If Nothing Changes, Nothing Changes

I haven’t posted anything for a couple of weeks as I’ve been busy preparing for my Level 2 Gym Instructor exams, which I took the weekend just gone (and passed!).

The days leading up to the exams were stressful.  Some parts of the course came naturally to me but other parts definitely did not and I suffered severe self doubt that I would be able to pass certain elements.

I almost decided to cancel and not even try to sit them because I was convinced I wouldn’t pass.

In the end pass I did though, so I’m glad I didn’t give into my own self doubt.

Does that mean I was stupid for worrying, getting so stressed out about it?  Some people I know would probably say yes and that I’m just a stress head but I don’t think I was – I was genuinely concerned I wasn’t adequately prepared and was scared of hearing that I’d failed.  Actually just deciding to go and try my best and see what happens meant me having to fight my own anxiety and fears.

People will often say walk away from things that cause you stress but sometimes to get to where you want to be you have to accept that you have to face up to rather than walk away from difficulties, to face up to potential failure and give it your best shot regardless.  If you really want something, you need to sacrifice things / do things, which make you uncomfortable short term to get results.

Next up for me is Level 3 Personal Training and I know this course will be harder and I will need to try and get less stressed before I give myself a heart attack!

But this has also enforced the idea adage that if nothing changes nothing changes.  If you don’t occasionally push past your own comfort zone and challenge yourself you won’t move forward.

I Don’t Have Time

“I don’t have time.”

I eat pretty well most of the time, I plan my meals, meal prep once or twice a week and train 3-4 times a week on top of teaching my classes and my day job (I make myself sound better than I am here but I do do these things).

I’m not saying everyone should do this. I train because I enjoy it and I meal prep because I want to feel healthy and look a certain way.

I strongly believe everyone else should train and eat in a manner that provides the outcomes they want – whether that be to look a certain way, feel a certain way, gain or lose weight or just eat whatever the f@@k they want and enjoy it.

Often – as I sit with my tupperware box of food someone says to me – I wish I had the time to prepare food to bring in.

As I head to the gym after work people will remark I wish I had free time to go to the gym after work.

My normal response is.

  1. I set aside one or two hours on a Sunday to prepare all my meals for the week because I know I won’t have time to make meals in the week so perhaps they could do the same.
  2. I enjoy training so I make the time so if they did want to train they could probably do the same and find one or two windows a week.

The normal response to this is

  1. Oh but I don’t have time to spend two hours on cooking on a Sunday- I work all day and barely get any time to myself / with my family so I’m not wasting time on Sunday cooking.
  2. Oh but after work I’m tired / have to get home to the kids / go to the pub after work.

Now…

The implication here is almost a little (unintentionally) assumptive about me – that I do have two hours where I personally wouldn’t rather be out with friends on a Sunday or that I would have nothing else to do of an evening.

The fact is I have made a choice.

  1. I choose to eat homemade food because it’s cheaper and I feel better for it and know if I didn’t take food to work with me I would end up living off fast food and chocolate. I also know that as I’m out and about from about 6 am until around 10 pm most weekdays if I don’t meal prep on a Sunday I won’t want to when I get in at 10 pm so I’ll be reaching for the takeaways.

I am aware of my obstacles to healthy eating – I CHOOSE to overcome them and find solutions. That solution is finding some time in my week to prepare.

Would I rather not spend 2 hours on meal prep each week? Of course – but then if I don’t I know I can’t really complain about not having the food I want to eat during the week. I would need to eat whatever was served in the staff canteen and accept that has been my choice

2. I choose to go to the gym after work sometimes (most of the time it’s for work i.e. I’m teaching a class), not because I have nothing else to do, but because I value how I feel after training. If I have plans that evening or am teaching, I will train on my lunch break. In other words I fit my training sessions around my life and job(s). Again, this is a choice I could choose not to do this but I couldn’t truly blame this choice on my circumstances – it would be a case of me prioritising something else over training.

I go back to my point that I don’t think people who do not prioritise exercise or anything else are wrong. We should all decide how we can live our own happiest life and not be judged. To those who happily go about life eating cake and never setting foot in a gym fair enough – because they are happy (and this sounds quite good to be fair).

