You ever get the feeling you’re missing out on something when it comes to a fitness lifestyle? Like you look at someone out there who’s fit and think, “Man, they make it look so easy. What do they know that I don’t?” Maybe I’m the only one who’s ever thought like this (I highly doubt it though). I think part of what propelled me into fitness and nutrition was this desire to find that missing piece of information or that “trick” that will make fitness not only attainable but also sustainable. Well I have good news! I discovered the trick! Well, sort of. It’s probably not what you think though. It’s not a diet or workout routine. It’s not meditation or yoga (although those might be a part of it because they’re awesome). It’s not anything outside of you. In fact, YOU are the trick. Let me explain…
I believe, in order to find a truly lasting fitness journey, you must engage in objective self-reflection. And if you have ever had a fitness-fail in the past, it’s probably because you didn’t do so. And the reason I know this is because I am super, duper guilty of this. Self-reflection is uncomfortable because it requires us to be honest with ourselves. And if we are truly honest with ourselves, then we have to change what’s not working for us. And change is ugly and scary. But there’s a paradox here. We are resistant to change; yet most of us aren’t truly satisfied with staying the same. In this dissatisfaction we attempt feats such as losing weight or getting fit. But without self-reflection we have no clue if the method we are attempting will actually work for us. So we end up failing, once again. But if we had just stepped back, reflected, learned a little bit about ourselves and then applied that knowledge to our next attempt, we could be much more successful.
It’s a long and on-going process and I can’t guarantee that it will mean you never ever have a fitness-fail again. But it will make each attempt a little bit easier, more rewarding and the results longer lasting.
STEP ONE: Forgive Yourself
In the past, when you had a fitness-fail, it’s because you didn’t know better. Now, this step is particularly tough for me. I’ve had my certificate in Holistic Nutrition since 2011 and it took me a little over a year to complete. So, I’ve been studying nutrition for the past 7+ years. Likewise, I began my personal training certification around the same time. I put it off for a while, but finally finished in 2015. So, technically, I was a student of exercise sciences for about the same amount of time. If anyone should “know better” when it comes fitness, it should be me. Yet, I’ve had many, MANY failures, even recent ones, on my fitness journey, and I have struggled to forgive myself because I thought I should “know better”. But I truly didn’t. Yes, I had some great information and knowledge but I hadn’t self-reflected enough to understand how this knowledge needed to be applied specifically to me. I was trying to force outside information onto an internal struggle. Who we are runs deep. No workout routine, meal plan, food pyramid or number of calories or macros will ever address these deep seeded issues. We have to address them within ourselves. Yet, we continue to assume that if we just find that magic pill/plan/number… fitness will finally happen. But the magic is in YOU and you have to go inward to find it. But if you stay wrapped up in a bunch of guilt and shame you’ll never break down your inner walls to truly understand who you are and what works for you. So even if you have all of the knowledge in the world, if you didn’t know yourself then you didn’t know better. And you have to forgive yourself for that.
STEP TWO: Trust Yourself
Now I’m not saying that seeking outside knowledge isn’t important or necessary. It certainly can be especially when it comes to knowing where to start. You might need a plan to get going. I’m not asking you to just wing it. Rather, when you’re doing research on which plan or information to use, that you do so with a YOU filter. In other words, how does this information apply to YOU, specifically? Trust your intuition. Unfortunately, there is a ton of information out there and much of it is conflicting and confusing. So, if you read or hear something that doesn’t sit well with you or make sense to you, don’t force it. No matter how convincing the person sharing this information can be. Deep down, YOU know yourself better than anyone else. So trust your gut, and if you find something doesn’t work for you, move on.
