Do you know the Sandman?

How do you sleep? How much do you sleep? How many times do you get up during the night?

These are important questions. We are all both busy and stressed. We rush from place to place. We have too much activity on our plates. And, we worry about having enough time to get everything done. Does this sound familiar?

The problem is that we carry this stress over into our sleep. We go to bed with thoughts of anxiety and deficit of time. And it is killing us.

Sleep is for recuperation. Our bodies and our minds need to rebuild themselves so we can start all over again the next morning. We damage our bodies just by being alive. Every night we rebuild. But we never rebuild fully. Which means there is still some damage left over every day. This is the aging process in very simplistic form. A little damage every day, compiled over days, weeks, months, years and decades eventually amounts to a weakened organism that is susceptible to disease and injury.

Knowing this, you should be more concerned with your own level of recuperation. You should be getting both more sleep and better quality of sleep.

The real rebuilding happens during REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. It’s the deepest level of sleep. The problem is that it takes a while for your body to get to that point. If it is interrupted (by snoring, pee breaks, noises, etc) it will then take you a while to get back to the REM state. So, your goal here is to stay in REM sleep as long as possible.

Here are a few hints to help you get better sleep.

  • Go to bed earlier…..DUH!!!!
  • Avoid drinking large amounts of water prior to going to sleep (pee breaks)
  • Avoid stimulants at night (coffee, tea, pre-workout, etc)
  • Avoid large meals just prior to bed
  • Write down your “To Do” list for tomorrow. Then let it go. Don’t replay it in your mind a thousand times. It is written down…..you don’t need to play it out as you lay in bed.
  • Meditate
  • Use soothing music or sounds (ocean, birds, etc) to relax.
  • Use timers to turn off your equipment (TV, cell phones, computers, etc)
  • Use shades and curtains that will completely darken your bedroom.
  • Earplugs if you are super sensitive to every little sound.

You need to prioritize your sleep. Some simple changes can go a long way towards improving your recuperation abilities. Nighty-Night.

You want to graduate from “Buff University”?

This whole working out and eating well thing is not easy. Well, at least, not as easy as eating whatever you want and hanging on the couch…..can we agree on that?

So where does it fall on the “difficulty” chart? Is it as tough as childbirth? Is it as hard as what our military men and women are dealing with overseas? Is it as challenging as what the Boston Marathon Bombing victims have had to overcome? Is it as difficult as getting a college degree?

Hmmmm? A college degree? It is definitely not as hard as those other choices but, a college degree? Maybe.

I think that there are a few parallels here. Getting a college degree requires consistency over a significant period of time. So does this fitness stuff. College requires some sacrifice. So does fitness. College means saying “no” to temptation at times. So does fitness. College is dependent on “creating good habits.” Same thing with fitness. There should still be some fun to go along with all the hard work in college. Fitness should be no different. You need to adapt to changes in college. Adaptation is important in fitness. You need to overcome obstacles in both college and fitness.

I like where we are going with this. Getting buff is very similar to getting a college degree. Why is this important you ask? Because if they are very similar that means your approach needs to be similar.

Most people don’t approach their fitness with the same fervor as they did with their education. That starts with mindset. Most think that college is one of the most important undertakings of your life. So, you act accordingly. If you were to approach your fitness with that same mindset you would be able to achieve remarkable things.

Success is a formula. There are principles that will be effective regardless of the area of your life you are trying to conquer. Careers, relationships, money, school, sports, etc, all require the same kind of commitment to be successful. There is a mindset, work ethic, commitment, approach, action and evaluation process that works for all of them. If you follow the formula, you find success. If you don’t, you won’t.

So approach your fitness endeavors the same way you would approach getting a college degree. You might just find yourself a graduate of Buff University.

Is the number “33” meaningful to you?

Boy, a couple days of nice weather really boosts your spirits, doesn’t it?

It makes you start longing for the summer and all the stuff you love to do like swimming, going to the beach, pool, lake, river, etc.

These early warm days should serve as a reminder that summer is right around the corner.

You can’t wait much longer to start getting that body ready for all the exposure.

There are only 11 weeks until July 4th!!! That is not a lot of time. You can accomplish quite a bit in that timeframe but you really need to start right away.

Let’s do the math.

1 lbs per week = 11 lbs

2 lbs per week = 22 lbs

3 lbs per week = 33 lbs

Your diligence to your program will determine which one of these you end up with. Less cheat meals and less missed workouts moves you closer to the 3 lb per week category.

What would you look and feel like without an extra 33 lbs? Really think about that. Would you feel better in a bathing suit? How about shorts and a tank top? How about a summer dress? A suit? Picture yourself in that attire.

Now look at your calendar.  Think about how you would look 33 lbs lighter. Look at your calendar. Think about 33 lbs lighter. Look at your calendar. Have I hypnotized you yet?

