Resolution Restart

Early March here in the upper midwest and winter is holding on tightly.  It is frighteningly easy to get down about a lot of things when you have to do this much prep simply to step outside your house! By now, part of what has probably taken a hit is your promise to yourself that this would finally be the year that you got things back together with regards to your health.  You said you’d eat better. You said you’d exercise. You said ….. well…. you get the picture.

Well, sooner or later, we’ll see the grass, the flowers will bloom and the trees will clothe themselves in a vivid array of green leaves.  And about that time, you could be kicking yourself for giving up because you were feeling miserable about this long winter.  Or … you could make a decision today you’ll thank yourself for in a few weeks. But where to start?  Today, I’d like to give you a little different way to look at it all.  Don’t focus on the scale or the mirror.  You are so much more than those things will tell you.  Let’s talk about the Five F’s….

The foundation (that isn’t one of them…) of how we train and what we teach can be summed up by the five F’s. Oh, there’s a world of stuff we’re interested in and a hundred ways to accomplish most tasks, but let’s talk broad strokes. Most folks don’t have all five under control at once and well, if you don’t, consider yourself pretty normal We don’t either, but the unexamined life tends not to be one well lived so we like to take time and reflect in these areas as a means of maintaining balance.
The five F’s are:
• Faith
• Family
• Fitness
• Food
• Fun
We’ll talk just enough about each one for you to map it to your own life – or at least give you some direction to decide what four or five or twenty things are important in your world.
Even those who claim no belief in a divine being have faith. It takes faith just to get behind the wheel of an automobile and feel some assurance that those in nearby automobiles are playing by the same set of rules. But in the broad scheme of things, most of us believe in some higher power. If you don’t, I don’t hold that against you. It just doesn’t align with my world view. So this particular bullet isn’t for you, but I do encourage you to do some reflecting on what things in your life are the non negotiables.
For the rest of us, regardless of what you call your God, find time every day to spend in the classroom of silence. We live in a noisy world and have short attention spans. If you don’t know how to do that but feel that it really is something missing from your life, we’d be happy to give you a tried and true formula. Read good books that help you learn about your faith. Nearly everything in this world that gets lumped in the category of religion has a body of written work to educate and sustain its believers. Find good books and read them, if only a few pages a day. Make it a habit. You won’t regret it.
If you have been blessed to become a parent or are at a state in life that you can contemplate a future as a parent, you already have a sense of the awesome change it makes in your life. Too often though, we fall into the daily routine and forget the magic of first becoming a parent. And usually the magic (that elusive thing called “romance”) which brought us together fades into a distant memory. (it doesn’t have to be this way… love is not a feeling, it is a choice…and romance return naturally when you just commit to make that choice over and over again…) Some have moved past this stage in their life and I hope you look back on it fondly. Or perhaps you are in a relationship that will not or cannot produce children. If raising children is something you feel called to, there are probably options. In any case, cherish your partner and the circle of friends and acquaintances around you.

Realize that all the best things this life has to offer are connected to relationships. It will look different for everyone, particularly in a culture that has gradually diminished the stature of what would broadly be called traditional family relationships. But we are where we are and regardless of your personal state in life, seek out and build relationships. They don’t just sustain us. The best ones are a give and take that produces growth on both sides.
You have but one body that you get to live in. Generally speaking, it is a more hospitable place to live if you take care of it. You don’t need well defined abs or bulging muscles to be healthy, but something leaning toward what we’d call an athletic appearance tends to be present when one is keeping their body in good operating condition. There is no one path to good health, but there seems to be no end to the canned programs you can buy to help get you there. (By the way… they all work and they all fail… because in the end, YOU still have to do the work).

Here’s my take on it. Start by just getting yourself out of a sedentary lifestyle and moving around. Many will talk about setting goals and getting on some sort of program. While there is a point at which I would advocate such things, for most people, it isn’t a very sustainable starting point. If anything, you’re likely to set yourself up for failure.

So, as a better beginning, I want you to be mindfully active at least three days a week. Our current formula is to do a 30 minute workout at fairly high intensity two days a week and then something a little less intense on a third day. On the non-workout days, get some sort of safe activity into your life .. some yoga or a nice walk. Listen to your body. You will begin to feel when you can push harder. At that point, you have probably formed the habit. Some will long for more. Now you can set some goals. Now you can move from just getting in a workout to being on some sort of program.  You have a world of choices for taking the next step.  You can find a trainer.  This is a great avenue for many.  You could buy a program — and as I already mentioned, these work — BUT ONLY IF YOU DO!  One major downside to most canned programs is they can’t really account for what makes YOU tick and what real limitations you might have to work around.  Or,  you could do some serious homework and put something together for yourself.   Nearly anyone “can” do this, but it’s a tricky path to navigate due to the sheer volume of information (much of it conflicting…) that is available.
I need to eat, you need to eat. We all need to eat. What we fuel our body with is probably much more important than what we do to work out. Every one of the aforementioned “programs” will include some sort of meal planning component (usually the piece folks ignore – which sets them up for failure!) but it really is a bit simpler than that. I don’t advocate “diets”. How you eat must become a lifestyle. There is a ton to learn about nutrition and nearly as much to learn about how our hormones interact. As you get healthier, you’ll probably want to dig deeper but we’re talking about starting points here.

So here’s where to begin – starting moving toward real food. Our bodies were designed to eat plants and animals (in a general sense). If it lives in a box or bag, realize that the manufacturer has to add stuff to the package to preserve it. Trading your health for convenience may sound drastic, but it really is what we do when we depend on processed things as fuel for our bodies. Many people will have additional intolerances and allergies which seem far more common now that even just 40 years ago. It shouldn’t surprise us. Again, starting points.  More water, less other fluids. More real food, less processed food. Sugar really ought to be called a drug, as it certainly has addictive looking effects. It is hard to avoid, but be conscious of it and you’ll see ways to reduce it.
It should come as little revelation that we are more likely to keep doing things which are enjoyable that those things that are not. And yet, drive past any fitness center which offers its patrons a “window seat” while they trudge along on the eliptical, stepper or treadmill and you don’t exactly get the impression most of those folks are currently enjoying a moment of bliss.

Fitness and wellness don’t have to be intimidating and they certainly don’t need to be boring.  Mix it up. Try forms of activity a little out of your comfort zone — or forms you’ve always wanted to try but for whatever reason just have never gotten around to.  Take wisdom from unexpected places.  Here’s my favorite example.  Although I am ex-military which included Ranger and Airborne training, that life is more than two decades behind me and my desire for aggression is pretty scant.  However, it is hard to deny that the training methods used in combat sports is radically effective.  So while I have absolutely no intent of getting into a fight on purpose, I love to employ the training methods of MMA fighters.  Just seems to make sense to use what works, eh?   I find this style of training a lot of, well.. fun.

If you’re still reading, I admire your attention span.  Hopefully you were able to take a few nuggets away from it that you can use.  I don’t have all the answers, but 50+ plus years on the planet has driven a few lessons home.  I sometimes hear people claim they are giving you “unbiased” information.  Well, none of that nonsense here.  Come train with me and you’ll get nothing but heavily biased help. My biases run quite a range, but if you’ve read this far, you know where they are.  I’m enjoying life in my early 50s in ways that I couldn’t even have imagined 20 years ago.   My greatest wish is that everyone around me felt the same way!



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