Posts Tagged ‘health’

I don’t care about having a sixpack.

I can hear you already, “You, sir, are a damned liar.” Listen, I’ll admit that at one point having a sixpack topped my priority list and I wanted it bad. I examined every article, picture, and shred of information I could get my grubby hands on that might get me closer to the supposed Holiest of Fitness Grails. Lately, though, that goal has lost some of it’s luster.

My first clue that I wanted something different was during a pickup game of flag football with some friends. It was the first time I had stepped on a field to actually play a (somewhat) organized sport in years. We picked teams schoolyard style; two captains each picking players until everyone’s got a place to go. Even growing up the fat kid I was coordinated enough to not be picked last; the middle of the pack is generally where I fall and the same held true this time.

For someone who has never been the fastest at anything, nobody was more shocked than I when I happened to be just that. The looks of confusion and shock on my friends faces as I blew by them was more satisfying than it should have been. I know that it’s not really a big deal and that I’m being childish. Except it’s also awesome, so I’m not going to apologize.

My second clue came during a workout not that long ago where I did something I hadn’t really been devoting any real effort to achieving. Having said that, I know this will offend a few people. I pulled 405lbs on a deadlift. I’m not saying that it was easy or that it’s a super impressive number; powerlifters are giggling at me right now. What I am saying is that I didn’t realize how awesome it feels to be strong. Doing something that you know for a fact you were incapable of doing a few weeks ago is one of the purest forms of self satisfaction I’ve yet to come across.

Now, I lay all of that out there and I can still hear the skeptical response, “Yeah, yeah. But you’re gonna tell me you don’t want to look good?”

What, you think I want to look like a bag of ass? No. If anyone tells you that they don’t care at all, even a little bit, about how they look I want you to punch them right in the kisser and steal their peanut butter.

The good news is that I have refocused my training and eating for performance. I’ve touched on little ways I’ve done this nutritionally before, like when I figured out my body desperately needed carbs to recover from the workouts I was doing. Also, I never worked out just to make my mirror muscles bigger. Most everything I do and have done is about being able to perform my job better, which still holds true. The difference is that I measured my progress more by how I looked than by how I performed. That has changed.

I’m not going to throw around buzz phrases similar to, “train like an athlete.” That could mean so many things to so many different people. Maybe you want to be a sprinter, a powerlifter, or just a parent that is able to keep up with their kids on the playground. Work towards those goals because the “looking good” part comes with the territory.

Granted, that assertion comes soley from my experience. I’m not trying to fit some six-pack-mold anymore, but by focusing more on those other things that make me happy I’m starting to look better anyway. I’m starting to see that definition that I always wanted but it’s not my endgame anymore, which is fantastic news when I really stop to think about it.

I mean, seriously, once I achieved my goal of a six pack…what would I do? Lose it just to get it again? That makes zero sense. No, instead I have goals that will last me a lifetime. I can always get faster and stronger, I can’t very well get more six pack.

-Moody

I could write an entire post about running the Tough Mudder this weekend, but it wouldn’t mean much to anyone not running one. Instead, I’ll focus on what I felt upon completing the course and why it wasn’t what I thought I would feel.

That being said, a quick blurb never hurts. The race was challenging, as it’s meant to be. Men and women of a wide range of fitness levels were out on the course giving it they’re all. It was pretty inspiring and one of my teammates, who was self admittedly well out of shape prior to this, said, “It’s easy when you’re running on your own or doing burpees to stop. But when you’ve got all these people pushing, man, it motivates you to just keep going.”

I don’t have a whole lot to add to that; he nailed it.

Pushing on to completion though, I felt proud of all of everyone who made it through, especially the ones who were hesitant to sign up until I pestered them (I’d apologize, but you know who you are and you’re happy you did it).  As it relates to myself, though , I wasn’t really proud of those few hours I spent on the course.

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I was proud of everything I did to prepare for it. I spent hours sweating on gym floors, sidewalks, and fields so that I could control how my body works. I put so much effort into figuring out what fuel my body runs best on that I could write a ten page paper comparing how I react to certain foods. I’ve got notebooks full of chicken scratch about workouts, what worked versus what didn’t, my strengths, and my weaknesses. Completing the course and still feeling good, while also exhausted, was just proof that I had put in the effort. That effort was the most important thing to me.

