Friday, February 20, 2015

Fitness is...

The Good Life

What is it, where can you find it, and how do you live it?

Let me begin by admitting that “the good life” probably means something slightly different to everyone.  I can’t possibly presume to know what is most important to each and every one of you, let alone unlock the secrets to achieving those things in a single article.  But what I can do is strip away the garbage heap of myths, stereotypes, and misnomers the vast majority of us fall victim to while striving for this promise land.  If I have to generalize a bit in the process of doing so, please forgive me. 

Let’s start with the “What”…  What is the good life?  When most people think of the good life, they envision retirement.  Golf, a book by the pool, the overall absence of work.  They imagine a life when they will finally have the money, time, and resources to travel the world or spend more afternoons with their kids and grandkids. I think for most, the good life is some form of a utopian vacation. 

Myth #1: The good life is location/activity dependent.  Actually, these are irrelevant.  Your happiest moments can occur in the home, on vacation, or at work.  They can happen while reading a book, running on an abandoned trail, or watching your favorite TV show with your spouse.  If you think back to some of your favorite memories, you’ll probably realize that there aren’t many consistencies when it comes to location, activity, or even the people you are with.  The only constant is your state of mind.  If you’re stressed or distracted, the most incredible location on earth will appear plain and even irritating.  If you’re relaxed and tuned in, everything is beautiful.  This state of mind is the critical marker.  Putting yourself in it more often is the secret to living happier and better.

Second, where is the good life?  Or, to put it better, when?  At one time or another, most of us have been sold the idea that the good life is something we have to wait for.  “You gotta pay your dues,” they say.  That’s why kids are put on a track for retirement at age 12, when they’re told their grades in middle school will determine their placement in a quality private or prep school, which will then determine their chances of getting accepted to a fine university, which will then allow them to pursue a quality masters degree, which will then open up doors for a PhD or professional position, where they can finally start paying off their student loans, re-establish their credit, and begin saving for a house, after which they can start having kids and start putting away money for their college tuitions, and so on.  Meanwhile the life they want to live is on layaway until all these other responsibilities are handled. 

Myth #2: The good life happens in the future.  Two problems here:  Number one, this implies that the bulk of your life is meant to be spent preparing for something that isn’t guaranteed.  That’s a pretty big gamble if you ask me, especially if you’re offering your health and sanity as part of the buy in.  Number two, if you think you’re going to spend your whole life as a worker bee, then all of a sudden flip the switch and turn into a character from Jimmy Buffet song, you’re crazy.  Building a happy state of mind, like everything else, takes practice. You have to teach yourself to be relaxed, grateful, accepting, and, most important, present.  These behaviors must be honed over years until they’re habits.  That means if you ever want to live the good life, you need to start now. 

Finally, the “How”… How do you live it?  The default answer to this question is to work less and play more, but that doesn’t always work.  Follow my logic here:  We take time off work to take more vacations, do more date nights, and visit more colleges with our kids.  We do all the things we think we’re supposed to do to enjoy life to the fullest, while at the same time trying to ignore the reality that all of this costs money, money that we really don’t have enough of.  Eventually, the bills pile up and we go back to work to try and buttress our bank account with enough income to stay comfortable, taking time away from the vacations, the dates, and the kids. Which means we’re back at square one.  The harsh reality is, unless you are in the top 1 percent of the population, you probably can’t afford to purchase the good life.  The good news is you really shouldn’t have to.

Myth #3: The good life is expensive.  It’s not.  We already established that location and activity are not the most relevant factors at play here, so stop trying to equate the good life with pina coladas in Belize. In reality, living the good life requires nothing but tuning in and appreciating the basic joys around you. The hand picked flowers your mother used to gather for you, the Cheerio necklace your daughter made in kindergarten, the annual Thanksgiving day football game you used to play with your buddies… these things cost nothing, yet they’re probably among your most cherished memories.  Start focusing on the things in your life that retain value beyond dollars and you’ll see that wealth doesn’t create anything, it merely magnifies that which was already there.

