Autonomy

Autonomy is an important aspect to us here at Experity.

On the surface, autonomy can be a little intimidating, especially to someone new to our (or any) gym environment.

But think of autonomy as our end goal.

In the beginning, you’re going to require a little extra attention.  We’re going to go out of our way to make you feel comfortable, and ensure that you know why a program is written a certain way, and how to execute it properly.

Over time, as you better understand the Why’s and How’s; you’ll become more autonomous.  You’ll be better able to take ownership over your program; asking questions and making decisions based on your understanding of how the programs work.

Just like in any other work environment- micro management puts a ceiling on someone’s success.  Empowering individuals with the knowledge to guide their own decisions is where success usually happens.

This One Simple Trick

Let’s imagine for a second that a young person has come to you for advice on how to succeed in school or in the workforce.

I’d assume most of us would give them guidelines based on principles such as:

  1. Work hard

  2. Don’t procrastinate

  3. Be patient; success takes time

  4. Understand the material, and ask questions about what you don’t understand

  5. Learn as much as you can from your teacher/boss

On the flip-side, I doubt most of us would give advice such as:

  1. Do as little work as possible

  2. If you’re not promoted in 4 weeks, look for another job

  3. Use this one “Simple Trick” to hack your success

We all know, inherently, that success in any endeavor takes work, diligence, and time.

Yet, apparently, as a society, we still believe in shortcuts when it comes to our health.

I know this because, this is how fitness is marketed, and it wouldn’t be marketed that way if that weren’t the best way to sell.

The truth is that there are no shortcuts, and as adults, we know this. 

Don’t let this frustrate you though; enjoy the clarity that it gives you. 

The search for the shortcut is over, there is no more magic that you have to find.

The roadmap is very simple: plant the seeds, work the fields, and eventually, harvest the crop.

Be Your Own Advocate

Often times, when someone is dealing with a complex medical issue, they are advised to “be their own advocate.”  To do research about the subject matter, seek second opinions, and ask questions.

However, I rarely hear this outside of a medical context.

If we really look at what it means to be one’s own advocate, it seems like an appealing way to relate to the world in many different aspects of life.

At its root, the phrase simply means that one is being active instead of passive when dealing with others.

Researching the topic, and seeking to understand the objective, will allow you to ask better questions.  Better questions will lead to more clarity and understanding of the process, and the desired outcome.

And so it becomes a positive loop: As a result of taking an active role in the process, we are able to understand the end that we are driving for, and but by being able to see the end, we are able to stay engaged in the process.

Because I Can

Sometimes, this whole “working out and staying healthy” bit can seem like a waste of time.

I mean, it’s a constant uphill battle.  You battle uphill with every ounce of fight you have, and then, you take one day, or one week off, and the downhill slide begins.

And what are we doing it for anyway?  To look a little better?  Who cares what people think, right?

To reach some arbitrary goal?  No one cares if you ran 26.2 miles, or how fast you did it.  There is no way that the feeling of accomplishment is worth the amount of time, struggle and discomfort put in to reach that goal.

There are a lot of reasons that I choose to work out, but there is one reason that is the foundation of them all:

Because I can. 

Because I’ve been gifted with life and an able body.  I’ve been given an opportunity to grow, to strive for my potential.  I don’t want to throw that opportunity away just because there will be some struggle along the way.

Over 2000 years ago, Socrates said it better than I ever will be able to:

“No man has the right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training. It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.”

Reliability

Reliability is the hallmark of an adult.

Whether we’re thinking of friends, colleagues, bosses, employees or family members- we’ll always favor those that we know we can count on. 

The ones who do what they say they’re going to do, every time, are the people who we respect the most.

When someone is unreliable, they lose esteem and status.  We may forgive them, but each time they flake out on us, we take a mental note to not put too much stock in them.

The same goes with the commitments that we make to ourselves.

If I tell myself that I’m going to get up at 4AM to workout, and I sleep in until 6- what’s the big deal?  I didn’t let anyone down.

Well, the feedback I gave myself is to not take my own word too seriously; it's unlikely that I'll follow through.

Part of growing up is learning to say “No” to things you won’t be able to come through on- freeing you up to stay absolutely consistent coming through on what you do commit to.