That’s an interesting realization, right? Don’t get me wrong, I had a blast on the course and will definitely be doing it again. I’m also more sore today than I have ever been in my whole life; I can’t walk right. Where I really found out how strong I was, both physically and mentally, was the work behind the scenes. Kind of like any athlete I’ve ever admired; their success begins off-screen, not in the championship game.

The hardest thing to do, for me, was to adjust my mindset to that framework. Recently, I had a conversation with an old friend, that I haven’t talked to in years, and I described how I approach life these days. Because that’s what you do when you catch up with people, right? Get all deep and introspective? No? Maybe just certain people then.

“I figured out that I’m better when I’m challenging myself and struggling to achieve. So I put myself in those situations,now, where I’m supposed to lose just to prove that I can win.”

That really does sum up how I do things. I used to shy away from challenges and take the easy way out. All that got me was sleep apnea, self loathing, and perceived life sentence of mediocrity.

Not a good combination.

So here’s my challenge, and it doesn’t have to be fitness/health related. I challenge everyone I know (especially the spammers who follow this blog) to put themselves in a situation where 51% of the vote goes to the other team. Where you’re going to have to fight tooth and nail to come out on top. Take your comfort zone, everything you think you know about yourself, all of your insecurities; throw them away.

Even if you’ve got to sign up for it 6 months in advance like I did for the Tough Mudder, commit yourself to something you don’t think you’re ready for. I’d bet good money that you’ll come out mentally stronger than you went in.

What have you really got to lose?

-Moody

 

Broscience. Many of us have heard the term, seen the people that spread it, and have probably enjoyed a few baffled moments at the expense of the dispenser of such information.

For those lucky enough to have avoided this experience, a Bro is anyone that starts feeding you stringent rules about what you should and should not do to gain muscle or get healthy. I’m not talking the mental stuff I get into, these guys will tell you (and sell you if they can) any meal plan, workout plan, or supplementation plan they can.

Urban Dictionary’s take on the matter? “Broscience is the predominant brand of reasoning in bodybuilding circles where the anecdotal reports of jacked dudes are considered more credible than scientific research.”

 

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Translation: It’s all bullshit.

I have stayed away, for the most part, from the specifics on what I do. Not because I have any issue telling anyone how I work out or how I eat. If you really want to know, I’ll tell you. The caveat to that is one simple disclaimer:

“This is what works for me.”

I have absolutely zero problem talking to anyone about getting in shape, about how I got in shape, or ways they can maybe get started. Anyone who markets themselves to you as a personal trainer, though, should be questioned. Ask for their badge (i.e. certifications.) It’s as easy to become a “Personal Trainer” as it is to become an ordained minister through the power of the Almighty Interwebs.

I had a conversation with a friend of mine the other day who is vastly more qualified than I to give anyone any type of workout advice. She’s a Certified Athletic Trainer, and I don’t mean the online variety. I’m talking Bachelors Degree (see also: way smarter than me.)

Needless to say, I pester her with questions all the time.

The question I asked her the other day wasn’t nearly so textbook for her to answer. “What do I tell people who ask me for help getting in shape?”

I asked because I never want to fall into that category. I feel like I flirt with that line every so often on here and I cringe at the very thought of it.

It’s also not that I don’t want to help. I got started by asking somebody the same thing and they totally hooked me up. My problem is that I’m not altogether comfortable with the idea of giving people specific. The truth is that I barely have specific advice for myself.

I have no way to convey the hours of personal research and trial and error I went through, and still go through, to get results. I tried to explain this to a friend of mine and the following analogy was the best way I could put it into words.

I’m decently handy with a guitar. I’m not great, but I don’t completely suck either. It was a passion of mine growing up and I poured lots of time into it. Inevitably, when I play in front of people, someone asks, “How’d you get so good?”

The answer is always, “Lots of lonely hours in my bedroom.”

That’s the truth. I have played my guitar to the walls of my room for more hours than I have ever played for another person. The same can be said for how I have gotten in shape.

Not a day goes by that I don’t read an article about different types of workouts or nutrition. Internet, books, friends who are actually qualified trainers (shameless shoutout). I absorb everything I can and I go try it. I have made mistakes, I have eaten some weird shit, I have pushed too hard, I’ve hurt myself (minor), I have sucked so many more times than I’ve written about on here.

