Just the other day I posted the first 14 thoughts on life and fitness in my desire to have one thought for every year of my life. Part 1 here.
It may be tempting to make a "you have that many thoughts" joke in this space, but I assure you - 27 - is far too low a number to represent my daily count.
Nonetheless, in these next 13 thoughts I hope to further indulge the random thoughts on the lives we all lead, and the fitness that many of us pursue.
15. Be Accountable -
Not everyone is going to have stellar work ethic. Some people are clever procastinators while others are driven overachievers. Yet, no matter how you choose to handle your stress and workload - Never come up short on something you say you'd do.
This applies to your work life predominantly, especially if you'd like to see a promotion at any point. Instead of ten excuses on why something couldn't be finished it is probably best to just do it and do it well. Furthermore, in your personal life it is just as crucial.
Don't tell a friend that you can't wait to catch up that weekend and change your mind on Friday to do something else. Don't be flakey committing to plans because you want to be sure you do the "coolest" thing that night. Choose an event, or person and stick with it. It earns respect.
Once more, this applies to your fitness. If you have a trainer that says "Do thirty minutes of an incline walk at least twice this week when you are not with me, and I'd love for you to do workout A from your home program too", and you find yourself talking about how the paint drying next door made your dog eat your program...you aren't accountable. You are lazy and not to be counted upon.
Be the person that someone wants in their foxhole.
16. Make Every Interaction Special -
This is one of my calling cards. Sure, like any human being on God's green Earth I have my off days, but for the most part when I meet you, speak with you, and otherwise engage with you beyond a nod and hello - I do my damndest to make it special.
The little old lady who wears "Virginia is for Lovers" T-shirts to the gym everyday and walks around the gym doing curls - You are damn right I make jokes about Victoria's Secret staying at the Ritz, or that I'd love to show her a new bicep curl variation.
I don't want anything from her, but damn it she is someone's grandmother, a nice lady, and likely gains much more from me flattering her, then I lose in the seconds I do so. She should feel special.
Want to grab a drink and catch up? Eat dinner? Catch a game? Doesn't matter...I'm going to do my absolute best to keep my phone in my pocket. I'm not going to half listen to you while you tell me a story, because that is just rude.
Point of this one is simple - People are all the same. People want to be needed; people want to be heard. The end.
Make special moments with those you love, those you like, and even those who just pass by. Sure, you'll be "that guy who talks to everyone", but you know what...thats a good "guy" to be.
17. If You Drink, then Have a Drink -
I am a fitness professional. I am also a 27 year old American male navigating his life. I love a good bourbon with a hint of smokey, neat. If I must mix - Knob Creek and Diet.
My point with this is as follows:
If you are going to drink be known for a specific drink. The older you get the more troublesome it becomes to throw any random beverage down your gullet without ponderance. It either makes you look like a party boy/girl who can't grow out of a phase, or someone who is incapable of refining their tastes and appreciating something specific.
It's like saying that you can't tell the difference between a steak from Applebee's or Ruth Chris.
Be known for something besides your career, your favorite sports team, or the names of your twelve cats. It gives you depth and personality to match the things that you are already projecting into the world.
Now, if you do not drink alcohol - more power to you. It is an unneccessary part of life and doesn't not offer anything that sobriety doesn't. Well... aside from some funny stories, an appreciation for greasy omelets, and something else to learn about.
18. Some Worlds Can't Co-exist
No, this isn't a geopolitical statement. Rather, you have to realize that one way or another there is something that is going to have to give in order for you to live the life that you are living ( or aspire to live).
Want to be a shredded physique that looks camera ready at almost anytime - you'll probably find yourself at home Netflixin' and (hopefully chillin') a whole lot more than you are enjoying the company of good friends and good food and libation on a Saturday night. You'll probably find yourself spending happy hours with a bar in your hands instead of a bar under your elbows.
But that's OK, because that is the sacrifice for the goals. It matters to you and you want it. That's all that matters.
It goes the other way too. If you want to enjoy your social life and eat more freely, then don't expect to have razor sharp abs and the best gains in the gym. That's not to say you have live overly rigid in order to see and progress, rather you just have to accept that in order to be outstanding or exceptional it is going to require significantly more effort towards your diet and recovery.
Life isn't the Jersey Shore
19. It's OK to blast your arms (or thighs) ((insert body part)) -
Modern fitness has pushed us in the direction of remaining focused on functional fitness. Plain and simple, functional fitness is exercising in a way that reflects the intensity and struggle of daily living. Compound movements, weighted and unweighted 3D space movements, mobility and fascial release are all critical elements that compose "functional fitness".
And I'm all about it - mostly!
Trust me; I love seeing people deadlifting, squating, push pressing, and lacrosse balling en route to a better body and better performance. It is a refreshing look at fitness that is going to help people look, feel, and move exceptionally.