Even if you commit to less, having a 100% follow through rate builds a positive feedback loop.

Committing to 2 workouts per week and hitting every single one for 8 weeks is FAR superior to committing to 3 workouts per week and missing 1 every week. 

In the end, the same amount of work was done, but the narrative from the first scenario sends a subconscious message that we were successful, we followed through, we did what we said we were going to do.  This is the foundation of a strong relationship, with others and with ourself.

Putting Together an Exercise Program- The Final Piece of the Puzzle

We’ve talked a lot so far about the General Overview of our training, as well as the specific physical properties we’d be training.  The hardest part, though, is pulling it all together. 

Since we’re trying to make headway in three major areas- Mobility, Strength, and Endurance- we need to be very efficient with our resources.  We only have so much time to train, and we only have so much mental and physical energy available for each training session.

What this means is that we want to do just enough in each category to elicit a response from our body without wasting time or energy.

Here’s how we take these considerations and build a Training Program from the Big Picture Strategy down to the Individual Training Session.

Training Block:

A training Block at Experity lasts roughly 14 weeks. Essentially, a Block is a way of picking a primary focus for a designated period of time.   This focus can be on an exercise (I want to focus on improving my Squat), it can be a way to emphasize a particular quality (I’d like to build some endurance before my vacation), or it can be a way to prioritize goals (I’ve got a big race coming up, my training needs to support that!).

Training Phase:

Once a primary focus is established for the training block, we break that block up into 4 Phases.

Phases are just a way to vary the stress on the body as we go through the training block.  Generally speaking, we accomplish this by changing the reps each phase.

In terms of strength for example, we generally do a High Rep phase followed by a low rep phase.  The High Rep phase allows us to build a base of technique and volume in our lifts at a lighter weight before we increase the weight for a Low Rep phase.  Going back and worth like this allows us to gradually get stronger and stronger while sparing our joints the constant pounding of heavy weights.

Training Week:

Each phase consists of 3 weeks.  Setting up a training week simply means that we want our highest priority, and most taxing workouts done earlier in the week.  As fatigue builds over the course of the week, we’ll lower the intensity and increase the reps.

Generally, we label Sessions as A, B and C, and they are ranked from highest to lowest priority.

What this means is that, if you can only workout twice per week, you’ll want to do A and B. 

It also means that you always want to do them in order when it comes to your training week.  So,  A is always the first workout of the week.  Even if you missed C because you overslept on Saturday…you’ll still do A when you come in on Monday.

Individual Training Session:

During a typical training day at Experity we’ll train a little bit of each quality.  We’ll start with a warm-up that emphasizes the mobility piece- getting your joints moving and activating all the right muscles.

We’ll then move into our Strength portion, where we’ll emphasize compound movements done with proper technique.  This part of the workout could entail anything from Bodyweight Exercises, to kettlebells or barbells.  Since this portion requires attention to detail and lots of mental focus, we’ll want to hit this right after our warmup when we’re still fresh.

After our resistance training, we’ll move into our Endurance portion, which may entail kettlebells, battling ropes, sleds and more.  We put this later in the workout because the exercises either require lighter weight or less emphasis on technique- therefore we don’t have to be as fresh as when we’re doing our Strength training.

Once we’ve finished the Endurance segment, we’ll wrap things up with some core work or perhaps some additional Mobility.

And that’s it!

While the recipe may vary slightly, this is the general thought process behind how we put our training programs together.

If you have any questions about what you’ve read in this blog series- don’t hesitate to reach out to me at Paul@ExperityFS.com or ask a question next time you’re in the gym.

Thanks for reading!

 

How Experity Does Endurance

Now that we’re both supple and strong, we want more endurance.  Or cardio.  Or conditioning.  Or whatever you want to call it.  You want to be able to do whatever you want in life without becoming fatigued.

Awesome.  I’m here for you, my good friend.

Here’s what you need to know:  you have energy stores in your body- sugar and fat. These two stores are kind of like crude oil though-they’re filled with energy, but you can’t go dumping them right into your cars gas tank- they have to be converted first into usable fuel.  This usable fuel for our muscles is called ATP.

Sugar and Fat= Crude Oil

ATP= Gasoline

Ya with me?