All anyone sees is my before and after picture, and I’m fine with that. I want people to be motivated to get in shape and be healthy. My mind is continuously blown that some people have done just that because of me and that picture.

Someone recently asked the same friend I told the guitar analogy to about my specifics. His answer was simple and kind of took me by surprise.

“I told him, he just does everything. He changed everything about his life to reach his goal.” Not exactly how I would put it, but I appreciate his words. I also can’t argue with them.

I said it when I started this blog, there is no magic pill to losing weight and being healthy. There is no silver bullet that will, at the simple pull of a trigger, give you life altering results.

I could give someone the exact workouts I do, the exact food that I eat, and the timing for all of the above. They could do it, it might even work.

But it might not.

What will work, every single time, is hard work and consistency. If someone makes an effort to learn about eating healthy and working out effectively and then applies that knowledge in a consistent manner to their lives they will achieve what they set out to do.

Having said all of that, the safe starting points I got from the conversation with my qualified friend are pretty simple.

-Eat whole foods. If it comes in a bag or a can, it’s not the way to go. The best tip I’ve heard is to shop at the edges of the store where they keep the fresh stuff. Vegetables, meat, fruit. All of that stuff. Diet is huge when it comes to getting healthier.

-Prepare. Call it meal prep or whatever buzzword you want. If it weren’t for the fact that I planned on being hungry and made healthy choices available to myself, the fast food options would have been more of an issue. As it is, I prepare meals for my entire week. It’s a little time consuming on the day that I do it, sure, but it also has saved me money by not having to hit the cafeteria or a fast food place when I need some food.

-Get active. You don’t have to go to a gym. If you like walking, start walking more. You want to get into hiking, do it. Get a bike. Join a recreational sport league. Start running. Play a pickup game with some friends on the weekend. Chase after your kids rather than just following along. Make your kids chase after you. Just today I went to a hotel that has one helluva staircase going 15 floors in one direction without having to spiral upwards. I climbed it 10 times and I’m not going to the gym today.

Finally, a quote that really gets me thinking about everything I’ve learned throughout this whole journey:

“In an age of information, ignorance is a choice.”

Don’t overcomplicate things. Get smart, act smart, make progress. Simple.

-Moody

Recently, I’ve had an interesting go of it with a whole bunch of friends jumping on the health wagon. I think this is pretty much the coolest thing in the world. What I dig even more is the fact that they’re all telling me about it, they are all excited about it, and they are all willing to put in some serious effort to take care of business.

Lemme tell ya, as someone who remembers the beginning, you must have this kind of positive attitude. If you walk into it all sorts of negative, you aren’t going to get very far before you start to question your resolve. That’ll happen to people with the best of attitudes anyway, so it’s best to start out on the up side of things.

A common occurrence when they approach me has been the question everyone has asked at least once in their lives; or in my case, thousands of times.

“Where do I start?”

On the surface that seems like a pretty easy question, right?

Nope. My blank return stare the first time it was posed to me is proof of that.

At first I would just regurgitate what I had done. If you’ve read some of my past posts, you know that I don’t necessarily think that’s the best approach for everyone nor do I consider myself qualified to recommend it to everyone.

Following that, after I had established this blog, I would simply point people here. I still do this, especially when they ask me what I did specifically to get in shape. I know that reading about other people’s stories in regards to their health has helped me, so I figure it probably works for others.

I almost always go on and on about my friend who got me started on this path. The guy who lost a bunch of weight, told me what he did, is still my workout partner, and is one of the few people I consider a close friend. Without fail, anytime I bring it up around him he always deflects.

“I just gave him the tools, he did the rest.”
“Dammit man! Just take my credit!”

Very frustrating.

Just recently, though, that’s changed. I get what he means. I had to be the one to decide to do it. I had to be the one to decide to make a change in my life. Me. Not him. Not my other friends. Me.

I made that choice before I even knew where to start. The notion of a specific starting point is useless until you are actually willing to start. I decided to make a change for the better and then I asked him for help. In that specific order.

Fast forward to the present, I stumbled across a quote recently that has absolutely nothing to do with health and fitness from a person who, to my knowledge, has absolutely nothing to do with health and fitness.

Which makes perfect sense.

From the almighty Joss Whedon, “Write it. Shoot it. Publish it. Crochet it, sauté it, whatever. MAKE.”

Make might not be the right word, so let’s change it to,DO.”

