It's Important to Feel Stupid

Sometimes when envisioning what we want, or where we want to go, or who we aspire to be, we wonder how we’re going to get there.
 
The gap between where we are and where we want to be can seem impossible to close.
 
When broken down though, the easiest way to bridge this gap is to just get a little better each day, make some sort of forward movement.
 
The problem with getting better, though, is that it’s uncomfortable. 
 
If we are learning something new, we are, by definition, out of the realm of what we already know. 
 
This feeling of discomfort, of being the “newb” is what holds a lot of us back from inching forward, becoming just a little  better each day.
 
So, feeling stupid is important.  It means you’ve pushed beyond the bubble of what you already know and are learning something new, making yourself just a little better than you were yesterday.

The 5 Person Average

​Jim Rohn, a famous businessman and motivational speaker, has said that we become the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with.
 
If you subscribe to this theory, which I do, it begs the question:  In which direction am I bringing the average?  Am I lifting those around me up, or am I dragging them down?
 
I believe that it is our duty as humans to strive to bring the average up.  This can seem daunting, as there are plenty of smarter, better looking, funnier, more athletic and more successful people out there.  Just grab any magazine that has ever been published- the proof is there.
 
Don’t let that distract you, though, because each of us as individuals has some sort of unique strength that can bring the average up in our immediate circles. 
 
There are a couple of reasons that we’re not always exuding these strengths:

  1. We don't know we have them.  We’ve never taken time to do an honest inventory of what we bring to the table.
  2. We don’t want to share them.  Either we don’t believe that what we bring to the table is important, or we think that no one wants what we have to offer.
  3. Our strengths are outshined by negativity.  You could be the best at whatever it is you do, but if you are constantly complaining, condescending, or exuding other qualities of unbearable human beings, no one is going to want to be around you long enough for your strengths to bring them up.

The world we live in is not a static place- it is always changing and evolving.  Likewise, your influence on those around you cannot be neutral, you are either bringing others up or dragging them down.
 
Let’s all strive to have a positive impact on those around us.

Mindset and Change

It’s resolution time.  The time where many people are looking to make changes to their lives, and specifically, their bodies.
 
As most us know, many of resolutioners will ultimately fall short of their goal, becoming discouraged and quitting their newfound routine.
 
Why is that?
 
There are many factors, but the most important, in my opinion, is mindset.
 
If the desired change is built on a negative emotional script, sticking to the process required becomes much more difficult.  This might sound something like “I dislike ‘this’ about my body, therefore I HAVE to exercise to change ‘this’ about myself.”
 
In my personal experience, people are far more likely to stick to a process long term when they come from a place of self-love- “Man, life is a precious gift, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to waste it.  I’m going to do everything in my power to be the best possible version of myself.”
 
The mindset that we go into an endeavor with is imperative to our success.
 

The Execution Won't Be Perfect

Here we are, into the first week of the New Year!
 
After some careful reflection over the holidays, I gained some clarity on what was most important to me, what I wanted to achieve in the coming calendar year.
 
And I know that, first and foremost, in order to achieve anything, I’m going to have to focus on the process that gets me there.
 
I need to have a plan. 
 
More importantly, I need to execute that plan.
 
And most importantly, I need to accept that the execution will not be perfect.  The plan will not go off without a hitch.
 
I can, however, adapt to the obstacles that get thrown my way.  I can stay the course where I can, take detours when I need to, but I know that I need to be moving forward.
 
Wrenches thrown into our plans can be extremely disheartening.  When it becomes clear that it is impossible to execute the plan perfectly, it’s too easy to be paralyzed by this fear of imperfection.
 
This state of paralysis, or lack of action, is the true barrier to achievement.
 
The plan doesn’t have to be perfect.  The execution will not be perfect.  As long as there is action taken on the plan, though, we can rest assured that we are moving toward whatever end we hope to attain.

Total Health Challenge FAQ

We’ve been getting a lot of great feedback about our upcoming Total Health Challenge (Jan 18-Feb 18).  We’ve also been getting a few questions- so I thought I’d go through a real quick FAQ.  For more information (and to sign up) check out BurrRidgeChallenge.com.  Here are the answers to some common questions:
 
What is the goal of the challenge?
 
The goal is to build healthy habits both in and out of the gym, and to experience the benefits that these habits can have when we consistently execute them for a month.  Check out the “How It Works” tab at BurrRidgeChallenge.com for more details.
 
