What’s The Worst That Could Happen?

One night, in the middle of my sophomore year of college, I found myself standing on the edge of a bridge that was easily 80 feet above the water below. It was after midnight, and there was no moon. I couldn’t see the water, but I was told it was there. My hands were gripped tightly around a rope which had a loop tied at the bottom of it, my left foot placed inside. My roommate assured me this was all secure, because he’d “done this before”.

In just a few moments, I was supposed to put all my faith in my roommates knot tying abilities, that he had accurately judged the distance between the bridge and the water, and in the strength of the rope, jump off the edge of the bridge, and free fall until the tension of the rope kicked in, and swung me up in the opposite direction. I would then swing back and forth until I slowed down enough to push myself away from the rope, and fall into the water below.

As I prepared myself, (mentally, emotionally, spiritually) my roommate patted me on the back and said, “Don’t worry. What’s the worst that could happen?”

In my experience, it’s situations like these, that this question is most often asked. It’s not asked legitimately, but rather as a way to acknowledge the reality that things could easily go awry, and to bring a little levity to the situation.

Me: “I could die.”

My roommate: “Haha, yeah, maybe.”

However, I’d like to present the idea that this question can have some real value to your life, when asked legitimately and not in an attempt to make a joke about the potential life-ending activity you are about to participate in.

Fear is the most common reason that people don’t pursue something. Whether it’s weight loss, getting healthier, going after a dream job, quitting a crappy job, or asking for that first date.

We build up all the possible, and worst case, scenarios in our head, resulting in our inability to move forward. Because it doesn’t matter how realistic these possibilities are. It just matters that we’ve thought about them, and now they’re in our head.

Asking yourself the question, “What’s the worst that could happen?” is a great way to combat this paralyzing fear.

For example:

Chasing that dream job? Worst case scenario: you don’t get it. You continue where you are currently, and wait for another awesome opportunity.

Losing weight? Worst case scenario: you aren’t as successful as you had hoped, but you learn some valuable lessons that will make the next attempt easier, and make you more likely to be successful.

Asking for that first date? Worst case scenario: During the summer after your 8th grade year, your friend calls her to ask her out for you, but she laughs and says “no”. And then when summer is over and you go to 9th grade and see her every day you have to pretend like it never happened for the next four years. Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything.

If you ask yourself “what’s the worst that could happen?”, and honestly answer it, it’s likely you’ll realize that the worst case scenario isn’t that bad after all. And that it’s probably worth the risk to give things an honest attempt. Because even if you’re faced with the “worst that could happen”, you’re stronger than it and you will be better equipped the next time around.

And, yes, I did jump. I didn’t die. And it was awesome.

Fit In Fifteen

Let’s be clear about something right from the get-go. The title of this article should not suggest to you that you can get fit in just fifteen minutes. That’s silliness. If you’ve been around here long enough, then you know that I am not a fan of quick fixes. I’m sure that’s not what you thought, but…you know…just to be clear.

What this title should suggest to you is that you can use the following 15-ish minute workout to get some good work done in a short amount of time. And that doing short workouts like this can be very effective in your pursuit towards being a healthier person.

Perform the following exercises for the time prescribed, resting minimally between exercises. After one round is completed, rest for 60 seconds and then repeat. Complete for a total of four rounds. As mentioned, this should take you roughly 15 minutes to complete.

Squat Clean and Press (30 seconds)

Double Dumbbell Bent Over Row (30 seconds)

Floor Press (30 seconds)

Body Tap Plank (45 seconds)

Farmer’s Carry (45 seconds)

Give this a shot and let me know how much you love (or hate) it!

And if you know someone who could use a short, effective workout, please share this with them!

Some Tough Love

New goals don’t deliver new results.

New lifestyles do.

And a lifestyle is not an outcome, it is a process. For this reason, all of your energy should go into building better habits, not chasing better results.

-James Clear

We often think that we just need to make the right goals. If we can do that, and make them at the right time, then THIS time we will be successful in achieving them.

This is not the solution. This is the problem.

We want different goals, but we don’t want a different lifestyle.

We want to be healthier, but we approach it in unhealthy ways.

Changing your lifestyle is hard. Really hard. But it’s the only way you will see long-term success.

Every time you try a new diet, you think you’re trying a new approach. You’re not. You’re doing the exact same thing that has repeatedly left you frustrated, defeated, and feeling like you’re not cut out for this. It just has a different name this time around.

A fad diet will not work because it doesn’t address the reasons you’ve never stuck with a fad diet before.

Getting motivated will not work because it doesn’t address the reasons your’re motivation has always failed you in the past.

