Why some people are fitter than you are

 

andrea ager

 

If I was a statistics girl (I’m not at all, but I’m gonna go there for a sec) I would say that 25% of the people that walk into my gym have a mindset to kill it.  To dominate.  To work their tails off.  They also are consistent with this mindset.  Not just until they get to a certain weight, but for their whole lives.   The remainder of people come in out of obligation.  Because they know they have to if they want to be healthy. Because they want to fit into a pair of jeans or wear a bikini. They just do what they’re told.  I’m going to throw out an observation and say that group B (the 75%) are also cereal dieters.  They follow trends.  They can lose a lot of weight but then gain it back just as fast.

Two people can start working out at the same time, do the same workouts, eat basically the same type of diet but have completely different results. Why is this?  Why do some people get fit way faster than others?  Why do some people, despite working out every day, stay the same?

Trust me, there are a plethora of answers to this question.  But the one I want to tap into today is mindset.  The difference between a fit person and an unfit person is fit people have constant determination, perseverance, strong will power and an urge to dominate.

Every time a person comes to me and says they’re not competitive, its almost as if they are throwing in the towel.  Think about all of the amazingly in shape people you know.  I guarantee they are some of the most competitive people you have ever met.

Your mind can be your best friend or your worst enemy.  The difference between you doing amazing things or you being stagnant is all in how you talk to yourself.   If you are walking up to the bar and this is your inner voice…”oh crap, this is heavy.  I’ve never done this before.  I don’t think I can do this.  I’m going to look stupid.”  Well guess what?!  You’re right!  You will do all of those things if that’s what you’re telling yourself.

Where as a competitive person walks up to that same bar and says “All Freaking Day!”  Guess who’s in better shape

They are doing the same movements as you are but their workout is more beneficial because they have more energy output than you.  Meaning they are more explosive.  They are pushing themselves to their limits, where as you are just doing your workout to “get it in”.   Think of the body of a sprinter.  Their energy output is 100% for short periods of time.  They have amazing physiques.  Think of fit people as sprinters.  The non-fit people would be like a jogger.  The harder you can go, the better you will be.

How is else is a fit person different?  Fit people go into withdrawals if they miss a week at the gym.  Fit people will skip girls night out because they have to get their workout in.  Fit people stay after class to work on weaknesses.  Fit people research movements they want to get better at.  They will make an excuse to GO to the gym.  When they calculate weight for their sets and it comes up at 136 lbs, they automatically do 140.  They don’t skip reps.  When something burns or is hard, they push harder. They eat a ton of food because they want to smash their workout.  They are confident.  They don’t whine when something is hard.  They don’t need a coach yelling at them so they put in 100%.  They push themselves to exhaustion.  They are leaders.

Obviously, being fit isn’t always easy.  It isn’t something people are born with (most people anyway).  Its a decision.  Its will power, its mindset and its borderline obsession.  Its a skill that needs to be practiced and it comes along with a lot of sacrifices.  Not everyone has what it takes, or we wouldn’t be the most obese nation in the world.  But now you know you can change it.  You CAN be the person you want to.  Its not about achieving a body type, its about how you view life.  Are you going to grab it by the horns or are you doing to be part of the herd?

And before I get load of comments, No, that first picture is not me. I won’t lie and say I wish it was though ;)

Your Body: Performance vs. Self Image

I get to work with a lot of people every day! I really feel like I have one of the most fulfilling jobs out there!  Getting to train people and watching them see their own potential and gain a passion for fitness is like the gift that keeps on giving.  However, there are stressful times too.  Both for the athlete, and myself as their coach.  I have had countless occasions when I have been approached with depressed, overworked and frustrated people!  They are usually like this because they are unhappy with their body.  It doesn’t look the way they want it to or they don’t weigh what they want to, even though they are putting in their workouts.  They all want to know what they are doing wrong and they want to know how to fix it.  So, maybe this post will save me some of those conversations in the future:

1.  Be freaking realistic!!!  There are different body types out there.  Even within a family!  My sister and I look a LOT alike.  But we are shaped totally different.  My body will never be built like hers, and hers will never be built like mine.  If you are short and stockier, you will never have the body of a supermodel.  There is no reason to get depressed and sit around with a 1/2 gallon of ice cream over it!  Some people are built to be super skinny and have a really hard time gaining muscle.  They will probably never be huge and buff.  Its not part of their genetic make up!

