Information overload has led not only myself, but also society as a whole to over think almost every aspect of life. What is the ideal “dream life”, that often leaves people so paralyzed because they haven’t tried every opportunity available to them? Dan Ariely of Predictably Irrational believes that with too many options open, we will try to keep as many options open as unnecessarily needed, even if those options aren’t productive or conducive to our goals. Choose one straight and narrow path, and reap the benefit of everyone else being distracted by Twitter, Facebook updates, and Reddit forum posts.
This is also true in regards to health, fitness, and performance gains. We have too many exercise options and too many food choices on the way to and from the gym. Every trainer claims to have the answer to all your goals, and every food store claims to have the food that will drop your pant [size] instantly. This is great only if you can truly produce such results. But more often than not, it is just to make a quick buck that honestly won’t last very long. All sizzle and no steak as Alwyn Cosgrove puts it.
Exercise choice is something that many people are plagued with when they arrive at the gym. No plan in place, just go with the flow and see where the machines take you. Failing to plan is planning to fail. Exercises such as the squat, deadlift, military press, lunge, pull-ups etc. have existed way before a triceps pushdown or leg curl machine. Machines were made to make “fitness” available for anyone with a small learning curve. If you didn’t have access to all the latest fancy machines, what would you do to make sure you are strong enough to help out around the house?
Do we really need “super foods” to charge up our metabolism? What happened to regular ol’ food? I understand in this day and age our constant battle with fast food and different organic this and gluten-free that is on the forefront of every health-oriented person’s mind. But what differences would we get if we were to be stranded and left alone on an island, Cast Away style, and left to fend for ourselves? We wouldn’t be worried about carb loading and supplements – just worried on what and where the next meal will come from. I’m a firm component of the “less is more” paradigm, which is another reason why I subscribe to intermittent fasting – focus on the basics and everything else will fall into place when used intelligently.
So how can we apply this to the world of muscles?
- Identify the goal.
-If you don’t know what your goal is or if you haven’t decided on anything, this is the first step. Whether it is losing those creepy bat wings behind your arms, or those awkward man boobs that you hide behind a shirt whenever you go to a water theme park, identifying the goal and more importantly owning that decision is the first step.
- Seek a plan, or understand the steps necessary to achieving said goal.
This step can take a whole post (or a book even), as this is the question of life itself (at least in my perspective) – seeking to understand the why. But to make things short, seek out the necessary help or steps in order to facilitate and correct the issue at hand. So if you are seeking to understand the proper form for an exercise, getting a workout buddy if motivation is an issue, or even going to an fitness professional or strength coach to get continual guidance, these are all steps in the right direction towards your goal. Further, an incorrect way to ensure not getting results is to hop from program to program, continually do an exercise despite receiving injury after injury (*cough*longdistancerunning*cough*), or just not seeking professional help. Seriously folks, I put bread on the table because I can teach people to squat correctly.
- Act on said plan.
Commit to this plan like you just burned all your ships behind you, and the only way to succeed is by plowing through everything in your path. Aggressively get to your goal and don’t take no for an answer. I’ve been telling this to all of my buddies, friends, and family for everything in life – whether it is women, business goals, or what have you – persistence will prevail. Shoot me an e-mail, subscribe to an intelligent program, or get lost from a whirlwind of over thinking.
Did we achieve our goal? If not, what went wrong in the initial plan? Do we have to tweak it a little or modify it? Or scrap the whole thing and approach it from a different angle? Or can I just leave all the hard thinking to a smart, sexy man like Miguel so I can focus on the other important things in my own life? These are questions you should ask yourself after a period of time. Note – reflection does not imply over thinking, in which my sense of the word (over thinking) means analysis by paralysis. If your goal is to increase muscle mass, have you gained the necessary weight on a weekly basis? How about adding extra sweet potatoes to your meal at the end of every day? Or if fat loss is your goal, have you identified your triggers that makes you grab your favorite snack foods? How much real physical, no “I-had-a-birthday-party-myfriendflewinfromoutofstate-sowewentdrinking-butotherthanthat” weight have you lost since your identification of the your goal (see step 1). If you are constantly getting in your own way, seek professional help if you are gung-ho about your goals. Otherwise, have fun getting caught up in the process and creating wine-and-cheese-party conversation about how you keep on trying to lose weight but you can’t because of all the wine and cheese you are having.
The point behind this semi-rant / post is to identify that when we get comfortable, our rationale and decision making tend to create more difficulty than is necessary. For lunch, do I want Chick-Fil-A, Saladworks, Chipotle, or should I make my own salad? After 30 minutes of deciding, what do I want for lunch from their 15+ choice menu? Should I Twitter how awesome I am for getting a low calorie salad afterwards or for how awesome I am for getting a big meal after my workout? And in the grand scheme of things towards achieving your goals, how much time have you wasted over thinking everything? Choose a meal and stick to it. Kids, adults, old farts, everyone really – learn to excel at the basics, and don’t let your eyes wander around looking at every new fancy dime piece that cross your view.
And don’t forget to forward this on your Twitter and Facebook feeds while you’re at it.