If you want to be successful for the rest of your life (because that’s the goal right?) you need to address, and change, the way you live life that is in direct conflict with the goals you want to achieve. If you don’t, it will never matter how great the goals you set are.

You will not keep them.

The Trouble With “Earning” Food

It’s been a long day.

You didn’t sleep well.

Your kids were fighting all morning.

Work was rough.

Dinner didn’t turn out very well.

And, you still have to sit down and pay bills once the kids are in bed.

So, you grab the ice cream out of the freezer, and put a big old scoop into a bowl. Then another scoop, and you tell yourself, “It’s OK. I’ve earned this after today.”

Image result for bowl of ice cream

Been there? I’d say there’s a really good chance you have.

There are two problems with this thinking.

First, we don’t earn food. We need food. It’s not something we have to work for, or only get if we “deserve” it.

Thinking it terms of whether or not you have or haven’t earned food is a good sign that your relationship with food might need some work.

Sure, there is some real value to taking a moment to think about if eating a certain food will move you closer to, or further away from your goals, and doing a quick cost-to-benefit ratio to see if you want to eat it. But that is totally different than feeling like you’ve earned certain foods.

That difference in mindset and how we mentally approach food matters.

A lot.

Second, when we feel like we’ve earned certain foods after long and stressful days, it’s not really about whether or not we’ve earned it. What’s most likely happening is that we’re stressed, and we want something to make us feel better. We want comfort, and food is an easy and common way to find it.

We tell ourselves that we’ve earned it, because if it’s something we’ve earned and deserve, then it’s pretty easy to justify.

(Side note: I could care less is you have ice cream every single night. What I do care about is WHY you have ice cream every single night. I have a bowl of cereal most nights. It’s never because I feel like I’ve earned it. It’s because I like cereal, so I make it fit into my daily nutrition while still being able to pursue my goals. There’s a big difference between eating something to deal with stress or emotions, and making a conscious choice to eat something simply because it brings you pleasure.)

Following my last point, before my side note, if you find yourself justifying anything you’re eating, that’s also a red flag. You don’t need to justify your food choices to anyone. Certainly not yourself.

Using food to cope with feelings is very common. I’d argue it’s one of the most common things my clients struggle with.

The best approach is to acknowledge what you’re feeling. Are you tired? Are you stressed? Are you bored? Are you lonely? Ask yourself those questions, and answer honestly.

This alone can be very helpful. Recognizing that your “hunger” is really just a cue to an action that helps deal with emotions can sometimes shut the whole thing down.

If it doesn’t, deal with what you’re feeling.

Stessed? Go workout. Call a friend to vent. Make a plan to deal with that specific stressor.

Tired? Go to bed.

You might be surprised at how often this will nip that “I’ve earned this” mindset in the bud. And taking back control of your eating habits will go a very long way in regards to meeting your goals.

Build-A-Booty: Kneeling Dumbbell Squat

I’m usually a little wary of “new” exercises. They tend to be incredibly complex, difficult to set up, way too advanced for most people, or all three.

Social media has definitely brought about an age of stupid things getting notoriety simply because they look cool. That’s great for entertainment, but it’s not so great when you’re looking for actual results.

That being said, sometimes you see something that makes you go, “hmm, that looks like it could be beneficial.”

That’s the thought I had when I first saw the Kneeling Dumbbell Squat a few years back.

I like this exercise for a few reasons. First, it’s effective. Third, it’s really easy to perform properly. And D, it’s easy to adjust the difficulty as needed.

Here’s what it looks like:

Cues:

  • Get on both knees, with your toes flat on the ground.
  • Hold a dumbbell in the goblet position (at chest height).
  • While maintaining a tell chest, lower your butt to your heels, and then return to the starting position.
  • Finish the movement by squeezing your glutes tight at the top.

That’s it!

Give these a shot, and let me know how you like them!

My Best Advice For The New Year

While the holidays aren’t technically over, (there’s still today) they basically are. And you’ve made it through the bulk of the difficulty that the holiday season can bring.

The family get togethers.

The parties with friends.

The endless cookies that people bring in to work.

You’ve run the gauntlet and, aside from Jan 1st, it’s over.

Which means, for most of you, you’re looking at a fresh start. You’re looking at making 2020 better than 2019. And you’re likely making resolutions that are designed around exercise and eating healthier.

Here’s the thing about the habits and behaviors we choose to follow when attempting to make healthier choices…you dance with the one that brought you.

Are you familiar with that expression? It simply means, who or whatever gets you to your goal is the one you will need to keep “dancing” with to stay there.

If your plans to lose weight, get stronger, or be healthier include drastic calorie cuts, hours and hours of cardio each week, and removing all “sugary” foods from your diet…then those are the habits you are going to have to keep for the long haul. Those habits are your dance partner, and you’ll need to keep dancing with them if you want to maintain your progress.

