Moments and Habits
I’ve realized that where I am today in terms of my weight evolution, is a result of incremental steps. It’s the culmination of decisions made in single moments which have lasting impact on the overall habits with which lead my life. I obviously had a huge jump start by putting myself in a place that help create the right mindset, while I learned some great techniques on how to eat, what I learned from my experiences at Fitness Ridge were more about discovering myself.
The three major “Ah-ha” moments in California were the following, first I could do considerably more work with my body consuming far less, second I can always push harder my mind quits way before my body, and finally I have to give myself a break both mentally and physically. I think these are conclusions that I would have eventually reached on my own but I know they wouldn’t have occurred in the same time frame without the constant abuse of my body and persistent pushing of a tough schedule.
I am a firm believer that hard work changes our brain chemistry. The human body is adaptable in an unimaginable number of ways, so I think those moments of strife help create the foundations with which we condition our minds to accept what is happening. I’m sure there is a more scientific explanation of this, but I know the human condition is driven to survive which causes our minds to subconsciously create barriers to protect itself from pain or injury, yet each time we reach a new level of conditioning we are breaking through that subconscious barrier to pain. As we learn to accept the newly found level of effort, I think our mind understands that the body isn’t in danger and that the work we are doing is actually benefiting the bodies well being.
This moment of physical epiphany happens so quickly that we have to intuitively decide do I keep working to get better, or do I stop now because risk of injury.
This intuitive moment manifests itself when it comes to eating too. When we get hungry, we know what the good decision is, it’s simple it’s the foods that we know we should eat like an apple or orange, but because these foods don’t satisfy the emotional need and possibly we are high on the “whiteman’s crack” refined sugars, we choose to eat something which is detrimental to our long term health. In that single moment we have sealed our long term fate, because the next time we are faced with the same decision it becomes that much easier to make the same bad decision. What makes it worse is that because we know the choice of crack is the wrong one, we beat ourselves up, questioning “why?”, or getting upset that we keep making the same mistake. Keep beating yourself up, because it’s the poison you need to keep making the same wrong choice. Those feelings of anger should drive you to make the right choice, but if you dwell in it too long it is the anchor that will bring you down to the same endless cycle of shit.
Instead make that moment the reason you choose the right food items the next time you are encountered with the same problem. In that next opportunity to have a moment of choice if we choose the food which we know is right, just one time, we have won. We are on the path to evolving our diet. It just takes that one time, because the next time we reach the same crossroads it will be easier to choose the familiar path. As the road becomes more innate with each moment of positive choice we build the momentum we need to create a habit.
It has taken us years of making the wrong choices to get to a point of feeling like shit, and being overweight. It’s irrational to think that it will all change overnight, while most of my recent weight loss was a result of a jump start, I would not have attacked my time at Biggest Loser Malibu with such fervor if I hadn’t had years of frustrated difficulty. I was working out 90 minutes to 2 hours a day before I went to California, but wasn’t losing a pound, because I was still making the wrong choices about what I eat.
The momentum building is the same in working out. Every time we go to the gym we have a personal victory. Every time we choose to go to the gym rather than skip it for some insignificant reason, we have again reached the river and decided to swim across it rather than walk 40 miles around it.
In the gym the focus has to be small incremental steps which create exponential change over time, let me push 10% more each time I go to the gym. If you take the number 10 and then multiple it by 10 everyday for 30 days that new number is the number 1 followed by 30 zeros. Think about how much you can develop in a 30 day period if you just give 10% more each time you go to the gym.
Is this an oversimplification? Yes it is, it’s supposed to be, that exponential growth works in both ways, you decide whether it will positive or negative.
How else do you explain a guy like me going from 200 lbs to 443 lbs in a matter of 16 months? I am today headed in the opposite direction in terms of weight, but utilizing the same principle. Every time I am faced with a tough choice I have to step back and think about the impact the bad choice will have over the long term. I don’t always win, but I am winning more often than I lose.
When you reach that fork in the road, and you know which path is the right one, just one time choose it. If you fuck up a couple of times don’t sweat it, look forward to that challenge, and eventually you will make the right choice. Which turns into a series of right choices, until eventually it is the only choice.
Once you have the momentum nothing will stop you, because it won’t be conscious anymore but a habit, your subconscious will take over, and you’ll wake up one day and realize that you are 3 shirt sizes smaller, and you that feel like the number 1 with 30 zeros behind it times better about yourself.
Make the right choice when you know what the right choice is, and if you still make the wrong choice don’t beat yourself up, look forward to the next time you are faced with the same challenge and then win.
Welcome to “that sucks” Tuesdays. In keeping with my new weekly Tuesday tradition, Ian arrived today to deliver a thorough ass whipping. I expected a Metcon workout today, but when he said that we would do body weight resistance I felt relieved, I should have been cringing in terror.
