I always joke that the coach who trains himself has an idiot for a client. I was self-coached for years. So, if you studied math or logic, I fully admit I am an idiot. The problem with self-coaching is that it is so hard to study the person in the mirror and see the whole picture. Sure, you can look over your shoulder, but the reflection is going to be twisted.
Friends can help. John Price used to remind me daily that “you are only as strong as your weakest link” and we would search and seek them out. Every preseason, I would chart out my weak points and note them. Then, I would ignore them.
Hiring a personal trainer gave me the great insight: I simply don’t have enough energy or free will to work on my weak points in favor of not only what I like to do, but what I am good at doing.
I’m not alone.
As I saw my own success improve under the guiding hands of others, I came to these simple conclusions about success in training.
The Five Pillars of Successful Training
Proactive, not reactive
As important as movement is in embracing fitness, a few minutes of planning each meal for the upcoming days is just as valuable. Therefore, we will take a few minutes each workout to “X” out those upcoming parties, festivities and general dietary disasters that await us each week. Our goal will be to face these events with a body full of clear water and clean food. “Thou shalt not go to a all you can eat dessert bar with a hungry belly!”
Also, a review of the food journal of the past week will give some clues about how to deal with upcoming events. Remember, the more honest you are in your food journal, the more success you have on your journey towards your goals. It is tempting to write “Small Salad with an apple” versus “Two pizzas,” but, long term, success rises with honesty.
Master my movements
There are basic human movements (Push, Pull, Hinge, Squat, Loaded Carries, and “Floor” work) and life demands that we use these daily and, hopefully, more often than that, too! All the terms tossed around in the fitness community from flexibility and mobility to cardio and core spin around the basic concept of “movement.” Mastery of movements brings back the spring and joy of youthful play.
“Practice will make you good at anything you do. And…we are practicing all the time.” George Leonard
Strength is the glass
When in doubt, get stronger. Absolute strength is the master quality. Imagine a large glass and a small glass, like a shot glass. Absolute strength is the glass and every other quality (mobility, flexibility, cardio and all the glorious rest) is the liquid. The bigger the glass the more liquid you can hold.
If you or your client has a tiny glass, you need to keep an eye on every calorie, every nibble. But, If you have a pitcher, you can enjoy an occasional good time and know that the large load that you have will have to deal with in the gym is going to strangle those extra calories. If there is a truth in training it is this: the stronger you are the easier it is to achieve all your other goals.
Not now, later
Never say never. Cookies, cake, beer and bagels are not “off” your low carb diet. It’s just “not now” time. Experience teaches us this: if I tell you that all your dreams will come true if you simply stop eating rutabagas, I promise you I know what is going to happen next. I’m not a prophet; I am a coach. You may have never eaten a rutabaga in your life, but from now on, you are going to crave, demand and insist upon rutabagas. Change rutabagas to anything you like but know this truth about human nature: not now, later.
Whatever it is that you need to put off in terms of diet, time or short-term pain and discomfort, you need to remind yourself that “soon and very soon,” you can submit yourself to a virtual orgy of feasting. The funny thing is this: that day may never come as you realize that this temptress has long been forgotten.
If there is a forgotten art in the fitness industry, it is taking a moment to enjoy achieving any and all goals. Now, I am the biggest sinner of all when it comes to this point, but please learn from my mistakes here: celebrate any and all successes. Now, it is true that in some elementary schools we tend to go far overboard with any and all achievements. Simple goals need at least a moment of congratulations or a small ceremony of ritual. If I could do it all again, I would have celebrated every minor victory and every tiny win.
Dance and sing with every success as you go through the arduous challenge of training yourself to and from health and fitness. Enjoy!