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Think about anything you do well. Go ahead. I’ll wait.
A sport. Public speaking. Telling Jokes. Fitness. Nutrition. Anything.
Now think of the people you know that are really good at something.
For you and for them, there was a time when you/they were not good at whatever it is you/they are good at now. No one tries something for the first time and is just as good a they are with experience. Yes, some folks have talent that others don’t, and seem to pick up an activity quicker. However, every single person was not as good at what they are good at now, at some point.
This sounds obvious, right? “Duh. Of course we get better with more practice” you tell yourself. First, props for saying “duh.” That one has lasted throughout the years. A marathon of a slang word, that “duh.” Second, that’s exactly my point! Anything that someone is good at now, they were not so great at at one point. If we know this, why are we so afraid to learn new skills because we might not be good at them at first?
This situation applies to life in general, but in this article, I’ll use a fitness reference.
Often, folks are scared to take the first step to a fitter body. What if you look silly trying an exercise you haven’t done before? What if you don’t look as great in the gym as the people who have fine tuned their fitness and nutrition? What if people judge you on your workout? What if those cute workout clothes you bought don’t look as cute in the gym as they did in the store?
Let’s be clear, most people in the gym don’t give a second thought about other folks in the gym. They are focused on what they went there to do. They don’t care about how you are dressed, how your work out looks, or if you seem to be experienced. The few people who seem to be sitting there judging? Those types of folks are everywhere. Maybe they have their own insecurities they have to work through, and that’s why they judge others. Some people just aren’t nice. It’s okay. You have more important things to worry about.
Let’s apply the previous point we made about experience and where we all start. Every single person in the gym, who seems to know what they are doing, had to start from scratch at some point. Yes, even the guy who looks like he just came from a fitness magazine cover photo shoot. At some point, he had to learn how to strength train. How to eat right. Even the woman who seems to have curves in all the right places, didn’t know how to reach those goals at one point. We all have to start somewhere.
I point this out because we need to be aware of when we avoid the fitness activities we know would be beneficial because we are too scared to be vulnerable. It’s okay to be apprehensive. It’s okay to feel a little self conscious. Recognize the feeling, and remember we all had to start somewhere. It doesn’t matter that others are farther along their fitness journey than we are. That’s their journey. You are on yours. It’s great to be inspired by folks who have made it work so far. Other than that, it doesn’t matter. Literally, everyone had to start somewhere. Stop worrying about other people and focus on yourself. Do what you need to do where you are on your fitness journey.
It’s okay to be vulnerable. You’ll get better at it. I promise.
You often hear that it’s a good idea to work with a fitness professional. Someone who can help you reach your goals. Someone that can teach you how to do the exercises that would benefit you. Someone to help you wade through the sometimes overwhelming world of fitness information. But how do you know if a fitness professional is good? What qualifies someone as “good”? If they are in better shape than you, is that enough? I realized that I often suggest FM readers connect with a fitness professional. I also realized, without giving at least a little direction as to how to go about looking for a fitness professional, I may be sending folks on a wild goose chase.
Well, reader, look no further. Actually, you may need to look a little further, but this will be a good start.
I reached out to my pal Keith Gacrama. He is a Strength Coach and Personal Trainer, as well as the owner of keithgacrama.com. The man knows his way around a fitness facility. He gets people strong, fast, and looking good. You name it. We chatted about the topic of what to look for in a fitness professional.
“Why should I work with fitness professional, anyway? I’ll just watch YouTube videos or follow a DVD!” You might say to yourself. Well, friend. Yes, you are right. There are lots of videos out there. The problem with watching a video and trying to copy it, is that it’s difficult to know if you’re doing the movement correctly. Even if you think you’re doing exactly what you are seeing, without a trained eye helping out, that’s rarely the case. Without knowing faults in your movement, you won’t be able to correct them. If you aren’t moving in a way that you should, you’re not being efficient with your movement. Also, without doing movements correctly, you risk injury. A fitness professional can help lower your risk of injury, while you progress towards your goals. “We’re only given one body. We need to make sure it’s running properly” explains Keith.
It’s important to note that simply because it seems that someone knows more about fitness than you do, doesn’t necessarily mean they are the best choice for a trainer or coach. Finding a professional who is certified is a great start. However, there are so many certifications, and so many ways to apply the information, there’s more to it. Keith suggests looking out for fitness professionals who can break explanations down into simple terms and movements. It’s not simply about using technical terms. It’s important for a trainer/coach to help you understand why you are doing what they have you doing. The more involved you are in what you’re doing; the more you understand WHY you’re doing it, the more likely you are to stay motivated and work hard to reach your goals.