Fine, Nike kind of said this as well… but, YOU GUYS, Joss Whedon is way cooler; so we will ignore the big evil corporation.

In the beginning, I’m not convinced that the biggest issue is what you are going to do. I believe the issue needs to be that you are simply going to do. You’ve got to— we’ve all got to— commit to the idea of doing. It’s that simple. Unfortunately, it’s always the simple stuff that’s hard.

I wake up every damn day with the idea firmly planted in my head that I am going to do something that contributes to my goals. Whether it’s eat the right things, do a specific workout, or take a rest day; I am going to DO.

To anyone starting, or even in the middle of this:

Do something. Do anything. Run. Walk. Lift. Eat better. Ask for help. It doesn’t matter, just DO.

-Moody

Well, at the risk of repeating myself… I’m going to repeat myself.

Sort of.

I’m just going to start it with a simple statement and we’ll move on from there.

Losing weight and losing fat are two different things.

Tons of people want to “lose weight.”  That’s what they say, or something to that effect.

“Yea, I’d like to lose some weight and get back into shape.”

Hell, I said it.  Maybe I’m messing with semantics here, but what I really wanted to do was lose fat and I’d be willing to bet that that’s what most people want; to lose fat.

I had to learn the hard way that losing fat and losing weight are two entirely different beasts.  Certainly, at the size I was before, losing weight really was the goal.  That involved losing fat and some of the muscle I had built up over the years.  There was no way I could possibly change the fact that I had to lower my numbers in general to get healthy.

That being said, for people who aren’t nearly as bad off as I was, I think there is way too much emphasis on the numbers on the scale.  I’ve probably put on ten to fifteen pounds in the last few months (depends on the scale I borrow, since I don’t own one).

Yep, I gained weight.  But you know what?   I’m okay with that.

Along with those ten-fifteen pounds I’ve added wide grip pull-ups to my repertoire of exercises, I’ve put up higher numbers on all of my compound lifts, I’ve gained tons of endurance both muscular and cardiovascular, I’ve gotten faster during sprints, and I’m finally starting to see the outline of that six pack dream I’m chasing.

You can’t tell me that losing weight is always the answer.

We know muscle weighs more than fat per pound.  So why is it so hard for people to grasp that gaining muscle and adding a few pounds because of it is not the end of the world?

The damn scale.  The damn TV you’ve got next to your scale telling you what you should weigh.  The damn social network that scoffs anytime you mention “health.”

All of these things tell us that the number on the scale is more important than how we feel.  Well, I’ve gained weight, guess how I feel?

FUCKING AWESOME.

Seriously.

I wasn’t always this confident about that particular feeling.  When I first happened to chance a look at a scale and saw that I was heavier, I had a panic attack.  I even regressed a little and starting cutting calories thinking I had messed up somewhere.  I’m not supposed to be gaining weight.  I’m going to end up like I used to be.  I’m going to undo everything I’ve worked for the last two years.

You know, panicky stuffs.

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Luckily, I didn’t do too much damage to my progress before I figured out the truth.  I was in the middle of doing pull-ups and realized that I wasn’t struggling like I used to.

How is it I’m heavier and doing more than I’ve ever done?”

“Oh…dammit.”

It’s not easy to be someone who was overweight and see the scale go back up.  It’s probably not easy for anyone to see those numbers creep up.  It makes you feel like you’re headed in a direction you swore you’d never go again or would never go at all.  But if you take a second to stop and think about it, you may be heading exactly where you need to.

I think the best way for people to avoid the minor crisis I had would be to really think about their goals.  Define what exactly it is you are trying to accomplish and then find out what that goal actually entails.

Trying to lose fat.”—> Okay, I’m going to lose some of my strength/muscle mass.

“Trying to get stronger.” —> Yep, I’m gonna put on some pounds.

“Increase my cardio.” —> I’m going to want to puke after most of my workouts.

The truth is that I had been kind of winging it up until this point.  I made healthy choices but I wasn’t really sure what I was aiming at other than, “Be healthy.”  I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but it can have an impact when you start to see the numbers changing in either direction.

Realistically I know that not everyone is going to rid of their scale.  It’s just not done.  We judge our progress by numbers and, I admit, seeing numbers reflect our hard work is incredibly satisfying.  So, in lieu of that, maybe we should put more thought into how we feel off the scale than we do when we’re on it.

