One of life's greatest tragedies is never having started on the path towards something we deeply desire because of self-imposed limitations.
Are you limiting yourself because you are too scared to start or change, unmotivated, too distracted by things that are unimportant, or not understanding your purpose? Tomorrow is not guaranteed, here is how we start living for today.
We can get so easily caught in the daily rhythms of our lives that it takes a catastrophic event like a death or illness to shake us from our stagnant routines and remind us of what really matters.
"Two of the most valuable things we have are time and our relationships with other people." - C. Chang
There is an exceptional Ted Talk by Candy Chang on acknowledging what we want to do before we die. Her talk, linked in the above quote, calls listeners to remember how brief and fragile life can be, and not to be overtaken by life's many distractions.
Daily monotony, material obsession, and technological distraction are all major detractors from building genuine relationships or valuing each day, if we let them.
Finding Deep Meaning
Knowing your purpose in this world makes living in the present moment a much more clear and achievable task. Simon Sinek, TED speaker and creator of Start with Why, has a host of resources to help you dive into discovering life fulfillment, many of which were born out of his own painful journey to self-discovery.
It is one thing to know ones meaning and purpose, but it is another to act on it. Doing is usually the most difficult part of any large undertaking. If it weren't, then everyone would be a fit, tan, well-groomed, multi-millionaire.
Taking Actionable Steps
Fear is one form of paralysis that keeps us from doing the things that propel us towards success and happiness.
Mel Robbins, another well known TED and motivational speaker, talks about if-then planning and anchor thoughts as they relate to getting past fear in her book, The 5 Second Rule.
An anchor thought is a thought that is relevant to the situation you are about to enter that can calm you if you need it. It sets you up for success before you step into a situation you know you're afraid of.
Robbins uses the example of her fear of flying. As she starts to feel the gut reaction of anxiety as the plane ascends or undergoes turbulence, she shifts her thinking from the fuselage splitting in half followed by a fiery death to arriving at her destination and enjoying a pleasant meal with a client or family.
"Plan A, don't get nervous. BUT, if I get on the plane and I start to panic and start to feel afraid then I have my plan B." - M. Robbins
The point is, give your mind the context it's looking for, that way it doesn't escalate the fear and you can put the kibosh on anxiety before it hijacks your stomach and thoughts.
I can automatically think about this for myself when it comes to public speaking. It is something I absolutely dread and get unpleasant physical reactions to when I allow anxiety to take over the controls.
Instead of allowing myself to not saying anything at all because I'm so self-focused on everyone looking at me and staring at physical imperfections or waiting for me to trip on my words, I shift my thoughts to the value of what I have to say.
I recognize that what I have to say is important, and that if articulated well, they can absorb the information and then implement it into their own lives, thereby having an easier time because of it. This reduces my anxiety as it shifts my own focus off of myself and onto what's important - them.
The point to all of this, is that even the most successful people in the world struggle with the things you do. We are all human.
And we can also all learn from one another to better understand how to live our lives with meaning and fulfillment.
I want this of you! My yells of encouragement from the room I currently sit in only go so far, so join the self-made movement to receive email updates with more helpful content.
People will sell you whatever they think sounds good in order to take your money: "5 Steps to Skinny Thighs", "4 Weeks to Six Pack Abs", "101 Ways to Lose Weight".
I really wish these people would switch to selling used cars, because most of us can't be fooled into buying a car with brakes that don't work.
However, many of us fall victim to one of the biggest American paradoxes of the 21st century, we are an unhealthy nation obsessed with health.
The list of fad diets available to you on the internet or in the form of books should be a downright crime. I'm going to be blunt, but why do we think we can have a healthy body without putting in real work?
Where many of us go wrong, is that we've been programmed to believe we need to look a certain way and get caught constantly comparing ourselves to that unrealistic image.
We start believing that I need or have to lose weight to look like the actor or actress I saw on this or that ad, or that I want a beach body, six pack, or to fit into my wedding dress.
What we don't realize, is that these vanity driven goals are the first step towards failure. How do you think the health industry makes millions? It's messed up, but it's largely off of your desperate need to look a certain way and cyclical failure in doing so.
I'll let you in on the secret these companies and gyms don't want you to learn: if you want to achieve all these outcomes, then you need to reprogram your mindset, and here's how.
Go Against What Society Wants
Everyone is a little vanity driven, I totally get it because at times I am too, it's what makes us human. Yet, what society has placed premium on for years now, is for you to look a certain way. What you should want, is to feel a certain way.
Through education and my own experiences working with my clients, it is my firm belief that if we reprioritized our values and placed health and the pursuit of happiness a step above appearance, our goals would be easier achieved.
Look more closely:
Without your health you can't be your best for your family, friends, partner, etc., and in reality, happiness is one byproduct of good health, it leads to lower stress levels, more energy, better hair, skin, and nails, more confidence, higher sex drive, and so on. Ah yes, just a few ingredients that help to cultivate happiness.