A good conversation to have with a potential trainer/coach, is how they progress their client. Now, the goal that a person has, will determine the type of progression/program a trainer will choose. However, it’s still an important question. It’s not as simple as making each workout harder than the last one. Keith explains “there’s more to it than running yourself into the ground or beating yourself up each and every workout.” He explains that pain or soreness are not indicators of an effective training session. You hear many people referring to how good their workout was, because they are in so much pain. Now, this is different than people sharing their experience. It’s true, sometimes we get super sore, and it can be funny when a day or two after doing squats, it can be tough to stand up off of a chair. What we want to be careful with is the idea that one only knows they had an effective workout, if they are in pain.
When first working with a fitness professional, make sure they plan to put you through some sort of screen or assessment. These are important as they point out dysfunction in our movement. If a trainer doesn’t do this, they wouldn’t know what to correct or build on. Jumping right into an exercise program without knowing what movement dysfunction needs attention can be dangerous. “If they don’t do that (screening/assessment), I’d look elsewhere” suggests Keith. In addition to having a client go through a movement screen, keep an eye out for the trainer to have a plan as to how to address what they found. It’s important to know what needs work and how to improve it. “Even elite athletes need screenings done. It’s how we lower the probability of injury during their season” explains Keith.
It’s also important to see how well you get along with your potential fitness professional. Do you enjoy conversation with them? Do you feel they care about your well being” Do you feel that they listen to you? These things seem obvious, but it’s important to feel comfortable with your trainer/coach. Think about it. If you don’t enjoy your time with your trainer, or if you just don’t get along, you won’t be likely to stay consistent with the plan you both set. Some trainers are more firm in their delivery than others. That’s okay. Different people respond to different approaches. It’s all about what you feel comfortable with, and what you feel is a healthy connection that will keep you consistent with your game plan.
In the end, it’s about being your own biggest advocate. Whether or not you are able to work with a fitness professional in the near future, you should still educate yourself. See what seems to make sense. See what doesn’t make sense. See what information clashes with other information you read. What have you learned from your experiences? How do those experience coincide with what you have read or heard. There are many fitness personalities/authors/trainers. The more you learn about what folks have to say, and the approach they have, the more you’ll start to learn about what direction you may want to try.
Granted, all trainers/coaches need to start somewhere. I don’t mean to sound like if a trainer doesn’t know everything in the world, go somewhere else. Learning never stops. Maybe the rates of a more experienced coach or trainer are a bit higher than you can do right now. Maybe a trainer that you are working with doesn’t have prestigious certifications yet. We all have to start somewhere. These are simply ideas to think about when on your search for a fitness professional. If who you speak with doesn’t have all of the answers right away, but is clearly actively working to improve their body of knowledge and ability to deliver that knowledge, that’s a good sign. See how you feel about who you are working with, be smart, and take it one step at a time.
How many times have you found yourself aimlessly getting through your workout? Checking facebook and instagram while you work the machine that looks like it’s made to help give birth. Paying more attention to the conversation with your buddy, than the exercise at hand. Walking on the treadmill for ten minutes, before curling dumbbells that don’t challenge you.
If you find that you really aren’t challenging yourself when you exercise, it may be time to stop and think. Are you working hard during your workout? Are you really challenging yourself? It sounds silly to ask oneself if they are “working” during their “workout.” However, this may be just the thing you need to do. It’s easy for workouts to become just this thing you do, because you feel like you should. Therefore, as long as you did your “workout” then you’re good to go. It’s not that simple, my friend. Yes, moving at all, is usually better than not moving. Any safe exercise, is better than no exercise. Butttttttt, will this efficiently get you to your fitness goals? probably not.
If you enjoy a leisurely walk on the treadmill while talking with a friend, that’s perfectly fine. If you genuinely enjoy using the elliptical and not breaking a sweat, that’s okay too. I don’t mean to sit here and tell you what you enjoy. What I am here to do, is remind you these descriptions are not examples of hard work.
“WHAT?! How dare he judge my workouts”
Before anyone has a hissy fit; I am not saying that you have to be out of breath every second in the gym. I don’t mean to say that if you don’t have a barf bucket near you, you haven’t worked out hard enough. I am not saying that unless you feel like you’re about to die, you didn’t have a good workout. The idea of working out just to purposely feel pain, in my opinion, is misguided and dangerous. What I AM trying to do, is remind folks that from time to time, it’s good to check in with ourselves and make sure we are challenged. This doesn’t mean go as hard as you can on every exercise you can think of. Working with a qualified fitness professional is always the best bet, as they can help you with a solid/safe program. Don’t have a fitness professional available at the moment? Do some research. See what’s out there, and what exercises may seem to be a good a good choice for you.
