Run a Simulation for Success

I’m currently reading Mind Hacking by Sir John Hargrave. In essence, the book is about how to change behaviors. One of the concepts that he discusses is the idea of running simulations of your future plans. Now, in the past, I’ve read research that’s shown that those who have a clear plan for the future have a better chance of attaining it than those who do not. Additionally, those that write those plans down have a better chance of attaining them than those that just keep them in their head. Now, Hargrave has cited research that shows that individuals that run simulations as to how they are going to achieve their goals, are the most successful.296D0E66-F203-4F6C-A115-4A84FF7EC0BDSo, what does it mean to run simulations? Imagine mapping out how you intend on reaching your goals from beginning to end. Now, you write out everything you can think of that could throw a monkey-wrench into your plan. A simulation is the addition of those stumbling blocks AND the solutions to deal with them and still keep you on course to attain your goals.

Start simulations with things that have happened in the past, so you know they could happen again in the future. Let’s say you plan out what days and times you are going to head to the gym to work out. Ask yourself what would happen if a deadline for a project is coming up and you’re going to have to stay late to work on it. This is going to knock out the evenings that you were planning to go to the gym. You have, however, thought this possibility through. You have a contingency plan. You get up an hour earlier in the morning and fit your workouts in before work. (as an example) The important idea is to not be reactionary. Don’t wait until something happens and then try to figure it out.

For maximum chances of success, have clear, specific goals in mind. Write them down. Write down how you intend on reaching them. Think of possible obstacles. Run simulations. Come up with contingencies and continue your progress in spite of those things that pop up to challenge you. You will even feel more confident in your ability to reach your goals.

Good luck!

 

“Savage Consistency!”

In describing how he helped one of his clients lose 8″ around his waist in a few short months, a personal trainer friend of mine, Chad Landers stated, “No crazy diets, no insane workouts. Just Savage Consistency with the basics.” I love the phrase that he used, “Savage Consistency” and needed to discuss that idea.

People often wonder why they aren’t seeing results from their fitness program. Well, of course, part of that might be that they aren’t controlling their diets. But the other part is often that they just aren’t working out consistently. Training once a week or every other week is not going to change your body or health status.

Untitled design (8)It’s like brushing your teeth. Just brushing occasionally is not going to keep them pearly white and cavity free. You have to make it part of your daily regimen. The same is true for working out or managing your diet. To see real results, you have to be consistent.

Here’s an important bit, though, it’s not an all or nothing thing. You don’t have to spend huge amounts of time at it. In my opinion, creating the habit is, initially, more important than how much you do during your workout. Show up. Do something. Show up again. Do a little more. Show up again…etc. Create the habit of doing, at whatever level, and you can build the time and intensity as you go.

Start your program with commitment to “Savage Consistency”. Commit to getting some kind of workout in (this may be 3 or more times per week) and some form of nutrition change in every day. Embrace the notion that something done with consistency is going to be better than having that “perfect” workout or diet day, once every blue moon.

P.S. Now, of course, something is better than nothing. So, if occasionally doing something is truly all you can manage, go with it. You just won’t see the results you could if you were more consistent.

What If Your Doctor is Wrong?

There are great doctors and there are awful doctors. There are doctors in-between. Just like any other profession. Of course, there are doctors that are great in some areas and lousy in other areas. The problem is knowing which your doctor is.

Just the other day, a client in her mid-sixties came to me after injuring her wrist. She said that when she went to her doctor, the doctor told her to stop lifting weights, which, for her wrist at the time, would not have been unreasonable. However, the doctor then followed up with, “Why would a woman your age want to lift weights anyway?” I was taken back that this opinion still exists in the medical community. My client said that she wasn’t going to be swayed by her doctor and that she knows the importance of strength training as we get older. (Phew!)

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A scene from “Scrubs”

Now, even the best doctors can’t stay current on all areas of human health. As a fitness professional, I know that there is new research every day and that it takes work on my part to stay up with the most current information. Because there can be new studies that could potentially disprove what I “know”, I understand that I can be proven wrong and am happy to change my position if enough evidence supports it. Good doctors will do the same.

So, my suggestion to you when you believe your doctor is mistaken, is to find the research to back up what you believe is correct. Present that information to your doctor ask to discuss it with him or her. If they are not willing to discuss it, maybe you should look for a doctor who will. There is a caveat to this though, don’t just take what you find on Facebook or what Dr. Oz says to be as good as scientifically supported information. Use credible sources. Here’s a pretty good list of sources for accurate health and medical information. RefSeek’s guide to the 25 best online resources for medical reference Remember, doctors are not infallible. Don’t fear questioning them. Be your own advocate.

