Posts Tagged ‘life’

The secret.

That’s what everyone wants, right? That’s the headline that commercials use to sell you something that will, supposedly, grant you your greatest wish.

You want to be skinny, take this pill. You want abs, buy this device. You want muscles, do this program for just 15 minutes a day.

I believe that they’re selling something else that’s much worse. I believe that all of these products are designed to make you feel like less. People want to sell you a feeling of inadequacy so that you’ll give them your money to feel better.

Frankly, that shit pisses me off.

images-2

This man spits truth

Everyone is capable of living a healthy life without buying into a bunch of bullshit. I looked in a mirror one day and decided I didn’t like what I saw so I decided to do something about it. You know what special stuff I bought?

Spinach. Chicken. Turkey. Almonds. An abbreviated list for sure, but you get my point.

Everything else was sweat and, spoiler alert, you don’t have to pay anyone to work up a sweat.

That being said, I did realize something at the gym this morning.

Okay, yeah, I pay for the gym. I’m a hypocrite. But I didn’t pay for a gym until over a year into my “get healthy” kick.  I digress…

I wasn’t completely feeling it when I got to the gym. It was one of those days where I walked in and just wasn’t focused. I did a decent warm up and decided to go down to the punching bags to see if I could get into a groove. They help me focus and cut out distractions.

I still got distracted, but in the best possible way.

There are pull-up bars at the bunching bags and I figured I might as well knock a few out. As I got to the top of the first one, I felt good.

Second one, still good.

Third one, I pause at the top and look down at the bar.

Fourth one, I pause again to look at the bar.

It wasn’t that long ago that I couldn’t do pull-ups. I was that kid in P.E. that dreaded the physical fitness tests because the pull-ups were the one damn thing I couldn’t do. Granted, I wasn’t the only one, but it was still embarrassing to me.

I dropped down from the bar and I looked up at it and started laughing. The poor guy doing air squats a few feet away looked slightly alarmed, so I checked myself and got back to pulling. From that moment on, I was on fire. I was all over the place in the gym and my shirt was drenched by the end of it. I ignored everyone else and did my own thing. I was focused.

Cue “Eye of the Tiger” or “Danger Zone”. Whatever you prefer for the mental montage I just painted in your brain.

I had fallen back in love with the process all over again.

That’s the secret. Not just to getting in shape, but to pretty much everything.

I’ve talked here and there about my music playing. I was never a natural and had friends that were. I played soccer and learned how to be a pretty decent goalie, but I was never a natural like my friends who seemingly channeled Pele at times. I was incredibly jealous of people who just “got it.” People who could just pick something up and do it. I was never that guy.

The fact that I was never a natural at anything is my greatest gift. Anything I’ve ever wanted to be good at or improve at I have had to work for. I’ve had to pour everything I’ve got into making even a measly inch of progress. My buddy has watched me land flat on my back learning how to properly kick the punching bag. He pointed out, though, that I popped back up and tried it again.

(Full disclosure: both my pride and ass were sore that day. Such is life.)

For all of those things, the common denominator is falling in love with making progress; however small it may be. That’s the real secret. Sure, I’ve spouted off about hard work and consistency hundreds of times, but those things pale in comparison to simply enjoying what it is you’re doing.

Don’t pay somebody so that you can feel like less. You’ve got this.

-Moody

Advertisements

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.

imgres-2

 

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

“Have you tried the (insert name here) diet?”

You know what I’m talking about. Paleo, South Beach, Atkins; if it’s got a marketable name then it’s a Fad diet. I get that question all the time along with, “Have you tried (insert workout they saw on TV here)?”

Lately, I’ve been encountering a spate of these questions in person and otherwise. It’s not that I mind, but most of those people read this… so I figure I’ll hit all of the birds with one stone.

To begin with, I’m not calling these things out as bad because my initial foray into getting healthy was on one of these diet trains, but I am going to point out some of the important things I think people should take away from them if they are looking to go in this direction.