Can I do the challenge if I’m not currently a member?
 
You bet!  The entry fee includes a month of unlimited training at our facility.  You’ll have access to both our Custom Coaching Semi-Private Sessions and our Group Programs.
 
I’m already a member, should I do the challenge? 
 
Yes, you should!  This challenge is a chance to hold us accountable to each other through some friendly competition within our community.  You’ve already made working out a habit, and by bringing nutrition and lifestyle habits to the forefront, you’ll be able to build even better results on the base that you already have.
 
When can I come in to workout?
 
We’ve got ample opportunity to workout.  Joining the challenge will give you access to both our Custom Coaching and Group training programs, so you can come any time listed on the attached schedule.
 
What is Custom Coaching?  How is it different than group training?

Custom Coaching is a form of semi-private training, meaning that a small group of students workout while supervised by a coach. 

The main difference between Custom Coaching and Group training is that each person in a Custom Coaching session is doing a workout designed specifically for their individual needs. This style of training allows each person to use the appropriate exercises and skill levels to make the best use of their time.
 
In Group Training, everyone performs the prescribed workout together under the supervision of the coach. The main benefit of this type of training is that you have the camaraderie and energy that working out with someone else provides.

Try them both during the course of the challenge and see what you prefer!

Do you guys only use kettlebells?
 
Nope- we have lots of fun toys! We use kettlebells, bodyweight exercises, sleds, ropes, TRX and a few other tools as well.  While “Kettlebell” is in our name- we simply view kettlebells as tool that helps us get in shape.  In some situations, kettlebells are the most effective tool for the job; in some situations, they’re not.  How much you’ll use kettlebells, or if you’ll use them at all, will depend on what’s best for you, as well as your personal preference.
 
What about cardio?  Do you guys do that?
 
We do!  While we don’t have ellipticals or treadmills, we do plenty of cardio using kettlebells, sleds, ropes, etc. 
 
Will I have to do anything outside of the gym?
 
We’ll recommend easy stuff, like some of the stretches we show you, or perhaps going on a walk, but you won’t have to “workout” on top of the 3 days a week that you come into the gym.  Each of the three workouts you do will include: stretching/mobility, strength, and conditioning (cardio).  If you like to workout more than 3 days per week, go for it.  Talk to one of the coaches at the gym to see what would best supplement the work you’ll being doing at Burr Ridge Kettlebell Club.

Don't Forget to Celebrate

​The week before Christmas is a time where a lot of us are winding the year down, tying up loose ends at work, and making final preparations for Holiday celebrations with our families.
 
Many of us will begin to look forward to the New Year, making resolutions, setting goals, planning.
 
Sometimes, with the excitement of the Holidays and the New Year sweeping in so quickly, we forget to reflect.
 
Before you start thinking of what you want to accomplish in the next year, have a look back and take a moment to celebrate what you accomplished in the last year.
 
Did you workout 3x/week this year?  That’s 156 sessions!  If that is compared to 0 last year- you’ve built a solid foundation for yourself!
 
Did you walk 20 minutes a day this year?  That’s 365 miles!
 
The day-to-day stuff seems small, but when looked at in the framework of a year, it adds up.
 
Survey what you’ve accomplished and think about how you can build on that foundation in the year going forward.

The Work Is Never Done

For the majority of my life, I’ve operated under the assumption that I’m working toward a finite goal.  That once I do all of the work in front of me, I’ll be able to relax.  I’ll be over the hump.  I’ll be caught up.
 
If I complete all of the projects I want to on my business, then I can just sit back and take it easy.
 
Once I achieve a certain level of strength in the gym, or a certain waist size, or a certain number on the scale, I’ll be satisfied.
 
Once I have X amount of dollars in the bank, stress will be a distant memory.
 
 But until then…work. 
 
The problem with viewing life through this lens is that it implies that my current state is lacking.  If everything is going to be grand once the plan is complete, then being incomplete must suck.
 
This view paints the present as a less than ideal time that must be tolerated to get to the life that I really want.
 
It wasn’t until recently that I realized that I’ll never be complete.  None of us will.  The work will never be done; we’ll never be caught up.
 
Once we embrace this fact, though, we are then able to truly enjoy where we are at in life, right now.

Striving for completion is a trap, keeping us stuck looking forward to a time that will never come.
 
