This is something that a lot of people (including myself from time to time) misunderstand. Just because you know what to do doesn’t mean you will inherently do it. There clearly is a gap between knowledge and action. You can have all the knowledge in the world but if you can’t apply it then it is useless. During this blog, I want to discuss the gap between education and action. In my humble opinion, there needs to be a transformation of the heart and mind before you can manipulate behavior.
I think this is why so many of us are inconsistent. We tend to hyper focus on changing the behavior instead of changing our perspective. I was listening to one of my favorite financial advisers the other day (a la Dave Ramsey) and he said something that struck me. He was talking about his experience in dealing with people trying to create financial peace in their lives. He’s been helping people for a long long time and has had 5 million people go through his program. First off, when you have a sample size of 5 million that should indicate some validity. He began talking about patterns that he has seen in people over the last ten years, which in hindsight indicated they were to be successful in the area of money. In addition to creating a handwritten budget each month, the common pattern was the anger/passion they seemed to have in their voice when they would call Dave for money advice. Dave says he can almost sense if this particular person would be successful or not. The common pattern was a mindset transformation! As Dave says, they were sick and tired of being sick and tired.
“I just don’t have the time to exercise.” How many times have you said that to yourself or heard someone else say that? “I just don’t have to the time to eat healthy. I just don’t have the time to cook. I just don’t have the time to stretch.” These sayings are extremely common and sometimes I find myself blaming time. To be perfectly transparent, I've always set my life up to make room for my wellness lifestyle. However, this year (2020) I've struggled to find time and motivation for my wellness goals. I can completely emphasize with busy, stressful, and fast paced lifestyles. Nonetheless, here are 4 steps that will help you overcome the time barrier and help you reach your goals!
I am fascinated with the concept of momentum. I can't identify the scientific effect behind it but I know it exists. I've experienced the power of momentum in many areas of life but especially in the area of fitness. During take off, a plane uses the majority of its fuel and energy in order to reach cruising altitude. The same principle applies to fitness transformations. Once you reach "cruising altitude" it is way way easier to adjust and maintain wellness results compared to creating wellness results.
I believe that if you can change your mindset from quick, right now, instant, short-term thinking; to patient, slow, methodical, long term-thinking every area in your life will improve. This mindset is especially important when it comes to fitness because like everything, it is a process. It takes time for your body to change, adapt, and grow. It’s no different than a lot of things in life. Once you realize this you can begin to respect the process of achieving wellness results.
In John Ratey’s book called “Spark”, he discusses the research behind exercise and our brain. It is apparent that our bodies are made to move. When we move, certain neurotransmitters, chemical processes, and hormones get released in the body that develop our brains and muscles. Quite simply, if we don’t move, our bodies don’t have a reason (from a phsyiological standpoint) to work efficiently. Exercise is for EVERYONE. Not just for the people with the perfect pictures on social media. During this blog, I hope to shed some light into why exercise is so much more than a simple behavior change. Exercise has the power to create life transformation from the inside out!
During this blog, I want to talk more on the deeper parts of motivation and less about the little x’s and o’s of fitness. I recently had some conversations with people that really opened my eyes. The more I thought about it, the more I realized how incredibly important this topic is. It’s nothing new or revolutionary but this week it truly hit me.
ESTIMATED READ TIME: 7 MINUTES
When I first started my fitness journey, I spent so much time focusing on the little x’s and o’s of exercise and nutrition. I was too strict and rigid in my approach and it caused me to sacrifice certain aspects of my life. Not only was I missing out on life, but I also didn’t achieve my fitness goals. Things became to structured and it didn’t leave room for life to happen. It takes an enormous amount of will power to keep up a strict nutrition/exercise plan. I spent years being entranced in this mindset and couldn’t find enjoyment in the journey. I realized that I didn’t want my life to be fitness. Instead, I realized that I wanted my life to be enhanced by fitness. During this blog, I want to suggest a different approach to your wellness goals. One that builds consistency while having the flexibility for life's tosses and turns.
During this blog I want to talk on the subject of principle based training. I see too many people get caught up with the little details of finding the right exercise and the right foods that they ignore what accounts for the majority of results. If you listen to successful people in the fitness community, you begin to see a trend. No one does the exact same thing. Instead they follow fundamental principles and adjust for their own individual needs. There is no secret exercise that brings instant results. Instead of trying to find the “perfect” program, focus on a few key exercise principles and allow room to explore your own fitness DNA. These principles, if applied, have the ability to make drastic improvements in your fitness journey.
Today, I want to talk about the Principle of Specificity. This principle states “to become good at a particular exercise or skill, you must perform that exercise or skill.” It may seem simple but it is an extremely difficult principle to adhere to. Let me explain. If you want to be good at basketball, you need to spend time playing basketball. If you want to be good at the bench press, you need to spend time bench pressing. If you want to lose fat you need to spend time training for fat loss. If you want to gain muscle you need to spend time training for hypertrophy. Hopefully, by the end of this blog you will be encouraged to have a specific vision, direction, and action when it comes to your fitness goals.