Tackling the diets first; there are a few things they all (for the most part) have in common that are actually quite necessary to being a healthy individual.

– They encourage the eating of whole and nutritious foods. You know, the stuff around the edge of the grocery store.
– They discourage anything processed or containing refined sugars/carbohydrates. Candy, soda, etc.
– They (the decent ones anyway) try to get you to prepare your own food, giving you complete control over what goes into your body.
– They all need to be done consistently to work. Granted, some of that is for marketing purposes, but the takeaway is consistency.

These things, done consistently, will get anyone results. You can’t eat healthy for a week and then binge on whatever you want the next and hope to see results.

Next to consistency, the number one thing I can say people should get behind is preparing your own food. If I could point to one single thing that was a key to my success, it would be preparing my meals in advance and planning what I would eat. I’m currently working on a big ‘ole post about meal prepping and how I do it, so I’ll save most of my rant for that. If you can’t wait for that, just Google meal prep and fitness or some variation thereof, and you will come up with tons of stuff on the subject.

Along with that, proper nutrition is key.  Carbohydrates, fats, protein.  Your body needs all of these things.  I know, the guy who did low carb to shed fat is saying you need carbs.  Trust me, they aren’t the enemy when used correctly.

Again, I don’t see anything inherently wrong with these types of diets. I believe that the issues begin when people believe that these are the only ways to get/stay healthy. The truth is that there is no need to subscribe to some pay as you go program or buy the latest fad diet, but there are things you can learn from these resources. Or, like I had to do, you can figure out that the internet has access to tons of freaking information and can actually give you more useful things than pictures of puppies looking all cute as hell. For free (just hijack your neighbors WiFi.)

Because puppy and Star Wars all in one.

Because puppy and Star Wars all in one.

As for the latest workout DVD’s and programs, I personally don’t have much to say about them thats positive or negative.

Obviously, there are some options full of nothing less than complete and utter bullshit.  6 Minute anything is sure to be 6 minutes you’ll never get back.  Anything that follows that pattern or tries to sell you all sorts of fancy equipment that is proprietary and relies on anything sounding like “special never before seen ab ripping technology” is not worth your time or hard earned money.

I say that, because this shit actually exists.  People.  This is a thing.  Why is this a thing?

imgres-3

I have dabbled in P90X with some guys who happened to be going through the series and I did do some of the Insanity program with a roommate. While they certainly are challenging workouts, there is nothing particularly unique or new about them. However, if that’s what someone needs to get some kind of physical activity in their lives then I say go for it.

Having said that, I don’t really see it as necessary to shell out a whole bunch of dollars for a DVD’s worth of workouts when you can find all sorts of workouts online. See also: free.

A follow up question I got from someone after giving this answer was, “Well I don’t really know much about working out.” Okay, fair enough, but if you’re willing to shell out some hard earned dollars for some education, then I will always (and have somewhere else in this blog) recommend going to a gym and taking advantage of one of the personal training deals they always give to new members.

That probably doesn’t really give a good indication as to my feelings, so to sum it all up I shall use one of the most versatile words I can.

Meh.

For some, these things are the best ways for them to get healthy or stay healthy and I think that’s awesome. If that’s your tune then sing it, but if you’ve got the time to devote to actual training or some kind of research than I definitely think that’s the best way to go.

As always, find what works for you and do that.  Then do it again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  You know… consistently.

-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.

imgres-1

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

It’s a funky little word that always seems to get a negative connotation.

Smoking is a bad habit.  This sleep aid is non-habit forming.  Or the one I tend to hear, “You’ve got a real habit of pissing me off.”

images

Seems to me like “habits” get a pretty bad rap, good thing it doesn’t have to be that way.

We all know I peruse the interwebz regularly, but it wasn’t until I got into this whole blogging game that I started actually looking specifically for blogs to read.  Fitness/health blogs that I actually care to read on a regular basis are pretty few and far between but I have found a few.

