Behind every goal lies a WHY.
“What do I have to do to get stronger?”
“Should I cut out carbs to lose weight?”
“How do I get rid of this (points at belly)?”
As experts in our field, our response to these common questions or so-called goals is WHY. If we don’t know WHY people want to achieve something, how can we truly help them succeed? The WHY is the driving force. It’s the reason people push through rather than giving up when times get tough. One cannot be “all in” without purpose, without a WHY.
This said, asking clients “Why?” should be a common response to basically any fitness or nutrition related question (like those listed above). If somebody wants to be the next Bo Jackson, play for the Oakland Raiders or Kansas City Royals, and thereafter break every record in the book, specific goals need to be set. For example, “I want to lose weight” is not the same as “I want to lose 10 lbs in 30 days because ________”.
As you can see, goal setting is a invaluable part of any conversation concerning training. Without specific purposeful goals, how can we, the experts, do our jobs well? How can we provide guidance and optimal programming if we do not know where or how far the finish line is (where the client or athlete wants to be)? In others words, how can we help people better themselves if we don’t know what they want and more importantly, WHY they want it?
As a performance specialist, the fun yet challenging thing is that performance has gone VIRAL. Performance is no longer something confined within four gym walls; it is everywhere from Facebook to Pinterest to bathroom stall advertisements. Don’t get me wrong, there are fun ideas out there. Still, there are exercises being poorly performed that lack any type of structure or standard. We are seeing all types of bizarre movements being demonstrated in conferences, seminars, and even YouTube. Trainers are using all kinds of “fancy” equipment such as bosu balls, sliders and ropes, performing every type of transverse plane squat. The point is, the basics aren’t being executed therefore the product lacks quality. Basics must be performed savagely well first, then we graduate to complexity…
So Anthony … What are the basics?
Here are a few fitness suggestions that I would like to point out before you go all WU Tang in the gym with a bunch of crazy exercises…
Goblet Squat – Can you handle a goblet squat with 50% of your body weight at least 12 times with your knee’s abducted and your feet glued to the ground?
Push Up – Can you perform at least 25 pushups within one minute? (full lockout no gimmicks)
1 Leg Holds – Can you balance on one leg for at least :15 seconds? If you can’t we might have an issue.
Pull Up – Can you perform at least 5 body weight pull ups?
Assault Bike – Can you ride continuously for 2 miles above 50 rpm?
Rational training + well balanced nutrition = Success
These basic suggestions performed consistently over time can have a large benefit on the human body both physically and mentally.
FOOD IS FOUNDATIONAL
Exercise and nutrition principles are very similar. For example, if someone can’t properly execute a basic, 2-legged body weight squat, we’re not going to have them load it(add weight) and we definitely aren’t going to progress to a rear foot elevated (RFE) split squat.
The same concept applies when it comes to nutrition. You can’t expect results if you don’t have a solid, wholesome foundation. This foundation includes minimally-processed, nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats. Shakes, bars and pills that promise unrealistic, speedy results are not MAGICAL and are certainly not meant to replace real food. You can achieve the same results with avocados, salmon, blueberries, a legitimate exercise program and CONSISTENCY. Plus, supplements actually work best when complimented with a well-balanced diet (it says it on most labels) so don’t think for a second that you can eat junk food on the daily and take a pill to make up for it. Just like you can’t out-exercise a bad diet, you can’t out-supplement a bad diet either.
FOOD IS FUEL
Want your engine to run smoothly? Want to be more energized? Want your body to look “polished”? Feed your engine appropriate amounts of wholesome food packed with vitamins, minerals, disease-fighting antioxidants and inflammation-reducing omega-3 fats. Do this 80-90% of the time and you will start to see results, whether your goal is weight loss, increasing lean mass or optimizing performance.
RESULTS = QUALITY + QUANTITY + CONSISTENCY
FOOD IS FUTURE-ORIENTED
Though we often think about the food we eat one day or one week at a time, we should always keep the big picture in the mind – the future. What we do in terms of nutrition may not impact our health today or tomorrow, but will most definitely play a major role 10, 20, 40 years from now. Take heart disease for example, the number one killer of both men and women in America. More often than not, it is preventable with a healthy diet and lifestyle, the best weapons to fight heart disease.
In terms of sports nutrition, think of athletes that might only eat appropriately on game day. For example, they might eat nothing but sugary cereal, Mountain Dew and pizza ALL WEEK, but once game day rolls around, they choose to actually fuel their bodies with pasta, chicken and fruit. Think about it; if these athletes treated every day like game day by eating right and getting more rest, imagine how much greater they would be. The thing is, you have to be somewhat consistent to start to see any results. Just like one bad meal isn’t going to make or break your diet, one healthy meal isn’t going to make you a superstar.
FOOD IS FITTING
It’s important to find a balance between fueling your body and feeding your cravings. Pasta, bread, bananas and ice cream do not have to be cut out – all foods fit! As a dietitian, I have seen it time and time again: DIETS DON’T WORK. This is because diets are quick fixes including some unsustainable form elimination or deprivation. In other words, diets are not meant for the long run and will leave you feeling more than just hungry.
Hence, when my clients ask me if they should go on the _____ diet, I ask them one simple question:
“Can you picture yourself following this diet for 18 months straight?”
If the answer NO (which is almost always the case), I ask the client to strongly reconsider. Though the diet may result in weight loss initially, chances are you will not be able to sustain the diet and will gain the weight back. The bottom line is, the best diet is the one YOU can adhere to long term.
Follow The Right Path:
Moving more, lifting weights, and eating well 90% of the time can support and upgrade any type of goal we have in life. We do not have to reinvent the wheel to be successful. We should seek out what the best people in our field are doing, follow the path they have paved, and learn from them. The bottom line is, unless you have invented a new rocket ship, or the next plan to rid all traffic, someone else has already been on the road we are currently on. Follow the original recipe and master it before you try to toil with some new spices.
You don’t need much more than a linear periodization model for your training, a few minutes everyday on the basics of technique, and at least an hour a week with a dietitian like Danielle Rancourt.
Picture your life 10, 20, 30 years from now if you continue on the path you are currently on. Does it look promising? It is everything you ever dreamed of? We should always strive to be healthier, wiser, and better human beings. Our goals and dreams should intertwine our nutrition and training with our family and community. However, these goals and dreams need some fuel in order to come true, and that fuel is your WHY.