So being able to move longer with less fatigue comes down to how efficiently you are able to convert Sugar and Fat into ATP.

With that being said, Sugar and Fat are broken down in different ways:

Fat is burned during longer duration, lower intensity movements.  This is called the aerobic process, and it requires oxygen.  So if you can talk during exercise, you’re using your aerobic system to produce energy.

Sugar is burned during moderate to intense efforts lasting up to 2 minutes.  This is considered anaerobic (no oxygen).  So if you’re breathing so heavy that you can’t get enough air to fuel the aerobic process, your body is using the anaerobic process to fuel your efforts.

I know that all of that was boring, so here’s what that looks like in training:

Interval Repeats: moderate to intense efforts, lasting 15 seconds to 2 minutes, resting to a near full recovery and repeating.  Think of pushing the sled for a minute, resting for a minute and repeating.  Or ropes for 15/45, or Kettlebell ballistics, etc.

Tempo work:  This is on the higher side of moderate, the sets last longer than 2 minutes, and there are fewer or no repeats.  If intervals are our short burst efforts, Tempo work is our midrange efforts.  Rather than pushing the sled for 2 minutes and repeating, think of pushing it for 5-7 consecutive round trips and then being done.

Aerobic work:  this is our longer duration work.  Within our gym, this usually won’t be more than 30 minutes or so, working in a heart rate zone of 120-140.  To really develop your aerobic capacity, you’ll probably want to hit at least one long session on your own.  By long I mean 45 minutes, working your way up to 90 minutes.  This could be incline walking on a treadmill, a jog, a bike ride, elliptical, anything that keeps you in that zone for the duration of the workout.  There are some really cool benefits to aerobic zone work:  you can catch up with friends since the exercise intensity demands that you be able to carry on a conversation.  You can listen to podcasts or audio books to get smarter.  You can spend some time in nature, which reduces your stress.  Or you can bring your dog with you.

Another really cool benefit of aerobic exercise is that it often aids in our recovery and lowers our stress.  So if you were really on a mission to lose weight and wanted to get some extra movement in your life- pick one of the above activities listed in Aerobic Work and go for it- it won’t interfere with the rest of your exercise program.

As you can see, there are a couple of different types of“Cardio” that we can do to build some well-rounded endurance. 

By now you’re probably wondering- how does this all fit together?

What Exactly is "Strength Training"

So now that you’ve gone from the Tin Man to Jackie Chan after reading our Mobility piece, you want to start pumping iron.  I’m fired up for you.  This part is a lot of fun.  Where do you even begin, though?  There are an infinite number of ways you can sling a weight around, and a million and one ways to mix and match a weightlifting program.

We try to keep it pretty straightforward.  For starters, we categorize our lifts into 4 categories, and ensure that each category gets worked over the course of a week.  These categories are:

 

Hip Hinge

Squat

Upper Body Pushing

Upper Body Pulling

A lot of people ask me “what about this body part or that body part?”  Well, these four categories will hit just about every muscle in the body.  There are, of course, times to isolate or focus on certain body parts, but the majority of our strength training will be built around these four movements.

With me so far?

Now, with each one of these movements, we’re going to be looking primarily at 2 variables:

Intensity: This is how much weight you’re using.  In order to grow stronger, we’ll want to be increasing the intensity over time.

Volume:  This is the total amount of sets or reps done over the course of a week.

I know exactly what you’re thinking: “If we use more weight, we won’t be able to do as many sets or reps!!!”

First of all, thank you for paying attention.  Now, let me explain how we’re going make both Intensity and Volume fit perfectly.

We’re going to break our Main exercises, or Lifts, into two categories:

Main Lifts

We’ll have 1 Main lift from each category: 1 Hinge, 1 Squat, 1 Push, 1 Pull.  Our goal is to increase the Intensity (weight that we can handle) over the course a given 6 week cycle (we’ll discuss that later).  Naturally, we'll be less volume in these main lifts, as the weight will be a little higher.

Assistance Lifts

As far as Assistance work, we’ll have 1-3 exercises for each category.  These are done after, or on a separate day, from our Main Lifts.  The goal of these lifts is to use a weight (usually lower weight) that allows us to get the total volume in that our bodies need to adapt.  More reps, lower weight. 