I’m talking about are those who repeatedly say they WANT to be fitter or thinner or eat better or anything else (insert any goal – fitness related or not here) but when it is suggested how they could achieve this there is a list of ‘Buts’. Reasons why they cannot take the actions that could help them towards their goal.

So when someone says to me I wish I could do what you do and eat that or go to the gym what they mean is I wish I could get the results without having to do the things that get the results – which is a different thing entirely.

“I don’t have time” translated into honesty is “I don’t really want to.”

I do these things because I’ve decided they are important to me. It doesn’t mean they are easy or I do not have obstacles and ‘buts’ I need to overcome but that I make a choice each day.

I’ve found it useful when making an excuse for not doing something to think about it in that context – because if you really want it you will work out a way of doing it. If you don’t that’s OK but just be honest with yourself and admit that- at least then you can get on with things you do give a real f@@k about.

A recent example for me – I kept saying I wanted to run another marathon- to do this I knew I’d need to make time in my day for weekly long runs. This was doable but would require sacrifice – I kept making excuses until eventually I said you know what, I value my Sunday morning lie in more than running another marathon so I’ve given up on that idea.

If we want to change we can – we can make small changes, mini sacrifices, find life hacks to get closer to that change. It’s generally easier to make excuses, which is why we so often do that.

Next time you think I don’t have the time maybe reconsider rephrasing that in your own mind to evaluate if that is really true or if you actually just aren’t as bothered about it after all- I don’t want to sound preachy, it’s just been a really useful tool for me I wanted to share.

You Control You

I feel like my posts this week have been quite deep so I thought I may as well keep to the theme (don’t worry next week I’ll write about falling falt on my face doing box jumps or something).

I feel like I’ve changed and progressed a lot in the last twelve months and most of that has come from a change in mindset.  I’ve written about this previously in various forms but essentially I’ve just started doing little things, considering certain questions I hadn’t thought about before which has led to me taking more control of my outlook and emotions.

  • What are my aims- for this week, month, year, five years, 10 years?
  • Why do I want to do these things?
  • What is my purpose for doing what I do? What purpose will doing these things serve and will it get me closer to my aims?
  • What do I need to focus on right now to get to where I want to be?
  • How can I use my goals to motivate me to do things right now?

By starting to think about these things and structuring my life around these questions I feel like I’ve started to gain more control.  Even if things are not perf6ect right now there is a purpose for what I am currently doing which fosters a more positive outlook that before.

There are lots of things that happen in life I can’t control of course but I can control me and my reaction to those things and turn those reactions back to focusing on my why and purpose.  This is so much easier said than done and I often have blips where it doesn’t quite happen immediately but building mental fortitude takes time.

Have a read of this email which pretty neatly sums up where you can start with thinking about your why:

Why?: https://mailchi.mp/08cb9784151a/free-workout-316403

Body Pump Aim 1 Take Out: the content is more interesting than the title I promise

This weekend I re-did my Body Pump Aim 1.

If you aren’t a Les Mills instructor – Aim 1 is effectively a one day upskill where we look to improve our own technique and our coaching. We also teach a track twice during the day and get feedback.

Normally one of the UK trainer team takes the course and there are around 5-15 people in attendance. This one was a bit different because the Creative Director for the programme, Kylie Gates, had travelled over from New Zealand to lead the day along with several UK trainers and there was over 100 people in attendance who has travelled to Woking (Surrey apparently!) from all over the country.

There are so many things from the day I could write about so I may revisit the day in more depth again in future blogs when I’ve had more time to process the information, but I wanted to touch briefly on a few of the things I took from the day.

Body Pumper or not these things apply to everyday life.

Own your Strengths

We tend to be very quick to look to our faults. When we review our performance in most things in life we look to what we could have done better or where we need improvement. That self awareness is great for self improvement but we also need to look at what we do well, the skills where we own it, our strengths; because when we work towards these strengths we can get the best results possible.

This isn’t being vain and thinking we are better than others or have no faults, just being aware of what we do contribute and do well. I have recently been working with someone who’s strength are very different to mine – I would say we are both aware of each others strengths and we work accordingly – as a result we get more done and we get it done well.

Know you purpose

Why do you do whatever you do? What do you want to get out of it? What do you contribute to the world?

