if the above person were to start some strength training three days per week, then after a few weeks add in an extra conditioning session, and so on over time they would be shocked at the volume/intensity that they were able to handle without killing themselves. They would grow into their conditioning, and it wouldn’t take nearly as long as they think.

Life and the act of making changes is very similar. How many people do you know who’ve been able to go from smoking two packs per day to crumpling the pack and never touching another butt again? Very few.

Or what about your nightly bowl of ice cream (you know who you are) habit? After two years of cookies and cream the cold-turkey approach is going to do nothing but make you bitchy and probably get you arrested for disturbing the peace at a local Coldstone on some dark, lonely night.

Our bodies and our minds are very plastic but they don’t like deviating far from their “norm”. Luckily, we can reset what that norm is to quite a wide range. It just takes consistent effort, progression, and time.

Look at your life the same way. If you want to make a change, start moving in that direction. Tomorrow move a little further. Your goal is simply to get one step ahead and to not lose ground.

It’s Make It Happen Monday. Stop being crazy and focus on progress towards the goal, not achieving the goal today.

If you’re looking for some steps to smooth your progress towards a stronger, leaner, and more athletic physique, then sign up on the right!

Comments on Make It Happen Monday – Respect The Process Leave a Comment

September 7, 2014

Alice @ 7:17 pm #

Do you think some things shouldn’t take baby steps after so long? How much longer can someone take baby steps before they reach their goal? I understand that some things are a process but other things shouldn’t be after x amount of time. Some baby steps make it seem like yours standing still from any perspective.

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