So why are we focusing on appearance first? Appearing healthy does not mean you necessarily are, just look at the misconstrued reality Social Media and Photoshop can create.
Your happiness has to be genuine, social media doesn't know when you are lying to them, but at the end of the day, you do.
Go Towards What You Want
So how about this, imagine your goals as they pertain to health, because for all of us that can be very different.
For me, I love to wake up feeling stronger, more mobile, in less pain, and more energized throughout the day. What results as a natural byproduct of these things is a happier me and healthy body.
The health industry is smart, they also don't see you as a person, but as a consumer. This is a disservice to you, it does not have to be all about pant size, body fat percentage, or looking like the Calvin Klein or swimsuit models you see in ads.
See through it! YOU are important, not the bottom-line of the supplement companies and gyms trying to take advantage of your human weakness.
No More "Shoulds"
My final take away, try not to be so self-focused on this image you have in your head of how you should look because you will likely venture down a dark path of disappointment and unhappiness.
The worst outcome? You create an unhealthy relationship with food, labeling them as bad or good, and view exercise as punishment. If not you, someone you know.
I "Won't" Power Challenge
What is the "stickiest" habit in your life? What would you like to give up or do less of because it's undermining your health, happiness, or success?
I "Want" Power Challenge
What is the most important long-term goal you'd like to focus your energy on? What immediate "want" is most likely to distract you or tempt you away from this goal?
Many of us fall victim to the distorted societal view of fitness and taking shortcuts to get there.
If we actually reversed the common way of thinking, from appearance driven work to health driven work, ironically, appearance would be a natural, and more likely outcome.
Motivation is a tricky and fickle thing, and making sure we are selecting the right motivating factors can have tremendous impact on our long-term success. Take on the "Want, Won't, and Will Challenge" inspired by The Willpower Instinct, and start reprogramming your mindset today.
McGonigal, K. (2012). The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It. New York, NY: Avery.
We live in a day and age much different than our parents, in which childhood obesity has increased 3 fold since the 1970's. This means that one in five kids are dealing with not just being overweight, but having a BMI in the 95th percentile for age and sex.
Most of our attention has been drawn to this topic and getting kids active in general, thus begging the question of how young is too young to start lifting?
Regardless of their present fitness state, getting kids involved in activity is a minimum requirement to building a healthy life. The next goal should be getting them involved in a structured fitness program in which they can learn how to properly move.
The activity kids do doesn't matter just as long as they enjoy it, and the beautiful part of childhood is that there are many opportunities to be active. It is imperative kids establish healthy habits like moving every day, early on.
As a parent, teacher, coach, or mentor of any sorts, the youth in our lives look up to us to model good examples for them. That being said, get moving with your kids.
Don't be a shuttle or sideline parent who financially provides for, and physically transports, their kids to and from activities. Instead, take your kiddo to, and share with them, the activities you enjoy.
Picking the right programs
Now, there is some common sense that comes along with this. If things are taught and done the right way, your kiddo will come out for the better; however, the risk stands that if they are improperly taught or unsupervised, they could obviously end up getting hurt.
Having them work with fitness professionals, so that the professional can appropriately scale movements to their age, will always be the best bet. A generally important rule in regards to this, is only body-weight until 8, as the National Institute of Health recommends that kids do not work with weight until they are at least 8 years old.
There are great programs out there to help make this easy for you as a parent, one of which is CrossFit Kids, which has been around since 2004 and works with ages as young as 3.
Younger kids learn how to properly do basic movement patterns such as squatting, running, lunging, push ups, etc. and older kids will work with light weights that do not fully tax muscles.
A final note in program selection, is that the child sees an activity as "play" and something enjoyable, not as a form of punishment, which can be very counterproductive.
Enhanced Bone Density
Regular participation in an exercise program actually improves bone density in children and adolescents much in the same way it does for adults. Our bones respond in a similar fashion as our muscles when put under extra stress induced by weight bearing activities. This response increased tissue formation, i.e. stronger, more ossified bones.¹
With weight training, young athletes also are less likely to incur injuries. In fact, they are less likely to get hurt lifting (properly) than they are when playing sports, as studies by the National Sports & Conditioning Association show that the forces placed on a child’s joints are higher during a sport-like activity than during resistance training.²
Higher Functioning Nervous System
Resistance training better prepares a child for all types of activity. This is largely in part due to the accelerated development of the nervous system (i.e. myelin pathways) and indicates that our more "naturally" gifted athletes most likely were dabbling in all types of movements from a younger than average age.³
To better understand this, think of throwing an object. You’ve probably thrown with your dominant arm hundreds of times, but what happens when you try throwing with your non-dominant arm?
1. Baechle, T. & Earle, R. (2008). Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning, 3rd Edition. National Strength and Conditioning Association.
2. Baechle, Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning, 3rd Edition, 136.
3. Coyle, D. (2009). The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born, it’s Grown. Here’s How. New York, NY: Bantam Dell.
4. Coyle, The Talent Code.