When you know this it can shape how you approach your work and your interactions with people. Until recently I didn’t really know – I kind of just bobbed along. Now I have a clear vision of what I would like to do ultimately and why I want to do it.

Placing that at the centre of how you interact with others can both enhance your relationships, create meaningful connections with people and make it easier to start working towards your goals.

Be present

We generally aren’t great at hearing. There is a difference between listening to someone and hearing what they are saying, making an effort to understand what they are saying and where they are coming from.

One of my pet hates is when someone asks you a question then ignores the answer. Either interact with my response or don’t ask to start with – because asking me a question but not listening to the answer makes me feel irrelevant to you. Whether it is a personal or professional relationship, nobody likes to feel irrelevant.

Yet we all do it to varying degrees – we are busy and feel like we don’t have time to focus on the person we are talking to. When you say it like that it actually sounds as crap as it can make people feel!

We did an exercise where we had to listen to our partner speak for 60 seconds without responding or interjecting – do you know how hard that is!?

I’m taking away from the day that I need to get better at this – if I’m talking to someone they are to be my focus and I need to be present in that conversation rather than mentally multitasking. One thing I noted from talking to Kylie was that when she spoke to you it felt like she was focused on that conversation – like it was important- and that makes you feel more positive. I want people to feel more positive from talking to me.

When you have passion for what you do it’s easy to find your ‘people’

This is possibly the cheesiest thing I’ve ever written (I’ve almost made myself throw up a little) but it’s actually very true.

When the tickets for this event were put on sale I wanted to go but was aware that the distance from Manchester meant it would be expensive. A friend of a friend who also teaches Pump was in the same position – we had come across each other in Facebook groups but never met – so we decided to share a hotel room to reduce the costs.

Some people thought the idea of sharing a room with, effectively, a stranger was weird, and I think we would both admit that we were a little nervous beforehand. In the end it didn’t feel strange at all. We slipped easily into conversation and it felt like we had known each other for ages.

It shows that when you share the same interests and goals with people, it’s easier to feel comfortable with them and like you belong.

Motivation (and the weather)

I struggled to put my thoughts on paper today, so I recorded it instead.

https://youtu.be/L2C3O6mnNrE

This is just my opinion and some may disagree but hopefully you still find it a little interesting.

I’d like to stress that people train and eat certain foods for all sorts of reasons and I understand for some dissatisfaction is an excellent motivator – in which case why not stick with what works.

But i think positive motivators and choosing activities that you actually enjoy and fit into your life can have such an impact on physical and mental health.

It did for me.

Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway

On Sunday I travelled down to London to do my Aim 1 (Advanced Instructor Module) in Sh’bam.

Now I can’t dance. I closely resemble a plank of wood attempting to move to the beat (I can hear what I’m supposed to be doing and when, I just struggle to make my body do it when it comes to dancing). So whilst I’ve done the equivalent courses already in Body Pump, Body Combat, CX Worx and GRIT and also my Aim 2 in Body Pump so knew what was coming, I was really really (really really really) nervous about this one.

Added to this, for personal reasons, I wasn’t in the best head space when Sunday arrived and my confidence and concentration was at an all time low.

I won’t go into the ins and outs of what you do on an Aim but in addition to teaching and getting feedback on this particular course you also learn about (and try) various different types of dance, which- in my case- meant spending the whole day trying things I’d never tried before (ballet, contemporary, Jazz…).

I will start by confirming that, as anyone who has ever met me would expect, I did not excel in any of the movements tried. I also managed to completely forget the choreography for my track about 10 seconds in the second time I taught and pretty much fell to pieces.

I spent much of the day feeling really quite uncomfortable.

But I’m glad I did it.

We all like doing things we are good at. We never mind trying things when we are confident they are going to go really well. That’s fine because even if you’re good at something, going on courses such as these and getting feedback can still improve you.

But although I was by far the least able person in the room on this occasion it was probably one of the most valuable Aims I’ve done. Regular readers will know I hate cheesey phrases like ‘step out of your comfort zone’ but on this occasion, this is what I was forced to do. Not just occasionally but for 9 hours straight! I gave so many things a go that just didn’t feel natural or comfortable or easy- and when my attempts went wrong I tried my best to laugh it off.