The way we generally train at Experity is 3 days per week.  We focus on getting our Main Lifts in on days 1 &2, as these are higher priority and more taxing.  As we get toward the later days of the week, we'll naturally be more fatigued, which is why we put our lower intensity, lower priority Assistance work on Day 3.  

So we did our heavy lifting earlier in the week, and by Friday we were ready to bring the intensity down, and do more sets/reps.

I know that this may be a little overwhelming if your new to exercise.  All I have to say is; trust me on this.  I’ve stolen these ideas from some VERY bright people.

 

What Exactly Is "Mobility"

 

So far, we’ve not only identified Mobility as the base of the pyramid, but we’ve very loosely defined it as being able to move our joints through a sufficient range of motion, under control, while maintaining good alignment of the spine.

When we address Mobility, we generally start by looking at the trunk of the body, or roughly the hips to the shoulders.

What we want to see is

1)   Sufficient Mobility/Stability in the Hips

2)   A core Strong enough to remain stable while the Hips and Shoulders move through their range of motion

3)   A properly aligned low back/hip area (which also has a lot to do with core stability)

4)   An upper spine area that can stand tall and turn side to side while the lower spine stays relatively stable

5)   Mobile/Stable Shoulders

By focusing on the trunk, we’ll give ourselves a solid base of Mobility.  This will allow us to keep our joints healthy, keep us spry as we age, and most importantly- allow us to strength train with proper technique.

You see, if you’re joints are misaligned, or lack a sufficient amount of motion or control, you’ll be lifting with poor technique and risking injury.  Getting hurt in the weight room kind of goes against that whole Health First principle.

So how do we train for mobility? It’s really straight forward.  We start every day with a dynamic warmup, which will get every joint in the body moving from head to toe.  Then, we’ll decide (using the Functional Movement Screen) whether your immediate focus should be on Hips or Shoulders.  You’ll work on that every day.  As far as Core work- direct core strengthening and alignment will be peppered throughout the workouts/warmups/cooldowns.

The Building Blocks of the Experity Pyramid

Now that our previous piece has given some insight into what we do (all around fitness), we’re going to spend some significant time talking about HOW we do it.

If the “what” is all around fitness, then the “how” is by systematically developing Mobility, Strength and Endurance.

Today we’ll simply define these three terms and talk a little more about their benefits.

We always want to address Mobility first.  Now, this is a tricky term, so for the sake of what we do at Experity, we’re going to put Flexibility, Stability, and Postural Alignment all together under the Mobility flag.

Take all these things together and here’s what it means:  healthy joints that can move through a sufficient range of motion, under control, while maintaining good alignment of the spine.

Having good mobility, to us, is often exemplified in how easy one can get up and down off the ground.  Of course, being able to have “enough” mobility to perform strength training with good technique or participate in your given sport or hobby is another great barometer of whether you’re mobile “enough.”

Strength can be intimidating for someone who’s never lifted weights.  I’m here to tell you, though, that there are a whole host of benefits from strength training that you don’t want to miss out on.

For starters, strength training helps us fight off sarcopena (muscle loss) that begins as early as 27!  Secondly, consistently lifting weights creates stronger bones, warding of osteoporosis. Finally, Strength training helps keep and strengthen neural connections, making us more coordinated, for longer.

And if that wasn’t enough, lifting weights is the cornerstone of any program seeking to build a better looking body.

I’m sold.

To define strength training, we’ll say that it is any resistance training aimed at increasing the strength and amount of skeletal muscle.

And finally, there’s Endurance.  Again, this can go by many different names, conditioning, cardio, aerobic work, anaerobic, etc.  All we’re trying to do here is give you a bigger gas tank to motor through life without fatigue.  Doing so will drastically improve your cardiovascular health, reduce stress levels, and create new and stronger mitochondria.  I’ll admit, when I learned what I a mitochondria was in 6th grade, I never thought I’d relearn it in my twenties and then talk about it on the internet in my 30s…but here we are.

To define Endurance work for us, we’re just going to say that it is exercise designed to help you do more physical work with less fatigue.

Here’s a quick summary:

Mobility helping you move better and without restrictions

Strength training is aimed at making your stronger and growing lean muscle mass

Endurance training is meant to help you keep on truckin’

We'll dig into the specifics of each property in our next installments.