The way I see it, there are two major obstacles preventing us from overcoming these myths.  First, we are chronic, hoarding, consumers.  We define ourselves by our possessions and our ability to further possess, so it’s easy for a travel, jewelry, or car company to convince us that living the good life requires time-shares, diamond earrings, and a Mercedes Benz.  Since we are obsessed with the idea of preparing for the future, it’s also no small wonder that we are willing to mortgage our health and sanity in the short term to attain these things.  

The second problem I see is that we’ve forgotten how to enjoy simple things.  Despite the allure of beachfront sunsets, the pillars of your life shouldn’t be big, bold, and Instagram worthy.  They need to be basic, humble, and grounding.  Our future-lust has us bypassing countless opportunities to appreciate our lives as they currently stand because we’re either too busy to notice or we assume there’s something better coming down the pike.  This is presumptuous at best and lazy at worst. 

The difficult part is that change is tough, and habits learned over a lifetime are hard to break.  If I’ve learned one thing about people in my years as a competitive athlete and coach it’s this: they are who they are until they want to be different.  If they’re the type of person that’s too preoccupied to take a lunch break, they’re probably the same person that’s too preoccupied to pick their kid up from school, and they’ll still be too preoccupied to enjoy the fruits of their labor in retirement.

Bottom line, you have to choose change.  But where do you start?

Spoiler alert: Here’s where I make my pitch for fitness. 

First, committing to a healthy lifestyle forces you to acknowledge that you have at least some measure of control over your daily life.  Every piece of food you eat, every weight you lift, every time you skip a training session: those decisions directly impact your fitness.  This realization will transform the way you look at every day with respect to your body.  Where workweeks used to be something you had to struggle through, now they mean 5 solid days of getting to the gym.  Where you used to be “it can wait til next week” guy, now you are “take advantage of every opportunity” guy.  And that type of mindset doesn’t compartmentalize, it will overlay everything you do.  Suddenly every lunch break is a recharge and you’re jumping at the opportunity to pick your kid up from school.  The daily nature of training forces you to tune in your life to everything that’s happening now.

Further, the work ethic needed to push past limitations and physically improve the human body is truly humbling.  You can’t fake it.  Every measure of progress is earned through an accumulation of hard efforts.  Sticking to a diet takes will power, sacrifice, and restraint.  Getting up at 6 in the morning to train takes discipline.  You won’t succeed at either unless you’re fully committed to the idea that this is what you want to do.  That philosophy becomes part of you when you train every day, and it will lead you to start appreciating the simpler elements in your life.  Don’t get me wrong… you’ll still have an appetite for the finer things; they’ll just cease to be the definition of success. 

Finally, and probably most importantly, the balance found in a strong, healthy body breeds happiness.  From the physical capacity to move without pain, to the confidence you get from a positive self-image, to the endorphins you get following exercise, fitness truly is the foundation of the good life.  The more often you find yourself exhausted and proud, the healthier your mental state will be, and the more likely you’ll be satisfied with who you really are. 

So… what is the good life, where do you find it, and how do you live it?  Better start looking inward, because it’s happening now and it ain’t slowing down. 

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas WOD!!!

In keeping with our family tradition, the Morrisons headed to southern California for the holidays to spend time with my dad's side of the family.  With relatives in town from Minnesota, Virginia, Colorado, and New Mexico, we were well represented.  Training-wise, I was on rest week, so I wasn't trying to go crazy working out.  But with all my cousins in town we couldn't completely ignore fitness. We typically get in at least one workout as a family during vacation and this year we took it to the parking lot.  It had all you really need: space, a wall with varying heights, and a little bit of a slope.  A sandbag, bumper plate, and a kettle bell was all we needed to fill in the gaps.

So fun getting to train with family!!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Sutter street wall balls

We had a break in the rain today and I've been wanting to take the 30# medicine ball for a spin, so I went to an alleyway over off Sutter street in Historic Folsom to do the following WOD:

10 minute AMRAP:
10 wall balls @ 30#
10 handstand pushups
10 walking lunges @ 30#

The alleyway is across from the old powerhouse, and I've probably parked there at least a dozen times when shopping or eating on that street.  The exposed cinder block foundation makes for great wall space whether you want to do handstands or anything else, so I took advantage.  I only managed 6 rounds in the 10 minute timeframe, but the 30# ball definitely made it tough.  Check the video below.  

