Category Archives: Consistency

Push Through

Today sucked. Today was also huge. A very stressful day at work (combined with a strong desire to drive the 140 miles it would take to see my lady) made for an “off” feeling all day.

By the end of it, I just wanted to go home, push the reset button, and start again tomorrow. I had my gym bag packed and in my truck, but I was thinking about driving past the gym and saying ‘fuck it.’ Thankfully, I was able to guilt myself into going and busting out two miles of walk/jog. I’m very glad I did. Being in an off mood is no excuse for missing a workout, especially when you have the clothes and the time to bust a little ass.

I’m proud of myself for pushing through a mental wall, and making the effort to sweat a bit. I’m better and stronger for it. Fuck waiting–good things come to those who work.

Food Tracking with The Daily Plate

I believe that, in order to be healthy, one has to focus on three things: exercise, eating, and sleep. Getting regular physical activity helps you build endurance and muscle, and also helps burn fat; eating a consistent, healthy diet will help fuel your body while keeping you from swelling to the size of a weather balloon; and sleeping–aside from being totally fucking awesome–gives your body a chance to rest and repair itself.

I’ve been focusing a bit more on eating lately. There are various ways we silly humans have devised to keep track of what we eat. Whether you commit to a certain number of meals a day, are on one of numerous diets floating around on the internet, or only eat at certain times of day, anyone trying to get fit probably has some sort of system for the way the eat. After doing a bit of research, I’ve decided to track my daily calorie intake. For that purpose, I use The Daily Plate over at Livestrong.com.

The set-up was pretty simple–you can even connect with your Facebook account. You input your gender, height, weight, and your weight loss goal, and based on either science or jungle voodoo, it pops out a daily caloric goal. Pretty nifty. Tracking is easy, too–you just search for the food you’re eating (you can even go brand-specific), choose the number of servings you had, and click the “I Ate This” button. You can also note what time of day you ate a particular food, if that’s a sort of thing you care about taking note of.

Tracking calories hasn’t been hard. Granted, I’ve been doing less than a week, so maybe I’ll have a forgetful day soon. I just make it a point to input what I’m eating while I’m eating, just before or just after. Makes it easier, and my results are better. I don’t stress about it. I find that I think less about food when I’m bored, now that I’m tracking what I eat–that seems weird, but that’s the way it is.

Anybody else tracking calories out there? Sound off!

Tracking Your Workout with Fitocracy

A few people have told me that one reason they’ve gone off the rails with their training is that they just can’t remember what they did the last few times they worked out. Even though it doesn’t seem like it, this can be a big issue with negative consequences. You show up to the gym for two or three weeks, and you work out consistently, but you get stumped on how long you should run, what exercises to do, or how much weight to lift. Ultimately, this keeps you from being able to see your progress, which can lead to giving up altogether. In those first few weeks, when you may not see huge differences on the scale or in your waistline, being able to see your achievements at least on paper can be a huge motivator.

I’ll admit, my memory is terrible when it comes to workout tracking. I can remember what days I do which workouts (Monday is legs, Thursday is back/biceps, etc.) but there’s no way I can remember the sets, reps, weights, or miles from one day to the next. I’ve tried using index cards and notebooks, but those systems tend to get messy for me. That’s why I’ve started using Fitocracy to track my progress.

Billing itself as the “fitness social network”, Fitocracy puts an exercise spin on websites like Facebook and Google+. You can do all the normal social network stuff–create a profile, upload a user picture, follow/friend people, and leave comments on other people’s updates. The big draw to Fitocracy (at least for me) is the way in which they go about workout tracking. You input which exercises you’ve performed during your workout that day–including number of sets, reps, and weight, or minutes and miles walked/ran–and the system gives you a number of points for completing the workout. Once you get a certain number of points, you level up.

Yes. I just said that. You level the fuck up. Like a video game, except it hurts in real life and you probably won’t end up with the insanely hot princess–which is fine, because if that bitch is dumb enough to be captured in the original game and the 17 sequels, she’s more trouble than she’s worth.

Forget the princess--now I'll whip Ganon's ass for cardio!

You can also go on  quests, and complete accomplishments. Some are easy (performing the Barbell Bench Press one time), some are moderate (trail running for 30 minutes, followed by ten minutes of stretching), and some make you say “What the hell!” (Perform a widow-maker (20-rep squat) at 1.5 times your bodyweight). Even if you didn’t grow up playing video games, you’ll enjoy this quirky spin on what most find to be a boring but necessary task.

If the only thing stopping you from making progress toward your fitness goal is being able to keep up with what you’ve done so far, I’d encourage you to give Fitocracy a shot. You can even follow my workout routines–just go to my profile and hit the Follow button. Remember, though–you can’t track workouts you don’t do, so quit readin’ and get to work!