Experity's General Program Overview

Let’s kick this off with the major training priorities at Experity:

Priority #1: Health:  This probably seems obvious, but it is important to state.  Pretty much any physical activity can be healthy; and taken to a competitive level, be unhealthy.  We are not here to train world-class power lifters or marathoners that rival the Kenyans.  That being said, you’re still going to lift some respectable weights and complete a 5K, 10K, or marathon if you so choose.

Building fitness in a healthy way will give anyone the ability to participate in any sort of physical hobby that you like, build impressive levels of strength and endurance, and have a lean, athletic looking body.

Priority #2:  All Around Fitness:  So now that we’ve established Health as our number one priority, we’re moving on to fitness. 

Isn’t that the same thing?

Well, not exactly.  A person can be pretty healthy in terms of weight, blood panels, and organ function but still be weak as a kitten and not able to run a mile.

While health is the base that allows us to keep on ticking, building Strength and Endurance on top of that healthy base is what will allow us to live with gusto- no physical limitations.

To us, All-Around Fitness entails a balance between Mobility, Strength and Endurance.  Be spry enough to get up and down of the ground easily, strong enough to help your buddy move, and have enough gas in the tank run a 5K with your friends (and, ideally, beat them ;-)  How much Mobility, Strength, or Endurance is “enough” is up to the individual. 

Priority #3: Body Composition:  This means simply “looking better.”  By burning off fat and building some muscle, you’ll look more athletic.

Humans are a social species- it’s within our nature to want to put our best foot forward in terms of appearances.  This doesn’t mean 6 Pack Abs for everyone, but it does mean that our training is aimed at making you become leaner and more athletic looking.

Why is this 3rd in the priority list?  Well, because I don’t think 6 pack abs should come at the cost of health. 

More importantly, though, as an individual becomes healthy and begins building some decent levels of all around fitness…their body fat levels tend to naturally drop.

And these my friends, are the Broad Goals of our program at Experity.  We’ll get a little more into HOW we address these goals in our next installment: The Building Blocks of the Experity Pyramid.

Experity's Secret Recipe

One of our main goals at Experity is to educate our clients (and the general public) about how to exercise effectively.

We are not here to keep you guessing, or even to keep you dependent on us as Coaches.  We certainly have no intention of keeping our secret recipe locked up, or holding out on the “real” info.

On the contrary, we’ve found that the better you understand our “recipe,” the better results you’ll get.  You’ll be able to take ownership of your health and benefit more from our coaching.  You’ll be able to ask the right questions,  better understanding why you’re doing what you’re doing.

With that said, I thought it’d be a good idea to do a blog series on the What’s, Why’s and How’s our of program at Experity.  As you’ll find, it’s not overly complicated, yet it can provide an astounding level of all around fitness.

In the series that follows, I’ll lay out exactly what we do at Experity, why we do it, and how we tie it all together.  If you read the whole series and still don’t have 100% clarity, that's ok.  Use this series as a jumping off point, and feel free to ask questions.  We want to help you understand, because a client who understands the process is going to get remarkable results.

I figure there is no better place to start than by giving a General Overview- who is this for, what we are trying to accomplish, and how do we go about doing so.

Going 0-60: Nutrition Edition

As we touched on in our last post: We as humans have a tendency to go all in when it comes to our health- especially around the start of the new year.

Once we get past the holidays...it's on: hitting the gym 5x per week, and as we'll discuss here: hitting that clean eating/cleanse/insert-fad-diet-here.

And as mentioned in our post about exercise: going all in is a bad idea.

Going all in on diet tends to manifest itself as eliminating certain foods or food groups entirely- whether it's gluten, sugar, dairy or whatever other demons are out there.

I feel that ultimately, this is setting yourself up for failure.  Why?  Glad you asked:

For starters, no one food or food group has the power to make your more or less healthy.  

For example, what would you think of a gluten free diet that consisted of 100% ice cream?  There's no gluten in it, so it's healthy, right?  

Or a sugar free diet that consisted entirely of cheese and whiskey?  While this is a dream come true for me, I can't tell you that this would be in your best interest.