Friday, November 28, 2014

100 lb tire drag uphill at Lake Natoma

Today I took our 100# tire out to Lake Natoma to try and drag it up the hill.  I drilled a simple eye-bolt through the center of the tire so that connecting the webbing wouldn't be an issue.  Normally this hill is reserved for running intervals because of its length and loose footing, but I've been wanting to try to haul something up it for awhile.  I expected the tire to be a challenge because the surface wasn't at all smooth.  Sure enough, it was getting caught on rocks and roots, throwing me off balance the entire time.  But these issues made the workout that mush cooler.  I was forced to constantly re-evaluate the best method of getting this huge awkward object up and down the hill.  (For the record, carrying is much easier than dragging.)  Sometimes doing something that is inherently inefficient will teach you a lot about how to operate efficiently.  Or just beat you into submission.

Upon completion, I played around with some other fun exercises you can employ with a tire of this size.  Presses, lunges, squats, even thrusters.  Getting a handle on the thing overhead is a bit sketchy because you're trying to set your hand position while inside the tire--not exactly the same as lining up your hands on the barbell.  There are a dozen other variations of exercises that can be done with an old tire, so if you have one lying around don't get rid of it!!!  Throw it in the back of the truck and go have some fun.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Anywherefit Ireland Recap: Day 2

Day 2 of AWF Ireland was when our training really kicked up a notch.  We met at CF Tipperary just after breakfast on Saturday with a full slate planned:

1 mile run (Irish miles, which turn out to be closer to 2 or 3 miles for every 1 American mile)
5 rounds of calisthenics:
5 pullups
10 pushups
15 situps
20 squats

Handstand hold technique

Deadlift 5 x 5
Floor Press 5 x 5

Glute Ham Raise 3 x 10
Strict toe to bar 3 x 10
Ring Row 3 x 10

The goal of this session was to practice some things that people don’t typically get to practice (handstands, floor press) and challenge the body with some heavy stressors (deadlift, glute ham raise).  We opted out of conditioning because I wanted to save everyone’s lungs for our beach WOD later in the day. 

Overall I was pleasantly surprised with everyone’s aptitude on the handstand holds.  The groups from Cork and Tipperary both showed impressive body awareness and responded well to the small corrections made to positioning.  We practiced drills from the wall first, encouraging everyone to keep only their toes in contact with the wall while reaching for the ceiling.  Then we moved away from the wall and used partner’s arms to form a front and back wall for the athletes to balance between.  People were really starting to feel the way their hands could control the entire body after this. 

The deadlifts and floor press are always crowd pleasers.  Who doesn’t like to lift the heaviest things possible, right?  Even with everyone’s glutes ripped up from the walking lunges the night before, we saw multiple guys pulling 190 kg for sets of 4-5.  And again, impressive technique and attention to form was shown by all.

After a quick break for lunch, we hopped in the cars and took a 45 minute drive out to Ardmore Beach on the western coast.  This is a very popular spot when the weather is nice, which it definitely was during my visit.  In fact, just about every local I talked with made sure to tell me just how lucky I was to be in the presence of such sunshine.  Call it California karma. 

The coolest part about this beach is that you can drive the cars straight onto the sand.  So we plodded the CFT van down near the water and marked off 400 meters along the beach.  At one end we left the van and the pullups rig, and at the other we set up barbells with 115# and 75#.  Halfway between we set up 24 kg and 16 kg kettlebells.  We then split up into teams and did the following workout for time:

200 pullups
200 meter buddy carry
200 kettlebell swings
200 meter buddy carry
100 squat clean thrusters
200 meter buddy carry
200 kettlebell swings
200 meter buddy carry
200 pullups