The idea of checking in to see if you’re challenging yourself, applies to many aspects in life. At work, are you challenging yourself? Are you trying to do what you do better? Or are you aimlessly doing tasks without a focus on improvement? In your nutrition, are you challenging yourself to eat better food and treat your body better? Or are you thinking “hmm, I should eat better” but don’t turn that into action?
The idea and lifestyle behind the FitMentality brand was created before FM was even a brand. I started the website because I want to share and exchange with folks about the lifestyle of how keeping active and eating good food helps our lives as a whole. The idea that the ability to run and jump and dance and lift things up, is a GIFT. I wanted to share this on a bigger scale. Thus, from a small blog, FitMentality evolved into a brand. This brand, eventually, sprouted a clothing line, to represent and express this lifestyle and this way of thinking. To me, this is what truly makes this a lifestyle brand. I didn’t even know this would be an apparel line when I sat on my couch one night and decided to take the plunge into creating a website that would allow me to share my philosophy and enthusiasm for health and fitness with the world.
These sweaters are hot off the press. “Passion and Dedication” is written on the sleeve, because that is exactly what we feel for this lifestyle. Even though our path can be windy, that’s okay. We’re in it for the long haul.
Visit the online FM store at http://www.fitmentality.bigcartel.com.
Some people like how working out and eating right makes their body look. However, some folks may feel shy about making that goal public, because such a goal is not always met with understanding. Some make a goal such as this out to be shallow and conceited. A “all you care about is how you look?!” kind of attitude.
Allow me to share an opinion on the matter, and some of the issues surrounding such a discussion.
I think there is nothing wrong with liking the positive aesthetic changes that a good diet full of nutritious, real foods, and a well put together fitness plan, can do to how our body looks. It’s okay to want to look good. It’s okay to have a goal of hitting the beach and pool in the summer, sporting a more fit body than you have had in months (or years!). That is a choice you make, and don’t let anyone rain on your parade. If you want to build some muscle because you like how it looks like in the mirror, then get those GAINNNNS!! If you would like to cut back on some weight that gradually and in a (seemingly) ninja-like fashion jumped on your body, then it’s all good. Lean it up!!! You get to choose what your motivation is, no one else does.
Now, as in life, things are rarely that simple. Even with such goals, one needs to keep balance in mind. We don’t want to go TOO crazy, or expect results TOO quickly, otherwise we risk non healthy effects on our body. We wouldn’t want to become so obsessed in how our bodies look, that we begin to attach our value as a person to our amount of body fat percentage or amount of muscle we see in the mirror. Learning how certain foods affect our bodies, and learning to plan our eating in a safe way to reach our goals with good food, is awesome. Obsessing over a goal, to the point where we stop taking care of our bodies and start to not feel good, is something we want to be careful with. As with anything in life, balance is key.
Don’t let others’ progress and/or goals allow you to make excuses for your own situation. I don’t pretend to know when it does happen, as only those who this applies to, would know. Therefore, this isn’t me explaining specific situations that I have seen happen. This is a general idea that we may consider in a self reflective manner. I can see how one can feel threatened by others pursing their aesthetic goals. The idea that because someone has goals for what they want their body to look like, somehow supports the idea that only what we look like is what matters, or that our self worth is dictated by our body fat percentage, is unfair. It is manipulative to assume that a specific personal goal, means someone thinks less of others who do not have that same goal. Understandably, it wouldn’t feel good to be made to feel less of a person because of what one may or may not look like. Our culture/society, in many aspects, does seem to be driven by unrealistic aesthetic expectations. I am not arguing that this is not the case. We should fight back to the idea that we all are supposed to look a certain way. However, the goals we choose to have, we make on our own. The reasons why we have these goals, are internal. Just because I have a graduate degree, does not mean I value folks who do not, any less. I pursued my education because of personal goals.
When someone posts a fitness “selfie,” does it mean they value people any more or any less if they share their fitness/aesthetic goals? No. It means they are proud of the hard work they have put in, and they are proud of the ground they have covered to reach their goal. This doesn’t mean I think we need to post half naked selfies all day every day. That is a different discussion all together. This isn’t even meant to support or not support the selfie times we seem to be living in. This is simply an example of a situation that may make some folks jump to conclusions about the person in a picture they saw.
If we value watching what kinds of food we eat, and how we choose to prioritize physical activity differently than someone else, that’s okay. If we value how “fit” we look differently than someone else, that’s okay too. Assuming how someone applies worth to another person because they have goals different from us? Slow down, detective.
This is understandably a complicated topic. What it comes down to, is that we make our own goals, and we should try to keep from making assumptions of others’ values, based on goals they chose.
Unless someone says “I’m better than you because I have such and such goal.” In that case, all bets are off.