2.  Accept your body for what it is.  In a yoga class I was told to thank my body for the hard work it does for me every day.  This helped me realize a few things.  First, my body is incredible.  Not because of how it looks, but because of what it can do!  I can walk around, I can pick my kids up, I can lift and jump and run.  I am SO grateful for that!  Second, if I am able to do the things I love then what do I have to complain about?!  That I have a dimple under my butt cheek?  Are you kidding me!?!?!  There is NOTHING more attractive than a woman who is confident in her own skin.  I am strong and I am healthy and I could give two craps for what my scale says.

SO, you’re wondering “how does this tie into performance?”

Here is my golden rule.  Performance rules!  Worry about performance first! Stop placing value on your pants size or your weight.  Take that dream body image you have in your mind and throw it out the window.  It does not motivate, it de-motivates.  Instead, switch that image to a performance goal.  A weight you want to lift.  A skill you want to get better at.  A workout you want to PR at.  Then come to me and say “what can I do?” Now we’re on to something.  This is something we can work with.  If you get stronger, faster, more explosive, better technically, YOUR BODY WILL FOLLOW!  It will not be Halle Berry’s body, it will be YOUR body!  You need to love this body.  You need to be your own super model.   IMG_1165

Get your kids to eat healthy!

I get asked a lot for tips on getting kids to eat healthy. Let me first start off by saying that, if its not good enough for you to eat, then you shouldn’t be feeding it to your kids. There is no reason to make 2 different options at every meal! Everyone should eat the same things. If your diet is important to you because you want to be healthy, then it should be just as important that you feed your kids that way! Why on earth would I feed my kids hot dogs, while I am sitting over here eating chicken and veggies?!?

1. Don’t have unhealthy options at home. YOU go grocery shopping. YOU put the items in your cart. YOU pay money for these items. The common denominator here is YOU! Children have zero control over the food in your house unless you allow them to. If kids have the choice between chips or fruits and veggies, they will most likely choose chips! It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out!!
2. If it stresses you out, then don’t take them shopping with you. They will whine and try and get you to buy junk. If you want to brave it, like I have to most of the time, try and turn it into a game. “Lets find which foods are healthy.” “help me put the food in the bag” or “point out which foods are unhealthy” This doesn’t always curb fits, but you never know, they might surprise you.
3. When they make a healthy food choice, praise them!! “wow! I am so proud that you made such a healthy choice and it makes me happy to know that your body is growing big and strong!!”
4. The opposite end of number three. When they make a bad choice, don’t make a huge deal about it! They are going to go to birthday parties and have too much cake. They will go to school and their friends will give them cookies. If you make them feel bad, they are just going to turn into secret eaters. I had this problem with my daughter and a good friend mentioned that as long as I am feeding them healthy at home, when the occasionally go out and eat bad, its not such a big deal.
5. Dipping sauces! If I have to put cheese or sauce on something to get my kids to eat it, then so be it! There is a great recipe on here called tzatziki (tuh-zee-kee) at home. It is made from greek yogurt and it tastes just like ranch dressing. My kids love this! They also love almond butter and peanut butter with apples and celery. I also make honey mustard for chicken. I use a couple tablespoons of mustard, some mayo and honey to taste. The absolutely love this sauce!
6. Last night for dinner I steamed asparagus, snap peas and broccoli. I shredded some cheese and put it on the veggies back into the steamer for a minute or two. Its was gooey and delicious. I served it with baked tilapia. As soon as I set it on the table, my 2 year old grabbed a huge bite of the tilapia and i ran for my camera. i said “Everyone, look at Myla eating her food!” And I took a picture. Soon everyone was saying “take a picture of me eating my broccoli!” or peas or what ever. They all cleaned their plates. I was happy!

Dinner last night:

IMG_0961 7. Notice how I served asperagus, snap peas and broccoli. They aren’t going to like everything. There are still veggies that I won’t eat as an adult, like lima beans. But sometimes it takes just putting it on their plate a few times to get them to try it. Most likely they won’t touch it and I will just put it in my husband’s lunch for the next day. But just because they don’t eat something, don’t give up on it. I swear I have fed my kids sweet potatoes 1000 times. My oldest still gags, but she is older and I can say “You have to eat 5 bites” or whatever.

Don’t give up on your kids’ diet!  A diet is not something that you ever get “done” with.  Its not a temporary thing.  It is something learned that you keep  doing for the rest of your life!  How amazing will it be for your kids to grow up with healthy eating habits!?  Can you imagine not having cravings or struggles because you were well disciplined and educated as a child!?  Remember, education, praise and patience is the key!  Good Luck!

Grains. Should you or shouldn’t you?