The World Made Me Run

Sometimes, this world of ours can piss us off. Other times, it can do wonderful things for us. On rare occasions, it do both at the same time. This morning was one of those occasions.

Last night, I fell asleep a bit earlier than I usually do. I actually passed out on the couch while watching something on Netflix. My bedroom is at the back of the house, but falling asleep in the living room (which happens a good bit–I like having the TV on, and there isn’t one in my bedroom) puts me at the front of the house, closer to the street. At around 9:30 this morning, I started stirring awake to the sound of my roommate leaving for work. For about a minute I considered rolling over, calling today another rest day, and heading back to Dreamland. At the end of that glorious minute of consideration, when I was getting ready to show my handstamp to gain entrance back to the land of Nod, the world’s loudest jackhammer started running right in front of the house next door.

For a minute, I was pissed, but after a brief rage moment, I was incredibly motivated. Just this week, I thought, I wrote about the importance of getting back to the gym after a rest day–am I really going to be mad that the world decided to make sure I kept my motivation today? I decided that, even if I didn’t like what the world was doing, I at least had to respect the effort it must have taken for Mother Nature to conspire with both a local construction crew and an international web-based movie service to make everything come together. And so it was, out of respect for both the world and you, Reader, that I woke up, had a tiny breakfast, and got my happy ass to the gym this morning.

It turned out to be a great workout day. There were only two other people at the gym when I walked in, and one of those was a staff member. I’m not the kind of guy who always wants a clear gym, but it’s nice when it happens. Today was a run/walk day, also known in my head as a “fuck no, I don’t want to do this” day. As I mentioned in my very first post, I don’t run often. I never have. In order to complete the 12-mile, 25-obstacle, ice-water covered, fire-spewing, electric-shock-inducing beast known as Tough Mudder, however, I will need to be able to run at least five to six miles straight without turning into liquid shit.

After a five-minute warm-up walk, I busted out twenty minutes of interval training using a 90/60 split (90 seconds walking, 60 seconds running) I found at the Cool Running website (they’re in my blogroll, so you know it’s good). As much as I want to say I hated the workout, I’d be lying if I did. I actually enjoyed it. I kept looking forward to each running segment. At one point, I’m pretty sure I went all Rocky III on the treadmill, taunting it by saying, “You ain’t so bad, you ain’t so bad!” (This is but one of the many reasons why I appreciate an empty gym.)

After the workout, I headed straight home for a post-workout green smoothie.

 

In closing, folks, don’t let the world piss on you. Also, don’t try to fool the world, because it is a vengeful mistress, and its jackhammer is louder than your whining.

Consistency Wins Championships, Unless…

As most men are, my dad was a huge sports fan. Basketball, football, baseball, MMA–he’d watch it all. One of my earliest sports-related memories: my dad came back from the video store with the very first UFC competition, just for my brother and me–much to my mother’s chagrin. I believe I was nine years old.

This exposure to sports continued on into my adulthood. During my trips home in college, it was very normal for Dad to catch me in the kitchen and say, “Hey Mike, come in here and take a look at this.” I’d head to the living room at around 11:30PM, and we’d stay up watching [insert any sport here] until 3AM or so.

Another thing Dad had in common with most men was that he didn’t pull punches when it came to giving the commentators hell over saying something stupid. Generally speaking, there are times during any sporting event when it seems the guys doing the talking are just saying words to hear how great they sound. And for this, we men gladly make fun of them. Dad was one of the best at it–incredibly witty, and always ready to make an ass out of somebody. There was one time, though, when something Dad initially said as a jab actually turned into a discussion that has stayed with me to this day, and will continue to be a motivator. The initial exchange went a little something like this:

Commentator: “Consistency is the key to winning championships.”
Dad: “Yeah, unless you suck ass. Then you just suck more ass.”

We had a good laugh at that one, but not because what the announcer had said was stupid. This might not make sense, but it was funny because what Dad had said was incredibly true. You can be consistent and do the same thing every day, but if the thing you do is losing–well, then you’ll be a loser. Dad and I talked about how it wasn’t being consistent that was key, it was about being consistently good.

If you sit at home every day, you’ll never get in shape. If you eat the same shitty foods, you’ll have the same shitty body. On the other hand, if you hit the gym/track/trail consistently, make the effort to put good food in your body, and put forth the same effort each time you work out, then you will succeed. My personal observation is that, just by walking through the gym doors, I increase my motivation and my chance at success by more than double. The hardest part, then, is actually getting out there and putting in the work. Making the effort to make the effort.

Don’t settle for being consistent; make the effort to be consistently good.