Most people know that you can’t out-train a bad diet.
If you don’t eat well, you won’t look, feel, or perform well either. Garbage in, garbage out. But a poor diet is NOT the only thing you can’t out-train.
This article will cover some of the things that you can’t compensate for with exercise or training.
Today, I’m going to simplify a powerful mental training strategy that will help you accomplish any difficult goal in life, such as losing weight, running your first marathon, or starting a business.
The example I’ll be using to explain the exact procedure is an event that happens to most people every day.
So, let’s start with a status update that I ran across on Facebook, which was posted by a man who is having trouble losing weight:
Why I have trouble losing weight:
(On opening fridge to select a snack)
Smart part of brain: Man, I really should watch my diet better. I bet if I did, I could lose weight. How many calories are in yogurt, anyway?
Appetite: Hey, there’s icing in the fridge – I wonder what Pringles dipped in icing would taste like.
Smart brain: Shut UP!
(The smart brain did win this round.)
I don’t know the person who posted this, but I had a chuckle when I read it, and I couldn’t help but notice that they shared a universal truth about succeeding in weight loss (or overcoming any difficult challenge), perhaps without realizing it.
- You’re not going to lose 30 pounds in a month.
- You’re not going to get six pack abs in a few minutes a day.
- You’re not going to lose two inches from one workout.
- You’re not going to get overnight results.
- You’re not going to get something for nothing.
- You’re not going to succeed by “winging it.”
- You will have good days and bad days.
- You will miss workouts and do extra workouts.
- You will lose ground and gain ground.
- You will get sick, get busy, and get lost…and get back on track.
- You will fail.
- You’ll need more than a secret, a hack, or a special tip.
- You’ll need more than a temporary feeling of motivation.
- You’ll need more than a good plan or program.
- You will have to change how you think, which is easier said than done, and takes clarity, education/training, and practice.
- You will have to change your priorities and figure out how to balance fitness with your other higher priorities.
- You will have to change your habits and your identity, and first, be willing to do so.
- You will have to make hard choices when your willpower has run out.
- You will have to make sacrifices that conflict with your past self.
- You will have to get used to the idea of living outside of your comfort zone and actively seeking challenges as the opportunities they offer.
- You will need to figure out who you are, why you’re here, and what gets you going.
- You will have to take complete responsibility for your health and fitness.
- You will have to master yourself, recognizing that mastery doesn’t come easily.
- You will have to experiment, troubleshoot, and fail your way forward.
- You will have to accept that you’ll be working at this, little by little, every day for the rest of your life.
And if you accept these things, and believe in yourself, you will prevail.
Nothing worthy comes easy. So, be patient. Stay committed. Persevere. And always expect success.
Believe that you can, that you will, that you ARE succeeding. And act the part.
Your reality will catch up soon.
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Health-First Fitness Coach
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How I Finally Succeeded After Failing Miserably Over and Over Again: The Story Of How I Became An Early Riser and the Lessons I Learned about How To Overcome Failure, Cultivate An Unstoppable Spirit, Start Your Day Right, And Succeed At Anything In Life.
Today, I’m going to swallow some pride and share an embarrassing story with you so that you can benefit from my mistakes. Here goes nothin’.
This is a story about how I became an early riser. But if you read between the lines, you’ll realize that this story is about much more than waking up at a certain time. And if you apply the lessons I learned from this experience to your own life, I believe that you can achieve anything that you set your mind to.
So, over the past several years, I’ve tried and failed over and over again to become an early riser. This was one nut, that for the longest time, I just couldn’t crack. It was an incredibly frustrating process because, in my mind, I was doing everything right, except I wasn’t. And I was blind to it.
After I first set a goal to become an early riser all those years ago – and every time I mustered up the courage to go after it again – I’d do research and make a list of all the tips and strategies I could find to succeed. Things like making changes gradually, moving my alarm clock away from my bed, and giving myself something to look forward to in the morning. I’d set goals and baby steps to achieve them. I’d also ask my wife to hold me accountable. You know, the usual stuff. And yet, even with a seemingly-bulletproof plan, I would blow it over and over again.