The first step in reaching your goals is to figure out exactly what you are trying to achieve. Too often people have conflicting goals and as a result, end up spending more energy running around than making actual progress. If you are looking to lose fat you need to train different than someone looking to gain muscle. Personally, I spent way too many years just “working out” without direction. I didn’t have a clear focus and didn’t have specific goals. I thought just working out hard would magically create the body I want.
Once you figure out your goal, your program should be completely geared towards what you are trying to accomplish. There’s a difference between working out and training. Don’t just workout to workout. Train for your goal. Training implies purpose and you would be surprised how much of a difference purpose makes.
Once you find your goal, you still need to take action! I believe there are lots of people that know what they want but don't have a direction in which to take action. Create a specific, measurable attainable, realistic, and timely goal (SMART goal for short). This gives your goals some direction. For example, the goal of “losing weight” doesn't have an effective sense of direction. It isn’t specific, measureable, or timely. Instead, your goal could be “I will lose 15 pounds by Christmas." This goal gives each day meaning and adheres to the SMART goal protocol.
Finally, once you have a sense of direction, you need to take action! Results are created as a byproduct of consistency. You have to find a sustainable lifestyle where you can exercise on a regular basis. This should look different from person to person. Working out three times a week for a year will bring more results then working out "hard" six days a week inconsistently. Find a sustainable system that works for you and commit to it. Intentionally pursue the best version of yourself with a sense of contentment and hunger. Your best is yet to come!
I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.
I know there are millions of “diet hacks”, “secret exercises”, and “fat burning supplements” out there nowadays. However, just humor me for a second. Just pretend that reaching your fitness goals came down to controlling caloric intake, consistent exercise habits, and proper recovery techniques. This advice doesn’t sell very effectively. It’s too simple and not sexy enough. When in reality, following some sound direction in these areas will get you results faster than the newest diet or fat burning ab routine. I don't think scientific direction resonates as effectively with people because it doesn’t cater to the second half of the equation. The longer I am in this field, the more I realize there are two parts to the equation of reaching your fitness goals.
You need direction and motivation to be successful. The exercise and nutrition protocols serve as direction but motivation is a little more complicated than exercise structure and macronutrients. We focus on the first half but rarely take a second to consider our motivation and that is just as important, if not more important than anything else. Sure, we have some motivational awareness. Workout partners, group exercise classes, music, or the guy on TV that yells at you to go faster. But what happens when these factors dissolve. What’s underneath? Why are you really doing this? You can have the best workout plan, the best nutrition structure but if you don’t have the motivation to apply it, it’s worthless.
Most successful people have appropriate motivation. The reason I say “appropriate” is because there are a lot of different forms of motivation. Some forms of motivation will lead you away from your goals and your happiness. Some forms will lead you to a sense of personal accomplishment, contentment, and a proper perspective.
I’m a pretty motivated individual but have had lapses over the past 10 years where I have lost motivation. However, after intentionally practicing the following three categories of motivation, I have always come back to consistent wellness habits. I am well aware that we are individualized human beings, so our motivation might differ depending on who we are but nonetheless here are some things you might want to consider.
Often times we compare our behind the scenes with other people’s highlight reel. So much of what we experience is based on our expectation. The way you see yourself drastically effects the way you see your circumstances around you. If you are constantly comparing yourself to other people you will always be disappointed. It also does a disservice to yourself because comparing yourself to others doesn't emphasize your own individual gifts and talents.
If you are constantly trying to meet an expectation based on outside influences, you won’t have the ability to exceed your own expectations of yourself, and that’s a beautiful thing. If every day you wake up and say well I’m not like him or I’m not like her then the motivation and inspiration will evaporate over time. That motivation won’t last long and you will be in a constant state of doubt, frustration, and bitterness because of it. The answer is to find motivation internally not externally.
Future Potential Motivation
One of the best forms of motivation that I have found is linked to accepting your flaws while realizing your own potential. That’s a mindset that will get you through the ups and downs. That’s the motivation that will help you enjoy the process. I like to tell me clients the phrase "content but hungry". That push and pull keeps you consistent but allows you the capacity to drastically improve.
No, I’m not where I want to be right now. There are things I can improve. There are ways to get better, but I have the same ability to be content and happy right now in this moment as I can when I’m "x" pounds lighter.
I also believe we sell ourselves short because we only focus on what we see in the mirror. We as humans are so "right now" orientated. Sometimes we get caught up in the benefits of the short-term. How do I look right now? How am I going to look this summer? But what about your future potential when you are 70 years old? Developing a functional approach to fitness will enhance your life 10, 20, 30, 40, and even 50 years from now. I'm all about looking good and feeling good in the short-term! However, playing with your grand kids, staying out of assisted living homes, and reduced medical expenses should have some pull.