Striving to improve, to be just a hair better, smarter, more compassionate or stronger than we were yesterday, will keep us engaged, both enjoying what we already have and optimistic about what is to come.

The Grass is Always Greener

“The grass is greener where you water it.”
 
I think it is a pretty normal part of the human condition to want more, to look at what others have, where they are at, and think “that must be nice.”
 
It’s easy to get so caught up in jumping to conclusions about the lives of other people that we end up “watering” that side of the fence.  This causes, in our heads anyway, the grass to be greener on the other side.
 
But do others really have it better than us?  Better lives?  Better families?  Better jobs?  Better existence?
 
We’ll never know.  There is no way to experience someone else’s life.
 
Focusing on the yards of others is a sure fire way let your own yard wither and die.  Besides, we can’t control what other people do with their own property, all we have control over is how diligently we care for our own yards.
 
Take care of your yard: your health, your family, your thoughts, your actions.
 
Don’t worry about the grass on the other side.  It’s out of your control, and putting your thoughts there will only leave your side of the fence brown and dead.

Gratitude and Paying it Forward

Gratitude is a funny thing.
 
There are countless people in my life who have helped me, both directly and indirectly, in ways that I’ll never be able to repay.
 
I’m probably not alone in wanting to reciprocate the generosity of others.  It is hard to just accept help, a gift, or a favor, without immediately feeling indebted to that person.
 
The reality is, though, that no one is keeping score.  People don’t do favors for us because they want a favor back. 
 
People help other people because that is how we’re wired; it’s how our ancestors survived.
 
When it comes to feeling gratitude for what others have done for us, there is no paying it back- the only way to even the score is to pay it forward.
 
Help out the next person the way the last person helped you.  The more we help those around us, the greater the impact we have on our families and communities.
 
The catch is, though, that in order to help those around us, we must first be capable ourselves.  I can’t buy someone dinner if I’m broke.
 
In order to best serve those around us, we need to be our best selves- physically strong, mentally stable, emotionally sound, and financially fit.
 
When we allow our bodies to deteriorate, or allow bitterness and cynicism to enter our hearts, we’re not just dragging ourselves down.  We’re letting down those around us who need our help.
 
So, if you are grateful for those that have helped you- look to pay it forward, to serve others.  And in order to serve, make sure that you’re the best possible version of yourself.
 
 
 
 

Think Global, Act Local

​Think Global, Act Local
 
I’m not sure the origin of this phrase, but I really like the sentiment behind it.
 
Global, or Big Picture, thinking is important- it should guide many of our actions.  The problem is, though, that Global thinking can be overwhelming, paralyzing us, and at times preventing us from taking action in the first place.
 
That’s why I love this phrase; it points out that thinking about a problem means nothing if it’s not followed by action.
 
Global poverty?  How can I possibly make a difference for kids in Africa?
 
Wondering how to solve the problem of global poverty will eventually leave us feeling indifferent to the problem, and we’ll stop even trying to help.
 
However, looking at poverty on a local scale will help us understand the actual day-to-day challenges faced by our fellow man.  We will have a better idea of how we can help, what action we can take right now, for people in our own community.
 
Action is what will make an impact, in all cases.  Thinking lines up the nail, action drives the hammer.
 
Some problems seem insurmountable, some goals too lofty.  Use the goal, the desired outcome, to guide you.  But rather than focus on the destination- just look at the next step.  What is the step right in front of you, right now, that you can take?
 
It’s amazing how all of these small steps, these “local acts” can add up to Global Change. 

Pride In The Way of Progress

​A couple of weeks ago, we did a short video about choosing the optimal weight to train with if (if you missed it, you can see it here).
 
Today I want to talk about those that err on the side of going too heavy.  And as I point my finger at you, I fully understand that there are 3 pointing back at me.
 
Those of us in this boat want to conduct our every day training based off of what we CAN do, i.e. I can press a 32K bell, so that’s what I SHOULD do every day in training.
 
And that brings us to the all encompassing: Just because you CAN, doesn’t mean you SHOULD.
 
When I’m referring to what we CAN do, I’m talking about a maximal effort.  In order to find out what we can do, we need to test our strength.  But testing everyday or every week is not the best way to make progress.  In fact, you’ll often go backward from burnout, injure yourself, or just get frustrated that this massive amount of effort yielded little results. 
 