Yet, there is no need to act "Holier than thou" if someone wants to blast some bicep curls on a Friday. There is no problem with mashing out some quad extensions at the end of a leg workout if someone wants some "teardrops".
At the end of the day you aren't going to get these muscles to hypertrophy adequately without some additional time under tension. So, if you want it - do what is neccessary.
Drop sets, rack-runs, 100s, and partial repping have a place in anyone's program so long as they understand that it should be a smaller portion of their training volume in relation to larger compound movements.
20. You don't Need Supplements, but they Don't Hurt Either -
I remember my early 20's. Eager to blow a few hundred dollars at my local supplement store, or online at one of the many sites that make sales. I had to have my proteins, whey and casein. Multi-vitamin, fish oil, creatine, and of course I need a pre workout. Maybe even an anti-estrogen or testosterone booster will be just the trick to be swole-deisel.
Truth is: I wasted a lot of money. It's not to say that enhancing my protein intake or supplementing with creatine or N.O. doesn't help in some aspect, but they certainly weren't worth what I was paying.
Nothing at all beats hard work in the gym, sufficient sleep, and whole foods in the form of proteins, vegetables, and fruits. Grains and starches are great calorie boosters to gain muscle, and one of the first things to cut back on when you want to lose fat.
You don't need that miracle burner...
If you want to know what I still take -
Whey Protein (sometimes after workout, but usually I just eat a real meal)
Fish Oil (AM/PM)
Pre-Workout (gotta get that kick sometimes after doing a bunch of sessions)
21. Think Movements and Not Muscles -
The classic bodybuilding thought process is to train muscle groups on particular days. Monday is chest and triceps, tuesday is back and biceps, and wednesday you might train legs.
OR maybe watch TV and go back to shoulders on Thursday.
While this way of working out has served as a great building block for plenty of gym-goers it certainly isn't fool proof.
Going forward it is much better to think in terms of muscle actions (or movement directions).
Vertical and Horizontal Push,
Vertical and Horizontal Pull,
Hinge, Squat, and Lunge,
Rotation and Stabilization.
This way you are training like-minded muscles together and emphasizing larger movements such as overhead press, deadlifts, and rows.
I personally love pairing Vertical pull and Squat/Lunge together in a workout. Just the same I enjoy doing all of my pushes together while I also train my core function - rotation and stabilization. Then, a day that is all pull and hinge goes together well.
When you think in terms of movements you'll find every workout becomes just a little bit harder, which is exactly what you want!
22. Crush Your Weaknesses - No Excuses
As I stated in an earlier thought it is critical to identify your strengths and work to make them excellent. They will become your calling card and help define you in a crowd of individuals.
Yet, never leave a glaring weakness. This refers to everything about your life. Don't have a character flaw that makes you vulnerable, weak, annoying, or tough to be around. Don't have a blind spot in your knowledge that makes you stand out as ignorant. Then, in terms of your body; don't resort to self defeating statements like "I suck at balance" or "I've never been very strong with this lift".
OK cool. That was yesterday and you are aware of it. Draw up a plan and attack it. You don't need to overthink what you are going to do either. If you aren't a very good squatter, then hire a coach or trainer and become better. If that isn't an option, then purchase an online program from someone reputable. Watch videos on technique and practice with an unloaded bar when you get to the gym.
This applies to my fellow trainers and coaches too. Don't act like you can do everything when it is apparent that all you can do is create metabolic circuits. If you know that hearing about aches and pains from your clients makes you squirm looking for answers, then start taking your personal time to learn more about the body, injuries, and common interventions.
And for God sakes...if a client says "this hurts my _________" and you answer "Aww, thats just weakness leaving the body" or some other dumb shit...please go do something else.
23. Surround Yourself with People You Admire -
I would argue one of the toughest aspects of growing up and getting older is losing friendships and bonds with people who at one time or another were like your other half.
I have a few stories of people that I used to pal around with every weekend in high school, or college. Now, we rarely...or quite possibly....never speak. Some went down troubled roads, and others moved away.
It is sad to know that at one juncture of your life you can be best friends, but at another you can be perfect strangers.
Yet, one benefit of this process (assuming you embrace change) is that you can refine your "friends list" of sorts. Not your online presence, or your snapchat followers; rather, the people that you will be seen out and about with, you'll call when you need a friend, and those who will probably want you in their wedding.
It is important to surround yourself with people you admire for one thing or another. It may not be simply career, financial, or success oriented, but this individual does something that you wish you could do better yourself.
They say you are the product of the people you choose to surround yourself with. So, find the friend who is always gracious, and the one who always makes you laugh. Yet, don't forget that you don't want to be around people who don't have similiar goals in mind.
You don't want to be trying to graduate Harvard while your best friend is a drug dealing pimp in Boston. Chances are...you'll be brought down long before that individual ever rises up. It's a sad fact, but a true one.
24. Save Money and Pay your Bills -
I hate YOLO. For those who may not know what this means it stands for "you only live once". First, who knows if this is true. For all we know we come back as a dog in a good home, or a lion roaming the African safari. Just saying...
