Tag Archives: motivation

No Pain, Let’s Gain

I can successfully add another pain- free run into my workout log this week. I ran 20 minutes of intervals alternating 1 minute hard with 1 minute easy. Tomorrow is leg day so I don’t plan to run again until Sunday, which will give my hips and knees two days to migrate back to their anatomical homes. My workouts include more time on my rehab exercises than anything else which ironically seems to invite insults about me “slowing down”. This is actually a scientifically proven way to help me run faster, but that’s cool too.

My next planned/ anticipated/ oh-my-gosh-please-don’t-get-hurt race is one month away. Yesterday I was telling myself not to stress because if I’m not ready or if any (enter assorted body parts here) aren’t up to it then there is no pressure to race and I will continue to build to the next goal. Right on cue, I wake up to a message from a friend that I used to race against saying, “Did my first 5k in while – 30:32, will see if I can bring my time down to run with you”.

Rather than start a discussion about her previous insult to my 25:44 time, I welcomed her friendly competition and encouraged our old running rivalry back to the roads.

It didn’t take long for another old friend and fellow runner from my cross country days to chime in and say she could run it in just over 25 minutes. It is starting to look like we might have a little race here. Nothing more motivating than risking your title of being “the fastest”; a title which has been untouched for a decade until I asked people to challenge it.

Time to channel my inner child and run like I’ll get my name on the announcements tomorrow.

 

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Clientology: A Top 10

There are a few clients on my roster that I would like to drop for a small selection of reasons. Not to be rude but as with all public service jobs, the people will make or break it. On a good day, personal training can be great, but on a bad day it can be 12 hours of listening to people complain and argue with you.
Lucky for you, I have made a list of the top ten things that will anger your trainer and you should probably avoid all things on this list at all times. Or find a new trainer.

1. “Oh no, the physics is all wrong”.
Do not pay me to train you and then tell me that I don’t know what is best for you. One of my clients in her 70s refuses to do Lat Pull Downs because “the physics and angles are wrong”. I kindly reminded her that I was there to teach her how to properly use the equipment, followed by a 15 minute scientific explanation and demonstration. She began but then decided half a rep in with a dramatic sigh of disgust that indeed, no, this was not a biomechanically appropriate exercise for any human. Another elderly client rules out step ups because she has stairs in her home and could do them on her own.
Me: “So, do you do step ups on your own?”
Client: “Well, I could.”
And hypothetically, you could be fit, too.

2. “That WAS 12”.
Do not count. Me trainer. You client. You do the exercises and don’t tell me my count is wrong because it isn’t. If our counts are different and you choose yours over mine I am instantly enraged and in return I will no longer laugh at your jokes this session. My job is to count over and over and over again. While you are working out I am involuntarily counting everyone’s reps because I can’t turn it off. I have caught myself counting breaths, counting steps, and counting other people’s reps by accident. I can tell you stories, respond to your questions, and cue you meanwhile I actually cannot lose count if I tried. Nothing makes me angrier than a client finishing three reps short and telling me I can’t count to 12. I am literally standing and counting to 12.

3. “My son can deadlift more than some NHL guys”.
Well it’s too bad you aren’t as strong as your son. How about you start working out and then you can brag about how much you lift.
After being told this exact line every time we did deadlifts I snapped at my client that it was too bad the NHL wasn’t a deadlift competition. I don’t care if you know someone who is strong because it does not make you stronger by association. I spend as much time in the gym as I do in my house, please don’t think I haven’t seen some people lift heavy things.

4. “Can you lift this?”
Do not ask me if I can do your workout. I made your workout.
When clients ask me if I can lift as much as them or if I could do their workouts I want to straight up tell them it is too stupid of a question to answer. Unless we are the same age and gender, with the same background, injuries, and trying to reach the same goals, these questions (and answers) are pointless. These questions always come from the guys that just want a big pat on the back, so don’t make me embarrass you and just ask me how it looks. Yes I see you lifting heavy things, I was the one who taught you.

5. “Sorry I’m late, you can still do a full hour, right?”
No. Don’t show up late and think I won’t make you regret your life choices.
Yesterday a client was running late, then got caught in traffic and showed up 15 minutes before the end of the session. I’m not kidding. No we can’t do an hour now because you paid me to watch TSN for 45 minutes. 15 minutes later he had sweat dripping off his nose and was laying in the corner.
Come on time.