Purpose Driven Motivation
Lastly, sustainable motivation involves a sense of purpose. The longer I’m alive, the more I believe that the key to behavior modification isn’t just trying harder, or having more persistence, or more discipline. I believe the key to lasting change, a lifestyle change, comes only from the belief that your sacrificing something good now for something better later.
The idea of betterment, is so important because it will provide a sense of purpose. For the most part, I think people are okay with being uncomfortable when they can see the outcome is worthwhile. The example I think of is painting a deck. There’s a lot of work involved with painting a deck. You have to sand the deck, making sure everything is clean and smooth. You have to apply several coats of primer and paint. There is a tedious process involved. There are times when you have to be on your hands and knees working long hours of manual labor. There is frustration, sweat, and probably some soreness. However, there is a sense of direction that keeps you going. You know that it’s going to look a lot better after the fact and the paint will help prolong the duration of the deck. When you have direction, purpose, and belief in the outcome you can acknowledge the hard work and adversity of the process. I know that's kind of a weird metaphor but it’s the same with fitness. If you truly believe that your life will be enhanced by it, you will almost welcome the short term 'pain' that comes along with it. After all, a smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.
My wish for you is to find a motivation that lets you enjoy the weight flucations. The good and bad days in the gym. The ice cream cones as well as the chicken breast meals. A motivation that gives each day purpose, potential, and contentment. Your best is yet to come!
This is really the whole premise behind the Spark With Stark. It really clicked for me once I realized that the majority of the fitness industry sells you on "someday". I wanted to take some time and talk about this because I believe this has the power to change your life right now. Not once you've lost 20 pounds but right now. Here's what changed it for me and I hope it will help change it for you.
1.) THE BELIEF
Any lifestyle change (physical, emotional, spiritual) is predicated on the belief that it will actually benefit your life in one way or another. If your constantly miserable doing it and can’t see the why, your not going stick with it. Plain and simple. In fitness, it's this idea of short-term pain for long-term gain. When you start exercising you begin to feel the 'burn' in your muscles and this is when a lot of people feel uncomfortable and stop. When you focus on belief, you begin to be encouraged and excited about the 'burn' because you believe with proper rest and nutrition your body will create something stronger as a result (this is when exercising becomes fun). It's no different in the spiritual sense either. For those of you who don't know, i'm a Jesus guy. However, you don't have to believe what I believe. I'm simply here to encourage you and if you don't believe in God that's okay. I hope this principle will ring true, no matter your beliefs. Anyways in Christianity, many times people focus on the x's and o's. If you focus on the list of should and should not’s then it becomes painful and pointless. It becomes a list of things you can't do and you start to feel uncomfortable and stop. How come I can't do that? How come I can't have that? Instead of focusing on should not's, focus on the belief behind them. Focus on the belief that Jesus actually came here to give you a more abundant life. Focus on His love and you will start to live in accordance to his message as a byproduct. It's no different in the gym. Focus on the belief that this is something that will maybe just maybe enhance your life. Focus on that belief and the muscles, weight loss, glutes, six pack abs, will simply happen as a result.
Six pack abs, flat stomachs, bulging muscles, thigh gaps, superhuman strength. If you have these, your viewed "high" in society. If you don't, then you need to get there and quick. Here's the miserable path to get there but don't worry once you get there life is good. You know the vibe I'm talking about right? The magazines with the guys doing bicep curls by the pool of girls who are drooped over his shoulders. Or the bikini models next to the beach and everyone staring at them from a distance. So you go low carb, eat out of measuring cups, and kill yourself in the gym. Although the methods might be different, I think we can all agree this message is prevalent in the fitness industry. Now i'm all for working hard, making sacrifices, and dedicating yourself but at what cost? If your working hard, making sacrifices, and devoting big portions of your life without contentment or peace is it worth it? This life is short and fragile. It's interesting, that you can have all the material things in the world but if you're not happy, what do you really have? And yet you can have a difficult diagnosis from the doctor and still be content. Whats the x factor there? I believe contentment is the key to reaching your physical goals but I also think contentment is the key to enjoying your life. Have you ever met a really content person? I mean a truly content person? They are so refreshing to be around. When you have a conversation with them, they always seem to shift the conversation back towards you. They seem genuinely happy even when they don't get anything out of the conversation. It's amazing. Unfortunately, most things in this life (diets and fitness programs included) focus on things that bring you away from this sense of contentment. Let's start a movement that brings the focus back on peace and contentment. I truly believe if you are content during the journey, you will get to your destination more efficiently and effectively. That's what Spark With Stark is ultimately all about. Even though it focuses on fitness, I hope you will take it to the other crevices of your life. Your best is yet to come!