The point I'm trying to make is that getting caught up in minutiae is really not as important as the overall context of a diet.  This leads to point number two:

Changing our entire diet all at once is a daunting task.  To completely overhaul the way we shop, cook, and eat all at the flip of a switch takes an incredible amount of will power and mental energy.  And let's not forget we need some of that mental energy for our jobs, for our loved ones, for hobbies...you get the point.

We feel it's best to make one change at a time.  What habit can we change that will have the greatest impact on your health and weight loss efforts?  Let's tackle that first.  Once that becomes a habit (no longer requiring will power or mental energy), we direct our efforts to the next most impactful change, and work our way down the list, from most to least impactful.

In fact this is exactly how we approach the nutrition side of our 6 Week Kickstart.  We start by getting a look at what your current habits are, decide which change can have the most impact- and then direct all of our energy into making that change.

When it comes to improving our health, to losing weight, to getting stronger, or getting the body of our dreams, well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news but there are no shortcuts.  Consistency is King.  

The good news is, however, that making gradual changes to our habits and lifetstyles not only equates to better long term success- but success shows up quicker than we'd expect because our efforts are focused

Why Going O-60 is a Bad Idea

We all know the drill...it starts on Monday:

Hitting the gym 5 Days per week- 3 days of lifting weights, 2 days of yoga, and 30 minutes of cardio at each session.  And this isn't even considering the new diet you're going to start, which will require added hours of shopping and meal prep (We'll touch on the nutrition side in this post).

We're going all in, despite the fact that we have possibly never exercised, or are coming back from a long layoff.

I'm going to shoot you straight here: this is a bad idea.  In fact, most people will be doomed for failure when they go all in like this.

Why? A couple of reasons.

For starters, you're committing to an almost daily change in your lifestyle.  If you've been too busy to workout before (a common reason not to hit the gym), it is unlikely that you're magically going to find an extra 5-10 hours per week to hit the gym.

Secondly, there is no buffer room.  If you're a real grown up, with real responsibilities, something will come up.  A kid will get sick, a meeting will come up at work, you get the idea.  And when this happens?  There is no way to shift your schedule around to get that missed workout in because the schedule is packed too tight!  Which leads to the last point:

Any failure to stick to the rigorous schedule will make you feel like a failure.  We don't want to set high expectations and then beat ourselves up when we don't meet them. Rather, it's best to start small and build a track record of success.  Once you are in the habit of hitting the gym 2 time per week for 3-4 weeks, add in a third day.

The key is to build gradually, stretch just past our comfort zones until we slightly expand them, and then push again.  

Make your workout schedule a small challenge, not a giant stressor in your life.  Lord knows, we've all got enough stress in our lives.

 

It's the Effort, Not the End

Too often, our current world views getting in shape as a luxury- something to do if you have the luxury of time and money to do so.

Or worse yet- it’s viewed as vain.  We shouldn't care so much about our appearances; after all, that’s shallow (or so the story goes).

Even when people know that a little physical activity can improve their health- it is still a low priority for many Americans.

Perhaps we can see it through a different lens though- another chance to strive toward being better, another of life’s forges that will challenge us, build our discipline, and bring about a better version of ourselves.

The end goal of “being in shape” isn’t what makes us better people- it’s the pursuit, the overcoming of obstacles, and the lessons learned from failure that makes the whole endeavor worthwhile.

 

Compound Interest

One of the most overlooked concepts in building a strong, healthy body is the concept of compound interest.

Many of us look for the secret:  the secret diet, the secret real estate get rich quick plan, the secret workout.  The element that we’ve been missing, and once we find it…we’ll finally have what we want.   We’ll finally be healthy, fit, wealthy, successful or whatever it is that has eluded us all these years.

There is no secret though.  We are simply a math equation: the sum of our daily habits dictates our current state.

Just like compound interest, our habits have a snowball effect.  The length and amount you deposit have an exponential effect on your well-being.

And the reverse is true- the higher the deficit we run, the longer and harder it is to climb out of debt.

There are obviously times in life when we are able to deposit more- our schedules clear up for extra workouts, we can put more effort into home cooked meals, etc.

In these times, it’s important to deposit as much as we can- just like we would a financial windfall.