On the other hand, if you meet your goals via habits that are sustainable, and allow you to enjoy life and social situations, then those are the habits you will need to continue to maintain your progress.

The rest of your life is a long time. Make sure that your habits are ones you can sustain forever. If they’re not, your dance is going to end early than you want it to, and your partner will leave you more than disappointed.

Be wise. Be patient.

The Trouble With Weight Loss

Do you need to lose weight, or do you want to lose weight?

Because they are not the same thing.

“Need” suggests that there is a medical reason to lose weight. Unless that’s the case, you don’t need to lose weight.

If that’s not the case, then you “want” to lose weight.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with wanting to lose weight. But there is something wrong with how we view weight and weight loss.

We assume that extra weight (whatever that means, because I honestly don’t know. Extra weight compared to what?) is “bad”. I think most of us would tend to say that it’s unhealthy, but I don’t think most of us mean that. I think we just think it’s bad because we think it’s bad. Or that we are somehow less for having it. That it speaks to our value, our self control, and who we are as a person.

I don’t know how that came about. It probably started with certain ideals portrayed in movies, TV shows, and magazines, and then spiraled into a million different things that make us feel “less than”.

Losing weight doesn’t necessarily make you healthier, or happier, or more valuable. It does make you smaller…but that’s about the only guarantee.

I’m not bashing you if you want to lose weight. Shoot, I’d like to lose about 5-7 pounds right now. I get it. I’m just pointing out how much the language you use matters. If you are constantly telling yourself you need to lose weight, when you really just want to lose weight, it conflates things, and you associate your desire for weight loss with something that is critical for health and happiness.

Things get really ugly really quick when that happens.

If weight loss is something you want, make sure you keep the perspective that it’s a preference…not a need. It doesn’t have any bearing on your worth, your value, or your health.

Doing things for the right reasons is important. Doing them for the wrong reasons often leaves us unsatisfied, and still unhappy when we meet our goals.

Strong Abs: Parallel Woodchop

When it comes to selecting exercises for clients’ programs, I’m pretty picky.

Because my clients are busy (and you are too), to not be as economical with their (and your) time would be a shame, and a disservice. I don’t like shames and disservices-es, so I try to not to do them.

I also try to choose exercises that do at least a few good things for the body.

That’s why Parallel Woodchops have been a staple in my clients programs for over a decade.

Here’s what they look like:

While their primary function is to train the abs, they also work the hips/glutes, and promote a healthy relationship between the abs, glutes, low back, and hips. Those things working together in harmony is a really good thing.

CUES:

  • Start with a wide stance, and grab a handle attached to a cable column, or band.
  • Brace your abs tight, and rotate away from the the cable column, or where the band is anchored.
  • Keep your hips, torso, and chest in line throughout the entire movement.
  • You should feel almost all of the work in your abs. If you start to feel it in your arms/shoulders, reset and try to brace your abs tighter.

I like to have clients do these in the 6-10/side rep range.

Give them shot!

15 Minute Body Weight Blast

Maybe you don’t have an hour today to hit the gym. That’s understandable.

Maybe you don’t have much equipment at home. That’s understandable too.

Don’t worry. I gotchu.

Below is a 15 minute (and 30 second) body weight routine you can do in your living room. Or bedroom. Or back yard. But not your bathroom…unless you have a really big bathroom. But still…maybe not there.

This routine has 7 exercises. You will perform each exercise for 30 seconds, followed by 30 seconds rest. Once you’ve gone through each exercise once, rest for 60 seconds, and then repeat one more time.

If you have more time, you could certainly perform this for an additional set or two.

Here are the exercises:

Bear Crawl

Crab Toe Touches

Inchworm

Reverse Lunge to Squat

Shoot Outs

Body Tap Plank

Jumping Jacks

Give this a shot the next time you’re short on time, or just up for a quick butt kicking! Do you know someone who would like to have a quick workout at home? Pass this along to them, or feel free to share on your social media feed.

Making Progress When Life Happens

You’ve probably been there.

You’re clicking along with your goals. You’re in the gym on a regular basis, and killing your workouts. Your nutrition is on point, and everything feels just like you want it to feel.

And then, seemingly out of nowhere, life rears it’s ugly head, and throws a wrench (or hand grenade) right into the middle of your previously smooth sailing journey.

Maybe it’s a parent who fell ill, or extra responsibilities and stress at work. Maybe it’s a divorce, or just a bunch of little things that happen at once. But whatever it is, it threatens to bring your momentum to a screeching halt.