I couldn’t even tell you how many times I committed to succeeding – and felt, deep down – that THIS was the time I would finally make it happen. I’d make checklists and spreadsheets. I’d tell my wife, “I’m gonna start getting up early…again.” And she’d roll her eyes just like she did every other time. I literally lost count of how many times I’ve failed at this one goal because it happened so many times. And I’ve got the incomplete spreadsheets to prove it! If I had to guess, I’d estimate that I failed to achieve this goal somewhere between 2-3 dozen times.
It’s pretty embarrassing, actually, not only because I had such a hard time with it, but also because I had been an early riser for most of my life.
Between school and work, I usually had to be up between 5 and 6am for over 15 years. And there were seasons of my life when it was much earlier (not good seasons for me!). All of that changed after I had kids. I started sleeping for however long I could, and it wasn’t long before I was snoozing right past 6am, and sometimes past 7am, which is “sleeping in” for a parent of young kids.
And yet, once I decided to make a habit of getting up earlier of my own free will (and not because I had to be at work at 5am, as it was in the past), it seemed like no matter what I did, I’d always crash and burn eventually – usually within 2 weeks. And often within a few days. And after awhile, this recurring pattern totally perplexed me. I’d be thinking:
WHY CAN’T I DO THIS?!? WHAT AM I MISSING HERE?!?
Pop quiz: All other things being equal, who would be the healthier, fitter, stronger, better developed, and an otherwise, more complete athlete?
a) The athlete who specializes in only one pushup exercise (e.g. the standard military-style pushup) to the exclusion of all others.
b) The athlete who specializes in many different pushup exercises (e.g. standard pushups, diamond pushups, elevated pushups, etc.), and trains several variations regularly.
Or, how about this one…
a) The runner who only runs at the same pace, on a flat track, for around the same distance every run.
b) The runner who runs trails on different grades and terrains, and at different paces for different distances.
And one more…
a) The weightlifter who only specializes in the Big 3 lifts (i.e. barbell back squat, deadlift, and bench press).
b) The weightlifter who specializes in the big 3 lifts, the Olympic lifts, and other unconventional lifts such as strongman training (e.g. odd-object lifting).
Let me give you a hint: bumblebees begin buzzing before breakfast…bibbidi bobbidi boo…brachiosauruses brachiating between behemoth bulldozers…I got nothing. It’s B, people. B as in Bumble-BEE.
But why is that? I mean, haven’t we been indoctrinated to believe that specialization is the key to success? Well, we know that some degree of specialization is essential because the body only adapts specifically to the demands imposed upon it (SAID principle). However, specialization is only one component of a training program. And in some cases, too much specialization is usually not the most effective option, and it can be harmful, too.
I can hear the naysayers proclaiming…
But John, you can’t be good at everything!
Sure you can. Well, not everything. But you can be good at a lot of different physical skills and attributes across a broad spectrum. What you can’t be is the best at everything. So, unfortunately, if you want to set a new world record in powerlifting, you’ll have to give up your career of running marathons. But if you’d be content with a 6 minute mile, and a double bodyweight squat, I think you could achieve both in short order. And you’d have a strong, lean body to go with it.
The key is finding the middle ground between specialization (and thus, specificity) and variety. Speaking of which…
I heard a new term this week that immediately “clicked” for me. StrongFirst Master Coach, Karen Smith, mentioned in one of her training videos that she likes to alternate her grip while doing pull-ups, which she referred to as “specialized variety.” And I thought, “Yes! That’s EXACTLY the right term for it!” And until now, I haven’t been able to articulate this training strategy succinctly. So, thanks Coach Smith!
In this post, I’ll explain what Specialized Variety is and give you some examples of how you can leverage it for better fitness results.
Here’s how it works…