*By the way, here’s some research on strength training as we get older: “Current research has demonstrated that strength-training exercises have the ability to combat weakness and frailty and their debilitating consequences. Done regularly (e.g., 2 to 3 days per week), these exercises build muscle strength and muscle mass and preserve bone density, independence, and vitality with age. In addition, strength training also has the ability to reduce the risk of osteoporosis and the signs and symptoms of numerous chronic diseases such as heart disease, arthritis, and type 2 diabetes, while also improving sleep and reducing depression. – The benefits of strength training for older adults.  Am J Prev Med. 2003 Oct;25 (3 Suppl 2):141-9. Seguin R1, Nelson ME.

 

Let That Be a Lesson to You!

Does trying new things scare you? Did you ever think to yourself, “I’m too old to start this.” or, “I’ll make a fool out of myself”? You’re not alone. Everyone (well, most everyone) has things that make them feel that way. This is unfortunate for a couple of reasons.

men's Fitness after 50

My next venture, Men’s Fitness After 50 podcast

First, we miss out on a lot of things that could enrich our lives. This could be starting an exercise program, taking dance lessons, cooking lessons, learning a language, or starting a business.

Second, those things that challenge us, the very things that we’re afraid of feeling stupid doing, are among the best things we can do to keep our brains functioning at their best. The cognitive work required to learn new skills is one of the 5 pillars of brain fitness (exercise, nutrition, stress reduction, socialization, and… cognitive challenge).

Personally, I’ll jump into many things without worrying about how I look, however, when it comes to my profession, my reputation, I honestly get a little apprehensive (scared.. ok, I said it.). In example, I’ve wanted to try podcasting for the better part of a year and have been to afraid that I would make a fool of myself. Well, we all need to get over it and just do it (not to get too Nike on you). The benefits for us, better health, greater skills, better quality of life,  far outweigh the perceived risks.

So, whatever you have wanted to do and have just been afraid to start… jump in, the water is fine. (oh… and I’ll start podcasting on Monday). Let me know what you’d like to try , but are afraid to, in the comments.

Falling Off the Diet or Fitness Wagon

Have you ever known someone that was working really hard to reach fitness goals, reached them and then fell off the proverbial wagon all to end up back where they started? You want to run up to them and ask what happened, but generally don’t because you know that they are likely to feel pretty upset by it being brought up.

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Falling Off the Wagon

As a personal trainer, I’ll bump into people where this has been the case. They are usually embarrassed or ashamed and will often try to avoid me. I don’t let them off the hook that easily. “We’ve missed you.” “What have you been up to?” At that point they will usually fill me in on what upset the cart. It often is a very understandable event that threw them off and then the inevitable, “I’ll get back to it soon….”

This is the important thing to note, we all fall off the wagon at one point or another. That should be something for everyone to expect (although most do not). It will happen. But, don’t wait until you feel like you can stick to it before you start back up. Start back up again as soon as you can. Don’t worry about how long the attempt will last, just get back up on the wagon. The number of times you try and fail doesn’t count against you. In fact, you will be far better off by repeatedly trying, learning from your mistakes, making new plans, and trying again, than waiting until the situation is perfect before you restart. What’s past, is past. You can’t change it. Don’t worry about it. Don’t feel guilty about it. Learn from it and move on. Start as often as you need and you will eventually succeed.

Want Results? Get Off Your Big Fat But!

No, no misspelling here. I’m not talking about your backside. I’m talking about the excuses we find to not do what we know we should be doing in order to improve our health and fitness. “I know I should _______, BUT…”

If you want something to change, you need to be willing to do something different (and that usually means something more difficult). For changes in our health and fitness levels, you need to make sure your diet is where it’s supposed to be, you’re getting in the right kind of workouts with the appropriate frequency, keeping your stress levels down, and getting enough sleep.

Excuses

Excuses outweighing your results?

When you’re not getting the results you want, you need to look at these areas and ask yourself which of those items aren’t happening and what it is that’s getting in your way. As you identify the area of difficulty, listen to yourself. “I know I shouldn’t be eating the doughnuts that work supplies, but it’s all they have there.” “I have every intention of getting to the gym, but something always comes up at work.” Those buts are your excuses, your scapegoats, and you have to recognize that fact. That’s not to say they aren’t a problem, only that knowing that they are a problem means you need to come up with a different solution as to how to work around them. You need to pre-plan for those occasions when your normal schedule is thrown off.