On the other end of the spectrum- there are going to be lean times: kids schedules take over, a deadline at work comes up, or we go on vacation.  It’s equally important to maintain a minimum deposit amount in these times.  We can’t scrap our plan and put it all on the credit card just because the stars aren’t perfectly aligned.

Wherever we’re at right now- rich, poor, morbidly obese, strong & healthy: we got here gradually, day by day, habit by habit, choice by choice.

Maintenance Mode

Man maintains his balance, poise, and sense of security only as he is moving forward. –Maxwell Maltz

 It’s true, isn’t it?  Life is good when me are making progress toward a goal, moving forward in our career, getting stronger, or learning a new hobby.

The problem is, however, that we are rarely, if ever, moving forward at full steam in all areas of our life.

We may put aside hobbies as we try to finish our advanced degree.  Our workouts may go to the back-burner as we burn the candle at both ends building a career.  We may put aside that career to begin raising a family. 

The point is- we have priorities.  And at different times in our lives, our priorities will necessarily shift.

If something gets shifted to the top of our priorities, everything else is shifted down by default.

And that’s OK.

It’s too easy to feel guilty about downshifting on a path that you were formerly charging ahead on.

By taking some time to get clear on your priorities, however, it is much easier to make peace with the fact that certain aspects of your life will be on maintenance mode.

Everything in life is seasonal.  When the season comes to shift gears, if you’ve put yourself on a maintenance plan, you’ll be able to pick up where you left off and once again charge ahead.

The point is this: just because life isn’t allowing you to hit 5 workouts per week, or read a book per week, doesn’t mean that you give up working out or reading altogether.  Hitting 1-2 workouts per week, and 20 minutes of reading per day, will be more than enough to maintain a pace that allows you to keep progressing while focusing on whatever other area of your life is requiring your attention at this moment.

What Moves The Needle?

One of the most difficult, yet the most important, decisions we make on a recurring basis is how to spend our time.

The possibilities seem endless.

When we sit down at our desk, we can check emails, return phone calls, or check in with our colleagues.

When we get to the gym, we can stretch, hit the treadmill, swim, or head over to the weights.

Any of these tasks can be either highly productive or a complete waste of time.

What differentiates whether time and effort is well spent or wasted is simply this: does it move the needle?  Does spending your time in this manner move you closer to the end that you hope to achieve?

One of the best uses of our time is to constantly evaluate our goals and the strategies that we’re going to employ to achieve them.

When there is a clear picture of the desired end, and a well-planned strategy to get us there, it is easy to let time wasting, menial tasks fall to the wayside and focus on what moves the needle.

Engaging The Process

One of our core beliefs is that Consistency is the number one key to success.
 
As discussed last week, you have to show up, consistently, over a long period of time to achieve anything worthwhile.
 
And while Consistency is powerful, and will help us build momentum in our lives, it becomes exponentially more powerful when coupled with Personal Responsibility.
 
Personal Responsibility is another way of saying that we must engage the process; take ownership of our own paths.
 
The most successful students, in any aspect of life, are those that ask questions.
 
Mentors, Teachers, Coaches- can only show us a path.  A student who demonstrates Personal Responsibility takes it upon himself or herself to gain clarity.  These students aim to understand where the path is going, to understand how each step of the journey can take them closer to their goals.
 
When we “show up” both physically and mentally is when we are truly engaged in the process, when we're at our best- and when we’ll gain the most traction.

Success is Showing Up

​A lot of people have great ideas.  Ideas that could lead to a wildly successful business, ideas that could improve their lives or the lives of those around them, or perhaps even ideas that could change the world.
 
The reason that these circumstances are the exception, and not the rule, is because an idea in itself means very little.  For an idea or a thought to do anyone any good, it has to be brought into reality through hard work and sheer will.
 
In other words, Success is about showing up.  Not once or twice, but showing up consistently over a long period of time.
 
Lots of people show up to the gym in January.  Many stop showing up in February.

Many of us start working out because we feel compelled to become the best possible version of ourselves.  We have an idea in our head of what we can become, who we would be if we were living closer to our potential.
 
Imagine where those that continue to show up, consistently, for the remainder of the year will be next February.  We’ll be a lot closer to that idea, that image in our head of who we want to become.  It doesn’t matter if every workout is perfect, if we run into some bumps in the road.  If we continue to show up, we’ll see success.