We also had to overhead carry all of our weights back with us on the return trip.  Because some teams had 4 and others had more, we made a rule that anyone not carrying a weight or a person had to be bear crawling.  What an awesome workout this turned out to be.  Beautiful scenery, beautiful weather, teamwork… it was everything you want from fitness all rolled into one.  The only thing that could’ve gone better was if my team had won the WOD.  As it turned out, we were about a minute off the pace.  But that didn’t stop us from leading the charge into the Irish Sea when everyone else had completed their turns.  Nothing like a nice ice bath to help the legs recover!!  And boy was it icy. 
Drying off and warming up didn’t take us long, so we decided to stick around Ardmore for a cup of coffee at a local bakery.  Colin secured us free reign over the place’s back garden, so we couldn’t have been more comfortable.  Just 20+ crossfitters chillin’ out back sippin’ tea and coffee.  No big deal.  This was a great opportunity for those of us who hadn’t spoken much yet to get to know each other better.  We talked about programming quite a bit, but also the growth of fitness in general throughout the world and in Ireland.  It’s no surprise that the patterns I saw in the States are starting to form over here as well.  It’s only a matter of time until it’s everywhere.
After heading home and getting cleaned up, we all took to the town for a wonderful meal.  Again, with Colin’s knowledge as our guide we struck upon an awesome restaurant with a quintessential Irish Pub attached to it.  Naturally, this was the opportunity for me to taste my first official Irish-born Guiness draught.  If I’m honest, it tasted more or less the same as the ones I’ve had back home.  But I still had to do it.  The food was great as well, with people ordering everything from crab cakes to fish and chips, sirloin to roasted duck.  I had no complaints with anything pertaining to food the entire weekend, the fare was phenomenal. 

With one last day remaining, and it including a mountain assent, everyone decided to turn in early.  I was pretty wrecked myself, so I was happy to save the carousing for another time.  The plan for Day 3 was to hit the ancient monastery just after breakfast, then swoop lunch on the way to the mountain for the afternoon. 

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Anywherefit Ireland Recap: Day 1

Colin collected me from the airport early Friday morning after approximately 18 hours of travel.  I was groggy, a little numb from the series of flights and time changes, but still excited about the opportunity to experience something new and exciting.  The weekend we had planned was to be a perfect balance of wilderness and civilization, blending raw, outdoor workouts with fine dining and traditional Irish pastimes.  The only thing that could muck it up was weather, and I was dutifully warned this wasn’t something to be counted on in Ireland.  But as we walked from the terminal to the car I had a good feeling.  There were clouds, but not dark ones, and the air felt light and breezy.  Something was telling me through my numbness that we would be okay with the weather.  It was right. 

First stop from the airport was the Colin’s gym, CrossFit Tipperary in the town of Clonmel, where I got to meet a few of the guys who would be joining me for the duration of the weekend.  The bulk of the groups wasn’t set to arrive til later that afternoon.  The box was great.  High brick walls on all sides, painted white but stained gray in parts from years of use.  Pullup rigs on two of the walls, and high hanging ring brackets coming out of a third wall above an endless sea of kettlebells.  It was clean, spacious, and had all the trappings of a killer place to train.

Right about this time my stomach was ready to eat itself, so Colin and I made the round of introductions in short order then shot off for some breakfast.  We went into town to a place called Nimh’s, which turned out to be a bakery in front and a cafĂ© in back.  I ordered the most enormous thing I could find on the menu…a full Irish breakfast plus potato waffles and coffee.  If you’ve never been to this part of the world, you’ve probably never experienced breakfast the way they do it.  Be it in England, Ireland, Scotland, or Wales, the standard morning fare is some variation of the following:  Bacon/rashers, sausages, baked beans, fresh tomatos, hash browns, mushrooms, white pudding, black pudding (“pudding” equals fried pigs blood, just so you know), and a fried egg.  While I still might prefer a 3 egg omelet most days, I love the UK and Ireland for maintaining this tradition.