For those of you that have followed this blog for a while, you might remember when I was a staunch paleo dieter.  No grains, no dairy and the like.  Its the popular thing to do, especially in the crossfit community.  Did I lose weight on that diet?  Yes.  Did I get lean?  Yes.  But did I get stronger and have more energy?  Was totally giving up bread and dairy sustainable for me?  I realized, after lots of consideration, that it wasn’t.  I love bread.  I want toast with my eggs and cheese.  Then came the realization…what kind of life is it to feel guilty about enjoying the things that I love?!  No kind of life I want to live, I’ll tell you that much.  So, how then, was I going to enjoy grains without gaining back the fat that I lost?  Here is what I have found to work for me.  I eat the bulk of my grains mostly in the morning, particularly right after my workouts.  A huge bowl of oatmeal or a nice big toasted tuna sandwich.  One thing I don’t do is eat grains all day long.  I usually am done with them by the early afternoon.  And just because I allow them doesn’t mean I blow it out of proportion either.  I still keep my carb intake under control.

image

For instance, this sandwich is 2 slices of whole grain bread, 3 oz of tuna with 1 Tablespoon of mayo and curry.  I paired that with 1/2 cup of greek yogurt and 1/2 tablespoon of honey.  I can just hear the gasps of the paleo community now!  This satisfying meal was 372 calories, 39 G carbs, 36 G protein, 7 g of fat.  In my new diet world, that is right on par where I want to be.  I eat meals around that ratio about 5 times per day.  Given, the latter part of the day grains are not included.  And my last meal of the day usually doesn’t include more than 15 g of carbs. Eating this way has helped me burn fat and gain a lot more muscle.  It has given me more energy and most importantly, I don’t feel deprived of anything.  (keep in mind, we’re talking grains here and not sweets ;)  Those are reserved for my saturday evening meals.  However, I have found them less tempting since I brought grains back into my diet.  But, I am no dietitian. this diet works amazingly for me.  If grains don’t make you perform better, then don’t eat them.  But if you miss them and love them, stop beating yourself up over them!!  And when I’m talking about grains I mean whole grains here people.  Now go and eat and for goodness sake, stop starving yourselves!!!

Count not what is lost, but what is left

front squatI remember in 3rd grade racing my PE class for a lap around the track.  The wind blowing in my face, pumping my scrawny little arms, long legged, knock knees flyin’ everywhere.  I finished 20 seconds ahead of everyone, even the fastest boy.  I don’t remember that teacher’s name, or what he/she looked like, but I do remember what was said.  I was told that I did a great job, that I was fast and most importantly, that I was an athlete. From that moment on there was something different in me.  I developed a desire to win.  A desire to be the best.  That desire has pushed me and helped me achieve so many things in my life.  But it’s also plagued me.  And until recently, I hadn’t realized that there is a price to pay for being competitive.

My price…I fear failure.  I fear it so badly to the point where it hinders my performance and makes me pass up on things that I would normally do and enjoy.  I get so into my head about things.  Physically I know I am able to do these things, but I think “what if I can’t?” or “what if I don’t beat that PR?”  The problem that I have when it comes to competing is that I feel my performance is a reflection of my self worth.

Some of you will tell me to man up or grow a pair, and I do most of the time.  I put on my big girl panties and get the job done, but that doesn’t take away the mind games.  Now comes the part of my post where I write about these great solutions and how I’ve overcome this.  Except, I don’t really have all the answers.  I mean, just because I write doesn’t mean I know everything.  I just have to post a bunch of crap and make sure it sounds good.  I have, however received some answers as I’ve been composing this little post (that as I’m reading, makes it sound like I’m a freakin’ wuss).

My realization…What if I don’t win?  What if I don’t get that PR?  So.Freaking.What?!  I need to turn this around.  Instead of fearing not being good enough, I need to revel in it.  Not being good enough means only that I can get better.  It means that I have something to strive for.  The best will always be beaten eventually because being the best at something can’t be sustained forever.

But what about when the best are beaten? Does this mean that they are all of a sudden “less” of an athlete? Michael Jordan won 626 games with the Chicago Bulls, but in that time he lost 358 times.  Do those losses mean that he isn’t the greatest athlete in the “history of the world” (as my husband puts it)?  No.  He is the greatest.  And there, my friends, lies my answer.   The greats will always lose, but it doesn’t change the fact that they are great.  I will lose but it doesn’t mean that I’m not good or strong.  Losing is natural but that doesn’t mean it’s acceptable.  So compete!  And when you lose (because you will) pick your butt up and train harder.

The Whiteboard Obsession

Here’s the dirt.  Mainly for crossfit newbies, but I see it happen with you seasoned folks as well.  It even happened to me.