Day in day out we should be building, not testing, our strength, which is be best done at about 70% effort and with the proper technique.
 
In other words, if you test your strength and find out that you CAN press a 32K bell for one rep, you will build your strength most days with with the 20K and 24K bell. 
 
This is obviously a very simplistic example that doesn’t have much context, but the point is this:  MOST days you’ll be practicing your lifts with a weigh that is lighter than you think.
 
When we use the appropriate weight, we are stimulating our bodies just enough to adapt and come back stronger. 
 
When we go to heavy, we put ourselves into a fight or flight mode, which directs most our resources toward surviving the lift, not adapting from it.
 
We’ve already got enough stress in our lives.  Let’s not add on the stress of forcing our bodies to “survive” our workouts.

Do Your Future Self a Favor

​Doing dishes is my most despised chore. 
 
It takes a good amount of time to clean up after a meal; rinsing plates, loading and unloading the dishwasher, and scrubbing pots and pans.
 
I’ll admit that sometimes, I get lazy.  Perhaps instead of washing a pan right after I’m done using it for lunch, I leave it in the sink. 
 
After all, washing that pan doesn’t have to be done right now.
 
And when I get home from work, and I’m starving and want to get started on dinner right away…I want to kick my past self right in the junk.
 
Instead of being able to get my dinner started, I now have an additional step- scrubbing the pan.
 
On the flipside, I can spend an extra 10 or so minutes after lunch cleaning up.  Empty the dishwasher, scrub pots and pans, spray down the counter tops, and just make the kitchen an all around presentable place.
 
When I get home from work, the kitchen is already clean- I can put on some music, pour a drink and relax.  Because this experience was so rewarding, I’m going to clean up after dinner as well, so that I can come down stairs in the morning and have a clean kitchen to enjoy my coffee in.
 
I don’t HAVE to clean the kitchen after a meal; it’s not urgent.  It’s important, yes.  But it can be done later.
 
If I do choose to clean up right after a meal, though, I’m rewarded with the greatest gift all- less stress later on!
 
Waiting to take care of an important aspect of our lives until it’s urgent is one of the greatest stressors in life.
 
Working in the realm of what Stephen Covey calls “Important, not Urgent” is one of the best I ways I know of to create more breathing room, more peace, in life.

What Should a Workout Feel Like?

​Often times I see two extremes in the gym:  people don’t want to push themselves enough, or people want to push themselves too hard.
 
When it comes to being most productive, the ideal state is somewhere in between.
 
What’s the worst-case scenario if we don’t push ourselves enough? 
 
Sub-optimal results, i.e. Wasted time.  Few things are more frustrating than putting in time and effort that don’t yield the results we were hoping for.
 
What’s the worst-case scenario if we push too hard? 
 
Burn out and injury i.e. sub-optimal results.  Again, putting in massive effort only to not see long-term progress (because you can’t be consistent if you’re injured) is not what we signed up for.
 
So what should the ideal state feel like? 
 
If you think in terms of school or work, you can make easy comparisons. 
 
There are times when you need to push hard- an accountant around tax season, a student during finals, a sales rep in their final week to meet quota.
 
There are times to take it easy; times in fact when we don’t have the mental energy to push through anymore.  This usually comes directly after one of the above examples.
 
But most of the time, a work day starts with a plan, and we go about executing the plan without massive pressure.  It’s not easy, it is work after all, but (hopefully) each day is not do or die at the office.
 
And as we all know, the more consistent we are at working our plan on our average days, the less we have to stress around those deadlines.  The student who does his reading and homework each week has far fewer all nighters during finals week.  The sales rep who prospects each week usually hits their quota before the quarter is over. 
 
So, in terms of working out and what should it feel like, just remember:
 
If it were easy, everyone would be doing it.  If it required a redline effort every session, no one would be doing it.

Inboxes and Treadmills

As a gym owner, I like being in the gym.  I like watching people train, tweaking their programs, helping them improve technique, and on the best of all days, watching them set new personal bests.
 
Yet, I know that there is more to it than just showing up in gym clothes, putting on some music, dishing out a few high fives, and calling it a day. 
 
I know that I have to spend time working on my business, so I block time for it.  On this day from this hour to that hour, I will do desk work.
 
So I sit down at my desk to work.  And I have no idea how I’m going to spend that time.
 
So I fall back on default tasks.
 
I should probably be using my computer, right?  So I fire that up. 
 