6. “But this is haaaarrrrrrd”.
Yes I know.
I push myself harder than I push most of my clients so it gets hard to listen to someone who spent their life getting fat complain about how hard it is to sit on a bench and stand up again. I love people changing their lifestyles for the better and it is a process, but please don’t cry your way through it.  This is a waste of both our time, but mostly it is beyond boring for me to watch you sit on a bench and whimper. It is extremely painful for me to try to motivate someone who does not want to be motivated. And TSN is on the TV behind you. You do not want to make me choose where to focus my attention.

7. This is not therapy.
When I ask you to move heavy things I don’t mean put your emotional baggage on my back.
I have a degree in Kinesiology and no I don’t know what you should do about your bad decision making and poor life choices. My clipboard is for tracking your sets and reps, not your emotions. Please don’t use your session to tell me every shockingly intimate detail about your life; sometimes exercise can help you de-stress HINT HINT. I’m flattered you want to confide in me but I’ll pass.

8. I did not make you fat but I would like to help you.
Do not blame me when you don’t lose weight instantly because you did one workout then you pounded back beers and wings all weekend. This is a team effort but I am not your babysitter, I am not your mother, and I did not force feed you for the first 40 years of your life. You should consider that I see you 2-3 hours out of the 168 hours in a week. No matter how good a trainer is, they cannot account for the other 165 hours a week you aren’t with them.

9. Accept critique.
Or tell me in advance you have paid me to high five you and tell you that you are perfect the way you are.
I let a client do an entire disaster workout (not to the point he would get hurt) because he came in to train in an aggressively terrible mood, and he took my form cues as a personal attack. One rep in I told him to make a change to which he got mad and said I didn’t even give him a chance to do it right. A second identically terrible rep followed, then a defiant “OKAYYY?!” accompanying more incorrect reps. It is mind blowing how much money people spend to ignore me.

10. “But my friend says this way is best”.
Oh your friend sounds qualified. This isn’t NASA but I did a four year Honors Specialization degree and your friend ripped the workout page out of a Cosmo. This goes back to my point to let me do the job you are paying me to do.

I bet my clients could come up with a good list of their top 10 pet peeves about me… 🙂

 

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Oh The Places You’ll Go

The most dangerous thing in life is our biases and preconceptions. Living as if our younger selves were fortune tellers means always holding ourselves up to a idealized standard that never really existed. I pictured myself at a very different place at 26, but now that I am here, I am not in that elusive magical cookie cutter life. I also used to think that 26 sounded old, but I still act immature so that can’t be right.

The older I get, the more I wish I had taken Dr. Seuss more seriously. The cartoons in his rhymes always suggested to me that the books were not to impart anything substantial, but looking back, Dr. Seuss was one of the first cheerleaders in most of our homes.

“If things start happening, don’t worry, don’t stew,
Just go right along, and you’ll start happening too”
-Dr. Seuss

Lately, my head has been overwhelmed with a constant effort to decipher what I think I want from what I actually want. Even that sentence confuses me. There have been a few occasions where the amount of conflicting ideas screaming over top of each other in my head make me think that I will be the next Torontonian sleeping on the subway and talking to imaginary friends. Except I plan to gracefully exit this phase at some point. Fingers crossed that crazy can just be a pit stop.

Moving to Toronto was a situation that I did not think through and was not a part of a plan in any way. It was a good idea at the time and I happily arrived to a new city feeling like I was moving forward but was really chasing my tail. It was an opportunity that the world gave me to grow up real fast but I responded by dragging my heels and wasting as much energy as possible to stay in my comfortable little rut. So, instead, I learned some life skills the hard and tedious way after they came around a few more times. I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks though; throw me a treat Universe, I get it.

After reading through some of my posts, I feel like my blog is a motivational speaker that struggles with motivation. There is always a point and often a positive message that gets sidetracked or overtaken by stories or stats of how much I can deadlift (115lbs for 3×10. See how I slipped that in there!) At least I believe I can keep myself from living in a van down by the river. (If you don’t get that joke you should watch this and laugh with me)

So tonight I skipped my food prep for tomorrow and most of studying to write this, and dance around my apartment. It is hard to take life advice from Taylor Swift but she sure can make me dance. And yes, this was my life changing revelation. Just roll with it.

 

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We Eat What We Kill

I had some great advice given to me last week. If you’re trying to find out just what you want out of life, write it out. This may seem silly or ineffective, but I feel like there is a discrepancy between my motivation and my output so I decided to give it a try. It has been a long time since I made a word map (elementary school style) and I had a lot of work that I needed to justify putting off. Done.