After breakfast a few of us went on a small scouting expedition to one of the locations for Day 3 of the trip.  Colin said that his box frequented a small creek not far away that featured a jogging trail and a series of pools useable for jumping in and cooling off.  “Cooling off” in Ireland means “icing” in the rest of the world.  The area around the creek was beautifully forested and covered in green moss, but the water itself was freezing.  Despite my California roots, I’ve never been one to shy away from a good ice bath, especially since I knew my body could use a reset after all those hours on the plane, so in I went.  Correction, in we all went.  3 separate times.  That was the cool part about this: you run a ways, then jump in (shoes and all), run a ways, jump in.  It wound up being like a mini mud run, but with way less people and waiting in line.  At the bottom of the creek sat an ancient stone monastery where we were planning to do a fun workout on Day 3.  This part of the world is replete with relics like this, making it a dream vacation for anyone obsessed with history.
After our run I got checked in at my residence for the weekend, the Clonacody House.  This is not your average B&B, though that’s probably the way it’s listed online.  I’m talking an authentic Irish countryside experience—from the hundred-year old floorboards to the horses trotting and grazing out back.  This place was an absolute dream.  Helen and Michael, the live-in managers, inherited the place from Helen’s family awhile back and decided to turn it into a venue for travelers and events about 4 years ago.  They renovated the spots that needed updating and the resulting structure is no less than magnificent.  The main house stands 3 stories tall with a basement below.  The ground floor consists of a living room, drawing room, dining room, and kitchen, all of which boast 15-foot ceilings and ridiculously ornate moldings and finish.  The 2nd and 3rd floors hold all the bedrooms and baths, 7 in all.  The furniture is rustic and country inspired, with enormous Victorian bathtubs in all but 2 of the bathrooms.  Needless to say, I was stoked to be staying there.  Surrounding the main house are acres upon acres of land, including grazing fields, gorgeous trees and gardens, and an ancient barn & courtyard that serve as the work area for Michael. 

We agreed that I would lie down for a few hours to try and catch some rest, then head to the gym for a workout before the majority of the group arrived that afternoon.  I was definitely tired when I went down, but getting up 2 hours later was like coming out of a coma.  I had no idea where I was or what I was doing there.  For my money, the California to Europe experience is still the toughest jet lag there is.  Groggy as could be, I made my way to the box and started shaking out the cobwebs…


1000 meter row
5 rounds:
5 pullups, 10 pushups, 15 situps, 20 squats

EMOTM 10 minutes:
2 muscle ups
6 alternating pistols

100 meter overhead carry (100 kg)
*Every drop requires 10 deadlifts

By the end of this my brain was back on track, just in time for everyone’s arrival.  We had a whole host of locals from Clonmel, a group of 6 from Cork, a few from Dublin, and one from Spain.  As usual, people that were strangers kind of stuck to their own packs at first.  But by the end of the weekend we’d all be close friends.

To introduce everyone to each other and the AWF experience, we headed out to the Clonacody House for our first workout of the trip.  Colin has rigged up an old van with pullup bars and support posts, so finding a spot to do a workout was as simple as finding a place to park.  We did so on the back grounds of the estate, setting up the following for everyone:

20 minute AMRAP:
10 toes to bar
25 meter walking lunge
10 burpees
25 meter walking lunge
10 ring dips
25 meter walking lunge
10 burpees
25 meter walking lunge

We set this up so that the toes to bar and ring dips were on opposite ends of a 50 meter stretch, that way the lunges were the way to transition from one exercise to another.  The rings we hung from an enormous and gorgeous oak tree looking out towards the mountains.  By 3 or 4 minutes in the moaning and groaning had started, as it is wont to do, but soon everyone found their groove and was able to continue through to the end.  Afterwards we went inside for soup and salad and had a round table discussion about programming, nutrition, recovery, and travel.  During the course of the workout and discussion, everyone became visibly more at ease with one another and began to open up.  This is always a good sign so early in a trip.  Beyond that, however, the discussion itself was really, really interesting.  People were raising questions about everything from supplementation to recovery cycles.  We even talked about the difference between motivating forces for competitors and those seeking health and wellness.  It was probably the easiest and most enjoyable open forum I can remember. 

Most everybody was ready to call it a night after that, but a few of us ventured into town for some late dinner.  Not much open on Good Friday in Ireland, but we were able to snag a table at a local Indian restaurant that proved delicious enough.  The plan for the morning was to be up early enough for breakfast and to be at the box by 9:00 to train.  After that, we would be hitting the road!!!