-Moody

Alright, rather than pretend that I haven’t been posting much, I’m going to broach that subject head on.  It was kind of (mostly) on purpose.

That makes little to no sense; allow me to explain.

Simply put, I didn’t have anything to say.  As much as I enjoy rambling on about my opinions in the hopes that some random person will appreciate it, I really didn’t want to become that guy.   I did write a bunch and have some ideas but they aren’t fleshed out enough on their own just yet.  That being said, my hiatus is over.

As for the “on purpose” part, that is totally true.  I’m in a different part of this fitness journey and, unfortunately, figuring this particular conundrum out wasn’t going to happen via epiphany like so many of my other issues.  I had to spend some time going through the motions to really figure out exactly what I was encountering and, in turn, learning.

I can sum it up with one word: Balance.

Balancing, in general, is hard.  Whether you’re talking about life or are literally trying to balance on a stupid beam to impress your niece and nephews and then busting your ass; it’s no joke.  As for the fiasco that is life; adding in trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle while also going out with your friends, working, having a family, and just generally being human can be one helluva task.

Luckily, I’ve done some of the leg work in this aspect and have (finally) learned a few things that I think are worth sharing.

1) Balancing your workout schedule with your social life.

 This may or may not be an issue depending on when you choose to get your sweat on.  For me, I like to knock it out early in the mornings which can be a conflict of interest when my friends like going out late at night.  It got so bad that I pretty much stopped going out because “I have to work out in the morning.”

Well, that ladies and gentlemen is how you become the “crappy friend who never does anything,” and also, “single.”  Nobody wants to be this person.  So, in lieu of becoming that particular stereotype I started planning in advance when I would go out and actually have a life.  Sometimes this involves moving my gym time around and changing plans, but I’ve found that it keeps me mentally grounded.

2) Balancing eating delicious things while also meeting dietary needs.

The easiest way I can put this is to follow the 80%/20% rule.  80% of the time I eat everything exactly like I’m supposed to and the other 20% I enjoy what life has to offer.  To be perfectly honest I think I’m close to 90%/10%, but the former is my goal.  I happen to enjoy eating really healthy things because I like the way I feel, so shying away from the other stuff isn’t such a huge deal.

What this rule really does is give me some mental armor.  I know plenty of people who beat themselves up over cheat meals or cheat days.  I don’t do that because I plan what days I will be able to flex my diet and make adjustments accordingly.  I don’t feel bad when I go out to have a drink with my friends and have some wings, thereby accomplishing what a cheat meal is supposed to do which is give you a mental break.

3) Balancing what the rest of the family eats VS what you eat.

I’ve lucked out with this one as well.  I live with my parents (I know…) and they also eat really healthy which makes it much easier for all of us to cohabitate.  They aren’t quite as strict as I am, but they don’t need to be because their goals are different.  Where we do overlap, though, we help each other out.  I eat lots of sweet potatoes and chicken.  My parents also will eat these things, so when I meal prep what I need for my week I cook enough for them to have some as well.  My mom, being all awesome as hell, will gladly cook extra of whatever she makes herself and my dad so that I can partake.

For people with kids at home, not grown up kids like me but actual—never mind, you get the point.  For those people, it can be a little tougher finding a balance.  If you’ve got growing kids in the house and you’re trying to get the whole family eating right, do some research.  Nutritionally, your needs are vastly different from your children.  Learning balance here can go a long way towards healthy humans.

4) Balancing your goals with your needs and vice versa.

Here’s the kicker, for me at least.  To figure out all of this balance you’ve got to sit down and really hammer out what it is you’re trying to accomplish.  If you don’t know where you want to go, getting there is going pose a decent problem.  For me I had to hammer out my goals so I could figure out how/when/where I could be flexible.

I’ve touched on this before.  It doesn’t matter if your goal is to be a fitness competitor or if you’re simply trying to be healthy; you have to decide what sacrifices you’re willing to make to achieve those goals.  My goal is to be a healthy and fit firefighter who is more than capable of meeting the physical demands of the job.  That requires that I train certain ways, eat certain things, and make some social sacrifices.  I’m okay with that because I have found balance.

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After finding these balances in my life I had to come to one more conclusion.

Balance is a constant battle between you and gravity.