In example, normally your diet is good. You eat what, when, and where you’re supposed to. But, when your friends come to visit for a long weekend, you end up overindulging the whole time and feeling guilty. So, imagine they just called. You know how this weekend usually goes. Ask yourself what you could do differently that would make your weekend diet better. Could you have more fresh fruits and vegetables on hand? If you usually drink alcoholic beverages, could you alternate between those drinks and a glass of water?

The key to getting the results you want, reaching your goals, is getting rid of the big fat BUT that has been allowing you to think you had an excuse. Well, it isn’t an excuse. A but simply means you need to come up with a new way to handle those things that have been getting in your way. If it means enough to you, you can find a solution.

Please let me know if you need any help losing your big but.

Cheat Days May Be Cheating You

When contemplating dieting, most people don’t want to fully commit to suddenly eating healthfully and the appropriate amount of calories, so they like the idea of having cheat days. I’m sure that you’ve heard the concept of cheat days. These are days that are set aside that allow you to eat what you want. In example, you work hard at your diet all week, but on Saturday you can eat whatever you desire. The theory is that it’s easier to stay away from high calorie/high fat foods most of the time if you know that you can guiltlessly have it on your cheat day.

fast foodWhile that may sound reasonable, being better most of the time (and it certainly could help some people), here’s why I take issue with it. If you’re having a difficult time sticking to your diet, it may be too restrictive for where you are in your journey for lifetime eating and healthy weight maintenance. It should be a gradual process of tweaking you diet (and exercise) so that it’s not overwhelming.

My other problem with cheat days is that it keeps you desiring those less healthy foods. You can change what you desire by making small, better choices over time. Like going from whole milk to 2%, to 1.5%, to 1%, to skim. By the time you get used to skim milk, 2% tastes like cream and you don’t care about ever having whole milk again… no cheating even wanted.

So, while having a cheat day may help you lose weight, Id challenge you to simply be more gradual with your changes so that sustaining them becomes effortless.

The Problems With Physical Therapy

Before my physical therapist friends jump all over this, let me say that what I find problematic with physical therapy, is the limited coverage (number of visits allowed by insurance) and the patient’s understanding of their role in their physical well-being once they are released from therapy and are on their own.

physical therapy2Problem #1: Let’s assume you get injured on the job. Your primary care physician refers you to a physical therapist for treatment. The therapist takes you through various rehabilitation modalities that will most likely included some exercises that you will perform. Insurance only pays for “X” number of visits and then you’ll need to continue on your own. More often than not, you do not follow through with your therapy exercises. Without that follow through, the your physical level will begin to decrease from the point when you left physical therapy. This deconditioning sets you up to get injured again.

Problem #2: You, after completing your allotted physical therapy, continue to do your therapy exercises as prescribed, same weights, same repetitions, same number of days per week. I know, that doesn’t sound like a problem, but it is. If you do the same thing over and over again, you get really good at it. It gets easy, and… if it gets easy, you’re no longer challenging yourself. Without the challenge, your conditioning level starts to decrease. Now, it won’t drop as low as if you weren’t doing the exercises, but it will drop below the level that was when it was challenging.

The goal of reconditioning after surgery or injury, should be to get back to where to where you were prior to the event, AND THEN to continue training/conditioning so that you are more capable, more “injury resistant”, and better prepared to do any of the activities that you want. This is true at any age, but even more important as you get older. You can accomplish this by working with your physical therapist until released, then take your exercise prescription to a certified personal trainer that has post-rehab experience. Have the trainer show you how to translate the physical therapy exercises to your gym/health club. Then, come back to the trainer periodically to get an updated program, so you can continue to get stronger, healthier, and ready to tackle the rest of your life. After all, we don’t want to just survive as we get older. We want to thrive!

Get a Gold Medal in Consistancy

If I could give out a medal for working out, it would be given for how consistent a person is in fitting their workouts in. Olympians reach their level of strength, power, conditioning, and skill because they work at it, day in and day out, for years. That level of consistency creates the kind of results that can make you an Olympic champion.

Pyeongchang Olympics Snowboard Men

While we may never be Olympians, we can still achieve great results, IF… we can be consistent. Occasional super hard work outs will never give the benefits that even moderate intensity work outs on a regular basis can. Consistency creates habits, which means it gets easier to keep on a schedule and, ultimately, get the results that we want.

The commitment, the habit of working out also allows us to set a clear progression. We did X sets and reps on Wednesday, which means we can do Y on Friday. When work outs are sporadic, you are either going to have to lower the intensity or, at best, keep it the same. You’ll never reach your goals that way.

If the Olympic Games are motivating you, or if you’re simply motivating yourself, start by shooting for that gold medal in consistency.