Anywherefit Iceland 2014 Details

In case you weren't already aware… AWF Iceland 2014 is coming this August.  Back to the land of fire and ice, but in a way never done before.  Ice climbing on Europe's largest glacier, exploration of the  remote eastern coast, and beach training are just the beginning.  21 locations in only 12 days!!! There are 20 spots remaining as of now.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Fitness Is...


Every action.  Every statement.  Every thought.  They’re all inputs.

Think of your body as a super computer.  Every waking moment it is gathering data, deciphering meaning, and formulating responses.  It’s constantly evaluating potential threats to its existence like hunger, injuries, enemies, and environment.  It’s measuring temperature, calculating distances, and adjusting for balance.  But for all the external stimuli your body is asked to process on a daily basis, what it’s registering from the inside can be ten times as important.  You see, your body also keeps careful track of your subconscious.  Your emotions, attitude, and inadvertent thoughts provide the backdrop on which every other input is analyzed.  If you’re in a bad mood, it will feel like the world is stacked against you.  You hit every red light, your boss is 3 feet up your ass, and your kids don’t appreciate anything you do.  If you’re in a good mood, you might notice the Lamborghini across the intersection, the quirky tie your boss is wearing, and how your kids have their mother’s eyes.  The same reality exists in both scenarios, but the interpretation of it is drastically different.  Multiply that experiment by a lifetime and you can imagine the divergence. We’re all just a million hits of a hammer; you better believe the attitude of the artist makes a difference. 

How does this affect fitness?  If you keep telling yourself you’re old, tired, and sick, that’s what you’re going to be.  What you think, you’ll soon say out loud.  And what you say out loud, you'll eventually carry out in practice.  Because your brain is largely influenced by habit and repetition, the thoughts you replicate most will wind up ingrained in your subconscious.  Your body will sense them even when you don’t—like the high electric whine of a TV on mute or the color of the walls in your bedroom.  Your self-image essentially becomes the product of background noise. 

The tricky part is you don't get to keep it to yourself.  Remember, everyone else is a super computer too—the signals you send out are being constantly gathered, deciphered, and responded to.  If you’re sending out hurt, they’re going to see hurt.  If you’re sending out old, they’re going to see old.  They're going to see old, process that information, and act accordingly.  Wait, it gets worse.  The feedback you get from your peers is an input in itself. The way they treat you is an indicator to your brain of who and what you are.  So if everyones looking at you like you've got one foot in the grave, your body processes that data and responds, “See, I knew I was old.”  This is the formation of your identity in a nutshell.  Thought begetting action, action begetting thought.  A cycle of computation and response that begins and ends with your own subconscious opinion of yourself.

Exhibit A: The guy who tells you how sore you’re going to feel once you hit 30.  He’s the same guy that’s going to tell you how sore you’ll feel when you hit 40.  And how you’ll probably die from knee pain at 50. 

“If you think 25 is rough, wait til you’re my age… I’d kill to be 25 again.” 

“Enjoy your 30’s while they last, it’s all downhill from there.” 

“I’m too old for that shit.  When I was your age, though…”

This guy pisses me off.  What possible benefit does he gain from repeatedly pointing out how horrible it is to be old?  I get why he’s doing it—by explaining the difficulties of age to someone younger, he makes it impossible for them to pass judgment on his current physical condition—what I don’t get is why he thinks by doing so he absolves himself from the universal need to not be a lazy piece of shit.  (And yes, it is a universal need)  Because, despite what his cupboard full of Captain Crunch and Pepsi Cola are indicating, his body doesn’t like being fat.  In fact, it dislikes being fat a lot more than it dislikes being old.  Problem is, he’s been telling himself and everybody else how old he is since before he can remember and he can't find his way back.  That’s how they know him.  That’s how he knows himself.  Tell yourself you’re young and you’ll start feeling younger.  Feel like you’re young and you’ll start acting younger.  Act like you’re young, and who’s to say you’re not? 

Exhibit B: The guy whose life is busier and more tiring than yours.

“Enjoy being a student, Blair.  Once you’re out in the real world, it’s a whole different ballgame.”