What I’m getting at is the need for you to be flexible and make changes to stay up on your feet.  They may not be huge changes, just small minor adjustments, but they will keep you standing.  So, when you notice something isn’t working quite as well as it did a few weeks ago, change it.  Don’t be afraid to experiment with your workouts, your diet,  and your sacrifices to help you reach your goal.

-Moody

You know that moment when you’re lying in bed, trying to fall asleep, and failing miserably?

That moment when you think of all of the things you’re gonna do tomorrow. All of the things that you could have been doing all along but this time, yeah this time, you’re gonna do them.

Right?

Then sleep comes, the alarm goes off all too soon, and you get up to go about your day.

A few things can happen next.

You could go about business as usual. Eat breakfast, grab a coffee, go to work.

Rinse. Repeat.

You could ponder, for a moment, about those thoughts you had the night before. You could make an excuse about being too busy, about doing it tomorrow. You know, tomorrow, when you’ve got more time. Yeah, that sounds good.

Rinse. Repeat.

Or today, this very second, you could choose to act on those thoughts. Take action. Make a change. Whatever it is you need to do to accomplish those thoughts that are always creeping around in the back of your mind but you never do anything about.

Do that. Do those things. Do anything. But, dammit, do something.

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I broach this subject now because we’re a month away from New Years. Some of those fresh faces I saw in the gym that were so motivated are gone. I had an issue with “Resolutioners” but it’s not what you think.  I hate seeing them quit.

I’ve been there. Granted, I started in the month of June; it was a resolution all the same. I remember how hard it was to keep going. I remember how hard it was to not throw in the towel and accept the cards I had dealt myself.

I remember how worth it was to stay the course.

So when I looked around the gym in the beginning of the year, despite some of the frustrations that can come with a large influx of new people, I saw hope. People were excited about the prospect of achieving their goals. I silently rooted for all of them and I can’t help but think that maybe I should have been more vocal.

I can’t tell you how many are left. It’s not a lot, at least not when I’m at the gym early in the morning. Put bluntly, that sucks.

This post is me begging anyone who’s thrown in the towel to pick it back up. Ask somebody for help if you need to. Put the gym pass back on your key ring. Set your alarm a little early tomorrow and go for a walk (dress warm, it’s cold ‘round these parts.)  If you know someone who has quit, help them change that.

Do something. Do anything that isn’t considered giving up.

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Over the last few years of me taking this journey I’ve become pretty passionate about health and fitness. I don’t force feed the issue to people who don’t want to hear it but I figure that if you’ve clicked on my posts you at least have a passing interest. This next blurb is for those folks who recognize a widespread problem (this has zero political ties, I’m not that guy). We’re an unhealthy people as a whole. It’s killing us. It would’ve killed me.

Below, I’ve posted another TED Talk. This one is from chef Jamie Oliver in 2010 and he makes a pretty compelling case for changing how we approach food. Some of his statistics are rather sobering, to be honest.

I was unhealthy because I didn’t know any better. Not through any malicious intent of the adults in my life; they didn’t have a clue either.  It’s worth a watch at the very least.  Maybe it’ll help those of you with kids teach them to be healthy so that they don’t have to fight an uphill battle later on in life.

 

-Moody

 

 

 

 

I’ve been sitting on this post for a while. I wasn’t really sure where I was going with it, mostly because I wasn’t sure what my actual thoughts on it were.

I know, I wasn’t sure about my own thoughts; a paradox I run into quite often.

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A few months ago I sat down with a friend and we were talking about getting healthy and everything I did to get to where I am today. He was looking to make some changes and wanted to pick my brain; I’m all about that. In the course of that conversation he mentioned something from another conversation he had had with somebody else. (I’m paraphrasing here, it’s been a little while.)

“I’m gonna talk to Moody. He made it, he’s done it.”

He was referencing my weight loss. While I didn’t make an issue of it when he said it, or even think about it for that matter, it started bugging me days later and has been festering in the back of my mind for a while.

While I appreciated his confidence, I didn’t feel like I had made it. Maybe, to the outsider looking in, that seems ludicrous. Let me be clear; I’m happy with the progress I’ve made, I’m happy with where I’m at, and I’m happy with where I’m going. I had to come to those conclusions, though, and I did it quite recently.

When he said that I had “made it,” I felt like an impostor.

“I haven’t done anything,” I thought, “I don’t deserve that.”

Then I moved on. I was able, right after those thoughts, to at least justify it. If I can inspire anyone to make changes to their life and get healthy, so be it. I may not agree whole heartedly with their sentiments regarding myself, but if it gets them started I’m more than happy to contribute.