I felt like I was in a writing sort of mood. I’m not sure how to describe that feeling, but it felt productive. As productive as I could be from a seated position; it had been a long day. With some blank paper and a pen I prepared to brainstorm. Thoughts and ideas came much easier than I expected, as if my brain had always known what it wanted to say but wasn’t given a pen to write with. I eventually started grouping ideas into categories like health, career, and relationships. My page filled up quickly, sometimes with the same thing written multiple times (staying healthy) or just random words like “design”. There were actually so many solo words that I don’t remember writing that I might have blacked out a few times.

Altogether I made a big list of what I want out of life… it is a lot. I plan to keep digging deeper, too. Everything seems less terrifying when it is written down, though. It is almost like I have removed the ominous darkness from the future and replaced it with black and white. Despite only having a paper full of point form notes more than I did the day before, I do feel like I have more direction. There is something to be said for putting ideas in writing.

The hardest part of reaching a goal is setting a goal. There is a great saying that if your goal doesn’t scare you then it isn’t big enough. Think about it: if you were given a step by step plan to achieve success you would probably follow it, right? So why don’t you write your own plan?… Probably because it is hard.

For the majority of us, we need to work hard to find work. And to keep that work. So we should be channeling that effort to work towards something that is at the end of our ultimate “To Do List”. So what is your ultimate endpoint?

Life lesson from my dad #464: We eat what we kill.

todolist

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Baby Got Back

I like to consider myself inquisitive; second guessing or over analyzing may also apply.

Whatever the case may be, I can’t help but question my race preparation. Maybe I’ve done this enough times to just let it happen, and I am more ready than I let myself think. Or maybe I’m off the trail without a GPS. In my opinion, a big part of preparation is motivation. As much as my posts may be demonstrating brain waves that seem to zig zag and curve at will, I have the firm stance that motivation and “grit” (for lack of a better word) can trump inherited athleticism. Not always, but always possible. Maintaining that drive is race preparation.

I have pictures, mottos, quotes, sayings; motivational images of all sorts saved to my computer. I see where I want to be, I get motivated, I get excited, and I get my shoes on. When I need that pump up I am running alone, and what never comes to mind is some image I flipped by on my laptop.

Is motivation justified by getting out and running? Or does it mean we have to post about it on our social media, fill our closets with bright and flashy shoes, and finish runs with a slow motion water bottle chug? If you’re reposting images of others exercising behind a Starbucks latte and a snuggie, I struggle to tie that to motivation. That is promotion.

Does being driven and invested only manifest itself in a way that would mean living by the standards of carbo loading, electrolyte refueling, and IT band massaging? It can be an internal conflict to maintain motivation, but isn’t that normal because sport can be a painful passion after all. At this point, I will trust in my comfort zone and my ‘fly by the seat of my running shorts’ training style and see where my feet take me. Hopefully the end point is out of my comfort zone as that is the most encompassing way I can define success right now.

I have to admit that I feel a level of preparedness in the chaos that is my body trying to navigate the world. Maybe once you accept that your strategy is mayhem, you can relax and brush off all these events that don’t seem to support the end goal. This is a strategy, I swear. I am still moving therefore I am still progressing.

After my Canadian Thanksgiving with the family, today was my first day back to the gym after my back attack. Once again, there was so much genuine concern for me that I think I will just start sitting out front and ringing a bell with a  donation box. I started my new (and it darn well better be) improved rehab program. I am working towards square one and I will get there when I get there. On paper, this workout would have appeared that it was for someone who had lost their left arm and left leg and was hitting the gym for the first time. Let me tell you that this, coupled with my nicknames like Hop-along, and Limp Biscuit, are not ideal ways to sell myself as a trainer. Live and learn.

My fantastic nickname- creating co-workers do help me out, though. They all had ideas to contribute for how to best fix my back but my small and weak muscles fatigued before I could accept all their help. I am hopeful that it won’t take too long to regain some balance but it is hard to activate half my back throughout the day. When the weak side fatigues, exercise becomes detrimental because I’m jacking up the jacked side. Keep in mind I teach exercise for a living. Having experienced one potential outcome of a muscle imbalance, I am pretty eager to avoid that road again. Deep tissue massages and I will be best friends forever.

At this point, I have no strategy. I do, however, know what shoes I will wear. And I feel like that might be enough because I know I can get myself to the start line (with shoes on). And once we are all lined up in wait, we are all equal, and it is anybody’s day. Who worked the hardest to get to the start line, who can translate that into energy in the race… and then who can carry me home…?

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