What next?  I dunno.  I suppose I should check my emails. 
 
BOOM!   Clean inbox. 
 
What next?  Maybe update my quickbooks.  Done! 
 
And next thing you know, the allotted time is up.  Good for me!  I spent a few hours doing desk work, just like a real adult!
 
And you know what?  By working this way, I never really make any real progress on my business.  The big projects that would make a difference- optimizing the website, writing marketing material, etc. never got done.
 
In the workout world, the above scenario might look like this:
 
I know that I should go to they gym for an hour, so I make the time (an excellent first step, by the way).  And when I walk in- what next?
 
I think I should probably do that sitting hamstring stretch?  I’ll hit that real quick.
 
Then what?  I don’t know how to lift weights, so I’ll skip that entirely and jump on a treadmill.
 
45 minutes later, I’m covered in sweat. Endorphins are being released, I’m feeling good.
 
Now what?
 
I’ll finish up with some crunches.  I get a good burn in the midsection, which is that “hurt so good” kind of feeling.
 
And now my hour is up.  I’ve worked out.  Check the box and move on.
 
Of course, the above scenario could be played out in a few different ways- maybe the default is bench press and curls, maybe the default is to do a bunch of Kettlebell swings until we’re smoked.

Either the way the outcome is the same.  We are doing some good, yes, but we don’t break plateaus.
 
Our business carries on, but is never really flooded with leads and our web traffic never really improves.
 
We lose a few pounds initially, but after six months (or sometimes 6 years!) of working out, our shoulders are still too tight to reach over our head, we can't hold a plank  and we can’t do a single pushup.
 
The problem is that we aren’t addressing what needs to be addressed. 
 
Take the time to step back, assess what is needed most, and create a plan that addresses this need.
 
Once you plan the work and work the plan, you’ll no longer have that feeling that you’re spinning your wheels. 
 
There are few things worse than wasting time and effort.  Putting some forethought into how you spend your time will ensure that your hard work will pay off.

Do You Even Crosstrain?

Not too long ago, someone asked me “Do you crosstrain?” 
 
I said I wasn’t sure what “Crosstraining” meant.  Although this person couldn’t clearly define it either, they gave me an example; “You know, doing a Spin Class Monday, Yoga on Tuesday, Kettlebells on Wednesday, Dumbbells on Thursday, etc.”
 
This answer highlighted a fundamental disconnect that is all too common in the world.
 
This person was focused on tasks without regard for a bigger picture strategy.
 
This person, as many people do, was defining training based on what tools were being used- kettlbells, a spin cycle, dumbbells, etc.
 
I tend to view training based on the desired outcome(s)- improved body composition, a stronger core, healthy joints, etc; the tools we use are just a means to an end to achieve a result.
 
We start with the desired outcome(s) in mind.  We know that to accomplish our main objectives, we need to do lots of mobility and restorative work (stronger core, healthier joints), as well as make people stronger and better conditioned (improved body composition). 
 
The tools we then use for a given task are selected based on how effective they are for the job at hand.
 
It’s easy to get lost in the day-to-day small picture.  As a business owner, this happens to me all of the time.  I get caught up on “tasks” that seemingly pop up out of nowhere and don’t fit in to my overall strategy.
 
Having a strategy, and revisiting it frequently, are the only way I can ensure that each step I take is going to move me closer to my desired outcome.

The Stories We Tell Ourselves

​Last week I talked about being mindful of the type of energy we bring to an interaction with other people.
 
Obviously, we’re social beings, so improving how we interact with others will improve our lives overall.
 
I think I may have skipped over the foundation, though, which is improving how we interact with ourselves.
 
You see, our internal dialogues, the conversations that we have with ourselves, far outnumber the conversations that we have with other people.  Our conscious and subconscious minds are constantly interacting, analyzing our experiences and determining how we will perceive them.  It is during these internal dialogues that the stage is set for how we perceive ourselves, the world around us, and where our place is in that world.
 
The good news is that you can choose what to consciously think, how to perceive- I’ve often heard this referred to as “the story we tell ourselves.”
 
The story that we tell ourselves then affects our reality.  If we constantly judge ourselves as failures, or lazy, or somehow “below” others, our subconscious mind will eventually learn to perceive life through that lens.
 
Getting stuck in this cycle of thinking is what leads to us perceiving a small mistake at work as confirmation that we’re terrible at our job, that we’re somehow not worthy.
 