For a while, I didn’t think about it; water under the bridge, as they say. Then I stumbled across an article about people who used to be unhealthy, whether it was overweight or underweight, and who have now made changes. (For the life of me, I can’t find it again. When I do I will add it to the comments.)

I was a little depressed to realize that the article pegged me. I used to be overweight and had been for so long that it’s hard for me to see anything else. We get this idea in our heads of, “This is what I am and I will be this forever.”

This idea is false. It is a lie we make up for ourselves to limit us. Do not listen to this idea.

People come up to me and say “Look at you! You’re skinny!” I get that they are complimenting me and I’ve always appreciated it, but I had never believed it myself.

Side Rant: Then, I feel like a pregnant woman, because as they say this they go to poke my stomach like they want to make sure I’m not just sucking it in.

STOP THAT. It’s awkward, weird, and sometimes I have this weird reflex of poking you in the eye for doing it. You have been warned.

I had to sit myself down and look at all of the evidence to get myself over these mental hang-ups.

1) I have actually lost weight. The numbers don’t lie.
2) I used to wear 3XL clothes. I now wear plain old large.
3) In fact, all of my clothes are smaller.
4) Well damn. I’m not the person I used to be.

I figured out that it was my own mind holding me back. I wish I could get across to you what it felt like to come to the conclusion that I am healthy. It’s like a breath of fresh air on a crisp spring morning where everything is new, vibrant, and full of potential.

The mirror isn’t lying to you. The scale isn’t lying to you (Mostly. Read this for my thoughts on that). Your clothes are actually fitting differently. You are feeling healthier.

Don’t let that voice in your head tell you that you are who you used to be. Even if you’re just starting out on the road to being healthy, you are already miles away from the person you once were.

-Moody

Got your attention?

Good.

Admittedly, I’ve written a lot about motivation recently.  I meant every word and firmly believe that motivation is a beautiful thing.  Up until this point, however, there has been a flaw that I have failed to mention.

That flaw is the title of this article.  Put another way; motivation is useless.

Bare with me, I promise it will make sense.

Think about all of those times that you’ve felt incredibly motivated.  I’m talking about those moments where you’re on top of the world and nothing can pull you back down.  Now, try hard to remember what occurred right before that moment.

Chances are pretty good that you saw, read, heard, or smelled (if this is you, I want- nay- need to know) something that caused you to decide that. “Today, I will [FILL IN THE BLANK]!!!”

self-motivation-cat-meme

Maybe you accomplished that goal.  Maybe you started something that’s going to take some time.  Either way, that motivation spurs you into action of some sort and that is awesome.

Until, you know… it’s not.

Until that day you wake up with rain pounding your roof, a cold floor freezing your feet, and a non-existent supply of coffee.  That last one being a disaster in my case.  You know the feeling of having absolutely zero motivation, we all do.

It sucks hard.

Now you’re thinking, “Thanks for that uplifting article… said no one ever.”

I hear ya, I’m gonna fix it.

We can all agree that motivation is an awesome kick-starter.  The trick is finding ways to prolong the results of that initial motivation; luckily, that can be boiled down to one word.

Habits.  Remember those?

I saw a nifty little thing on the interwebz that, with a little modification, should help visualize what it takes to build some solid habits.

Time + Effort = Success.

Sounds good, but I’m going to add one thing:

Time + Consistent Effort = Success.

It doesn’t matter how much effort you put forth when you’re feeling motivated; certainly not in the long run.  The real effort comes when you’ve passed that initial feeling of motivational euphoria and you’ve got to dig deep to stick to your goals, values, and integrity.

When it comes to health and fitness I believe this counts twice as much.  Our society is not engineered to help you be healthy and fit; turn on the T.V. for 5 minutes and you’ll see what I mean.

The key to overcoming that is to set yourself up for success and use that initial motivation to create habits that will help you achieve your goals long after the feeling has left you.

For example, I forced myself to become a morning person so that I could wake up and get to the gym before other distractions take hold of my day.  Sometimes I despise my alarm clock but I get up because it’s become part of my routine.

Look at that equation again up there again.

Consistent action is the key.  If I only make the effort to get up early and workout once; I waste my time.  If I only eat healthy 10% of the time and binge completely the other 90%; I waste my time.