Thesecretlifecoachofdc.wordpress.com  ← gets to gettin people, it’s one of those few I follow regularly.  Also, for my discerning local readers, that does indeed appear to be another D.C. metro local.  I don’t know them, but it’s definitely nice to see another blogger in the area that likes to write about health related stuff in a positive way.

The article concluded with something that was told to them by a former coach, “First you make a habit, then a habit makes you.”  The best part is that they weren’t talking about something negative, in that particular post, they were talking about making running a habit.

Spoiler Alert: that’s a good habit.

Now, this didn’t click in my head until a few things happened.  First a coworker made a comment when I walked by a pound cake that my boss had brought in, “Man, you are way too disciplined with the food thing.”  I disagree… sort of.

I will concede that I used to be disciplined.  When I first started out I would have had to struggle to not grab a quick slice of the latest treat and it would have required some discipline to avoid it.  Now, though, it’s just normal (see also: habit) for me not to eat junk food.  Sure I indulge every once in a while, but I would be happier if somebody brought in some pineapple.

I love me some damn pineapple.

The second thing that made it click was the short walk from my house to my car at 3:45am on my way to the gym before work.  As I looked around my street I noticed the stillness of everything, the lack of lights in windows, and the distinct lack of noise.  I realized that this is normal for me but clearly not for anyone else in my neighborhood.  It’s my morning routine (see also: habit).

Neither of these things used to be a regular aspect of my life.  I used to eat whatever was offered and the gym was an occasional excursion.  Now it’s different; I don’t think about being healthy anymore than I would think about brushing my teeth twice a day.

I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not easy to start doing healthy things on a regular basis.  There will be mistakes and setbacks but if you keep making the effort, eventually, it becomes no effort at all.

Keep going, it gets easier.

-Moody

This weekend I ate terribly.

By terribly, I really mean awesome.  I regret nothing.

The best part; I don’t feel like I should regret anything.  You know that feeling where you think that you should feel guilty about something but don’t and then start wondering if you’re a sociopath?

Just me? Again?

Cue the Law and Order music.

Really though, I did have a great “cheat weekend”.  I went out into the city one night with friends and had a great time and followed that by driving out to the country and camping with other friends.  All of which involved alcohol, meat, and carbohydrates in various other forms.  I didn’t flinch or have a Gollum like reaction at all, it was great!

 

images

 

Now, I wasn’t really expecting to beat myself up over it because I’m just not that guy.  But what I really wasn’t expecting was the feeling of refocus I returned with.  Maybe it was the time spent with good friends, the West Virginian mountain air, or even the moonshine; I don’t know, but I feel good.

                                           Note: Probably from the moonshine.

It all depends on your goals, but I truly believe taking the time to live is just as important as making the effort to eat right and exercise the rest of the time.  I hadn’t allowed myself to do that since vacation earlier in the summer and I enjoyed not worrying about my macro intake or what was really in that mason jar I was drinking out of.

Everyone seems to stress the importance of rest days when it comes to work out routines, but what about mental rest days?  We all get inundated with stories of people who seemingly burn out from their health kick and end up yo-yo dieting back to where they started at.  I firmly believe that giving myself these mental/nutritional breaks has allowed me to make more consistent progress that is going to last far into the future.

That all being said, I think you need to know and understand exactly what it is you’re doing so you know your limits.  For me, it was, “This weekend, I’m gonna have great time from Friday-Sunday afternoon and then I’m back on the wagon Sunday night at work.”

Then, that’s exactly what I did.  When I pulled back into my house after getting back from West Virginia, the first thing I did was fire up the grill and start cooking chicken for my work week.  It didn’t bother me to do this.  I didn’t have any feelings of self deprivation.  I didn’t crave what I had just spent the weekend eating at all.  Mentally, I came back stronger and ready to buckle down and keep the fitness train moving.

And also I chugged water like a champ.  I’m still not sure what was in that jar.

Live a little.

-Moody