We started with a simple warm up of jumping jacks, and running in place, which transitioned right into assisted burpees. Using a Bosu as my platform I started with 10 burpees with a press upward of the Bosu, the second set of burpees I did added a flare at the bottom, so that I would have to spread my legs open and then close them in the braced position. The final progression of burpees involved adding a push up to the above movements. The video you see below is the superset of burpees and squats. It was a culmination of two separate progressive exercises, burpees and body weight squats.
From the burpees and squats Ian had me do what’s called a bear crawl, it’s like a crab walk, yet the focus is to keep the legs rigid enough that you use your hips to move your body as opposed to driving with your quads and hamstrings. When I got to the end of the aisle, I turned around and did standing broad jumps back down the direction I had come.
Of course being “that sucks” Tuesday Ian incorporated several sets/passes of lunges. First set holding the bosu straight above my head, second set holding the bosu above my head and then pumping up and down three times, then third pumping up and down and pumping the bosu directly in front of me while in the lunge, the final set of lunges involved all of the above with a burpee added in the middle for good measure, and just a few pumps of the leg in the lunged position.
Throughout the workout we had several sets of body weight squats, each one progressively building on the previous one, wear by the end the body weight squat transitioned right into a jump up in the air (not that I have much of a vertical). Towards the end we did have a short Metcon of sets of assisted pull ups, assisted back rows, superman, and squat and jumps.
In the final 12 minutes of the session we did core focused work. Ian’s core work defines all that is painful and agonizing misery. He told me to sit on the ground, and to take my shoes off. He then looked at me and said this is called “the gimp”. While seated I had to lift myself up slightly with my arms and shoulders then using my midsection I had to drag my lower body across the floor, the closest analogy I can make is that of someone who is a paraplegic trying to get back to his wheel chair, I guess names for exercises aren’t political correct.
Following this self-esteem building motion, I was told to sit back in a comfortable position, and then given a 5lb dumbbell. I held the dumbbell like with my hands on both ends and with my arms fully extended. Then Ian says to me nonchalantly follow my hand as if the dumbbell was attached to your torso. The next minute and half were shear hell that 5 lbs weight felt like 40 lbs on my abs and back.
A few more similarly excruciating motions were completed before the end of the session. I don’t remember when it started and barely remember when it ended. The workout was focused, intense, and difficult.
I don’t even recall when I started sweating but by the end of the session I was covered in sweat. It looked like I had been on an Arc Trainer for 2 hours. Today’s workout just further affirms my new found belief that intensity is the key to the workout. I read Bill Phillips book “Body for Life” when it first came out more than 10 years ago. In the book he talks about doing short intensive cardio session for optimal fat burning. I never understood what he meant, but today I have a general idea as to the concept.
I am looking forward to Crossfit tomorrow in fact I hope I have a Metcon workout, I know I’m just a glutton for pain.
My eating today was good. The eggs I cooked this morning were purchased from a local “farmer”, I can’t really call her a farmer because she only raises free range chickens, and her husband has built a small vineyard on the front side of their property. I love going to buy eggs there because every time I pull up I have to be careful not to run over any of the hens. The birds all look healthy, not that I have any idea what a healthy chicken is supposed to look like, yet I do know they aren’t freakishly large, or have any abnormalities brought about as a result of genetic alteration.
In the Omnivores Dilemma the author talks about the eggs from Polyface farms and the “muscle tone” of the egg yolk. These eggs yolks are quiet firmer than the eggs that you can purchase at whole foods, yet they don’t seem to have the structural integrity described in the book.
For the first week of eating these eggs I was eating just the whites, with an English muffin. I decided why eat the bread when I can eat the good part of the egg, so I have been using 3 eggs with yolks to create an omelet (the French Kind) most mornings for breakfast. The eggs just taste better, often times when you cook store bought eggs they are all texture and no taste.
These eggs taste like the eggs I remember having in Colorado after Outward Bound when I was 16. At the end of my 30 days in the Sangre de Christos Mountain our entire group ended up at a sustainable farm, where we slaughtered chickens. For breakfast the second day there we had eggs, I’m not sure if it was because for a month the only protein we ate was canned tuna, or it was a memory inducing morning because of the previous 30 days of amazing experiences that made that breakfast so unforgettable, yet I do recall truly enjoying eggs for the first time. Perhaps it was a combination of great eggs, and the right place and time.
It did get me thinking about food, and how so much of what eat today lacks flavors. I think this is why we over salt everything. The key to any good meal is good seasoning, but I do know that we are using levels of sodium which seem excessive; I think our foods have gotten so far from their origin, that instead of coxing flavor out of ingredients we have to artificially create some type of flavor to match the texture of what we eat.
The rest of dietary day was good, I had a steak salad from lunch (leftover from the previous night), and Chilean Sea Bass for dinner. Overall I give myself a B+ for the day, because I found myself eating too infrequently, when I skip a meal because of work it doesn’t take long to feel drained. It then requires additional time for my body to recover after the next point of food consumption, I am happy about not eating anything that wasn’t on the menu for the day but it’s another day of putting work before me. I have to get better about taking care of me…me…me…