On the flipside, we can perceive ourselves to be worthwhile individuals with our own unique set of gifts and experiences.  When our cycle of thinking is aligned in this manner, a small mistake at work is no big deal.  It’s simply a learning experience, a minor speed bump in a career otherwise filled with an improved skillset and continued growth.
 
We all have thousands, if not millions of stories that we tell ourselves each day, many of which are told in our subconscious- they’re an ingrained thought pattern.  We can only break these patterns by identifying them, and then changing the story next time we find ourselves thinking it.
 
Instead of telling ourselves “I’m overweight because I’m lazy and don’t know how to eat healthy” we can tell ourselves “My priorities were elsewhere for a while- raising kids, advancing my career, finishing school, etc.- Now I’m ready to learn how to cook healthy meals and prioritize working out.”
 
The first story will keep us in a holding pattern, resisting the change that we want to make. 
 
The second story empowers us to move forward with our life.

You Get What You Give

​Have you ever heard the phrase “You get out what you put in”?
 
I tend to agree with the statement.  Now, obviously, there is room for interpretation.
 
One interpretation is that when we enter into an interaction with another person; they will (mostly subconsciously) match our energy.  Not just our energy levels, but what type of energy we exude.
 
Have you ever known someone who is said to “Light up a room”?  That’s a great example of this energy-matching concept.  A room of people will subconsciously become positive and friendlier when they encounter someone who is exuding large amounts of those qualities.
 
Likewise, I’m sure we all know people who can bring a room down.  As soon as they enter into a conversation, their complaining, their regurgitation of gloom and doom news, and negativity can bring a generally positive group of people down a notch.
 
Both of these scenarios have huge implications for the lives of the people exuding the energy.
 
Someone who is mostly positive will have their positive energy matched in every single interaction throughout their day.  As they smile at people, people will smile back, making them feel more attractive.  As they make people feel at ease, they too will feel more comfortable, thereby reducing anxiety levels.  As they ask intelligent questions, those that they engage with will put more effort into helping them, thereby increasing their confidence.
 
On the flipside, when Eeyor interacts with someone, he expects the worst outcome of the situation, thereby making the person that he is interacting with uneasy.  This creates constant anxiety and tension in Eeyor’s life.  Eeyor doesn’t smile, so those that he makes eye contact with don’t smile back, sending the signal to Eeyor’s subconscious that other people think he is frumpy.  Eeyor keeps conversations curt and impersonal, thereby encouraging those he interacts with to keep conversations to the minimum amount of information necessary to be exchanged.  This makes Eeyor feel like no one wants to help him out.
 
I don’t think that anyone wants to go through life as the frumpy Eeyore.  I would venture to say that for those currently in this state that if they were to just be more mindful of what type of energy they brought to every interaction, they’d then begin a really positive upward spiral in their lives.
 
I know that this sounds like some Tony Robbins optimism, and that’s all a little hokey, right?
 
Perhaps.
 
The only way to find out is to experiment for yourself. 
 
Start out a conversation with a firm handshake, big smile, a compliment and maybe even a positive comment about the weather.  Take mental notes on how that conversation goes.
 
Then start your next conversation with a political commentary about how America is falling apart based on what you heard on cable news.  Follow it up with a complaint about “kids these days” and then maybe demean someone or something in current popular culture.  Let me know if that person calls you to meet for a beer anytime soon.

In the unfortunate case that you didn't watch Winnie The Pooh as a kid, the video below will help you understand the Eeyore reference:

Small Wins

Who doesn’t love a sense of accomplishment?

It’s the feeling that drives us throughout the day; the carrot that dangles before us, pulling us through the difficult tasks that we’d rather not be doing.

We get satisfaction from small wins, and from tackling big projects.

If completing a small step or task didn’t fuel us forward to the next small step or task, then we’d never complete the project.

Sometimes, goals can seem distant- perhaps too distant.  Projects can seem too big.

The biggest projects, and the most audacious goals, though, are the ones that come with the most satisfying sense of accomplishment. 

As we all know, monumental feats are completed one small milestone at a time.

My nephew, Henrik, just started walking.  He started where we all started- unable to even hold his own head up.  But like all babies, he spent his entire day working at it, one small milestone at a time.  First he learned to hold his head up.  Then he figured out how to roll himself over, how to sit up, and eventually hold himself up on all fours.  He crawled. He stood up while holding the wall.  He stood up on his own. And then, he walked.