“Ahh, the single life.  I remember having all that free time.”

“Wait til you have kids, bro.  You’ll never sleep.  Kiss your body goodbye.”

This guy is a lot like Exihibit A, only instead of obsessing over his age he believes that life has left him no time or energy to take care of his body.  Please.  You’re telling me that no one in your office has time to work out?  Or that wives prefer a pudgier, weaker version of the man they fell in love with?  Pretty sure that’s false.  Pretty sure I watch parents with kids of all ages find time to crush it in my gym everyday.  It must be that your particular situation is more difficult than theirs.  Or maybe not.  Maybe it’s not the job, the wife, or the kids that are holding you back.  Maybe it’s you.  Maybe you’ve just been telling yourself the same, tired story so long it’s infected your hard drive.  Maybe if you’d told yourself a million times that health and wellness was non-negotiable, that it would only enhance your ability to do your job, be in a healthy relationship, and provide for your children and grandchildren, then you’d be finding ways to stay active instead of finding excuses not to. Burpees by the crib, lunges up the stairwell, 15 minutes of pushups and pullups in the garage after work. A million hits of the hammer.  It all adds up.

Again, I know why Exhibit B is doing it.  I just want him to realize that life is never going to get easier, and overweight is never going to feel invigorating.

Exhibit C: The guy who’s always sick or hurt.

“I must be coming down with a cold.  I woke up a bit congested and can’t seem to shake it.”

“I have a bad back and bum knees.  Been that way since I was a kid.”

This guy’s a little different.  His issue isn’t with physically getting to the gym like Exhibits A and B, it’s with his expectations while he’s there.  Regardless of the day, the workout, or the situation, he will find some way to let you know he isn’t at full strength.  He’s jet lagged from a business trip.   Or has caught a bug that’s “going around.”  It’s always something.  Just so we’re clear: I’m not advocating that sick people and invalids should come into the gym and hurt themselves trying to break records.  But if every knick, scratch, or stuffy nose becomes a reason to underperform, you’ve got a problem.  You’re deliberately setting low expectations and reinforcing the message that it’s okay to suck at your training.  Just so we’re clear: It’s not okay to suck at your training.  Part of fitness is the ability to perform in less than perfect conditions, to rise to the challenge of an off day or a bad night’s sleep.  But, more than that, it’s about establishing a consistent set of expectations.  Sending the message over and over that it’s okay to be terrible will only ensure that you’re terrible.  Sending the message over and over that you’re capable of success in spite of negative circumstances will make you a warrior.  This is where the truly fit separate themselves: their expectations don’t allow for petty excuses.  They know they won’t be at their best every day—that’s just a part of life—but they never blame away that down cycle.  They wear it and move on.  Every performance is progress.

All of these guys essentially suffer from the same mental fragility.  Rather than acknowledge they're choosing to put their health and wellness at risk, they find external reasons to excuse this behavior, thus absolving themselves of the responsibility.  This is cowardly.  Also, it sets a dangerous precedent of non-accountability that doesn't exactly come in handy when you find yourself battling colon cancer and obesity later in life.  At that moment, blaming McDonald's for being too convenient and inexpensive isn't going to help you stay alive.  Better to check yourself now and start reforming your subconscious identity.  

The best part about building a mentality like this is that you’ll find yourself feeling sick, tired, and hurt less often.  Because your subconscious forms the backdrop on which your body processes all sensory data, reducing focus on illness, fatigue, and injury is going to decrease likelihood of your feeling that way.  You’re not sick, you just have a runny nose.  You’re not hurt, you just have a sore ankle.  These maladies no longer hinder your performance any more than a bad song on your iPod.  You can go from invalid to indestructible in one thought-generation. 

At the end of the day, nobody wants to feel tired and sickly.  Nobody wants to be treated like they’re past their prime.  But obsessing over the limitations inherent in those qualities will only propagate them.  Thought begets action, action begets thought.  Your mental approach to fitness has to be positive and forward reaching.  It has to learn to ignore everything except that which helps you improve.  Call it selective computation.  Or the rehabilitation of your warrior self-image.  The beauty part is, when you start to believe it, everyone else will too.