Practice Fitness Daily

Our gym has a private members Facebook page, and recently the following questions were put forward in a post:

• What are your health and fitness goals (past/present) in the gym, or perhaps discussed in goal-setting with a coach – barbell or gymnastics goals, body composition, anything!
• What approach did you take/are you taking to reach these?
• If you have set and reached a health/fitness goal, what process got you there?

It resulted in some really thoughtful and encouraging discussion and contributions about motivations and processes from a number of our members which included celebrations of achievements, acknowledgements of struggles and discoveries of how much of our personal journeys of fitness can be both relatable and inspiring to others. Robin brought it to my attention and suggested I also leave a comment.

I recognize that as a fitness leader, having some transparency in what I do brings an external accountability – I have to walk my talk and practice what I preach. This pressure helps to keep me on task quite a bit. I believe this helped to keep me consistent with small actions that gradually strengthened into much stronger and reliable habits. Positive and intentional habits stack up. Negative, unintentional habits can stack up too.

I wish I could say that someday being fit becomes easy. It doesn’t. At least I haven’t found it to be so. But the work is worth it. Fitness brings freedom, and until the day it might become easy I will keep on practicing my fitness.

I’ve taken my own response from the Facebook post and shared it here, hoping to show some principles in developing as well as sustaining fitness that have worked for me.

What stands out to you?

“My health/fitness goals focus on still building and retaining physical strength as I get older [I am 48 year old], having the stamina to “throw down” in CrossFit workouts, and maintain the basic CrossFit skills (Toes to Bar, Double Under Skips, Handstand Push-Ups, etc). My goal is to also maintain a consistent body-weight that allows me to succeed at the physical goals (and during the lock-downs I was committed to being in charge of my eating habits regardless of circumstances). I also see making effort in recovery and managing stress as part of my training.

A significant part of my approach is in mental focus. My philosophy is to Practice Fitness Daily and I use Stoic philosophy in framing my approach to working on my goals and dealing with obstacles that naturally show up. Practice Fitness Daily means that every day I will do positive actions toward my goals. It doesn’t mean perfect action and some days are better than others, but it is the best action that I can do at that time. It is also, in part, why I do burpees to start my day – every day (1347 to date). I intentionally connect my identity to the positive actions I want to take (“I am the type of person who does burpees every day.” That person also works out when ‘the feeling’ isn’t there. That person also eats veggies at every meal – including breakfast, etc…)
The idea of practice takes the pressure of perfection off my shoulders. Practice doesn’t have to be perfect. I practice to get better and no one else can do my practice for me. And it’s in practice that we improve and prepare for challenging situations.

A big part of Stoicism is to recognize that while situations happen, we only own our response to those situations. Complaining shifts my focus to how I am a ‘victim’ of the situation, and I work to remind myself that I get to choose how I respond and I try to not complain about things as best I can.

I try to not get caught up in deciding if I feel like working out or eating the veggies. I’ve already had that conversation in my goal setting and made the decision. The uncomfortable need for motivation to do the thing that must be done doesn’t happen if I recognize that motivation isn’t necessary for a decision already made. I just need to take the first step and the habit starts to kick in.

I strength train 3-4/week, conditioning (Workout Of the Day or WOD, intervals, skills) 2-3/week, focus on hitting protein/veggies targets each day, eating slowly and stop eating before fullness. My workout schedule is shaped by goals and necessity. Some of my strength sessions take a full hour, so I can do some quick interval work as a finisher, other sessions allow for doing the WOD. I find my body stays better ‘tuned’ when I keep training momentum going during the week so I tend to average 4-6 workouts/week and try to get at least 1 rest day (usually Sunday).

I don’t recommend this next part for everyone, but I weigh myself MWF mornings and mentally use this to be mindful of weekend eating knowing I will need to weigh in Monday. I can frame these weigh-ins as detached data points.

I have worked at developing habits with an eye to being sustainable for years and this has helped me avoid extremes that are not sustainable and so frustrating. Over the course of many years of developing and practicing habits I have seen many ups and downs which are normal (again for emphasis – NORMAL!) when looked along a timeline of decades.

The difficulties and obstacles are not reasons to stop practicing, they are the reasons to keep on practicing.

Not a surprise that I, of course, failed at not being too wordy.
That’s OK, I’m still practicing at that too 😉 ”

– Coach Aaron

If you would like to sit down and talk about how to make fitness a better part of your lifestyle, you can schedule a free consult with me or one of our other awesome coaches directly HERE.