I hope you have a sense of urgency after this little hypnotic session. Time is ticking away. The decisions you make now, today, in this very moment, will determine how much you enjoy your entire summer.

Sacrifice now, enjoy later. That is how life goes. You can’t get to the hallowed ground without some work and sacrifice. The Fitness Fairy is not going to leave a jacked physique under your pillow tonight. There is no Leanness Bunny who leaves magic eggs for you. No Ab Santa with gifts under the tree. No Magic Pumpkin full of seeds that make you buff.

You need to do the work and put in the time. 33 lbs by July 4th…..it can be done. Start right now.

Are you invisible?

Raise your hands. How many of you are intimidated by other people being present while you are working out?

Wow!!!! That’s a lot of hands!

Does it prevent you from working out? Do you stop working out when someone else arrives? Do you purposely change your workout plans because of it?

Most people have this fear. It is normal. Unnecessary….but normal.

All it takes is a mind shift in order to conquer it. You have to shift from being embarrassed to being proud. It is that simple.

Most of us are worried about what other people might think. First off, we are a little self-centered to think that the whole world has nothing better to do than to watch us. I think we have this misconception that we are as popular as Tom Brady and if we were to be out in public everyone would be staring at us. Sorry. The truth is, the vast majority of the general public has no idea that you even exist. I’m not trying to mean, I’m just stating a fact. Everyone else is just as self-centered as you. They are too busy worrying about what everyone thinks of them to be concerned with what you are doing. Seriously.

Something else to consider is this. Do you have control over what someone thinks about you? Nope. No control at all. You could be the nicest person in the world yet some people will think you are phony. That’s just the way it is.

So let me translate this to working out. Let’s say you drop you son off at soccer practice. Normally you sit there watching practice instead of driving home only to return in a half hour to pick him up. You now have a full hour to either waste or get something done. What prevents you for doing some body weight exercises (push-ups, squats, etc) and jogging (or walking) around the soccer complex? I’ll bet that most of the reason is fear of what the other parents would think.

As I said you can’t control what others think. So what if all this time you were sitting there wasting time on Facebook that everyone was thinking “Boy, she has gained a few pounds. Maybe she should be exercising instead of playing on Facebook.”? Never thought of it that way did you?

Maybe, just maybe, you might even gain some respect from gawkers. Maybe you even inspire someone else to join you.

That is why I love this meme above. No one is watching, but if they were, show them what it means to take control of your life. Show them how hard you work. Show them how tough you are. Make them feel embarrassed that they aren’t putting forth the same effort. And make them say “I wish I could do that.”

That is how you conquer that fear. Take pride in managing your time, taking control of your health and happiness, conquering your fears and trying to better yourself.

Be a rebel. Put yourself out there. And stop worrying about what everyone else thinks. They don’t even see you.

Embrace the suck

I need you to ask yourself something. Are you just going through the motions? Are you giving 110%?

Before you answer, I want you to think about this in terms of two different areas.

  1. What is your % of workouts missed/made and % of sticking to your meal plan? If your plan is to do 5 weight trying sessions per week and you only get in 3…..that is a 60%……or a ‘D-“. If you plan on doing cardio 4 times per week and you only get 3…..that is a 75% or a “C”. And if you are supposed to stick with your meal plan seven days per week but you had a meltdown on Tuesday and ate a whole bag of chips, gave in to peer pressure and chugged down a few glasses of wine and ate off the plan on Friday night, and you attended a wedding on Saturday where you went off the rails again, then you did not follow your plan 3 out of 7 days this week……that is a 57%……or an “F”. So right now your report card has a D-, C and F on it. Your GPA is a “D”. See where I’m going with this?
  2. Are you leaving it all on the table when you train? Are you challenging yourself daily in the gym? I’ve been in the gym for 35 years. By my estimation, 90% of the people I see in the gym are not working hard. In my personal training experience I have found that most people have no idea how far they can push themselves. At the first sign of discomfort they stop or slow down. I’m talking about intensity here….not duration. Short but intense workouts……Anyone? Bueller?

I’m betting that most people relate to #1. If you were to provide a grade for your effort, you would probably be surprised at the outcome. It is math. It is hard to dispute. #2 is a different story though. It is hard to quantify intensity. I have an old school philosophy in regards to evaluating your prowess in the iron game. Here it is. Do you live for leg day? Leg Day sucks. Do you chase the suck? Or do you avoid it? Do you make excuses and do biceps instead? Do you make justifications and only do leg extensions instead of squatting and hitting the leg press? There it is. If you don’t chase the suck then you can’t expect dramatic changes.

People want dramatic results but aren’t willing to take dramatic action. Dramatic results don’t come about by average (or below average) effort. If you give “A” effort you will be guaranteed “A” results. That goes for the rest of the letter grades as well.

Ask yourself……Do I thrive on the suck?