That’s what most of us do…we don’t pump the breaks, we slam on them, throw our hands up in the air and say, “Well, I guess this was a waste of time!”

And you know what? If that’s your response when life happens, then you’re probably right…it probably was a waste of time to work so hard and then abandon everything completely.

But, is there another option? Is there a way to keep progressing when life explodes, gets messy, and stress levels go through the roof?

Did you already guess that I’m going to say yes? You did, didn’t you? You smart little cookie.

When life goes boom, we often evaluate our ability to continue to make progress against what progress looked like before life went boom. In other words, we decide if we can maintain our current level of investment in our health, and if we can’t maintain that same level, we quit.

Lets imagine you’re in the middle of some good momentum. Over the last few weeks you’ve been hitting the gym consistently 3 days a week. You’re getting in some extra movement on a few other days during the week. You’ve been making quality breakfasts, packing all your lunches for work, and have planned and prepped for all of your dinners for the week. Physically, you feel really good. You’ve dropped a few pounds in the last two weeks, you’re sleeping better, and you have more energy.

Things are awesome.

Image result for awesome

Then on a Monday morning (of course it’s on a Monday morning), your boss puts you in charge of a project. This is great for work, but since it’ll require several extra hours a week, it’s not so great for that momentum you’ve got going. That afternoon, you get a phone call. Your mom fell, and broke her hip. She’s in the hospital. She’ll be there for a few days before she gets moved to a rehab facility. As you hang up the phone, a notification dings, reminding you that your son’s basketball season starts tonight. That means two practices and two games a week. You had kind of forgotten about that.

Oh, hi life. Thanks for reminding me how tough you can be in a not-so-subtle way.

Somewhere in the middle of all of this is where you subconsciously make the decision to put your plans for self care on hold for a few days.

This is understandable.

After the dust settles a bit, you accept the reality that things suddenly got much busier. You will be spending more time working, more time visiting your mom every day, and more time getting your son to and from practice, as well as attending his games.

Wow. A whole just got dumped on your plate.

This is the point where you look at the reality of life now, and compare it to how life was before that dreadful Monday. “There’s no way I can keep up that pace”, you tell yourself. “I guess I just need to stop for now, and I’ll try to get back at it when things calm down a bit.”

You’re right.

But you’re also wrong.

Image result for right but wrong

It’s true that you can’t be the employee, daughter/son, and parent you want to be, and continue with the same level of energy you’ve been giving your personal health and well-being. It’s not true that things need to come to a halt until things calm down.

People feel like they have to stop all their momentum because they’re comparing their ability to invest in themselves in a time when life is very busy, to a time when life had fewer time intensive responsibilities. This is a very common, and detrimental mistake.

If you only evaluate your ability to make progress by weighing it against a time in life that had exceptionally favorable conditions, you are almost always going to feel like you don’t have the ability to make progress in any other conditions.

You’ve set yourself up to fall into a cycle of continually stopping and starting your goals, only to never really get anywhere with them.

That’s a crappy situation.

Let’s put your progress on a scale of 0-10, 0 being no effort or progress is being made, and 10 being a situation where everything is going incredibly well. If you’re honest with yourself, there’s a good chance you only operate at a “0” or a “10”. It’s either perfect, or nothing is happening.

But guess what? There are a whole bunch of numbers in between 0 and 10. And ALL of them will help you continue to move forward.

If you’re clicking along at a 10 and life goes boom, a 10 is probably no longer possible. But what about a 6? Or maybe a 2? Can you do that? Most likely, you can still do something. We just have it in our heads that if it’s not as much as we were previously doing, then it’s not worth it at all.

That all-or-none thinking can get us into a lot of trouble, and can keep us stuck in the same spot.

Giving yourself permission to do less, but still do something can be a real game changer. It’s also an incredibly important skill to have for long term success. If you only allow yourself to operate at a 10, you will perpetually be in a cycle of starting and stopping.

That cycle will get you absolutely nowhere.

Maybe doing less, but still doing something, looks like cutting your workouts in half, or in quarters. Maybe you only focus on planning dinners because that’s your most problematic meal. Or maybe you just focus on getting a certain amount of water, and going for a 5 minute walk each day.

All of these options, and countless others, are much better than doing nothing. They not only help keep you moving forward, but they are an act of self-discipline. And training that self-discipline muscle will come in handy when things settle down and you have the chance to ramp things back up. Your other option is to start from zero. Yet, again.

So, the next time life happens (or if you’re in the middle of life happening right now), instead of throwing in the towel, ask yourself what you can continue to do. Ask yourself how can you do less, but still do something. You might find that simply doing whatever you can goes a long way to being a healthier person, and keeps you out of a cycle that leaves you frustrated and never making real progress.