STEP THREE: Give Yourself Props
You’re a kick ass individual. You really are. You’ve got a lot going for you. And as you get to know yourself better you’ll discover this is true. When it comes to fitness, you can use your strengths to your advantage. I will use myself as an example. I love to cook and be creative. I don’t want to brag, but I’m pretty good at it. So part of my fitness journey is using those strengths to adapt my favorite unclean recipes into clean ones, or even just developing new recipes altogether. Now, I could force myself to do a boring and monotonous meal plan because it worked for a certain fitness pro, or I could use only “so-and-so’s” recipes because they have way more followers on Instagram. But that wouldn’t honor who I am and it would squander these strong attributes that I have. So instead, I use them to my advantage because I see the long-term benefits of doing so. Healthy eating (obviously a huge part of a fitness journey) will never get boring if I am able to do what I love and what I’m good at simultaneously. If I tried to do it someone else’s way I would just be forcing another failure. So find YOUR strengths and play them up. Center your fitness journey on them and you won’t ever long for it to be over. Not to mention you will build a ton of confidence and self-esteem.
STEP FOUR: Be Honest With Yourself
Just like we all have strengths, we all have our weak points too. During self-reflection it’s important to identify what lead to your last fitness-fail. And I can tell you this much…It wasn’t the diet or trainer or significant other that sabotaged you. Something inside you wasn’t jiving with what was going on. If nothing else in this blog resonates with you at least understand this: you HAVE to identify your pitfalls in order to overcome them. Maybe it was stress or you weren’t being authentically yourself. Maybe you weren’t eating enough calories or nutrients for your body, which lead you to binge. Maybe you made excuses and skipped workouts because you actually hate cardio but the girl with the abs said you have to do 45 minutes on the step mill every day. Maybe your goals were based on something superficial and unrealistic and when you couldn’t attain them it just felt better to feel sorry for yourself and eat Oreos. Now, none of these things are anything to beat yourself up over. It’s life; it’s part of the journey. BUT they are all on YOU. And once you identify them, it’s also on YOU to say, “ok that didn’t work for me so I’m not going to go there again. I’m going to try something new that honor the individual I am.” But often, we instead go from one ineffective and unrealistic plan to the next because we never self-reflect and identify the actual pitfall in the first place. We just throw the baby out with the bathwater. But YOU are the baby and the issue is not the bathwater. It’s the fact that the baby needs to grow up, mature, and learn about themselves. Sorry, I just totally called you a baby. But the metaphor worked right? Kind of? Maybe not. The point is, if you don’t identify your pitfalls and devise a way around them you’ll continue to fall into them. So be honest with yourself about what they are and how you can avoid them. Shift your focus from outward to inward.
STEP FIVE: Take Responsibility For Yourself.
Now it’s time for YOU to get to work. You’ve forgiven yourself, developed some trust in yourself, discovered your strengths and identified your pitfalls. Now you need to apply that knowledge. Unfortunately, no one else will do it for you. You have to be willing to work for it and be responsible for your own results. So how do you do that? Well, since I’m super awesome and nice, I will give you my personal method for how I work toward my own goals on my fitness journey. I call it Consistent Experimentation. In essence, once I’ve done some self-reflection and research with a ME filter, I devise a plan or experiment, set a minimum time period for the experiment (typically 4-8 weeks), set goals within the experiment, and I commit to it for the allotted time period. As the experiment progresses, I log my results along the way. If I find something isn’t jiving for me, I tweak my method and continue experimenting. But both parts of this are key: the experimentation and the consistency. Experimentation helps you customize and honor your individuality, but the consistency allows your body time to adapt and change so you know whether or not the experiment actually works for you. But you have to hold yourself accountable to the experiment and take responsibility for the results you do or do not get. Otherwise your focus will be shifted outward instead of inward where the work needs to be done.
STEP SIX: Be Patient With Yourself
This kind of goes along with consistency, but you have to give your body and mind time to adapt. Often people will start an experiment and give up after a week or two because they didn’t “feel well” or see results. Perhaps that really wasn’t the best path for them anyway. But I think sometimes people are on the brink of transformation and they just weren’t patient enough to see if through. So be patient and know that results take time but they will come through consistent experimentation. Even if something wasn’t the exact correct plan for you, through self-reflections you’ll like find that you still learned or gained something from it. And even though you might not use that exact method forever, if you never gave it a shot in the first place, you’ll never know if it could have been what you truly needed. Don’t be afraid to commit to an experiment, even if it ends up not working. A month of your life is just a drop in the bucket in the grand scheme of things. And commitment is like a muscle. The more you work it, the stronger it gets. So, even if you have to change your course, the strength you gained in remaining committed will only help you once you do find the right path. So be patient with the process and remain committed.