Secondy, and more importantly, this way of life is going to ruin your body and your credit score. The long nights of partying and constant spending will have you waking up one day full of regret.
Nothing is more depressing than logging into your bank account and seeing only one or two digits before the decimal point. Equally stressful is swiping your debit card at a local convenience store when you want a protein bar and praying that it goes through...
I've been there. My first few years out of college I overdrafted more than the Cleveland Browns and Oakland Raiders combined. I was constantly getting a paycheck and watching it disappear.
Not so much anymore...
I certainly am not wealthy, but I know I'm doing well. The sleep I get is pure because I know my bills are paid and I've saved a few months worth of pay just incase.
Financial maturity is a major form of success. You don't have to have a ton of investments and play the market either. Simply, have your retirement plan, save some extra cash, and pay your bills on time every month.
A good friend once said - "you shouldn't be in your thirties worried about if you can afford going out to dinner once in a while".
25. The Gym is your Sanctuary -
We are all guilty of being vein in our gyms. We look good and the lighting is just right. We wonder if that pretty girl, or jacked guy across the room sees us. Maybe we'll do our shoulder presses over there. Oooh ooh she is coming this way...quick...do some curls and look like you are focused.
I've often been told that when I'm in the depths of a lift I look angry...and ugly. Cool. Perfect!
While I'm not immune to wanting to lock eyes with a cute girl, or establish my dominance around a few novice lifters...I can honestly say that I'm in a place now where I want my workout to be in a bubble.
You should too.
Forget your job, forget your life, and forget those around you. You have a goal and a reason that you walked in the building. Own that reason. Crush that reason. Who cares if your hair is messy, or your shirt doesn't fit perfectly.
Sure, your biceps aren't as huge in that shirt...so focus on the damn lifts and take up the space in between cloth and skin with new muscle growth. Don't do things to gain attention and put on a show. Be willing to do what you need to do in the darkest corner during the quietest hour of the gym.
You are in a percentage of the population that can afford to spend time working towards your own physical goals. This is the perfect time to be selfish. So, let your jaw hang...and the sweat pour. Stare into the distance and lose yourself in your music.
Own your experience. Screw everyone else.
26 - Girls Need to Lift, Guys Need to do Yoga
This trend is already beginning to show promise as we move towards the year 2016. For many years women were afraid to cross the threshold into the weight room and join the ranks of the testerone-rich males. Just the same men would stroll by the Yoga studio, or Pilates room and chuckle. Afraid to lose their man card they'd never consider it...
Thankfully, everyone is learning that their body benefits from a multitude of stimuli. Story time...
The girl who has done yoga, pilates, and reads Nicholas Sparks on the elliptical has started to morph into the girl who squats with a barbell, and bangs out chin-ups too. She still loves her yoga, pilates, and still spends a night gliding away and reading the pages of love, but now she feels stronger, sexier, and more confident in the body the weights have built. She loves squatting heavier than the bro standing near her doing his tenth set of bicep hammer curls. She loves the way her glutes feel in her jeans. Every picture she takes with her friends leads to them saying "I want your arms". She has got it figured out.
The bro who has lifted five days a week for the last five years is hammering out another set of bench press while banging his head to "down with the sickness". He's got this routine down. His shoulder is killing him, and his back always prevents him from rowing or deadlifting heavy. Begrudgingly he does a yoga class and leaves feeling refreshed. In time he finds himself more mobile, athletic, and stronger. He still throws the weights around and is waiting for the return of Godsmack, but now knows that Pilates saved his spine, and Yoga helped his bench. He may even appreciate Enya on his playlist too. He has got it figured out.
Take the time in each week to do the things you need. Much like bringing up a weak spot one should not demonize or scrutinize one form of exercise to the point that they think it is inferior. There is much to gain for many disciplines. Don't cheat yourself.
27 - Exist in a realm of HOPE
Holding Optimal Performance Expectations.
That is how I define that word. It is something that doesn't have to be as spiritual as our society has made it.
Hope is wishing for the best result to occur. Hope is aiming to have the optimal outcome.
You "hope" you go to PROM with her. You "hope" you get the job.
Take ownership of this feeling. Hold yourself accountable for doing the neccessary acts that lead to the best possible outcome. Expect that it will happen because you have done what is right and just.
Be an active participant in hope. Don't just write it away onto a sheet of notebook paper and cast it to the wind. Find yourself living hope by working towards the outcome that you desire. Don't say something and wait to see if it lands in your lap.
Sometimes you'll be undercut. Life will hurt you. You'll even let yourself down. But, you got to believe in yourself and believe that you are capable of more. You have to see yourself crossing the finish line and not just looking at it.
Go out there and aim high, climb higher, and never look down.
Here is to hoping 27 is another great year. I hope this list has given you an idea for how to better live your your own life and attack your fitness.