I will never be a ballerina but learning how to do things that scare you is a skill that can help you in all aspects of your life, not just the gym.

So if you think your rubbish at squats and so fear approaching the squat rack just go and do it. You might still be a bit rubbish afterwards but you’ll be giving yourself a chance to improve at the same time as reducing the mental block surrounding it.

If you want to learn to do a handstand, sod what people think and just start practicing – the worry about what you will look like is normally a lot worse than any kind of response you might actually receive.

I’ll sign off by saying a massive thank you to Laura Turner for putting up with me the whole day and not laughing at my attempts to dance and also all the other Sh’bammers for their encouragement and advice!

What I did for Lunch Today

Well obviously I went to the gym.  This blog is about the gym so I was hardly likely to be writing about anything else!

I like using my lunch times for a workout.  I’m lucky to have a basic gym onsite at work so I can do some form of training instead of just sitting on my bum and eating cake.  Sometimes I’ll go for a run instead, and today I was tempted because we are having the first nice weather in months but in the end I decided to train inside.

This was largely as I’ve had a tough week mentally.  Work has been stressful, learning new Les Mills stuff has drained me and time wise I’ve been limited and so I have got to Thursday without having done a single workout (I’ve taught 8 classes but no actual ‘me’ training to speak of) so I felt I needed to do a decent weights based session to avoid falling into a slump and went in with just the intention of getting myself moving again.

I had 45 minutes – this is what I did:

Alt Lunges 10/8/6/4/2/15/15- two 12kg dumbbells.

I hate lunges – I suspect I have at some point in the past broken my left toe and so the range of movement in it is poor and I struggle with range on that side.

Then

12 Cleans

9 Rows

6 Cleans

3 Push Press

X 10  sets with 60 seconds rest between sets – 25kg bar

This was a forearm killer.  Although it wasn’t a heavy bar the sheer number of reps (180 cleans, 90 rows and 30 push press) took me to the point of fatigue and by the end of the session I was sweating without doing a single second of cardio.   

Now I’ve got a proper workout in this week I feel so much better.  It’s made me want to eat better today compared to the last couple of days and coupled with the weather I feel so much more brighter an positive.

Life lesson- if you are feeling a bit rubbish getting moving (and by moving I mean whatever type of activity you enjoy and will make you feel good) and eating some decent food is a great way to start making yourself feel better.

*Workout designed by Ricky Long @rickylong42

Your What and Your Why

Hands up if you’ve ever heard people talk about their ‘Why’ and done a little eye roll?

I’d put a little hands up emoji here except I haven’t worked out how to do that on here yet.

I always found memes and Facebook posts or inspirational lines about motivation a bit cheesy. Generally speaking the only cheese I have time for is the type I put in my mouth or the type produced musically by the likes of Busted or McFly.

That is until recently.

I’ve come to realise that the reason I felt like understanding what your Why is was pointless was because I didn’t really have a ‘What’.

I’d done the same job for over twelve years and did what I really enjoy (teaching) on the side and kind of thought that I had left it too late to look into making any big changes and to be honest didn’t really know what changes I’d make anyway. When people talked about being passionate about what they do I always felt a bit bemused.

I realise this makes me sound quite shallow.

I probably am.

Over the last few months however, with a bit (ok maybe a lot) of prodding, I’ve started to get an idea of what I’d like to do going forward.

I’ve worked out where my passion lies, what I believe is worthwhile doing.

I know the changes I can make now to work towards those goals and I have an idea of how I can get to where I’d ultimately like to be. How I can wok my own passions into my work life.

Once I worked this out I returned to the idea of my ‘Why’. The truth is once you know what you are working towards finding the Why is actually pretty easy. The Why is also the thing that motivates you to get stuff done now – even when you’re tired and it’s hard – because you know you need to do it to get to where you want to be.

So I’m still a ‘just get shit done type of person’. I can’t really stand fanfare. Those who need to know what I’m doing and why I’m doing it do, and for everyone else the chances are you won’t know I’ve been working towards something until I decide to write something sarcastic on Facebook!

That being said I’ve come to appreciate the power of knowing your own aims / goals / passions in your head because it’s only when you understand them that you will start to work towards them with any kind of focus.