Crossfit sometimes gets a bad rap because of the volume of injuries.  So, why so many injuries?  Its because most of us are a bunch of prideful b holes that would rather kill ourselves trying to do something we probably shouldn’t be doing.  “RX or die!” You know who you are.

The Shrine

white board

Example #1

I can remember a time quite a few months ago training a newbie. It was probably his first or second week of training and the workout had 135 lb clean and jerks.  Now this kid had never really done clean and jerks before but he was hell bent on doing this workout RX.  In warm ups I had him show me a few at 95.  Looked pretty good.  Not Olympic status by any means, but ok.  Then 115.  ehhh.  115 was probably pushing it.  I walk off to go check another person’s form and see him trying the 135.  Back arched big time on the pull, leaning back like crazy on the catch.  I can see it in his eyes “I got this up so I’m going for it.”  Oh geez!  So now I have to tell homeboy that just because he can lift that up doesn’t mean that he should.  Then comes the fit throwing.  Then comes the “I’m just going to do this until it gets to heavy and then drop the weight”  Which is all well and good with me if your form’s okay but his wasn’t.  So now I’m the bad guy.  Next thing you know, kid can’t even come back to workout for a week because his back is so sore. People!  When your trainer suggests you drop the weight, you need to listen!!!!!

Example #2

Excited guy that hasn’t ever done a crossfit WOD but has to prove to me that he can do 3 dead hang pull ups in a row.  Yay!  Lets have a party.  I’m happy you can do 3 pull ups in a row.  But when you have to do fran, there is no way you are going to dead hang your way through that shiz.  When I say use a band, just use one.  Please.

I am all for getting you stronger.  That is my job.  Its what makes me happy. It is also my job to scale your workout to what would suit you best.  Especially to help you avoid injury.

Example #3

Those souls that walk straight into the gym and stare at every score and modification of every person that ever worked out.  Is crossfit a competitive sport?  Absolutely.  But you should NEVER focus on what everyone else is doing.  You need to start being competitive with yourself.  Keep a journal to note your progress.  Who cares if “joe bob” did helen in 8 minutes.  For all you know “joe bob” didn’t get his chin above the bar on his pull ups. or didn’t get his kettle bell over head.  You need to focus on you, not the stupid board.  Some days you may have an off day, and that’s okay.  We all do now and then.  If you’re not feeling the prescribed workout, then don’t do it.  But if your form is good and you’re just being a wuss, I will probably make you do it RX anyway.

So kids… Do YOUR best, not someone else’s!

That is all :)

(PS, if I used you in these examples, I’m sorry:)

Top 5 things you should work on to become a better athlete

5. Running.  Sprints preferably.  Have you ever run 400 meter sprints?  It sucks pretty bad.  But its really great for you.   Do sprints once or twice a week.  Occasionally do some long runs.  Very occasionally.  Running long distances doesn’t make you a better athlete in case you were wondering.  If you do lots of sprints, then you can pretty much run any long distance you want because you have awesome lung capacity and strong legs.  I don’t know why people don’t get this…

4.  Mobility.  Yep, getting flexible. You don’t need to wrap your leg around your head or anything, but get comfortable in a low squat position with your weight on your heels and your chest up.  Now, there is such a thing as too flexible.  Your muscles need tension to get up from out of a squat or do a heavy dead lift.  Sometimes people who are overly limber have trouble going heavy.

3. Gymnastics.  Body control is where its at.  Muscle ups, hand stand walks and push ups.  People who have great body control are usually pretty good at everything.  Get good at gymnastics and you’ve got a good thing going for you.

2. Heavy lifting.  You’re not going to get stronger if you’re not trying to get stronger.  Lift heavy, often.  Almost every day.  Back squat, front squat, dead lift, bench press.  Get buff already

1.  Olympic lifting.  “The snatch is the carry over to every athletic endeavor in your life.  You are mobile, fast, conditioned and have control of your body.”  Rudy Nielsen.  So…snatch and clean and jerk is where its at.  Practice those every day.  And find a coach and/or record yourself so you can make yourself better.  No point trying to get good at such technical moves if you don’t critique it.

Now, I have one more, but I thought that “top 5” sounded way better than “top 6”.

Mental game!!  When your body tells you “no”, but your mind tells you “yes”.  Or sometimes your mind and body are saying “no” and its sheer,stubborn will power.  What ever it may be, you need to stay determined.  Push your limit. Every time

Disclaimer:  This is my opinion.  If you have a different idea on what the top 5 should be, write your own blog about it :)