Luckily, we live in a day and age where we can capture these moments on film.

So I was able to see not only Henrik’s first steps, but the look of Satisfaction on his face; the pure joy that came from achieving this milestone.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

We’ve all heard that actions speak louder than words.  If you really want to know what is important to someone, have a look at how they spend their time each day.  This will give you some insight about what their priorities are.

An interesting phenomenon to me is when people profess something to be a priority, yet their actions demonstrate otherwise.

The reason I find this interesting is that every human on the planet is guilty of this on some level (I know I am).  

I’m sure we can all think of a time that we’ve uttered the phrase “I know that I really should ___________, but…” 

Whether we are filling in that blank with volunteering, going to church, spending more time with family, or calling Grandma, it doesn’t matter.  What we’re saying with this statement is “This is important to me, but I’m going to make an excuse not to do it.”

So why is their a disconnect between our Priorities and our Actions?  And more importantly, how do we bridge that gap?

The answer to both of these questions, I believe, is to simply put in some thought.  Take some time away from distractions, and just think about the 3 things that are most important in your life at this time.

After all, our priorities change over time.  Once you have clarity on what exactly your priorities are,  you can then begin so structure your life so that your daily and weekly actions align with what you profess to be most important to you.

In an Ideal World...

I like to think of myself as an Idealist, or A person who cherishes or pursues high or noble principles, purposes, goals, etc.

Pretty cool, right?  I think so.  Except when it’s not so cool.

Huh?

An alternate definition for Idealist is this:

A visionary or impractical person.

Or this:

A person who represents things as they might or should be rather than as they are.

So you see, there are two sides of the coin:

Pursuing high Ideals is important. 

By striving toward high ideals, we can incrementally improve our lives, the lives of those around us, and hopefully the world.

However, we can’t get so caught up in ideals that we ignore the realities of the world we live in.

 Here’s a quick example:

I’ve never been too hot on counting calories and macronutrients.  It doesn't seem intuitive to me, and really, I just don’t want to fuss that much over my food.

In an ideal world I’d be growing my own produce, and have local sources of dairy, meat and eggs from farmers who treat their animals humanely and their lands sustainably.

In this ideal world, I’d have little stress, sleep 9 hours per night, and have lots of physical activity built into my daily living.

With such an ideal setup, there would be no need to count calories- I’d be burning quite a few in my day to day life, and fueling up with healthy food sources.  I'd never have to worry about heart disease, diabetes, or any other diseases of affluence, because of my diet.

However, I don’t live in that world.  In fact, few of us do.  Because we live in a land where an abundance of calories is easily attained, and a lack of physical activity is the norm, it might make sense to track our food intake.

I started doing so about 2 weeks ago, and so far, I’ve really enjoyed it.

I've  simply been calculating the amount of calories I need to consume in a day, and then subdivided that into how many grams each of Protein, Carb, and Fat I wanted to consume.  I've been using a ratio of roughly 30% Protein, 30% Fat, and 40% Carbohydrate.

Then I take those numbers and divide them up into three meals, which allows me to create a meal plan for the week.

Here are a few reasons that this has been awesome:

1)   I’ve physically felt better- better sleep, better recovery from exercise, more energy, etc.

2)   I have to make fewer decisions in regards to food: Grocery shopping is easier and more efficient, less food is wasted at home, and I know exactly what I’m going to eat for each meal of the day.  By using less mental energy and will power on food decisions, I have freed my brain to redirect it’s resources to more important avenues.

3)   There is a sense of accomplishment from creating a plan and sticking to it.  This may seem trivial, but don’t underestimate it.  A series of “small wins” throughout your day and week can add up to give you huge momentum, creating an upward spiral.  This is exactly the opposite of the snowball effect, where a series of seemingly annoying setbacks accumulate to make you feel you like you can’t do anything right.

4)   I dropped about 2.5 inches from my waist in 2 two weeks.  Not bad.

Long story longer- In an ideal world, I’d grow my own produce, have happy, healthy chickens and dairy cows, and hunt/fish for my own meat.  I’d live on a peaceful farm that has a minimal environmental impact and lots of nature surrounding it.

While I don’t live in that world now, I can make small steps towards that ideal.

In the meantime, I will benefit greatly by recognizing the realities of the world that I live in.