In addition to this, remember that no one is perfect. Even those with the best intentions will still screw up. When you do (and notice I said when, not if) be patient with yourself. Especially while you’re still trying to figure out who you are. It’s ok to veer off track as long as you KEEP GOING! And whenever you veer off track, be sure to repeat step one.
STEP SEVEN: Be Open to Change
I mentioned early on that most of us don’t really like change. We take comfort in things staying the same. But if there is one thing about people that you can count on, it’s that they’ll change. You have before, and you will again. And when you do, your fitness journey and lifestyle will (and should) change along with you. Don’t think that because you’ve completed the first 6 steps and found a good groove and great results that this is how it’s going to be forever. Of course, the core of who you are might stay the same and certain habits along with it, but some of your needs might change and you need to remain open to that. Sometimes you might need to workout 5-6 times a week to hold yourself accountable and build a habit. But then you may find that during a time of stress or injury you may need to back down to 3-4 times a week or change your workout routine altogether. Sometimes you might feel good eating a lower-carb diet but then your body or hormones might change and you may need to eat more carbs again. Be open. Don’t create a fitness dogma for yourself even if it worked for you in the past. Listen to your body (and refer to step two). You and your body will change. And if you’re so rigid in your idea of yourself then you’ll be setting yourself up to fail all over again.
Now, some of you, at this point are thinking “yeah I get it Brick. I’m going to forgive myself of my past failures, I’m going to self-reflect, figure out my strengths and pitfalls, consistently experiment and develop a new lifestyle on my fitness journey. Thanks, bye!” If that’s you, awesome. Thanks for reading and we’ll see ya later! But some you might be thinking “Um, I get what you’re saying, but I still have no clue where to start especially with the whole Consistent Experimentation thing.” And that’s ok! I mean, you’ve already learned something about yourself. You need more specific direction! And I’m happy to provide that, so keep reading…
So what do you do when you have no clue? Well, my ultimate recommendation is the start with the basics. Don’t go crazy with the latest fitness contraption or start eliminating entire macronutrient groups. When it comes to eating, I like to recommend Paleo for a few reasons. For one, it’s centered on whole, unprocessed foods (doesn’t get back to the basics much more than that). It also allows a lot of customization with regards to caloric need, macronutrient balance, and pre-existing conditions. So you can start with just eating whole, nutrient dense foods with balanced macros and adjust from there. I am currently working on an “Intro to Paleo” meal plan and guide. Stay tuned for that or message me if you’re interested in getting started on a Paleo plan today! You can also check out my blog Why Paleo for more info.
When it comes to movement and exercise I highly recommend signing up for a class or hiring a trainer that focuses on traditional and functional exercises and aim to bring the body into balance. If they’re all about just getting you abs or just a booty, they probably aren’t going to get you comprehensive and lasting results. If classes are intimidating or a trainer is out of your budget message me for a customized workout routine that you can do anywhere. I can also do instructional sessions via Skype. I also highly recommend you start walking or doing in-home, beginner yoga videos. They’re free and they are great for those just beginning a fitness journey.
With regards to other lifestyle factors, check out my last blog titled What is a [Brick] Fit Life? I cover all the pillars of a fitness lifestyle and how to address each one to create optimal health.
Once you’ve mastered these basics and have a deeper relationship with your body you will start to identify what does and does not work for you. And from there you can develop your own path.
Hopefully, this blog have helped you understand yourself a little bit better and that understanding will prepare you for a long-term fitness journey. If you still feel like you need more specific guidance please email me or subscribe to my website and comment on this blog and we can discuss this topic more in depth. Thanks guys! Talk soon.