Don’t get me wrong; “consistent” in the world of us regular folks with jobs, commitments, and families definitely does not mean getting it right 100% of the time.  If you can pull that off I’m happy for you, congratulations.

I like Guinness too much.

So, if you’re like me, don’t sweat it.  In fact, if we flip around those numbers I used up above that’s some pretty solid effort.

If you can consistently make all of the right choices for your goals even 90% of the time, you are both human and pretty damn awesome.

So, go and be awesome.

-Moody

P.S. Happy New Year!

I’m gonna change things up a bit this week and let some of my friends do the talking for me.

Kind of.

In reality, I’m going to quote them and then throw my opinion into the mix. Okay, so nothing is actually changing; my bad.

First up is a pretty awesome post from my workout partner via Facebook. I had no idea he was feeling this (publicly) motivational until it popped up on my feed. I think it’s worth a read through:

“I love hearing the excuses people come up with for why they can’t at least make an effort to be active and keep in shape. “I don’t like working out, I don’t have time, don’t have money, don’t have childcare, don’t know what to do or where to start, I’m not motivated”. Today I saw a mother with her one week old baby IN TOW, crushing curls at the gym (get it girl!!). Earlier this week I spoke with a man in his 60’s who after multiple joint surgeries just took up a full combat self defense course (hell yeah!!). Earlier this year my workout partner was like, “meh…I guess I’ll shed 100lbs and get diesel”…and HE DID! (insert spartan battle cry!!) I know a woman near her 3rd trimester who does an hour of muscle endurance work every day (amazing!!). Not long ago I saw a military veteran hobble into the gym on 2 prosthetic legs as he tried to re-learn how to run on a treadmill (oorah!!..and thank you). So anyway… umm…what’s your excuse again?”

I couldn't NOT include this in here.

I couldn’t NOT include this in here.

What I like about this is that these are not hypothetical situations. These are real people, accomplishing real things, dealing with real challenges (and he also gave me a shoutout… awwwwwww) . More importantly, I routinely witness the women that he mentioned doing nothing but kick major ass in the gym. It certainly makes my occasional excuse of, “I’m tired,” seem absurd by comparison. Fellas let’s be honest, if we had to deal with being pregnant we would NOT handle it well…

“The Gym? How about I just wallow here in my self pity?”

Our excuses are self made.  We can choose to make them insurmountable obstacles or we can choose to overcome them and be stronger for it.  It’s all on us.

My next friends post comes from a different place entirely:

“Sometimes you have to ask yourself who you really want to be. It doesn’t matter who others expect you to be or where they see you going; It’s your life to live, don’t let others attempt to live it for you.”

Disclaimer: His statement may not have been aimed at what I’m about to pull the trigger on but I think he’ll be okay with my interpretation. (Dude, if you’re not… whoops.)

He really describes what I had to go through to get to this point. The first part describes how I had to sit down one day, evaluate who/what I was, evaluate who/what I want to be, and come to the realization that change needed to occur.

I’m talking brutal self criticism.

I looked at myself and said, “This does not match what I want for myself. This does not match how I view myself. This must change.”   Of course, it took me a long time to distill it down to those three sentences; sometimes I get wordy.

Hence the blog.

Moving on,everyone should take some time to look at themselves in the metaphorical mirror. I ended up feeling pretty awesome about figuring out where I wanted to go, despite the distance I knew I was going to have to travel to get there.

The second part was a pretty tough pill to swallow. Simply put, it doesn’t matter what other people expect of you.

End of story.

Don’t be fresh, I’m not talking about your boss’ expectations at work. I’m talking about the other they. The people at the gym. The people in the hallway at work. The people who hold absolutely no power over how you choose to live your life.

Many of my biggest fears used to stem from the insecurity that everyone tells you goes away once you break out of your teenage years. I’ve said it before that on some level we are all teenagers who just want people to like us. With age, all we do is get better at hiding this.

Once I got passed everyone else’s expectations, both perceived and otherwise, I was able to focus on me. It’s been a rough road. Lots of people don’t like it when we choose to cut our own path and disregard them and their expectations. The ones who don’t mind, though, those are the people we should keep in touch with.  Fortunately for me, these two guys I’ve quoted up above are just a few examples of that in my life.

Merry (belated) Christmas to everyone, Happy New Year, and all that good stuff!

-Moody