Compounding Bad Decisions
During my rapid weight loss 10 years ago I wasn’t taking care of myself relative to the amount of stress I was putting on my body. In the end I damaged both labrums in my shoulders. I had surgery to repair the right side I didn’t go back for the left side. After the initial surgery the momentum I’d used to lose 220 lbs was gone. Things started going downhill. The stumble downward started with one bad decision.
Immediately after my surgery I remember laying in a reclining chair…high on pain killers. I was covered with a blanket with my right arm in a sling. I asked Nancy to get me a pint of strawberry ice cream. When she brought it to me, I initially just wanted a couple spoonful’s. As a kid my older sister doted on me when I was sick as a kid she would always get me strawberry ice cream, it was heaven. After two spoonful’s, I told myself a lie “I’m crushing it in the gym, I can finish this pint because I will work it all off later”.
This simple act completely contradicted the rule I’d created for myself over the previous couple years where I’d only eat ice cream or drink milkshakes after something like a Tough Mudder, or a climbing trip. In those situations, the caloric burn was high enough that the consumption of ice cream would have zero impact on my weight. It continued with another bad decision.
After a couple days the pain killers were causing me stomach pain, gave me constipation, and a loss of appetite. A few more days and my hunger comes back. I could either go back to eating some Paleo Friendly chicken, and veggies, or I could order on Grubhub my favorite Indian Curries along with some yummy nan bread. The nan bread won. I told myself another lie,
“It’s cool I can cheat a little and get it all back when I’m better”.
With each new bad decision, it becomes a cycle where the decisions compound and habits formed. Eventually Grubhub, Postmates, Eat24, and every other on demand delivery app was on my phone and in use.
The decision to eat ice cream on its own was completely meaningless; however as part of a larger pattern…it means everything.
1 Second Victories
Whether we believe or not, understand it or not, we are making 1-second decisions all day long.
Answer the following questions:
- Did you add cream to your coffee?
- Did you have breakfast before you left for work?
- Did you put away that thing sitting on the counter for a few days before you left the house?
We make these decisions most of the time unconsciously because we do them frequently. I want to talk about the 1-second decisions which give us pause.
- The piece of trash you saw in the hallway at work did you decide to pick it up and throw it away or did you walk past it?
- The homeless guy you see on the corner freezing his nuts off did you acknowledge his existence, or choose to ignore him?
- Your child who craves your attention were you too distracted to hear what they needed or did you stop and turn around to validate his love?
When you are walking down the hallway of a building and you see a wrapper on the ground, you know the right thing to do is to pick it up and throw it away. Who gives a shit if it isn’t your job, or you didn’t do it. The area you work and share is better for it. The homeless guy out in the cold, were you quick to judge his life choice thus making it easier to ignore, or did you acknowledge his humanity with a smile or hello, or maybe even offered him some help. At some point in life we all just need a little love even if its a smile. Were you too busy to stop rushing to work, or did you drop everything to give them your love.
The reasons “why” you don’t do these doesn’t matter in the act in itself, only in the context of who you are or are becoming. Because each time you choose one path or another it makes you more of the path you picked. Eventually these decisions stack together and you just are the person at the end of the road you’ve chosen. Either more of you are or more of who you aspire to be…
This is how I think about difficult workouts, and why I choose to push the edge of my abilities. I am traveling the harder road today, and choosing to make the decisions which are the best interest of my development. The video I’ve posted is of a workout where I did 100 deadlifts @ 265lbs coupled with close to 100 hip bridges, followed by 50 back squats @ 260 lbs, and close to 100 air squats.
I can’t just blow through a workout like the one above. I have to mentally break it down into smaller chunks, that eventually end up into 350 1-second decisions. Each rep gives me an opportunity to either quit and give up or push through the pain to achieve my intended goal of finishing the workout. Each second I choose to move forward is a win.
In the video of my final set I am making a decision each rep to complete the task at hand. Within that moment I have to decide to stop or to continue. I play mental games with myself. The first 5 sets of 10 I treat like I’m going uphill; thus, in my mind it’s like pushing a rock uphill. I will often attempt to use brute force to roll through reps. It is in the first half of 10 I find my mind wondering to other things. I will create justifications as to why I can stop right here without finishing the entire routine. My brain wants to revert to the old ways. On the second 5 sets of 10, I tell myself I am rolling the weight downhill. Which means by the final set the momentum should push me through, creating a deep sense of certainty in achieving my goal. When I am rolling towards the bottom of the hill any pause becomes a self-check for sharp pains, or signs of injury.
In that 1-second I must decide to stop, or to keep moving forward. It’s black or white. In that same second I am also choosing which path of life I want to lead. One filled with strength and health, or one filled with weakness and obesity. The 1-second decision I make in the gym during my workouts becomes the tool I can apply in the rest of my life.
Ask yourself how often do you make a decision in a moment which later you completely regret?
Is the short-term pleasure worth the long-term pain? Or is it better to suffer though the short-term pain for a life time of pleasure?
All the growth in weight lifting happens in the final reps before failure. How often in your life are you giving up just short of the outcome you desire?
The next time you are put into an uncomfortable situation…STOP. Ask yourself which decision optimizes your ability to grow and continue down the path of your potential. The next time your spouse is nagging you to “talk” about something do you continue to ignore and evade, or do you take a moment and make the 1-second decision to engage because it’s the harder thing to do.
Lean into what’s uncomfortable. In the moment choose the harder path because in the end you are stacking 1-second victories in your personal development.